Tasty Tuesday brings us a divine cake fit for any celebration, including the holidays, from author Alicia Hunter Pace. Actually, you’re getting two authors for the price of one since she is two writing partners. But I’ll let her tell you more about that later. Take it away, Alicia!
If you have read any of our books, you know about Lou Anne’s Diner. It first popped up in our first book, Sweet Gone South, and since has been the setting for first dates, black moments, public shamings, and reconciliations. With her iced tea pitcher in hand and a pot of chicken and dumplings on the stove, Lou Anne dispenses advice along with the some of the best comfort food in Merritt, Alabama.
In our latest book, Mistletoed in Merritt, Lou Anne has the Christmas spirit and our hero, Bennett Watkins, couldn’t be happier about how she expresses it. He loves to eat. Here, Bennett and Hélène-Louise Soileau pass the time of day outside the diner with Brantley and Lucy Kincaid, the beloved hero and heroine from Simple Gone South.
From Mistletoed in Merritt:
“We need to get in there and order our secret Christmas cake,” Bennett said. “It’s already after one. I’m afraid we might have already missed out.”
“Secret Christmas cake?” Hélène-Louise said. “What’s that?”
As a New Orleans native, she knew about king cake, of course—a yeasty confection with a plastic baby inside. Whoever found the baby brought the cake to the next party. She and her mother had made dozens of those cakes for Bennett’s mother’s parties during carnival season.
“That’s the thing. It’s secret Christmas cake.” Brantley brought her back to the present. “You have to guess, though today it’s lane cake—you know, with the raisins and the whiskey and the icing that tastes like divinity. I was hoping for Japanese fruitcake, but lane is almost as good.”
Lucy said, “It’s this little eccentric thing Lou Anne does at Christmastime. Starting December first, she makes a different traditional Christmas cake every day—German chocolate, red velvet, fresh coconut, Lady Baltimore. But she won’t tell in advance what the next day’s cake will be.”
Brantley took Lucy’s hand. “We’d better let these folks get to their cake-eating. It might already be too late.”
Lucy put a hand up in mock horror. “That would be terrible.” She met Hélène-Louise’s eyes. “Brantley is very devoted to cake, but even more so pumpkin pie. See you soon.”
So, Christmas is over, but who says you can’t have “Christmas” cake anytime? After all, Valentine’s Day is coming. I might whip up this special cake for the the people I love in my house. I won’t lie. It’s a little trouble to make, but aren’t they worth it? Lou Anne would say they are!
- 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 2 cups sugar
- 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup milk
- 8 egg whites
- Lane Cake Filling
- 1/2 7-Minute Frosting
- Preheat oven to 325°. Beat butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy; gradually add sugar, beating well. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt; add to butter mixture alternately with milk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at low speed just until blended after each addition.
- Beat egg whites at high speed until stiff peaks form. Fold one-third of egg whites into batter; fold in remaining egg whites. Spoon batter into 3 greased and floured 9-inch round cake pans.
- Bake at 325° for 25 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes. Remove from pans to wire racks, and cool 1 hour or until completely cool.
- Spread Lane Cake Filling between layers and on top of cake. Prepare 7-Minute Frosting; spread onto sides of cake.
Lane Cake Filling
- 12 egg yolks
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
- 1 1/2 cups finely chopped pecans
- 1 1/2 cups finely chopped raisins
- 1 1/2 cups sweetened flaked coconut
- 1/2 cup bourbon
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Pour water to depth of 1½ inches into a 3½-qt. saucepan over medium-high heat; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer.
Beat egg yolks at medium speed with an electric mixer 3 minutes; gradually add sugar, beating until blended. Beat 3 minutes. Gradually add butter, beating at low speed until blended.
Transfer mixture to a 3-qt. heatproof bowl. Place bowl over simmering water. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and an instant-read thermometer registers 170° (about 30 to 35 minutes). Remove from heat; stir in pecans and remaining ingredients. Cool 1 hour.
Just as it’s always the right time for a Christmas cake, it’s always the right time for a Christmas story. We’d love for you to get to know Bennett and Hélène-Louise!
Bennett Pontellier Watkins and Helene-Louise Soileau had a secret, youthful love affair – until their mothers found out. Helene-Louise, the housekeeper’s daughter, was sent to France to study lacemaking while a bereft Bennett drowned his sorrows on the beach with beer and sorority girls.
Eight years later, Helene-Louise, now a master craftsman, owns a shop in Beauford, Tennessee, and teaches a series of workshops at the Cultural Arts Center in Merritt, where Bennett is the director. It isn’t long before they fall into each other’s arms once more.
But old patterns begin to re-emerge, and despite Bennett’s declarations of love, it’s clear to Helene-Louise that he still has no intention of coming clean with his upper-crust parents about their relationship. Is she willing to give up everything she’s built for herself in Beauford for a man who may never see her as more than the hired help’s daughter?
Or will Christmastime in Merritt reveal love to be the greatest present of all?
About the Author
Alicia Hunter Pace is the pseudonym for the writing team, Jean Hovey and Stephanie Jones. They are USA Today best-selling authors who live in North Alabama and share a love of old houses, football, and writing stories with a happily ever after. Get to know them and their stories at www.aliciahunterpace.com.
Wow, what an amazing cake recipe that will make dessert an experience! And I know their books are fun reads! These ladies really know how to work together to give readers a fun and moving tale set in the South. So be sure to pop over to their website and choose one of their many books to add to your to-be-read pile!
Thanks for stopping by!
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