White Cake with Raspberries

Hello all– Sunday night was the best.  A few friends gathered to wish Jenon well on her new retirement!  We were like the fairy godmothers in the “Sleeping Beauty” movie, giving her the best wishes and blessings around the table for all that is ahead.  She is the dearest.

People helped bringing in parts of our meal and we ended with cake (of course!).  This sweet simple cake with summer raspberries.  I think you’d like it if you have a celebration around your house.

WHITE CAKE WITH RASPBERRIES

Cake:
1 white cake mix
3 eggs
1/3 cup canola oil
water
1  1/2 cup raspberries, cut in half

Frosting:
8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), room temperature
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 pound box powdered sugar (about 3 3/4 cups)
1 tab. milk (optional)

Garnish:
1/3 cup raspberries
camomile flowers*
lemon geranium leaves*

Make the cake according to the directions on the box (mine used 1/3 cup oil, 3 eggs and 1 1/4 cup water).  Stir in the cut raspberries and spoon the batter into three 9″ cake pans that have been sprayed with cooking spray.

Bake about 25 minute at 350 degrees until the cake is lightly browned and firm to the touch.  Let it cool completely before piling on the frosting!

To make the frosting use an electric mixer to beat together the cream cheese, butter, vanilla and powdered sugar.  (If your frosting seems too thick add a tablespoon of milk.)  Start the mixer slowly so the powdered sugar doesn’t fly out of the bowl!

Frost the cake layer by layer and garnish with berries, flowers and leaves.  Pretty!

*You can use any non-toxic greenery with your berries– this is just what we have in the yard.  We call the little flowers “Aunt Blanche daisies” because the we all have gotten seeds of these from Aunt Blanch years and years ago and they just sprout up unheeded all over the yard.

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Rosemary Lemon Cake

Hello there–  Love this quirky little cake.  To start with, I pretty much adore anything topped with lemony cream cheese frosting.  Add a tender cake with a whisper of rosemary and hints of lemon peel and it’s pretty luscious.

ROSEMARY LEMON CAKE

Cake:
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
2 tab. lemon juice*
2 tsp. grated lemon peel
2 eggs
1/2 cup butter milk**
1 cup + 2 tab. flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tab. rosemary, chopped very fine

Frosting:
4 oz. cream cheese
1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick)
2 cups powdered sugar
1 tab. lemon juice
2 tsp. lemon peel, grated
garnish: lemon slice, rosemary sprig

To make the cake, beat together the 1/2 cup butter, sugar, lemon juice and lemon peel with an electric mixer until they are all creamed together.  Then beat in the eggs and buttermilk.  Finally beat in the flour, baking powder, salt and rosemary.  Continue to beat the batter with the mixer for 2 minutes.

Scoop all the batter into a 9″ cake pan than has been sprayed with cooking spray.  Bake it at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes until the cake is firm to the touch.   Let the cake cook completely before you frost it.

To make the frosting, use the electric mixer to beat together the cream cheese, 1/4 cup butter, powdered sugar, lemon juice and lemon peel.  When it is thoroughly blended and creamy, frost the cooled cake.  Garnish with a twist of lemon and a sprig of rosemary.  So pretty!

*I used 1 large juicy lemon and got enough juice and grated peel for the cake and frosting.
**In place of buttermilk, pour a tablespoon of vinegar into the measuring cup and fill it to make 1/2 cup.

Simple Snacking Pumpkin Cake

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Hello all– Pumpkin pie, it’s OK. I can kind of take it or leave it.  I’d really prefer my pumpkin baked into a batch of muffins or a cake– this little cake especially.  It’s surprisingly moist and tender– and slathered with cream cheese frosting and a dusting of cinnamon– it’s festive enough for your Thanksgiving supper.

