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Video: Remember these holiday desserts?

  1. Transcript of: Remember these holiday desserts?

    AL ROKER reporting: This morning on TODAY'S HOLIDAY KITCHEN , lost desserts. Whether it's something you ate every Sunday at your grandma's, a delicious pie you remember from your youth, you may want to think about bringing back an oldie but a goodie this holiday season. Chris Kimball is the host of PBS ' " America 's_Test_Kitchen," the editor of Cook's Country magazine. Chris , good to see you.

    Mr. CHRIS KIMBALL: Pleasure. Nice to see you, Al .

    ROKER: All right. We don't got a lot of time here because they were talking about the women vs. the men brain.

    Mr. KIMBALL: Let's just talk about the male brain .

    ROKER: That's right .

    Mr. KIMBALL: We just show you the dessert.

    ROKER: We like food.

    Mr. KIMBALL: We like the male brain .

    ROKER: There you go.

    Mr. KIMBALL: OK.

    ROKER: OK, what are we making?

    Mr. KIMBALL: Chiffon cake .

    ROKER: All right.

    Mr. KIMBALL: 1928 , a guy called Harry Baker in LA starts making these cakes for the Brown Derby . 1948 , he sells it to Betty Crocker for a lot of money. Has a secret ingredient, which is vegetable oil .

    ROKER: Ah.

    Mr. KIMBALL: Half a cup of vegetable oil .

    ROKER: Instead of butter?

    Mr. KIMBALL: Yeah. And that actually it makes this wonderful sort of an angel food cake mixed with a pound cake .

    ROKER: Mm-hmm.

    Mr. KIMBALL: And we have egg yolks, we have water. It actually has water in it, too.

    ROKER: Oh, interesting.

    Mr. KIMBALL: Which is really interesting and has vegetable oil . It has a little cake flour and sugar.

    ROKER: Mm-hmm.

    Mr. KIMBALL: And baking powder and now we're going to take those whites...

    ROKER: Right.

    Mr. KIMBALL: ...which we've done to soft peaks. Now this is -- if you do it wrong, folks.

    ROKER: Mm-hmm. That's what this is.

    Mr. KIMBALL: This is overbeaten whites.

    ROKER: It's not good.

    Mr. KIMBALL: And it's not going to actually go in anything, we we'll just finish that up.

    ROKER: It looks nasty.

    Mr. KIMBALL: Let's talk about a third of these to start.

    ROKER: Mm-hmm. Right.

    Mr. KIMBALL: Whisk it in. And then we'll fold the rest in. OK.

    ROKER: So it makes a nice, fluffy batter.

    Mr. KIMBALL: Yeah. This gives it the rise.

    ROKER: Mm-hmm.

    Mr. KIMBALL: But the vegetable oil gives it a really nice texture. No you can actually fold using one of these whisks.

    ROKER: Oh, that's interesting.

    Mr. KIMBALL: Yeah. Instead of using a spatula, if you do it nice and easily.

    ROKER: Mm-hmm. Just take your time.

    Mr. KIMBALL: And it goes into a tube pan for about an hour, 325.

    ROKER: Mm-hmm.

    Mr. KIMBALL: And there you go. Very simple to make, only has about six or seven ingredients.

    ROKER: And then this is...

    Mr. KIMBALL: This is from " To Kill a Mockingbird ." Maudie Atkinson 's house -- remember that book?

    ROKER: Yes!

    Mr. KIMBALL: OK. One of my favorite books. Her house burns down halfway through the book, she's staying with Stephanie Crawford and she makes her a Lane cake, which is a very famous Southern cake, which we brought back, made it a little bit easier. It has two white cake layers.

    ROKER: Mm-hmm.

    Mr. KIMBALL: And the inside has bourbon, pecans -- see, I got your attention.

    ROKER: What's that...

    Mr. KIMBALL: What's not to like? It's a male brain cake, guys.

    ROKER: The male brain cake.

    Mr. KIMBALL: Yeah, it's the male brain cake. Pecans and raisins and then it has a nice fluffy frosting on the outside, which works great. And by the way, here's a little sort of cake decorating for idiots.

    ROKER: Uh-huh .

    Mr. KIMBALL: Present company excluded, of course.

    ROKER: Yes.

    Mr. KIMBALL: We're going to do a couple of things really fast. So if you want to take a spoon. Here's your spoon.

    ROKER: Right. OK.

    Mr. KIMBALL: You can just do this little thing, a little twist like that. You can do that on the side and the top and that's real easy to do.

    ROKER: All right.

    Mr. KIMBALL: The other thing you can do is if you have one of these cake stands, you can start in the mid -- center. And...

