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Blog: 9 Ways to Double Your Pleasure While on Vacation

Blog: 9 Ways to Double Your Pleasure While on Vacation

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I’m loving winter time. I am spending five days up in the mountains with family. It is currently 33 degrees here in Truckee California. We are at 6125 Elevation nestled in the coziest house you can imagine. There is a huge snow storm going on. We are expecting at least two more feet of snow.

It’s days like these that make me want to bake. And gingerbread is the perfect comfort food to celebrate this holiday season. After all, December is a glorious time of year, especially when it’s snowing outside.

Over the years, my family would take a drive up north once in the winter and once in the summer to celebrate birthdays and have family reunions. All 15-20 of us cram into a big house and eat, drink and play games. It’s a joy to spend time with my nieces and nephews on a more personal level. Many of them join me in the kitchen to whip up a meal like chicken parmesan or lasagna. Then we find time to bake something sweet to make a perfect ending to a family meal.

This week I’m enjoying cooking for my sister and her girlfriend. I’ve made bean soup, BBQ pulled pork, and this wonderful gingerbread cake. We’ve enjoyed having this cake for breakfast as well as dessert.

I feel spoiled to be able to sneak away from my life in the Bay Area and enjoy the splendor of life in the woods. Here are my 9 ways to double your pleasure while on vacation in the mountains.

  • Make a fire in a wood stove and be grateful for a generous sister
  • Stay in your pajamas all day long
  • Make an apple butternut squash soup and serve w crème fraise
  • Drink homemade peppermint hot cocoa w whipped cream or marshmallows
  • Scrapbook homemade greeting cards
  • Put your feet up w a warm blanket and cuddle w a loved one
  • Watch football with a cold beer and eat hot appetizers like potato skins dipped in ranch dressing
  • Snuggle w your kitty cat on your lap and drink a Peet’s coffee w a dark chocolate ganache
  • Bake a delicious and moist gingerbread cake and serve with a vanilla caramel ice cream

Here’s the recipe.

Gingerbread Cake

Ingredients:

Softened Shortening or butter for coating pan

1C Canola Oil

1 C Granulated Sugar

1 C Molasses

2 T crystallized candied ginger

2 large eggs

3 C unbleached all-purpose flour

1 T baking soda

1 T ground ginger

2 T ground cinnamon

1 t Maldon salt

½ t ground cloves

1 C Pale Ale or Guinness Beer

Serve w whipped cream or vanilla ice cream

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Lightly coat a 9X13X2 cake pan or 2 9” round pans with shortening and line w parchment.

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In a large bowl, whisk together oil, sugar, molasses and candied ginger. Add eggs and whisk until smooth.

In another large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, ground ginger, cinnamon, salt and cloves. Whisk dry ingredients into molasses ingredients starting w dry alternately adding beer ending with dry until just combined.

Pour into prepared pans and bake in preheated oven until tooth pick comes clean @ 45 minutes.

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video of snow storm

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Posted by on December 13, 2015 in Dessert, Holidays, Wintertime

 

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How Stopping Off at a Roadside Farm Can Inspire Your Baking

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October is one of my favorite times of the year. The weather is getting cooler in the mornings and evenings and we hold out for hope that the rains will come soon. My neighbor’s kids are getting excited about the upcoming Halloween by decorating their yards with goblins, skeletons and huge fake black spiders and I’ve been purchasing sweets for their arrival at my front door on October 31st. Of course I won’t be baking treats for the youngsters, but their parents might enjoy a little something sweet while trekking through the neighborhood. This is where my apple cake will come in handy.

You’re probably wondering what inspired me to prepare this super moist cake. Recently while driving through the countryside of Sonoma County I ran across a farm called Green String Farm along Old Adobe Road in Petaluma. My sister Susan and I were taking my dad to the casino in Santa Rosa when we stumbled across this gem.

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I was happy to learn that they sold local produce, nuts, flowers, olive oil, eggs, cheese, honey and herbs. These establishments are rare where I live in rural Walnut Creek, but are occasionally found in the hills of Petaluma. I know how much work goes into growing these vegetables because I have a garden also at my home. Keeping up with the water in the midst of the drought is not a small feat. This is why I appreciate buying from places like Green String Farm. I know my purchase will be fresh and fairly priced.  The owner happened to be friendly, answered any questions we had and sent us on our way with a smile.

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I found their walnuts to be the best I’ve ever tasted. They are sold in bulk by the pound in their shell.  Apples pair well with walnuts and it’s the season when I’m in the mood for a warm spice cake. I’ve made this recipe for the past 15 years every time I have an excess of apples and I love serving it with a caramel sauce and Chantilly cream or vanilla ice cream. Luckily, I have plenty of time to bake before the trick or treating begins next week.