But the nice thing about this simple cake it that it’s so quick & easy– at a time when your culinary energies need to go into basting a turkey or whisking gravy.  You might just love it to round out your Thanksgiving meal…

SIMPLE SNACKING PUMPKIN CAKE
Cake:
2 eggs
1 cup pumpkin
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon

Frosting:
4 oz. cream cheese (1/2 bock)
4 tab. butter (1/2 stick)
2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 tab. milk
cinnamon to sprinkle on top (optional)

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With an electric mixer, beat together the eggs, pumpkin, sugar and oil.  Then add in the flour, salt, baking powder and cinnamon.

Spoon the batter into a 9″ square or round cake pan* that has been sprayed with cooking spray.  Bake it up at 350 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes, until the cake springs back when touched.  Let the cake cool completely before adding the frosting.

To make the frosting, beat together the cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar, vanilla and milk with an electric mixer until it’s creamy and smooth.  Spread on the cooled cake– and if you wish dust the top with a little cinnamon.  Simple. Done.

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Everyday Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Cake

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Hello Fall Friends– I wish I could say it was nippy 65 degrees today– but walking this morning at 7:00 was a hot one!  And it’s predicted to be up around 100 degrees by this afternoon!  But what the heck, the calendar says it’s fall and I’m not waiting any longer for pumpkin desserts to set in.

I love this little everyday cake.  Not fancy.  You can put it together and into the oven in about 7 minutes!  It you really want to make it simple, just dust the top with powdered sugar when you’re ready to eat it and you’re done.  But I think cream cheese frosting makes it pretty irresistible.  I’ll try that next time…

EVERYDAY CHOCOLATE CHIP PUMPKIN CAKE

Cake:
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup canola oil
2 eggs
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice (or cinnamon)
3/4 cup mini chocolate chips*
garnish:  powdered sugar, whipped cream**

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In a mixing bowl, stir together the sugar, oil, eggs, pumpkin and vanilla.  Then mix in the flour, baking powder, salt and pumpkin pie spice.  Finally fold in the chocolate chips.

Scoop the batter into a 8″ or 9″ cake pan*** that has been sprayed with cooking spray.  Bake the cake at 350 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes until a small knife stuck in the cake comes out clean.

After the cake cools, dust it with powdered sugar through a sieve.  Just a friendly easy little cake to share with friends.

*Use mini chips instead of normal chocolate chips, so that they won’t sink to the bottom of the cake.
**Use 8 oz. whipping cream alone with 1 tsp. powdered sugar and 1 tsp. instant vanilla pudding mix (to stabilize the cream)– whipped together with and electric mixer.
*** I like to use a a springform pan so it’s easy to remove the cake to a plate for serving.img_1810

Almond Carrot Cake

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Hello there– Here’s my problem.  I made 2 of these carrot cakes for the group of fun young adults who show up at our house on Thursday nights.  But they left too much behind.  So this morning I had a carrot cake breakfast and have been nibbling on leftovers all day. Aren’t carrots healthy???

But I do love this version of carrot cake topped with super crunchy almonds and amaretto laced cream cheese frosting.  I think you’d love it too, but not for breakfast!

ALMOND CARROT CAKE

Cake:
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
3 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup canola oil
4 eggs
2 tsp. amaretto*
3 cups grated carrot (about 6 carrots)

Frosting:
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature
8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
1 pound box powdered sugar (about 3 3/4 cup)
2 tsp. amaretto
1 to 2 tab. milk or cream

Almonds on top:
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup sliced almonds

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Peel the carrots removing the top & bottom tips.  Grate them to get about 3 cups.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.  Then mix in the oil, eggs and amaretto.  Finally fold in the grated carrot.  The batter will be heavy!

Spoon the batter into two 9″ inch cake pans that have been sprayed with cooking spray.  And pop them into a 350 degree over for 30 to 35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean and the cake is golden and beautiful.  Let the cake cool completely before you put on the frosting.

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To make the frosting, mix the butter and cream cheese with an electric mixer until they are all blended.  then beat in the powdered sugar and amaretto.  If the batter seems too stiff, add a tablespoon of milk or two.  Be careful, too much milk will make soupy frosting!!

