Southern Cakes

Region casts unique twists on sweet confections.

| May/June 2009

  • Red Velvet Cake
    Delectable Red Velvet Cake makes any occasion a special one.
    Lori Dunn
  • Coconut Cake
    Coconut Cake is delicious whether it's one- or two-tiered.
    Lori Dunn
  • Cooking class
    A bit of baking flour never hurt anyone.
  • Mrs. Rowe's Brownstone Front Cake
    Chocolate cakes have nothing on Mrs. Rowe's Brownstone Front Cake.
  • Lemon Pound Cake
    Lemon Pound Cake is just one of the variations for a versatile cake recipe.
    Lori Dunn
  • Surprise!
    Our pal Gritty was all smiles until the wax began to drip.
    Brad Anderson

  • Red Velvet Cake
  • Coconut Cake
  • Cooking class
  • Mrs. Rowe's Brownstone Front Cake
  • Lemon Pound Cake
  • Surprise!

While it’s enjoyed all over the world, cake is heartily embraced by Southerners who, of course, have added unique and delicious twists to the historical glory of the sweet treat. Old-fashioned Southern cakes have become a part of the American canon of cake baking.

Cake boasts a long lineage stretching back to the ancient Egyptians – the first civilization to show any skill in baking, sweetening much of its bread with honey. The actual word “cake,” however, is traced back to Viking origins. The Norse word “kaka” means a baked flour confection sweetened with sugar or honey, mixed with eggs and often, but not always, with milk and fat.  

The histories of cake, bread, biscuits and buns are indistinct. The beginnings of all would be bread in its simplest form. As techniques for baking and leavening developed and eating patterns changed, what were originally regarded as forms of bread came to be seen as categories of their own and named accordingly. 

During the 19th century, technology made the cake baker's life much easier. The chemical raising agent bicarbonate of soda, introduced in the 1840s, followed by baking powder (a dry mixture of bicarbonate of soda with a mild acid such as cream of tartar ), replaced yeast, providing a greater leavening effect with less effort. Another helpful breakthrough was the development of ovens with more accurate temperature control.

Cake sustains a celebratory reputation. They are a must-have at birthdays, weddings, graduations and wakes. There’s no need to wait for those occasions, though, to enjoy one of these special Southern cakes. 

Coconut Cake 

For me, Coconut Cake is the quintessential Southern cake – a true testament to the Southern love of sugar and the tropical flavor of coconut. 

Dennis Miller
4/30/2009 9:43:04 PM

Made the lemon pound cake and used mom's lemon sauce for a little extra zing.

Jean Teller_1
4/23/2009 11:10:12 AM

I'm with you on the coconut, Dawn! Sounds delish, doesn't it!? Let me know about the cottage pudding - while it is sometimes described as being like pound cake, I'm a mite leery of that description. I'd love to hear what you think of it!

4/21/2009 1:24:21 PM

Yum.. I am going to try a few of these. I love coconut so that will be the first on my list and I definitely want to try the cottage pudding.



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