I didn’t think I liked spice cake. Really, I didn’t. I just figured, you know, I’m a chocolate cake girl — what do I need with spice cake? Of course I’d had it before (and Mama’s yours tastes great) but it was never a cake I craved. Well, silly me with my silly thoughts: once I tried this spice cake, I was hooked. But, there are a couple little ingredients in this cake that I think make it truly sensational and the first is freshly grated nutmeg. First of all, is nutmeg not just lovely? Plus, it perfums this spice cake batter so subtely and beautifully — it is essential to the success of the cake.
Though freshly grated nutmeg is essential, so two are the other spices in this cake: cloves and cinnamon round out the spice trifecta perfectly.
The second set of ingredients that are essentials in the baking of this cake (and other cakes that also include them) are buttermilk and canola oil. The buttermilk is a wonderful tenderizer in the cake and the oil makes the cake wonderfully soft and moist. And as a PS: this recipe is originally from Kraft Oil cookbooklet that utterly delights me.
Here is the tricky thing about this cake, and before you worry, it’s really not that tricky. First, you make a stiff batter with the dry ingredients, buttermilk and oil; then, you make a light and airy batter of eggs and sugar…then you combine the two. That’s the tricky part, airy batter folded into a stiff one. Fear not though, just fold quickly and boldly till the batter is smooth and your cake will be a raging success. Promise.
I wasn’t the only one that got hooked on this cake. Collin Murray, who also didn’t think he liked spice cake all that much, love love loved it — and he can be hard to please. Give it a try my friends, this spice cake will make you a believer.
Spice Cake (adapted from 20 Wonderful Cakes made by the New Kraft Oil Method Cookbooklet)
3 cups cake flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
½ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¾ cup canola oil
1 ½ cups buttermilk
1 ¼ cups brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Butter and line with parchment two 9-inch cake pans or one 9×13 inch pan and set aside.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt, and spices. Whisk to combine. To the dry ingredients, add the oil and buttermilk and mix together with a spatula. The batter should be very thick but also smooth.
In a separate bowl, beat the eggs together until they are thick and foamy. Slowly add in the sugars and continue beating until the smooth, about two minutes. Carefully and thoroughly fold the two batters together being careful not to over-mix.
Pour into the prepared pan of choice and bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Once cool, frost with your choice of frosting, though I prefer the Penuche Frosting. Enoy!
Sometimes desserts are so good that I’m literally lost for words. This dessert is that good. Man-alive, that good. In fact, it is a testament to my love of all you faithful readers that I’m even sharing this with you and not keeping it to myself to eat with big ‘ol spoon and a happy face smeared with whipped cream and raspberries.
I’ve made Eton Mess before and I have to say that it is one of the easiest desserts to make, which is probably why I love it so much. However, this version of Eton Mess is just a little bit fancy — dare I say, this Eton Mess is classy. Gasp.
The reason for its classiness is the addition of raspberry jam and raspberry liquor…do I have your attention now? Prior to being submersed into the raspberry jam stripped whipped cream, lovely fresh raspberries get nice and happy (read: drunk) in luscious raspberry eau di vie called framboise. The result is a tripe threat of raspberry awesomeness that had Collin Murray begging for seconds and thirds.
Do not fear if you cannot find framboise — it’s a fancy-pants thing that my oh-so-nice father-in-law sent me after Collin Murray and I exhausted nearly every liqour store in our area. As a substitution, you could sprinkle your delicate raspberries with a touch of sugar, depending on their sweetness, and then mix in the juice of half a lemon and allow them to break down or macerate a little to release some of their lovely juices.
This dessert is everything you want in a summer dessert, easy, quick, ovenless and most of all, totally and utterly delicious.
Triple Raspberry Eton Mess
Serves 4, generously
1 cup raspberries
2 tablespoons framboise
2 cups heavy cream
1-2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons raspberry jam
1 cup crumbled meringue cookies, or more if desired
In a small bowl, combine raspberries and framboise. Allow to soak for 20 minutes.