To make the candied almonds, put the 1/2 cup sugar and the almonds into a nonstick skillet.  Turn the heat to medium and stir continuously with a wooden spoon until the sugar melts and turns to a a lovely caramel color.  Keep stirring until all the almonds are coated.  Then turn them out onto a piece of foil to cool.

You can layer the two cakes with the frosting for a tall two-layer cake, but I just made 2 one layer cakes because sometimes people just want a little piece of cake.  Top with the sugared almonds.  Beautiful.

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Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

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Hello– My grandma Rose was a farm girl, one of 11 children, whose parents immigrated from Switzerland.  When I was small, she lived in a tiny house, surrounded by tree roses, flower beds, grape arbors, corn stalks, rhubarb, and a variety of fruit trees.  And chickens.  It was a treat to help Grandma feed the chickens– not to mention her Sunday chicken dinners.

And our Grandma was famous for her apple pies and banana bread–  So here is her banana bread recipe changed a bit into banana cake with the welcome addition of cream cheese frosting.  Thank you Grandma Rose.

BANANA CAKE WITH CREAM CHEESE FROSTING

Cake:
2 very ripe bananas
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup canola oil
1  1/4 cup flour
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped*

Cream Cheese Frosting:
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, room temperature
4 oz. cream cheese (1/2 block)
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 box powdered sugar (2 cups)
1-2 tab. milk

Candied Walnuts (garnish):
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

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Smash the the bananas in a large in a large mixing bowl.  Then stir in the sugar, eggs and oil.  Next mix in the flour, baking powder, salt and walnuts.

Spoon the batter into a 9″ or 10″ cake pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray.  Bake it up in at 350 degree oven for 30-40 minutes until the cake is browned and a small knife inserted comes out clean.

Let the cake cool before you frost it.

To make the frosting, use an electric mixer to beat together the butter, cream cheese and vanilla.  Then beat in the powdered sugar.  If the frosting seems too thick, add 1 tablespoon milk.  Beat it up and if still a little dry, add the 2nd tablespoon of milk. Beat again.

To candy the walnuts, drop the 1/4 cup sugar and 1/2 cup chopped walnuts into a heavy skillet.  Cook over medium heat until the sugar melts, turns to a a golden caramel and coats the nuts.  Stir it the whole time so the sugar will not burn.  Turn the nuts out onto a piece of  foil on your counter.  Let them cool completely (just a couple minutes).

Now– spread the frosting on the cake, arrange the nuts on top.  It’s ready to serve.

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Christmas Cake

IMG_2502Hi all– this really isn’t much of a recipe– more just an idea for making a cake mix into a cake fit for Christmas–with the help of some mini chocolate chips and a little peppermint extract.  We had a friends Christmas potluck dinner on Monday so with one cake mix I took these two cakes along.  Easy and celebratory enough for a party.

CHRISTMAS CAKE
1 chocolate fudge cake mix
3 eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
water
1 cup mini chocolate chips
1 tsp. peppermint extract

Frosting:
8 oz. cream cheese
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1 box powdered sugar (about 3 3/4 cups)
1 tsp. vanilla
2 tab. whole milk (or half & half)
garnish:  12 mini candy canes, pounded to bits.

IMG_2506Mix up the cake mix according to the directions on the package.  (my box called for 1/3 cup oil, 3 eggs and 1 cup water).

Then fold in the mini chocolate chips and the peppermint extract. Spoon the batter into 2 8″ cake pans that have been sprayed with cooking spray.  And pop them in the oven at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes.

When the cakes are cooled, make the frosting– With an electric mixer beat together the cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar, vanilla and milk until it is smooth and creamy.

Normally I use the frosting to cover a 2 layer cake– but this time for our potluck I wanted 2 smallish cakes.  Who needs a huge dessert after all that yummy potluck food?.

Just spread on the frosting, and sprinkle the crushed candy canes on top.

