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Bigmamma's Amalgamation Cake


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Cuisine: Dessert Southern

SOUTHERN RECIPE RESTORATION PROJECT

The contributor: Joan Maynard Morris, a former legal secretary and "a proud native Decaturite."
The story: This recipe is from Morris' grandmother, Mamie Coppedge Maynard.
"Holidays were always big events in our home. ... Christmas meant days of cooking and baking. Bigmamma's specialty was her Amalgamation Cake. It required a ripe coconut, which she would grate by hand. "

Hands on time: 1 hour  Total time: 2 hours  Serves: 14

Ingredients:

    Bigmamma's Amalgamation Cake

    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


Instructions:

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 completely.

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.

Notes:

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.

Nutrition:

Per serving (based on 14): 869 calories (percent of calories from fat, 41), 9 grams protein, 123 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams fiber, 41 grams fat (17 grams saturated), 134 milligrams cholesterol, 169 milligrams sodium.

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