Thursday, February 26, 2009

Basic Yellow Cake

aka: Basic Yellow Cake masquerading as a French Vanilla Cake.

You may be wondering why in the world I gave this cake an "alternate" title. You see, I was commissioned to bake 3 separate three-layer cakes for an upcoming surprise party. Luckily the decorating was left to someone slightly more skilled than myself (ok...ALOT more skilled. Oh, but just so you know I really hope to take a couple cake decorating classes through Wilton one of these days. So fun, no?) Anyways, one of the cakes requested was a French Vanilla. Easy enough, right? Wrong! I was certain I had at least one recipe in my collection and when I found the opposite to be true I searched my trusty internet for another option. But even the world wide web failed me! I found only 1 French Vanilla recipe and I didn't feel like using 6 eggs in ONE cake so I passed. Most of the recipe options were "take this Duncan Hines cake mix and add to it....blah blah blah." How lame-o is that!? Even the Wilton website didn't have a French Vanilla Recipe. So....I opted for the following and it has turned out beautifully:

Wilton's Basic Yellow Cake.

3 cups sifted cake flour (all purpose seemed to work fine for me)

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoons salt

1 3/4 cups sugar

2/3 cup butter or margarine, softened

2 eggs

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

1 1/4 cups milk

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease bottom of two 8-inch round cake pans and line with waxed paper or parchment paper. (I greased pans with shortening and sifted flour on top.) Sift together flour, baking powder and salt (I "sift" by combining ingredients and stirring with a wire wisk); set aside. Cream sugar and butter together until light. Add eggs and vanilla to creamed mixture and beat until thoroughly mixed. Add flour mixture to creamed mixture alternately with milk, beating well after each addition. Continue beating one minute. Spread batter evenly in prepared pans. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool layers in pans on wire racks 10 minutes. Remove from pans; cool completely. Fill and frost as desired. Cake serves 12.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Cinnamon Swirl Bread

Tonight, I decided I should bake a sweet treat to be able to send in Kevin's lunch for the week. He requested a sweet bread and I found this recipe from Mrs. Silvieus (once again) and it came out beautifully.

Cream together:
1/4 C. softened margarine
1 C. sugar

2 beaten eggs
1 C. sour milk (using 2 tsp. white vinegar; I used apple cider vinegar and it seemed to work fine.)
1 tsp. baking powder
2 C. flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. vanilla

Pour 1/2 of the batter into greased loaf pan. Sprinkle a mixture of 3 Tbsp. brown sugar and 1 Tbsp. cinnamon over that half of the batter. Add remaining batter. Use a knife to swirl the cinnamon/sugar mixture into the batter. Sprinkle 1Tbsp. brown sugar over top. (I omitted this step).

Bake @ 350 for 1 hour or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely on wire rack. (Recipe may be doubled.)

Monday, February 16, 2009

Roasted Potato Wedges

We have this form of potato almost weekly.  It's very simple and super tasty.  They're really good as an accompaniment to burgers.  

2 medium/large potatoes, washed and cut into wedges. (First cut the potato in half lengthwise.  Turn potatoes cut sides down, and cut each half lengthwise into 4 wedges.)

Place wedges into a bowl.
Drizzle approx. 1-2 Tbsp. of olive oil.
Toss with desired spices.  
Salt and pepper for basic flavoring.
Paprika, garlic power, and Italian seasoning for a mild Italian flair.
Grill seasoning and paprika for a good "bite." (at least if your grill mix is spicy)
Chili powder, garlic, and cumin makes for a good spicy combo.  
I try something different every time, and haven't been disappointed yet.  

The "real" recipe calls for:
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. paprkia
1/4 tsp. ground mustard
1/4 tsp. garlic powder 

Bake at 400-425 for 20-25 minutes, turning once.  (bake more or less depending on your desire for "crispiness") 

Friday, February 13, 2009

[The Perfect] Chocolate Chip Cookie

I have tried out a variety of recipes for this timeless cookie. (It amazes me how many alternatives there are.) Well, I believe I have finally decided what the absolute BEST ever chocolate chip cookie recipe is. I have used this recipe twice in the last week alone! (For bake sale orders not just my stomach! =D) (Note as of 10/09: Kevin insists that I never make any other chocolate chip cookie. These are his favorites. Also, I have gotten rave reviews from everyone at church who buys these at the weekly bake sale. One person says I should start a cookie company. :D)

Now that I have your tastebuds perked up, I thought I'd go ahead and share the secret. (You must credit this recipe to a woman named Marcia--the wife of one of my dad's coworkers--who became famous for these cookies.) Be sure to keep to the recipe. Do not make substitutions for the shortening and margarine. The beauty and perfection of this cookie is a result of this combination.


