Tag Archives: cake

MMM Day 16: Maple and Bourbon Pear Upside Down Cake

“It’s healthy.”

That’s all you really need to know about this cake.  You need not feel guilty for having a second or even a third helping because as my friend put it so elequoently,

“It’s healthy.”

Don’t believe her?  Well, maple syrup is full of antioxidants, if you didn’t know.  And it’s a well known fact that the bourbon in a hot toddy is what cures your colds.  And, hello, pears are fruit!!  All the other ingredients are good for your soul.  So my friend is right,

“It’s healthy.”

Maple and Bourbon Pear Upside Down Cake
1/3  c.  maple syrup
1 jigger bourbon
3  peeled pears, cored and cut into 8 wedges each
1  c.  all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4  tsp. baking soda
1/2  tsp. ground ginger
1/4  tsp. salt
2/3  c. sugar
1/3  c. butter, softened
1  tsp. vanilla
2  eggs
1/2  c.  buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350°.

Bring syrup to a boil in a medium nonstick pan over medium-high heat; cook 2 minutes. Add pears and bourbon and continue to cook until syrup thickens (about 4 minutes), gently shaking pan frequently.  Gently pour syrup mixture and pears into a 8 or 9″ cake pan.  Arrange pears in a spoke like fashion.

Combine flour and next 4 ingredients  stirring well with a whisk. Place sugar, butter, and vanilla in a large bowl and beat until well-blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time to the butter mixture, beating well after each addition. Stir flour mixture into wet ingredients alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture.

Pour batter evenly over pear mixture. Bake at 350° for 30 – 40minutes or until cake springs back when touched lightly in center. Run a knife around outside edge. Cool in pan 5 minutes. Place a plate upside down on top of cake; invert onto plate. Serve warm.



Grandma saves the day with Crazy Cake!!

Today one of my students, who happens to be from a South American country, a place with a hot climate, noted that it was pretty warm out today so I took the opportunity to explain the word balmy to the class.  We all had a good laugh at the fact that we live in a cruel, strange world where we think 30º is warm.  Even those of us from South America.  But compared to the cold temperatures we endured last week, it is downright balmy out!

When the temperatures climb above 15º, I usually try to walk home from work.  Yesterday was just such a day.  On my leisurely walk home I remembered that I had book club later in the evening and that I should really bring some food to share.  I was thinking of making a nice citrus salad, but alas, didn’t have many of the ingredients on hand.  That, coupled with the fact that I was feeling pretty lazy – too lazy to chop a few oranges – left me with few options.  I mean really.  If you can’t handle chopping a couple of oranges, the cooking options are looking a little bleak.  I considered baking something, but that lazy component kept rearing it’s ugly head.  I didn’t want to make cookies – too much work!

But then, wouldn’t you know, Grandma came to the rescue.  I was flipping through the cards, hoping for some inspiration and there it was – Crazy Cake!  “Sift flour, sugar, soda, cocoa and salt in an ungreased pan”.  Wait a second!  No bowl?  I can mix this thing up in the pan?!  And it will be ready in 40 minutes?  And be delicious?!  Crazy! I always wondered why this was called Crazy Cake, when for all those years I thought it was just a good chocolate cake with a delicious caramel frosting.  Nothing too outrageous or anything, but now I know the real reason for it’s name.  Between the ingredients and the method, it is a little crazy!

Grandma used to make this cake for us all the time.  One bite into this last night and I remembered just how much she made it.  I haven’t had it in years, but it tasted exactly like I remembered.  Rich, moist, chocolaty, and that caramely frosting…so good!  Actually, it’s VVG!

Crazy Cake
3 c. flour
2 c. sugar
1/3 c. cocoa powder
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. vinegar
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 c. oil
2 c. cold water

Sift flour, sugar, soda, cocoa and salt into an ungreased 9 x 13 pan.  Make 3 holes in the dry ingredients.  Pour vanilla into one, vinegar into another, and divide the oil between all three.  Pour cold water over the entire mixture.  Blend with a fork.  Do not beat.  Bake at 350º for 35 – 40 minutes.

Quick Caramel Frosting
1/2 c. butter
1 c. brown sugar, packed
1/4 c. milk
2 c. powdered sugar (sifted ??)*

Melt butter in sauce pan.  Add brown sugar.  Boil over low heat 2 minutes, stirring constantly.  Add milk, continue stirring until it comes to a boil.  Remember to cool.  Then add powdered sugar, beat after each addition.

* I’m not sure why Grandma had these questions marks after the powdered sugar.  She sifted everything.  There was no question in that.  And she measured everything perfectly.  I’m also not sure what the underlining was all about on this one, but I definitely remembered to let it cool.

I only used one cup of powdered sugar last night because I felt I was going into some sort of hyperglycemic shock just thinking about all of the sugar in that frosting and guess what – it was still good.  Yes, Dad. I wrote this for you.  Minus one cup of sugar and still edible!  In fact, tasty!  Believe it!!

Crazy Cake with Caramel Frosting

Lemon Raspberry Layer Cake

Last week was my neighbor Angela’s birthday.  In honor of her special day, I offered to make her this marmalade cake for her birthday.  She met my offer with, “That sounds great! Can you make it lemon?” Not wanting to disappoint, I opted to adjust this recipe to meet her specifications.  Why I didn’t look for a different recipe or just make her lemon bars (a tried and true VVG recipe that I must make one of these days!), I’ll never know.  Instead, I added most of the fat and then some back to the original Cooking Light recipe to create this delicious treat for Angela’s birthday.