This could scarcely be easier!!  Hope you have a MERRY CHRISTMAS!!

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Here’s the Monday night friends– just love these gals, every one! We’ve been meeting together for almost 20 years, through thick and thin, we know each other so well…  xo

 

Chocolate Carrot Cake

DSC01213Hey there– Last week we had a baby shower for new little Sebastian.  His dear mom is the nurse at school and we’re all so glad he’s here.  Another teacher and I were charged with gathering money and buying the gifts– Now that was fun!  –All those sweet little baby things (it’s fun spending someone else’s money!).  And Sebastian couldn’t be cuter.

And cakes. My job was to make cakes.  Here’s one that landed on the party table– carrot cake with a dose of chocolate, all that cream cheese frosting and candied almonds.  It was pretty delish, really.

CHOCOLATE CARROT CAKE

Cake:
3 carrots (grated about 1 1/2 cup)
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup canola oil
2 eggs
1 cup flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
2 tsp. cinnamon

Frosting:
1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick)
4 oz. cream cheese (1/2 cube)
1 tsp. vanilla
1 pound box powdered sugar (about 3 3/4 cups)

Almonds:
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup sliced almonds
DSC01148In a large mixing bowl, stir together the grated carrots, sugar, cocoa powder, oil and eggs.  Then mix in the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.

Spoon the thick batter into a 9″ cake pan (or springform pan*) and bake it up at 350 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes until a sharp knife stuck in comes out clean.

When the cake is cooled make the frosting.  With an electric mixer, beat together the butter, cream cheese and vanilla.  Then beat in the powdered sugar until it’s smooth and creamy.  If it seems a bit dry, add just a tsp of water– careful it’s so easy to make it gooey with too much water!

To make the candied almonds, put the sugar and almonds in a skillet.  Stir on medium heat until the sugar melts and caramelizes to a golden color.  Don’t stop. Keep stirring. It will take a few minutes.  When the almonds are coated with the melted sugar, scrape them onto a piece of foil on the counter (be careful that sugar is hot!) to cool and harden– just takes a minute.

Then spread the frosting over the cake and top it with the sweet almonds.

*I like to use a springform pan so that’s it’s easy to remove the cake from the pan–prettier to serve.

P.S.  This is a one layer cake.  Just double everything (except the sprinkle of almonds to make a standard 2 layer cake.

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Carrot Cake Bars

IMG_6932Hey there–  Carrot cake has been around for a long time.  I wonder whoever thought to dump cups of shredded carrot into cake batter.  It doesn’t seem quite like a rational thing to do– but lucky for us, the results were pretty amazing!   And then, of course, there’s the matter of the genius who decided to add on the cream cheese frosting.  So thanks to the inventive cook who first pulled a carrot cake from the oven… We are indebted.

CARROT CAKE BARS
1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup canola oil
1  1/2 cups grated carrots (about 3)
2 eggs

Stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.  The mix in the oil, carrots and eggs.  Scrape the batter into a 10″x7″ baking dish that has been sprayed with cooking spray.

Bake it up at 350 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes, until the cake is firm to the touch.

IMG_6923FROSTING:
8 oz. cream cheese
1 stick butter (1/4 pound)
1 pound powdered sugar (1 box)
2 tsp. vanilla

With an electric mixer beat together all 4 ingredients until they are thoroughly blended.  Spread on to the cooled cake.

CANDIED PECANS:
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup chopped pecans

Stir the pecans and sugar together in a non-stick skillet over medium heat until the sugar melts and turns caramel color.  When the nuts are all coated with the melted sugar, spoon them out on to a piece of foil and let them cool before you touch those hot things!!   When they are cooled, sprinkle them on the cake.

