Thursday, November 26, 2015

Corn Bread for Two

Here's my Thanksgiving miracle. After making this recipe a few weeks ago, I misplaced the recipe card -- and could not find it anywhere.  But then, this morning the DH mentions casually that I'd left a couple of recipe cards next to "his" new chair, and bingo, there it was! I'm grateful for many things this Thanksgiving, not least of which is finding this recipe (which I'll make today, if I have the time and oven space).

It is simple cornbread, moist and flavorful, with a lovely texture, especially if you use a coarse grind of cornmeal. This makes way more servings than two, but perhaps it was meant to serve farm hands, or cowboys.

Here's the mis en place except for the butter, which I forgot here, but not in the batter.

The vintage recipe was simply a list of ingredients, but I've written out the method I used below.

Unsure of the pan size (but guided by the "for two") in the title, I used an eight-inch round pan.

The top should be golden brown when done.

The rather cryptic recipe card below.

Corn Bread for Two

Preheat oven to 400F
Grease and flour an 8-inch round or square pan (or equivalent)

1/2 c course ground cornmeal
1/2 c all-purpose flour
2 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
2 T sugar
2 T melted butter
1 egg
1/2 c milk

In a medium bowl, blend dry ingredients together.
Add wet ingredients and combine (but don't over mix!)
Pour into prepared pan.
Bake for about 20 minutes.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Spoon Bread Casserole

We're smack in the middle of baking season (which runs from October through December), a fact I learned on a tour of the Jiffy Factory in Chelsea, Michigan, this summer.  That day, I also learned that my family's treasured recipe for "corn casserole," a staple at Thanksgiving for generations, was in fact created by Jiffy and called Spoon Bread Casserole.  Oh, well. Just don't tell The Guardian, the London paper, which included my recipe last year in a Thanksgiving wrap-up of recipes across America.

And while I generally eschew packaged food, I make an exception for Jiffy. And you will too, once you read about it here.

 It is a tradition, and also very, very easy and universally loved by all who try it. The sour cream eliminate the dryness that is too common in cornbread, and the two types of canned corn add sweetness and texture.

Every year that I make this, I frantically call my cousin Debbie for the recipe, usually on Thanksgiving morning. (Apparently I collect the vintage recipes of other families, but not my own).

The mise en place is below.

Put the batter together.

Pour in a baking dish.

Bake and enjoy.  This recipe makes a lot -- the casserole is so rich that you can serve rather small pieces.

And if there's any leftovers, your work colleagues will appreciate them.

Below is the recipe direct from Jiffy. I also recommend a tour of the plant, if you're ever in the area. It's quite old fashioned, and rather charming.

Spoon Bread Casserole
(6 - 8 Servings)

1 pkg. "JIFFY" Corn Muffin Mix
·         1/2 cup margarine or butter, melted
·         1 can (8-3/4 oz.) whole kernel corn, drained
·         1 can (8-1/4 oz.) cream style corn
·         1 cup sour cream
·         2 eggs

Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease a 1-1/2 quart casserole dish.

Pour margarine or butter and corn into dish. Blend in sour cream. In separate bowl, beat eggs and stir into casserole. Add muffin mix. Blend thoroughly. Bake 35 - 40 minutes or until center is firm.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Pumpkin Sheet Cake

The pumpkin craze that began last month shows no signs of abating (and quite frankly has gone into overkill, what with pumpkin flavored Oreos, pumpkin burritos from Chipotle, and other similar "delights").

But pumpkin is good, if not bastardized, and this light, moist and delicious pumpkin cake from a vintage recipe showcases this seasonal fruit in the best possible way. It's very easy to prepare, keeps fresh for days (on account of the oil) and perfect for your Thanksgiving company. I made this Sunday for my friends Karin and Jim -- and Karin (who is a very discerning eater and big fan of pumpkin pastry) declared it among the best pumpkin cakes she's ever had.

Start by combining the wet ingredients in a stand mixer (or use a hand-held mixer). Meantime, combine the dry ingredients in a separate bowl.