FRESH APPLE CAKE

Ingredients:

4 C sliced apples (3-4 depending on the size. Leave the peels on for more fiber) Granny Smith or Johnagold or your favorite apple.

1 ½ C Granulated Sugar

2 C All Purpose Flour (Can substitute Coconut, or Almond Flour if you want less carbs)

2 tsp Baking soda

2 tsp Cinnamon

2 tsp Ginger

¼ tsp Nutmeg (freshly grated)

½ tsp Cloves

½ tsp Maldon Salt Flakes

2 tsp Vanilla

2 Eggs (slightly beaten)

½ C Canola Oil

½-1 C chopped Walnuts

Optional

Vanilla Ice Cream

Heavy Cream

Caramel sauce

Ingredients:

¾ C (6oz/185 g) Granulated Sugar

2 T Water

½ tsp fresh Lemon Juice

¾ C (6 fl oz/180 ml) Heavy Cream

Directions:

In a medium size heavy saucepan combine the sugar, water and lemon juice. Cook over medium high heat until it turns amber, 6-8 minutes. Do not stir. Tip the pan to ensure even cooking. Do not allow the sugar to burn. When amber color, remove from heat and add cream. Stir with a long handled spoon or whisk until the sauce is smooth and blended. Let sauce cool to warm and use immediately. Can be covered and refrigerated for up to a week.

Makes about 1 cup (8 fl oz/250ml).

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Directions:

Sprinkle sugar over sliced apples in a large bowl and stir. In another bowl, combine all spices, soda, salt to flour and mix. Add dry ingredients to apples and mix with a wooden spoon.

In a separate bowl, measure out oil and add eggs and vanilla and stir.

Pour wet ingredients into apples and mix well. Add walnuts and pour evenly into a buttered 13X9 inch pan. Or for a special occasion, pour into separate small ramekins to serve individually. Baking time will be less for these.

Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 40-50 minutes until a tooth pick comes out clean.

Serve alongside caramel sauce,and a scoop of vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

Enjoy!

 
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Posted by on October 24, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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The #1 Tip to Bake Your Favorite White Cake With Less Fuss

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Yesterday I invited my longtime friend Marie over for a baking day. She wanted to learn how to bake her son Ryan’s favorite vanilla cake. I made one last Fall for his brother Aaron’s engagement party and it was a huge hit.

Marie and I go way back. She and I met at Mr. Steak Restaurant in Concord California and worked as hostesses then waitresses at the age of 16. After working a shift, we would sit together at the back table and eat Teriyaki chicken, baked potatoes and hot fudge sundaes. We have stayed close over the past thirty years supporting one another while raising our kids. She is “Auntie Marie” to mine and I’m “Auntie Teri” to her boys. It’s a wonderful thing.

This recipe is as simple as they come adding a few extra ingredients to a box cake mix. The result is a light and airy texture with a robust vanilla flavor. The time it takes to mix is minimal which is always a plus for a busy individual who wants to spend less time in the kitchen. The recipe to my favorite chocolate cake is here on a previous blog. http://letsmakemudpies.blogspot.com/2014/07/chocolate-plus-raspberries-caaake.html?m=1

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Here is the recipe:

I box vanilla cake mix (follow recipe and add these extra ingredients)

1 extra egg white

1 box instant vanilla pudding

½ C sour cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Assemble cake as directed and add the extra egg white, the box of vanilla pudding and ½ C sour cream. Mix well. Prepare 2 8 or 9 “ round stainless steel pans (glass okay) by lying a piece of parchment on the bottom of the pan. If you don’t have parchment, spray with a non-stick spray or coat lightly with Crisco.

Pour batter into pans making sure to divide evenly. Bake as directed on box, usually around 17-25 min.

Let the cakes cool in the pans.

When cool frost with a white buttercream frosting.

White Buttercream Frosting

2/3 C Water plus 3 T

¼ C Wilton Meringue Powder

12 C Confectioners’ sugar (3 Lbs.)

1 1/4 C Vegetable Shortening

3 T Light Corn Syrup

¾ t Maldon Salt (found at Sur la Tab or William Sonoma)

¾ t imitation rum extract

½ t imitation clear butter flavor

1 t vanilla extract

In a large bowl, combine water and meringue powder and whip w electric mixer at high speed until soft peaks form. Add 4 C sugar ½ C at a time beating at low speed until combined. Add shortening and corn syrup and add remaining sugar slowly until incorporated. Add salt and flavorings, beat on low until smooth. Makes @ 7 Cups.

Recipe may be doubled or halved depending on size of cake.

Enjoy!

Tell me about your favorite cake and the story behind it. Did it make you feel loved? Does your family have a traditional birthday cake every year that is requested? Please comment below.

 
6 Comments

Posted by on September 30, 2015 in Dessert, Uncategorized

 

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