Holiday Cakes and A Peel!

Recipes for Christmas and holiday cookies are plentiful this time of the year.  Cookies are awesome and festive but let’s not forget to invite the ‘diva of all cakes’ (Red Velvet) to the party.  She’s already dressed for the occasion!

RED VELVET CAKE

From Saveur, this recipe makes one 8 inch cake

 

FOR THE CAKE:

  • 2 1/2 cups cake flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 tbsp. (1 oz.) red food coloring
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. white distilled vinegar

 

FOR THE FROSTING:

  • 12 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 12 oz. butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3 cups confectioners’ sugar

 OTHER

  • 1 1/2 cups chopped pecans

 

DIRECTIONS

1. For the cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Sift together flour, sugar, baking soda, cocoa and salt into a medium bowl.  Beat eggs, oil, buttermilk, food coloring, vanilla, and vinegar in a large bowl with an electric mixer until well combined.  Add dry ingredients and beat until smooth, about 2 minutes.  Divide batter evenly between 3 greased and floured 8 inch round cake pans.  Bake cakes, rotating halfway through, until a toothpick inserted in the center of each cake comes out clean, 25-30 minutes.  Let cakes cool 5 minutes, then invert each onto a plate, then invert again onto  cooling rack.  Let cakes cool completely. 

2.  For the frosting: Beat cream cheese, butter and vanilla together in a large bowl with an electric mixer until combined.  Add sugar and beat until frosting is light and fluffy, 5-7 minutes. 

3.  Put 1 cake layer on a cake plate; spread one-quarter of the frosting on top.  Set another layer on top and repeat frosting.  Set remaining layer on top and frost top and sides with the remaining frosting.  Press pecans into the sides of the cake.  Chill for 2 hours to set frosting, if you like.

 

COCONUT CAKE 

Coconut Cake 

I simply love the Barefoot Contessa on the Food Network.  I was delighted to come across this Coconut Cake recipe of hers which would be a great dessert addition for the holidays or any time of the year. 

Warning: She is not afraid of butter! 

FOR THE CAKE:

  • 3/4 pounds (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for greasing the pans
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 5 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure almond extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the pans
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 4 ounces sweetened shredded coconut 

 

FOR THE FROSTING:

  • 1 pound cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 3/4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract
  • 1 pound confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 6 ounces sweetened shredded coconut 

 

DIRECTIONS

For the Cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 2 (9-inch) round cake pans, then line them with parchment paper.  Grease them again and dust lightly with flour.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium-high speed for 3-5 minutes, until light yellow and fluffy.  Crack the eggs into a small bowl.  With the mixer on medium speed, add the eggs 1 at a time, scraping down the bowl once during mixing.  Add the vanilla and almond extracts and mix well.  The mixture might look curdled; don’t be concerned.

In a spearate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the dry ingredients and the milk to the batter in 3 parts, beginning and ending with dry ingredients.  Mix until just combined.  Fold in the 4 ounces of coconut with a rubber spatula. 

Pour the batter evenly into the 2 pans and smooth the top with a knife.  Bake in the center of the oven for 45 to 55 minutes, until the tops are browned and the cake tester comes out clean.  Cool on a baking rack for 30 minutes, then turn the cakes out onto a baking rack to finish cooling. 

For the frosting: In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the cream cheese, butter, vanilla and almond extract on low speed.  Add confectioners’ sugar and mix until just smooth (don’t whip!).

To assemble:Place 1 layer on a flat serving plate, top side down, and spread with frosting.  Place the second layer on top, top side up, and frost the top and sides.  To decorate the cake, sprinkle the top with coconut and lightly press more coconut onto the sides.  Serve at room temperature.

 

CANDIED LEMON PEELS

I could not resist this recipe from Whole Foods Market .  It requires 2 ingredients, make a great gift and is perfect served with tea or dipped in chocolate.  The syrup can be used to spice up your favorite punch or added to cocktails. 

Makes about 60 sugared peels

INGREDIENTS:

  • 8 organic lemons (look for lemons with thick skins)
  • 5 cups sugar, divided

DIRECTIONS

Cut the top and bottom off each lemon. Using a vegetable peeler, peel off pieces of the skin, cutting from top to bottom.  Slice peels into 1/4-inch strips or leave in natural shaped pieces.  Place peels in a sauce pan and cover with water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 1 minute.  Drain and repeat two more times.  Mix 4 cups sugar in with 3 cups cold water.  Bring to a boil.  Add lemon peels and turn heat down to a simmer.  Simmer lemon peels for 1 hour over low heat.  Remove from liquid 

Spread remaining sugar evenly on a baking sheet.  Roll lemon peels in sugar and place on cooling racks to dry, about 3 to 5 hours. 

Package peels in decorative jars tied with holiday ribbon if giving as a gift.

Simmering liquid may be reserved and used as a syrup, to sweeten iced tea, hot tea or festive holiday cocktails. 

Note:  Try this recipe for delicious candied orange peels. 

 

Happy Baking and A Peel! 

 

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One Response to “Holiday Cakes and A Peel!”

  1. Colleen Says:

    This is wonderful !!! I’ve had a great time reading trough and soaking up the spirit of the season. I’m also really ready to BAKE something now that I’ve read through the yummy recipes 🙂 I had the realization today that Christmas Eve is only two weeks away! THANKS for settintg a lovely tone to launch the Holiday …


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