Updated Monday, August 13th, 2007
Total Time: 20
Yield: 15 slices
This delicate tea cake has been in existence since the late 18th century, but its exact origins are a matter of debate. Some records state that Sally Lunn was a real person, a baker in Bath, England, whose cakes brought her wide acclaim among the tourists who took the waters in that spa town. Others say the name derives from the French soleil et lune, or "sun and moon" cake. It's a puzzle.
In the earliest recipes, yeast was used as the leavening agent and the dough was baked in the form of small, individual cakes. Our recipe is much simpler, as the batter is made with baking powder and poured into a single loaf pan for baking.
Preheat the oven to 375°; grease a 9x5-inch loaf pan.
In a clean bowl, beat the egg whites to firm peaks and set aside. Whisk together the dry ingredients and set aside.
In a small bowl, whisk together the milk and egg yolks. Add to the dry ingredients, stirring until just combined. Stir in the melted butter, then fold in the stiffly beaten egg whites.
Pour into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 45 minutes (you may tent the pan with foil after 30 minutes if the top is browning too quickly).
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