In a large bowl whip heavy cream to soft peaks. Add 1 tablespoon sugar and continue whipping till you’ve achieved stiff peaks. Gently fold in jam and set aside.
Fold drunken raspberries into whipped cream. Carefully spoon “the mess” into parfait glasses or bowls. Sprinkle with desired amount of crumbled meringue. Serve cold and enjoy.
My favorite thing about summer is all the fresh fruit. I love being able to eat cherries, strawberries, peaches and blueberries everyday, never frozen, just fresh and delicious. But I also really love to cook and bake with all that fresh fruit too. So for this Blueberry Sauce, I was inspired by a recipe from an old New York Times cookbook and some amazing looking blueberries from the market.
And aren’t blueberries just so fetching? In addition to being full of antioxidants (and tons of other good stuff too), blueberries are great for baking but please don’t limit yourself to muffins my friends. Make this sauce and use it over ice cream or frozen yogurt, add it to your morning granola and yogurt or take a lead from Collin Murray and spread it on toast.
Blueberry Sauce (adapted from the 1961 edition of The New York Times Cookbook)
Makes about 1 ½ cups
¾ cup, plus 1 tablespoon water, separated
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon cornstarch
2 cups blueberries
In a small saucepan, bring ¾ cup water and sugar to a boil, stirring gently till the sugar has dissolved. Turn down the heat and add the lemon juice to the pan. In a small bowl, mix together the cornstarch and remaining water to make a slurry. Add the cornstarch mixture to the pot and allow to cook for one minute, stirring gently to ensure all the cornstarch is dissolved.
Add the blueberries to the mixture and using a wooden spoon, mash some of the blueberries on the side of the pan. Allow the sauce to cook for about five minutes or until the desired consistency and/or thickness is achieved. Serve warm or cool. Enjoy.
Summer and ice cream go together better then peanut butter and jelly so I figured it was about time that I made y’all some especially since I taught a cooking class on ice cream last week — I had it on the brain. So when I found a wee cookbooklet on refrigerator desserts from 1970, I figured it was fate…and time to freeze my ice cream bucket. And Oh my land, can I just tell you that making ice cream in the 1970′s was quite the process. Some recipes I’ve found for ice cream give all the instructions for freezing with salt, others call for refrigerator trays; all this to say, there is much need for adaptation when experimenting with vintage ice cream recipes.
This recipe is for Philadelphia-style ice cream which is simply ice cream without eggs. This style is my preference simply because it is so gosh darn easy and tastes light, creamy and oh-so-tasty. Basically, so long as your ice cream bucket has been frozen for a minimum of 12 hours, and your ingredients are super cold when you start mixing, you can have freshly made ice cream in less than 30 minutes. The perfect summer treat just got easier my friends.
Vanilla Ice Cream (adapted from 150 Luscious Refrigerator Desserts)
Makes about 1 ½ quarts
1 ½ cups heavy cream
1 ½ cups milk, any percent will do
½ cup sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
Ensure that the bucket of your ice cream maker has been frozen for a minimum of 12 hours.
In a large bowl, combine cream, milk, sweetened condensed milk, vanilla and salt. Whisk to combine.
Pour into an ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturer’s directions until soft serve consistency is achieved. Serve immediately or transfer to a freezer-safe container and freeze for a further hour to achieve a firmer ice cream. Enjoy!
I’ve been struggling with how to write this post. How does one stay classy when writing about a cake that happens to have the word “dump” in the title? But here I go anyway…I went to a puppy shower this past weekend (for a dear friend who had puppies instead of children…Hi Queen! Frank is perfect!) and I brought this cake — this DUMP Cake. All I can say is that I hope my parents are proud; they sent me to pastry school in New York City and I made a Dump Cake.
I am quite sure that this post will make someone mad because I’m positive that this recipe, which I have so lovingly referred to as being a form of Dump Cake, is not actually what is typically known as a Dump Cake in the Southern United States. Far as I know, a true Dump Cake is one where no mixing is required, just the dumping of ingredients into a cake pan; however, while my recipe calls for the dumping of ingredients, it also calls for a wee bit of mixing. Gasp.
