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Tag Archives: #Dessert

How and Why You need Blackberry Pie

How and Why You need Blackberry Pie

  Let’s Make Mud Pies

Berries. Wonderful Berries.

Why should you make a blackberry pie? That’s a no brainer. Blackberry pie is one of my all time favorite things to make and eat. You can’t have a bad day after treating yourself to a piece of pie. Especially a homemade one. Served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream it’s the perfect treat. And in just three months the apricots will be back in season and we can bake apricot pies too.

The crust is crispy, crunchy and fall apart melt in your mouth delicious. Blackberries aren’t really in season anymore, but Costco seems to have palates of them. You could  substitute blueberries if you prefer.

This recipe is fairly easy to make and worthwhile for sure. I hope you will try it too!

You can make the berry mixture ahead of time and keep refrigerated and do the same with the dough as well. Here’s how…

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Ingredients:

1 bag of frozen blackberries

2 containers of fresh blackberries

3/4 C. granulated sugar (more or less depending on the sweetness of the berry)

1 T dried tapioca pearls

1 T of cornstarch

2 T water

2 T lemon juice

zest of 1 lemon

1/4 teas grated nutmeg

1/2 teas kosher salt

2 T unsalted butter

Instructions:

Dump frozen blackberries into medium sized saucepan with sugar, tapioca, salt, nutmeg, lemon zest and lemon juice. Cook over med high heat until sauce is boiling. Mix water and cornstarch and pour into boiling berry mixture and cook until thickened. Cool. Fold fresh blackberries into cooled mixture.

I  find that by using a mixture of frozen berries and fresh berries, it brings out the best flavor and texture to your pie.

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Pie Crust

Ingredients:

3 C. Flour

2 T Sugar

1 tsp kosher salt

8 Tbsp cold unsalted butter (1 stick)

¼ C. Shortening

3 Tbsp  H2O

1 egg, lightly beaten

2 tsp white distilled vinegar

Instructions:

  1.    In a  large bowl combine flour, sugar and salt. Using a pastry blended and working quickly to prevent butter from melting into flour, cut in butter and shortening until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. (or put mixture in food processor and pulse until combined)
  2.    In a small bowl combine water, egg, and vinegar. Stir to mix. With a fork, mix egg mixture into flour just until dough clumps together and moist enough to pat together. If dough is dry and crumbly, add more water 1 Tbsp at a time. Dough should not be wet or sticky. (I use the food processor and pulse until combined.)
  3. Wrap and place in fridge for 30 minutes to rest.
  4.    Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and roll with pin to flatten

This makes enough for two single-crust pies.

Once you have your dough rested and your filling cooled you can fill, dot with butter and top your pie.  Use any cookie cutter you have, or go with the traditional lattice topping.

Pastry likes to stay cold before baked. So put the pie in the freezer for an hour or so before baking to get that great pie crust, if you can wait that long…

Brush with a whole beaten egg. Sprinkle with additional sugar and bake on a sheet pan in a preheated 400 degree oven for one hour or until golden and bubbly. Serve with vanilla ice cream.

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Enjoy!

Last Fall, my husband and I visited Boa Vista Farms http://www.boavista.com/ where they sell frozen pre made pies like apple and berry. We had a blast tasting their apple pastries, apple doughnuts, and caramel apples. They have a fun Wine Tasting counter as well. Worth a drive up to the Placerville area for sure.

Please leave a comment below and follow my blog so you will receive the next one in your inbox. I’d love it if you share this recipe on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Happy Baking!

Teri Smyth

 
 

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One Special Confection You Can’t live Without This Holiday

One Special Confection You Can’t live Without This Holiday

Before I divulge the best toffee recipe of all time, I will share a quick story about my recent vacation. Here is a pic of my niece Kendall helping me in the kitchen.

What a trip! My husband and I traveled to Portland Oregon this week for business and pleasure. I was excited to get away and have fun exploring the food and vibe in the Great Northwest.


The day started with a trip to Voo Doo Donuts after dropping my husband off at the refinery. It was my first time trying these fabulous baked goods. People go crazy for these donuts. One lady in line bought seven dozen and another guy walked out with four dozen glazed, sprinkled, filled and twisted… the list goes on and on. I was happy with my two-one raspberry filled dusted w powdered sugar and one glazed with chocolate and filled w pastry cream. So delish!


The place reminded me of a Hard Rock Café kind of place. It has a weird kind of vibe with skull and cross bones and biker chic like culture. They sell music CD’s and T-shirts w logos like “The Magic is in the Hole.” And I might add that we saw a few people in the airport carrying huge pink Voo Doo Donut boxes too.

