Carrot Cake

This was a recipe originally from Taste of Home that I found so long ago, I had it written down on a recipe card.

hummdinger cake

You know, not printed up on a computer or anything like that. Just hand written. Straight out of magazine I probably borrowed from my mom.

Its a great cake, a favorite among cake eaters, easy to whip up and-did I mention?- its got carrots so fiber, right? And pineapple! And nuts! Heck, this is practically a breakfast food, probably better for you than a bowl of cereal!

I print it here, now, just for you. So you can make your basic and delicious and much requested carrot cake. Continue reading “Carrot Cake”

Gingerbread Cake

(Here is an old favorite I made again last night. Its been 7 years since the original post, so I thought I would dust it off and bring it out for a run around the internet world before retiring again.)

So, what was your first cookbook? The one you got for your wedding, or Christmas, maybe when you first moved out? Mine was a Christmas gift from my dear mother. The “Betty Crocker Cookbook”  which is now missing it’s spine, is yellowed and stained with the ripply pages of a book that has had flour and egg wiped off with a wet towel. I still refer to it on occasion. Its the “new and revised” edition from 1978. (gosh, before lots of you were born!) Continue reading “Gingerbread Cake”

Caramel Cake

Apparently caramel cake is a southern thang. I had been collecting recipes for this cake for a while, always a bit wistfully, waiting for an excuse to make it.

I finally tried it out for our church bake sale, selling it by the slice. It became my new BFF and I even made it myself for my birthday last November. (I couldn’t trust anyone else to get the frosting just right, don’t ya’ know.) And if I am deadnburied, feel free to make this on my birthday and remember me with fondness, while biting in to the soft caramely goodness.

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here it is with a few slices left to it. Enough for me and you.

Continue reading “Caramel Cake”

French Kings Cake (Galette des Rois)

Epiphany. The Magi. Feasting. Cakes with little plastic babies in them. Or not.

We were invited to a friends home for a lovely Epiphany party a few days after Epiphany and I was in charge with bringing the kings cake.Which is fine and I looked up recipes. I just needed to make a sweet dough, use an almond filling, roll it up, etc.

No.

Not even close. Nope.

What was required was a FRENCH kings cake made with puff pastry.

And so I did more research and came up with several recipes and it was fun to make. I also learned new things working with this kind of pastry.

Such as, when you do not crimp the edges, you get lots of puff, as in this…

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What starts like this…
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Turns into this! Mon Dieu!

While, if you crimp the edges, say with a fork, sealing the edges together, you go from this…(notice all the crimping marks on edges)

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To this…

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Not nearly as puffed.

It tasted the same, just looked a little different.

I did not have any baby Jesus to put in the cake, nor any fava beans, which is tradition. (Whoever gets the slice with the bean or baby in it is king/queen for the party…or has to bring the Kings cake next year, whichever tradition you like best).

I wrapped a dime in foil and inserted that into the round cake. Thats what I learned from the Greek New Years cake I made. These other countries have these great old traditions I just love, especially if it involves desserts.

Here is the recipe for kings cake. It makes 2.

Galette des Rois

  • 2 pkgs or puff pastry sheets, thawed, but cold
  • 1 cup of soft butter
  • 1 cup of ground almonds (you can grind yourself if you have them)
  • 4 Tbsp flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 cup of sugar
  • 1 tsp of almond extract
  • pinch of salt
  • powdered sugar for dusting
  • egg yolk mixed with water for an egg wash (I use a whole egg mixed with a tbsp of water or so)

directions:

preheat oven to 450 degrees.

with an electric mixer (I used hand mixer as opposed to my kitchen aid), mix the first 7 ingredients (after the puff pastry) together. That was pretty easy, oui?

On a lightly floured cold surface (I had a marble cutting board just for this kind of thing) roll out one of the pastry sheets to about 9-10″. Now you can either cut it into a large circle and make a round cake or just make a large rectangular cake. If making a round, for instance, you will cut a round circle out of the second pastry. Each box of pastry comes with 2 sheets.

Put one of the pastry sheets on a baking pan that is lined with parchment paper. Brush the edges with the egg wash. Spread half the frangipane cream (yes, that’s what you made earlier) over the pastry dough. AT this point you might want to hide your baby/bean/coin thingy somewhere on it.

Now place the second pastry over it, either round or square or rectangle or moon shape or stars, whatever you ended up using. Press the edges together so the filling wont ooze out. I sealed the round one with a more decorative touch, which did not seal as well. Some filling oozed out, but not much. Some leaked out of the other too, so you just never know.

Now make the second one.

With the sharp edge of a small knife, I decorated just the top of the pastry puffs, not to poke through, just to barely slice a thin layer of the top.  Mine was a feather type design I saw on the web. I then brushed the egg wash over it and put them in the oven.

