Mary Sayler of Tewksbury, N.J., was in search of the recipe for the rainbow cake that was made by Silbers bakery in Baltimore many years ago. She and her family have fond memories of that cake, and she was hoping to be able to make it at home.

Sadly, Silbers has been closed for many years, and their original recipe is not available. However, one can still find versions of that rainbow cake in several bakeries and delis around Baltimore.


I was also a big fan of the Silbers rainbow cake, and over the years I have sampled many slices of similar desserts throughout the city. I had heard that Snickerdoodles Bakery and Coffee House in Hampstead made a rainbow cake that tasted very much like the Silbers original. But when I contacted the owner, Rob Gonzalez, to see if he would be willing to share his recipe, he said he did not think it could be easily converted for home bakers. The cake is labor-intensive, and he uses a base for his fudge frosting that is only available to commercial bakers.

Rainbow cake is an iconic Baltimore food. While somewhat similar to the tricolored Italian almond cake, the Baltimore version often consists of four or six layers of thin, moist cake — each a different bright color — with a thin layer of jelly or fudge in between. The cake is frosted with a rich chocolate icing. Like the famous chocolate-topped cookies from Silbers, it was the fudge frosting that really made that cake so delicious.

Some years ago, I ran a recipe for a rainbow cake in this column that was sent in by Reva Arnoff of Pikesville. I thought it came close to the Silbers original, but her chocolate glaze didn't quite cut it for me. If you are willing to invest the time in making this luscious cake, I would suggest upgrading the frosting. I am including one of my favorite recipes for a rich chocolate frosting in case you are ambitious enough to take on this treat. Perhaps an easier solution would be to take a drive out to Snickerdoodles and see if Gonzalez's cake will satisfy your craving. I'll bet he'll even sell you a whole cake.


Mary Garwood of Glen Burnie is looking for recipes for fried hard crabs and potted crabs (crabs with gravy and dumplings). She also is wondering if anyone has a copy of a small cookbook put out by The Evening Sun in the 1960s called "Fun With Seafood" that was "designed for the busy Maryland housewife."

Baltimore rainbow cake

Makes 3 loaf cakes (10 servings each)

For the cake:

8 eggs

2 cups sugar

4 cups flour

4 teaspoons almond extract

Food coloring in red, green, blue, yellow or any four-color combination you choose

2 cups butter or margarine (divided into 1/2 cups and melted, cooled and reserved separately)

36 ounces raspberry jam or chocolate icing

Glaze for top:


1/3 cup butter or margarine

1/2 cup cocoa

1/3 cup milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Grease four 10-by-15-inch jelly roll-type pans and line with wax paper.

The batter ingredients must be divided into fourths and mixed separately.

To make each layer: In a mixing bowl, combine 2 eggs with 1/2 cup sugar and beat well. Add 1 cup flour, 1 teaspoon almond extract and several drops of food coloring. Beat for 2 minutes. Fold in 1/2 cup of the melted and cooled margarine. Pour into a prepared pan, spreading the batter to all corners. Bake for 12 minutes. Remove from oven and cool on wire rack. Make the remaining three layers the same way, using a different food coloring for each new layer.

Once cool, turn the first layer out on a tray or parchment paper. Spread with either jam or chocolate icing. Turn the second layer out on top of the first layer, pressing gently to join. Spread with jam or chocolate icing. Repeat with the third and fourth layers, except with top layer, omit jam or icing and spread with hot glaze. If making loaves, not individual cookies, cut into loaves and then glaze so that the glaze covers the top and sides.

To make glaze: In a saucepan, melt margarine and stir in cocoa. Cook for 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in the remaining ingredients until smooth. Spread on cake while hot. Allow glaze to cool and harden before cutting.

Chocolate fudge frosting

Makes about 1 1/2 cup

1 cup unsalted butter, softened

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

2 to 3 tablespoons hot water

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Pinch salt

8 ounces melted semisweet or dark chocolate, cooled

Beat the butter in a clean mixing bowl until smooth. Gradually add the sugar, cocoa, water, vanilla and salt. Mix until combined.

Add more hot water (a teaspoon at a time) if the frosting appears too thick to spread.

Mix in the melted and cooled chocolate until combined. (If at this point the frosting seems too runny, place it in the refrigerator for about 10-15 minutes or while you assemble the cake layers.)

NOTE: If using for in between the layers as well as on top of the cake, I would suggest you double the recipe.