22 March 2010

Sylvia's Family Soul Food Cookbook

I am having company from the great unwashed North tomorrow. Actually, from from the snowbound state of Vermont. My job is to provide a gigantic feast as they head west to Colorado. I am cooking up some seafood and as I told them... If I knew you were comin' I'd a baked a cake... since I did know they were comin' I asked for cake suggestions and Southern won out. so I am baking a red velvet cake. There are numerous recipes all basically the same, but I knew one of the best was in Sylvia's Family Soul Food Cookbook.

Sylvia Woods grew up in Hemingway, South Carolina. In the early sixties, she and her husband opened a small diner in Harlem. Not to be cliché but the rest is history. Reading Syvia's cookbook is like being in big friendly kitchen. There's Bedelia's Oven-Fried Chicken, Bert's Catfish Stew, Kenneth's Honey Lemon Tilefish and of course Sylvia's Red Velvet Cake.

Red Velvet Cake

Cake

2 1/2 cups sifted cake flour
2 teaspoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
2 ounces red food coloring
1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Frosting

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup unsalted butter or margarine, softened
1 pound box confectioners sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chopped pecans


For the cake:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour 2 (9-inch) cake pans. In a medium bowl or on a piece of waxed paper, sift together flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt; set aside. In a large bowl, cream together sugar and butter. Beat in eggs one at a time.

Alternately add flour mixture and buttermilk. Beat in food coloring and vinegar, then add vanilla. Spread the batter evenly in the pans. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Turn out onto a rack to cool.

For the frosting:

In a large bowl, cream the cream cheese and butter. Beat in confectioners sugar until fluffy. Beat in vanilla. Stir in pecans. Use frosting to fill and ice cake. Slice and serve on individual plates.

OK, here's the deal. I don;t like nuts so I don't use them. I know it makes the cake pretty. The other alternative is to take a the crumbs of the cake you get when you slice off a bit of the tops to make the cake sit evenly and crumble those up to place on the sides. Of course my other alternative so that NO cake shows through -- make extra frosting. Works for me.

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