Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Yellow Pound Cake

This recipe for Yellow Pound Cake is one of those that makes use of a boxed cake mix along with additional ingredients for a richer taste. The recipe dates itself because the size of the cake mix (18.25 ounces) is a thing of the past. Cake mixes are smaller now, so allowances have to be made in recipes such as this one. I recently wrote about my solution for dealing with these downsized mixes. This example from my older recipe collection is one that must be adjusted to bring the shrunken cake mix back to its original size.

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Yellow Pound Cake

1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon extract
2/3 cup water
1 (8 ounce) carton sour cream
1 (18.25 ounce) box yellow cake mix (substitute 16.5 ounce box cake mix + 1/3 cup extra cake mix)
1 cup all purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Prepare a 10-inch Bundt pan with cooking spray. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar together until fluffy. Add 1 egg at a time and beat well after each. Stir in vanilla and lemon extracts, then add water and sour cream. Beat in cake mix and flour. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for about 60 minutes or until cake tests done. Cool in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes. Dust cooled cake with powdered sugar, if desired.

This cake pairs well with fruit. For a different look, the cake could be drizzled with a simple glaze instead of the powdered sugar.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Decorator Frosting

This Decorator Frosting recipe was given to me many years ago when a friend taught an informal cake decorating class in her home. I have used it for countless birthday cakes, and it was my go-to recipe for ages. This frosting spreads smoothly on cakes and pipes easily from a decorating tip, so it is perfect for a beginning decorator or even one with lots of experience.

There are a couple of MUSTS I recommend for best results with this type of frosting --

  1. You MUST sift the powdered sugar. 
  2. You MUST use a stand mixer. 

Sifting takes a little extra time, but it is well worth the few minutes because it will get all the lumps out of the powdered sugar, and the decorator tips will not be obstructed. A stand mixer is important because this is a heavy, thick frosting to mix, and it would probably cause a hand mixer to overheat and go kaput in an untimely fashion.

If you refrigerate this frosting before you plan to use it, you will need to bring it back to room temperature so it will spread easily. Also, be sure to use clear vanilla extract to prevent the white frosting from being discolored.

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Decorator Frosting

1 1/2 cups Crisco shortening
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon clear vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon butter (or almond) flavoring
2 pounds powdered sugar, sifted
1/2 cup water

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine shortening, salt, vanilla extract, and butter flavoring. Mix at medium speed until smooth and creamy. Gradually add the powdered sugar a little at a time, mixing at low - medium speed until sugar is incorporated. When the frosting starts to become thick, begin to add the water a small amount at a time, alternating with the remainder of the powdered sugar. After all ingredients have been blended smoothly, beat the frosting for 5 additional minutes at medium - high speed. Frosts and decorates two 9-inch layers or one 9 x 13-inch cake. Keep frosted cake refrigerated.


Friday, September 5, 2014

Don't Miss This Magazine

I hope my friends won't miss the September/October 2014 issue of Christian Woman magazine.

If you subscribe to the magazine, you already know there's always something uplifting and motivational to read in this publication. In this issue you'll even get a bonus - they have included one of my articles!

My article Five Ways to Love Your Mother-in-Law is featured in the September/October issue. I wrote on this topic because I feel the mother-in-law role is often disrespected. Older women have much to offer the younger generation, and the relationship can be strengthened when a mother-in-law feels loved by her child's spouse.

Please let me know your thoughts on the article.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

The Boxed Cake Mix Dilemma

As other home cooks know,  package sizes often seem to shrink before our eyes in the grocery store. Coffee was once commonly sold in 1 pound bags, but now those bags may only hold 11.5 ounces. Few grocery items are exempt from this shrinkage. In most cases this kind of downsizing just causes us to sigh and shake our heads, but in others it can be downright annoying, especially when it comes to items that can affect the outcome of recipes.

One of those items the food industry has seen fit to downsize is boxed cake mix. The brand of cake mix I currently buy is typically sold in a 16.5 ounce box. This new size is no problem for someone who will strictly follow the directions on the package. Big problem, though, for the person who will use the mix as an ingredient in a recipe that specifically lists an older 18.25 ounce box of cake mix. That much change in the size of any ingredient can negatively alter the outcome of the recipe.

I have a number of recipes that make use of a packaged cake mix, and they can be very convenient on days when I need a quicker version of a good dessert. I do prefer to bake from scratch, but I'm no food snob; I do take short cuts. A person would have to live under a rock to have not been exposed to some great sweet creation that had its beginnings in a box of cake mix. Most of the recipes in my files were written in the day when cake mixes were bigger, so my recipes are no longer accurate. My solution to this issue is to keep a box of cake mix in the freezer to make up the difference when I need to boost the size of these shrunken cake mixes.

Every "new" 16.5 ounce cake mix needs 1.75 ounce from the extra box of cake mix to equal the "old" size. If it sounds like too much trouble to weigh out 1.75 ounces of cake mix to add those supplemental ounces when needed, don't worry. You really don't have to drag out the scales every time, just measure out 1/3 cup of cake mix to approximate the missing 1.75 ounces.

