Born in the rolling hills of middle Tennessee on the family farm was an only child, my mother-in-law, Ms. Betty. It's been 90 years since she greeted this world after being born right there in the house she grew up in. In 2017 that house will be one hundred years old. Through her lifetime she never ventured far from her birthplace or from her memories. She married, had her children and all the while remaining close to the homestead. When Stone and I drive up for a visit, we occasionally take a drive so Ms. Betty can visually see that all is good at the old home place. I've heard the stories about her life numerous times while growing up during WWII and seeing the soldiers using their land for drills. Her father would tell her when she got in from school to go directly into the house. He didn't want Betty Ann conversing with the soldiers. She did as she was told and went inside. I asked her if any of the soldier boys caught her eye. She said not a one since she was madly in love with someone at the time. That didn't stop her from relishing all the attention. She would get off the school bus and walk up the sixteen steps that lead to the front porch of her home as the soldier boys did a rifle salute for her by lining both sides of the sidewalk. The windows of the house would be open with just the screens in place. The soldier boys would ask her to turn on the radio and of course she obliged.
It's been many years since those days. Ms. Betty now lives in an Assisted Living, not far from her home on the hill. Her day starts at 6 am. She gets dressed and all adorned in her jewels before leaving her room. Ms. Betty has always loved jewelry and doesn't miss a day adding a little sparkle. She makes her way to the dining hall and joins her three friends, all widows. Life here is from another era, with names like Cora, Ethel, Lady Clair and Betty Jo. They speak of jobs that no longer exist. No one has a cell phone and very few know how to use the computer. They spend their day playing games like rook and bingo. It's not home. It's a different sort of life than she was used to but she is comfortable, safe and happy.
Red Velvet Funfetti Birthday Cake
Ingredients for Red Velvet Brownie Layer:
1 (4 ounce) bittersweet chocolate baking bar, chopped
3/4 cup butter
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 (1 ounce) bottle red liquid food coloring
1 1 /2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
Directions for Red Velvet Brownie Layer:
Preheat oven to 350'. Line bottom of a 7" round pan with parchment paper and spray with baking spray.
Microwave chocolate and butter in a large microwave-safe bowl at HIGH 1 1/2 to 2 minutes or until melted and smooth, stirring at 30-second intervals. Whisk in sugar. Add egg, 1 at a time, whisking just until blended after each addition. Gently stir in flour and next 4 ingredients. Pour mixture into prepared pan.
Bake at 350' for about 50 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out with a few moist crumbs. Cool completely on a wire rack.
Ingredients for Funfetti Cake Layer:
1 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 large egg
1/4 cup yogurt (plain or vanilla; or greek yogurt; or sour cream)
3/4 cup milk
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup sprinkles (not nonpareils)
Directions for Funfetti Cake Layer:
Preheat oven to 350'. Line two 7" round cake pans with parchment paper and spray with baking spray.
In a medium bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. In a microwave-safe bowl, melt butter in the microwave. Whisk in the sugars, getting out any brown sugar lumps, mixture will be gritty. Whisk in egg, yogurt, milk, and vanilla extract until combined. Slowly mix in dry ingredients until no lumps remain. Batter will be thick. Slowly stir in sprinkles, but do not over mix because the sprinkles will bleed their color.
Pour batter into prepared cake pans. Bake for 20 minutes. or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool.
Ingredients for Buttercream Frosting:
1 cup solid vegetable shortening
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
2 teaspoons clear vanilla extract
8 cups sifted confections sugar
4 Tablespoons milk
Instructions for Buttercream Frosting:
In large bowl, beat shortening and butter with electric mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla.
Gradually add sugar, one cup at a time, beating well on medium speed. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl often. When all sugar has been mixed in, icing will appear dry.
Gradually add milk; beat at medium speed until light and fluffy.
To Assemble Cake:
Place Red Velvet layer on cake board. Layer with a small amount of frosting. Next place one layer of the Funfetti Cake, frost. Place remaining layer of Funfetti Cake on top.
Use remaining frosting to frost outside of your cake with coloring and style of your choice.