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WHAT'S COOKING? Cakes are a perfect holiday dessert

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Teresa Hatchell 2005

Teresa Hatchell

As we celebrate the birth of Christ, we should take time to ponder the true “miracle” of Christmas. The “miracle” I am writing about is depicted in manger scenes displayed all around us – reminding us of the unconditional love that God showed the world by sending His son to be born in a stable, to live 33 years to show us how to love, forgive and serve others and to be our Savior. Indeed, Christ was love embodied. As I have said many times, the Christmas season seems to bring out the best in people. Please let it bring out the love and goodwill in your heart now and throughout the days ahead

Those feelings expressed, please allow me to share two delicious cake recipes that you may consider "whipping up" for holiday meals or any time of year. The Red Velvet Cake with butter frosting (partially cooked) and the Italian Cream Cake with butter frosting that doesn’t require cooking may take a bit of work, but these traditional Southern cakes will be well worth your efforts! And, if you slice a piece of the Red Velvet Cake and carefully lift it out, the cake itself may be used as a colorful “centerpiece” on the table.

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Centerpiece Red Velvet Cake

1-1/2 sticks unsalted butter

2-1/4 cups sugar

3 eggs

3 small bottles red food coloring

3-3/4 cups plain flour, sifted

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons cocoa powder

2 teaspoons vanilla

1-1/2 cups buttermilk

1-1/2 teaspoons white vinegar

3/4 teaspoons baking soda

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, cream the butter, sugar and eggs. Add the red food coloring. Into a separate bowl, measure and sift the flour. Put the flour back into the sifter and add salt and cocoa to the sifter; sift again. Add this flour mixture, vanilla and buttermilk to the creamed mixture and beat well. In a small cup, stir the vinegar and baking soda. Pour this into the batter, but don’t beat it. Instead, fold it in with a spoon or spatula.

Pour this batter into three greased and floured 9-inch cake pans that have been lined with parchment paper. Bake the layers at 350 degrees for 30 minutes (don’t open the oven during this time). Let the layers cool for 10 minutes before inverting the layers onto a flat surface to let them cool before frosting them with Butter Frosting.

Butter Frosting

4 tablespoons cornstarch

2 cups cold water

4 sticks unsalted butter

1 box 10X powdered sugar, sifted

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

In a saucepan, combine the cornstarch and cold water. Cook it on medium heat, stirring continually, until it thickens. It doesn’t take long. Set this aside and let it cool. In a large bowl, combine the butter, powdered sugar (sifted) and vanilla. Beat well with a hand mixer. Then beat in the cornstarch mixture. Beat it until the mixture looks like whipped cream. If the frosting seems too thin, beat in a little bit more powdered sugar. This recipe frosts three layers.

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Italian Cream Cake

(This is a recipe from my friend Barbara Troutman of Rosinville.)

1 stick unsalted butter

1/2 cup Butter-flavored Crisco

5 eggs separated (read on)

2-1/4 cups cake flour

2 cups sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup buttermilk

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 6-ounce package frozen coconut

1 cup chopped pecans

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. In a large bowl, cream the butter and Crisco together. Add the sugar and beat until fluffy. Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each. Sift the flour and baking soda together. Add this to the mixture alternately with buttermilk. Add vanilla, coconut and pecans. Fold in stiffly beaten egg whites. Grease and flour (or use Baker’s Joy spray) three 9-inch cake pans. Distribute the batter evenly among the three pans. Bake at 325 for 35 minutes or until done.


1 stick unsalted butter

8-ounce block of cream cheese

1 cup finely chopped pecans

1-1/4 to 1-1/2 boxes 10X powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and cream cheese. Add the powdered sugar and mix until well blended, then stir in the vanilla and chopped pecans. This should be enough to frost between the layers, as well as the top and around the side of the cake.

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