Browsing Tag

baking

book review, recipe

The Sisters Chase + Powdered Donuts

I’m a sucker for stories about sisters. I love the relationship between Elizabeth and Jane in Pride and Prejudice. Little Women is, of course, sister-centric and wonderful. I’ve never read the book, but whenever I watch In Her Shoes, I cry. So, it will come as no surprise that for my June BOTM I chose The Sisters Chase by Sarah Healy. I probably would’ve chosen it on the name alone, but it had the added benefit of coming highly recommended in my online book group as well.

Mary and Hannah Chase grow up in a small beach motel owned by their mother, Diane. When a car accident leaves the sisters on their own, eighteen-year-old Mary becomes Hannah’s guardian and takes it upon herself to do anything in her power to protect her. While Mary is at ease living a life in flux as they travel the country, Hannah aches for a real home where she can attend school and make friends. All Mary wants is for Hannah to be happy, but giving in may mean exposing a long-kept secret and risking an unbearable loss.

As an older sister, I definitely related to Mary and her willingness to do anything for her little sister, even if it seemed to be to her own detriment. Healy’s pacing and familiarity with the characters – they felt so real – resulted in a well-crafted story that wasn’t at all what I predicted. When I finished, it had me wanting to go back for a re-read.

Instead, I made some powdered donuts, like those the sisters’ mother piled high on a plate each morning for the motel’s guests. I wanted to bake them, since it’s less messy and somewhat healthier, so it gave me the perfect opportunity to use the donut pans I’ve had since two Christmases ago (thanks to my new sister-in-law, Kelly!).

The last time I made donuts was in middle school home ec class, and I remember being freaked out by splattering oil and the cleanup being such a process. This was MUCH easier. So much so that I may start making donuts more often.

First, I mixed the dry ingredients together – flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl, a combined the egg, milk, vanilla extract and melted butter. I added these to the dry ingredients and mixed together.

Then, using a spoon, I added the batter into my greased donut pans, filling them about halfway.

I popped them into a 425-degree F oven and let them bake for 12 minutes. I let them cool in the pan for about 10 minutes.

Then, I dropped them into a paper grocery bag two at a time with some powdered sugar and shook and shook until they were well coated. Honestly, this happened really quickly (a few shakes at most). It was the most fun part of donut-making by far.

Everyone at work loved them, and I can’t wait to try new and different flavors. I always love when a book leads me a recipe I can use over and over again 🙂 Hope you enjoy!

Baked Powdered Sugar Donuts

  • Servings: 10
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 1¼ cups cake flour (see notes)
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 1¼ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 large egg
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 Tbsp heavy cream
  • 1 cup powdered sugar, for coating baked doughnuts

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Lightly grease doughnut pan; set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, add all of the dry ingredients (cake flour, granulated sugar, baking powder and salt). Stir until well mixed.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, milk, vanilla extract, melted butter and heavy cream.
  4. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients; stir until just mixed.
  5. Spoon or pipe the batter into the greased doughnut pan. (Tip: Fill each doughnut circle about half full of batter.)
  6. Bake at 425°F for 12-14 minutes, or until doughnuts begin to turn golden brown on the edges.
  7. Let doughnuts cool in the pan.
  8. Place powdered sugar in paper bag. Once doughnuts have cooled, shake doughnuts (one at a time) in the bag with the powdered sugar until well coated. Tap off any excess powdered sugar. Repeat with remaining doughnuts. Serve immediately. (Note: If you plan on serving these doughnuts later, store them uncoated in an airtight container. Shake them in powdered sugar just before serving.)

From: Spiced Blog

If you don’t have cake flour, which I didn’t, and don’t want to buy some just for this recipe, it’s easy to make your own with all-purpose flour. For each cup of flour you need, take 1 cup of all-purpose flour, remove 2 TBSP and replace with 2 TBSP of cornstarch. Mix well to ensure it’s combined. I used 1½ cups flour with 3 TBSP for this recipe (and discarded the remaining ¼ cup).


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book review, recipe

Lilac Girls + Poppy Seed Cake

No matter how many WWII novels I read or stories I hear, I’m still astonished at the atrocities that took place and how many people were able to overcome and survive such horrifying ordeals. Though I usually devour these books, which are often natural page-turners, I find them hard to get through mentally. Martha Hall Kelly’s Lilac Girls was no exception.

