“Plantains are nutrient-rich starches that can sweeten as they cook, and, in many parts of the world, they find their way into the best stews and porridges. This recipe is based on “tomato eggs,” a dish popular in Lagos, Nigeria, and across West Africa. Tomato eggs can be made with yams or plantains, and here, firm yellow plantains work best because they hold their shape and texture while absorbing the flavors of the surrounding stew. It’s a perfect meal for days when you want something hot but not too heavy or filling. Any herbs you have on hand will work well, and the dish can be made vegan by substituting medium-firm or soft tofu for the eggs.”
“…I prefer to make what is known as a double stock—in culinary-school terms, a fortified stock, or, Frenchily, a consommé, which classically refers to a clarification of the broth, and perhaps also the meat of more than one species. Whatever name you assign to it, the preparation can be summed up like this: when making stock, use stock as a base instead of water. The result is the most magnificently rich liquid, a concentrated essence of the sort that makes people sink, at first slurp, into a sighing surrender.”
-Helen Rosner, “Thanksgiving Double Stock.” The New Yorker. November 11, 2018.
Originally published in the December 1988 issue of Southern Living, I have been making this cake for over 10 years (one a year) and have added some detail to the recipe. This is easier if you break the time into pieces and take your time in making it. It will always come out delicious, but often the aesthetics will be off. It’s hard to get this cake exactly right.
1 cup, shortening
2 cups, sugar
3 cups of cake flour
2.5 teaspoons, baking powder
0.5 teaspoons, salt
1 cup, whole milk
1 teaspoon, almond extract
1 teaspoon, vanilla extract
1 cup chopped pecans, toasted
a few pecan halves
3 cups, sugar
0.75 cups, whole milk
1 egg, beaten
pinch of salt
0.5 cup, butter
0.33 cups, butter
3 cups, powdered sugar
2 tablespoons, whole milk
0.5 teaspoons, vanilla extract
3 cake pans, 9″
1 electric mixer
large sauce pan
Baking Cake Layers
Cream shortening in electric mixer, then gradually add 2 cups of sugar at medium speed.
Add 4 eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Gradually mix in 3 cups of cake flour, 2.5 teaspoons of baking powder and 0.5 teaspoons of salt, adding 1 cup of milk as needed to keep it liquid.
Add in almond and vanilla extracts.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Grease three 9″ cake pans with shortening (or butter, if you prefer) and line with parchment paper, grease wax paper and cut extra paper off with scissors.
Pour batter into prepared pans.
Bake at 375 degrees for 22-25 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick stick comes out clean after poking it into the center of the cake layers.
Remove from oven and cool in pans for 10 minutes.
Remove cake layers from cake pans and let cool on wire racks.
Combine 3 cups of sugar, 0.75 cups of whole milk, a beaten egg, and 0.5 cup of butter in a large saucepan. (Optional: a few oz. of corn syrup can make it creamier with a smoother texture).
Cook on medium-low heat (lower is better!) until the mixture reaches the temperature of 230 degrees, (roughly 20 minutes).
Remove saucepan from heat and let cool for 5 minutes.
Beat with a wooden spoon until spreading consistency.
Put first layer of cake on a cake stand, spread caramel evenly on top of layer until it is a quarter inch thick. Add next layer and spread caramel two more times. If the caramel gets hard, bring back to the stove and heat to soften again.
Cream butter at maximum speed of the electric mixer.
Gradually add in 3 cups of powdered sugar and 0.5 teaspoons of vanilla extract.
Add in milk until the consistency is right for frosting.
Spread frosting around the outside of the layered cake.
Press chopped pecans into frosting on sides.
Garnish top of the cake with five pecan halves in the center and (optionally) a ring of them around the rim.
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