Alabama's State Food Is A Cake Made Famous In A Book

There are plenty of foods in literature that have us craving for them in real life — authors often have a way of making even the blandest of things seem appealing. Take Lembas bread, for example, eaten by the Elves in "Lord of the Rings" — there's something magical about the idea of eating food created by elves. And then, of course, there's all the food in the "Harry Potter" universe, many fans would love to go down to their local version of Hogsmeade and grab a Butterbeer or Cauldron Cake. 

Some foods in literature do happen to exist in real life and the books just make fans curious to know what it's like. Then, there are also foods that become famous because of a book, which are not only celebrated in the town the author is from, but by the entire state — when that book is world famous and has been made into a movie starring Gregory Peck — the food might also become a state dish, just like the Alabama dessert Lane Cake. 

What does it take to become the official state dessert?

When Harper Lee was growing up in Monroeville, Alabama, she could never have imagined that referring to Lane Cake in her first novel, "To Kill a Mockingbird," would someday become the official dessert of her home state. The cake is mentioned several times in the novel — first, as a recipe that the character Miss Maudie believes Stephanie Crawford has been after for thirty years.

According to Alabama Chanin, the Lane Cake (originally called Prize Cake) was believed to have been created in 1898 by Emma Rylander Lane, and the recipe featured in her self-published cookbook "Some Good Things to Eat." The desert is described as, "a white, layered sponge cake (originally designed for 4 layers) iced with a frosting that includes coconut, raisins, pecans, and bourbon." Unlike other cakes that contain alcohol in the batter itself, Lane Cake's alcohol is in the frosting. According to recipes, there is at least 1/2 a cup of bourbon in the frosting, which means the flavor is probably much stronger and more potent — hence the comment by the book's protagonist, Scout, "Miss Maudie Atkinson baked a Lane cake so loaded with shinny it made me tight."

While the Lane Cake was made popular by the novel and was the unofficial dessert in Alabama after publication, it was finally made the official state dessert after the author's death in February 2016.