Inspired by the real Caroline Farriday and a group of Polish prisoners called “the Rabbits,” this novel tells the story of three women whose lives intersect at the Ravensbruck, the only Nazi concentration camp for women. In alternating chapters, we follow Kasia, a Polish teenager who becomes one of the Rabbits; Herta Oberhauser, a German doctor stationed at Ravensbruck; and Caroline, a New York City socialite, who does her best to assist in the war effort from abroad.

Though I’d be interested in finding out more about the real Caroline, I found her chapters to be the least compelling. Honestly, her storyline was the reason I couldn’t give this book a full 4 stars on Goodreads. (I would’ve given it 3.5 if Goodreads allowed it, but they don’t – one of my pet peeves.) Kasia’s and Herta’s chapters, on the other hand, had me turning the page constantly. I liked that Kelly told the story from such different points of view.

In one of the bright spots at Ravensbruck, Kasia and her sister receive a package from their father and unwrapped it to find not only chocolate and a sign of hope, but some poppy-seed cake as well. As she put it, “Polish cake would be good medicine.” I hadn’t heard of poppy seed cake before, but I knew it was the recipe to make this time around. I found one from Jenny Can Cook and set to work.

Upon starting the recipe, I realized I only had half as many poppy seeds as I needed. I’d bought one 2.6 oz bottle of poppy seeds at the grocery store, because the pickings were slim. If you find yourself in the same situation, you may want to pick up two containers, or if you’re trying this for the first time, you may want to make a smaller loaf instead, like I did. When I made it, I adjusted the recipe and made a half-sized loaf instead of the full recipe (I included the full recipe below).

First, I ground the poppy seeds 2 Tablespoons at a time, until they were moist and looked a lot like wet coffee grounds. I added boiling water to a small bowl and stirred in the poppy seeds until they were all moistened, letting them stand uncovered. Then, using the same grinder, I ground up my toasted almonds.

In a large bowl, I combined the flour, yeast, sugar and salt. To that I added, the warmed milk (slightly less than 120 degrees F since I was using active dry yeast), followed by the oil and the egg. Using an electric mixer, I beat it on high for about 2 minutes, and then added in the extra flour, beating it until it formed a mass. Mine was slightly sticky when I transferred it to the board, so I ended up adding about a Tablespoon more of flour (to my halved recipe). I should’ve taken a picture of my messy dough fingers, but it wouldn’t have been safe to grab my phone to do so. Dough everywhere!

I kneaded it and let it rest for 10 minutes while I combined the filling. To the poppy seeds, I added the ground almonds, lemon and orange zests, sugar and vanilla extract.

I rolled the dough out to about 5” x 6” (again with the halved recipe) and spread the filling on the top, almost to the edges.

Then, I carefully rolled it, placed it seam-side down, and tucked the ends under, placing it on a parchment-lined baking sheet. I covered it with a cloth and left it untouched in a warm place (aka my upstairs on an 80-degree July day) for about an hour and a half.

I opted to top it with an egg wash and poppy seeds before baking, thinking the glaze might make it too sweet. It also didn’t seem like Papa’s bread for his girls would’ve included a glaze, but I could be wrong. If you prefer a glaze, see the recipe notes.

I baked it for slightly less than the recipe called for due to size, but even with halving the recipe, I think it could’ve used maybe 5 minutes longer (or 30 minutes total) in the oven. It was hard to let it cool for a long time once it came out of the oven, but trust me, it’s much better when it’s fully cooled. I also personally like the outside thirds of the bread better than the middle third.

I hope you enjoy! Have you read the Lilac Girls? What did you think?