Despite my overt sarcasm concerning this Dump Cake, I have to tell you that it was a total hit at the party because frankly, it’s totally delicious. It takes five minutes to dump together and is delightfully satisfying, especially on a warm afternoon surrounded by friends and wet puppy kisses.
Cherry Chocolate Dump Cake (adapted from Mama)
Makes 1-9×13 inch cake
1 box chocolate cake mix
1 540ml (19 ounce) can of cherry pie filling
1 teaspoon almond
2 tablespoons water
Rich Chocolate Glaze, to frost with if desired
Preheat oven to 350˚F. Butter a 9×13 inch cake pan and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients and beat with a spatula or wooden spoon for 1 minute or until all dry ingredients have been moistened. Pour into prepared cake pan and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the car comes out clean.
Frost with Rich Chocolate Glaze or another frosting of your choice. Enjoy!
Honestly, this is one of the easiest recipes that will ever be posted on this site. Easiest and most versatile — especially when making cocktails. There are only two ingredients in simple syrup: water and sugar but there are several different opinions when it comes to the ratio of sugar to water in simple syrup but I prefer to keep it simple: I use equal amounts of both.
Use your simple syrup to sweeten fruit juices, iced tea or coffee and a wide variety of cocktails. And if you feel adventurous you can add fresh mint, lavender, or thyme to your simple syrup as it is heating up to infuse the mixture with a little bit more flavor. Cheers to warm weather drinks my friends!
(Makes one cup)
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup water
In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and water. Stir to help dissolve sugar and heat to a boil (small bubbles will begin to form around the edges of the pan). Remove from heat and allow to cool fully before adding to the beverage of your choice.
In my quest to make a pie without making pie crust, I’ve come across a few real recipe gems and this recipe for Heavenly Pie, is certainly one of those little nuggets. Similar in flavor to a cheesecake, where the Heavenly Pie differs is that it’s as light as a cloud — hence it’s celestial name.
Though the original recipe called for canned fruit to be folded into the cheesecake-like batter, with my penchant for freshness, I just couldn’t do that. I added fresh raspberries though you could easily substitute strawberries, blueberries, blackberries or even fresh peaches, providing they weren’t too juicy.
If you’re looking for an easy, no-bake, cheesecake-like dessert, Heavenly Pie will certainly deliver. Make it for your friends and family and I promise you, they will think you’re positively divine.
Heavenly Pie(adapted from La Pinata – Junior Service League of McAllen, Texas)
Makes one enormous 9-inch pie
227grams cream cheese, softened
1 (311mL) can sweetened condensed milk
½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 ½ cups heavy cream, whipped
½ cup pecans, chopped
1 cup raspberries
1 9-inch pie crust of your choice, cooled
In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine cream cheese, sweetened condensed milk and lemon juice. Beat to combine; fold in whipped cream; gently fold in pecans and raspberries. Pour into the prepared pie crust and allow to chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes prior to serving. Enjoy!
I know it seems weird — cornflakes transformed into a pie crust — but I promise you it’s tasty.
My father, henceforth to be known as Rod (’cause that’s his name, silly), is allergic to wheat. As such, I am constantly searching for desserts that will work for him. I did a little research and found out that cornflakes are not, as I originally had thought, gluten-free as they are sweetened with barley malt. Though cornflakes will still work for Rod since he is not a full-blown celiac, please be careful if you are making this crust for a gluten-sensitive friend as it may trouble their system somthing fierce.
Though this crust is a great substitute for cookie crumb crusts, I suggest that you learn from my recipe testing and pulse your cornflakes in a food processor to create a fine crumb — don’t think you can crush the flakes fine enough with your hands. If your crumbs aren’t fine enough, the crust will just fall apart. It will still be tasty, it will just be kind of ugly and fally-apart-y.
