Authentic Period Washington Pie

Nov 26, 2016
central NC
(Public Domain)

Washington Pie, which is actually a layer cake with a jam or jelly filling, has been around since at least 1850. A jelly-filled version made an appearance in Mrs. Putnam’s Receipt Book. In the mid-19th century, home cooks often baked layer cakes in pie tins. As a result, many referred to cakes baked in pie tins as “pies.” At one point, Washington Pie was so popular that shallow, round baking pans were often referred to as “Washington Pie plates.”

Washington Pie (Layer Cake Version)

4 eggs
1 ⅓ cups white sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup flour
Juice and zest from half a lemon
6 ounces of tart raspberry jam
Confectioner’s sugar, for dusting

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Prepare two round, shallow 8-inch pans (you can use pie tins if your cake pans have high sides) by coating them with butter and flour, then set aside.

Separate the eggs. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the yolks with sugar, lemon juice, and lemon zest.

Sift together the flour and baking powder, then sift into the egg yolk mixture and beat until just combined.

In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites with a pinch of salt to soft peaks. Gently fold the egg whites into the rest of the ingredients.

Divide the mixture evenly into the prepared pans and bake for 25 minutes. The cakes will have risen slightly and will be lightly golden when finished.

Cool the layers completely, then spread the bottom layer with a thick, even layer of raspberry jam. Top with the second layer, and dust with confectioner’s sugar. This cake is best served after it has sat overnight, and is excellent with whipped cream.