Poppy Seed Cake

  • Servings: 1 loaf
  • Print

Dough Ingredients

  • 1½ cups bread (or all purpose) flour
  • 1 packet (2 tsp/7 gms/1/4 oz) yeast – instant or active dry yeast
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ⅔ cup 1% milk heated to 120-130° F for instant yeast (or 110-120°F for active dry)
  • 2 Tablespoons oil
  • 1 egg
  • about ¾ cup extra flour

Filling Ingredients

  • 1 cup poppy seeds
  • ⅓ cup boiling water
  • ¼ cup ground toasted almonds (20 count)
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • zest of ½ a lemon and ½ an orange

Directions

  1. Grind poppy seeds (see note below). Place in a small bowl, stir in boiling water & let stand uncovered.
  2. Grind almonds and set aside.
  3. Place flour, yeast, sugar, and salt in large mixing bowl.
  4. Stir in milk followed by oil and egg.
  5. Beat on high for 2 minutes. Stir in extra flour until dough forms a mass.
  6. Place dough on floured board and knead 100 turns (about 2 minutes). Cover and let rest 10 minutes.
  7. Meantime, add ground almonds, sugar, vanilla and zests to poppy seeds.
  8. Roll dough into a 10 x 12 shape. Spread filling almost to edges, roll starting at 10-inch end and place on parchment-lined baking sheet, seam side down. Pinch and tuck ends under.
  9. Cover with a towel and rise in a warm spot for 1½ hours or until double in size.
  10. Before making, brush with egg wash and sprinkle with additional poppy seeds.
  11. Preheat oven to 350° F and bake for 35 minutes. Allow to cool fully before slicing and serving.

From: Jenny Can Cook

Instead of coating the top with poppy seeds, if you prefer a sweeter bread you can add a glaze. Allow baked cake to cool for 10 minutes and drizzle with glaze, made using 1 cup powdered sugar and about 2 Tablespoons milk, added slowly.

If using a spice grinder, grind seeds slowly, about 2 Tablespoons at a time, until they feel moist – about 10 seconds per each portion. Scoop out any that stick to the bottom of the grinder as you go. Once they are all ground, use the same grinder to grind the almonds.


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book review, recipe

Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake + Funfetti Cake

I added Anna Quindlen’s memoir Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake to my to-read list almost four years ago. I don’t remember my reasoning for wanting to read it back then, but I know that I decided to finally rescue it from my too-long list – which currently sits at 436 books – because I wanted to make a cake.

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I knew nothing of Quindlen when I began reading, and over the course of her “memoir,” I can’t say I know that much more about her. Really it seemed more like a carryover from her columns in the New York Times as she described them – a collection of her thoughts on life and aging, coupled with bits of advice.

Perhaps I wasn’t exactly the target market for this book – I am roughly half her age, really just at the beginning of my career, not yet married and currently without children. I’m still figuring a lot of things out, and while in some ways she is too, we are figuring out very different things about life. I was able to glean a few interesting insights from her writing, but ultimately, I think this book is one I’d like to try again a couple of decades down the road.

The cake I envisioned when I chose this book was a towering cake ablaze with an unsafe amount of candles. So, I began my recipe search by buying four dozen tall, skinny, colorful candles to cover my imaginary cake. (Thank you, Amazon!) After all, candles do come first in the title – lots of them – and the plenty of cake comes second.

With the candles secured, I sought out a recipe for funfetti cake and found a great one from Sugar Spun Run. The homemade, triple-layer cake suited my needs perfectly. Now, I just had to execute…

I started the night before by setting out my frozen sticks of butter to soften overnight. Between the frosting and the cake, there was so much butter (over a pound and a half!). In the morning, I preheated my oven, separated my eggs and floured the pans to get started.

Then, I added the butter for the cake (1 stick, plus 1 tablespoon) to the stand mixer and beat until creamy. In went the sugar and oil, beaten until well-combined and creamy. I used a scraper on the sides of the bowl and added in the vanilla extract.

In a separate bowl, I whisked together the flour, baking powder and salt. Then, as instructed, I alternated between adding the flour and the milk to the butter-sugar mixture in the mixer, beating on medium speed until combined.

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I whipped the egg whites into stiff peaks and measured out a half cup of sprinkles to add to the cake batter.

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I gently folded them into the batter until both the egg whites and sprinkles were well-incorporated and the funfetti batter was complete.

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I only had 2 cake pans, so I put my best estimate of one-third of the batter into each of my cake pans, saving the last third to bake after the first two layers were finished. I baked them together for about 35 minutes, using a toothpick to test each one before allowing them to cool. After 15 minutes, I removed each cake layer from the pan so they could finish cooling on a rack. Then, I baked my last layer.

