Raised bread dough fried in deep fat.
1888 Good Housekeeping 8.110 RI, When in Westerly, I had what they called “Baptist cakes,” whether so named from the “Seventh Day Baptists” in that locality I know not, but they were really very nice and are prepared in this way: Take from the bread dough mixed over night, a piece and rolling it very thin, cut it out with a large-sized biscuit cutter. . . Let them rise on the board while the fire is kindling and the fat heating, which should be deep enough to have them float and quite hot. They will puff up at once, and can be served in that way or have a sauce of boiling-hot milk in which a piece of butter and a little salt has been added poured over them, which may be the cause of their name. 1894 NY Tribune (NY) 11 Feb 17/2, They resemble in this respect the “Baptist cakes,” or fritters, which New-England housekeepers sometimes make out of a stiff bread-sponge and which are an excellent breakfast cake. 1931–33 LANE Worksheets csMA, Baptist cake. A sweet roll made of breadflour, sweetened, twisted, dropped in hot fat. 1939 Wolcott Yankee Cook Book 368 NEng, Baptist bread: small irregular pieces of raised bread-dough fried in deep fat; served with maple syrup. 1941 LANE Map 285 3 infs, ceCT, csMA, Baptist cake(s). 1956 Culinary Arts Inst. New Engl. Cook Book 17, Baptist Cakes. These crisp, tempting morsels got their name, so legend says, “because they were immersed”—in deep fat, that is.