Sunday, August 22, 2010

18 Carrot Snack Cake

Do you ever crave just a little bit of cake? You know, there's only two of you (or one) and you really want a homemade cake....but just a little one? Back in the seventies there was a nifty cake mix called "Snackin Cake". My sister and I would get the spice one and doctor it up with penuche frosting. It was fabulous...and just the right size!  It seems to me they tried to bring Snackin Cake back, several years ago. It wasn't the same. Maybe because it was microwavable. Blech. Some things are better left out of the microwave. Cake and meat are two of them. At any rate, I found a recipe deep in the recesses of my recipe box for a carrot cake. A little carrot cake. And judging from my scrawl, it dated back to the seventies. So, I decided to revamp it just a little.

18 Carrot Snack Cake

1 1/4 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
3/4 cup oil
2 eggs
1/2 cup raisins
 2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup grated carrots (about 18 mini carrots )
1 cup chopped nuts

Frosting (optional)

3 tablespoons cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated lemon peel
1 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 to 2 teaspoons lemon juice

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.; grease an 8" or 9" square pan.

Here's a little trick I learned......add the raisins to the beaten eggs and let them sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes....keeps the raisins moist.

Measure ingredients, in order, into a large mixing bowl. Blend 1 minute at low; 2 minutes at medium.

Hee-Hee....I really did count out 18 mini-carrots. I couldn't resist the name (although I found it's not very original....I googled and found a boatload of 18 Carrot Cakes--not so sure anyone bothered to count out 18 of them, though).

How easy is this? Just dump it all into a bowl and mix.

Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool completely and frost if desired.

I suppose you can use a round cake pan. Might be just a tad too fancy, though. Something about a foil pan just shouts snack cake.

For frosting, combine cream cheese, lemon peel and butter in a small bowl. Cream with hand mixer until thoroughly blended. Add powdered sugar, vanilla and 1 teaspoon juice and continue to beat until smooth and creamy, adding more juice if needed.

I love, love, love cream cheese frosting. Sometimes I switch out the lemon peel for orange peel. It's great over warm cinnamon rolls, too.

All frosted and just the right size, dontcha think?

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread

I am so lucky to have a co-worker who brings me fresh goodies from her sister's farm. Last week yielded a boatload of sweet corn, cucumbers, onions and several yellow zucchini. Yellow zucchini? Hmmm...she called it summer squash, but it looked like zucchini to me. A normal person would have taken this bounty and made some fresh and healthy dishes. Oh, I'll get to that...but first things first. How about a nice zucchini bread?

I call this my "Summer Bounty". Believe me, I'll get to something a bit healthier...after we have dessert! 

Now, my go-to zucchini bread recipe has been with me for over 30 years. It was the first recipe I got from my mother-in-law, and I absolutely love it. Today was a bit of a challenge for me, though. First, I've never used yellow zucchini before. Would it be the same? Next, out of all of the bags of chocolate chips in the cupboard, I was out of my mini-chocolate chips. :( I like the mini ones because they don't sink to the bottom of my bread. What to do? How about a little combo of things? I decided to use up my bag of cinnamon chips, only about 1/4 cup, (hey, they are kind of mini) and then supplement them with some milk chocolate chips. Lo and behold, I did find a few mini chocolate chips hiding in my foil loaf pan, so they went in, as well.

Will the world as we know it come to an end? I'm using two different brands and three different flavors, all in one recipe.

Here is the original recipe:

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread


Servings: 2 loaves

3 cups flour
3 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 cup oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup sour cream
2 cups grated zucchini
1 cup chocolate chips (I use mini-chocolate chips, so they don't sink)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease two loaf pans (I use the foil ones).

Mix together all of the ingredients except the zucchini and chocolate chips until well-blended. Stir in the zucchini and chocolate chips. Pour into the 2 loaf pans and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes.

This is a seriously easy recipe. Just load everything into the bowl (except the zucchini and chips) and mix it up!

Look at how pretty my yellow zucchini is. Maybe this will work out even better than the green.

I like to use the foil pans...easier to transport or give away.

Of course my husband wanted to cut into it two minutes after it was out of the oven. I had to shoo him away....I recommend cooling completely before slicing.

Final verdict? Yellow zucchini=good. Cinnamon chips=really good (more next time). Milk Chocolate Chips=meh, they mostly sunk to the bottom (will stick to Mini Semi-Sweet Chips).

