Let them eat cake: classic Southern cake recipes are ideal for holiday entertaining.

An elegant cake regally displayed on the buffet is as traditionalto a Southern Christmas dinner as turkey and cranberries. Recipes forbeautiful cakes inspire famous Southern food writers and local cooksalike, and several stand out as Yuletide classics.Craig Claiborne, a Sunflower native who climbed the culinary ladder
to become the respected food editor of The New York Times, never forgot
his Mississippi roots. His definitive cookbook, Craig Claiborne's
Southern Cooking, includes two all time favorites: Lane cake and
fruitcake.

Since Emma Rylander Lane of Clayton, Alabama, created her decadent cake, many cooks have added individual touches. Coconut and pecans are
not original to the recipe, though they add immeasurably to the taste.
It was Edna Lewis and Scott Peacock who made the most radical change,
however, in The Gift of Southern Cooking. Instead of frosting the cake
with white icing, they used the same fruit and nut filling that is
spread between the layers.

Numerous jokes about the recycling of fruitcakes as gifts have not
kept it from being a Mississippi Christmas staple. Claiborne, a
fruitcake lover if there ever was one, described his pleasure in
receiving a ten-year-old cake in his New York Times Food Encyclopedia.
He found it was still "mellow and satiny in texture" although
it had tirade the rounds as a Christmas present many times.

The brilliant color of a red velvet cake makes it a decorative
Christmas dessert. A legend has circulated widely for more than half a
century that a diner at Manhattan's Waldorf-Astoria Hotel requested
the recipe for the delicious cake first served there. Later, she was
astonished to receive a bill for $100. The woman was reportedly so angry
that she shared the recipe with anyone who wanted it, and some of them
must have been from the South, because it has become a Southern
favorite. Like the Neiman Marcus cookie legend, this one is probably
false, but that hasn't stopped it from adding to the dessert's
intrigue.

If you are a fan of Jan Karon's Mitford Chronicles series ofbooks, you know about Esther Bolick and her coveted orange marmalade cake. Every Christmas Eve, Esther delivers the scrumptious cake to herlucky friends. Lucky indeed--the cake consists of two buttermilk-cakelayers soaked with orange syrup, filled with marmalade, frosted on thesides with whipped sweet and sour cream, and topped with more marmalade.The recipe was created by Scott Peacock and was the subject of the bookEsther's Gift; it has even appeared on a Hallmark card.Your family and friends will feel lucky too at your Christmas table
if you serve one of these classic cakes as a grand finale.


LANE CAKE

This Southern favorite was first published
in 1898 in Emma Rylander Lane's
book Some Good Things to Eat.

CAKE:

2 cups sugar
1/2 pound plus 4 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt (optional)
1 1/4 cups milk
8 egg whites, beaten until still
but not dry

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter the
bottoms and sides of three 9-inch layer
cake pans. Add a little flour, and shake to
coat the bottoms and sides. Shake out the
excess. Set pans aside.

To make batter, beat sugar and butter
together until light and fluffy. Beat in
vanilla extract. Sift together flour,
baking powder, and salt. Sift a second
time. Add flour mixture alternately with
milk to batter. Add 1/4 of egg whites, and
beat them in. Fold in remaining egg
whites. Spoon equal portions of batter
into each of the prepared pans. Bake for
20-25 minutes. Place on a rack, and let
stand 10 minutes. Turn cake layers out
onto a rack to cool. Meanwhile, prepare
Filling. Yield: 10 or more servings.

FILLING:

9 egg yolks
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 teaspoon grated orange rind
1/3 cup bourbon
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground mace
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup shredded coconut, preferably fresh
1 cup candied cherries, cut into quarters
1 cup raisins

Combine egg yolks, sugar, and orange
rind in the top of a double boiler, and
place it in a basin of simmering water.
Cook gently, stirring constantly, until the
mixture thickens enough to coat a wooden
spoon. Do not let the mixture boil or
the yolks will curdle. Remove from heat,
and beat in bourbon, vanilla, mace,
pecans, coconut, cherries, and raisins. Let
cool to room temperature. Spread
between cake layers. Top cake with Icing.

ICING:

2 egg whites
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/8 teaspoon salt (optional)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Beat egg whites until stiff, and set
aside. In a saucepan, combine sugar,
water, cream of tartar, and salt, and
bring to a boil, stirring. Cook for 5 minutes
over medium heat. Add vanilla.
Pour sugar mixture over egg whites,
beating constantly. Frost top and sides
of the cake.
Craig ClaiborneCraig Claiborne's Southern

Cooking


COCONUT CAKE

3 cups cake flour, sifted
2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter or margarine, softened
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup milk
1 cup raspberry jam
1 (10 1/2-ounce) jar lemon curd
1 cup flaked coconut, preferably fresh

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift
together cake flour, baking powder, and
salt; set aside. Cream butter and sugar,
then add eggs and vanilla; beat at high
speed for 3 minutes. Add flour mixture
alternately with milk at low speed on
mixer. Scrape sides of bowl with rubber
spatula after each addition. Pour batter
into 3 greased and floured 8-inch cake
pans. Bake for 30 minutes or until the
centers spring back when lightly pressed
with fingertip. Cool layers in pans on
wire racks for 10 minutes. Turn out onto
racks; cool thoroughly. Spread raspberry
jam thinly over two layers. Spoon and
smooth lemon curd over jam. Stack,
ending with plain layer. Frost sides
and top with Seven-Minute Frosting.
Sprinkle with coconut. Yield: 12 or
more servings.

