Regarding doneness, I typically set the timer for the beginning of the specified range for the given batter and type of pan, and then use the "toothpick test," using the condition of the toothpick to gauge whether to try again in 2 minutes, 1 minute, or 30 seconds, or to pull the cake immediately.
We have thermometers for meat (including little ones for steaks!); why don't we have cake thermometers that can be left in for the entire cooking time?
Regarding Sandra Lee, I've seen very little of what she's done on Food Network, but it looks like it's geared for people who don't even have the time for one of Rachael Ray's "30-minute meals," and just want to apply some relatively trivial transformations to convenience foods. Speaking as a honkie (and YES, if you MUST refer to me by my ethnicity, I'm a HONKIE [or even a "blue-eyed devil"], not a "white guy," and I'm a GOY, not a "gentile"!), with very little exposure to even white southern cuisine, much less to African cuisine, I would not be so arrogantly presumptuous as to publish a recipe for a Kwanzaa cake without a LOT of help from those who actually celebrate Kwanzaa, any more than I would presume, as a goy, to claim more than the most basic (and entirely theoretical) understanding of how to set a Seder table for Passover.
But actually, her Christmas cake doesn't look half-bad to me; certainly more ambitious than anything I've done, and it appears that she (or more likely, somebody on the Food Network prep-kitchen staff) did bake the layers, even if from completely unaltered mixes (when was the last time YOU saw naked cake layers, other than those intended to be served that way, on a grocer's shelf?)