Apparently there is usually a line out the door of this place. Today, this wasn’t the case but there were plenty of visitors taking part of the “Voo Doo Donut experience.”  The shop is small. No seating is available. I chose to stand at the back counter and eat the chocolate one w Bavarian cream first. It didn’t disappoint. The Stumptown coffee was watered down and not anything like the normal Peet’s espresso w steamed milk that I make for myself every morning.



Next I explored the shops in the Multnomah Village and Hillsdale Shopping area of Portland. Here I wandered around in this cute quaint small neighborhood. I found everyone there to be friendly, helpful and knowledgeable about their goods. I was able to pick up a couple of last minute Christmas presents for a few people on my list. I found a cashmere scarf for my son who will soon be traveling to So Korea for a business class. He will be sure to find a good use for it there. After visiting a bead store, I also got the great idea to bedazzle my Christmas packages w brown twine and lace them w sparkly beads in blue, red, clear, yellow and some that look like diamonds. This will be the perfect addition to my holiday wrap. I love decorating a gorgeous tree every year and placing beautiful packages under and alongside the ornaments and brightly lit tree.


I also spotted an old fashioned candy store called Hatties which had every kind of candy you could think of. I brought home peppermint candy canes to make my chocolate and peppermint cream cheese brownies and root beer, licorice, butterscotch and orange flavored lollipop sticks to add to the gifts of the kids on my list. Remember the ones you had as a child? They also offered many varieties of homemade fudge like salted caramel, chocolate and peanut butter swirl and red velvet cheesecake flavor and gave you a free chunk of it if you spent more than $10.00.


One of the perks to shopping in this area was the “Golden Ticket” that was provided as a free gift if you spent over $10.00 in any store. It was fun to see so many crafty knitted hats, crocheted gloves, and colorful socks of all kinds. Wonderful place to go if you like unusual things “Keep Portland Weird” that you don’t necessarily find in the department store. I also felt great knowing I was supporting a community of small business owners.

It began to snow outside, so I kept warm and dry inside until it was time to drive back to get my husband at his office. Make sure to watch the video I made while enjoying the fun day. I hope after reading my blog you will make it to Portland too and have as much fun as I did exploring the city.


I’d like to share my favorite Christmas Candy that has been made in my family for generations.

I’ve been bringing this dish to holiday parties and celebrations for years and everyone is always asking me for the recipe. You will want to double the recipe. Here you go.

Thanks for reading.

Please share this blog on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

I’d love to hear from you in the comment section below.

Teri’s Crunchy English Toffee

7 oz sliced Almonds

1 ¼ C Light Brown Sugar

½ C Unsalted Butter

2 T Water

¼ t Baking Soda

1 t Vanilla Extract

7 oz chopped Ghiradelli or high quality Dark Chocolate

Spread sliced almonds onto a sheet pan and bake in preheated 325-degree oven for 8 min or until brown. When cool, chop finely using a food processor and spread onto two pans lined with sil pat.

Place sugar, butter and water in a medium size heavy bottom pan on medium heat. I find that doubling the recipe makes it easier to keep the candy thermometer in the caramel and thus reads easier. Stir until butter melts and mixture is combined, then do not stir. Boil until thermometer reads 285 degrees. Remove from heat and add vanilla and baking soda. Stir with wooden spoon and pour onto nuts. Spread evenly and quickly put chocolate chunks onto warm caramel to melt. Spread chocolate then cool in fridge, freezer or on counter until set about 1 hour.

Enjoy!

Recipe Adapted from Rose Levy’s Mahogany Butter Crunch Toffee.

 

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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

Don’t forget to follow my blog and share with your friends on Facebook or Twitter. Feel free to ask any questions you might have or leave a comment.

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

 

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The Biggest Challenge: Raising a Son with Autism

The Biggest Challenge: Raising a Son with Autism

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I rarely mix my recipe blogging with parenting, but today I’m feeling inspired to tell my story about raising a son with autism. It’s something my family and close friends know about me, but rarely anyone else. I’ve never publicized this information because I wanted to protect my son and family from any repercussions and stay private.I’m not ashamed or anything about our situation, but it is a sensitive subject especially when things aren’t going well.

Lately, Andrew the son I’m speaking of is struggling with college. Although I am proud that he has come this far, I’m worried about his chances of graduating. Here is a little glimpse of his story.

Andrew is currently 23 years old and one of the sweetest men you will ever meet. He is well spoken, articulate and handsome. He is athletic in the sense that he has earned his third degree black belt in Taekwondo and had been teaching students at a local studio for the last five years or so. Andrew also achieved his Eagle in scouting when he was in high school. He worked hard to gain this honor by learning leadership, completing many badges, hiking for days in the wilderness, and completing a project that helped the Monument Crisis Center in Concord. He is also a very talented musician. Andrew’s choice of instrument is his voice. He is a tenor and received much of his training from director Ken Abrams and the award winning San Ramon Valley High School and was lucky enough to travel to Costa Rica. My husband and I were chaperons for most of his tours and enjoyed supporting the organization. Andrew got a partial scholarship to go to college at St. Mary’s College of Moraga California and joined the Chamber Singers Choir with the famous Dr Julie Ford. In the past year they performed at Carnegie Hall and in Latvia the summer before. St.Mary’s Choir is traveling to Russia this Spring to compete in the World Choir Games and our son is hoping to rejoin the choir next semester and perform with them. At a the young age of 7 we sought out piano lessons for him and he continued his studies in music for ten years. As of last summer, Andrew taught piano and voice lessons to students in the East Bay area and hopes to continue to share his passion for music in the future.

