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It seems almost everything I start to write about lately is so serious, (and I have the drafts to prove it), so I decided to write instead about my latest baking experience. Or should I say (unintended) baking experiment.

Each year I volunteer at, and bake for, the annual Open House at the equine rescue I help. Last weekend I pored over recipes looking for something fabulous and Fall-ish to bake, and settled on a gorgeous cranberry-orange cake with orange glaze. I usually bake a Bundt cake of some kind, and then wrap individual slices for them to sell at the bake sale. I make a sign that says “From Scratch” and “All Butter” and between the two, my cake goes pretty quickly. I’d thought about making something vegan, but I’m not practiced enough, so I’ll stick with what I know best, traditional baking.

Cake-Ingredients2

Well, it started with the food shopping. I’d gotten almost all the week’s groceries on my list and went to get the butter. Crap. I’d looked at so many recipes, I couldn’t remember if I was supposed to use salted or unsalted. I decided on the latter. After I’d loaded up on my own fruits and veggies, I searched for the cranberries. No fresh to be found — not organic or otherwise. Hmmmm. I headed over to the frozen section — no organic, looked for regular. Nothing. I asked the fellow in the frozen fruit section and inquired. He says, “We used to have the frozen all year `round, now they come in the same time as the fresh.”

Cake-Batter2Really? REALLY? My whole cake idea is now shot. I decided to go with blueberries, because they’ll be good with orange, but because I’d already been in the store so long, I grabbed the frozen in front of me instead of schlepping yet again to the fresh section. (And I just heard all you bakers groan.)

Saturday morning I got out all the ingredients, including those that needed to come to room temperature. Oh yeah, another recipe with frozen blueberries tells me to thaw them and drain well. So they’re in a strainer over a nice deep bowl.

Okay, now I’m starting to bake. I put Loreena on my CD player, (Mask and Mirror), and happily begin mixing my dry ingredients. I can already see the blueberries may be a problem. But what can I do? Cake-DoneInPan2I proceed with the recipe, make a little salt adjustment because it was salted butter it called for, (of course it was), and everything else goes smoothly. I try some extra gentle blotting of the blueberries before adding them, but it makes no difference. My batter is turning blue. At best, marbled blue. The great cake I had such high hopes for has officially turned into a science project.

Well, I know it will taste good, because a sampling of the batter tells me so, and into the oven it goes. I now find myself hoping that some kids at Open House will see the blue cake and think it’s real cool and beg Mom to buy it. After 50 minutes, I test with a toothpick. It says it’s OK; I don’t believe it, and put it back in for another 10 minutes. And below, when I went to turn it out, is what I got. * Sigh* Pretty depressing, eh?

Cake-TurnedOut2I feel badly as now I’ll have nothing to bring, and badly because I just wasted a lot of time and money. I must say, in all my years of baking, that never happened! Guess there’s a first time for everything.

If you’d like to make the cake I’d planned, and see a photo of what it should look like, here’s the recipe. No substitutions, please.

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Yes, there has been a bit of an absence on my part and with good reason, but irrelevant here. So that being said, why not a food moment for my return?

Each year I volunteer at Mylestone Equine Rescue’s Open House, (see previous post), and also bake for their big bake sale. This year, circumstances conspired and I was unable to do either. However, I had bought the ingredients and there they sat … exactly what I no longer eat on my path to being vegan – eggs, butter, cream cheese.

AlomondPoundCake-Batter2

Batter in a greased and floured Bundt pan always looks messy.

Had I had more time to practice, I would have baked something vegan, but as I had not, I thought it better not to foist my inexperience on an unsuspecting public. So I decided to bake the good, old-fashioned way, the way I know how. But … the weekend had passed, and the ingredients remained.

AlmondPoundCake-Done2

But quite beautiful when done!

So I decided to make the cake this past weekend, and I would just give a goodly portion to my friend who runs the rescue, a chunk for neighbors who share their cooking with me from time to time, and a very small amount for myself, (just to make sure it’s safe, of course.)

AlmonPoundCake-Frosted2

This almond pound cake with almond glaze was quite simple to make, not a long list of ingredients, nor a complex process. I probably could have added a bit more liquid to the glaze so it  fell down the sides of the cake more freely, but this will do. The end result? A pound cake with a delicate flavoring of almond and a glaze that tasted more like marzipan. Delicious!

If interested in making this Almond Pound Cake, here’s the recipe.

(And now I’ll be looking into my new cookbook, “The Joy of Vegan Baking,” and see how I can stay deliciously on track while baking.)

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No, that’s not a bundt cake, though she sure is sweet.
That’s Livy, a rescued Belgian draft horse.

