Basketball, Strawberries & Pound Cake

Since 1977 the traditional food eaten during the NCAA College Basketball Tournament has always been strawberries. That’s because the first year John and I watched the tournament together as students at Western Carolina University, I suggested we fix strawberries. I’m not really sure why that seemed like an appropriate snack food instead of chips, peanuts, popcorn, pizza or some other food usually associated with sporting events, but in any case it was the beginning of our tradition of watching the best basketball of the year while also eating the tastiest food on the planet.

As we bought the strawberries for the final weekend of this year’s tournament, John mentioned that I haven’t baked a pound cake in 2015. He asked if I intended to make another after last year’s Pound Cake of the Month challenge.

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A good traditional pound cake is the perfect accompaniment for fresh strawberries so this year in addition to basketball and strawberries, we’ll add pound cake.

IMG_7542Sour Cream Pound Cake

  • 1 1/2 cups butter, softened
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 6 large eggs
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 (8-oz.) container sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
    Click here for the recipe from the May 2006 edition of Southern Living.

December Pound Cake of the Month: Vanilla Wafer

Three rarely used bundt cake pans motivated me to cook a new pound cake every month of 2014, no easy task for someone who doesn’t cook or bake on a regular basis. January started with a 7Up cake but that wasn’t the only cake inspired by a drink. Other months featured lemonade and piña colada and fruit figured prominently in the recipes with strawberry, blueberry, apple, and cranberry cakes baked through the year. Chocolate and red velvet were two rather ordinary flavors and praline and snicker doodle were favorites.
After about the sixth or seventh cake John announced that if I met my goal and baked 12 cakes he’d have a surprise for me. I thought maybe a new bundt pan or a cookbook with cake recipes or dinner and dessert someplace known for their cakes. So when he presented me with a card on Christmas morning with a note that said the surprise was a trip. This was much more than I expected.

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Of course there was one problem. I hadn’t baked a cake in December AND John made sure I knew he expected it to be a good one. No short cuts.

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Fortunately, a couple of weeks ago, my friend Carolyn baked a Vanilla Wafer Pound Cake, and it was absolutely delicious! I knew what I’d do to meet the goal.

After a quick search online, I found the recipe. One of the most unusual I’d seen. While most of the cakes I’d baked throughout the year included one or two special ingredients, this one had three: vanilla wafers, coconut, and pecans; but what makes this recipe so unusual is the fact that the crushed vanilla wafers substitute for flour.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 11oz. package of vanilla wafers, crushed
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 7 oz. package shredded coconut
  • 1 cup chopped pecans

A cake made with cookies and milk? No wonder it’s so tasty!

 

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Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 300°.
  2. Spray pan with baking spray with flour.
  3. Cream butter.
  4. Add sugar and beat until smooth.
  5. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  6. Stir in crushed vanilla wafers alternately with milk.
  7. Add coconut and pecans mixing until blended.
  8. Pour battered into greased and floured pan and bake for 90 minutes.
  9. Cool for 10 minutes and then remove from pan.

Recipe adapted from Allrecipes.com.

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Good news! I made the deadline with 7 hours to spare as I removed the cake at 5:00 on New Year’s Eve. And even better news, John loved the cake.
In our house, the Vanilla Wafer Pound Cake will forever be known as the Paris Pound Cake!

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November Pound Cake of the Month: Orange Cranberry

Lemon, blueberry, coconut, chocolate, pecans, the ingredients used to spice up the first ten pound cakes baked in 2014. What better than cranberries for November? I’m sure some would say pumpkin, but pumpkin bread, pumpkin muffins, and even pumpkin pie aren’t family favorites, so cranberry it is, and when combined with orange, well that made it irresistible.

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You’d think after baking ten pound cakes this year, this would be a “piece of cake”, but I’m still baking challenged and it takes me forever to whip up one of these desserts. The recipe indicates a 15 minute prep time, but I’m sure I invested at least 30 minutes in gathering and measuring ingredients and cake preparation. Fortunately, it was worth it!

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I located the recipe used this month on That’s My Home, a website devoted to cooking and baking, and made only a couple of modifications, using turbinado sugar instead of white granulated sugar and adding butter to the icing which I thought was needed for a little more flavor.

