Big Mamma's Amalgamation Cake

Big Mamma’s Amalgamation Cake

14 to 16 servings

This exquisite cake belongs in the league of other towering old-time creations such as Lane cake and Lady Baltimore cake. Sonya Jones took the sketchy instructions Mamie Coppedge Maynard passed down to granddaughter Joan Morris and brought it back to life, dressing it up with sugared pecans. Cookbook author Virginia Willis refined the method.

For the cake:
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for the pans
3 cups all-purpose flour, more for the pans
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup whole milk, room temperature
5 egg whites, room temperature

For the fruit filling:
5 egg yolks, room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
1 cup raisins
1 cup sweetened grated coconut
1 cup chopped pecans

For the boiled white frosting:
2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup water
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
2 egg whites, room temperature

For the sugared pecans (optional):
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 egg white
1 tablespoon water
2 cups pecans
1/2 cup granulated sugar

For the cake: Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour two 9-by-2-inch cake pans. Set aside.

Sift together 3 cups flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

Place butter in the bowl of an electric mixer. Cream on medium-low speed and gradually add the sugar. Continue mixing until pale yellow.

Alternating between the dry and wet ingredients, starting and ending with
dry, add the flour mixture and milk to the butter mixture. Set aside. (The
batter will be very stiff and thick.)

In a clean second bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk
attachment, beat the egg whites to stiff peaks, 3 to 5 minutes. Take a cup
or so of the beaten whites and whisk it into the batter. Fold the remaining
beaten whites into the batter.

Divide the batter between the prepared pans. Bake until the tops are pale golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Remove to a rack to cool slightly. Invert the cake layers onto a rack to cool completely.

For the filling: Combine the yolks, sugar and butter in a medium, heavy
saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until the sugar is
completely dissolved and the mixture is thick and candylike, about 10
minutes. Remove from the heat and add the raisins, coconut and pecans. Set
aside and keep warm.

For the frosting: In a small, heavy saucepan, combine the sugar, water and
cream of tartar. Heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar
has dissolved. Increase heat to a boil. Do not stir anymore. Boil, washing
down sides of pan with a pastry brush dipped in cold water from time to time
to prevent the sugar from crystallizing, until a candy thermometer registers
240 degrees, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk
attachment, whisk the egg whites on medium speed until soft peaks form,
about 2 1/2 minutes.

Remove the syrup from the heat when the temperature reaches 240 degrees.
Pour the syrup in a steady stream down the side (to avoid splattering) of
the bowl containing the egg white mixture, with the mixer on medium-low
speed. Beat frosting on medium speed until cool, 5 to 10 minutes. The
frosting should be thick and shiny.

For the sugared pecans: Heat oven to 300 degrees. Butter a rimmed baking
sheet. Set aside. Combine the egg white and water in a medium bowl. Whisk
until foamy, about 2 minutes. Add pecans and stir to coat. Place the sugar
in a second medium bowl. Using a slotted spoon, remove the pecans to the
bowl of sugar. Toss to coat. Transfer the coated nuts to the prepared baking
sheet. Bake until crisp, about 25 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool

To assemble the cake: Place one of the cooled cake layers on a cardboard
cake round. Spread with half the fruit filling. Top with the second layer,
bottom side up, and top with remaining fruit filling. Ice the sides of the
cake with the reserved boiled icing. Garnish with sugared pecans.