Category: pound cake

The perfect November pound cake.

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Ah, November. You crept up on me this year. I wasn’t expecting you so soon! It seems like literally yesterday I was posting on the first day of October. And I’m still in Halloween-mode, to be honest. Mainly because I feel like there was no Halloween. Hurricane Sandy came & that was that. I just got power back last night- I had been without power since Monday night! But the calendar doesn’t care what I’m thinking, does it? No it doesn’t. Nor does Mother Nature. If you can spare a few bucks, or some pocket change, please donate to the Red Cross & help those affected by Hurricane Sandy. I’m lucky to have power, food & a house. Not everyone is. Please help feed, clothe and shelter your fellow human being in need.

I’ve mentioned before that when you’ve got a food blog, or you just bake often, you get a lot of requests. My dad always wants lasagna or blueberry cake/pie/cupcakes, Jay always wants beer bread, maple cookies or applesauce cake (even in the middle of summer), my aunt wants strawberry jam, etc, etc, etc. The list goes on. And my mother…. well, my mother usually has an entire list of things. I’m forever getting e-mails from her that contain recipes, or recipe ideas. Sometimes it’s subtle, sometimes it’s just outright- “Hey, make this for me?” And that means that a good percentage of the time, I’m making things I don’t really like or I wouldn’t eat. Which is fine by me. Not only does it give me more blogging material, it spices things up a bit. Who wants to make the same vanilla cupcakes over & over?

So when I’m presented with an opportunity to use cranberries & orange in something, I jump at it. It’s November, guys. It’s cranberry time.

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This is all Entenmann’s fault. When I was a kid growing up, Entenmann’s baked goods were the bomb dot com. Everyone- I mean everyone- had an Entenmann’s cake or box of donuts in their kitchen. The glazed Pop’Ems, the marshmallow iced devil’s food cake, the Holiday butter cookies, the French all butter crumb cake…

Entenmann’s is a company that is over 100 years old and originated in New York. In the 1800s, William Entenmann immigrated to New York in the United States of America. William learned the trade of baking from his father in Stuttgart, Germany, and used his acquired skills to work in a bakery in the United States, eventually opening his own bakery in 1898 on Rogers Avenue in Brooklyn.[1] Later, William moved his bakery to Bay Shore, Long Island. Home-delivery was a substantial part of the bakery that William owned, eventually turning into 30 home delivery routes by the time his son, William Jr., took over the bakery.[1] While William Jr. headed the bakery, it flourished; Frank Sinatra was a weekly customer.[1]

William Jr. died in 1951 leaving the bakery to his wife Martha and their sons, Robert, Charles and William. The family decided to phase out bread, focus on pastries and cakes, and start supplying grocery stores as opposed to home delivering. In 1959 the Entenmann family invented the “see-through” cake box that is used by many today.[2] In 1961, the business grew, with new bakeries and factories in Bay Shore, New Jersey and Connecticut.

Plans to expand nationally stalled in 1970. Entenmann’s Bakery, with the assistance of new product consultants at Calle & Company reformulated heavier New England style baked goods into lighter offerings more suitable for hotter, more humid test markets such as Miami, Florida and Atlanta, Georgia. Entenmann’s successful national expansion quickly followed suit. In 1972, Entenmann’s started to sell chocolate chip cookies and has since sold more than 620 million cookies.[2] Since its first opening in 1898, Entenmann’s has been selling “all butter loaf cake” and sold more than 700 million to date.

The pharmaceutical company Warner-Lambert purchased Entenmann’s in 1978 and sold it to General Foods in 1982. General Foods merged with Kraft in 1990. Kraft sold its bakery business to CPC International (later Bestfoods). Bestfoods was purchased by Unilever in 2000, which sold its baking division to George Weston, a Canadian baked goods and supermarket business, the next year. Weston sold its United States interests including Entemann’s in 2008 to Mexican conglomerate Grupo Bimbo. Other Bimbo Bakeries USA holdings include companies such as Thomas’, Brownberry, Boboli, Arnold, Oroweat, Freihofer’s, and Stroehmann.[3]

-Wikipedia

A couple of weeks ago, I was food shopping with my mother. She had hurt her ankle, & was limping along with my assistance. She spotted the Entenmann’s display and made a beeline for it. My mom is a big fan of anything sweet; baked goods, cookies, candy, candy bars, etc. So she saw the display, and immediately zoned in on the seasonal Cranberry Orange loaf. She picked it up and I said, “No, ma, really. Come on. I can make that for you.” She initially resisted a bit, there were a few longing looks (and I think she might have said, “Are you sure?”… what is THAT about!?), but then she gave in. There is no bigger insult to someone like me than a family member buying a supermarket cake or box of cookies. At least buy stuff from a bakery. Just please don’t buy the styrofoam cupcakes that Costco sells. I’d permit Entenmann’s… in certain dire circumstances… but seriously… I bake ALL THE TIME. How are you gonna be in the supermarket with me & pick up BOXED CAKE. No. No, no, no.