Ingredients for cake:

 

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • zest of one orange – about 1 tablespoon
  • juice of an orange
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 tablespoons sugar

 

Ingredients for glaze:

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 – 3 Tablespoons orange juice
  • 2 Tablespoons butter (softened)

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Spray a bundt pan with cooking spray.
  • Sprinkle the 2 Tablespoons of sugar on the bottom of the pan.
  • Sprinkle 1/4 cup of the cranberries on the bottom of the pan. Set aside.
  • Cream together butter and sugar at medium speed on mixer.
  • Add eggs, one at a time, and mix until incorporated.
  • Add orange juice and zest.
  • Add sour cream until incorporated.
  • Then add the flour, salt, and baking powder.
  • Finally, stir in the remaining 1 1/4 cups cranberries.
  • Bake for 50 – 55 minutes until a tester comes out clean.
  • Let pan set for 5 minutes after you take the cake out of the oven.
  • Turn over cake unto a wire rack to cool.

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Prepare glaze and drizzle on top and sides of cake.

I baked the Orange Cranberry Pound Cake in the smaller 6-cup pan and three smaller 1-cup cakes because I wanted to serve this cake for Thanksgiving next week. Of course, we ate the smaller cakes since we needed to do a little taste test, but I stored the larger cake in an inverted mixing  with a clip on lid and placed it in the freezer.

Thanksgiving baking has begun!

 

 

 

 

October Pound Cake of the Month: Caramel Apple

My failure to read the ingredient list properly resulted in a different cake than planned. With my grocery list in hand, I purchased flour, eggs, and apple cider.

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However, once back at home, I realized the recipe did not call for apple cider. Instead, it needed sparkling apple cider…oops! Unwillingly to drive eight miles to correct the mistake, I decided to make a slight modification.

I preheated the oven, prepared the pan, measured all ingredients, and went to work. Since the recipe did not make enough batter for a ten cup bundt pan, I used the six cup pan and made three cupcakes. I figured the cupcakes would give me the opportunity to taste test the modified apple cake recipe so if it was a complete failure, I could prepare something else for dessert since we had a guest coming for dinner.

Ingredients:

Cake

  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup apple cider

Caramel Glaze

  • 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Fortunately, the substitution of apple cider for sparkling apple cider did not ruin the cake. In fact, the cake was moist and tasty. However, the original glaze recipe was a complete disaster! The original recipe called for mixing powdered sugar with the sparkling apple cider to create a sweet topping for the cake.

YUCK! It tasted bland as if the sugar was mixed with water. I glazed one of the cupcakes, took a couple of bites, and threw it in the garbage. I’d have to come up with an alternative glaze.

Since caramel and apples make a perfect combination, I located a recipe for a caramel glaze which provided the tasty finishing touch the cake needed.

Preparation:

Cake

  • Preheat oven to 350º and spray bundt pan with cooking spray.
  • In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until fluffy.
  • Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  • In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt.
  • Add the flour mixture to the creamed mix alternately with cider, beating well after each addition.
  • Pour batter into prepared baking pan and then bake for 40-50 minutes.
  • Cool in pan 10 minutes and then remove from pan and cool on wire rack to cool completely.

Caramel Glaze

  • Bring brown sugar, butter, and milk to a boil over medium heat, whisking constantly.
  • Boil 1 minute.
  • Remove from heat and whisk in powdered sugar and vanilla until smooth.
  • Stir 3 to 5 minutes or until mixture begins to cool and thickens slightly.
  • Use immediately.

I wouldn’t say the Caramel Apple Pound Cake would make my top 5 list, but it was an easy cake with the taste of fall. One that I’d make again, and I don’t think I’d change to the original recipe. I’ll stick with the apple cider.

The directions for the Sparkling Apple Cider Pound Cake that I thought I was going to make can be found here from The Country Cook.

 

September Pound Cake of the Month: Snickerdoodle

I nearly missed the deadline, baking this month’s pound cake on September 28th. I just lacked inspiration as I poured over recipes.

Lime, Key Lime, Lemon Curd, Orange and Orange Dreamsicle  all sounded appetizing, but I’ve already baked a Lemon Lime and a Lemonade cake so another citrus cake seemed too similar. The Condensed Milk cake looked delicious, but it turns out to just be a plain cake (maybe even store bought) with condensed milk poured over it. That sounds like cheating. And Cranberry Orange really should wait until November.

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Finally I settled on Snickerdoodle…cinnamon always reminds me of fall and the cooler temperatures the last week of September put me in the mood for the taste of fall.

Snickerdoodle turned out to be a good choice. The sugary crust makes a delicious cake that can be served as a breakfast treat as well as a dessert, and what could be better than an excuse to eat dessert at breakfast!

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Ingredients:

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 cups white sugar
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar
3 eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup full-fat sour cream, at room temperature

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325º.

In a small bowl, thoroughly mix 1 cup white sugar and 2 Tablespoons of cinnamon and set aside.

Spray bundt pan with baking spray with flour (don’t forget to spray the tube) and then dust the entire pan with the sugar cinnamon mix. This will only take about 1/3 of the mixture. Make sure you set aside the remaining sugar mixture for use later.

