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Celebration Cakes

Time to pull out all the stops and put your best recipes forward. Holiday baking is a favorite of Kentucky cooks, and fabulous jam cakes, yule logs, and fruitcakes will adorn buffets, sideboards, and festive tables for families that look forward to these seasonal treats. Break out the old recipe files or try one of my following show-stoppers. Rox, the newest baby boxer, and I wish you and yours peace this blessed holiday season.

CRUSHED PEPPERMINT CAKE
This cake also looks pretty by tinting the batter and the frosting pink with a drop or two of red food coloring.

3 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 Teaspoon salt
3/4 cup butter or margarine
1-1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 egg whites

Peppermint Frosting
1 (8-oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened
1 cup butter, softened
1 (2-lb.) pkg. powdered sugar
1/4 cup whipping cream
2 teaspoons peppermint extract
8 small candy canes, crushed

Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. In medium bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. In a third bowl, combine milk, water, and vanilla extract. Add flour mixture to creamed butter mixture alternately with milk mixture, beating after each addition. In small bowl, beat egg whites until stiff but not dry. Lightly fold egg whites into batter. (For pink cakes, add red food coloring here.) Turn into two greased 9-inch round pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes or until tester comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes, then turn onto wire rack to cool completely.

For Peppermint Frosting, mix cream cheese and butter, gradually adding powdered sugar, whipping cream, and then peppermint extract. (For pink frosting, add red food coloring here.) Spread frosting between layers and sprinkle with 1/3 of the crushed candy canes. Frost remainder of cake and sprinkle with remaining candy. Serves 10-12.

BANANAS FOSTER UPSIDE-DOWN CAKE
1/3 cup unsalted butter
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
3 ripe bananas
1 cup mashed ripe banana (about 2 large)
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup buttermilk
3 large eggs, room temperature and lightly beaten
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/3 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 Tablespoons creme de banana liqueur (or 1 teaspoon banana flavoring)
1/3 cup dark rum

Banana Whipped Cream
1 cup heavy cream
1 Tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons banana liqueur or banana flavoring

Put 1/3 cup unsalted butter in a 13×9-inch pan; place in a 350 degree oven for 5 minutes until melted. Remove from oven, and coat sides of pan with cooking spray. Add brown sugar and stir well. Spread mixture completely in pan. Cut 3 bananas diagonally into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Arrange slices on brown sugar mixture to cover surface of pan and set aside. Combine mashed banana and next 4 ingredients in large bowl; beat at medium speed with electric mixer until blended. In medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. (If using banana flavoring instead of liqueur, add here.) Add to mashed banana mixture slowly, beating on low speed just until blended. Pour batter evenly over sliced bananas in pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 1 minute. Loosen cake from sides of pan with knife, and invert onto a large rectangular serving platter.

Drizzle creme de banana over cake.

Heat rum in a small saucepan just until simmering; carefully ignite with a long match to burn off liqueur. Once flames die down, spoon rum over cake.

For Banana Whipped Cream, whip heavy cream until peaks form, adding sugar and flavoring while whipping. Serve warm cake with banana whipped cream. Serves 10-12.

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