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After all of the cake layers were out of the oven and cooling, I set to work on my frosting. First, allll of the butter – 6 softened sticks – went into the stand mixer. (I increased the recipe by 50%, according to the recommendation, so I wouldn’t run out. I ended up having more than enough – please read my notes in the recipe.)

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Once the butter was creamy, I added salt and beat for about 20 more seconds. I did my best to add the powdered sugar gradually without making a mess, but I wasn’t quite successful. My lovely red mixer looked like it had been in a snowball fight by the time I was done! I let it incorporate approximately 1 cup at a time and then added in the vanilla extract.

My cake layers weren’t 100% even because I had had to estimate, so I started with the thickest layer at the bottom. I frosted the top of that, placed the next layer and frosted that, before placing the last layer and frosting the top and sides of the entire cake. As suggested, I put the cake with the crumb coat into the freezer for about 15 minutes before finishing the frosting with a final thicker layer.

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The last step to decorating the cake – but certainly not the least! – was adding the sprinkles. I watched quite a few tutorials on the best way to add the sprinkles without making a mess. My frosted cake was on a cardboard cake round, so I set that on a cooling rack nested into a baking sheet with sides. I cupped my dominant hand (in my case, my left) and filled it with sprinkles, carefully tipping them onto the side of the cake. Most of the extras fell into the baking sheet as expected!

I continued to rotate and sprinkle until the entire bottom third of the cake was covered in sprinkles. Lastly, I carefully covered the outside of the top of the cake with a thick line of sprinkles to match the bottom. It was easier than I expected it to be! And, as someone who is usually terrified of cake-decorating, I found that sprinkles not only do sprinkles look super festive, they cover a lot of errors. 🙂

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Last but not least, it was time for the candles. I didn’t end up using all of the four dozen candles I bought, but I covered the cake pretty well. The candles looked impressive. I have honestly never been more proud of a cake I’ve made – especially from scratch. Hope you enjoy it as much as Scott, my sister and brother-in-law, and my co-workers did! (I know I didn’t have to twist any arms, but thanks to all for taste-testing.)

Triple-Layer Funfetti Cake

  • Servings: 14
  • Print

Cake Ingredients

  • 9 TBS butter, softened
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1 cup canola oil (vegetable oil would also work)
  • 4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 cups + 2 TBS all-purpose flour
  • 4½ tsp baking powder
  • 1½ tsp salt
  • 1½ cup milk
  • 9 egg whites (room temperature preferred)
  • ½ cup sprinkles

Buttercream Frosting Ingredients

  • 1 lb unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 6 cups powdered sugar
  • 6 TBS heavy cream
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

Cake Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F and prepare 3 8-inch round cake pans by generously greasing and flouring. Be sure to shake out excess flour.
  2. In stand mixer, beat butter on medium-low speed until creamy.
  3. Add sugar and oil and beat until all ingredients are well-combined and creamy.
  4. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and then stir in your vanilla.
  5. In separate bowl, whisk together your flour, baking powder, and salt.
  6. Measure out your milk. Then, with mixer on medium speed, gradually alternate between adding the flour mixture and the milk, starting and ending with the flour mixture. Stir until each one is almost completely combined before adding the next. Pause occasionally to scrape down sides and bottom of bowl.
  7. In separate bowl, combine your egg whites and, with a hand-mixer on high-speed, beat until stiff peaks form.
  8. Using a spatula, gently fold your egg whites and sprinkles into your batter. Take care to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl so that ingredients are well-combined, and take care not to over-mix.
  9. Evenly divide cake batter into prepared pans.
  10. Bake on 350F for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of each cake layer comes out clean or with few crumbs (should not be wet). For best results, rotate your cake pans halfway through baking to ensure even baking. Cakes will be a light golden brown when done.
  11. Remove cakes from oven and allow to cool in pans for 15 minutes. Run a butter knife around the inside rim of each pan and invert each onto a cooling rack. Allow to cool completely before frosting.