I know she really wanted that cake. But mom, why buy it when I can make it for you!? And… uh… make it better.

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‘Cause see, the Entenmann’s cake might be scrumptious. But it doesn’t come with an orange butter rum sauce on top, which mine does.

And just so you know- that brown Kraft paper makes things a hell of a lot easier to clean up. Especially when you’re using a messy sauce or glaze & want to take photos (or maybe if you have kids… *cough*). I highly recommend it. Plus it’s great not only as a “tablecloth”, but as wrapping paper. A gift wrapped with Kraft paper, twine & some dehydrated citrus slices is rustically beautiful. Even to give this loaf as a gift, it’s a great wrapping idea. Okay, sorry- back to the cake!

CRANBERRY ORANGE LOAF CAKE

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2-3/4 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons grated orange peel
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries*

Directions:

  1. Butter and flour a 9″ x 5″ loaf pan, set aside. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in vanilla, orange juice and orange peel. Combine flour, baking powder and salt; add to creamed mixture alternately with sour cream. Fold in cranberries.
  3. Pour into the greased pan. Bake at 350° for 65-70 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack to cool completely.
  4. Spoon orange butter rum sauce (if desired) over the top. Wait 3-5 minutes for it to set, then serve.
*You could use fresh cranberries too (& you can also toss in some walnuts, or even unsalted shelled pistachios, if you like)

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ORANGE BUTTER RUM SAUCE

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon dark rum
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar

Directions:

  1. Add the orange juice, flour, sugar and heavy cream to a medium saucepan. Cook (constantly stirring) on medium heat until combined, then add the butter.
  2. Stir until the butter is melted, combined, and the mixture is thickened. Add the rum. Continue cooking until thick & smooth. Stir it constantly while it cooks, or it’ll scorch & burn.
  3. Remove from heat, and let sit 5 minutes.
  4. Spoon over pound cake.

The butter rum sauce isn’t terribly attractive on it’s own, but it tastes spectacular. Especially on the cake.

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The cake is moist & delicious, not too much cake-y, not too much bread-y. Just perfectly in the middle of a pound cake & loaf cake. Just as good in the morning as it is at night.

And here’s a little tip. If you’re making this for a large crowd, you can double the recipe and make it in one 10″ tube pan, or just double it and make two 9″ loaf pans. The same goes for most pound or loaf cakes, or even regular cakes, actually. Here’s a conversion table for pan sizes. And most cupcake recipes that make 2 dozen will also make two 9″ cake layers. Same goes for the reverse: if you find a recipe that calls for a bundt pan or tube pan and you only want to make a small cake, then you can usually halve it (or in some cases maybe quarter it), and most layer cake recipes will convert into 2 dozen cupcakes (sometimes a little more). This particular recipe would definitely be amazing doubled and made in a 10″ pan, a great Thanksgiving dessert. But this way, it’d make a great Thanksgiving breakfast. Keep the sauce on the side if you want, that way people who aren’t into rum sauce for breakfast can avoid it. But seriously? It’s a holiday. You can so have rum sauce with breakfast!

And before I go, just a reminder. Make sure that all you U.S. citizens who are registered to vote get your asses to the polls on Tuesday! It’s important, and it’s something we’re privileged to be able to do. I really don’t care who you vote for… just vote. And if you aren’t registered: for shame. But consider this a kick in the booty to register for next time. And I know it’s going to be hard for those displaced by Sandy, but there are still places for you to vote. Pass this info & this info on if you know someone affected by this tragedy, please. The election will NOT be postponed because of the hurricane, so we need to get out there & get people voting.

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To Autumn.

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Autumn hasn’t always been my favorite time of year. When I was a child, I didn’t like it because it meant summer was over and school was starting. No more sleeping late and floating in the pool all day, no more beach days, no more “fun.” As I got older, fall started to be my favorite season. I started to appreciate more the absolute beauty of it; the changing leaves, the pretty colored skies. I love sweaters and boots and knubby socks. I still despise the winter though, and all it’s grey-ness, snow and ice. That won’t ever change. If I could live somewhere that gave me the definite changing of the seasons but just skipped over the snow & -12°F temperatures we tend to get in the deep winter? Hell, I’d move there today. However the beauty of fall? That’s something I can’t deny. Summer is lovely.. slow, warm, soft and hazy. Summer is fans, porch swings and lemonade. Fall is crisp, golden, hurried. Fall is apple cider, pumpkins, the crunch of leaves under your feet and scarves. And most of all, fall is Halloween, which is my most favoritest holiday ever. So that means I’ve grown to love fall, and the clothing that comes with it. So I’m really, really, really going to miss summer, especially this year, for a lot of reasons. Most of which are sentimental and personal, which I’m not going to get in to here. And despite the weather, as of 6 days ago it’s official: summer is over & it’s completely autumn.

