I first discovered this cake recipe on the blog of a delightful young woman named Sasha who lives in Wales and who calls herself “The Procrastobaker” because she’d rather bake than do other more pressing things. The name of the cake intrigued me; and, after a little research, I discovered that to celebrate the end of the siege of their town during the Boer War in South Africa, the residents of Ladysmith came up with this celebratory cake.
It is an unusual cake with a vanilla half and spice half separated by a layer of raspberry jam, and the cake is topped with chopped walnuts. When cut, the Ladysmith cake has a striking appearance and tastes as good as it looks. I imagine serving it to guests at an afternoon tea in London along with scones, crumpets, and lemon curd. As Sasha mentions in her posting, it tastes especially good warm.
Roger, being an apricot fan, requested that flavor jam next time I make it. I also think that strawberry jam with almond extract and sliced almonds on top would be quite nice. So, you can see we really liked this cake. In fact, Roger and I each had a piece for breakfast the day after I made it. After all, we figured it must be 4 pm tea time somewhere, right?
- 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 3 large eggs
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 1 tbl. cornstarch
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
- 4 tbl. jam of your choice (I used raspberry)
- 1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
Grease and flour an 8” springform pan. (Original recipe called for an 8” cake pan. I thought a springform pan would make it easier to remove the cake, and it did. If you do not have an 8” springform pan, I would grease an 8” cake pan. Cut out an 8” parchment round for the pan and then grease and flour the parchment paper.)
Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Add the flour, cornstarch, and baking powder and fold together until incorporated. Do not overbeat.
Divide batter in half (a kitchen scale is very handy for this) and place half the mixture in a separate bowl. Add spices to one bowl containing one half of the batter and fold spices evenly through the batter being careful not to overmix.
Drop spoonfuls of the jam over the spiced cake mixture and carefully spread as evenly as possible, leaving a 1/2″ border around the edges. If you heat the jam first, it will be easier to spread. In the photo below, the jam has just been dropped and still needs to be spread. Be sure to leave a border as the jam will spread when you add the vanilla layer.
Top with remaining plain cake mixture by dropping spoonfuls of batter and then smoothing batter out. (In photo below, batter has been dropped but still needs to be smoothed out.) Sprinkle with walnuts.
Source: Adapted from The Procrastobaker