Frosting Directions

  1. In stand mixer, beat butter on medium-speed until creamy.
  2. Add salt and beat again for about 20 seconds.
  3. Gradually, about 1 cup at a time, add powdered sugar, waiting until each cup is completely mixed before adding the next cup.
  4. Then, 2 tablespoons at a time, add the heavy cream on medium-high speed, waiting until each addition is well-combined before adding the next 2 tablespoons.
  5. Add vanilla extract and stir on medium-high for 30 seconds.
  6. Transfer one layer of your cooled cake to serving platter. Use frosting to ice the top. Add the next layer, ice the top of that. Add your third layer on top and ice the top, and then do a thin “crumb coating” around the entire cake.
  7. Transfer to freezer for 10-15 minutes, then remove and apply a clean, thick coat of frosting around the entire cake.

From: Sugar Spun Run

Original recipe based on this technique from I Am Baker to frost cakes. She recommended increasing the above frosting recipe by 50% to ensure full coverage, but I had a TON leftover. I don’t like overly frosted cakes, but mine was still well-frosted according to taste testers (a good amount), so it’s up to you and your preferences.

This cake may also be made in 3 9″ pans, just decrease the baking time. Start checking the cakes for doneness at 25 minutes.


P.S. It will apparently take me only 8 years (a shockingly short amount of time!) to finish my TBR list…assuming I don’t add any more books. If you’d like to calculate your own TBR time, check out Read It Forward’s calculator. Let me know in the comments how many years of reading you have ahead of you!

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This post contains affiliate links. Full disclosure here

book review, of interest, recipe

American Gods + Beef Pasties

I read American Gods hoping to create some personal excitement for the new series on Starz (which premiered on April 30), but I finished it feeling less than enthused. I’ve had a bit of a mixed reaction to Neil Gaiman – ultimately thinking that my first selection The Ocean at the End of the Lane was just okay, but enjoying both Coraline and Neverwhere.

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Gaiman’s novel is interesting enough at the outset. It follows Shadow as he is released from prison after serving three years. On his way home, he meets a mysterious man called Wednesday, an old god, actually. Wednesday enlists Shadow to help him recruit other old gods, traveling back and forth across the United States attempting to convince them to join the fight against the new gods.

Shadow’s story, when we were following it, kept my attention. It was the detours Gaiman took at the end of each chapter that I found distracting, as the story peeked in at the goings-on of various other gods we usually hadn’t met yet (and sometimes never saw again). The plot took a lot of twists and turns, and had I been fully invested, I would’ve been at the edge of my seat so I can see why people really enjoy it.

When he wasn’t with Wednesday, Shadow took refuge in a small town called Lakeside, Wisconsin. It was there that I found my recipe for American Gods – Mabel’s famous pasties. Pasties are baked pastries filled with meat and vegetables, said to have originated in Cornwall, England. They are also quite popular in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and while I have had them in England, I’ve never had them close to home – until now.

Scott’s mom had actually made them before and shared her recipe with me. (Thank you!) I made my own dough, which she said would be easy with a food processor – and it was.

My food processor didn’t seem to be able to handle such a large amount of ingredients, however, so I ended up splitting the dough into two batches. I also needed slightly more liquid to get it to come together, so use your best judgment, but make sure not to overdo the liquid because you don’t want the dough to become sticky.  

I formed the dough into two smaller disks and stored them in the refrigerator in plastic wrap to chill. I allowed mine to chill overnight but a couple of hours should be sufficient.

While the dough chilled (or in my case, before I took it out to roll it), I prepared the vegetables for the filling. First, I diced the carrots, doing my best to keep them relatively small so they would soften well while baking.

Having never even eaten rutabaga (to my knowledge), I certainly had never made it, so I was a little unsure how to tackle it at first. Ultimately, I just hacked off a chunk of it, peeled off the skin and then cut the piece into smaller pieces that would fit in my food processor spout. I used my grating attachment to grate it quickly.

Then, I peeled and diced my potatoes, trying to keep their size in line with the size of my carrots. About 2 medium potatoes yielded the 1½ cups I needed. After so much prepped I decided to just use minced dried onion out of my cupboard. Fresh onion might impart a bit more moisture into the meat, but it turned out well with the dried version, so use whatever works best for you.

I combined all of my filling ingredients – about a pound of ground beef, the carrots, potatoes, rutabaga and minced onion. I also added salt and some freshly ground black pepper. Lastly, I melted the butter and poured that over the filling, making sure to mix it in well.

