- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 14, 2006

School-age children get to explore the holidays I grew up with, holidays that as an adult I might pass off as just another inconvenience, what with the post office closed and all.

One example of this is President’s Day, a time we recognize former U.S. presidents George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. As a child, I knew Washington as the boy who cut down his father’s cherry tree, and I recall the stories of Lincoln as a poor and hardworking boy who read by the light of the fire.

This cake is perfect for George Washington’s birthday.

Mount Vernon cake

CAKE:

Solid vegetable shortening for greasing pans

Flour for dusting pans

1 package (18.25 ounces) plain white cake mix

1 cup sour cream

cup vegetable oil, such as canola, corn, safflower, soybean or sunflower

3 large eggs

CHERRY FILLING:

1 16-ounce can pitted tart red cherries

cup light corn syrup

1/4 cup sugar

2 tablespoons cornstarch

4 drops red food coloring, optional

1 teaspoon almond extract

Marshmallow frosting (recipe follows)

Generously grease three (9-inch) round cake pans with solid vegetable shortening, then dust with flour. Shake out excess flour. Set pans aside.

Place cake mix, sour cream, oil and eggs in a large mixing bowl. Blend with mixer on low speed for 1 minute. Stop machine and scrape down sides of bowl with a rubber spatula. Increase mixer speed to medium and beat 2 minutes more, scraping sides down again, if needed. Batter should look well-blended. Divide batter among prepared pans, smoothing it out with a rubber spatula. Place pans on center rack of preheated 350-degree oven; if your oven is not large enough, place two pans on center rack and place third pan in center of highest rack.

Bake cakes until they are light brown and spring back when lightly pressed with your finger, 20 to 22 minutes. (Be careful not to overbake layer on highest rack.) Remove pans from oven and place on wire racks to cool for 10 minutes. Run a dinner knife around edge of cakes and invert each onto a rack, then invert them again onto another rack so that cakes are right side up. Allow to cool completely, about 30 minutes more.

Meanwhile, prepare cherry filling: Drain cherries, reserving liquid. Pour liquid into a measuring cup. Set cherries and liquid aside. Combine corn syrup, sugar and cornstarch in a small saucepan and stir. Add enough water to reserved cherry liquid to make 1 cup. Add cherry liquid and food coloring, if desired, to saucepan.

Cook mixture over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it is smooth and thickened, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove pan from heat and stir in drained cherries and almond extract. Pour filling into a medium-size bowl and place, covered, in the refrigerator to chill while you make the frosting.

To assemble the cake, place one cake layer, right side up, on a serving platter. Spread top with half of cherry filling, spreading it with a spatula up to 1 inch from cake edge.

Place second layer, right side up, on top of filling. Spread second layer with remaining filling, spreading it up to 1 inch from cake edge. Top two layers with remaining cake layer, right side up, and spread frosting on top and sides of cake with clean, smooth strokes. Makes 16 servings.

MARSHMALLOW FROSTING

cup sugar

Water

2 large egg whites

1 7-ounce jar (1 cups) marshmallow creme

Place sugar, 2 tablespoons water and egg whites in medium-size heavy saucepan. Cook over low heat, beating continuously with an electric hand mixer on high speed until soft peaks form, 2 to 3 minutes. If your hand mixer has a cord, make sure to keep it away from burner.

Remove pan from heat. Add marshmallow creme and beat mixture with the mixer on high speed until stiff peaks form, 2 minutes more. Use at once to frost cake. Makes 3 cups, or enough to frost a 2- or 3-layer cake.

TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES


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