Cakes on the Yuletide table

by Don Bingham
Mike Kemp photos

Almost everyone has a cake stand or two. We have them for every season, every occasion, every color and in choices of wood, china, depression glass, pewter and disposable! Though that is slightly exaggerated, it is not far from the truth!

Cake stands were first written about in the 17th century when they were spoken of as a “stage” for the cake and other food items that required a bit of pomp and panache. Available in various heights and shapes, the cake stand is one of the most versatile pieces of small equipment in the kitchen pantry.

It has been such fun this season to peruse through Jenifer’s Antiques in Downtown Conway to see all the choices for displaying our favorite cakes for the holidays. Many of us have those handed down treasures from relatives, and the holidays offer the perfect season to display them in grand style. Cake stands ensure the status of lifting spirits (and cakes) to a new level. They seem to enhance our homes along with gleaming polished finishes, gilded mirrors, shimmering chandeliers and lighted Christmas trees.

Most of us have that favorite collection of things such as pins, knives, dolls and thimbles, and one of our dearest friends has a collection of camels, so why not pull out the cake stands for display.

We have included a selection of our favorite holiday cakes for your baking consideration, but it’s a great time to include the recipe collection for the cakes that might have graced that special cake stand in by-gone years!

Among the advantages of cake for dessert would be smaller (or larger!) portions, leftover cake for enjoying later, cake for take-home or sharing with friends and even freezing to pull out on that cold, snowy, icy stay-at-home day in January! Whatever your choice of cake may be, long has lived the cake stand — and its comeback has been astounding!

Enjoy our favorite Strawberry Cake for your holidays!

Holiday Strawberry Cake

1 white cake mix
1 pkg. strawberry flavored gelatin
4 eggs
1/2 cup mashed strawberries with juice
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup chopped pecans
2 cups grated coconut

Sift cake mix and gelatin together. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add rest of ingredients and beat until smooth, folding in coconut and pecans last. Grease and dust pans with flour. Divide cake batter into two or three round baking pans. Bake 45 minutes at 350 degrees or until done. Cool before frosting.

1/2 cup softened butter
1 cup strawberries, lightly mashed
1 lb powdered sugar (may take more, depending on liquid of berries)
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
1 cup grated coconut

Mix ingredients and frost between layers, and cover cake. May sprinkle more coconut and nuts if desired.

Carrot Cake

2 cups granulated sugar
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups salad oil
3 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon mace
1 teaspoon nutmeg
2 teaspoons soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup chopped nuts

3 cups grated carrots

Cream sugar, eggs and oil. Add dry ingredients, nuts, carrots and vanilla. Bake in a greased and floured 9-by-13 pan at 350 degrees for about 55 minutes. Cool.

1 stick margarine or butter
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese
1 box powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
dash salt

Cream margarine and cheese with mixer. Add powdered sugar, vanilla and salt. Spread on cooled cake.

Grandma’s Orange Slice Cake

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 pound orange-slice candy
1 (8-ounce) package pitted dates
2 cups walnuts
1 cup shredded coconut
1 cup butter or margarine
2 cups granulated sugar
4 eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon soda
2 cups powdered sugar
1 cup orange juice

Mix flour and salt; set aside. Cut candy into pieces. Combine candy, dates, nuts and coconut. Add 1/2 cup flour mixture to candy and mix well. Cream butter and sugar together. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each. Combine buttermilk and soda, add to butter mixture alternately with flour. Blend well. Add the candy mixture; mix well and turn into greased 10-inch tube cake pan. Bake at 300 degrees for 1 hour and 45 minutes. Combine powdered sugar and orange juice, pour over warm cake.

Orange Raisin Cake

1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup shortening
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 orange
1 teaspoon soda, dissolved in milk
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon allspice
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup raisins

Grind orange (thin-skinned) and raisins. Use half in cake and half in icing. Cream sugar and shortening; add milk and eggs and beat well. Sift dry ingredients and add to creamed mixture, alternating with buttermilk. Fold in 1/2 orange and raisin mixture. Bake in two layers at 350 degrees, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool completely before icing.

1 box powdered sugar
1 stick butter (softened)
1 cup nuts
boiling water to spread

Combine powdered sugar with butter and add nuts and remainder of orange-raisin mixture. Add enough boiling water to spread easily and spread between layers and on top of cooled cake.

Chunky Apple Walnut Cake

1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
2 cups granulated sugar
3 eggs
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, sifted
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground mace
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup whole-wheat flour, sifted
1 1/4 cups shelled walnuts, coarsely chopped
3 1/4 cups Rome Beauty apples, coarse chunks, peeled and cored
3 tablespoons Calvados or applejack
Apple Cider Glaze

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a large bowl, beat vegetable oil and sugar until thick and opaque. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Sift together all-purpose flour, cloves, cinnamon, mace, baking soda and salt; then stir in whole-wheat flour. Add to oil and egg mixture and mix until well blended. Add walnuts, apple chunks and Calvados all at once, and stir batter until pieces are evenly distributed. Pour batter into a greased 10-inch round cake pan. Bake 75 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cake rest for 10 minutes, then unmold and pour glaze over warm cake, or cut cake and pour glaze over slices. Makes one 10-inch cake, 10 to 12 portions.

Apple Cider Glaze

4 tablespoons sweet butter
2 tablespoons brown sugar
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
3 tablespoons Calvados or applejack
4 tablespoons sweet cider
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
2 tablespoons heavy cream

Melt butter in a small saucepan and stir in both sugars. Add re
maining ingredients; stir and bring to a boil. Reduce heat slightly and cook for 4 minutes. Remove from heat and cool slightly. Pour while still warm over warm cake. Makes 1 1/2 cups glaze.

Poppy Seed Cake

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup butter or margarine
4 egg yolks
1/3 cup poppy seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup dairy sour cream
4 egg whites, stiffly beaten
powdered sugar

Cream granulated sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Beat in egg yolks, poppy seeds and vanilla. Thoroughly stir together flour, soda and salt; add to creamed mixture alternately with sour cream, beating after each addition. Fold in egg whites. Turn batter into greased 10-inch tube pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes. To prevent over-browning, cover with foil the last 5 to 10 minutes. Do not invert cake in pan. Cool. Remove; dust with powdered sugar.

Buttermilk Cake

3 cups granulated sugar
2 sticks butter or margarine
5 eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 teaspoon soda, dissolved in 1 tablespoon hot water
2 teaspoons vanilla

Cream sugar and margarine, then add eggs, one at a time. Add flour (sifted with salt) and buttermilk. Beat well; add soda and vanilla. Pour into greased tube pan and bake 80 minutes at 300 degrees. The crust on this cake makes icing unnecessary.

Don Bingham
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