White Mountain Cake is a white sponge layer cake.
It is so named because it’s tall — being a layer cake — and because it’s both a white cake, and a cake frosted with white icing, thus, a white mountain.
It uses lots of egg whites for leavener, but also uses some baking powder as a back-up.
The cake can be baked as two or three layers.
It is frosted with a boiled frosting, which is also used as filling for the layers.
The boiled frosting is referred to as “White Mountain Frosting” and is often made in its own right for other cakes.
Literature & Lore
White Mountain Cake became popular in the late 1800s in America. Note the first recipe uses cornmeal (“Indian meal.”)
“WHITE MOUNTAIN CAKE.—One pint of milk, two cups of Indian meal, six eggs. Scald the milk. Beat the eggs thoroughly. Just as the milk comes to a boil stir in the Indian meal. Take from the fire and add the eggs. Bake immediately for twenty minutes. This cake must be baked very thin.” — Farm and Household Column. Postville Review. Postville, Iowa. 8 September 1875. Page 3. [Ed: thin likely refers to the layers. No mention of how to frost it. Indian meal is cornmeal.]
“WHITE MOUNTAIN CAKE.—1 cupful of butter, 2 of sugar, 3 of flour, with 2 teaspoonfuls baking-powder, and a little salt, 1 cupful of milk and the whites of 8 well beaten eggs; bake in layers of different sizes, decreasing in size as it is built up. Icing—2 cupfuls white sugar, with just enough water to moisten; boil to a thick sirup, pour boiling hot on the whites of 2 well beaten eggs; add 1 teaspoonful citric acid, and stir till cold, flavor to taste, and ice on top.” — Home Interests Column. Iola Register. Iola, Kansas. 13 October 1877. Page 4.
“Louise, We hope your husband is better. The recipe for White mountain cake we published in last week’s issue, in reply to your question, was a typographical error. We got hold of a prescription for gargling a horse for the heaves. Do not seek a divorce from your husband on account of
the remarks he made about the cake.” — Editorial Dots. The Weekly Hawk-Eye. 8 November 1883. Page 3.
“What is called White Mountain cake is as heavy at some hotels as if it were as old as the hills.” — Epicurean Morsels column. Newark Daily Advocate. Newark, Ohio. 23 May 1891. Page 2.