So in honor of that, today I present you with a delicious pound cake, loaded with flavor, moist and delicious, with a lovely sugary “crust” on top, and of course, served with whipped cream and some halved plums I canned in syrup.

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Plums are around from May through October, the peak time for them being August. But to me, they’re strictly a late-summer fruit.

A few days ago, I posted the spiked chocolate plum jam, with beautiful photos of the jewel-like deep purple plums in a bowl and the resulting beautiful, purply-red jam. But I didn’t tell you that I only used half of the plums in that jam. The other half? Well three were eaten right off the bat, and the rest were halved and canned in syrup. In terms of “whole fruits”, not jams or preserves, I had only ever canned peach slices, clementine slices & whole strawberries in syrup before, so I thought it was time I did something bigger. Canning whole fruit kinda scares me- I mean, how the hell do you fit a ton of whole nectarines into a JAR? Weird. It can only be explained by magic.

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Anyway, I halved the plums so I could fit more into one pint jar. If you want to make more than one jar, or you’re using quart jars, then double/triple/quadruple/etc, the following recipe to suit you.

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1 PINT of PLUMS IN SYRUP

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 – 1 lb. plums (purple or prune plums, Damson plums or Greengage plums work best)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup sugar

Directions:

  1. Sterilize your jar, and pop the lid into a bowl of hot water. Keep the jar hot. Combine the water & sugar in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves.
  2. Wash the fruit. If you’re halving the plums like I did, cut them in half and remove the pits. If you’re canning them whole, poke 3-4 holes in the skin of each plum to avoid “bursting” in the jar.
  3. Pack the plums tightly in your jar. Squeeze them in as best as you can without bruising or squashing them, they shrink up once they “cook” in the syrup.
  4. Pour the hot syrup over the plums, leaving 1/2″ headspace. Gently remove air bubbles with a knife or thin spatula. Adjust headspace if needed by adding more syrup.
  5. Wipe rim, place lid and screw band on to fingertip tight. Process in a boiling water canner for 20 minutes.

Because my pint jar is the Collection Elite jar, it’s a different size and shape than the conventional pint jars. If you use a regular one, you might need a little extra fruit to fill yours (or maybe less, depending on the size of the plums you’re using).

And when you’ve got such a beautiful looking jar of plums, you need something to serve them with. And for that reason, there’s pound cake.

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Last summer I made a pound cake that was so incredibly delicious, so amazing, so perfect… that it was world-renowned. Maybe not world-renowned, but at the very least it was the talk of the family. It was almost obnoxious how “adults” almost killed one another to grab a slice. But I understood, because it was that good. I served it with a rhubarb-ginger jam the first night, after that it was eaten a variety of ways: with ice cream, plain, with fresh fruit, etc. Basically I’m using a lot of words to say this: it was amazing. I didn’t really think that any other pound cake could top it, actually, until I found one at the King Arthur Flour website that sounded equally delicious, but was slightly smaller in a lot of ways (except that whole five eggs thing). I didn’t want to make the other one again, because I was just making it to serve with the plums for a simple little dessert, and that’s quite a large cake. So I made this one.

And I figured best case scenario, I get rave reviews about the plums, the whipped cream and the cake itself. And on the other hand, at the very least it would just be the vehicle that transported the plum halves and piles of homemade whipped cream into people’s mouths.

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But I needn’t have worried. Jesus Christ on a cracker, this was some good shit. Was it as good as that other pound cake? Yes, however if I’m being honest, the other one was just a smiiiidge better. But more importantly- this makes a smaller cake. So if you have no use for a massive 10″ bundt-shaped pound cake but you still want a moist & delicious one, this one’s for you. If you’re feeding a lot of people, or you’re making it for a party or a bake sale, and you want a top-notch pound cake, then by all means make this one.

GOLDEN VANILLA POUND CAKE (taken & adapted extremely minimally from the King Arthur Flour website)

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3-ounce package cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt (1/2 teaspoon if you use salted butter)
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 5 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1 3/4 cups + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Topping:

  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon water

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9″ x 5″ x 2 3/4″ loaf pan, or a 12″ x 4″ x 4″ tea loaf pan. To avoid overflow, be SURE to use the correct size pan!
  2. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, beat together the butter, cream cheese, salt, sugar, baking powder & vanilla extract until well combined.
  3. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition; the mixture may look slightly curdled/grainy. After you’ve added the final egg, beat at high speed for 3 minutes. Once all the eggs are added, stir in the milk.
  4. Sprinkle in the flour gradually, with the mixer going at low speed. Mix just until combined. The batter will be smooth and thick, but still pourable. Pour and scrape the batter into the prepared pan.
  5. To make the topping, combine the sugar, vanilla, and water. Stir until the mixture is syrupy. At first it’ll seem very stiff, but will become “drizzle-able” as you stir. Set the topping aside.
  6. Set the cake on a baking sheet, for easiest handling and as a precaution against potential overflow (which shouldn’t happen if you use the correct size pan). Bake it for 55 minutes (for either size pan).
  7. Remove the cake from the oven, and brush/drizzle with the sugar mixture. Return the cake to the oven for an additional 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the cake from the oven, and set it on a rack. Insert a toothpick into the center; it should come out clean. If you use an instant-read thermometer, the center should register about 200°F to 205°F. The very top, right under the crust, will still be kind of soggy; don’t worry about it.
  8. After 5 minutes loosen the cake’s edges and turn it out of the pan to cool completely on a rack.