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As I took my dough out to roll and shape, I turned on my oven to 350 degrees F to preheat. I rolled out the dough and used 8” saucers as a guide for my circles, yielding 4 large pastry circles. I filled half of each circle with as much filling as I could, making sure it could still be closed and sealed.  

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Note: I had a bit of filling leftover as well as a bit of pastry, so I probably could’ve made each one a bit bigger.

Finally, I cut 3 slits into each pasty and brushed them with an egg wash before putting them in the oven on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. After about an hour, they came out a lovely golden brown.

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Thinking it seemed similar to meatloaf (and after some online research), I decided to eat mine with some ketchup – which seems to be a popular choice – as well as a little spicy brown mustard. Scott enjoyed his with sour cream (another online hit). Serve with whatever condiments you enjoy, but make sure you allow them to cool before digging in! 

Beef Pasties

  • Servings: 4
  • Print

Ingredients

    For the Dough:
  • 1 cup Crisco or lard
  • 3½ cups flour
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 egg (beaten)
  • ½ TBS vinegar
  • ½ cup ice water
  • For the Filling:

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 cup grated (or finely diced) rutabaga
  • 1 ½ cup diced potatoes
  • 1 or 2 carrots, diced
  • 1 small onion, diced or 1 TBS dried minced onion
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/4 stick butter or margarine, melted
  • egg wash: 1 egg and 1 TBS water

Directions

  1. To make the dough, put the dry ingredients – shortening/lard, flour, salt and baking powder – into the food processor. With it on low, drizzle in the liquid ingredients – 1 beaten egg, 1 tablespoon of white vinegar and ½ cup of ice water.
  2. Once dough is well combined, form into a disk (or two smaller disks) in plastic wrap and allow to chill for a few hours, or overnight. When ready to create the pasties, roll out the dough and cut into circles with a small saucer (8” or 10” diameter).
  3. Combine the filling ingredients, adding the melted butter last.
  4. Add filling to one half of each pastry circle. Fold over and crimp the edges.
  5. Brush with an egg wash and make 2-3 slits or use a fork on the top to allow the steam escape while baking.
  6. Bake on parchment paper-lined baking sheets at 375 degrees F for 15 minutes before turning down to 325 degrees F for 45 minutes, OR just bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees F.


From: The Kitchen of Scott’s Mom, Karen

You could also make more smaller pasties, by cutting smaller circles of dough and using less filling. This may affect baking time. Mine were quite giant, but worked well as a main course (or full meal)!


book review, recipe

Making Arrangements + Caramel Cake

Expecting to die from cancer, Lang does her best to make sure her husband survives without her. She leaves notes for important moments and even prepares dessert for his next birthday. When he unexpectedly dies before she does, her life is turned upside down. In Ferris Robinson’s novel Making Arrangements, Lang has to learn how to cope when life doesn’t go exactly as she planned.

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While the story itself is an important reminder to expect the unexpected, I found most of the characters to be quite unlikeable. Even Lang herself was weak and self-defeating for most of the novel, probably due to her son Teddy’s and late husband’s attempts to keep her in the dark and stifle any ounce of gumption she may have once had. It was refreshing when she gave in to her impulses, finally forging new relationships and learning to be self-sufficient.

Baking comes effortlessly to Lang. Skilled at making cakes, it’s important to her to provide her husband with a birthday cake even after she’s gone. She lovingly makes and then freezes his favorite, a caramel cake, so it will be waiting for him.

The theme of this book makes it an appropriate read for the end of the year; likewise, this caramel cake seemed to be a perfect treat to bring along to a holiday party or New Year’s celebration. Ferris Robinson provided me with a copy of her recipe for Decadent Deep South Caramel Cake (along with a copy of the book), so I set to work making what I hoped would turn out to be a decent imitation of Lang’s own masterpiece.

I preheated the oven first, greased and floured the cake pans, and assembled all of my cake ingredients. (I also got out the 2 sticks of butter for the icing so that it would be easier to use when I was ready later.) In a large bowl, I combined the plain white cake mix, whole milk, 3 eggs, vanilla extract and another stick of butter, melted. Once blended, I used an electric mixer on medium for 2 minutes.

