When the ever-charming Virginia Willis sent me her Basic to Brilliant, Y'all for review, I couldn't decide which recipe to make first. Of course, the Mini Country Ham Cheddar Biscuits caught my Southern-on-my-father's-side eye. And the Southern Salad Macedoine. And lots of wonderful seafood dishes. Then I came to page 252 and my Southern grandmother's cake jumped out at me!
The version in Basic to Brilliant, Y'all is the one Virginia's grandmother made. It's a three-layer cake, but since my grandmother made hers with just two layers, I used only two. It's always nice to have a layer in the freezer for a rainy day, isn't it!
Never much of a candy fan, I've never bought a candy thermometer for my well-equipped kitchen. But my trusty Splash-Proof Splash-Proof Super-Fast Thermapen Instant Read Thermometer works beautifully for this; no need for a thermometer that clips to the pan, but you will need a thermometer.
Besides wonderful recipes, each with an optional "brilliant" touch to add to the "basic" recipe, you will find lots of stories about the author's Southern childhood and her time in France.
The drool-worthy pictures by photographer Helene Dujardin next to Virginia's delectable recipes make this book hard to read without getting hungry!
Dede's Burnt Caramel Cake
(Makes three 9-inch layers)
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for the pans
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for the pans
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature, well beaten
1 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Burnt Caramel Icing
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour three 9-inch round cake pans and line the bottoms with waxed or parchment paper. Butter and flour the paper. Sit together the flour and the baking powder.
In the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the flour mixture [and the wet mixture] to the butter-sugar mixture, alternating between the dry and wet ingredients in three portions, starting and ending with the dry ingredients. Pour into the prepared pans.
Bake until a cake tester inserted into the center of each cake comes out clean and the cakes start pulling away from the sides of the pans, about 25 minutes. Remove to a rack to cool slightly. Invert onto the rack to cool completely.
To assemble the cake, place one cake layer on a cardboard cake round. Spread with the still-warm frosting. Repeat with remaining layers, placing the final layer bottom side up. Working quickly, use a small off-set spatula to spread the icing gently around the cake. Let stand for 2 hours to allow the icing to set before serving. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
Burnt Caramel Icing
(Makes about 2 cups)
2 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup heavy cream, plus more if needed to loosen
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
In a heavy cast-iron skillet, heat 1/2 cup of the sugar over medium-high heat. Stir until dissolved, then do not stir again; simply shake the pan occasionally until the mixture reaches the caramel stage, 320 to 335 degrees, on a candy thermometer.
Meanwhile, in a heavy saucepan, combine the remaining 2 cups sugar, the butter, and the cream. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.
When the sugar reaches the caramel stage, immediately pour it into the cream mixture and stir to combine. Cook over medium heat, stirring once or twice, until the mixture reaches the soft-ball stage, 232 to 240 degrees. Remove from the heat; add the vanilla and salt and stir to combine. Place on a rack and set aside until just cool enough to touch, 10 to 15 minutes.
Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on high speed until creamy, 5 to 7 minutes. Place the bowl of icing in a bowl of warm water to keep it loose and fluid while frosting the cake. If it starts to set too firmly, you may need to add warm heavy cream to loosen it.
Recipe reprinted by permission from Basic to Brilliant, Y'all: 150 Refined Southern Recipes and Ways to Dress them Up for Company, copyright © 2011. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House. Photo credit: Helene Dujardin © 2011. For more information visit www.virginiawillis.com.
That's the "basic;" you'll have to buy the book to get the "brilliant"!
One winner will receive a copy of Basic to Brilliant, Y'all from Ten Speed Press. All residents of the continental United States (apologies to my international readers) who enter before 11:59 pm Eastern time Wednesday December 26 will be put into a random drawing. Two additional ways to enter below - three chances to win! Winner will be announced here in the comments before noon Eastern time on Thursday December 27. If I don't hear back from the winner of the random drawing by 11:59 am Eastern time Sunday December 30, another drawing will be held and a new winner selected from the original entrants (those who commented before the giveaway deadline).
Buy It Now Basic to Brilliant, Y'all is available online at Amazon.
To enter the contest, please:
- post a comment below (and please include your email address in the body of your comment); also, it would be gracious to post a comment on the author's blog.
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- follow @delightfulrepas on Twitter, tweet about the contest by copying and pasting the following: Entered to win a copy of Basic to Brilliant, Y’all @delightfulrepas http://delightfulrepast.blogspot.com #cookbook #giveaway - (AND post a comment below that you have done so.)