Donna Bell’s Bakery: Strawberry Shortcake Review

Strawberry Shortcake

Although we here at A Dollop of Dixie feel like our goodies are pretty damn good, we’re an equal opportunity sugar lover. Also, there are only so many things I’m going to video myself baking so…I figured it’s time to diversify this bloggie thingie.

While doing research for Dollop of Dixie, I naturally wanted to check out all the other ‘Southern style’ bakeries in the city and Donna Bell’s Bake Shop was the first I came across.
It seemed pretty legit- there’s even some Alabama roots in there!- but I was skeptical…

Last night was one of my favorite people’s b-days. We all gathered to celebrate in midtown with cocktails and, naturally, BIRTHDAY CAKE! This was no typical birthday cake, however. No thick, punch-you-in-the-teeth sweet frosting and certainly no cuppie cakes. This was a light, not too sweet, spongy, and delightful Strawberry Shortcake from Donna Bell’s. As you can see in the pictures, it’s not totally covered in light whipped cream-like frosting, which adds a nice rustic appeal. And it went FAST! We even tried to divvy out teeny little slices and…nope…these fatties needed seconds.

So…i gueeeeeeess if you’re not going to get a perfect Caramel Cake or 1,2,3,4 Cake from DoD…we’d be in full support of you hitting up Donna Bell’s. Tell ‘em we sent you.


OH! And click on the link below. ‘SHONDO!’ is Julius’ ‘Money Dance’…it’s kinda brilliant.


The Coconut-less Cake

Does anyone else find cake baking a little bit intimidating?
I mean…one little slip up…one missed step…one incorrect measurement and


toughness or dryness or…just general ickiness.

But I’ve been inspired to put my fears aside by a family member. My Dad’s cousin, Rick, has been my pastry hero lately by sending me a BOAT LOAD of Oldham family recipes. I couldn’t wait to make the bourbon balls and the chocolate pudding, but I was especially excited about the cakes.

The first recipe he sent was for a coconut cake made by my great-aunt (i think?) Rose Phillips. There’s also a sweet story (get it? ‘sweet story’?) behind it:

She sold her cakes at a local farmers’ market in Athens, GA during the depression to help make ends meet. After a while she kinda became known for her baking, especially for her coconut cake.

I kinda figured this was the perfect place to begin. Only…I really don’t like coconut. So I decided to get all crafty and turn it into a cookies n’ cream cake.

Here’s the recipe and notes:
For the cake:

1 cup butter

2 cups sugar

4 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

3 cups sifted flour (plain)

2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

1 cup whole milk


Cream butter and sugar until fluffy

Add eggs – one at a time – beat well after each

Add vanilla

Beat well for 2 minutes


Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together


Add in parts to butter mixture – alternating with milk, beating on low until mixed well – then beat on high for 1 minute


Pour into 3 round cake pans (I baked in 2 9″ pans and increased baking time)

Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes (or until done)

Cool in pans for 10 minutes, then remove – cool completely


-sift flour more than once. it’ll result in a softer…uh…happier cake…yeah

-when alternately adding the flour and milk to the egg/butter/sugar mixture begin and end with the flour!

-once you begin adding the flour and milk it’s time to try a little tenderness. As soon as you start to see things looking ‘mixed’ * STOP * and add the next thing. Try to introduce the flour in only 3 parts.

-you can either line your pans with parchment paper or you can butter and flour your pans. pick one or these suckers might not come out.

-run a paring knife around the cakes before you remove them from the pans.

Divinity Frosting


2 cups sugar

½ teaspoon cream of tartar

½ cup water

4 egg whites (large eggs)

½ teaspoon vanilla


Coconut – 12 oz. (moist) (OPTIONAL)


Combine sugar, cream of tartar and water

Cook over medium heat until 240 degrees


Beat egg whites until fluffy (soft peaks)


Add sugar mixture slowly over 3 pourings – beat well each time

Add vanilla and beat until fluffy


-bust out your candy thermometers, kids.

