Search This Blog

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Favorite Southern Holiday Cakes

Mamie's Burnt Sugar Caramel Cake, personalized by Kaye Howard and Jane Edmunds
As we approach the holiday season, I want to share my two ABSOLUTE FAVORITE SOUTHERN CAKES with you: Burnt Sugar Caramel and Chocolate Fudge. You can't go wrong with either one. If you serve both, your guests will be in Dessert Heaven!


The recipe for ''Mamie's Burnt Sugar Caramel Icing" is from my college friend, Jane Edmund's, maternal grandmother, Mamie. (Bonus Tip: The caramel icing, embellished with pecans, makes amazing pralines!) I have been enjoying this cake, and Jane's pralines, for over 40 years, and I always look forward to opportunities for Jane to make her caramel cake!

Recently, Jane, and her sister Kaye Howard baked and embellished 9 caramel cakes, at the special request of their friend, Bride and Chef, Julia Colgrove. The cakes served as Wedding Cakes for Julia's destination wedding in the Northeast Georgia Mountains. As you can see, the cakes looked FABULOUS. They tasted even better!

To keep it simple, Jane usually uses Duncan Hines Butter Recipe Cake Mix for her cakes, then she makes the icing from scratch. She uses two boxes of mix to make three 9-inch layers. (You will have extra batter.) The recipe below will ice three 9-inch layers.

(I apologize for the weird recipe spacing and word divisions. I tried to fix them, but was unsuccessful!)


3 1/2 cups Dixie Crystals sugar
3/4 cup water
2 sticks butter, less 1 T.
1 scant cup heavy cream

In a deep pot, brown 1/2 cup sugar over medium to high heat, stirring constantly. 
(It will look like melted Kraft Caramels™)
Add water in several additions, because it will explode on you. 
Boil and cook it down till until it is syrupy and reduced to less than half. It will appear less transparent.  
Add other ingredients. Boil until there is a boil you can't stir down, then boil 1 minute.  
Cool.  Beat until creamy.
To make the grapes, acorns, and leaves, Kaye rolled out Kraft Caramels™ with a little corn starch. (Cheaper caramels did not work.) She hand-shaped and embellished the acorns and grapes and used cookie cutters to cut out the leaves. Half the cakes were decorated with grapes and grape leaves, the other half with acorns and oak leaves. The Bride's and Groom's Cake featured both grapes and acorns.
Wedding Cakes
Details of Caramel Oak Leaves and Acorns
I am not sure where my mother got the recipe for "Bonnie Butter Cake with Mama's Chocolate Fudge Icing"  but it has been our family's "go-to favorite" for over 60 years! This cake is served for family birthdays, holidays, special occasions, and for Jesus' Birthday Cake at Christmas. Upon first taste of this fudge icing, Southern friends often nostalgically recall similar fudge cakes from their pasts.
The sides of this one got a little too sugary, and not so smooth! Still tasted good
The icing hardens and becomes sugary like old fashioned firm fudge--not creamy fudge. 
⅔ cup of soft butter
1 ¾ cups of sugar
2 eggs
1 ½ teaspoons of vanilla
3 cups of sifted SOFTASILK or other cake flour
2 ½ teaspoons of baking powder
1 teaspoon of salt
1 ¼ cups of milk
Heat oven to 350 degrees. 
Grease well, and flour, 3-8x1½" cake pans, or 2-9x 1½" square pan. 
Beat butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla for 5 minutes at high speed on mixer or by hand till fluffy. 
Sift flour, baking powder and salt. Add in 4 additions alternately with milk. Start and end with dry ingredients.
Blend on low speed just until smooth. Bake layers 30-35 minutes. 
*Use with Mama’s Fudge Icing.
2- 1 oz. squares of unsweetened baking chocolate (some brands have downsized their squares)
½ cup of milk
2 cups of sugar
½ cup of butter (1 stick)
Melt butter and chocolate; stir in sugar and milk. (Use a 3-4 quart pot, preferably with heavy bottom)
Heat until sugar melts and let it boil without stirring to "soft ball" on a candy thermometer, 5-6 minutes. 
Remove from heat. 
Add 1/2 t. vanilla. 
Stir until icing is cool enough to put on cake without it running off. (Be careful! It hardens fast!)
TIP: If you make 1 ½ recipes, you will have a little more icing with which to cover your cake. 
*Traditionally served with Bonnie Butter Cake. 
These cakes take lots of practice. Don't plan to serve these cakes to company the first time you make them unless you have a really good sense of humor! It may end up looking pretty funny--but looks aren't everything! The icing can set up and harden very quickly. Sometimes you may be able to re-melt it a little over low heat.
Jane does not use a candy thermometer for the caramel. I use a candy thermometer for the fudge. It's critical that the fudge gets to the "soft ball" stage.
You need to frost between the layers just before it starts to harden so you will have time to get the icing on the top and sides before it gets too sugary. Not all batches turn out the same, due to distractions, humidity, or simply from unknown reasons! Even though some efforts are prettier than others, they ALL taste good! Keep trying. You'll be glad you did!

Please let me know in the comments if you try the cakes! 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for visiting! Please feel free to leave comments. I'd love for you to consider "following" my blog!