2/3 C softened margarine

2/3 C Crisco shortening

1 C sugar

1 C brown sugar

2 eggs

1-2 tsp vanilla (I added 2 tsp.)

3 C flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp salt

12 oz. chocolate chips


Cream together margarine, shortening, sugar, and brown sugar. Add in eggs, one at a time. Add in vanilla. Mix until smooth and creamy. In a large separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt. Mix into creamed ingredients in 3 additions. Stir in chocolate chips.

Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes (Do NOT overbake. They will not look done in the oven.)

Yields: 4 dozen (using a 1 1/2 Tbsp scoop)

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Irresistible Peanut Butter Cookies

Yesterday it occured to me that I hadn't made peanut butter cookies in who knows who long.  That needed to be righted.  (Also, I figured I could freeze them and add them to my "sell at the church rummage sale" pile.)  This new recipe turned out perfectly for me.  Enjoy!  

Recipe courtesy of Pillsbury & Crisco.

3/4 cup Jif Creamy Peanut Butter (I used reduced fat...just to feel a little better about it :D)
1/2 stick Crisco Butter Flavor Shortening Sticks 
or 1/2 cup Crisco Shortening
1 1/4 cups firmly packed brown sugar
3 Tbsp. milk
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt

Heat oven to 375.  Combine peanut butter, shortening, brown sugar, milk, and vanilla in large bowl.  Beat at medium speed of electric mixer until well blended.  Add egg.  Beat just until blended.  Combine flour, baking soda, and salt.  Add a little at a time to creamed mixture at low speed.  Mix just until blended.  Drop by rounded measuring tablespoonfuls of dough 2 inches apart onto greased baking sheet.  (I did not grease the baking sheet as mine is non-stick.  Also, I rolled the dough into 1" balls.)  Flatten slightly in a crisscross pattern with tines of fork.  Bake one baking sheet at a time for 7 to 8 minutes or untl set and just beginning to brown.  Cool completely on cooling racks.  

Makes 3 dozen cookies (I got just under 4 dozen.)

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Fabulous Sugar Cookies & Buttercream Frosting

Taken from another recipe blogger:

In case you saw the post on my other blog where I wrote about Valentine's Cookies this is the recipe you're looking for. I have tried multiple sugar cookie recipes and have had trouble finding the perfect one where the cookie turns out both tasty and soft. Mine were either one or the other. This recipe seems to work well. I would recommend keeping the dough rolled out fairly thick (almost 1/4 inch) for maximum softness. The thinner they are the crispier they are. Also I did have two of the ingredients on hand so I did without the lemon zest and the almond extract (knowing that these are not essential to the baking process.) To supplement the extra flavor of the almond extract I added a second teaspoon of vanilla.


1 1/2 c. butter

1 1/2 c. granulated sugar

1/2 c. powdered sugar

4 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp almond extract

1 Tbsp lemon zest

5 c. flour

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

Powdered sugar, for rolling (I used flour)


-Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

-Cream butter and sugars in a mixer for 5 minutes.

-Add eggs one at a time, mixing thoroughly.

-Add vanilla, almond, and lemon zest.

-Sift in flour, baking powder, and salt a little at a time.

-Do not over mix, this process should take about one minute.

-Chill dough for up to a week in the fridge, or roll out and cut right away.

-Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper (not necessary) and bake cookies for 7-8 minutes.

-Wait until cookies are cooled before icing.

The Hyperhomemaker found that this recipe made 30-32 big, thick cookies. The original recipe says 80, so I think it's just the size and thickness of the cookie.

As for decorating the cookies I found a Buttercream frosting recipe in the Betty Crocker Cookbook. Very fast, very easy. If it gets dry, just add a drop or two of milk and stir until you reach the desired consistency.

To pipe the cookies decoratively, you can spoon the frosting into a sturdy ziploc bag and snip off a tiny corner of the bag.

Buttercream frosting


3 cups powdered sugar

1/3 cup butter or margarine, softened

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

1 to 2 Tablespoons of milk

1. In medium bowl, mix powdered sugar adn butter with spoon or electric mixer (definitely opt for the mixer) on low speed. Stir in vanilla and 1 Tbsp. of the milk.

2. Gradually beat in just enough remaining milk to make frosting smooth and spreadable. If frosting is too thick add more milk. If too thin beat in more powdered sugar.

note: I found I needed a second batch of this frosting to cover all the sugar cookies.