Love, Actually

My sister got married over the fourth of July weekend and the event was unbelievably  beautiful. Not because the ceremony took place in the dignified chapel at the illustrious Princeton University (with my sister striding down the aisle alone like Julie Andrews in the Sound of Music), or because the reception was held at the stately Manor House (akin to something out of Jayne Eyre), or because the flowers were so sweet, or because the bride (a pastry chef) made her own wedding cakes (7 different flavors in all). Not even because my 80-something year old parents made the trek to appear in their best duds.

The wedding was beautiful because Joanne and Richard  were so happy. In fact none of the above appeared to be fretted over much. They had each other. And that’s what mattered. Because of Love, Actually. Congratulations Joanne & Richard.


Here is my red velvet cake, which honestly I think is better than Joanne’s, but shhh don’t tell her that. For her coca-cola cake go to

Red Velvet Cake


  • 1/2  cup vegetable shortening

  • 1 1/2  cups sugar

  • 2  eggs

  • 2 1/2  cups all-purpose flour

  • 1  cup buttermilk

  • 2  tablespoons unsweetened cocoa

  • 2  tablespoons red food coloring

  • 2  teaspoons baking soda

  • 2  tablespoons cider vinegar

  •   Frosting

  • 1 1/3  cups 2 percent reduced-fat milk

  • 7  tablespoons all-purpose flour

  • 1 1/3  cups salted butter, softened

  • 1 1/3 to 2  cups powdered sugar, sifted

  • 1 1/2  teaspoons vanilla extract

  1. To prepare cake, preheat oven to 350F. Grease three 8-inch layer pans or two 9-inch layer pans; line bottoms with wax paper.
  2. In a mixing bowl, beat together vegetable shortening and sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add flour alternately with buttermilk; beat until blended. In a small bowl, whisk cocoa and food coloring together with a fork until smooth; add to batter and beat until evenly blended. In same small bowl, dissolve baking soda in vinegar and beat into batter. Pour into prepared pans and spread evenly; bake 8-inch layers 20 minutes or 9-inch layers 25 minutes, or until a tester inserted in middle comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pans on wire racks. Remove cakes from pans, peel off wax paper and cool completely on racks.
  3. To prepare frosting, whisk milk and flour until flour dissolves. Pour into a small saucepan; cook and stir over low heat 2 to 3 minutes or until thick. Cool to room temperature.
  4. In a mixing bowl, beat butter until creamy. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Add powdered sugar and beat until smooth and creamy; beat in vanilla. Fill and frost cake.


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