But even after all this success, our son seems lost. He had to cut back his school schedule because of finances and is currently a part time student at St Mary’s College and Diablo Valley College. He chose not to sing this semester and I believe it was the worst decision of his life. He is now more quiet and withdrawn than ever. He goes to school, comes home and goes directly to his room. Most of his college friends have graduated and moved on. He doesn’t have the social life like he did since he now lives at home instead of on campus.

As you can see, Andrew has had tons of success in his life. He has so much potential to be a great musician, composer or teacher someday, yet something is getting in his way. As a parent, it is hard to know how involved I should be. When he was young, it was easy. It was my job to make sure he got the best teachers, disability counselors, etc. Now things aren’t as clear.

I realize I’m not the only mom raising a son with disabilities. And I know there are many kids/adults with autism that haven’t had these successes or opportunities like my son has had.  Being a parent is hard. I have to trust that Andrew knows whats best for him. I have to believe that one day he will overcome these struggles. I don’t know what it is like to be him. I haven’t walked in his shoes. I’m only the mom who cares for him and loves him and wants the best for him.

This is what I know. I know I will be there for him through the good times and the bad. I will support him and his decisions while he is learning the ways of the world. I’m grateful for being given the chance to raise a son with autism. He is going to do big things and go places someday. I am confident I can look at the big picture, take a step back and be happy with my parenting so far.

Here are two recipes that I have made recently that my family loves. You will never go back to making a plain cornbread ever again. Toss in some blueberries and see how these warm berries burst in your mouth. Adding a pad of butter to the warm slice always brings a smile to Andrew’s face.

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Here is the best Blueberry Corn Bread recipe.

Ingredients:

1 ½ C All Purpose Flour

2/3 C Granulated Sugar

½ C White or Yellow Corn Meal

½ tsp Kosher Salt

1 T. Baking Powder

2 Large Eggs

1 ¼ C. 2% Milk

1/3 C. Canola Oil

3 T Butter melted

¾ C Fresh Blueberries

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350degrees. Butter or grease 9” round pan.

In a large bowl combine flour, sugar, cornmeal, salt, and baking powder.

In another medium size bowl combine milk, eggs, oil, and melted butter and mix well. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and stir with a wire whisk until blended. Toss blueberries in last and stir. Pour into a round baking dish and place in center of preheated oven. Bake for 30-35 min or until tooth pick comes out clean.

Need a healthy alternative to either a plain bowl of cereal or a hard boiled egg for breakfast? Try these delicious moist muffins. They freeze well and delight even the pickiest eater. If you like them extra sweet, top with a cream cheese frosting for a little extra tangy flavor.

Blueberry Cranberry Muffins

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Blueberry Cranberry Muffin ingredients:

2 C. King Arthur Whole Wheat Flour

1 C. All Purpose Flour

2/3 C. Granulated Sugar

2 1/2t Double acting Baking Powder

1 ½ t Baking soda

¼ t. Kosher Salt

1 t cinnamon

1 t ginger

1 C. Plain Nonfat Yogurt

½ C. Canola Oil

1/3 C. Thawed Frozen Orange Juice Concentrate

2 Eggs

1 ½ C Fresh Blueberries

1 C. Dried Cranberries

24 Dried Apricot halves, chopped (Soak in ½ C Brandy) Heat Brandy in microwave first. Add apricots and let them get plump before removing from liquid and chopping.

Directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Use Paper liners and line 2 muffin tins to bake 24 muffins.

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, soda, salt and spices.

In a large bowl combine oil, yogurt, orange juice, and eggs. Mix well. Add dry ingredients ½ cup at a time just until combined. Gently stir in blueberries, cranberries and soaked apricots.

Spoon batter equally into muffin tins. Bake until tooth pick comes clean when removed about 15-20 minutes.

Cream cheese frosting: 8 oz room temperature cream cheese, 1/2 C softened butter, 1 1/2 C confectioners sugar, 1 t vanilla. Mix until combined.

Enjoy!

If you like this blog please follow me. If you have any questions about the recipe please leave a comment below. I’d love to hear from you. Feel free to share on social media to your family and friends.

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Teri:)

Choir Article

 
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Posted by on November 14, 2015 in Dessert

 

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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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