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Great-Grandmother's Lightning Layer Cake Recipe

This recipe comes from my Great-Grandmother Sistrunk's recipe book. I appreciate that her recipes were passed down to me.

Lightning Layer Cake

Lightning Layer Cake

Vintage Lightning Layer Cake

My Great-Grandmother Sistrunk enjoyed baking for her family as well as for her community in Florida. Her recipe for lightning layer cake appears in her recipe book alongside the date, 1900.

Her daughter, my Grandmother Knight, told me that her mother used to go to recipe parties and was always one of the first in her group of friends to buy a new item on the market that would be useful for cooking or baking. This lightning layer cake probably appeared on a box of Swans Down Cake Flour that one of the ladies shared at the party.

Cook Time

Prep timeCook timeReady inYields

35 min

25 min

1 hour

12 servings


  • 3 1/2 cups Swans Downs Cake Flour, sifted
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs, unbeaten
  • soft shortening, as needed
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 (7-ounce) pack Baker's Angel Flake Sweetened Coconut (or any sweetened coconut flakes)


  1. Sift the flour once and then measure 3 1/2 cups. Combine flour with baking powder and salt. Sift together three times into a mixing bowl.
  2. Break eggs into a cup and then add enough shortening to fill the cup.
  3. Add milk, sugar, lemon extract, vanilla, eggs, and shortening to the flour mixture. Beat vigorously for 2 minutes.
  4. Pour the mixture into three 9-inch greased layer pans evenly. Bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes.
  5. When cooled, spread a white frosting between the layers and on top of the cake.
  6. Sprinkle each layer and on top with Baker's Angel Flake Sweetened Coconut or any brand of coconut flakes you prefer.
Great-Grandmother Dora Rebecca Krimminger Sistrunk

Great-Grandmother Dora Rebecca Krimminger Sistrunk

© 2022 Barbara Purvis Hunter