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I was shocked when this cake came out so perfect. Usually I have a terrible time with loaf cakes; for some reason almost every time they overflow like crazy. I have no idea why. It’s as if all my loaf pans are magically from another planet. I measure them every time to make sure they’re the right size, yet almost every time I get overflow. But not this time! It just came out like… well… a piece of cake. The whipped cream is the always intriguing “whipped cream in a jar.” It’s very simply made by combining heavy whipping cream, powdered sugar & pure vanilla extract in a jar. Then you just shake it! For people like me who never have whipped cream in the house, but who usually have heavy cream, it’s an easy and fun way of making your own without whipping (no pun intended) your mixer out.

WHIPPED CREAM IN A JAR (adapted a bit from The Hip Girl’s Guide to Homemaking)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 teaspoons confectioner’s sugar
  • 2-4 drops vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Put all three ingredients in an 8-ounce jar. Close lid.
  2. Shake jar vigorously for about 3-5 minutes or until it becomes whipped cream (you’ll be able to feel when it no longer “sloshes” and it gets thick). Eat!
  3. Store in the fridge for a day or two tops, but best when eaten as soon as it’s made.

Who can turn down pound cake & homemade whipped cream? And the plums were the highlight, for sure. Who knew such a simple pairing, the components of which are all so incredibly easy, could make such an impressive dessert when put together?

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What a lovely way to welcome fall. See you all in October.

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Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run;
To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.
Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap’d furrow sound asleep,
Drows’d with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cider-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.
Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,-
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

“To Autumn”, John Keats (1795 – 1821)

In a jam.

My mother has a habit of sending me recipes, usually it’s a hint that she wants me to make them for her. If it’s a recipe for a flourless chocolate cake, or anything involving fruits (especially berries) or balsamic vinegar, I know right away she’s not sending it to me because she thinks I’ll like it. So when I told her I ordered a canning kit, and she saw me become a fan of Punk Domestics on Facebook, and then within a few days received this recipe in my inbox, I knew where she was going with it. See, I don’t like rhubarb. It’s not my kind of flavor, personally. And I don’t like jam much either. I love making it, just not using it, which actually makes me the perfect person to make it. Like Biggie said,Never get high on your own supply.” Word. So anyway, she passed along the recipe and I knew that she’d want me to make it for her. And I obliged. I made this a week or so ago, so it was before her birthday (which is today, July 5th; happy birthday to her!). I just did it because I’m wonderful. For her birthday, I made her French vanilla ice cream, David Lebovitz‘s “improved” lemon curd, another really quick blueberry jam (those recipes are all coming soon, folks, be patient) and vanilla panna cotta with balsamic strawberries (her favorite). *waits for accolades & applause*

So this particular jam is a ginger/rhubarb combination, which I’ve heard (from people who’ve tasted it) is an amazing duo. Usually it’s strawberry/rhubarb that you see in pies, etc. Anywho… yes, I made this lovely, quick & easy jam like a good daughter. The best part? It doesn’t even require a canning kit! You don’t need anything fancy to make this… and it really is ridiculously easy.

As far as the ingredients, I’ll leave the details to Wikipedia:

Rhubarb is grown primarily for its fleshy petioles, commonly known as rhubarb sticks or stalks. The use of rhubarb stems as food is a relatively recent innovation, first recorded in 17th century England, after affordable sugar became available to common people, and reaching a peak between the 20th century’s two world wars.

Rhubarb can be dehydrated and infused with fruit juice. In most cases it is infused with strawberry juice to mimic the popular strawberry rhubarb pie.

Rhubarb root produces a rich brown dye similar to walnut husks. It is used in northern regions where walnut trees do not survive.

Ginger is the rhizome of the plant Zingiber officinale, consumed as a delicacy, medicine, or spice. It lends its name to its genus and family (Zingiberaceae). Other notable members of this plant family are turmeric, cardamom, and galangal.

Fresh ginger can be substituted for ground ginger at a ratio of 6 to 1, although the flavors of fresh and dried ginger are somewhat different. Powdered dry ginger root is typically used as a flavoring for recipes such as gingerbread, cookies, crackers and cakes, ginger ale, and ginger beer.

Candied ginger is the root cooked in sugar until soft, and is a type of confectionery.

Natural brown sugar is brown sugar made by partially refining sugar cane extract, whereas most brown sugar is made by adding molasses to fully refined sugar.

