Dolley Payne Todd Madison was the wife of James Madison, President of the United States from 1809 to 1817. She was noted for her social graces, which boosted her husband’s popularity as President. This recipe has been handed down from First Lady to first lady serving in the White House.
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, plus more for pans
- 8 large egg whites
- 2 1/2 cups sugar
- 1 cup milk
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup cornstarch
- 2 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 3 cups light-brown sugar
- 1 cup light cream
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Cake: Butter four 8-by-2-inch round cake pans, set aside.
- Beat egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment until stiff peaks form; set aside.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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, (see prep directions below) 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.
- Icing: Whisk together sugar, cream, and butter in a medium bowl. Set bowl over (but not touching) simmering water, cook until thickened, about 20 minutes. Remove bowl from heat; stir in vanilla. Let cool.