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I had intended to post this recipe earlier this month, but time to blog dried up like our pond for a couple weeks.  The pond is still dry, and today I post this with bittersweet feelings:  the very sweet friend who shared this recipe with me is moving with her family to Virginia today.  They are precious people and I wish them the very best in this new adventure, but they will be sorely missed here.

This cake is somewhere between cake and coffee cake (which means a slice is equally good with a cup of coffee after dinner or with the first cup of the morning.)  The cinnamon and glaze is reminiscent of honeybuns, especially if the cake is slightly warm.

Jennifer’s Honeybun Cake

Ingredients:
1 box yellow cake mix (Jennifer recommends Duncan Hines)
3 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
3/4 cup oil
cinnamon sugar: 1-2 teaspoons cinnamon + 3/4 cup sugar

Glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
2 teaspoons buttermilk or cream
1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9×13 pan and set aside.  Mix cake mix, buttermilk, eggs and oil, stirring until well-blended.  Pour half into the prepared pan; sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mixture over the batter in the pan.  Add the rest of the batter and gently swirl with a fork.  Bake for 25-30 minutes or until done.  Mix the glaze ingredients together and pour over the warm cake, then allow to cool before cutting and serving.

For the uninitiated, a honeybun is a preservative- and sugar-laden “snack cake” treat that is best when heated in the oven or microwave.  Here’s a picture of the Little Debbie box in case you want to go in search of one for a side-by-side taste test.  (My money is on the cake winning out, but it’s okay to like the packaged ones too.)

Happy baking!
Terry

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Our first home was in a new but modest subdivision at the bottom of a sledding hill leading to the elementary school our boys would eventually attend.  Our neighbors were mostly young families as we were.  In fact, as we were  moving in, another house was going in just across the street, and was soon occupied by Brad & Vicky – a young couple who soon filled it with two beautiful baby girls nearly the same ages as our boys.  We trick-or-treated at each others homes, and spent a little time nattering about families, lawns and other stuff that you talk about with a baby on your hip and toddlers running around your legs.

We lost touch with them when we moved out, but I haven’t forgotten the cake (or the recipe) she shared with me.  It’s quick, easy, cool and delicious – perfect for summer cookouts and picnics.  If you prefer a pure coconut flavor, use coconut milk; if you like the added pineapple flavor of pina coladas, look for non-alcoholic pina colada mix and combine it with a can of sweetened condensed milk (you can use fat-free if it makes you feel healthier.)

Vicky’s Pina Colada Poke Cake

Ingredients:
1 box white cake mix, baked in 9×13 pan according to package directions
1 can pina colada mix and one can sweetened condensed milk OR 1 can coconut cream*
1 small tub Cool Whip or 2 cups fresh-whipped cream

Instructions:
As soon as cake is done, remove from oven and poke all over with a skewer or piece of uncooked spaghetti (be careful to not break the pasta off in the cake!)  If using pina colada mix, combine with sweetened condensed milk.  Pour it (or the coconut milk) over the cake.  Allow it to cool completely, then cover with whipped cream and chill for at least an hour before serving.

See?  I told you it was easy.

*A word or two about coconut milk, coconut cream and pina colada mix.  Each has a different flavor and consistency, but any of them can work in this recipe, with a little modification.  You will typically find them in the “drink mixers” area (they are non-alcoholic) or in the Asian or Hispanic food sections.  Here’s what they look like:

Coconut milk is pretty watery and generally unsweetened.  If that’s all you can find, you can mix it with a can of sweetened condensed milk.

Coconut cream is thick and sweet.  If it is too thick to spread, thin it with a bit of cream or milk (but only enough to get it to moving.)

Pina colada mix contains pineapple and coconut and can be mixed with sweetened condensed milk to get the right consistency.  Shown here is a 14-ounce can. If you buy a larger bottle, only use just  12-14 ounces and refrigerate the rest.

Happy baking!
Terry

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margherita cake with strawberriesI had something else planned for this week’s recipe until I made this simple cake yesterday and served it with strawberries and ice cream.  After smelling it bake and taking a bite, I knew I had to share it sooner than later.

