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Red Velvet Cake

Red velvet cakes are one of those desserts that I couldn’t imagine not having at Christmas time. My mother surprised me with an early present today (a KitchenAid stand mixer; the best gift ever!), so I put it to good use making one of her favorite cakes.

The recipe that I’ve always used for red velvet cakes was taught to me by my grandmother. I love the traditional red velvet layer cake adorned with chopped pecans, but I tend to make cupcakes or cake pops more often. This year, I decided to try something a little different and make a red velvet cake roll.

The Cake:
2 1/4 c cake flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cocoa powder (unsweetened)
1 1/2 c vegetable oil
1 1/2 c granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 c buttermilk
1 small bottle (1 oz.) of red food coloring
1 tsp white vinegar*
* You can substitute apple cider vinegar, instead. I also once used balsamic vinegar with good results when I didn’t have either apple cider or white vinegar.

Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 package of cream cheese, softened
1/2 stick of butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 c of powdered sugar

1) Preheat the oven to 350 F degrees.

The sifted dry ingredients.

2) Sift together the cake flour, salt, baking soda, and cocoa powder in a medium sized bowl and set it aside. 
Mixing in the vanilla.

3) Cream together the oil and granulated sugar. Add the eggs in one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Then, mix in the vanilla extract.

Just before adding the red food coloring and vinegar.

4) Add the dry ingredients and buttermilk alternately, mixing well after each addition.

5) Add the red food coloring and white vinegar, and mix well.

Since I’m making a red velvet cake roll, I baked the cake in two 9 x 13 cookie sheets instead of round cake pans.

Red Velvet Cake Roll Instructions

Just before going in the oven.

1) Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. If you’re worried about the cakes sticking to the paper you can use a little cooking spray. Pour enough batter into each pan to ensure that the entire bottom of the pan is covered. Spread the batter evenly, then bake for about 15 minutes (give or take) or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

2) Once the cakes are out of the oven, remove each cake (including the parchment paper underneath them) from its pan.

3) Lay another piece of parchment paper on top of each cake, then cover that with a damp kitchen towel. 

Waiting for the cakes to cool.

4) Then, starting at the small end, roll up each cake in the towel and parchment paper. Place it, seam side down, somewhere to cool.

5) In the meantime, make the cream cheese frosting by combining the ingredients and mixing well. Once you’ve made the frosting, place it in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use it for the cakes to ensure that its consistency remains thick.

6) When the cakes have cooled completely, unroll them and remove the damp towel and top layer of parchment paper. Then, spread a layer of cream cheese frosting on top of each cake. Carefully roll up each cake again; you can use the bottom edge of the parchment paper to help you roll the cakes a little tighter. As you’re rolling up the cakes they should easily come loose from the paper. If the cake cracks a little, don’t worry overly much because you can dust it with powdered sugar to hide any imperfections. Refrigerate until you’re ready to serve. You can also wrap the cake rolls in plastic wrap and place them in the freezer for about 30 minutes to help them set up, then move them to the refrigerator.

One of the finished cake rolls with a dusting of powdered sugar.

In all, I was able to make two red velvet cake rolls and several cupcakes from this one recipe. One of the cake rolls belongs to Clint’s parents, and I’m sure they’ll enjoy it.

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Coconut Cake

I have so many special memories of helping my grandmother in the kitchen, and Coconut Cake was always one of my favorite things to help her make. Mainly, I loved scraping out the leftover frosting after she was through with it. Of course, the Seven Minute Frosting (or “divinity icing” as I called it as a child) was so sticky by then that it always ended up smeared on my face and hands and on the countertop.

This is still one of my favorite cakes to make, and this year it was the one I baked for my grandmother’s birthday (I hate to admit it, but it was so good I ended up making another one this past week). I make it pretty much the exact same way that she did, except that I like to toast the coconut flakes.

The Ingredients:
The Cake:
1 c butter (softened)
2 c sugar
3 c cake flour
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
4 eggs*
1 c milk
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
*Our ducks have started back laying after going through a moult, so I used their eggs for the cake. Since they’re very large, I only needed three eggs instead of four.

Seven Minute Frosting:
1 1/2 c granulated sugar
1 Tbsp corn syrup
a pinch of salt
1/3 c water
2 egg whites
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Sweetened coconut flakes, toasted

1) Preheat the oven to 350F degrees.

2) In a large mixing bowl, cream together the softened butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.

