cake doctor or pantry raid, part dos?

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When it is cold and grey-skied and refuses to snow, I decide to bake!

Why not, you know.

Hubs was gone all day judging brass players in a music district competition, and both sets of my plans cancelled due to illness and unexpected babysitting, so it was, of course, a much better plan to bake than, say, tidy up the house, you know.

But what to make?

I didn’t want to make even MORE of a mess, and I didn’t feel like making something overly-holidayish, since I am recovering from the holiday diet (read:  cookies, sweets, and cheesey baked appetizers).

In the afternoons this week, I went  to my favorite pastime, reading cookbooks.  My mom found an ancient cookbook of my grandmother’s—well, it’s not really ancient, but it’s from the early seventies–and this adorable little fundraiser cookbook contained a recipe for a cake I’d never heard of before, but hubs claimed to have eaten once (in Minnesota, in fact) and loved:  pistachio cake.

I wasn’t sold right away on this–I’ve been wanting to make an upside-down cake–but alas, I discovered this morning that I had all of the ingredients for the pistachio cake right in my pantry and/or freezer, and well, if it can save me time, a grocery trip, and a few dollars, I’m in.   I mean, I am in it to win it!

Currently I am inhaling the baking scent of this cake, and it is altogether marvelous.  I chose correctly.

(and to be quite honest)–why couldn’t this become a new sort of holiday tradition?  It’s a lovely shade of green–(I suppose it could fit for spring:  St. Patty’s Day, Easter, Earthday) and I daresay that at Christmas, nobody else will come trotting up your doorstep with a pistachio cake in hand.  Your tastebuds will welcome a change in the constant flavor of cranberries, chocolate, coconut, and butter that surrounds the palate come dessert-time.

Ooh! And the most exciting part of this whole Saturday adventure was that I finally broke in my Kitchen-Aid mixer, the one I registered for, longed for, and received upon our July nuptials! Yes!!!!   Here she is, folks:

And now presenting:

PISTACHIO DOUBLE CAKE

1–Break open a box of yellow cake mix (white works, too, if that’s what you have).  Pour it into a a large mixing bowl, and add 1 4 oz. box of pistachio pudding mix. (I know, the intense labor of it all….)

2–Add to this 3 eggs, 1 cup of water, and 1/2 cup of vegetable or canola oil.

3–Also add in 1/2 tsp. of almond extract.  You can leave the vanilla alone; it’s the nutty flavor we want to enhance today!

4–If you wanna, you can also add about 1/2 cup nuts, crushed. Obviously, pistachios would be ideal, but I didn’t have pistachios, so I used almonds instead.  Yep. Leftover from my granola and trail-mix escapades.  I took what I had in leftover slivered almonds, and crushed them with a meat mallet.

NOTE:  Crushing up the nuts with a hammer or meat mallet is a great way to release stress, tension, aggravation, anger, and basically any other pent-up emotion you need to release in a semi-healthy manner.

 

5–Now, turn on your mixer (electric or hand-held) and mix for about 2 minutes on medium speed.

6–Pour into 2 9-inch round cake pans (that you have greased/Pammed and floured, of course) and bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes.

NOTE:  I baked mine for exactly 32 and they were perfecto!

 

Let these suckers cool and then frost them with the following:  1 small tub of Cool Whip that you have mixed with 1 small box pistachio pudding mix–beat for several minutes, until thick, peaked, and well, frosting-like.   I was tempted to throw in confectioner’s sugar, but since this was the first time to ever try this recipe, I played it safe.

Now, I may not be a good froster/cake decorator (if you have any handy tips, comment and post!)…but!

This is a fantastic cake that is slightly sweet and VERY moist, but you wont’ get sick on it,  need to see the dentist, or refuse another slice.

In fact, you may even have room left over for all the fudges, cookies, and “typical” holiday treats 🙂

 

Enjoy!

Apple Valley Harvest mmm mmm GOODNESS!

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Each year in Bedford County, Virginia, on the third Saturday of October, folks from all around come to Gross’ Orchard for the Apple Valley Harvest Festival.  I love this little festival–which is growing bigger by the bushel.  From the orchard view one looks upon the  rocks at the top of Sharp Top Mountain while sampling cider, local crafts, bluegrass, pulled barbeque, and alpaca petting.

One of my best friends, the hubs, and I ventured up the mountain for some down-home fall-welcoming.   After hubs decided we needed an entire bushel–if not two–of apples, I knew I would have to make something with all these fall fruits!

The following is a recipe I found in a tiny little spiral-bound cookbook purchased from the orchard store several years ago, Grandma’s Best Apple Recipes. I have adapted it from the original (leaving out walnuts and adding milk, and mixing up my brown sugars for the frosting since I couldn’t decide between light and dark).

**I used Rome and Fuji apples for this, but you can certainly use whatever apple you are most contented with for baking.  We picked Romes, Fuji, Jonagold, and Yorks today.**

PS:  The icing is so good it almost didn’t make it to the cake. Enjoy!

FRESH APPLE CAKE

1–Heat your oven to 350.

2.  Stir together in a large bowl  3 cups a-p flour, 2 cups sugar, 1 tsp. baking soda, 1 tsp. salt, 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon.

3–In a smaller mixing bowl, combine 3 eggs, 1 cup vegetable oil, 2 tsp. vanilla. Beat together (I used just a plain-old-fashioned rotary beater for this job.)  Form a well in the dry ingredients and pour this sucker into that well, and beat it with a wooden spoon.

**NOTE** The batter will be very, very thick, almost to the point of not being able to beat it without giving those jiggly triceps a right fair workout.  Should this scenario arise in your kitchen, I suggest adding a tiny stream of skim milk–tiny amount, just enough so that you can loosen your grip a tad.

4–Add 3 cups of apples, peeled and chopped. Mix in–again, this batter will be THICK.

5–Pour into ungreased 9-13 pan, bake for 45 minutes, and open up your window and set your apple cake near it so all your neighbors will inhale cinnamon appley goodness in the air.

And let us NOT FORGET ABOUT THE FROSTING!!!!!

CARAMEL FROSTING

1–In a saucepan, mix together 1/4 cup light brown sugar and 1/4 dark brown sugar along with 1/3 cup evaporated milk and 1/2 stick of butter. Bring to a boil and boil for 2 minutes, stirring the whole time.

2–Remove from heat and add 1 tsp. vanilla and beat in 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar.

 (What to do with the rest of the can of evaporated milke: store the rest of the can in the fridge since you know you’ll be making this again this week)

 

Enjoy!
Come back tomorrow to see what we ate BEFORE dessert tonight, a dinner that is both kid-friendly and “nice enough to serve for company,” as Betty Crocker might say.

 

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