IMG_1221Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt and set aside.

Beat the butter on medium speed for one minute.

Add one cup of white sugar and beat for three minutes, until light and fluffy.

Add one cup of light brown sugar and beat for another two minutes.

Then add eggs one at a time, beating each for one minute.

Stir in vanilla.

Add 1/3 of flour mixture, then 1/2 cup sour cream,  then 1/3 of flour, the remaining sour cream, then the remaining flour, beating after each addition.

Spread 1/2 of the batter in the prepared pan and then top with 1/4 to 1/3 cup of the sugar cinnamon mixture. Add the remaining batter and sprinkle any remaining sugar cinnamon mixture over the top.

Bake for 55-65 minutes or until wooden pick inserted comes out clean. Allow to cool 10 minutes before inverting on a wire rack to cool completely.

 

This recipe comes from Dozen Flours, and the one change I’ll make next time is to add another layer of cinnamon…add 1/3 of batter, sugar cinnamon layer, 1/3 of batter, sugar cinnamon layer, the remaining batter and then top with the remaining sugar and cinnamon. If additional sugar cinnamon is needed, 1/4 cup sugar can be mixed with 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon.

The Snickerdoodle Pound Cake is a perfect addition to a brunch menu.

July Pound Cake of the Month: Pina Colada

One of my goals for 2014 is to bake a different pound cake each month of the year.

Both of the pound cakes I’ve made this summer have been inspired by refreshing summer drinks. In June, I baked a Lemonade Pound Cake, the least favorite of the year; and this month I tackled a recipe based on a favorite summer beverage of adults…a Pina Colada Pound Cake. This one did not disappoint!

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I found the original recipe on Shugary Sweets, a blog devoted to “easy to make dinners and desserts, along with a few ‘over the top’ sweets” written by a mom of four. While I’d make some minor changes in the recipe, the Pina Colada Pound Cake not only tasted great, but looked just as good as the photographs on the Shugary Sweets site. That’s the sign of a well written recipe!

The first step of the recipe calls for the coconut to be toasted for 30 minutes in a 225° oven. While the coconut was toasting, I made the batter for the cake, step 2 of the recipe. According to Shugary Sweets, the cake preparation should take about 15 minutes, but it took me a full 30 minutes which worked out pretty well since I needed to wait for the coconut to come out of the oven anyway.

Ingredients:

Step 1

  • 1/2 cup sweetened coconut (half as much as original recipe)

Step 2

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 5 eggs
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup crushed pineapple, drained
  • 2 tsp rum flavoring

Step 3

  • 2 Tbsp milk
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 Tbsp rum flavoring (different than the original recipe)
  • 1/2 cup sweetened, toasted coconut (different from original recipe)

I found the cake did not need to bake an hour and 25 minutes in my oven. I set the timer for 1 hour 15 minutes, and it was ready so make sure you check early in case your oven bakes more quickly like mine.

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The glaze was by far the best consistency of any I’ve made up to this point, yet it’s the one part of the recipe I’d change. The original recipe called for one tablespoon of rum flavoring, but I felt the taste was too strong. To compensate, I doubled the recipe to cut the rum in half. Next time, I’ll reduce the rum flavoring to 1/2 tablespoon, and I wonder if using rum instead of rum flavoring would work just as well…it would definitely be cheaper. I also changed the amount of coconut to 1/2 cup since I used less than half of what I toasted.

Click here for the Pina Colada Pound Cake recipe as found on Shugary Sweets, and while you’re there, you may find a couple more recipes to try. I’m thinking about the mango salsa!

 

June Pound Cake of the Month: Lemonade

One of my goals for 2014 is to bake a different pound cake each month of the year.

Lemonade Pound Cake. What could be more perfect for a summer pound cake recipe! After all, lemonade and summer are a match made in heaven.

I found several recipes for pink lemonade pound cake and finally decided to try one that uses a box cake as the base. This worked well for the Red Velvet Pound Cake I made in April so I decided to give it a go.

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The recipe called for lemon cake mix, lemon pudding mix, and the special ingredient: pink lemonade frozen concentrate.

After removing the cake from the oven, I poked holes in the bottom of the cake before removing it from the pan and poured the thawed lemonade concentrate mixed with sugar over the cake.  According to recipe this not only adds flavor but makes for a moist cake.

It did make a moist cake, but it was not a dense cake like you’d expect from a pound cake.

I found three frosting/glaze recipes, and obviously I didn’t choose the best one since it had to be microwaved to thin enough to pour over the cake. Worst of all, the flavor was just ok.

