Soon I’ll be launching an exciting holiday recipe contest here on my blog – check back for details! There will be internet merriment and mirth and there will be prizes.
In the meantime, I thought I’d kick it off with a recipe of my own.
Well, sorta my own.
I stumbled across this awesome 1950s ad online and was immediately seduced by that faded retro photography and the Betty Draper hand. It was called the “Swans Down Christmas Belle Cake” and, naturally, was all about pushing the Swans Down flour, which we don’t seem to carry in Canada.
Also, it calls for shortening, which I refuse to use because my generation has been programmed to loathe and reject hydrogenated foods. Great gobs of butter? Sure, tape those straight onto my hips. But get that shortening out of my face.
Therefore, I adapted the recipe to suit modern diets.
Here is what you’ll need to create your own Gaudy Green Retro Cake:
- 2 1/2 cups sifted cake flour (Swans Down, if you can find it)
- 3 1/4 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 1/3 cups sugar
- 3/4 cup butter (original recipes asks for 1/2 cup shortening…but I’ll judge you)
- 1 cup milk
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 1/4 tsp almond extract
- 4 egg whites, beaten to meringue with 1/3 cup sugar
- 6 tbsp butter
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 egg white
- 3 1/2 sifted icing sugar
- 2 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 1/2 tsp grated lemon rind
- 2 tbsp each chopped raisins, nuts, candied cherries, citron
- green food colouring
- decorations such as sprinkles or dragees
Preheat the oven to 350°F |176°C | Gas Mark 4
STEP 1: Beat the eggs into meringue, adding the 1/3 cup sugar at the end. Set aside.
STEP 2: Beat the butter (room temperature, of course) until it’s soft. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt and 1 1/3 cups sugar in a sifter, and sift them into the butter.
STEP 3: Add 3/4 cup of milk, the vanilla and the almond extract and mix until all the flour is dampened. Beat for 2 minutes.
STEP 4: Add the meringue and the remaining milk. Beat for one minute.
STEP 5: Pour the batter into two round 9-inch pans that you’ve lined with parchment paper.
STEP 6: The original instructions say to bake at 350 degrees F for 30 mins. However, I have a convection oven and mine were done in 23 minutes. I say, set your timer for 20 minutes and then check frequently.
STEP 7: Let your cakes cool completely. It may seem obvious, but don’t ever attempt to ice a warm cake.*
STEP 8: Make your icing! Cream together butter, salt and vanilla. Add the unbeaten egg white. Then add the icing sugar alternately with the lemon juice, beating well each time. Add the grated lemon rind and beat until it’s a nice, creamy consistency. Tint your icing the colour of
Slimer from Ghostbusters a vibrant Christmas tree.
STEP 9: Set aside 1/2 cup of the icing.
STEP 10: Stir in the chopped fruit and nuts.
STEP 11: Take your cold-as-hockey-pucks cakes and spread the filling in the middle layer.
STEP 12: Add the top cake and ice the whole dang thing with the plain green icing.
STEP 13: Sprinkle the top with your decorations of choice. I went for the red sprinkles and tiny snowmen.
STEP 14: Sample the cake, then vacuum the house, take out your curlers and don your best pointy bra before hubby gets home!
*Legal records show that Reb Stevenson has been guilty of this offence.