Friday, May 16, 2008

Lady Baltimore and Lord Baltimore Cupcakes


Tomorrow is a big day in Baltimore – the running of the 133rd Preakness takes place tomorrow evening (and I’m going!). Although this race might not be as glamorous as its counterpart in Kentucky, it’s certainly not devoid of class, refinement, or traditions – you better believe I’ll be wearing a pretty dress, heels, and a big hat decorated with ribbon and flowers, as will countless other women at the event.


And while the Kentucky Derby may have the mint julep, Preakness also has an official drink, and it’s named for Maryland’s state flower: the Black-Eyed Susan. A mixture of vodka, light rum, Cointreau, orange juice, and pineapple juice, the Black-Eyed Susan sounds tasty as an afternoon cocktail (I’ll find out how it tastes tomorrow), but not so much as a cupcake to serve at the pre-Preakness party I’m hosting at my place tomorrow afternoon before my friends and I head up to Pimlico in our sharp attire.



Instead, I decided to make Lady Baltimore and Lord Baltimore cupcakes. Truth be told, the cake versions of these actually do not originate from Baltimore, but rather from The Lady Baltimore Tea Room in Charleston, SC. There are a number of stories on the origin of the Lady Baltimore cake, but one version of it suggests that the novelist Owen Wister was served this cake at the Women’s Exchange tea room in Charleston, and he liked it so much that he wrote about the cake in his 1906 novel Lady Baltimore.

The Lady Baltimore cake is in fact a rather simple one. It is made up of three layers of white cake and it is frosted with a classic Italian meringue (or boiled icing). The twist lies in the filling between the layers: it is a mixture of the frosting and chopped nuts and dried fruit. Traditionally, the Lady Baltimore cake’s filling contains raisins, figs, and pecans or almonds. The Lord Baltimore cake supposedly came into existence in order to use up the egg yolks left over from the Lady Baltimore cake. Similar to the Lady, the Lord Baltimore cake is also made up of three cake layers, meringue frosting, and a filling containing dried fruits and nuts, but the cake layers here are yellow cake and the filling contains pecans or walnuts, crushed coconut macaroons, and candied cherries.

For the cupcake versions I created, both batters use exactly the same ingredients, with the only difference being that one uses only the whites of the egg and the other uses only the yolks. The result is a snow-white cupcake with a very light flavor and a delicate crumb (befitting a lady, I suppose), and a soft, golden cupcake with a rich flavor and larger crumb (I guess that’s supposed to be more masculine or something). The method for making each batter differs slightly, as do the fillings; I decided to fill the Lady with almonds, golden raisins, and California figs, and the Lord with shredded coconut, walnuts, and a bit of orange zest (no way was I buying – or eating – candied cherries). The entire process is really easy, and both sets of cupcakes can be mixed up and baked in succession in under an hour. (Of course, making the frosting, fillings, and assembling the cupcakes takes some more time.)

As for those little flags on top of the cupcakes - they're the official flag of the City of Baltimore (which is a combination of the Calvert family's colors as represented on the state flag and the city's seal). Why the flags? I’m proclaiming these cupcakes as 100% Charm City.

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Lady Baltimore Cupcakes
(makes 8 cupcakes)

For the cupcakes:
1 cup cake flour
½ cup sugar
1 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
Pinch of salt
4 tablespoons butter, at room temperature and cut into small pieces
2 egg whites
1/3 cup whole milk
½ teaspoon vanilla

For the filling:
3 tablespoons slivered almonds, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons golden raisins, coarsely chopped
2 dried California or Turkish figs, chopped
¼ cup Italian meringue frosting

Frosting:
1 ¼ cups Italian meringue frosting

***************

Heat an oven to 350 F. Line 8 wells of a muffin pan with paper liners and set the pan aside.

Add the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt to the bowl of a mixer (or a large bowl) and mix to combine (mixer: lowest speed; by hand: whisk). Add the butter and mix on low speed until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs, about 2 minutes.

Mix the egg whites, milk, and vanilla in a small bowl, then pour it into the mixer bowl. Beat on medium-high speed for 2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl halfway through.

Evenly distribute the batter among the lined muffin tins and bake until the edge of the cupcakes are light golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean, 14-16 minutes.

Set the pan on a wire rack and let the cupcakes cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then remove them from the pan and let them completely cool on the rack.
Mix the filling ingredients in a bowl.

Use a small paring knife to cut an inverted cone out of the top of the cupcake. Flip the cone over and slice it so that you have a ¼” thick disk of cake. Reserve the disk and discard the rest of the cone. If necessary, use a small spoon to scoop out some of the cake to make the hole larger.