Blend together and pour into a greased and floured 9 x 12 inch pan. The batter is thick, so using the back of a spoon, spread it to the edges.

Bake and cool. You can turn the cake out from the pan (or not). I was serving this to company, so went the extra step.

Frost and serve.

You'll not that the original recipe is rather incomplete -- no baking temperature, pan size, and amount of ingredients for the frosting, so I wrote the recipe (with the missing information) below. The original recipe calls for a 16-ounce can of pumpkin, but these days only 15-ounce cans are available, but it doesn't make a difference. It is also titled Pumpkin Bars, but trust me, this is a cake.

Pumpkin Sheet Cake with Cream Frosting

Preheat oven to 350F
Grease and flour a 9 x 12 inch pan

4 eggs
1 2/3 c. sugar
1 c. vegetable oil
1 15-oz. can pumpkin
2 c. flour
2 t. baking powder
2 t. cinnamon
1 t. salt
1 t. baking soda

In large bowl, beat eggs, sugar, oil and pumpkin until well blended.
In a small bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and baking soda.
Add dry ingredients to the large bowl and mix until combined.
Pour into prepared pan, spread to the edges and bake for about 30 minutes or until a tester comes out clean.


1 stick unsalted butter (room temperature)
1 8-oz. package of cream cheese (room temperature)
1 lb. confectioner's sugar
1 t. vanilla

In a stand mixer (or using a hand mixer) combine butter and cream cheese.
Add confectioner's sugar in batches, combining well between each.
Add vanilla and beat until smooth.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Cloud Biscuits

There seems to be a biscuit revival afoot, though I'm not sure why these simple and wholesome baked goods ever fell from favor. They hearken back to a simpler era, when housewives would just throw these together, year round to accompany a meal or, in the spring, as a base for macerated strawberries to create strawberry shortcake.

I love a good biscuit and so have tried nearly every vintage biscuit recipe in my collection, but few come close to this one. The appropriately named Cloud Biscuits give a very nice rise, and the texture is divine. Plus, who could resist the name? (As someone who earns a living in marketing, I applaud the recipe's author who titled this so brilliantly.) These are basically baking powder biscuits (isn't cloud biscuits so much more appealing?), but they also include an egg, making them a bit richer.

Cutting the butter into the flour can be accomplished quickly with just a few pulses in a food processor. Alternately, use a pastry blender, two knifes or even your fingertips.

It should resemble cornmeal (below). Mix the egg and milk in a measuring up and combine well.

Pour the liquid into the flour-butter mixture and mix until the batter follows the fork around the bowl.

Roll or pat out on a floured surface.

Form using a sharp (this is important for the rise!) biscuit cutter.

Pop them in the preheated oven and voila!

A little added butter and jam make for a delicious breakfast treat.

Production notes: I made the smaller amount, and used butter instead of margarine.

Monday, November 2, 2015

The Secret Best Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

I was not a fan of oatmeal raisin cookies -- until I tried this recipe. It is that good.

While I typically bake desserts I love (you'll notice a dearth of recipes with peanut butter on this blog, for example), sometimes I do bake only for others. Like last week, when I wanted to thank my boss for an unnecessary (but wonderful and much appreciated!) gift basket.

I found a rather intriguing vintage recipe from my collection, but egads! half of the recipe card was missing. So, I Googled "best oatmeal cookie recipe" and first up was the exact same recipe! The contributor to noted it was an old recipe that she'd had for years, but didn't know its origin.  

The secret to the cookies' deliciousness is in the first step --  soaking the raisins in the beaten eggs and vanilla for an hour. A simple, yet transformational technique that I've never seen elsewhere.

These also feature pecans, a lovely addition to many a baked good.

The dough is um, rather firm.

I somehow neglected to photograph the easy way to form the cookies, using a small ice cream scoop. Otherwise, two spoons or your hands would work fine. I patted the dough to flatten slightly once on the baking sheet. Bake for about ten minutes, and cool on a rack.

Below is my boss David, thank-you cookies in hand.

The flavor was so fabulous, that after one bite he was overcome.