Golden coloured natural brown sugar is produced by extracting the juice from sugar cane, heating it to evaporate water and crystallise the sugar, then spinning in a centrifuge to remove some impurities and further dry the sugar. It is commonly used in baking and to sweeten beverages such as coffee and tea.

In the United States, a similar sugar is commonly called turbinado sugar, after the centrifuges or turbines in which it is spun.[1] In the United States, most turbinado sugar is produced in Hawaii and is often sold as an organic product. A product sold in the U.S. is marketed under the name brand “Sugar in the Raw”.[2] There are slight differences in taste between turbinado and demerara sugar.[3]A third, somewhat lighter, type is produced in Mexico under the name Azucar Morena[4].

All three of these ingredients are interesting in and of themselves, but who would’ve thought by just boiling them together with a little citrus zest you’d get a quick little jam? And …I had to make a pound cake to go with it, just to make it more interesting for me. Rhubarb is a very ‘stringy’ vegetable/fruit/thing, and when cooked it gets gluey very fast, despite being low in pectin, and the caramelized sugar helps to hold it together really well. It gets firmer after being in the fridge for a while, it’s looser if you use it warm. And who doesn’t like some jam on pound cake? I mean, aside from me, that is. Either way- this pound cake is terrific, with or without the ‘barb jam. More about that after the recipe, though. First- jam!

RHUBARB GINGER JAM (From Local Kitchen Blog/adapted from Bon Appétit, July 1997)

Yields about 1 and ½ cups

Gather yer stuff:

  • 1 lb rhubarb, trimmed, washed and sliced to ⅛-inch pieces (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 cup turbinado sugar
  • 3 oz crystallized ginger, chopped (about 9 tbsp)
  • 1 ½ tsp lemon & orange zest (about half:half), coarsely chopped

Then do this:

  1. Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly to dissolve sugar and prevent scorching.
  2. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring frequently, until jam thickens and mounds on a spoon, about 20-30 minutes.
  3. Transfer to a glass bowl or jar, cover and chill in the refrigerator. Store refrigerated for up to 3 months, or canned & kept in a cool, dark spot for up to a year.
  4. Options: Evaporated cane juice, or processed white sugar, will produce a more rosy colored jam than the turbinado sugar, but turbinado gives a hint of caramelized flavor.  Your choice. · This produces a quite gingery jam; if you don’t love ginger, try making it with 1-2 oz ginger first. If you adore ginger, try 4 oz. · Given the acidic rhubarb and dried, candied ginger, this recipe is safely acidic for water-bath canning should you want to increase the amounts and save some for room temperature storage.

I used about half, maybe a little more than half of the amount of ginger in the recipe, and it was more than ginger-y enough (or so I heard). I also used the turbinado sugar, because I figured it was in the original recipe for a reason. The caramelized color/flavor was enjoyed very much, so I doubt I’d stray from it. I plopped the jam in a cleaned-out spaghetti sauce jar (I told you, SAVE YOUR JARS) and had room to spare (the above photos were taken after liberal amounts were dispersed among slices of pound cake & into people’s mouths). The recipe can easily be doubled or tripled, though. If you aren’t quite ready for real canning, there are tons of these quick jam recipes out there that are really easy and a good foray into the real thing. By the way, this post is in the ‘vegan’ category because of the jam, not the cake. Duh.

Okay, now on to that pound cake. I got this recipe for a traditional pound cake from that book I mentioned a while back Sweets: Soul Food Desserts & Memories by Patty Pinner. I figured, if I’m gonna make a pound cake, why not go for the gold and make a real, authentic Southern one. I used a plain tube pan, but a fancier bundt pan would be nice too. The cake itself doesn’t need a lot of bells & whistles; it’s perfect plain, as I said, but also an awesome backdrop for ice creams, any kind of jams or jellies &  especially sauces (raspberry sauce, rhubarb sauce, strawberry sauce, chocolate sauce… you name it). Also, a sprinkle of confectioner’s sugar is always nice on top, but not 100% necessary.

Talk about a beautiful goddamn pound cake! It was perfect, from the texture to the crumb to everything. Best pound cake ever.

POUND CAKE

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 ½ cups granulated sugar
  • 3 cups cake flour, sifted
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Confectioner’s sugar (optional)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350º F. Grease & lightly flour a 10-inch tube pan. Set it aside.
  2. In a large bowl, cream the butter with an electric mixer on medium speed for 2 minutes, or until creamy. Gradually add the sugar, beating 5 to 7 minutes, until the mixture is light & fluffy.
  3. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Then add the flour to the creamed mixture, alternating with the milk; begin and end with flour.
  4. Beat on low speed, just until blended, after each addition. Stir in the vanilla extract. Mix well.
  5. Pour into prepared pan. Bake for 1 hour and 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes. Then run a knife around the inside edge of the pan. Unmold the cake carefully onto the rack to cool completely.
  6. Transfer the cake to a decorative platter and sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar, if desired, before serving.