For starters, let’s distinguish Margherita from Margarita.  It’s as simple as Italian versus Mexican.  Pizza Margherita is made with basil, tomatoes and mozzarella to resemble the Italian flag.  Margaritas are a cold mixed drink universally available in Mexican eateries.

Either way you spell it, Margarita or Margherita means “daisy. ” Many Italian recipes refer to this as a “torta.”  So we could call it an Italian Daisy Torte (or cake) if that helps.  One benefit to this recipe, in addition to its awesome taste?  It’s gluten-free, thanks to the potato flour. (Some recipes say you can use half regular flour, but I wouldn’t – the potato flour creates a unique and wonderful texture.)

I used this recipe and converted the measurements for ease of use for American cooks.

Margherita Torta

Ingredients:
4 eggs
2/3 cup caster or superfine sugar*
zest of one lemon
3/4 cup potato flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill potato starch)

*The recipe calls for caster sugar, which is somewhere between our regular sugar and confectioner’s or 10X sugar.  You can make your own by grinding regular sugar in a blender or food processer (seal it up tight to reduce sugar dust).  The upside to doing this is you will use less sugar due to the increase in air volume.)  The downside is it  it is messy and adds an extra step. I used regular sugar and just pulled back a tad on the amount I used  – closer to 1/2 than 2/3 cup.)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 320 F.  Grease a 9-inch pan (I used a springform pan but you can use a standard cake pan if it’s deep enough – the cake will rise considerably as it bakes.) Place a circle of parchment paper over the buttered bottom.

In a mixing bowl, combine eggs and sugar. Beat on medium speed until doubled in volume – approximately 5 minutes.  While it’s mixing, use a micro-planer to zest a lemon; add to the sugar/egg mixture and beat for another 5 minutes.  (Notice how full my big mixing bowl is – from just four eggs and less than a cup of sugar.  Creating that volume by beating the eggs and sugar is key to this cake rising properly, so don’t try to shortcut this step.)
beat sugar and eggs in mixing bowl
Gently scoop 3/4 cup of potato starch into a sifter and sift, then add to batter.  Mix briefly to combine; whip at a high speed for 5-10 seconds to ensure it is evenly distributed through.

Pour into prepared pan and bake for 30-35 minutes or until top is lightly golden and a cake tester inserted comes out clean.  Top will spring back, but use a gentle touch.

Allow to cool; run a knife around the edge of pan to loosen and remove springform band or invert onto cooling rack. Cut into wedges and serve.
cake ready to serve
We loved it as a shortcake with fresh strawberries and ice cream. The texture is perfectly light and moist, and the hint of fresh lemon flavor is a wonderful counterpoint to the sweetened strawberries.  I suspect we’ll enjoy this recipe a few more times between strawberry and blueberry seasons.  You can also simply dust the top with powdered sugar and serve it plain or drizzle it with a lemon sauce.

I hope you’ll try this wonderful, easy cake soon.  Now that I have a bag of potato flour on hand, I can’t think of a better recipe to use it on!

Happy baking,
Terry

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Yes, it’s pumpkin time around here.  Last week was sour cream pumpkin bread.  

This week’s recipe is a takeoff on Paula Deen’s “Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cake” (which is known in some parts as a “dump cake” or “ooey-gooey cake.”)  I tried this recipe on for size last year around this time. I recommend using a spice cake instead of the yellow cake mix listed to give it a more authentic “pumpkin pie” flavor.

On PD’s website, a round cheesecake-looking dessert is shown as the final result of the recipe, but her directions (and dump cake protocol) call for a 9×13 pan.  However, it would make for a more sophisticated presentation to make it in the round.  If you have a large (10-inch or larger) springform pan, go ahead and give it a whirl. It’s not like you were going to use that pan for anything else this week, right?

One word of caution:  this is a very rich and sweet dessert, so I strongly recommend cutting it into small slivers (if you use said springform pan) or petite 2-inch squares from a rectangle.  Your guests can always have seconds if they are so inclined.

(Note:  To pie purists, this is not in the same league as  traditional pumpkin pie, but if you’re serving a crowd, it could do in a pinch, especially with good whipped cream on top.)

