Cadence Denton has worn many hats over the years—retail sales rat, dental assistant, fulltime mother, part-time cheer coach, and dachshund wrangler. When she’s not chasing runaway dachshunds, you can find her at her desk devising ways to make her characters suffer. Learn more about Cadence and her books at her website.
No matter the season, baked goodies have always been a staple at every gathering in my family.
Of course, Thanksgiving must have my baby sister’s traditional Golden Pecan Pie, and Christmas isn’t complete without a scrumptious Hummingbird Cake. July Fourth demands my mom’s Sock-it-to-me Cake, and Valentine’s Day is known for my daughter’s special double fudge brownies with pecan coating. However, the one catch all treat guaranteed to please everyone’s palate is my Coconut Cake with basic butter cream frosting.
I discovered the joy of baking early in life. My grandmother, an accomplished home cook, always had a lovely homemade dessert waiting at the end of every evening meal. Some of my earliest memories were standing at her side watching as she dusted her counter with flour then rolled out sugar cookies. It’s particularly poignant because, ever patient, she let me use her special cookie cutters to cut the dough. Granted, my stars may have come out shaped more like blobs, but she never complained. To her they were always perfect. My grandmother had several large, aluminum shakers filled with colorful sugar that she used to sprinkle the cookies before she popped them into her oven. To this day, if I close my eyes, I swear I can almost smell them.
She was the mother of eight, (four still at home back then) and sixteen grandchildren. Even so, she single-handedly cooked a full sit-down Sunday dinner for us all every week! Poor dear, I would have so been picking up Popeye’s Chicken or Little Caesar’s Pizza, right?
I believe cooking was my grandmother’s way of showing her love for her family. From the quality and amount of food she cooked, I’d say she really, really loved us. Was she a chef on a Julia Child level? Nope. If you were looking for fancy cream sauces and lobster you wouldn’t find it on her table, but what you would find was hot and hearty and filling.
While I’m not a slave to the stovetop, I do enjoy baking and have shared this love with my daughter. I know my grandmother would be proud that her legacy has been handed down. I only wish she and my daughter could have met.
Grandma’s Coconut Cake
2/3 cup softened butter
1-3/4 cups sugar
3 cups sifted flour
2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1-1/4 cups milk
Combine sugar, butter, eggs, and vanilla. Beat 3 minutes at high speed. Sift the dry ingredients. Beginning with the dry mixture, add to the butter mixture alternating with milk. Beat on low speed until smooth. Pour into two prepared pans. Bake for 30–35 minutes in a 350 degree oven. Cool on rack.
16 oz. box confectioner’s sugar
1 stick softened unsalted butter
4 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla or coconut extract
2-1/2 cups flaked coconut
Mix the butter until smooth. Slowly add the sugar and flavoring. Add milk as needed. Frost each layer and sprinkle with coconut. Enjoy!
Call me Contessa. Forget my name, you couldn’t pronounce it. I’m a professional chef—actually, I’m the LeBron James of chefs. Bobby Flay, Gordon Ramsay even Julia Child have all been my students, and that’s just a few. I’ve probably forgotten more about the culinary arts than any chef alive has learned. I was in the thick of things when today’s conventional culinary techniques were first being developed. You ever used the three basic steps in dicing an onion? Prego. That was me. Ever heard of clarified butter? Bingo. Me again.
How can that be? I was born in Genoa, Italy in the year of our Lord 1642. That’s right. I’m an Eternal, a creature of darkness, a vampire…and I’m obsessed by what I cannot eat. Food.
Ironically, I’m the star of my very own cooking show on the Foodie Culinary Channel. My dream job! Where I get to create the recipes I adore and share them with my audience and one lucky dinner guest. Which is where my troubles began. And will end.
I was caught partaking the red jungle juice from the neck of my dinner date. I was threatened, attacked with Holy water, and finally blackmailed by my mild-mannered joke of an Associate Producer. As it turns out, she isn’t so mild-mannered. Now I have two choices: turn her into a child of darkness or risk exposure to the human world.
I’m thinking there’s a third choice. His name is Rocco Guadagnino.