I ate one slice of the Lemonade Pound Cake, but it wasn’t worth the calories for a second. Definitely a disappointment, but this is the first of the six pound cakes I’ve made this year that’s been a disappointment. Not too bad.

I’ve included the recipe, but I’d suggest the Lemon Lime Pound Cake or Lemon Blueberry Pound Cake as better alternatives to a yummy summer cake.

Ingredients:

  • 1 box lemon pound cake mix
  • 1 small box lemon instant pudding mix (I used sugar free since that’s all I could find.)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup frozen pink lemonade concentrate
  • red food color (about 15 drops to get desired pink color)
  • 1 cup frozen pink lemonade concentrate mixed with 1/2 cup granulated sugar (set aside until after cake is baked)
  • Reserve remaining lemonade concentrate for frosting/glaze.

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350° and spray 10 cup bundt pan with no stick baking spray.
  2. Combine cake mix, pudding mix, eggs, oil, milk, and lemonade concentrate until smooth.
  3. Pour batter in prepared pan and bake for 45-60 minutes. (The original recipe called from 50 minutes and that was too long for my oven.)
  4. Let cool for about five minutes and then poke holes throughout the cake with a skewer and pour or spoon the lemonade/sugar mixture over the cake. (DO NOT REMOVE CAKE FROM PAN. YOU WILL POKE HOLES ON WHAT WILL BE THE BOTTOM OF THE CAKE.)
  5. Remove cake from pan after about 20 minutes and then frost when completely cooled.

Frosting/Glaze Directions:

  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 2-3 Tablespoons lemonade concentrate
  • red food coloring

Mix 1 stick of softened butter with 2 cups of powdered sugar until smooth. Add 2-3 Tablespoons of lemonade concentrate and 5 or 6 drops of red food coloring. Add an additional cup of powdered sugar.

I had to heat in microwave so I could spoon glaze over cake. Next time, I’d melt the butter first and then add powdered sugar and lemonade or look for a different recipe.

But to be honest, this isn’t a cake I’ll bake again. I’m sharing only because it’s part of my goal of baking a new pound cake every month this year, and it seems reasonable to share the failure as well as the success.

If you’ve baked this cake with success, please share your secret in the comment section below. Maybe you can convince me to try your recipe!

 

 

 

 

May Pound Cake of the Month: Lemon Blueberry

After picking nearly five pounds of blueberries, I knew I’d be using blueberries in this month’s pound cake. After searching many magazines, cookbooks, and websites, I settled on a Lemon Blueberry Pound Cake for May’s pound cake of the month.

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However, when I started preparing a shopping list of ingredients needed for this month’s baking, I noticed a problem with the recipe I’d chosen. While the finished product pictured in the recipe clearly showed the cake filled with berries and while they were listed in the ingredient list, there was no mention of using blueberries in the directions.

I decided to scrap the chosen recipe fearful other mistakes may turn my hard work into a disaster, but I had my mind set on Lemon Blueberry and after a little more research, I found just what I was looking for.

Ingredients

Cake

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour OR 3 cups plus 6 Tbsp. Swans Down cake flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 2 sticks butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 cups blueberries

Glaze

  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 tablespoon buttermilk
  • 3 Tbsp. lemon juice (add one tablespoon at a time until desired consistency and taste is acquired)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Spray 12-cup Bundt pan with baking spray or grease and flour pan.
  3. In a large bowl, sift 3 cups flour, baking powder, and salt. (Confession: I did not sift!)
  4. In a small bowl, combine lemon juice, vanilla, and buttermilk.
  5. In another large bowl (preferably the mixing bowl of a stand mixer), beat butter, sugar, and lemon zest until fluffy. Continue beating while adding eggs, one at a time.
  6. Add 1/3 of flour mixture, and then 1/3 of buttermilk mixture, repeating by alternating dry and liquid mixtures until combined.
  7. Pour mixture into prepared cake pan.
  8. Bake approximately 1 hour until toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean.
  9. Let cake cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10-15 minutes and then remove and place on cake plate.

Glaze

  1. Mix confectioner’s sugar, buttermilk and 2 Tbsp. of lemon juice stirring until smooth.
  2. Add lemon juice a little at a time, until it reaches desired consistency. Glaze should be able to be poured.
  3. Pour half of the glaze over warm cake.
  4. Then after an hour, pour the remaining glaze over the cake and serve.

I skipped the final step because I was baking late at night and that was a mistake. Much of the glaze pooled on the cake plate since I poured it all on the warm cake. I’ll have to start earlier next time. The delicious glaze needs to be on the cake, not on the plate!

I know I’ll bake this cake again next year during blueberry season!

Click here to see the Lemon-Blueberry Bundt Cake recipe I used on my recipes.