So there you have it. A perfect combination of treats to bring to a barbecue or picnic. Or, to make for your mother.

“Lift-me-up” chocolate chip sour cream loaf.

When I was little and I was sick, and I wasn’t eating, my mom would bring me Entenmann’s chocolate chip crumb loaf or chocolate chip sour cream loaf (which it seems they don’t make anymore) and mint chocolate chip ice cream. Needless to say I never had any trouble eating those. Chocolate chip items have always had a kind of comforting effect on me. So when I was feeling a little down and sort of under the weather last week, I made a chocolate chip sour cream loaf to indulge in while watching one of my absolute favorite Christmas movies, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. If that combination won’t cheer you up… nothing will!

Aren’t my Christmas dessert plates adorable? Yes they are… & yes, I cut very messy slices.

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CHOCOLATE CHIP SOUR CREAM LOAF (from Nancy Creative)

Get this:

 

  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose  flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 large eggs
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips (more if you like more, less if you like less, or you can use regular sized chips if you prefer)

And do this:

  1. Preheat oven to 350° degrees.
  2. Grease and flour your loaf pan. In medium bowl, stir the flour, baking powder, and salt, blending well; set aside. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and blend well, then add the sour cream and vanilla and blend well.
  3. Gradually add the flour mixture to this egg mixture and mix until well blended. Fold in the mini chocolate chips, distributing evenly in batter.
  4. Then fill your loaf pan with the batter and bake at 350° degrees for 45-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let loaf cool in pan 5-10 minutes before removing, then cool completely on a wire rack.

This is a thick batter, and it rises nicely, but not really too crazy. My pan is roughly 9x5x2.75″ and it rose beautifully, right to the top of the pan. On another note, I have no idea why my loaf pans are so much larger than everyone else’s. I have one older pan that was my mother’s that is super large, at least 10″ by 5″, and then two of the above size. Am I crazy? Are everyone else’s loaf pans 8.5″ x 4.5″? Well, I guess it’s just one more way that I’m different & unique. By the way, my loaf cake took about 65 minutes to bake. My oven is so weird.

Of course I decorated it for the season.

See? Came out of the pan perfectly.

My dad used to say he was afraid to bend over during Christmas-time for fear he’d get a tree or lights shoved up his… you know what. That’s how festive we are around these parts. I decorate everything. Even my loaf cakes.

Okay, so, this loaf is amazing. I love what the sour cream does to it. Since the batter is so thick, I put it in the pan and then tapped the pan on the counter a few times to even it out, then using a greased knife, I spread it out and pushed it around so it was evenly filled. I then tapped it on the counter a few more times. That seemed to do the trick; it baked up nice and evenly. Also, make sure you grease and flour your pan thoroughly before filling it. This loaf will never ever come out of the pan if you don’t.

If you wanted to make it as a hostess gift for the holiday, sprinkle some confectioner’s sugar on top (or a chocolate frosting) and maybe put some holly berry toppers on it, then wrap it in clear cellophane, tire a pretty satin Christmas-y ribbon on it, stick a pretty candy cane in the bow, and voila. It’s ready to bring to someone’s house, and trust me, it’ll get a better reception than fruitcake.

It’s almost Christmas. Did you get all your shopping done yet? And your baking? I most certainly did not. Looks like I’ll be shopping and baking on the 24th!

Who wants a Nutella sangwich?

Sometime on or around July 9th, I received a fairly large package from Lyns on my doorstep. I knew she was sending me something, I just wasn’t sure what. I expected more cupcake materials; liners, sprinkles, etc. Lyns always spoils me. But when I opened it, I saw this: a Fred Cakewich silicone bake pan! Immediately, I knew what I was going to use it for- I was going to make a giant Nutella sangwich, better known as a “sandwich” to those of you not Dane Cook fans or residing in NY… or in this case- cakewich. It was a pretty nifty early birthday present!

“Oh hi. I’m Nutella. I’m incredibly rich & delicious. And you are…?”

….

Nutella is a hazelnut spread that’s pretty popular in Italian households. I never personally knew anyone of Italian descent who didn’t love Nutella (except for Brianne, who has never even tried it!). When I was a kid, another kid in my class used to bring Nutella sandwiches (Nutella spread in between two pieces of Wonder bread) to school for lunch, and everyone made fun of it, asking why his mom made him a “chocolate sandwich.” But he was a dick anyway, so nobody cares that he was made fun of. Anyway Nutella originated thanks to an Italian pastry maker, Mr. Ferrero, in 1946. It’s a mixture of hazelnut, cocoa and skim milk. It’s delicious right out of the jar, on croissants, on plain old white bread,cookies, in frosting, etc. Anything you can imagine using it for, it’s always delicious. How could it not be!

Gianduja is a type of chocolate analogue containing approximately 50% almond and hazelnut paste. It was developed in Piedmont, Italy, after taxes on cocoa beans hindered the diffusion of conventional chocolate.