Spicy Pumpkin Ooey-Gooey Cake

Crust Ingredients:
1 18 1/4-ounce package yellow spice cake mix
1 egg
1/2 cup butter, melted (don’t substitute margarine)

Filling Ingredients:
1 15-ounce can of pumpkin
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
8 tablespoons butter, melted
1 16-ounce box powdered sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. To create the crust, combine the cake mix, 1 egg, and butter and mix well with an electric mixer. Pat the mixture into the bottom of a lightly greased 13 by 9-inch baking pan.

To make the filling: In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and pumpkin until smooth. Add the eggs, vanilla, and butter, and beat together. Next, add the powdered sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and mix well. Spread pumpkin mixture over cake batter and bake for 40 to 50 minutes. Make sure not to overbake as the center should be a little gooey.  Serve with fresh whipped cream.

Happy eating,

P.S. Up next week is…you guessed it, another pumpkin recipe. Hope you like ’em.  If not, I am betting I’ll give you so many ways to fix pumpkin, you’ll have to like one of them.  We’ll continue exploring this pumpkin patch as the countdown to Thanksgiving continues.

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For the past six Sundays, I have consciously and deliberately tried to avoid shopping or eating out.  (Well, except when we were on vacation a couple weeks ago.)  Yesterday was no exception, and if swimmer girl had remembered earlier that she needed yarn and knitting needles for a group project, it would have been totally successful.  But I did my part.

I spent an enjoyable but busy afternoon in the kitchen.  First up was my first attempt at cassoulet.  I got everything browned and sauteed, then layered it in the crockpot to simmer while I turned my attention to all things pumpkin.

First up was a trial run of double-chocolate pumpkin cake.  The recipe made two small cakes, so we can enjoy one here and I’ll take one with me to Bunco tomorrow night. Stay tuned for an assessment of the final product.

I also tested out another pumpkin bread recipe. The plan was to divide it into two loaves (since the recipe indicated it would make two loaves), with one sporting nuts and a streusel topping, while the other got an infusion of cream cheese filling and cinnamon glaze.  The result was a full-size loaf with a very runny cream cheese filling, and a miniature loaf of streusel-topped nut bread. Either I seriously misjudged the amount of batter I placed in the first pan, or the ingredients need tweaking.  (I’m leaning towards the latter.)

Regardless, the resulting loaves were good and I’ll showcase them in an upcoming recipe-of-the-week.   I also took step-by-step photos of assembling the cassoulet, and since it also received a thumbs-up from the family, I’ll outline my experience soon.

Our weather today was pitch-perfect:  it was warm and sunny, with a hint of coolness on the breeze.  If I hadn’t been keeping close watch on the oven timer, it would have been a gorgeous afternoon to spend outdoors.  So how did you spend  your Sunday?  I hope it was restful, relaxing and enjoyable!  If it was also free from consumerism, all the better.

Happy Monday,

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After all three birthday cakes were consumed (a big thank you to Mr. Official’s co-workers who helped us with that last hurdle) and the special cake plates and servers were put away, I had one remaining loose end:  take middle child back to the store to swap out some shorts he got.  Bad me, I bought soccer shorts instead of basketball shorts.  Who knew?

While he was looking for satisfactory replacements, I wandered around the home section and what to my wondering eyes did appear, but a miniature….no, not a sleigh or any tiny reindeer.  Christmas has taken over Hobby Lobby already, but not at Marshall’s – at least not yet.

It was even better than that.

It was….
a miniature cake pan!

Meet the baby pan

This pan is almost 8 inches tall but only 3 3/4 inches across, compared to the typical cake pan, which is 2 inches tall and 8 inches wide.  Almost completely reverse proportions.  See why I was so excited?

See how tall and small it is?

No?

Really?

Keep reading…maybe you’ll catch the cake pan fever.

When I saw it, I snatched it off the shelf before anyone else could.  (And I had some women eye-balling it as I strolled by.  Sorry ladies – I saw it first.)

This is quite possibly the cutest cake pan ever.  And it was a whopping $5.99.

The bottom comes out, but it’s not a springform cheesecake pan – I have a set of those, of course… 

The cheesecake trio

What a fun time I can have now, trying my hand at some old-fashioned chiffon cakes and other recipes that need the taller shape.

Angelfood…yum

And I can test a small batch of batter without worrying about who’s going to eat all that cake, like I do with my big ol’ angelfood tube pan.

