Friday, May 23, 2014

Hummingbird Cake

Our oldest son turned 30 on May 12th, but with Mother's Day on that same day, and living 5 hours away, I didn't get to bake a cake to celebrate.  Since the whole family is going to meet over the Memorial Day weekend at our Cocoa Beach timeshare, Robert asked for a cake, homemade and not vanilla and not chocolate...a SPECIAL cake. Read: the more difficult, the better!

I didn't want to shred carrots for carrot cake and he doesn't like the texture of coconut, so my choices were narrowed down a bit.  Then I came across Southern Living's Hummingbird Cake with Browned Butter Icing. Instead of putting coconut flakes in the mix, I substituted half the vegetable oil with coconut  for a very mild coconut flavor. I also chose to put 1/2 cup chopped pecans in the mix. I only had two bananas ( maybe a cup and a quarter) so I chose to use the whole 20 oz can of pineapple chunks, tossed with juice into the food processor with the bananas to make into crushed. Robert said that the pineapples were not big enough, so I will just pulse them a few times the next time I make this cake. The mix came out a bit runny, so I added another cup of flour, an egg, 1/2 cup sugar and a little more salt and baking soda.   The mix seemed more normal consistency and this too is why it took longer to bake. I baked in a sheet cake pan and it took about fifty minutes to bake. I just kept doing the toothpick test until it didn't come out wet.  The cake is big and beautiful, fragrant and heavy.  It has been cooling for over an hour and is still not cool enough for icing.

Here is the printed version from Southern Living:
Hummingbird Cake
Cake Ingredients
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda 
1 teaspoon table salt 
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
2 cups diced ripe bananas (about 3 medium) 
large eggs, beaten 
1 cup chopped toasted pecans 
1 cup vegetable oil
(8-oz.) can crushed pineapple, undrained

Cake Directions 
1. Preheat oven to 350°. Stir together first 5 ingredients in a large bowl; stir in bananas and next 5 ingredients, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened. Pour batter into 4 greased and floured 9-inch square or round cake pans.
2. Bake at 350° for 20 to 25 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks, and cool completely (about 1 hour).

Browned Butter Frosting


1 cup butter
(16-oz.) package powdered sugar 
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


    1. Cook butter in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly, 8 to 10 minutes or until butter begins to turn golden brown. Remove pan immediately from heat, and pour butter into a small bowl. Cover and chill 1 hour or until butter is cool and begins to solidify.
    2. Beat butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until fluffy; gradually add sugar alternately with milk, beginning and ending with sugar. Beat at low speed until well blended after each addition. Stir in vanilla.

    The icing seemed loose and so I added about a cup more powdered sugar.  Also, I didn't have milk and used half-and-half in its place. It tasted fabulous!

    I didn't want to add the cream cheese custard filling that is commonly used between layers of this cake because, first of all, mine is one layer, and secondly, I don't want to have to refrigerate it.  The cooling time for my big cake is long. It has been an hour and a half and I just flipped the cake over to cool the other side of this dense cake.  I hope it is good as it smells.

    Here is Southern Living's cream cheese custard filling that goes between the layers of the cake:
    Cream Cheese Custard Filling
    3/4 cup sugar
    1/3 cup all-purpose flour 
    large eggs
    1 1/2 cups milk
    (8-oz.) package cream cheese, cubed and softened
    1 tablespoon vanilla extract

    Whisk together first 2 ingredients in a heavy saucepan; whisk in eggs and milk until smooth. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, 8 to 10 minutes or until mixture reaches a chilled pudding-like thickness. Bring to a boil, whisking constantly; boil, whisking constantly, 1 minute. Remove from heat, and whisk in cream cheese and vanilla until cheese melts. Cool to room temperature (about 1 hour). Place plastic wrap directly on mixture (to prevent a film from forming), and chill 6 to 24 hours.

    Sunday, May 11, 2014

    Happy Mother's Day!

    What are you making today?  I am fixing dinner to bring to my mother and father.  Momma asked for a baked hen. I plan to stuff it with sliced lemon and fresh herbs, give it a rub down with butter, then pop it in a searing hot 450F oven for ten minutes to crispen the skin, lowering the temp to 365 for about 45 minutes to an hour, or until the legs move easily.

    The starch is our old standby that's everyone's favorite, peeled and mashed yukon potatoes with homemade gravy.

    The vegetable will be mandolin sliced French concoction called ratatouille.  Here's a recipe with lots of pictures that is similar to mine. On the stove top, cook chopped onion and garlic in some butter/olive oil until caramelized, then add a small can of tomato paste, stir that around, sprinkle a little pepper and fresh thyme. Slice tomatoes, green and yellow squash, an eggplant, and a red bell pepper, alternating and spiraling the colorful vegetables into the pan. Add some more thyme (just a tiny bit - it will overwhelm!), salt and pepper, then drizzle on olive oil.  This bakes about 45 minutes, covered, then another 30 minutes uncovered.  Finally, a little vinaigrette sprinkle and under the broiler for a quick edge browning.
    For the vinaigrette: 1T olive oil, 1t. balsamic vinegar, a whisp of thyme, kosher salt & black pepper.

    My sweet husband Mark will make his famous (well, famous to us!) homemade biscuits, using Pioneer Brand Biscuit Mix from the grocery store.