Pietro Ferrero, who owned a patisserie in Alba, in the Langhe district of Piedmont, an area known for the production of hazelnuts, sold an initial batch of 300 kilograms (660 lb) of “Pasta Gianduja” in 1946. This was originally a solid block, but in 1949, Pietro started to sell a creamy version in 1951 as “Supercrema”.

In 1963, Pietro’s son Michele revamped Supercrema with the intention of marketing it across Europe. Its composition was modified and it was renamed “Nutella.” The first jar of Nutella left the Ferrero factory in Alba on 20 April 1964. The product was an instant success and remains widely popular. The estimated Italian production of Nutella averages 179,000 tons per year.

Nutella is a modified form of gianduja. The exact recipe is a secret closely guarded by Ferrero. According to the product label, the main ingredients of Nutella are sugar and vegetable oils, followed by hazelnut, cocoa solids and skimmed milk, which together comprise at most 29% of the ingredients. Nutella is marketed as “hazelnut cream” in many countries. Under Italian law, it cannot be labeled as a chocolate cream, as it does not meet minimum cocoa solids concentration criteria.

It’s pretty delicious. So I figured, why not make a huge “sandwich” with it, except instead of bread, just use pound cake! The recipe for this particular cake is on the box that the cake pan comes in, and it bakes perfectly, brown on the outside, white on the inside. Here’s yer Nutella sangwich, everyone. Come & get it!..

FRED’S FAMOUS POUND CAKE (aka the “bread” in the sandwich)

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (spoon flour into dry measuring cup and level off)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 6 large egg whites
  • ¾ cup milk

Directions:

  1. Set rack at the middle level and preheat oven to 315° degrees F.
  2. Grease and flour the inner bottom surface of the Cakewich pan.
  3. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl, mixing well with a whisk.
  4. Whisk together the egg whites and milk by hand until just combined.
  5. In a heavy-duty mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add vanilla and beat vigorously.
  6. Reduce speed to low, and add one-quarter of the flour mixture, then one-third of the milk mixture, mixing until just combined, scraping down the bowl and beater after each addition. Repeat until all ingredients are just combined.
  7. Scrape the bowl well with a rubber spatula. Pour the batter into the Cakewich pan and smooth the top.
  8. Bake for about 60-70 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center emerges clean.
  9. Cool the cake in the pan on a cooling rack for one hour. Then unmold to finish cooling.

After it was completely cool, I sliced the “dome” off using a Wilton cake leveler (if you don’t have one of these and you bake cakes a lot, you need to get one). I then adjusted the wire to the proper level to cut the cake entirely in half. Then I spread the Nutella over the first layer of cake evenly, making sure it was thick enough all over, using an offset spatula. Then I put the second half of the cake on top, and cut the entire thing in half like a sandwich. Ta-da! It was so good I can’t even verbalize it. Just delectable. I ate way too much of it.

Seriously… does that NOT look like a sandwich?

….

But it ain’t! It’s a cake! A 2.5″ high cake… or CAKEWICH!

You could also make it a PB&J sandwich. Just make a peanut butter buttercream, spread it over the first layer of cake, then top that with a fruit jelly of your choice, slightly warmed to room temperature. Then put the top cake layer on. Again, ta-da! Jay doesn’t like Nutella so he’s requested I remake it PB&J style for him. And I certainly will. It was a super easy and super fun cake to make. Just mix it, pop it in the pan, and go watch True Blood until the timer goes off. Then take it out, let it cool for another hour while you watch more True Blood, and then start assembly, which is even more easy. And yet it looks awesomely impressive. Another option is to do a cheese/fruit version- maybe a cream cheese frosting and a berry jam or fruit puree? It’s up to you. I’m not much of a berry or jam person, so for me, Nutella is the way to go. Though I’m thinking next time maybe a Nutella/Fluff combination, or a peanut butter frosting/Fluff combo. How awesome does THAT sound?

I was amazed at how much it really looked like giant slices of bread. This is a great idea for a kid’s birthday party or school party. I bet kids would get a big kick out of this. Well, I mean, I did. And the cake is pretty good on it’s own too, I know… ’cause I ate the top that was sliced off. Stop judging me. You probably would too. I’m sure the cake recipe could be used in a regular pan as well, the cooking time would have to be adjusted however, because silicone bakes at a different rate/temperature than metal or glass bakeware. My cake was 2.5 inches high because I cut a lot off the top. If you cut off less, you’ll get a thicker cake, obviously. You could probably get two cakes out of it if you cut the “bread” thinner. All I know is, Fred needs to make these pans cupcake size. Teeny little cakewiches… that would be so cute my head would explode.

