The Cooking with Paula Deen magazine team just got back from Savannah. Despite the heat and the no-see-ems (these teeny little bugs can cause a whole lot of itching), we captured some amazing seasonal images at Paula’s home for upcoming issues.
A highlight of the trip was delivering a dream come true to one of our readers and one of Paula’s biggest fans. Jo Marquis, of Oxford, Mississippi, won the Cooking with Paula Deen Family Dinner Makeover Sweepstakes. With the win came the opportunity to spend some time with Paula at her Savannah home. I’m telling you, Paula is so fun to be around. She’s never met a stranger, so it’s no wonder that she and Jo hit it off right from the start. Of course, it really helped that they both share a passion for all things chicken related: decorative plates, salt and pepper shakers, vases, and vintage taxidermy.
Near the end of the visit, Jo shared a few of her tried and true recipes with Paula in hopes of getting a few tips for updated twists. Paula came through with some great suggestions, and the new and improved recipes will be revealed in our September-October issue.
While the two were culling through the recipe box, they came upon a recipe for Coconut Layer Cake, and a 15-minute conversation ensued about memorable layer cakes. Jo says no one in her family has been able to recreate the legendary coconut cake in spite of multiple attempts. We all decided Jo’s grandmother must have had a baking secret that’s just not transcribed on the handwritten recipe. Paula reflected on her Lady Baltimore Cake, which she still makes at Christmas. She’s changed the recipe (that should surprise no one) and uses a fluffy 7-minute frosting instead of the buttercream her Grandmother Paul used. She’s pretty sure she’s forgiven.
Here’s a cake recipe that we still get hundreds of reader requests for. We ran it again in the Cooking with Paula Deen 5th Anniversary Keepsake Issue that’s in stores right now.
Simply Delicious Strawberry Cake
Makes 1 (9-inch) cake
1 (18.25-ounce) box white cake mix
1 (3-ounce) box strawberry-flavored gelatin
1 (10-ounce) package frozen strawberries in syrup, thawed and puréed
4 large eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup water
Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting (recipe follows)
Garnish: sliced fresh strawberries
1. Preheat oven to 350˚. Lightly grease 2 (9-inch) round cake pans.
2. In a large bowl, combine cake mix and gelatin. Add puréed strawberries, eggs, oil, and ¼ cup water; beat at medium speed with a mixer until smooth. Pour into prepared pans.
3. Bake for 20 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cool in pans for 10 minutes. Remove from pans, and cool completely on wire racks. Spread Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting between layers and on top and sides of cake. Garnish with sliced fresh strawberries, if desired. Store cake, covered, in the refrigerator up to 3 days.
Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting
Makes about 4 cups
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 (10-ounce) package frozen strawberries in syrup, thawed, puréed, and divided
1/2 teaspoon strawberry extract
7 cups confectioners’ sugar
1. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and butter at medium speed with a mixer until creamy.
2. Beat in 1/4 cup strawberry purée; reserve remaining purée for another use. Beat in extract. Gradually add confectioners’ sugar, beating until smooth.
If you had a chance to sit and chat with Paula, what would you like to talk about?