Whether you are a novice or professional baker, Southern Living has taken cake baking to a new level in its cookbook, "The Southern Cake Book." If you are looking for cakes that are bake-sale ready and party perfect, look no further.

The beautiful cover of this exciting book just seems to be saying, "Go ahead, open me up and take a look." I could hardly wait to do just that and when I did, I couldn't put it down until I had checked out every recipe. Not only is it filled with wonderful recipes, there are also helpful kitchen secrets and tips throughout the book.

There are beautiful and impressive petits fours and other miniature delights in the "A Bit of Cake" section.

Mama Dip's Carrot Cake carries a notation that reads "one of the best carrot cakes we have tasted," which says a lot coming from the Southern Living kitchens.

Tiramisu is a popular dessert, but I had never heard of a Tiramisu Layer Cake. The recipe sounds delicious, as does the four-layer Strawberry Mousse Cake. I would like to try the Bananas Foster Upside Down Cake. This is one of several upside-down cakes featured in the book.

The following recipe from Chapel Hill, N.C., restaurateur Mildred "Mama Dip" Council is certainly not your traditional pineapple upside down cake. This easy-to-make version has a unique twist because the layer is carrot cake.

Also included are cheesecakes and coffeecakes — how about White Chocolate Cranberry Cheesecake or Apricot Almond Coffeecake?

Whatever your choice when it comes to cake, you will probably find it in this exciting new cookbook.



1/4 cup butter

Shortening for greasing

2/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar

One 20-ounce can pineapple slices in juice, drained

7 maraschino cherries

1 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 large eggs

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon table salt

1 1/2 cups grated carrots

1/2 cup finely chopped pecans


Preheat oven to 350 F. Melt butter in a lightly greased (with shortening) 10-inch cast iron skillet or a 9-inch round cake pan (with sides at least 2 inches high) over low heat. Remove from heat. Sprinkle with brown sugar. Arrange 7 pineapple slices in a single layer over brown sugar. Place one cherry in center of each pineapple slice.

Beat granulated sugar, oil and eggs at medium speed with an electric mixer until blended. Combine flour and next four ingredients. Gradually add to sugar mixture, beating at low speed just until blended. Stir in carrots and pecans. Spoon batter over pineapple slices. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in skillet on a wire rack 10 minutes. Carefully run a knife around edge of cake to loosen. Invert cake onto a serving plate, spooning any topping left in skillet over cake.