Each year Mylestone Equine Rescue holds its annual Open House. As Mylestone is a private farm, this event is their big annual fundraiser and the chance for visitors to come and meet all the rescue horses, learn more about the rescue, participate in a silent auction and … buy goodies from their bake sale tent. As one of 20+ volunteers, I spend the day educating visitors, discussing the need for horse rescue, introducing the horses and their histories to people, and functioning as photographer for the day. I also bake.

Unfortunately, last Sunday, the official date, had to be postponed due to rain and cold weather, and is being held today, October 14th. And unfortunately, I had previous plans and am not able to be there. However, as always, I baked something for their bake sale.

I’ve made this chocolate chip bundt cake once before and chose it again because it is so unbelievably moist and delicious.  It’s all butter with plenty of dark brown sugar and buttermilk. What makes it extra tasty is a blend of chopped pecans, butter and sugar which are mixed together and spread in the bundt pan before the batter is spooned in. It adds a just-right, sweet crunch that complements the dark chocolate mini-morsels.

Of course, I had to taste a very small sliver before packaging individual slices just to make sure it was safe for human consumption!

All packaged up,  ready to go and be enjoyed by Open House visitors. In a world where baking from mixes seems to have become fairly common, that little sign saying the cake is all-butter and made from scratch always turns out to be a great selling point!

You can find this chocolate chip bundt cake recipe at myrecipes.com.

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For any of you out there who wished I had posted the recipe for this yummy German Plum Cake, (see earlier post), I apologize. There are just times when work is going at a crazy tilt, and I really can only post as much as I can. Sometimes, there’s no time to post at all! And remember, if you ever want a recipe, you can always post your request in Comments. (You know who you are 😉 )

That said, here is the recipe for this easy and delicious dessert.

Preheat oven to 400˚

Ingredients:

2 C. flour
2 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 C. butter
2 egg yolks
2 Tbsp. milk
Approx 10 Italian prune plums

Combine flour, sugar, salt together and work in butter, egg yolks and milk. Cover bottom and halfway up the sides of a 9″ x 9″ x 2″ pan. Mix all ingredients in the pan. Press firmly.

Arrange plum halves in parallel rows. Mix together 3/4 C. sugar and 2 Tbsp. cornstarch and sprinkle evenly over all.

Bake approx. 30 minutes or until crust is done, not too brown.

Could it be easier?

This can also be made with peach or apple slices, in which case, mix in desired amount of cinnamon with the topping sugar  for apples. (maybe for peaches, too!) Prune plums have a very short season; if you can’t find them,  regular plums would probably be good – I might try Black Friar.

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For the moment we’ll forget the irony of a German Plum Cake being made with Italian prune plums; I’m guessing it’s so because they’re perfectly delicious in it! This is one of my truly favorite recipes to make. It’s surprisingly easy, absolutely delicious, (assuming you think great baking includes butter, sugar and eggs), and always comes out fabulous. What more could one want?

Above, prepped in a flash and ready to go in the oven …

I don’t know where my mom originally got the recipe, but I’ve been making it for years. Five simple ingredients in the crust, which you mix right in the pan, fresh fruit, and two ingredients on the top. Voila! The Italian prune plums are the basic recipe, but it’s easily adapted to peaches or apples with just a bit of cinnamon added to the topping sugar.  In fact, I was planning to stop at the farmstand for peaches for my Labor Day dessert contribution – summer’s last hurrah – after grocery shopping, but while in the supermarket, thought to check on the plums.

Much to my surprise, there they were! I asked how long they’d be in stock. Two or three weeks tops the produce manager told me! Plums it is then.

Crumbly butter crust, sweet fruit and some good vanilla ice cream. Does it for me!

p.s. I have now added the recipe for this here.

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Berries are in season! So I decided to make my dessert for my friend’s and my Memorial Day get together utilizing some of nature’s bounty. I clipped a recipe for a Coconut Lime Berry Cake a while back from Martha Stewart, and this seemed the perfect time to make it.

I used three very full cups of berries, one each blueberries, blackberries and raspberries, and here it is ready to go in the oven.

It wasn’t a cake that browned very much except around the edges, but it did take a bit longer time than the recipe specified, which I checked twice with the standard toothpick in the middle test.

The cake turned out well, and was very moist. It’s all butter and includes buttermilk, so it’s hard to go wrong on that count, and the berries got soft and mushy, dropping through the batter. Although the grated lime and fresh lime juice gave it a nice tropical kind of kick, I am thinking now that I might like it even better with lemon instead of the lime. And there’s always more time to bake with berries in season.

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