No one could ever accuse me of being Southern. Not a chance. For one thing, I talk way too fast. An old boyfriend once told me I think way too fast too (I’m guessing that wasn’t meant to be a compliment). I often think I want to slow down, but then I can’t. I find leisurely–a pace I associate very much with the South–almost impossible.
That’s not to say I don’t aspire to a certain Southern gentility. Sitting on a wide, wrap-around porch with a glass of sweet tea and a lovely slice of cake (coconut, maybe) might be enough to lure even me into the slow lane. I probably wouldn’t last much longer than the final bite, but I’d give it the old college try. The Southern Cake Book could be my primer.
A compendium of more than 150 cake recipes, this book could see me (and any cake lover, Southern or otherwise) through a lot of occasions. And a lot of Wednesdays, for that matter. One particularly appealing southern trait is that cake isn’t reserved just for the big days. Every day is cake day. There’s an idea I can get behind. With recipes for many, many pound cakes (Caramel Frosted Pound Cake, anyone?) and coffee cakes (next up at my house: Lemon-Rosemary Coffee Cake), I can be thinking Southern in no time.
And when the big occasions do roll around, this strawberry beauty will be front and center. Happy Birthday to me.
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A Southern Cake Book Giveaway! We’re giving away a spanking new copy of The Southern Cake Book. Tell us in the comments section about your favorite cake–birthday or otherwise–and we’ll pick a name at random next Friday. You may want to read a little Flannery O’Connor in the meantime. Get your Southern on.
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The Southern Cake Book
From the Editors of Southern Living Magazine
Senior Photographer, Hélène Dujardin
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 2 cups sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 2¾ cups all-purpose soft-wheat flour
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- ½ tsp. table salt
- 1 cup milk
- 1 vanilla bean
- Strawberry Compote (recipe below)
- 5-Cup Cream Cheese Frosting (recipe below)
- Garnish: fresh strawberry halves
- Preheat oven to 350°. Beat butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy; gradually add sugar, beating well. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating until blended after each addition.
- Combine flour, baking powder, and salt; add to butter mixture alternately with milk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at low speed until blended after each addition, stopping to scrape bowl as needed. Split vanilla bean lengthwise, and scrape out seeds. Stir seeds into batter; reserve bean for another use. Pour batter into 2 greased (with shortening) and floured 8-inch round cake pans with 2-inch sides.
- Bake at 350° for 30 to 34 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks, and cool completely (about 1 hour).
- Using a serrated knife, slice cake layers in half horizontally to make 4 layers. Place 1 layer, cut side up, on a cake plate or serving platter. Spread with half of Strawberry Compote. Top with another cake layer; spread with about ¾ cup Cream Cheese Frosting. Place another cake layer on top of frosting; spread with remaining compote. Top with remaining cake layer. Spread 11/4 cups frosting on top and sides of cake to create a thin coat of frosting. Chill cake 30 minutes. Spread top and sides of cake with remaining frosting. Store in refrigerator.
- 1 vanilla bean
- 1½ cups chopped fresh strawberries
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 Tbsp. rum
- Split vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape out seeds. Stir together vanilla bean and seeds, strawberries, and sugar in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes or until strawberries are soft and mixture is slightly syrupy. Remove from heat; discard vanilla bean. Stir in rum. Cool completely (about 30 min).
- 2 8-oz. packages cream cheese, softened
- ½ cup (one stick) butter, softened
- 2 16-oz. packages powdered sugar
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract
- Beat cream cheese and butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add powdered sugar, beating until fluffy. Stir in vanilla extract.