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Toffee-Banana Bread

I'm not usually a big fan of banana bread, so forgive me if I "monkey around" with a recipe....heehee.

Well shoot, who doesn't end up with these once in awhile?

Today, I decided to take my regular banana bread recipe (and by regular, I mean Chocolate Chip Banana Bread) and do something just a tad different. How about some chocolate covered toffee chips?

Toffee-Banana Bread

3 ripe bananas
½ cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup chocolate covered toffee bits

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.; grease a 5X9” loaf pan.

Combine the bananas, butter, sugar and eggs in a large mixing bowl. Beat on medium speed for about 3 minutes, or until thoroughly mixed; add vanilla.

Whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Add to the banana mixture and stir until combined. Fold in the toffee chips.

Did I say 1 cup of toffee chips? I guess I didn't really measure. I just added the rest of the bag (about half). Not too much of a good thing here.

Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake for 60 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. Cool on rack for at least ten minutes before removing from pan.

The toffee chips caramelized a little on the edges and made the bread pretty brown. It was all good, though. :)

Banana bread usually tastes better after a day. Unfortunately, no one in my family can wait that long.

Oh, yeah! We'll be making this one again.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Angel Food Cake

It just seems easier to buy an angel food cake, doesn't it? There they are, in the bakery section of the grocery store, usually stacked near a display of strawberries and whipped topping. Oh they look good enough. Then you get them home and the disappointment sets in. A little dry, maybe a little rubbery, with little real taste to it. The strawberries are essential, at this point, just to add some flavor. Well, I'm here to tell you that it's not that hard to make your own.

I started my angel food cake experience by looking for a good recipe. Most of them are very similar---10 to 12 egg whites, a little cake flour and some sugar. I finally settled on an Alton Brown recipe, which you can find here: Alton Brown's Angel Food Cake I dunno, there's something about Alton Brown that I trust. So, let us begin.


1 3/4 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup cake flour, sifted
12 egg whites (the closer to room temperature the better)
1/3 cup warm water
1 teaspoon orange extract, or extract of your choice
1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a food processor spin sugar about 2 minutes until it is superfine. Sift half of the sugar with the salt the cake flour, setting the remaining sugar aside.

While I don't always follow directions, I did do this. Look at the picture below to see the difference in the size of the granules.

In a large bowl, use a balloon whisk to thoroughly combine egg whites, water, orange extract, and cream of tartar. After 2 minutes, switch to a hand mixer. Slowly sift the reserved sugar, beating continuously at medium speed. Once you have achieved medium peaks, sift enough of the flour mixture in to dust the top of the foam. Using a spatula fold in gently. Continue until all of the flour mixture is incorporated.

OK, I don't have a balloon whisk. I might have to invest. :)

It took a little elbow grease to get it this frothy. How did Julia whip all those eggs by hand?

I don't have a sifter, either (it actually broke a while back), so I used my whisk to blend the sugar and the flour together. Don't forget that cream of tartar---it helps to stabilize the egg whites.

Carefully spoon mixture into an ungreased tube pan. Bake for 35 minutes before checking for doneness with a wooden skewer. (When inserted halfway between the inner and outer wall, the skewer should come out dry).

Egads! That's a lot of batter! At this point I was pretty sure that the batter would run down the side of the pan while it was baking---so as a precaution I put a foil lined sheet pan underneath.

Check out the angel food cake pan. It's totally old-style---came from my father's bakery. There is a reason you don't grease the pan. Since the eggs whites are your only leavening, they need something to cling to in order to rise. If you read some of the comments under Alton's recipe, you'll see a few flops where the cake literally fell out and collapsed. I'll guarantee it's because they used a non-stick pan.

Cool upside down on cooling rack for at least an hour before removing from pan.

An old-style pan means an old-style way of cooling the cake. I put it upside down over a syrup bottle, but any bottle will do. Oh--and the reason I'm only showing one side of the cake is that I was right--I lost part of the cake in the oven. It was rising so beautifully that I thought it would be OK and then, POOF--part of one side came tumbling down. The problem? I think it was the size of my eggs (or could it be that I opened the oven door one too many times?.....hmmm). Next time I'll use large eggs and not extra-large (and leave the oven door shut).

While I can't show the whole cake since it had an ugly side...heehee...I have to say, this is one good cake! It was melt-in-your-mouth good. I had a couple of minor wet spots on the top (probably as a result of two many egg whites), but I'll never buy a grocery store angel food cake again.