Triple Chocolate Cake

IMG_3613Hello all– My mom turned 82 last week.  You’d never know to watch her run around town.  She has a knack for taking care of people, for knowing how to really help and getting things done.  Amazing lady…   So we had a little family birthday dinner for that mom of ours.  And, of course we finished it off with cake, a great big birthday kind of cake.  Here it is:

TRIPLE CHOCOLATE CAKE
1 dark chocolate cake mix
3 eggs
canola oil
1 cup mini chocolate chips
8 oz. cream cheese
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1 tsp. vanilla
1 pound box powdered sugar
1/2 cup cream
2 tab. butter
1 1/3 cup chocolate chips (8 oz.)

Make the cake according to the directions on the box using the eggs and oil.  Bake it in two round cake pans.

When the cakes are cooled, mix up the cream cheese, butter, vanilla and powdered sugar with an electric mixer.  When it’s smooth and silky, spread it between the two layers and cover the cake with frosting.

Then in a saucepan, bring the cream and 2 tab. butter to a simmer.  Take it off the heat and mix in the chocolate chips until they all melt.  Continue beating with a spoon for 2 or 3 minutes until the chocolate is smooth and shiny.  Let it cool to room temperature and drizzle it over the cake.

And if it’s a birthday, don’t forget the sprinkles and candles!  Happy Birthday Mom!!

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photos:  Party supplies waiting on the hutch for the birthday bash…   Mom ready to blow out her birthday candles with my brothers, Mark & Brad and me. ..  Ice cream and cake–birthday on a plate!

Simple Strawberry Cake

IMG_9223Hey there–  Finally, real strawberries are in town.  If you live in southern California, there are “strawberry shacks” in most cities, with berries right from the fields.  So baking up cakes for Michelle’s  baby shower, strawberry cake was on the list!  It’s so easy, using a cake mix and basic cream cheese frosting, with a carton of fresh strawberries thrown in.

SIMPLE STRAWBERRY CAKE

Cake:
1 strawberry cake mix
3 eggs.
1/2 cup oil
water
1/2  cup strawberries, chopped to bits

Frosting:
8 oz. cream cheese
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1 tsp. vanilla
1 pound box powdered sugar
1 cup strawberries, chopped
whole strawberries to top the cake

Make the cake according to the directions on the box, stirring in the strawberries at the end.  Bake in pans sprayed with cooking spray at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes until the cake is firm to the touch.  Let it cool completely before frosting it.

With the electric mixer, beat the cream cheese, butter, vanilla and powdered sugar.  When they are all blended beat in the strawberry bits (this will turn the frosting a pale pink).  Frost the cake and top with more whole strawberries and (non-toxic) leaves from your garden.

Pretty and pink– just right for a baby shower!

P.S. We have lemon geranium growing in the side yard with these nice ruffly leaves that work great with food and are perfect with just about any cut flowers for the table.

Chocolate Pumpkin Cupcakes

Hi there pumpkin loving friends– It’s that time of year that we can’t resist, pumpkin-izing everything!  Even cupcakes.  So when the college kids from church came over to eat last week, I made up a couple batches of these and they seemed to like them pretty darn well.  School party?  Snacks at work?  Treats for Trick or Treaters?  These could be just right.

PUMPKIN CUPCAKES
1 yellow cake mix
3 eggs
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup canola oil
1 cup pumpkin
2 tsp. cinnamon
2/3 cup mini chocolate chips

With a mixer, blend up all the ingredients, beating for 2 minutes on medium speed.  Then spoon it into cupcake liners– about 22 cupcakes.  Bake for 15 to 18 minutes at 350 degrees.

CHOCOLATE CREAMA CHEESE FROSTING
1 stick butter
1/3 cup Hershey’s Dark Cocoa powder
8 oz. cream cheese
1 tsp. vanilla
1 pound box of powdered sugar

Set out the cream cheese to come to room temperature.  Put the butter in a bowl and melt it in the microwave.  Mix in the cocoa and then beat in the cream cheese, vanilla and powdered sugar with an electric mixer until it’s smooth and ready to spread on your cupcakes.

This frosting recipe makes enough for a 2 layer cake.  You might have some extra when you use it for cupcakes.  But leftovers save nicely in the fridge for several days…