Cornflake Crust (adapted from several vintage sources)
Makes one 9-inch crust
4 cups cornflakes (2 cups pre-crushed cornflakes)
⅓ cup unsalted butter, melted
¼ cup granulated sugar (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350˚F.
Place the cornflakes in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to crush the flakes to a fine crumb. Add the melted butter and if using, sugar, mix till thoroughly combined.
Press into pie plate and bake for 10 minutes. Allow to cool before using.
I realize that I use whipped cream sort of a lot. And you know, sometimes I forget that not everyone knows how to whip it. Whip it good (sorry, couldn’t resist). I am a huge proponent of whipping cream by hand — it’s like my party trick. Call me old-fashioned but I think there is merit to knowing how to whip cream by hand. Furthermore, one of my chef-instructors in pastry school told me that when you whip cream by hand, you actually whip the little proteins in the cream into abstract formations and make a better end product then when you use a machine — he was probably telling me a little nonsense but let’s just go with it, shall we? Before you begin, there are three main ingredients in whipped cream: heavy cream, granulated sugar, and vanilla extract.
I usually whip cream in a stainless steel bowl because cold cream whips up best and stainless steel keeps cream cold as you whip. The other essential tool that every cream whipper must have is a big balloon whisk. Balloon whisks help to incorporate lots and lots of air into the heavy cream as you are whipping which is exactly what you want.
I find it’s easiest to whip cream by holding the bowl with one hand and letting the cream collect on the other side. This way the cream is concentrated in one place and doesn’t have to be chased all around the bowl. After about 30 seconds of whipping, your cream will have developed thick bubbles that almost look a little like foam.
Continue whipping your cream until it starts to thicken. You will be able to feel and to see your cream start to bulk up. This can take 30 seconds to minutes depending on your cream whipping muscles.
When you get to the stage of whipping where the cream just starts to hold its shape, this is the soft peakstage. At this point, you can add your sugar and vanilla (or any other flavoring that you might like — liqour, honey, maple syrup, or no flavoring at all). Additionally, if you are making cream to serve a little later, be advised that you probably shouldn’t whip cream too much before hand. Take it as far as soft peaks and then let it rest in the fridge until you are ready to serve and then finish whipping.
To get to stiff peaks stage it really doesn’t take too much more muscle. Really whisk another 30 seconds to one minute and you should be there.
1 cup heavy cream will make 2 cups whipped cream — heavy cream always doubles in volume
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon good vanilla extract
In a stainless steel bowl, begin whipping cream with a large balloon whisk. Whip cream till soft peaks form, add flavorings and continue whipping till soft peaks form. Be careful not to over-whip or cream will become chunky and start to separate.
Collin Murray loves the strawberry + rhubarb combo and so over the years, I’ve made a couple different compote variations for him to enjoy over ice cream or stirred into yogurt.
This recipe is inspired by a recipe that I found in The American Woman’s Cookbook and by some of the compotes that Collin Murray has enjoyed in past years. In this imagining, I added half a vanilla bean just to kick up the flavor a touch. The end result is a lovely compote that is faintly scented with vanilla.
Now some people like for the natural tang of rhubarb to really shine but since Collin Murray usually eats his compote with Greek yogurt, I tend to make it a bit sweeter. If you aren’t like Collin Murray and are sweet enough already, you could easily reduce the sugar.
So this year, when your neighbour tries to pawn rhubarb off on you again (we all have those friends, desperate to get rid of excess rhubarb, don’t we?), take it and try this compote. I promise you will love it on yogurt, ice cream or even on toast. Enjoy spring friends!
Rhubarb Strawberry and Vanilla Compote (adapted from The American Woman’s Cookbook and experience)
(Makes 3 cups)
2 cups rhubarb, cut into ¼ inch pieces
1 cup strawberries, sliced
½ cup granulated sugar
1 vanilla bean, spilt
2 tablespoons water
In a medium saucepan, combine rhubarb, strawberries, sugar, half the vanilla bean and water. Bring to a simmer and cook on medium-low until the rhubarb has broken down, about 10-15 minutes.
Cool, use as desired and enjoy.