This cake is tasty, but a little putsy so be willing to commit some time to it.  Those who have baked with me in the past know that I’m a one bowl kind of girl.  I add the ingredients in such a way so as to dirty as few dishes as possible.  Not the case with this cake. I dirtied a great many bowls in the making of this puppy, all in the name of a light and airy cake.  Also, the cake batter is very runny; I’ve made this before with success, but I do think reducing the amount of liquid (namely omitting the milk) might help out a bit in this regard.  Then again, I don’t think I have the best stove in the world, so it’s hard to say.  In the words of Grandma Ruesch, “it just isn’t quite right.”   No matter though, because as with all of the “dud” baked goods Grandma made us over the years, the cake is gone and there weren’t any complaints about the flavor or texture.

slice of lemon raspberry cake

Lemon Raspberry Layer Cake
Cooking spray
3  c.  sifted cake flour*
1 1/2  teaspoons  baking soda
3/4  teaspoon  salt
9  tablespoons  butter, softened
1 3/4  cups  sugar, divided
1 Tbsp. vanilla
4  large egg whites
1 1/4  c.  low-fat buttermilk
1  c.  milk

Lemon Syrup
1/2  c.  lemonade
1/4 c. sugar

1  (10 oz.) jar lemon curd
3 Tbsp. raspberry jam
1 pint whipped cream, whipped

Step 1:  Heat oven to 350º.  Grease your pans with cooking spray or butter.  Line the bottom of the pans with parchment paper.
Step 2:  Whisk sifted flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium sized bowl.
Step 3:  Beat butter with a mixer in a large bowl until light and fluffy.  Gradually add 1 3/4 cups sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until well blended. Beat in vanilla. Add egg whites, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.
Step 4:  Mix together buttermilk and milk.
Step 5.  Add flour mixture and buttermilk mixture alternately to butter mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture.
Step 6:  Add batter to cake pans.  Bake in 350º oven for about 35 minutes or until golden brown.  Cool cakes completely.
Step 7:  Combine juice and 1/4 cup sugar; stir until sugar dissolves. Pierce the cake layers liberally with a wooden pick or fork. Slowly drizzle juice mixture over cake layers.
Step 8:  Carefully place 1 layer on a plate; spread with raspberry jam.  Then, spread with half of the lemon curd (depending on how thick your lemon curd is, you may want to water it down with a little lemonade).  Carefully place second layer on top of first layer of cake, raspberry jam and lemon curd.  Spread remaining lemon curd on top layer.  Spread whipped cream on sides of cake.
Step 9:  Chill cake for at least 2 hours before serving.

*Get this! I even bought a flour sifter!  It did NOT work like a charm, however.  I’ll be shopping for a new one.

lemon raspberry cake

P.S.  Don’t you just love my cake platter?  My mom made it.

Karl’s Carrot Birthday Cake

This weekend I went back to the Motherland (that’s what I call Wisconsin) to partake in a number of special events.  First, my mom and I worked to reupholster my mid-century modern chairs (see my mom’s version of the process on her blog).  We were able to get one completed, but I’ll post pictures when they are both done.  Second, I needed to get my fix of fish fry at Hotchkiss’ Last Cast in Stratford.  Though we waited a long time to eat the fish it was worth the wait because 1) it was tasty -a light cornbread breading and none too greasy and 2) we got some free drink tickets while we waited which eased my pain (I can’t speak for the rest of the crew).  The third important event was collecting and cooking sap to make maple syrup (more on that in another post).  And finally, we celebrated Karl’s birthday with grilled turkey, roasted sweet potatoes with maple syrup, carrot and beet salad, asparagus and carrot cake.  Suffice it to say, it was a busy weekend on the farm.

Ever the masters of multi-tasking, my mom and I worked to make the cushions and dinner in a tag team fashion.  So, while my mom wrestled with the cushions, I worked on the cake.  Karl requested carrot cake for his special day and was so eager to eat it that he didn’t even let us sing “How old are you” after “Happy Birthday”.

This recipe is by Jean Gilles and is in The Kitchen Witch Cookbook by the Medford Lochettes.  Lochettes as in female curlers.  Curlers as in people who throw giant rocks down ice, not curlers for your hair.

Carrot Cake
4 eggs, beaten
2 c. sugar
3 c. coarsely grated raw carrot
1 1/4 c. vegetable oil
2 c. flour
2 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt

1 8oz. package cream cheese
1/2 c. butter, softened
2 c. powdered sugar
3/4 c. coarsely chopped walnuts

Grease and flour a 9 x 13 inch pan.  Beat together eggs and sugar.  Add carrots and oil; beat.  Combine dry ingredients in a sifter; sift into carrot mixture*; mix well.  Batter will be thin.  Bake at 325º for 40 minutes.

For frosting: Cream together cream cheese and butter.  Gradually add powdered sugar.  Beat until fluffy.  Stir in nuts.  Frost cake when completely cooled.

* I don’t sift dry ingredients.  Partly because I don’t have a sifter and partly because I’m lazy.  I’m sure Grandma would be turning in her grave if she knew that I always skip this step.  But since Grandpa was pretty busy turning in his own grave after witnessing all that sap just spilling on the garage floor this weekend (the horror!), I thought Grandma would like something to turn around about too!