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Nov 27, 2007 03:04 PM

Regional Cakes

I am a writer looking for information about cakes specific to certain regions. North Carolina is supposed to have a Lady Baltimore cake (though a lot of North Carolinians have never had one). Kentucky is said to have a mint julep cake. Maryland, where I am from, has something called the Smith Island cake. No one really knows where it comes from (though an elderly cookbook writer thinks she might have invented it), but it's been around for generations.

Some recipes call for seven layers; some call for ten. Individual cakes are made and then sliced thin. The whole thing is usually frosted in chocolate, but sometimes it's filled with chocolate between the layers. Most often, though, the recipes call for crushed candy bars between each layer!

Something I've discovered about regional cakes: some people don't know anything about them. They're usually the people least into food.

I hope you will share your knowledge. It doesn't have to be a recipe, but I'd love to match some cakes with regions.



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  1. St. Louis is famous for the gooey butter cake but I think Paula Deen has a recipe for it as well.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Hooda_Guest

      Here's some info about the gooey butter cake to get you started. If you search the boards there is a lot more

      One thing you might do is post about each cake on the regional board for the place that serves the best version of the regional cake and ask if anyone knows the origin. Often there's someone who knows. If you ask a handful of locals, they might not know, but with such a large readership here, usually someone comes through.

      1. re: Hooda_Guest

        Yes, I grew up with this cake in St. Louis and it is gooey, and extremely rich, and supersonically sweet. It is ubiquitous around St. Louis, and I've never ever seen
        anyone bake it at home, ever. It's in every bakery.

      2. Here in VA, we have 'chocolate cake'. But what makes it unique is that the 'cake' is really made from yellow cake batter. It's the chocolate frosting that makes it called 'chocolate cake'. I don't know if that's regional enough, but I was pretty shocked when I had 'chocolate cake' the first time, and thought it must be a mistake.

        1. New Orleans has:
          King Cake - a brioche ring with sugar decorations in the Mardi Gras colors of purple, green and gold, eaten from the beginning of the Mardi Gras season on Twelfth Night until Mardi Gras itself. It includes a bean, baby or other trinket. Whoever gets it is King, Queen, or has to give the next party.
          Doberge Cake - first called "d'auberge" or country inn cake, but a relative of Hungarian Dobostorte, a multi-layered cake with chocolate cream filling and a poured fondant icing. Also available in lemon.
          Russian Cake - an icebox cake, frugal mix of left over pound cake, birthday cake, ends of sweet breads, pieces of coffee cake, bits of pie crust, etc., moistened with a blend of pineapple juice or fruit cocktail syrup and wine. The cake is refrigerated until the flavors blended and the juice absorbed. Not seen much any more but once available in bakeries.

          2 Replies
          1. re: MakingSense

            The Dobostorte sounds somewhat similar to the original dobostorte, which is interesting in that I didn't know the Crescent City was known for its Hungarian bakers. Is Louisiana Crunch Cake actually native to the state, as well? For what it's worth, I find it difficult to find outside the Midwest, so it might be a misnamed regional dish.

            1. re: JungMann

              Germans settled in the Lac des Allemands area West of New Orleans in 1721. Some of those same families are still around and a few are in the baking business. They may have introduced some European specialties over the years as did the French bakers. One of the best French breads in NOLA is Leidenheimer's.
              I'm not familiar with LA Crunch Cake but many people traveled up the Mississippi so it could have found its way on river boats, or as you say, simply be misnamed.

          2. The Boston Cream Pie comes to mind.....It's really a cake!

            1. In Texas we have Italian Cream Cake (there's nothing Italian about it) and Texas Sheet Cake. You can easily find recipes for both on the web.

              Italian Cream Cake is a white buttermilk/pecan layer cake usually topped with cream cheese icing.

              Texas Sheet cake is a chocolate cake usually made in a jelly-roll pan and topped with a chocolate and pecan icing. This great for a barbecue or any large party.

              7 Replies
              1. re: raj1

                Here the Food Timeline's research on the Texas Sheet cake.

                They also mention a Lane Cake which seems to be Southern and I have yet to see

                Other Southern Cakes that seem regional to me are Red Velvet and Hummingbird. Sure everyone knows about Red Velvet, but I think you have to be Southern to appreciate it. I've just started seeing Hummingbird cake recently in California but from what I've read it's a Southern thing.

                Oddly enough, when I lived in Boston a while back, I didn't seem much Boston Cream pie. There was more being sold in Connecticut where I grew up.

                That above site has info about the history of the Lady Baltimore cake mentioned in the OP. There might be a reason the North Carolinans don't know about it since it was the invention of a novel which was set in Charleston, South Carolina

                Robert E. Lee cake anyone?

                FWIW, Wikipedia has a list of cakes with links to more info. Not the most reliable source, but sometimes they have nice links to places that lead to more info.

                1. re: rworange

                  What we now call Texas Sheet Cake was very popular in my corner of the Midwest (St. Louis area) earlier than 1970, maybe as early as 1965. I remember that my mother came home from a teacher's meeting with the recipe which she had gotten from another teacher. But I didn't know it as Texas Sheet Cake until much later. I have an old book of recipes from central Illinois which I purchased in the very early '70s which contains several versions of that recipe, under various names. I have always assumed that it came to be called Texas Sheet Cake, because it was seemed as large as Texas.

                  Hummingbird Cake started our as Doktor Bird Cake, and I ran into it in the early '70s. I know I read an article in the food section of the St. Louis Post about it. Doktor Bird is a hummingbird, and the recipe was supposed to be from the Caribbean.

                  1. re: rworange

                    My aunt who lived in Dallas had the Texas Sheet Cake recipe back in 1964. We were visiting and she didn't want to give my mother the recipe. Still my favorite cake.
                    I was making Hummingbird cake in the early 70's in Houston. Haven't made that one in years.

                    1. re: rworange

                      My N. Florida mom used to make Lane Cake for every Christmas season. Multi-layered, with glaceed or candied fruits, pecans, coconut. Thin layers. Frequently doused with splashes of whisky and aged/mellowed wrapped in foil for three-four weeks prior to eating. Delicious.

                      1. re: alkapal

                        Lane is very good and popular in the south. It's origins are in Alabama

                      2. re: rworange

                        Wright's Gourmet in Tampa, Florida makes an amazing Hummingbird Cake.

                      3. re: raj1

                        Italian Cream Cake is all over the South. Here's a recipe from the Atlanta Journal Constitution. Pretty typical of current recipes, it uses coconut and pecans and that cream cheese icings that has replaced traditional Southern icings.

                        Cream cheese icings didn't come into common use in the US until after they were made popular by food demonstration commercials on the Kraft Television Theater - sort of an early Sandra Lee. Recipes using them are either recent or the original icing has been replaced by the cream cheese version.