Friday, August 26, 2011

White Almond Layer Cake

Last weekend was my Dad's 66th birthday, so we planned a nice barbecue for him.  Unfortunately, they were unable to come at the last minute due to illness.  Dessert was this almond layer cake with almond custard filling and cocoa frosting.  

For years I have boycotted store-bought box cake mixes but this cake was probably one of the best 'white' cakes I have made.  The texture was a fine crumb and very light.  It was moist and soft.  The almond flavoring in the cake was not overpowering.  I think the addition of the sour cream is what actually did it for this cake.  It made enough for a three layer cake.

White Almond Layer Cake

1  18 ounce package white cake mix
1  cup all-purpose flour
1  cup sugar
1 1/3  cups water
1  cup sour cream
2  tablespoons vegetable oil
2  teaspoon almond extract
4  egg whites

1.  Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Grease and flour cake pans.

2.  Stir together the white cake mix, flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl until well mixed.  Pour in the water, sour cream, vegetable oil, almond extract, and egg whites, and beat with an electric mixer on low until all ingredients are mixed and moistened but some lumps still remain, 4 minutes.

3.  Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan, and bake in preheated oven until the top is a light golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, about 20-25 minutes.  Allow to cool completely before filling and frosting.

4.  Divide filling in half.  Spread half of the filling on the flat side of the first layer.  Add second layer, flat side up and spread remaining half of filling.  Add third layer.  Place 3 wooden skewers through each of the layers to secure.  Refrigerate until firm.

5.  Remove cake from refrigerator and frost sides and top.

Almond Filling
1/2 cup white sugar
3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups milk
4 eggs
4 tablespoons amaretto liqueur

1.  Combine sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a saucepan.  
2.  in a separate bowl beat eggs and mix together with milk.  Stir into dry mixture.
3.  Cook over medium heat, stirring CONSTANTLY, until thick and bubbling.
4.  Once it bubbles, cook 2 minutes more.  STIR IT or it will lump up.
5.  Remove from heat and add liqueur.  Cover with plastic wrap and allow to chill completely before using.

Cooked Cocoa Frosting

Cook together:
1 cup milk
1/2 cup flour

Stir over medium low heat until smooth and thick.  Cool completely before proceeding to the next step.

Then add:
1/2 pound butter; softened
1/2 pound shortening ( ½ cup)
1 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons dutch-process cocoa

Mix on high speed with mixer until light and fluffy.  Chill until firm and spreadable.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Lemon Zucchini Muffins

That time of the summer is here.  When your crops from the garden are starting to produce. 

I can remember when I was a child, my parents having a pretty good-sized garden for a city lot in the south suburbs of Illinois.  Each summer I would have the job of picking these great vegetables.  We always had zucchini in two sizes.  The first was about 10-12-inches long and 2-inches in diameter.  Those were for frying, cooking and salads.  The second type were the 'baseball bats.'  I can remember they were the length of my forearm and about 4 to 5-inches in diameter.  These were always used for baking.  Mom would make dozens of loaves of delicious zucchini bread and freeze them so we would have it all year long.

This past week, I checked the zucchini plant and found that I had several ready for picking.  I am a huge fan of zucchini bread or muffins and look forward to them each year.  I found this recipe online and thought the combination of the lemon and zucchini would be a good combination.  I was right.  These were light and quite tasty.

Lemon Zucchini Muffins

1 ½ cups shredded zucchini
1/4 cup white sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons lemon zest

3 tablespoons uncooked oats
2 tablespoons sugar

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Grease and line muffin pan.
2. In a bowl, beat together the zucchini, sugar, egg, and oil.
3. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder; stir in the cinnamon and lemon zest. Stir the flour mixture into the zucchini mixture just until blended.
3. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
4. Mix the oats and sugar together.
5. Sprinkle combined mixture on top of each muffin.
6. Bakes in the preheated oven, until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from heat, and cool about 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.