August 2, 2013


Let's talk hospitality....Southern hospitality! My Yankee cousins are sometimes startled by the extraordinary lengths southerners will go to in order to make a visitor feel at home. So often, one of Mother's friends would dash into the kitchen and leave a casserole for dinner or drop off a bag of fresh summer vegetables from their own garden.

When you visit Mississippi, you will enjoy fried catfish and hushpuppies in my birthplace of Vicksburg, creole gumbo and soft shelled crabs in Biloxi and ham hocks with turnip greens in Tupelo.

Now Southerners are well known for their desserts....peach cobbler, banana pudding, buttermilk pie and those delicious homemade red velvet cakes. Over the years of passing around the family recipes, each cook adds their own little "something special" to make these recipes, your signature dish! Mother added a vanilla mousse filling to her red velvet cakes, and I follow in her footsteps. It sure made my daddy smile......he always said...."the huggin' and kissin' may not last forever, but the cookin' do!

The Cake
2 1/2 cups cake flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 T cocoa powder
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
2 tablespoons red food coloring
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup of heavy whipping cream
1 cup of milk
1 6- ounce package of instant vanilla pudding
Pour ingredients into a large mixing bowl.
Mix well with hand mixer and chill until ready to frost your cake.  The mousse filling is placed in between the two cake layers, prior to frosting your cake. Mother cut off a very thin slice off the top layer of cake and used this for the crumb topping, as a beautiful garnish!

Cream Cheese Frosting
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
12 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 to 2 tablespoons heavy cream


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and make sure the rack is  in center of oven. Butter two 9- inch round cake pans and line the bottoms of the pans with parchment paper. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl sift the flour, salt and cocoa powder together.

In an electric mixer or with a hand held mixer beat the butter until soft. Then add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. 

Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing after each addition until it is well incorporated. 

Scrape the sides of the mixing bowl and add the vanilla. Beat until combined. 

In a little bowl combine the buttermilk and red food coloring. With the mixer on low, alternately add the flour mixture and buttermilk to the butter mixture.

In a different bowl combine the vinegar and baking soda. Allow the mixture to fizz and then quickly fold into the cake batter. 

Divide the batter evenly between the two prepared pans and smooth the tops.Bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick or skewer inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean.

Cool the cakes in their pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Then invert, lifting off the pan. 

Once they have completely cooled, wrap in plastic and place the cake layers in the freezer for at least an hour or overnight. This is how the pros do it. It makes icing and assembling the cake so much easier.


Cream Cheese Frosting

In the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the butter and cream cheese until smooth. Add the vanilla and confectioners sugar and beat until smooth.

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