SEVEN-MINUTE FROSTING:

1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup water
2 egg whites
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt

Combine all ingredients in the top of
a double boiler; beat well. Place over
simmering water. Cook, beating constantly
at high speed with an electric
hand mixer, for about 7 minutes or
until it has tripled in volume and holds
firm peaks. Remove from heat, and
frost cake.
Mary Leigh Furrh and Jo Barksdale

Great Desserts of the South

Pelican Publishing Company

Gretna, Louisiana

DARK MOLASSES GINGERBREAD
CAKE WITH SOFT WHIPPED
CREAM

2 cups bleached all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground Ceylon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup boiling water
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups molasses

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift
flour, soda, and baking powder into a
large mixing bowl. Using a wire whisk,
blend in spices and salt. Melt butter in
boiling water, then whisk into flour
mixture. Add eggs and molasses, and
whisk until well-blended. Pour into a
buttered and floured 8-inch square pan,
and bake for 35-40 minutes or until a
skewer plunged in the center comes out
clean. Serve warm with Whipped
Cream. Yield: 6-8 servings.

Author's note: If you only have
unbleached flour, you may use it, but
reduce the total amount of flour by 1/3 cup.
Otherwise you are likely to end up with dry,
coarse gingerbread.

WHIPPED CREAM:

1 cup heavy cream, chilled
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons sugar

Whip cream with vanilla and sugar
until it forms soft peaks.
Edna Lewis and Scott PeacockThe Gift of Southern Cooking


HUMMINGBIRD CAKE

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups sugar
3 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 (8-ounce) can crushed pineapple,
undrained
1 cup pecans, chopped
1 3/4 cups bananas, mashed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a
large bowl, combine flour, soda, salt,
cinnamon, and sugar. Add eggs and oil,
stirring until flour mixture is moistened.
Do not beat. Stir in remaining
ingredients. Pour batter into 3 greased
and floured 8-inch round pans. Bake for
23-28 minutes or until a toothpick
inserted in the center comes out clean.
Cool in pans for 10 minutes. Invert
onto wire racks, and let cool completely.
Frost with Cream Cheese Frosting,
Yield: 16-20 servings.

CREAM CHEESE FROSTING:

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese,
softened
1/2 cup margarine, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 (1-pound) box confectioner's sugar
1/2 cup nuts, chopped

Mix all ingredients; beat until smooth.
Frost cooled cake. Yield: 3 cups.
Prime Meridian
Lamar Foundation

Meridian

RED VELVET CAKE

This has been a favorite with MUW
students for decades, worth making two
trips through the cafeteria line for an
extra slice!

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 tablespoons baking cocoa
2 ounces liquid red food coloring
2 1/2 cups cake flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon baking soda

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream
butter, sugar, and vanilla in a large mixing
bowl until light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at
a time, beating well after each addition.
Mix cocoa and food coloring in a small
bowl to make a paste. Add to egg mixture,
and beat well. Sift flour and salt into a
bowl. Add dry ingredients alternately
with buttermilk to egg mixture, beginning
and ending with dry ingredients
and beating well after each addition. Mix
vinegar and baking soda in a small bowl.
Add to batter, and beat well. Pour into
3 well-greased 8-inch cake pans. Bake for
20-30 minutes or until a pick inserted
in the center comes out clean. Cool in
pans for 10 minutes. Remove to a rack
to cool completely. Spread Frosting
between layers and on top and sides.
Yield: 12 servings.

FROSTING:

1 cup cold milk
5 tablespoons cake flour
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Mix milk and flour in a saucepan; simmer
over medium heat until thickened, stirring
constantly. Pour into a bowl. Chill until cool
to the touch. Cream butter, sugar, and vanilla
until light and fluffy. Add to milk mixture,
and beat until smooth and fluffy.
Southern Grace

Mississippi University for Women
Alumnae Association

Columbus


ITALIAN CREAM CAKE

2 sticks butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
5 egg yolks
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 small can coconut
1 cup walnuts, chopped
5 egg whites, stiffly beaten

Cream butter and sugar until smooth.
Add egg yolks, and beat well. Combine flour
and soda, and add to creamed mixture alternately
with buttermilk. Stir in vanilla
extract, then add coconut and walnuts. Fold
in egg whites. Pour batter into 3 greased and
floured 9-inch pans. Bake at 350 degrees for
25 minutes or until done. Ice with Frosting.

