The classic Southern Lane cake recipe

Classic Southern Lane cake recipe

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Emma Rylander Lane created her Lane Cake back in the late Victorian era, and it soon became a Southern classic.

In 1967, the original recipe — first published in Mrs Lane’s cookbook back in 1898 — was brought up-to-date by her granddaughter (and namesake) Emma Rylander Law, and that’s the one featured here.

Here’s the truth about the famous Lane Cake (1967)

By Cecily Brownstone, AP Food Editor – Sheboygan Press (Wisconsin) December 20, 1967

Here’s where we set the record straight about one of the most famous cakes in American culinary history. We’re talking about Lane Cake, that glorious invention, four layers deep, stacked with spirited filling, and covered with soft white frosting.

This cake has been attributed to others than its rightful creator, and its formula has often been desecrated.

Who invented Lane Cake, and what is the original recipe?

The cake was invented by Emma Rylander Lane, who lived in Clayton, Alabama, and who wrote a cookbook called “A Few Good Things to Eat,” published in 1898.

The recipe for Lane Cake, which Mrs. Lane called her “prize recipe,” was first published in her book. We can attest to this — and to the correctness of the following recipe — because we have a copy of “A Few Good Things To Eat” in front of us, loaned to us by Mrs Lane’s granddaughter — our friend, Emma Rylander Law.

A classic Southern Lane cake from Good Housekeeping magazine (1978)
A classic Southern Lane cake from Good Housekeeping magazine (1978)

Emma Law has made her grandmother’s cake at our house and, take it from us, it’s worth eating. Not one iota has Granddaughter departed from Grandmother Lane’s ingredients, but she has modernized the method of making.

Emma Law tells us that when she was growing up in the South, Lane Cake was served at holiday teatimes when guests came visiting. Still a fine custom!

But make the tea worthy of the cake: Rinse the empty teapot with boiling water; use 1 teaspoon of loose tea or one tea bag for each serving, and pour the boiling water over the tea; brew 3 to 5 minutes — 5 minutes if you want the fullest body.

ALSO TRY: Hummingbird cake recipe: Try this famous banana-pineapple cake with cream cheese frosting from 1978

Another version of Lane Cake from 1976, with extra filling on top

Vintage Lane Cake from 1976

Vintage Lane cake recipe (1978)

Classic Lane Cake

Yield: 16
Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Additional Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 25 minutes

Emma Rylander Lane created her Lane Cake back in the late Victorian era, and it soon became a Southern classic.

In 1967, the original recipe - first published in Lane's cookbook back in 1898 - was brought up-to-date by her granddaughter (and namesake) Emma Rylander Law, and that's the one featured here.


For cake

  • 3-1/4 cups sifted cake flour
  • 2 teaspoons double-acting baking powder
  • 1/16 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 8 egg whites
  • 1 cup milk
  • Lane Cake filling
  • Boiled white frosting (from a standard recipe)

For Lane Cake filling

  • 8 egg yolks
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup seedless raisins, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup bourbon or brandy
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla


  1. On wax paper, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter, sugar and vanilla.
  3. Add egg whites, in four additions, beating thoroughly after each addition.
  4. Fold in flour mixture alternately with milk; begin and end with dry ingredients. Batter should be smooth but look slightly granular.
  5. Turn into 4 ungreased 9-inch round layer-cake pans lined on the bottom with waxed paper.
  6. Bake in a 375 degree oven until edges shrink slightly from sides of pans and tops spring back when gently pressed with finger, or cake tester inserted in center comes out clean — about 20 minutes.
  7. Place pans on wire racks to cool for about 5 minutes.
  8. Turn out on wire racks; remove wax paper; turn right side up; cool completely.
  9. Put layers together (on a cake plate) with Lane Cake filling, stacking carefully. Do not spread filling over top.
  10. Cover top and sides with swirls of boiled white frosting.
  11. Cover with a tent of foil or a cake cover; or cover tightly in a large deep bowl or tin box. Store in a cool place.
  12. To make the filling: In a 2-quart saucepan, beat the egg yolks well; beat in sugar and butter.
  13. Cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly, until quite thick.
  14. Remove from heat; stir in raisins, bourbon and vanilla.
  15. Cool slightly; use as directed in Lane Cake recipe.


As Emma Rylander Lane, the originator of the Lane Cake, said in her cookbook, "It is much better to be made a day or two before using."

If refrigerated, allow it to stand at room temperature for half a day before serving, because the texture is best when the cake is not served chilled.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 16 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 538Total Fat: 21gSaturated Fat: 12gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 142mgSodium: 263mgCarbohydrates: 77gFiber: 1gSugar: 48gProtein: 7g

Click Americana offers approximate nutrition information as a general reference only, and we make no warranties regarding its accuracy. Please make any necessary calculations based on the actual ingredients used in your recipe, and consult with a qualified healthcare professional if you have dietary concerns.

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