Lane Cake

If Macaroons are for french and scones for Scots, layered cakes are for Americans. I was amazed when I  discovered the layers and layers of cake and fillings that seemed to defy gravity! But this is the nation of deep fried Oreos, Tur-Duc-Chicken, multiple stack Cheeseburgers and Paula Deen. Layer cakes belong to that genre of unapologetically rich foods that can either melt your heart or and make you curl up in a ball. In fact, layered cakes might just as well do the trick in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran etc albeit inexpensively. So as a tribute to a great nation and its even heavier culinary heritage I had to try and do layered cakes.I choose Lane cake, something that is mentioned in the book 'To Kill a Mocking Bird'. Back as a kid when I read the book for the first time, Lane cake was yet another food, I knew nothing about, just like the ones in Enid Blyton's 'The Secret Seven' series and 'The Famous Five'. Boy! it sure looked like kids in 'foreign' countries ate a lot of strange foods. Thanks to the British Library, the mist lifted when I was barely out of my teens.

 
The thing that struck me most when I looked up for the recipe of Lane cake on PBS was the addition of desiccated coconut in the filling. It reminded me so much of the Iyengar Bakery 'Dilkhush' and 'Dilpasand'. Imagine the goodness of cake and the sweet filling ah! I got all the energy required that very second. and off I went to make the cake.Purist might cringe at my version, but that is what enriches and grows a culture, a nation and us.India was the greatest nation during the first millennium because it was so outward looking, so open to new ideas, a laboratory of innovations. That India embraced and internalized foreign knowledge, culture and languages leading to successful institutions like Nalanda, as well as great advances in science, medicine, politics and philosophy. The acceptance and internalization which weakened during the reign of Sultanates ultimately crumbled under the British. Sadly, post-independent India started as an inward looking experiment, the burden of which is still obvious today. May be as a nation we will realise that inward looking India can never be as glorious as the outward looking India always was. The same thing with the United States. It is the most powerful country today only because of its ability to accept and internalize traditions, thoughts and people. The best and brightest come here only because they are welcome, their idea appreciated and rewarded. As long as the country remains receptive to people, ideas, culture it will be the richest and most powerful county.  This is my humble tribute to two great nations the world's oldest and largest democracies.
 We will need,

White cakes 8" 2 (boxed mix will do, mine is from the scratch) cooled

For the filling:
Kopra/ Dessicated coconut 1/4 cup
Raisins  3 tbsp
Tutti- fruiti or candied fruits 3 tbsp
Sugar 1/4 cup
Butter 2 tbsp
Heavy cream a few tbsp
Cardamon 1 (seeds crushed into a fine powder)
Nutmeg a dash

Frosting:
Heavy whipping cream 1/2 cup
Cream Cheese 1/2 a pack (4 oz)
Sugar 4 tbsp (adjust according to taste, I went slightly overboard this time for Fil loves his desset sweeeet)
Vanilla a few drops

Method:
  • For the filling, combine the raisin, Tutti-fruiti and coconut in a food processor and pulse till well combined and sort of comes together in a ball. 
  • Heat butter in a thick bottom pan and throw in the raisin mixture. Saute for a few minutes till fragrant. 
  • Add the sugar and cook till the sugar melts.Throw in the cardamon and grated nutmeg.
  • Add cream a tbsp at a time to loosen the mixture. The mixture should be have a jam like consistency and should be spreadable. Reserve.
  • To prepare the frosting, whip up the heavy cream into soft peaks, throw in about 2 tbsp sugar and work it to stiff peaks.
  • Cream the cheese and throw in about 2 tbsp of sugar and vanilla and whip it till smooth and creamy.
  • Fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture gently till evenly combined.
  • To assemble the cake, Place one cake on a cake stand and spread the cooled raisin mixture starting the center, generously all over, except the last centimeter of the cake from outside.
  • Place the second cake, bottom up on the first cake-raisin filling. Press it gently making sure that the cake is sort of even.
  • Slather the frosting on top of the cake and all along the sides. Garnish with chocolate shavings, fruits and nuts of choice.

4 comments:

Priya said...

Mindblowing cake, looks stunning and beautiful.

Nagashree said...

So delicious Smitha, you are right, the filling (layer?) is very similar to the dilkhush :-). By the way, 'To Kill a mocking bird' is my ever favorite book.

radha said...

This looks lovely. You make it seem simple, but there is just a lot of effort. But the end result is worth it as the pictures show!

R Sudhir Kumar said...

Wow! Mouth watering So beautiful and so well shot. I should start working in a bakery, never can resist a cake. the picnic baskets of the secret sevens, the famous fives were so inviting those days.Used to wonder with envy how the look and taste.