The sifted dry ingredients.

3) In a medium mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt, then set aside.

4) Add the eggs one at a time to the creamed mixture, mixing well after each addition. Then, add the vanilla extract and mix.

5) Add the dry ingredients and milk alternately, beating well after each addition.

6) Pour the cake batter into three prepared 9-inch cake pans. Bake at 350F degrees for about 25-30 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Allow the layers to cool completely before assembling or frosting the cake.

The Frosting:

1) In a large heat safe mixing bowl, combine the sugar, corn syrup, salt, water, and egg whites, and mix well (for about a minute). Then, place the bowl on top of a saucepan of simmering water* beating constantly with an electric mixer for about seven minutes or until the frosting forms peaks when the beaters are lifted out.
*Make sure that the simmering water does not touch the bottom of the mixing bowl or the frosting will be grainy.
**Humid weather can affect the outcome of the frosting.

The frosting waiting to go on the cake.

2) Remove the bowl from the heat and mix in the vanilla extract. Allow the frosting to cool a little before using. Then spread it evenly between each layer, and on the top and sides of the cake.

Toasted Coconut:

1) Spread the coconut flakes out evenly on an aluminum foil lined baking sheet. Place it in a 350F degree oven until the coconut is sufficiently toasted. Because the coconut flakes are sweetened and they’ll most likely brown a little unevenly, it’s important to check on them and stir often.

2) Remove the coconut flakes from the oven and allow them to cool. Then, pat the flakes onto the sides of the frosted cake and sprinkle them on top of the cake.

Tip: A good way to keep the layers from sliding around is to insert three or four wooden kabob skewers into the cake (you’ll most likely have to cut the skewers to the right size using a pair of kitchen shears).


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Lemon Cheese Cake

Contrary to its name, there is no cheese in this old-fashioned Southern recipe. I’ve heard that the name comes from the fact that this cake resembles a big wheel of cheese. From what I know of her, my great grandmother was a wonderful cook and made the best homemade cakes (and one of those was lemon cheese cake). She passed on well before I came along, and although many of her recipes were passed down to my grandmother (and then on to me), lemon cheese cake was not of them. A few years ago, a cousin’s request for this easy, but delicious cake led me on a little search for a recipe that would taste similar and this is the result.

This isn’t necessarily the prettiest cake, mostly because the frosting is a little thinner than most. However, it’s delicious, especially if your like me and prefer sweets with a little tartness.

The Ingredients:
The Cake:
1 1/2 sticks of butter, softened
2 1/4 c sugar
3 1/2 c cake flour
3 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt*
1 c milk
1 tsp vanilla
6 egg whites, beaten to stiff peaks
*I use kosher salt.

The Frosting:
9 egg yolks
1 1/2 c sugar
3 sticks of butter
Juice of 4-5 lemons
Zest from 2 of those lemons

1) Preheat oven to 375F.

2) In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt, then set it aside. You can also sift the flour combination, too, if you want.

3) In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar together, then mix in the vanilla.

4) Add the flour mixture and milk alternately, mixing well after each addition.

The batter after the egg whites have been folded in.

5) Add the egg whites and fold them in.

6) Bake in three prepared 8 inch cake pans for about 30-35 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

The Frosting:

The frosting right after coming off the stove.

1) Mix all of the ingredients together and cook in a double boiler until the mixture thickens (takes about 25 minutes or slightly longer). Make sure to stir constantly. Allow the frosting to cool before frosting the cake (it will thicken even more after cooling off).

2) Once the cake and frosting have cooled, spread the frosting in between the layers and on the outside of the cake. Since the frosting is thin, you’ll most likely still be able to see the cake through it, especially on the sides.


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Balsamic Strawberries and Ice Cream

This is one of our very favorite desserts. The first time I made it, everyone was a little skeptical of vinegar and ice cream, but they love it now.

The Ingredients:
1 lb of strawberries, washed & sliced
2/3 c balsamic vinegar (you can really do as much or as little vinegar as you want, but we like a lot of it)
1/4 c granulated sugar
and last, but not least, ice cream (we love it on vanilla)

1) Wash and slice the strawberries (cut the large ones in half).

2) In a saute pan combine the balsamic vinegar and sugar over medium heat. Allow it to simmer until the mixture slightly thickens.

3) Add the strawberries and allow it to simmer another minute before you remove it from the heat.

4) Serve it warm over ice cream and enjoy!