If you’ve never gone to Sweet Cuppin’ Cakes Bakery & Cupcakery Supplies to buy stuff, then go now. They have amazing things like this cake pan, silicone tea cups to make “tea cupcakes”, a chef’s knife with “blood” on it (the “Evidence” Knife- you’ve gotta see it to understand) not to mention gorgeous, excellent quality cupcake liners, cupcake boxes & packaging and Nielsen-Massey extracts. Plus a ton of other stuff. Thank you, Lyns, for being awesome & providing me with incredible stuff that makes me look like an awesome baker/decorator *wink*

Lemon pound cake (with glaze!).

Starbucks has an awesome lemon pound cake with lemon icing. If you can get it, try it. It’s super moist, yet dense, with a great lemon flavor. I have to say, Jay is the one who got me into it in the first place. Before he insisted I try a piece of his, I never really ate or bought anything but beverages and some travel/coffee mugs at the ‘Bucks.  Then I got my mother into the lemon pound cake. Trouble is, they don’t always have it. Bastards. It’s like only served on every other Monday during a full-moon or something. Their old-fashioned chocolate donuts are also out-of-this-world, if you see those, get one. They’re rarer than the pound cake. I haven’t tried any other edible items there, mainly because I recently tried a vanilla cupcake… and it was so disappointing I couldn’t put it into words. Seriously. Awful. I almost cried. It was that bad. The cake was eh, and the frosting was horrible. If you want cupcakes- stick with a bakery. If you want good coffee- go to Starbucks. Good coffee, pound cake & donuts that is (I’m not going to pretend that just because I made this, and it’s delicious, that I’ll never buy the lemon pound cake at SB’s ever again).

Finished cakes

Thankfully, in my efforts to attempt to recreate this wonderful lemon pound cake, I didn’t have to struggle or experiment much. I found (thanks to Foodbuzz!) the Homegrown Housewife’s recipe for it on my first try. Her idea behind it was the same as mine- that elusive Starbucks cake. I have a lot of organic lemons sitting around still (thanks to both this recipe and the fact that it’s homemade iced tea weather) and a huge craving for this pound cake, so I decided to make it. A cake like this is so easy to make and yet with the citrus-y taste it’s also perfect for this season, along with this olive oil cake I made a while back. Pound cakes also travel well, and usually don’t have lots of frosting that can attract bugs, so it’s good for barbecues and picnics and summer parties. This cake does indeed have a glaze, but you could make this cake ahead of time, bring it to the party unglazed, and then glaze it there right before eating.

LEMON POUND CAKE WITH LEMON GLAZE
Ingredients:
  • 1 2/3 cups all purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons salted butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon pure lemon extract
  • Juice from two medium lemons (approx 1/3 cup)
  • ½ cup vegetable oil

Glaze

  • 1 cup plus 1 teaspoon powdered sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons whole milk
  • ½ teaspoon pure lemon extract

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Grease a 9×5 loaf pan well.
  3. In a medium bowl mix flour, baking soda, and baking powder.
  4. In mixing bowl or stand mixer, cream butter.  Add sugar, eggs, vanilla, lemon extract, lemon juice and oil until mixed well.
  5. Add dry ingredient mixture to your mixer and blend until smooth. No not over mix.
  6. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 45-50 minutes or until testing stick comes out clean. Edges should be a dark golden brown and will crisp upon cooling.
  7. Let cake cool before icing.
  8. For icing blend powdered sugar, milk, and lemon extract until creamy. Ice the top of your cake and let the icing drip down the sides of your pound cake.  Let icing set before slicing.

I used unsalted butter, because that is the only kind of stick butter I have in the house. I use whipped salted for all other purposes, which is a bit tougher to measure properly. So I used unsalted butter and just tossed in a pinch of salt.

I used two of these snazzy cardboard loaf pans from Sweet Cuppin’ Cakes Bakery & Cupcakery Supplies. My dear friend Lyns who runs the site sent them to me a long time ago, and I’ve been just waiting for the right recipe to use with them. She doesn’t seem to have this kind anymore, but she still has some floral ones. They’re great because you can use them and give them away, and they’re disposable! So no more worrying about getting your loaf pan back, or wrapping a gooey cake in tinfoil or Saran Wrap. I divided the batter into two of these, each filled about a little over halfway. They came out just fine, they rose quite a bit! Gotta love the baking soda/baking powder combo. I didn’t find any difference in cooking time, either. Thanks Lyns! My pound cakes and breads usually never come out aesthetically pleasing, but these came out really gorgeous. I’ll let the loaf pans take the credit for that.

Before glazing
Before eating!


If you use these pans, keep in mind one cake recipe will fill two of these pans. They’re smaller than the average loaf pan. To me, this is a good thing- two cakes for the price of one. Speaking of ‘one’… one of the coolest things about these loaf pans is that when it’s ready to eat, just unfold the cardboard at one end, open it up, and cut the slices off. Then you can refold it to put it away, or if it’s done just throw it out. And let me say, this pound cake was actually even better than Starbucks lemon pound cake! Big thanks to the Homegrown Housewife for the recipe.