    ROKER: And we want to get back here, Chris , because we only have 30 seconds left.

    Mr. KIMBALL: Did you see that?

    ANN CURRY, co-host: No, you want to get back here because we're back here, baby.

    NATALIE MORALES, anchor: Mm. And we want the cake.

    ROKER: Yeah, yeah, OK. Anyway.

    CURRY: Come on here, Natalie .

    MORALES: This is amazing.

    Mr. KIMBALL: This is black bottom pie.

    ROKER: Mm-hmm.

    MORALES: Wow.

    Mr. KIMBALL: Which has a layer -- it's a cookie crumb crust, has a chocolate custard, has a rum custard, has whipped cream on top. Came from Oklahoma City and Duncan Hines , there was a real Duncan Hines who...

TODAY recipes
updated 12/10/2010 6:18:26 PM ET 2010-12-10T23:18:26

Recipe: Chiffon cake

  • 5 large eggs, separated (see note)
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/3 cups cake flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Separate the eggs when they're cold; it's easier. You will need a tube pan with a removable bottom for this recipe. Our favorite, the Chicago Metallic Professional Nonstick Angel Food Cake Pan, has both a removable bottom and "feet" to support the pan while the cake cools. If your pan is footless, invert the cake onto the neck of a wine bottle to cool.

Whip whites: Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. With electric mixer fitted with whisk attachment, whip egg whites and cream of tartar on medium-high speed until soft peaks form, about 2 minutes. With mixer running, slowly add 2 tablespoons sugar and whip until just stiff and glossy, about 1 minute; set aside.

Finish batter: Combine flour, remaining sugar, baking powder, and salt in large bowl. Whisk water, oil, egg yolks, and vanilla in medium bowl until smooth. Whisk wet mixture into flour mixture until smooth. Whisk one-third whipped egg whites into batter, then gently fold in remaining whites, 1 scoop at a time, until well combined. Scrape mixture into 16-cup ungreased tube pan.

Bake cake: Bake until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean and cracks in cake appear dry, 55 to 65 minutes. Cool, inverted, to room-temperature, about 3 hours. To unmold, follow photos at bottom right. Serve.

Serving Size

Serves 10 to 12

Recipe: Lane cake

  • Cake
  • 1 cup whole milk, room temperature
  • 6 large egg whites, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cups cake flour
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces and softened
  • Filling
  • 5 tablespoons bourbon
  • 1 tablespoon whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • Pinch salt
  • 1/3 cup sweetened shredded coconut
  • 3/4 cup pecans
  • 3/4 cup golden raisins (see note)
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Frosting
  • 2 large egg whites (see note)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

We like bourbon, but any whiskey will work. For the frosting, be sure to start with room-temperature egg whites to ensure that they'll heat to a safe temperature.

Mix batter: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 9-inch cake pans. Whisk milk, egg whites, and vanilla in large measuring cup. With electric mixer on low speed, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt until combined. Add butter, 1 piece at a time, and beat until only pea-size pieces remain. Pour in half of milk mixture and increase speed to medium-high. Beat until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Slowly add remaining milk mixture and beat until incorporated, about 30 seconds.

Bake cakes: Scrape equal amounts of batter into prepared pans and bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool cakes in pans 10 minutes, then turn out onto wire rack. Cool completely, at least 1 hour. (Cooled cakes can be wrapped in plastic and stored at room temperature for 2 days.)

Make filling: Whisk bourbon, milk, cornstarch, and salt in small bowl until smooth. Process coconut in food processor until finely ground. Add pecans and raisins and pulse until coarsely ground. Melt butter in large skillet over medium-low heat. Add processed coconut mixture and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Stir in bourbon mixture and bring to boil. Off heat, add condensed milk and vanilla. Transfer to medium bowl and cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes. (Filling can be refrigerated in airtight container for 2 days. Bring filling to room temperature before using.)

Whip frosting: With electric mixer fitted with whisk attachment, whip egg whites and cream of tartar on medium-high speed until frothy, about 30 seconds. With mixer running, slowly add sugar and whip until soft peaks form, about 2 minutes; set aside. Bring corn syrup to boil in small saucepan over medium-high heat and cook until large bubbles appear around perimeter of pan, about 1 minute. With mixer running, slowly pour hot syrup into whites (avoid pouring syrup onto beaters, or it will splash). Add vanilla and beat until mixture has cooled and is very thick and glossy, 3 to 5 minutes.

Assemble cake: Place 1 cake round on serving platter. Spread filling over cake, then top with second cake round. Spread frosting evenly over top and sides of cake. Serve. (Cake can be refrigerated, covered, for 2 days. Bring to room temperature before serving.)

Serving Size

Serves 10 to 12

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