-when boiling sugar/water etc. on the stove, watch it CLOSELY and watch yourself! this  stuff can burn you BAD. It also can boil quickly if you don’t pay attention. Stick to a  medium high heat and be patient.

-don’t let your candy thermometer touch the bottom of the pan when you take the sugar’s  temperature. you’ll get an inaccurate read. just thought i’d point out the obvious…

-egg whites


-room temp!

-it’s nice to have a friend help you with the actual frosting-making part.

-SLOOOOOOOOOOOOOOWLY drizzle the 240 degree sugar into the whipped egg  whites WHILE mixing.

-keep the stream of sugar away from the beater to avoid gumming up and messiness


-this frosting was a wee bit sweet by itself, but when eaten with the delicately sweet cake it really worked. Next time, though, i think i’d like to try it with a bit more vanilla.


i could add almond extract, orange extract, add mint extract and put it on a chocolate cake i mean…the possibilities are endless!!!!

-my roommate put the frosting in between chocolate chip cookies. omnom. I think it’d also be perfect for whoopie pies since it’s so thick and marshmallow-like


*music used

-’If you wanna be happy…’ by Jimmy Soul

-’Big Bottom’ Spinal Tap

*the average american eats 50 pounds in cookies and cake a year

-i think i average about 75 pounds…fatty fatty no friends…

Brown Velvet, if you please.

What do you get when you choose not to add the red food coloring to a buttermilk chocolate cake? BROWN velvet cake…which I actually think could be ‘nom-ier’ than red velvet.

Now…I had no clue that red velvet cake was southern or whatever til I moved to NYC. I guess I’ve always been aware of it but…never really thought about it as a ‘traditional’ southern thing. Birthdays were celebrated with 1,2,3,4 cakes and there was always caramel cake at Thanksgiving, so uh yeah. But i’m all jazzed it’s in my life now…if for no other reason than the cream cheese frosting. Be honest with yourself…that’s really the reason you like this cake, isn’t it?
Anyhoo, it was my bestest friend’s b-day this past weekend and, hating the idea of someone being birthday cake-less on her birthday, I decided to make her one.

Now, I make a pretty good cookie and can even whip out a stunning profiterole from time to time but cake…kinda intimidates me…particularly whole cakes and not little cuppie cakie cakes.* (*although delicious, cuppie cakes are kinda for sissies.)Yield: 3 cake layers

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
3 1/2 cups cake flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa (not Dutch process)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 cups canola oil
2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
6 tablespoons (3 ounces) red food coloring or 1 teaspoon red gel food coloring dissolved in 6 tablespoons of water
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/4 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 1/2 teaspoons white vinegar.

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place teaspoon of butter in each of 3 round 9-inch layer cake pans and place pans in oven for a few minutes until butter melts. Remove pans from oven, brush interior bottom and sides of each with butter and line bottoms with parchment.

2. Whisk cake flour, cocoa and salt in a bowl.

3. Place oil and sugar in bowl of an electric mixer and beat at medium speed until well-blended. Beat in eggs one at a time. With machine on low, very slowly add red food coloring. (Take care: it may splash.) Add vanilla. Add flour mixture alternately with buttermilk in two batches. Scrape down bowl and beat just long enough to combine.

4. Place baking soda in a small dish, stir in vinegar and add to batter with machine running. Beat for 10 seconds.

5. Divide batter among pans, place in oven and bake until a cake tester comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool in pans 20 minutes. Then remove from pans, flip layers over and peel off parchment. Cool completely before frosting.Makes 6 cups

Cream Cheese Frosting:
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter room temperature
3 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Place cream cheese and butter in a medium bowl. With a handheld electric mixer, beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add sugar and vanilla. Beat, on low speed to combine. If too soft, chill until slightly stiff, about 10 minutes, before using.