A feature of my growing-up years was the ancient copy of the Better Homes & Gardens cookbook in our house. Now, I don't remember my mother actually cooking out of this book, but I certainly remember spending quite a bit of time browsing through it. I thought it must have been a wedding present to my parents in 1945, but I see now that the publishing date for this copy is 1947. The one thing that captured my attention at the time, and stayed with me for decades, was the recipe for Lord Baltimore cake...don't ask me why. I must have been 8 or 9 years old, to have been able to comprehend the list of ingredients and instructions. At that age, they seemed pretty complicated. While my mother was an excellent cook, our normal method of cake-baking involved a boxed mix, which we prepared and ate happily.
I later embarked on serious genealogical research, beginning in 1980. Along the way, I discovered that one branch of my father's family descends from a huge number of Catholic ancestors, who settled in Maryland during the 1600s. Among their surnames are Boarman, Boone, Edelen, Simpson, Mathews, Logsdon, Pile, Riney and so on. The colony was created by the Catholic Sir George Calvert, and passed to his son Cecil Calvert, both of whom carried the title Lord Baltimore.
Flash forward to the present: for some years now, I've been in possession of that old red cookbook. I decided I'd waited long enough, and finally created a Lord Baltimore cake. While not as monumental a task as I'd imagined all those years ago, it was no mix out of a box! Three layers, chopped filling ingredients, and a sink full of dishes later, it was finished! With seven egg yolks in the batter, it had a pretty firm texture, but was delicious. Since I'm not a fan of the thick frosting called for, I made a thin glaze instead.
A quick check of possible origins of the Lord Baltimore cake suggests that it might have come from a Charleston, SC tea room at the turn of the 20th century. But don't burst my bubble: I'd much rather believe that my kid self knew that it was somehow much more significant!