I have wonderful memories of being a little girl and traveling north toward the Canadian border to spend time with my Grandmother who lived in northern Vermont. At the time, I lived in Connecticut and the trip to Vermont seemed like one that lasted forever with nothing to break up the endless fields of green except for the occasional cow or silo. No matter how long the trip took, I knew that when we arrived, my Grandmother would have some sort of delicious home baked treat for us to enjoy. She grew up in a different era when women baked everything from scratch, sewed their own clothes, grew their own vegetables, and were proud of their homemaking skills. While I love to bake desserts for my family today, I admit that many times when I need a cake, I turn to a boxed mix. Light, fluffy cakes have always seemed to be just a bit out of my reach.
If you have fond memories of cakes that you enjoyed growing up or you’d like to try to master the techniques needed to create your own cakes, Cake Ladies: Celebrating a Southern Tradition is a book that you need to pick up. The author wrote this book to celebrate days gone by in the south when women created their own cakes and were known for the amazing creations that came out of their kitchen. With more and more people becoming interested in self sufficiency, women are starting to discover some of the lost arts and one of those is creating your own cakes without the help of a boxed cake mix. Cake Ladies: Celebrating a Southern Tradition will walk you through the basics of cake making including ingredients, tools, and tips. You’ll learn why eggs should always be at room temperature when you use them to bake a cake and what the best way is to tell when your cake is done.
You’ll learn about each of the cake ladies featured in the book and find out who they are, what type of cake they are known for and learn their secret kitchen wisdom when it comes to making the best cake there is. They share their favorite recipes with you along with tips and tricks to make yours come out perfectly. Each recipe is showcased on it’s own page with a full color photograph of the finished creation. You are also shown photographs of their favorite cooking utensils (in some case gorgeous vintage heirlooms), their kitchens, the towns they live in, and the ingredients they use.
The recipes themselves are well written and easy to follow. They include prep time, baking time, and decorating time. Also included is a detailed ingredients list and easy to understand directions. When appropriate, the icing, frosting, or topping recipes for the cake are also included. The photographs are truly amazing. You generally get to see not only a photograph of the entire cake but also a photograph of the cake sliced on a plate so you can see what the final creation looks like. There’s a great variety of cakes included that will tempt any palate whether you like fruit topped pound cakes or decadent chocolate dessert cakes. You will find some cakes that are more or less complicated depending on your cake baking skills and how much time you have to prepare your dessert. You’ll even find cupcakes, trifles, and flans included in Cake Ladies: Celebrating a Southern Tradition.
I made the Mississippi Mud Cake and it was delicious!