December 6, 2011

Cakes and Carols

According to magazine covers, it's the season to bake a festive layer cake, even if you are not typically the kind to devote so many hours to the art. So, because I am a strange person who enjoys laboring over such a cake more than once a year, I bring you my favorites this holiday season.

Christmas music not the cheesy stuff on the radio but the kind with rich theology of how much awe we should be in awe of Christ's birth is speaking particular wonderful words and emotions to me this year. I blame the number of times I have listened to Sojourn's Advent Songs and my church's new album (check it out!). So I've interlaced parts of my favorite carols with my cakes. Believe it or not, I do believe in more than just sugar to celebrate the season.

Let's get our priorities straight: chocolate first.
Statement maker: that purdy oreo cream

So bring Him incense, gold and myrrh,
Come peasant, king to own Him;
The King of kings salvation brings,
Let loving hearts enthrone Him.

And chocolate second:
Statement maker: The drizzle of peanut butter-chocolate ganache on top 

Long lay the world in sin and error pining.
Till He appeared and the Spirit felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!
O night divine, the night when Christ was born…

Truly He taught us to love one another,
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains he shall break, for the slave is our brother.
And in his name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
With all our hearts we praise His holy name.
Christ is the Lord! Then ever, ever praise we,
His power and glory ever more proclaim!
His power and glory ever more proclaim!

Choco-latte third:
Statement maker: Oh, that buttercream
(Yes, I realize I just blogged about this cake, but it is just that worthy of emphasizing.)

Come, Thou long expected Jesus
Born to set Thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us,
Let us find our rest in Thee.
Israel’s Strength and Consolation,
Hope of all the earth Thou art;
Dear Desire of every nation,
Joy of every longing heart.

On to the second best thing after chocolate: Caramel!

Statement maker: Caramel icing from scratch+caramel filling

Adeste Fideles
Laeti triumphantes
Venite, venite in Bethlehem
Natum videte
Regem angelorum
Venite adoremus, Venite adoremus,
Venite adoremus, Dominum*

All Hail! Lord, we greet Thee,
Born this happy morning,
O Jesus! for evermore be Thy name adored.
Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing;
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord. 

*I love the beauty of the Latin. This is the first verse of "O Come All Ye Faithful"; it's fairly easy to see the connection to English here even if you don't know the dead language of Caesar and old church music.

Caramel again, with a twist:
Statement maker: Can't-stop-talking-about-it icing with a nutty filling

"Fear not then," said the Angel,
"Let nothing you affright,
This day is born a Saviour
Of a pure Virgin bright,
To free all those who trust in Him
From Satan's power and might."
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy

And an obligatory seasonal-type spice kind of cake, but only because it's a family recipe and the maple-flavored icing really is quite phenomenal:
Statement maker: maple flavoring in the cream cheese icing

Carol Sidenote:
As I am typing this, my roommate is introducing me to Andrew Peterson's Behold the Lamb of God, a concept album that tells the whole story of Christ's coming. It might become a new favorite.

Last year's round up of sweet treats for the holidays:
6 Cookies for Christmas

What carols and sweet treats are you celebrating with this season?


  1. Madoline those cakes look soooo good! I have to bake a red velvet cake, and it always seems to come out a little too dry. You got any tips for me?

  2. Renee, solving the dry cake issue is tough. I don't know the science of it, but I know my chocolate cake always turns out somehow. Maybe it's the sour cream and vinegar? Cakes with tons of oil are also never dry, it seems. Sorry I don't have a better answer. I have a friend who writes the Oops! Column in Cooking Light. I'll have to tell her to write about it.

  3. You may want to (carefully) try/test packed brown sugar instead of white sugar remembering that unpacked brown sugar is less dense but heavier. Hygroscopic sugars like the molasses in the brown sugar and honey hold moisture better but may not (probably won't) keep as long in a cake for the same reason.

    With real sour cream or oils that will alter the fat balance so that other fat(s) in the recipe would probably need reducing. All the more reason to use butter than margarine because with butter the water content is more predictable.

    The Weekend Wall Street Journal has Christmas cookies recipes for three types plus a coconut cake. Those are online at under the "Off Duty" section heading and the cookies recipes, at least, in the print edition.

    Merry Christmas,


  4. I think I may have figured it out. I was so afraid of overmixing the cake, I'm not beating the cake enough!

    Madoline, I have another question a little off-topic, so I hope you don't mind but ... how do you add pages to the blog? I see you have two additional pages. I've tried to figure this out over at my blog but it's escaping me how to do it.

    If you have a link to a good tutorial I would appreciate it very much!

    Thanks and Merry Christmas!


Pretty please share your thoughts!