While traveling to work the other day I had on the Serious XM Country Christmas radio station and I heard something that reminded me what Christmas was all about. I didn’t catch the very beginning, so I am not sure if it was the DJ’s personal story or something previously recorded, but who ever was talking was reminiscing about childhood Christmas’s in a small town. He talked about how his family only had one strand of lights, how they didn’t have much, but as children they never knew. He talked fondly of his mothers baked goods. Cookies and pies. He went into details about how the whole town would come together and help one another out around the holidays, sharing food with those who didn’t have as much. That even the town sheriff let the ‘guests of the county’ go home for Christmas Eve. It was one of those classic feel good stories that makes you smile from within. It brought back fond memories of my own and put a smile on my face.
He ended his story with how he remembers Christmas not always being about the biggest shiniest gift, but rather, what you did for those around you.
I will admit, I am guilty of some serious gift giving this time of year. I simply enjoy finding that perfect something for someone with the excuse to spend money I would never be able to justify any other month of the year. But I was gracious of that voice on the radio reminding me that it isn’t always about giving that perfect gift but rather your actions towards others. Part of my longs for small town life where stories like this ring true not just at Christmas but throughout the year. Where kindness towards others isn’t just glossed over but truly appreciated.
It was good to be reminded that it is not about the size of your wallet. That Christmas perhaps, means a little bit more.
Red Velvet Cake with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting
- 1/3 cup cocoa powder
- 2 tbs red gel food coloring
- 1/4 cup boiling water
- 6 tbs unsalted butter, softened, and cut into small cubes
- 2 tbs vegetable shortening
- 1 2/3 cup sugar
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 teas vanilla
- 2 1/2 cups cake flour
- 1 teas fine salt
- 1 tbs cider vinegar
- 1 teas baking soda
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Grease 3 8″ cake pans. Line with parchment paper and grease parchment. Dust with flour and knock out any excess. Set aside.
Whisk together the cocoa powder, food coloring, and boiling water. Set aside and let cool.
In the bowl of your stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and shortening until smooth. Mix in the sugar, beat until fluffy, about 5 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
Over at your cooled cocoa mixture, stir in the buttermilk and the vanilla.
Whisk together the flour and salt in a medium bowl. Beginning and ending with the flour mixture, mix in the flour mixture and cocoa mixture to your batter with the mixer on low. Mix until combined.
In a small bowl, whisk together vinegar with the baking soda until the baking soda dissolves. Add to the cake batter and stir until just combined. (This helps the red to really pop).
Divide the batter evenly among the prepared baking pans. Bake for 30 minutes, rotating halfway through, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Cool for 20 minutes in pans before turning out onto a wire rack. Remove the parchment and cool completely.
Meanwhile, make the cream cheese frosting.
To assemble the cake, place one of the cake layers on your cake plate. Spread an even layer of 3/4 – 1 cup of frosting over and top with another layer. Spread frosting over that one too and top with the final cake layer. Crumb coat your cake and let set in the fridge for 20 minutes. Ice with all of the remaining frosting. Seriously, it’s cream cheese frosting – go to town with it!
Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting
adapted from an old note card passed along from a friend
- 12 tbs unsalted butter, softened
- 16 oz cream cheese, softened
- 2 teas vanilla extract
- 1- 2 teas cinnamon
- 7 cups confectioners’ sugar
- 2 tbs milk, if needed
In the bowl of your stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and cream cheese together until smooth. Add the vanilla extract and mix to combine. With your mixer on low, add the cinnamon and confectioners’ sugar, 1/2 cup at a time. Taste test to see if you would like to add more cinnamon at this time. If the frosting becomes too thick, add milk, 1 tbs at a time to make easier to spread.