Thursday, May 17, 2012

Coca-Cola Cake

Does anyone need any introduction to this?  Do you need to be told how moist, chocolate-y, and delicious it is? 

I didn't think so.

Coca-Cola Cake

2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
3 sticks butter, divided
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa power, divided

1-1/2 cups coca-cola, divided
1/2 cup buttermilk (**please see my note below in italics about buttermilk!)
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups powdered sugar
1 cup chopped pecans (optional)

Mix the first five ingredients in a heat-proof bowl.  While you're at it, go ahead and preheat your oven to 350 degrees and grease a 13" x 9" pan. (I'm sold on any recipe that has me "grease a 13 x 9 pan," if we're just telling the truth.)

In a saucepan over medium high heat stir 2 sticks butter, 1/4 cup cocoa, 1 cup coca-cola, and buttermilk together until boiling. 

**By the way, if you don't happen to have buttermilk just sitting around in your fridge (um, who does?) then you can easily do what I do:  measure out ALMOST the amount of buttermilk you need in regular milk, then top it off (a couple tablespoons - you can just eyeball it) with regular vinegar.  Let it sit for a few seconds and VOILA! You have buttermilk...or at least an equivalent.  I do this pretty much every, single time a recipe calls for buttermilk and it always turns out just fine. 

Remove saucepan from heat and slowly add to the flour mix.  Whisk until smooth and combined.  Then add eggs and vanilla extract.  Beat.

Pour batter into pan.  Bake for about 30 minutes.

While cake is baking, mix 1 stick butter, 1/4 cup cocoa, and 1/2 cup coca-cola in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Once that boils, remove and slowly stir in powdered sugar and pecans. 

When cake is done and out of oven (toothpick should come out clean), pour this
warm glaze right over the top of the hot cake!

Cake should cool a bit, but can be served warm or room temperature. 

Prepare for the oooohs and ahhhhhhs as your guests or family delight in this.  This is super to take to family picnics/reunions/etc. 

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Strawberry Custard Pie

Curt's request this week: Can you make a strawberry pie?

Why, SURE, man o' my dreams.

For the record, making pie crust from scratch is downright easy. One of the four (4!) ingredients is ice water, for crying out loud. Rolling out the dough can make a bit of a countertop mess - but who doesn't have paper towels and the ability to wipe up something? Heck, get the husbandator to clean up.

You made the pie, after all.

There are thousands of pie crust recipes out there, and I've used a few, but tried Ina Garten's today. Making it in the food processor is a BREEZE. Here's the link: Barefoot Contessa Perfect Pie Crust Recipe

By the way, Ina's recipe makes two 9-inch crusts, only one of which you'll need for this pie. Pop the other in the freezer and you've got homemade crust ready whenever you need it.

Do exactly as Obi -- I mean, Ina says. 

You can get fancy with your crimping technique. I prefer the rustic approach. Simple.

Don't forget to prick your pie crust with a fork before baking. Otherwise, it puffs up in odd places in the oven. Ewwwww.

OK, so you've made the crust, now onto the pie. This pie has a creamy, custard filling (no Jello pudding here, folks) and a sweet glaze that you, once again, whip up using ingredients (water! sugar!) that we all have on hand.

Now you can buy a comparable pie in the store. Your man may be pleased. But I can guarantee you that his smile will be wider if you make this yourself. Come on.

Strawberry Custard Pie
(from Southern Living Annual Recipes 2000)

Here's a link to a printable version: Strawberry Custard Pie (printable)

1-1/3 cup sugar, divided
7 tablespoons cornstarch, divided
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups milk
2 egg yolks, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon good vanilla extract
1 baked 9-inch pastry shell (see recipe in post above)
1 cup water, divided
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon red food coloring
6 cups fresh strawberries, hulled and halved
garnishes:  sweetened whipped cream, strawberries

Combine 2/3 cup sugar, 4 tablespoons cornstarch, and salt in a saucepan; stir in milk.  Bring to a boil
over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute.

Whisk milk mixture gradually into egg yolks until blended. Return mixture to saucepan.
Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, 1 minute or until thickened.  Remove from heat.
Stir in butter and vanilla. Spoon hot filling into pastry shell. Stir together remaining 2/3 cup sugar,
remaining 3 tablespoons cornstarch, and 2 tablespoons water.
Bring remaining water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Whisk in sugar mixture.  Cook, whisking
constantly, 2 to 3 minutes or until thickened and clear.  Remove from heat.
Stir in lemon juice and food coloring; cool. Fold strawberries into syrup mixture.  Spoon over custard
mixture; Chill 4 hours. Garnish, if desired.

Ironically, I got a little peeved when I opened the refrigerator door and found I had no room in which to store my freshly-made pie. 

A stocked fridge is a BLESSING. It means we have food to eat. It means we don't have to go out for supper. The fact that it's cramped and sticky and needs organizing is secondary. Thank you, Lord, for your bounty. And for refrigeration, for that matter.

So the lesson today, folks: Make your own pie crust. And be grateful.

When you see me out at the grocer, complaining to high heaven, with store-bought pastry in my shopping cart, remind me of this post.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

I've been away for a while. . .

. . . taking care of little man and reveling in mommy-hood. 

Every mother-to-be should be warned that she will fall so in-love with her baby while giving him baths that she may want to eat him.

I'm also sure that infants grow at the speed of light - so on a Tuesday, they have begun sitting up in their crib and the next morning, they are doing algebra.

Cecily has compiled a list of words to help Perry with his spelling when he approaches (according to her heading) the 3-5 year age range.  She may be the coolest bonus daughter EVER.

This is some impressive penmanship, I might add.

Happy spring to all!


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