Here's the recipe card; as you can see, it's missing some essentials (a list of all the ingredients, and some instructions).

But fear not. Here's the recipe in all its complete glory, at this link, where you can read 250 glowing reviews, and pasted below. (Coincidentally, the gift basket was really a "guilt" basket because David felt badly that he was out-of-town while I hosted 250 people who came to Henry Street Settlement during Open House NY.)

Best Oatmeal Cookies

3 eggs well beaten
1 cup raisins
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
2 ½ cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 cups oatmeal
¾ cup chopped pecans

  1. This is a very important first step that makes the cookie: combine eggs, raisins and vanilla and let stand for one hour.
  2. Cream together butter and sugars.
  3. Add flour, salt, cinnamon and soda and mix well.
  4. Blend in egg-raisin mixture, oatmeal, and chopped nuts.
  5. Dough will be stiff.
  6. Drop by heaping teaspoons onto ungreased cookie sheet, or roll into balls and flatten slightly.
  7. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly browned.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

October Butternut Cake

Before October ends in just a few hours, I figured I'd better end my blog sabbatical and post this October Butternut Cake recipe --  though it is good enough to make in any month. It's a light and delicious white cake studded with nuts, and finished with a brown butter frosting.

When I first encountered this unusual vintage recipe, I expected it to feature butternut squash. But no. It doesn't even call for real butternuts (a type of walnut) or butternut flavoring. The butternut portion of this recipe refers to the instruction to saute almonds in butter.

After the cake ingredients are mixed, fold in half of the sauteed nuts.

Pour into a greased and floured pan and bake until done.

While the cake is cooling, start the frosting. Brown the butter carefully (it can turn from delightfully fragrant to burnt in just a moment). When done correctly, brown butter has a slightly nutty flavor.

The frosting will look rather unappetizing, until the liquid is added.

The original recipe card is below, and below that is my (clearer) instructions.

Production notes: Make sure the butter is quite soft, as it is added directly to the dry ingredients. I didn't have maple flavoring, so just used vanilla.

October Butternut Cake

Preheat oven to 350 F
Grease and flour an 8 x 8 or 9 x 9 cake pan

2 c. all-purpose flour
1 c. granulated sugar
2 1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
1 egg
1 c milk
1 t. vanilla (or 1/2 t, vanilla and 1/2 t. maple flavoring
1/3 c plus 1 T butter
1/2 c chopped almonds (reserve 1/4 c for frosting)

In a small skillet melt 1 T butter and saute nuts until fragrant. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, combine dry ingredients well.
Add 1/3 c softened butter and mix well.
Add egg, milk and vanilla. Combine well.
Fold in 1/4 c almonds.
Pour into prepared pan.
Bake for 30 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean.

4 T butter
2 c confectioner's sugar
3 or 4 T milk
1/2 t vanilla or maple flavoring

In a small saucepan, brown the butter.
Transfer to a bowl and add 1 c confectioner's sugar. Mix well
Add milk, remainder of sugar and flavoring.
Beat until smooth.
Fold in 1/4 c almonds

Spread on cooled cake.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Zucchini Bread

It's hard to get excited about zucchini bread, but it's an excellent venue for this summer squash, which I always buy in enormous quantities intending to prepare as a vegetable but somehow always manage to transform into chocolate cake, cookies or even "apple"pie. 

So before the season ends, here's a moist and rather delicious, albeit not guilt-free, way to "use up" all those good farmer's market intentions.

Below is the mis en place. There are but two cups of sugar in the recipe, making the bread not overly sweet, which is typical of vintage recipes.

It's a very quick recipe, especially if you grate the zucchini in a food processor.

Pour the batter into two greased and floured bread pans.

Bake for about an hour.

And enjoy your vegetables!

Production notes: I followed this recipe exactly, using the larger quantity of sugar.  I did not seed the zucchini, but if you use ginormous ones, it might be a good idea. I used the larger quantity of baking powder, used vegetable (not corn) oil, used both cinnamon and nutmeg, and did not add the optional dried fruit. I covered one pan with aluminum foil and left one uncovered but didn't notice any difference between the two.