Bake the galette for 15 minutes, rotating the pans if baking 2. After that, reduce the oven temp to 350 and bake another 30 minutes. During the last 5, take it out, dust with powdered sugar and put back in the oven.

“Serve warm with a gold paper crown on top”.

Oh sure, I did that-NOT. Brought it to the party, sliced it up and had 2 servings. Next time I might add some apricot jam as a bottom layer under the frangipane.

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Close up of the design I scratched into it.

Enjoy! Happy Epiphany, a little late…

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Dear friend, always opening up your home to gobs of people, feeding them delicious and organic foods. God bless you!

Nonna’s Pie Cake

Is it a cake?

Is it a pie?

Is it a pake?

or a Cie?

Can you eat it in a house? Can you eat it with a mouse?

YES!

This is a recipe from Rita’s Grandma, (pie crust Rita)  which, in typical Italian jargon, is called Nonna. She used to make these and now Rita makes these. I am going to make these and maybe you will make these them and we will spread the pie-cake love around the world.

Blueberry Pie Cake with whipped cream and the traditional mint garnish
Blueberry Pie Cake with whipped cream and the traditional mint garnish

You can use any kind of pie filling, this just happens to be blueberry. At least I think it was. Sometimes I add berries to the pie filling I buy. Adding blueberries to this blueberry pie filling. Or adding raspberries to apple pie filling etc. Continue reading “Nonna’s Pie Cake”

German Chocolate Cake and some cake tips

Happy Birthday Honey! Here is your favorite cake…

IMG_3258My hubby just has a birthday (again! This keeps happening, every darn year.)

His favorite cake happens to be German Chocolate cake. Okay then, sweetie,, just for you. (and about 8 other people).

I started with a devils food cake mix, got out my Cake Mix Doctor Book and went to work.

A little buttermilk, a bit of cocoa, eggs, oil and I made 2- 8″ round cakes. Funny, but most of the recipes called for 3- 8″ rounds. The thing is, on at least 2 recipes I reviewed, it said to grease 2 cake pans, but then, when it came time to frost the cakes, you were to add the 3rd cake! Hmmm. Tricksie people.So I suggest when you make it, break it into 3 pans. Continue reading “German Chocolate Cake and some cake tips”

Red Velvet Cake, the easy way, using a mix

Someone around here had a birthday recently!

Someone who turned 26 and has been going to civil war reenactments for 10 years now. Someone who has a civil war rifle named Marabelle that he shoots off every 4th of July and New Years, who prefers to sleep on the cold, hard, damp ground under the stars than in his white canvas civil war tent. Someone who loves to eat hash out of the can that has been heated up by the campfire, burnt on the bottom and cold in the middle and is trying to grow a handlebar mustache; who loves the smell of black powder in the air on a ‘battle field’ and is always asking me to make hard tack.

He also loves Red Velvet Cake!

He is not much of a cake eater, usually preferring fruit crisps or trifles. But his girlfriend reminded me of this one exception.

Boo-ya! This, I think, I can do.

A few years ago I did make a red velvet cake using red wine instead of dye. It used lots of butter and sugar. It turned out a reddish-brown with strong wine overtones that deepened over time. If anyone wants, I can post that recipe sometime. But for now, the easy-peasy, non-winey way is the way for me. I think I have seen cake mixes for Red Velvet cakes, but I already had this mix on hand and I like ‘doctoring up’ the mixes this way. In fact, this recipe is from the infamous “Cake Mix Doctor” herself, Anne Byrn. I just love her! I have her earliest book, “The Cake Mix Doctor” and it is stained and worn out with love. The security of a cake mix with the added ingredients to give it that special something. She even sells her own mixes now, if you can find them. Thank you Ann for this one. I am only changing a thing or two.

??????????????????????I would change one thing next time though. This recipe called for vinegar and baking soda. The fizzy lifting of that concoction may be what made this cake so soft. The problem being that, while the top layer was a happy camper, the middle layer started compressing and the bottom layer was straining under the load of it all. I think, for a sturdier texture, I would leave those elements out next time. But the cake did taste soft and delicious with its cream cheese icing!