FROSTING:

2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese,
at room temperature
1 stick butter, at room temperature
2 boxes confectioner's sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chopped walnuts

Beat cream cheese and butter until
smooth. Add confectioner's sugar, and mix
well. Add vanilla, and beat until smooth.
Stir in nuts. Spread between layers and on
top and sides of cake.
Cindy Windham

Vicksburg


MARY ANN'S
FRUITCAKE

1 pound golden seedless
raisins
1 pound pecans, broken
3 cups flour, sifted
1 teaspoon salt (optional)
1 pound butter, at room
temperature
2 cups sugar
6 eggs, separated
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon warm water
1/4 cup Grand Marnier
liqueur

Preheat oven to 250
degrees. Butter and flour a
10-inch, 12-cup Bundt pan.
In a large mixing bowl, combine
raisins and pecans.
Sprinkle flour and salt over all, and toss with
hands until thoroughly blended; set aside.

Place butter in the bowl of an electric mixer. Start beating, and
gradually add sugar. Cream well, and add egg yolks, 1 at a time,
beating constantly. Combine baking soda and warm water, and add
to butter mixture, beating, Beat in Grand Marnier. Pour this
mixture into the fruit-and-nut mixture, and blend together with
hands. Beat egg whites until stiff, and fold them into batter by
hand. Continue folding until whites are not visible.
Spoon and scrape batter into prepared pan. smoothing top with
a spatula.

Bake for 2-2 1/4 hours or until cake is puffed above pan and nicely
browned on top. If cake starts to brown too soon, cover with aluminum
foil. Remove cake from pan shortly after it is baked. Tapping the
bottom of pan with a heavy knife will help loosen it. Store cake for at
least 10 days. If desired, add an occasional sprinkle of cognac or rum
to cake as it stands. Keep it covered and refrigerated until ready to
serve.
Craig Claiborne

Craig Claiborne's Southern Cooking

Times Books

New York, New York


ORANGE MARMALADE LAYER CAKE

ORANGE SYRUP:

1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1/4 cup sugar

Before or while baking the cake layers, make Orange
Syrup by stirring together orange juice and sugar until
Sugar is completely dissolved. Set aside.

CAKE:

3 cups cake flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter,
at room temperature
2 cups sugar
3 1arge eggs, at room temperature
1 cup buttermilk at room
temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon orange zest
1 cup Orange marmalade

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Sift flour, baking soda, and salt
together onto a piece of waxed
paper. Beat butter and sugar
together until light and fluffy,
then mix in eggs. 1 at a time,
incorporating each egg completely
before adding the next.

Blend in 1/3 of flour mixture,
then half of buttermilk; repeat,
ending with the remaining 1/3 of
flour. Make sure that each addition
is fully blended before proceeding
to the next. Stir in
vanilla and orange zest, and
divide batter between two
9-inch round cake pans that
have been buttered and floured
and lined with waxed paper or
parchment. Spread batter evenly
in the pans, and drop each
pan sharply on the kitchen
counter to remove any large air
pockets. Bake for about 45 minutes
or until a cake tester
inserted in the center comes
out clean.

Remove from oven, and cool
on a rack in the pans for 20
minutes. Pierce the layers all
over about 1-inch apart with a
toothpick or wooden skewer.
Spoon Orange Syrup over top,
dividing evenly between the layers and allowing each addition
to be absorbed
before adding more. Allow layers to cool completely in the
pans. While layers are cooling, prepare Frosting.

Once layers are completely cooled, turn one of them out onto a
cake plate, and carefully peel off the waxed paper or parchment.
Heat marmalade gently until it begins to liquefy. Spread 2/3 of
marmalade over cake layer, spreading it all the way
to the edges. Turn remaining layer out directly on top of the
first. Again remove waxed paper or parchment, and spoon the
remaining marmalade onto the center of the cake layer, leaving
a 1-inch border around the edge. Frost the sides and top border
of the cake with Frosting; leaving marmalade exposed. Refrigerate
for 2 hours or longer before serving. Can be made the night before.

FROSTING:

3/4 cup sour cream, chilled
3/4 cup heavy cream, chilled
3 tablespoons sugar

Whisk together soul cream, heavy cream, and sugar in a chilled
mixing bowl. Whip until thick enough to spread, and refrigerate
until needed.
Edna Lewis and Scott Peacock

The Gift of Southern Cooking

Alfred A. Knopf

New York, New York

Thanks to Lou Van Velkinburgh of Jackson for preparing Mary
Ann's Fruitcake and Orange Marmalade Layer Cake for our photo
shoot.

COPYRIGHT 2004 Downhome Publications, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2004, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.Bee Wee(Member):nbspIncredible article!!! 1/19/20115:49 PMUsually, articles like this Talk-Talk-Talk about certain memorable recipes, but, when you get to the bottom of the mouth-watering column, there's nary a recipe to be found! I was all set to begin a google search for that Orange Marmelade Cake when I began seeing the recipes for the cakes you had discussed. I immediately scanned faster in the column and lo--behold, that recipe was included!I'm a foodie and in particular, a baker. I truly appreciated the research you did on this piece AND including the recipes! Very well written and I copied all the text to an email so I'd never lose it. Thanks so much for your time in putting this together!