1.75 ounces dry cake mix = approximately 1/3 cup

This addition can prevent changes in the outcome of a recipe and in a worst case scenario, can keep a recipe from being ruined. 

I'm sure there are plenty of other products out there that fall into a similar category where downsized products have caused problems with recipes. Does anyone have one you are willing to share?

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Peach Cobbler Spirals

Fruits and vegetables are abundant right now, and I am enjoying the freshness and taste the seasonal bounty brings to my table. Peaches are favorites at our house, and some always find their way into a cobbler during the summer harvest. This year I tried a new recipe with peach-filled spirals baked atop more peaches for a bottom layer. The self-rising flour and the sugar syrup in this recipe combine to make a soft, sweet crust for this cobbler.

My dear mother-in-law gave me the peaches I used in this cobbler. Even though her favorite orchard is an hour drive away, every summer she makes her trek there as soon as she hears the peaches are ripe. She is sure to get the freshest of the fresh that way, and she always shares with me.

Recipe adapted from Food.com

Peach Cobbler Spirals

1/2 cup butter
2 cups sugar
2 cups water
2 cups self-rising flour
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 cups peaches (peeled and sliced), divided
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a 9 x 13-inch baking dish, melt the butter and set aside.
In a saucepan, combine sugar and water. Stir over medium heat until mixture boils, then boil for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside. Place flour in a large bowl, then use a pastry cutter to cut in shortening until pieces are like small peas. Make a well in the center; add milk and vanilla. Stir just until combined, then knead about 10 strokes until nearly smooth. On a pastry sheet, lightly sprinkle dough with flour, cover with wax paper and roll dough into a 10 x 12-inch rectangle. 
In a large bowl, toss sliced peaches with cinnamon and nutmeg until well combined. Place 3 cups of the peach mixture on top of the melted butter in the baking dish. Spread the remaining 2 cups of peach mixture over the dough rectangle. Starting from the long side, roll the dough into a spiral and pinch to seal. Cut into twelve 1-inch rolls. Place spirals, cut side down on top of the peaches in the baking dish. Pour the sugar syrup mixture around the spirals. Bake for 45 minutes, then cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes. Serve warm.

Peach cobbler spirals before baking

I am strictly a purist and love my cobbler plain, but some may like a scoop of vanilla ice cream with their peach cobbler.

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Full Plate Thursday

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Angel Food Cake

Most of my baking is done based on my own choices. Sometimes I have a new recipe to try or other times I may bake up something old and familiar. A time I don't choose what to bake is when we're celebrating a family member's birthday. Each one has their own group of favorite cakes or desserts, so I have an idea what might be requested. This year though, my daughter threw me a curve when I asked her for her birthday cake order. She told me she wanted an angel food cake with fresh strawberries. I love angel food cakes, but it has been years since one has been baked in my oven. The first step in fulfilling her request was to locate my recipe.

My Southern Living Annual Cookbook from 1986 was the source of the perfect angel food cake recipe. After finding the recipe though, I realized I didn't have the right pan to bake the cake. I decided to substitute one of my smaller decorative Bundt pans and a loaf pan in place of the 10-inch tube pan. That wasn't exactly a good choice. The loaf pan worked fine, but I wouldn't recommend baking an angel food cake in a Bundt pan. The one I used had small flower designs on the top, and those came out looking like bumps around the cake. Fortunately it was only an aesthetic issue, not one that affected the taste.

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(recipe adapted from Southern Living)

Angel Food Cake

12 egg whites, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 1/2 cups sugar, divided
1 cup cake flour, sifted
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Beat egg whites and salt until foamy. Add cream of tartar, continue beating until soft peaks form. Add 1 cup sugar, 2 tablespoons at a time, beating until stiff peaks form.

Sift flour and remaining 1/2 cup sugar together. Gently fold flour mixture, almond extract, and vanilla extract into egg whites.

Spoon batter into an ungreased 10-inch tube pan. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes. Invert cake onto wire rack; cool for 1 hour or until completely cool. Remove cake from pan.

This is a simple recipe to make. Anyone who can beat egg whites until they're stiff can bake an angel food cake. Even though it has been many years since I have baked an angel food cake, and I used the wrong kind of pan, the cake still turned out great, bumps and all. This cake may look funny, but it was delicious. I would still advise you to get the right pan if you make this recipe. I know I'll be putting a 10-inch tube pan on my shopping list. If Susan asks for an angel food cake next year I'll be ready.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Light Fruit Salad

A fruit salad is a colorful and delicious way to serve up fresh fruit in the summertime. I have a number of recipes I make that are variations of the traditional fruit salad, and I love them all. This recipe is a little different because it is sweetened with powdered sugar and flavored with vanilla extract. The original recipe is from McCormick, but this is my adapted version and a favorite at my house.

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Light Fruit Salad

1 cup sliced strawberries
1 cup blueberries
1 cup sliced peaches, sprinkled with Fruit Fresh
2 kiwis, sliced
1 cup grapes, halved
1 (8 oz.) can diced pineapple, drained
1/4 cup powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

In a large bowl, combine all fruits. Sprinkle powdered sugar over fruit then add vanilla extract; mix well. Cover and refrigerate at least one hour before serving.