I bet I know what you’re thinking.

Because I’m thinking it too.

Given that this is only a sampling of my collection of cake pans, and does not count all the square and rectangle, metal and glass cake and jelly roll pans, or my (rather extensive) collection of cupcake tins and silicon liners (big and small, I got ’em all), I think I need to find a Baker’s Anonymous meeting and go introduce myself.

“Hi, my name is Terry and I really like to bake.”

Yeah, I’ll get right on that – just as soon as I decide if I’ve got a submission-worthy recipe for this:

Oh and yes, in case you’re wondering…the birthday boy found some shorts that will come down to his knees.  Everyone came home happy.

Happy caking,

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Dana Carvey in Master of Disguises

Turtle cake is:

a. an enigma,
b. a conundrum,
c. a non sequitur,
or
d.  all of the above.

Let’s go with d: Turtle cake is not shaped like a turtle.  It isn’t even tinted green.  It was not created by nor served at the Ancient and Honorable Order of Turtles. (Like Dana Carvey, it may not even be turtley enough for the Turtle Club.  Uhhh, you’d have to see the movie to get the line, and it’s about the only memorable line in the movie so I’m not recommending a viewing.) 

Turtle meat is not an ingredient in the cake and absolutely no turtles were harmed in the making of this cake.

Who really knows why the Hoopers thought calling a chocolate/caramel/pecan candy a “turtle” would make it appealing.  But strangely enough, their plan worked out well and most any confection that combines these three ingredients is now bestowed with the name “turtle” in its title.

What I do know is that turtle cake is decadent and delicious.   It’s kind of like German chocolate cake with more gooey-ness and no coconut.  And it’s fairly easy to make, as cakes go.  Our first exposure came from – you guessed it – an Oklahoma friend – -the same one who gave me this delicious chocolate chip cookie recipe .

And Middle Child wanted a turtle cake for his birthday last week.

But this is also a story of rescuing this poor cake from the jaws of disaster.  It started off innocently:  just cake mix, eggs, oil and water, plus the filling (caramels and evaporated milk.)

About an hour later, I pulled the finished cake from the oven and sprinkled milk chocolate chips over it, hoping to shortcut the frosting step since Swimmer Girl was going to be late for a dentist appointment otherwise.

On my way out the door, I instructed the Birthday Boy to GENTLY smear the chocolate chips when they softened.  Key word:  GENTLY.  He called me and said the chips were not smearing.  I advised him to microwave it for 30 seconds and try again.  Key words:  30 SECONDS. No. more. 
This is what I came home to find.
It actually looked worse in real-life.  Like crusty moon craters.
 Fortunately, this cake is forgiving and will adapt to a soaked-in glaze frosting. So I carefully scraped off the chocolate mess down to the cake.
Poor thing had looked like it had third-degree burns all over the top.

And placed said mess in the double boiler with some cocoa, butter, milk and powdered sugar.  Heated to boiling while vigorously whisking it to something fairly smooth, then poured it back over the cake to achieve a fudgy glaze.

Thank heaven (and mom!) for double boilers!

What lesson did I learn? Do not entrust my male family members with frosting the cake.  They do many, MANY things well, but making confectioneries are not their forte.

Happy birthday, birthday boy!

I also learned that turtle cake is just as delicious as I remembered.

Turtle Cake

Cake Ingredients:
1 box German chocolate cake mix
3 eggs
1/2 cup oil
1 1/3 cups water

Filling Ingredients:
1 package caramels, unwrapped
4 ounces evaporated milk
6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:
Have 9×13 pan greased and ready.  Preheat oven to 350.  Mix cake ingredients together at low speed for 30 seconds, then at medium speed for two minutes.  Pour half of cake batter into pan and bake for 20 minutes.

While the bottom of the cake is baking, melt caramels and milk in heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring frequently.  As soon as cake springs back to touch, pour caramel mixture over the top, sprinkle with chips and then top with remaining cake batter. Continue baking for 20-25 minutes or until top layer is done.  Frosting is optional.  (Gilding the lily and all that.)

Note:  in my rendition, I saved the chips for the top of the cake.  When salvaging it, I made a glaze similar to the boiled frosting I use on chocolate sheet cake.

Happy baking and rescuing,

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