    I baked TWO lemon supreme cakes this morning.  The first one STUCK LIKE GLUE to the prepared bundt pan. Failure! We enjoyed a piece with coffee while the other one baked. The second one slid from the pan like it was the law. The failure cake pan was prepared with my regular Crisco and flour, and in the second one I used Bakers Joy (an oil/flour spray) and had success. Go figure!
    Identical cakes, same recipe, same preparation.
    Flops sometimes just happen. 

    Wednesday, May 7, 2014

    AUNT LOUISE'S LEMON SUPREME CAKE - my favorite cake ever!

    Each time I am near a citrus tree in bloom, I can think of none other than Aunt Louise's Lemon Supreme Cake. I smell this cake and it brings me back to my newlywed days in Clearwater, Florida in the early 1980's, where when the orange trees were blossoming and the aroma in the air was mouthwateringly divine!

    This morning, while watering my plants, I noticed a pile of teeny pearl-sized lemons on my new Meyer Lemon Tree and thought of my aunt and her wonderful lemon cake. Aunt Louise used to bring a Lemon Supreme Cake to most family functions and coming from a large family, we had a lot of gatherings! Thank you, Aunt Louise, for sharing your recipe so many years ago.  It is my absolute favorite dessert of all time.


    Cake Ingredients
    1 package Duncan Heinz lemon supreme cake mix
    1/2 cup vegetable oil
    1/2 cup water
    1 package lemon jello
    4 eggs, room temperature

    Beat eggs, add all remaining ingredients and beat smooth with mixer.
    Cook in prepared bundt or tube pan (I use Baker's Joy) at 350F for 45 minutes.
    Let sit in pan for five minutes, then invert onto a pretty plate.

    While cake is baking, prepare icing to pour on the cake while it is still hot.
    Icing - makes 1 cup
    1-1/2 cup confectioners sugar
    2 T soft butter
    4 T Real Lemon (bottled)
    Blend together icing ingredients.  Should be watery.
    Wait five minutes, then remove cake from pan, place on dish with a lip (some of the icing will run off the cake) and drizzle icing all over hot cake. Most of the icing absorbs into the cake and is so so good!
    Let cool and serve.  Inside is a pretty vibrant yellow color.  Yummm.

    Saturday, May 3, 2014

    Caramel Cake

    I want to try this, so let's keep this recipe handy!

    Classic Southern Caramel Cake

    1 cup butter (2 sticks)
    2 cups sugar
    4 eggs
    3 cups flour, self-rising
    1 cup buttermilk
    2 teaspoons vanilla

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare three 9-inch cake pans by greasing them and adding optional parchment paper. Beat butter until light and fluffy and then add sugar and beat for about 5 more minutes. Add eggs, 1 at a time, and mix well after each. Add flour and buttermilk, alternately, beginning and ending with flour and mix well after each. Add vanilla and beat well. Divide among pans and bake for 25-30 minutes until set.

    Turn out of pans onto cooling racks and allow to cool completely. Prepare Southern Caramel Icing as cakes are cooling then frost the cake.

    Southern Caramel Frosting

    2 cups sugar
    1 cup buttermilk
    ½ cup Crisco
    ½ cup butter
    1 teaspoon baking soda

    Mix all ingredients in a 3-4 quart cast iron dutch oven.
    Swirl pan to keep ingredients moving in the pan. Cook to softball stage 235º – 245º on a candy thermometer or when tested in a cup of cold water. Remove from heat and beat with a wooden spoon until creamy and ready to spread.

    No thermometer? Do the cold water test:

    Take a some of the caramel and drop it into a bowl or cup of cold water. Give it a few seconds to cool. Fish around in the bowl or cup of cold water and try to retrieve the caramel and make a little ball with it.

    If you stick your fingers into the bowl, pull out a gooey mess and you can't do anything but smear the caramel, you need to boil the caramel some more. There is still too much water in your caramel and the concentration of sugar is too low. The caramel may even form little threads in the water, but if you cannot get the threads to form into a ball, you have some more boiling to do.

    Thursday, May 1, 2014

    Pork Chop Dinner

    First I mix up some stuffing.  Mine came from a bag I never opened, left over from (I'm ashamed to say it) Thanksgiving. I'd go for the simple box mix if I didn't have that one.  I fried some onion and celery, water, butter,  then once it was hot I tossed the stuffing in and took off the burner to sit covered until dinnertime.

    Open a can of french cut beans, pour out some of the liquid and add some butter, because those green beans are nasty without butter.  Mark likes them, not me.  I'll eat em, but you can't make me love them. Start the heat under the small covered pot of green beans and turn it off once it gets hot.  There, canned beans.  Bang.

    How do you tell someone how to make pork chops?
    I buy 3/4" thick boneless chops, usually 4 to a pack.
    Pour about 2/3 cup cornbread mix onto a plate and coat the pork chops on all sides.  Let this sit aside while you fix the two items above, then once the beans are on - -
    Pour about 1/2 cup olive oil in a stick free pan, bring the oil up to almost sizzling and lay chops into oil. Cook, covered until both sides are brown. If you cook too slow, the coating will sop up the oil and it'll be yucky.  If you cook too fast, the insides won't get done.  It's an art!

    Mark's plate has twice the food of a normal human being.

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