Use a small spoon to evenly distribute the filling among the cupcakes. Place a reserved cake disk on top of the filling and press down on it to seal the cupcake.

Frost the cupcakes with the Italian meringue frosting.

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Lord Baltimore Cupcakes
(makes 8 cupcakes)

For the cupcakes:
2 egg yolks
1/3 cup milk
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
Pinch of salt
4 tablespoons butter
½ cup sugar

For the filling:
4 tablespoons chopped walnuts
2 tablespoons unsweetened shredded coconut
Pinch of orange zest
¼ cup Italian meringue frosting

Frosting:
1 ¼ cups Italian meringue frosting

***************

Heat an oven to 350 F. Line 8 wells of a muffin pan with paper liners and set the pan aside.

Whisk the egg yolks, milk, and vanilla in a small bowl and set it aside. Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt in another small bowl and set it aside.

Add the butter and sugar to a large bowl and cream the mixture until it is pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add ½ of the flour mixture, all of the milk mixture, and then the remaining ½ flour mixture, mixing each addition at low speed until just combined and then scraping down the sides of the bowl before each next addition. Do not overmix.

Evenly distribute the batter among the lined muffin tins and bake until the cupcakes are light golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean, approximately 20 minutes.

Set the pan on a wire rack and let the cupcakes cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then remove them from the pan and let them completely cool on the rack.

Mix the filling ingredients in a bowl.

Use a small paring knife to cut an inverted cone out of the top of the cupcake. Flip the cone over and slice it so that you have a ¼” thick disk of cake. Reserve the disk and discard the rest of the cone. If necessary, use a small spoon to scoop out some of the cake to make the hole larger.

Use a small spoon to evenly distribute the filling among the cupcakes. Place a reserved cake disk on top of the filling and press down on it to seal the cupcake.

Frost the cupcakes with the Italian meringue frosting.

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Italian Meringue Frosting
(makes about 3 cups)

1 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons water
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
3 large egg whites, room temperature
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon almond extract

***************

Combine the sugar, water, and cream of tartar in a medium-sized saucepan set over medium-high heat. Stir the mixture just until all of the sugar is wet. Boil the mixture until it reaches 245 degrees F, about 3-4 minutes.

In the meantime, put the egg whites in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Start the mixer on low speed and gradually work it up to medium-high. Whip the whites until they hold soft peaks.

With the mixer running on low speed, slowly pour the sugar syrup into the mixer bowl into the space between the wall of the bowl and the wire whip. Once all of the sugar syrup has been added, increase the speed to high and whip until the mixture is fluffy, glossy, and cool to the touch, about 7 minutes. Pour in the extracts and mix to combine.

14 comments:

Big Brown said...

Holy Crap! Those look awesome. I can't wait to have one tomorrow.

jenny said...

What a wonderful cupcake for a Preakness party!!!

Rochelle said...

Wow, Roopa, those look delicious! The fillings sound like they complement their cakes very well. I love the little Baltimore flags that denote which cupcakes are which - how clever!

haleysuzanne said...

Those cupcakes look fantastic! I love to make Lady Baltimore cakes, but I've never thought of making cupcakes out of it. And cupcakes are so much easier to share and transport....I am definitely going to try these out! Love the sound of the icing recipe, too - I've never tried a meringue icing before.

malini said...

These cupcakes look so yummy!
Have fun at the Preakness

KP said...

wow! where'd you get the balto city flags? as a baltimorean who is pretty territorial abou my food, i think i need them!

Fearless Kitchen said...

These look great. Amazingly complicated, far more complicated than I will even attempt, but great. I'm jealous of your guests who get to try them!

Heidi said...

These sound delicious! I'm a huge fan of 7-minute frosting, and recently discovered a less complicated method - just add the sugar to the egg white mixture, boil the wanter separately, slowly add as the mixer is running, and proceed as normal. Works like a charm!

I love the sound of the cake fillings and can't wait to try them. Maybe dried cherries would be a less scary alternative to candied...?

BMoreSweet said...

What a tremendous amount of work! Where'd you get the flags?

John said...

Sadly I have never gotten into Preakness madness. But the cupcakes look yummy, especially with the flags!

roopa said...

KP & Bmoresweet - I made the flags. I created a Powerpoint slide with lots of flags on it, printed it in color, cut them out, and wrapped & glued them onto the top of a toothpick. Very easy to do!

Meghan said...

Roopa, You blow me awaaaaay!

Pigtown-Design said...

My grandmother's cook used to make Lord & Lady Baltimore cakes. Thanks for the memories...

Denise at Uniquely Tea said...

These are just beautiful! I came across your lovely blog whilst researching the history of Charleston tea rooms. I work in Charleston and it amazes me that there isn't ONE tearoom in this city that should have several, at least!

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