I split the cake batter evenly between my two cake pans and set them in the 350-degree oven for 27 minutes.

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After they were finished, I put them on a cooling rack in the pans for 10 minutes and then inverted onto the racks so that they could continue to cool.

While they fully cooled, I worked on the caramel icing. In a non-stick saucepan, I melted 2 sticks of butter and stirred in 1 pound of brown sugar and ¼ teaspoon of salt, until the sugar dissolved. I added in the evaporated milk and stirred until it was fully incorporated. This mixture came up to a boil and I left it boil softly for about 4 minutes. (At one point, my boil got a little out of control, but I just turned down the heat and kept stirring until it became a little less vigorous. Just go with it – caramel can sometimes be a little intimidating but it doesn’t have to be difficult.)

I took the saucepan with the caramel mixture off the heat to allow it to cool. I used this time to sift my powdered sugar and even out the tops of the cooled cakes. I also began boiling some water in a smaller saucepan to use for my double-boiler. After cooling for about 7 minutes, I added the caramel mixture to my bowl of powdered sugar and vanilla, using the electric mixer to thoroughly combine the icing.

My bottom layer of cake on a plate, I spread a thick layer of caramel icing along the top. Once it was well-coated, I placed the second cake on top of it and poured the icing on it, allowing it to spill off the edges and coat the sides. I’m not great at cake-decorating or evenly icing cakes, so given the consistency of the frosting I thought this would be the best way. If you use this method, be careful that the icing doesn’t spill over the sides of the plate (or that you have something in place to catch the overflow). It did provide even coverage, but it made a bit of a mess. Sadly, my presentation wasn’t as great as it could’ve been, but I was hoping the taste would make up for it.

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The good news is, it absolutely did. The cake was delicious, very moist and airy. The caramel icing had great flavor and once set, it provided a nice thick and slightly hard coating on the cake. A decadent cake for sure, one that is worth making for any special occasion.

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Decadent Deep South Caramel Cake

  • Servings: 8-12
  • Print

Provided directly by Ferris Robinson. The recipe and an excerpt of the novel are also available in the free e-cookbook KP Authors Cook Their Books.

Ingredients

    Cake
  • 1 package (18.25 ounces) plain white cake mix [Note: A 16.25 ounce package was the largest I was able to find in the store; I used it and had no problems.]
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 8 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract (not imitation)
  • Lang’s Famous Decadent Caramel Icing

  • 2 sticks butter
  • 1 (16 oz.) box of light brown sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ⅔ cup evaporated milk (canned)
  • 2 cups sifted confectioner’s sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Grease two 9-inch round cake pans, then dust with flour.
  3. Blend cake mix, milk, melted butter, eggs, and vanilla extract in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer. When blended, beat on medium speed for about two minutes.
  4. Pour batter into greased cake pans and bake until they are golden brown and spring back when lightly to touch, about 27 to 29 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes before inverting onto plate. Make sure they are completely cool before icing.
  5. While the cakes cool, prepare the Decadent Caramel Icing. Heat butter, brown sugar and salt in a saucepan, stirring until the brown sugar dissolves. Add milk and stir until blended. Bring to slow boil for about four minutes, stirring constantly. Let hot mixture cool for several minutes.
  6. Add confectioner’s sugar and vanilla and mix with electric mixer until lighter in color and caramelized. Ice that cake! Work quickly, while the frosting is still warm because it will set up. If the frosting gets too hard to work with, place it over low heat for a minute, stirring constantly. [I mixed in the sugar and vanilla in a homemade double-boiler (glass bowl over gently boiling saucepan) and this helped to prevent it setting up.]

Cake can be stored covered in plastic wrap or aluminum foil at room temperature for up to 1 week, or it can be frozen, wrapped in saran and foil, for up to 6 months. Thaw the cake overnight before serving.

The icing recipe made significantly more icing than I needed. If you wanted to make an additional cake layer, so that it has 3 instead of 2, you would still likely have enough without altering the above icing recipe.

I hope everyone has a safe New Year’s celebration! Looking forward to seeing you all again in 2017!

* This book was given to me by the author in exchange for an honest review.