Dolley Madison Layer Cake

1 8-inch layer cake

This simple recipe is courtesy of Cokie Roberts and is featured in her new book, "Ladies of Liberty: The Women Who Shaped Our Nation."


  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, plus more for pans

  • 8 large egg whites

  • 2 ½ cups sugar

  • 1 cup milk

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour

  • ¾ cup cornstarch

  • 2 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract

  • Caramel Icing


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter four 8-by-2-inch round cake pans, set aside.

  2. Beat egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment until stiff peaks form; set aside.

  3. In the clean bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugar. With the mixer running, slowly add milk; mix until well combined. Sift together flour and cornstarch; slowly add to mixer and beat until well combined. Add vanilla and mix well.

  4. Gently fold in reserved egg whites and divide evenly between prepared pans. Bake until cake springs back when lightly touched, 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool in cake pans on wire racks, about 10 minutes. Remove from pans and let cool completely on wire racks.

  5. Place 4 strips of parchment paper around perimeter of a serving plate or lazy Susan. Place the first layer on the cake plate. Pour over about 1/2 cup icing, spreading evenly to cover. Repeat process with 2 more layers. Repeat process with two more layers. Place the remaining layer on top of the third layer and cover cake completely with remaining icing.

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