Red Velvet Cake with a mix

Ingredients

  • 1 18.5 oz box butter recipe golden cake mix
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/3 cups buttermilk
  • 1 (1 oz) bottle red food coloring (or red food paste from cake shop)
  • 1 stick  melted butter
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 Tbsp. white vinegar
  • Frosting:
  • 1  8 oz pkg. cream cheese
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 4 cups sifted powdered sugar

Cooking Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Prepare 3 8″ round baking pans. I like to line them with parchment paper.It takes the worry out of releasing the cake from the pan. You can also use wax paper.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, add all the ingredients and mix, with a hand mixer or a standing mixer. (Keep in mind what I said earlier about vinegar and baking soda. It turned out good tasting, but soft. You might want to try it without. Using a mix makes it pretty fool-proof anyway. Note to future me: try it without.)
  4. Mix until on slow speed until all ingredients are incorporated, then on medium speed for 2 more minutes.
  5. Using a rubber spatula, pour the batter evenly into the pans, approx. 1 1/2 cups per pan. Smooth over the tops.
  6. If you have it, wrap the pans with baking strips. These are some kind of magic things that you soak in water, then wrap around the pans to keep the metal cooler. This is to your cakes won’t dome in the middle, cooking faster around the outsides. But if you don’t have these, just proceed as usual and make a mental note to pick some up next time you are at Hobby Lobby.
  7. So, pans ready? Batter poured? Bake! Bake until they are pulling away from the sides of the pan and the tops spring back when lightly touched with a finger.
  8. This takes anywhere from 17-22 minutes. You may want to rotate pans as well.
  9. Take out when done and cool in pans on rack for 5 minutes.
  10. Run a knife around the edges of the pans. Place a cooling rack of the cake pan and invert onto the rack, then invert again so it is right side up. Let cool completely.
  11. I prefer to frost a frozen cake. It makes it much easier. You can either freeze after removing from the cake pans. or, if you used parchment in the pan, you can freeze right in the pan, wrapping with plastic wrap first.
  12. For the frosting: Cream the cream cheese and butter. Add the vanilla, then sift in the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, mixing in until light and fluffy.
  13. Place 1 layer of cake, frozen or not, on your cake plate. Using a soft brush, brush off the loose crumbs.
  14. Put a layer of frosting over the top. Place the second layer over this one, right side up. Add frosting, then the third layer, also right side up. Put a thin coating of frosting over all and chill for about half an hour.
  15. Remove from fridge and now frost over that layer. This way there will be less crumbs of red cake clinging to the outer layer of frosting. I did not do this to the sides and you can see plenty of red cake mixed in. But I made up for it on top!
  16. I then stored the cake in the fridge until the next day, when we were having his birthday dinner. Since it is a cream cheese frosting, you should keep it chilled.

Baptist Pound Cake

(Just made this today for Easter dessert of strawberry shortcake. It was so easy and turned out fabulous, so I am re-posting it. It was either this or toffee sticky pudding cake, another of our favorites. Of course neither one has chocolate, so our chocolate lovers are left in the lurch. But even they took notice when they got some of this cake covered in strawberries and whipped cream. I love it all naked on the plate too)

This came from a beloved and ragged, well loved book put together by Home Ec. teachers of Alabama back in the day.

Mrs. Blair told me some stories about this recipe.

“One Mothers Day her and her husband heard a commotion in the kitchen from the children. James (her husband), said to just let them be and see what happens. They were maybe 8 and 6 years old. Darned if they didn’t successfully make this Baptist pound cake all by themselves! We’ll never know how they did it. They were so proud and excited. I guess they saw me making it often enough.” Continue reading “Baptist Pound Cake”

Chocolate Cake-exquisite and (coincidently) vegan

Chocolate Cake-awake. Or ‘cakey-wakey’.

Thats what I am when I am up at 2 in the morning, legs twitching, brain racing after having a piece of cake after dinner.Guess I had better stick to having it for breakfast.

Mummy came over yesterday and brought a stack of mags, like she frequently does. Its her bit to help recycle. This “Cuisine at Home” in particular looked promising. I might have been hungry, but every recipe looked fabulous! I almost drooled on the pages. Was it a scratch and sniff because I could practically smell the food? It started with shrimp risotto and  ended with a moist looking old-fashioned chocolate cake.

Nothing fancy, just as delicious as can be

“Ohhh, as soon as it cools off, I am so making that cake” says I. And I am not even a big chocolate fan. (I heard a gasp out there.)

Well this morning I woke up and it wasn’t 80 degrees outside yet, so I decided to celebrate. Just because it was Tuesday and because it was cool. I jumped out of bed at 6, stoked up the oven, pulled out some bowls and grabbed the magazine. Just the opportunity I was waiting for.

As I was assembling the ingredients, something in the back of my mind was trying to get my attention. I ignored it at first. I whisked the dry ingredients together. The flour, sugar, baking soda, salt. I put the wet ingredients together, hot water, oil, vanilla, a little coffee, vanilla and vinegar.

Then it dawned on me.

There were no eggs. No butter. No sour cream or buttermilk or yogurt. What kind of cake was this? What kind of madness was going on in the editing room of this magazine that they let this obvious mistake pass by unnoticed? Does the sun go around the earth? Is the world flat? How can you make a cake with no eggs or dairy?

Yet without even making mention of this fact, here was the recipe, bold and bare.

So I made it, just as it said. And while the 2 round pans were in the oven, I whipped up some cookies, not being one to waste oven heat.

side note:

Once I read about a baking contest. The bakers had outdoor wood burning bread ovens. Big handmade and designed ones. The idea was to stoke it up, get it hot, then see how many things you could bake in it before it cooled off. So you start early in the day and while it was at is hottest, you might make pizza, focaccia,work you way down through breads and end up with pastries or I don’t know what needing cooler ovens. That would be a contest interesting to see. At least to me. Especially if you could help eat it at the end!

So here is this cake. I did not make the frosting that came with the recipe. It was decidedly not vegan (but then neither am I) and I did not have the ingredients handy. It needed 1 1/2 cups of cream, sour cream and butter. If you were wanting to avoid dairy you could easily enough substitute non-dairy spread for the butter in my good-ole frosting recipe that comes on the back of the Hershey’s can. It works for me and I had just enough, and not a puff more, of the powdered sugar to make it.

Here is my testing slice. Everyone passing by had to take a bite. Twist their little arms.

I have to admit. It is probably my favorite chocolate cake from scratch recipe of all times! A keeper for sure, even without butter, milk, or buttermilk. The oil kept it moist. The coffee gave it depth. The hot water gave it a certain lightness. The vinegar helped stimulate the vinegar into a frenzy of activity.

I have a recipe from years back, from a sister-in-law at the time. It was a chocolate cake that used some boiling hot water. That cake came out wonderful too. Maybe I better pull it out and see if it isn’t the same recipe? What is it about the hot water? Does it give a boost to the baking soda? Does it give the batter the warmth to speed up the lift to make it lighter?

Imagine, water as a secret ingredient. Hot water!

First bite, mouth full, seal of approval!
Is the photo blurry because I was chewing the cake while shooting the picture? It is night now and I grab a bite each time I walk by. No time to sit and eat a whole piece.

The candy sprinkles were all I had handy to break up all the chocolate brown-ness.

Here is the recipe from Cuisine at Home:

Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake

3 cups all-purpose flour

2 cups sugar

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

2 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. salt

2 cups hot water

3/4 cup vegetable oil

2 Tbsp. distilled white vinegar

1 Tbsp. instant coffee granules

1 Tbsp. vanilla extract

heat oven to 350. Spray or put parchment in the bottoms or 2 round 8″ cake pans.

Whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt in a large mixing bowl.

Combine water, oil, vinegar, coffee and vanilla in a large measuring cup or bow. Add to the dry ingredients and whisk just until combined-a few lumps are okay.

divide batter between pans then bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean 35-40 minutes. Cool cakes on a rack for 15 minutes, then invert them onto the rack. Leave cakes upside down (this flattens domed cakes) to cool completely. I generally use cake strips, made of some kind of heat protecting radioactive proof material. You soak them in water briefly, gently squeeze out excess water and wrap them, sealing with a safety pin, around the outside of the cake pan. It helps distribute the heat so the outside of the cake doesn’t cook so fast that the middle keeps going and makes the familiar dome shape.

Here is the frosting recipe that came with it. Like I said, I just used the one on the back of the Hershey cocoa can and it works wonders for us.

1 stick butter

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 1/4 cups unsweetened cocoa powder

pinch of salt

1 1/4 cups cream

1/4 cup sour cream

1 tsp. instant coffee granules

2 tsp. vanilla extract

melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.

Stir in sugar, cocoa and salt. Mixture will be thick and grainy.

Combine cream, sour cream and coffee in a large measuring cup, mixing well until smooth. Gradually add cream mixture to chocolate until blended and smooth. Cook until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is smooth and hot to the touch 6-8 minutes. Do not boil.

Off heat, add vanilla. Cool icing at room temperature until spreadable, 2-3 hours. (ah-ha, thats another reason I didn’t make this one.) Stir to make it spreadable. If too cold, warm a little in microwave.

When youngest son got up this morning and saw the cake in the pans cooling he wondered “Is this for a birthday or special occasion? I mean, who is it for?”

I told him for us, just because it was cool enough to turn on the oven and I didn’t get to bake last weekend. Just because it was a Tuesday.

“Wow, you really do love us!”

Wait till he tries the cookies!

One reason I don’t make desserts much around here is we all love it when it comes out of the oven but then I usually have to throw or give away the rest of whatever it is. We are just not big dessert eaters. But here was a cake for not good reason other than it just sounded good and look what happened? Older son brought home a bunch of friends and by the end of the day a sliver is all that is left of Mr. Cake! Perfect! Thats what I like to see and if it happened more often, I would make lots more desserts.

And wear loose, fat concealing caftans from the 60’s.