Top 100 Cake Blog

Top 100 Cake Blog

Friday, June 17, 2016

Mayonnaise Biscuits & Strawberry Shortcake

Spring is synonymous with strawberry shortcake, and it's super easy to prepare, especially with farm market stands filled with fresh berries and these VERY easy and tasty three-ingredient biscuits.  The secret ingredient is mayonnaise, which is simply a combination of egg yolks, oil, lemon juice and vinegar. It yields a very moist muffin. This vintage recipe is from a collection of Amish recipes I purchased a few years ago.

I love three ingredient recipes, but unfortunately I had none of the three in my house. While I could have made mayonnaise, I was lazy so ran to the corner bodega. They didn't have self-rising flour so I made my own (by adding 1 1/2 t. baking powder and 1/2 t. salt to the all-purpose flour) and didn't want to get a large container of milk for just a half cup (so I just added some water to half and half).

The naked biscuits below. Delicious on their own, they're even better as a base for macerated strawberries.

Mix up the batter, which takes literally minutes and requires only low tech equipment -- a bowl and whisk (or spoon or fork).

Spoon into greased muffin tins.

Bake for about ten minutes. (I baked for about 14 minutes, until the tops turned golden brown.

Inside, the biscuits are light and fluffy.

To prepare the strawberries, just slice and add some sugar to coat. Let stand until the sugar crystals melt and then mash about half of the berries with a fork to release their juices.

Split the muffins and spoon the berry mixture on top.  You can add whipped cream (if you happen to have any).

I followed this recipe exactly (after adjusting for the missing ingredients), and my batter yielded seven (not eight) biscuits.
Be generous with the sugar over the berries.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Little Brown Koko's Lightbread

This recipe card really piqued my curiosity; its title had two mysteries. What is "lightbread" and who is Little Brown Koko?

Luckily we have the world wide web to provide instant answers! Little Brown Koko is a character from a 1940s series of children's books that are now considered racist, much like the Little Black Sambo books that preceded these. And according to one site, there were also gay subtexts in the books. I nor anyone I queried had ever heard of Little Brown Koko, but apparently he was a child that just messed up every task he was given by his grandmother.

"Lightbread" is not at all exotic, but simply a slightly richer-than-normal white yeast bread. I doubt this recipe actually appeared in the the books, but is probably a home cook's adaption of one that was referenced. (There's a chocolate cake on the interweb that's an adaption of one too, created by a housewife at the behest of her child.)

The bread is pretty good and, like most yeast recipes, is pretty versatile. The instructions are not the clearest.

A page from one of the books.

Begin by soaking the yeast in a bowl (or if a teacup, as specified in the recipe.)

Add in the flour.

Don't use all the flour specified -- it's way too much!

Knead the dough and let rise.

When it's had it's rise, divide in half. Make one into a regular loaf of bread and the other roll out and fill with butter, cinnamon and sugar. Roll and cut into pieces.

Place in a greased cake pan.

When it's had its second raise, bake.

Remove from pan and make a frosting of confectioner's sugar and milk.

Don't try this version -- just make a regular loaf of bread.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Brownies (yet again)

I often consider brownies the lowest common denominator of American desserts. There's no challenge, no joy of victory (and also rarely the agony of defeat).

But they have a lot going for them. Brownies are simple enough for a child to make, require no advance preparation (softening butter, letting dough rise, etc.), need only the most basic of tools (heat source, bowl, pan and spoon), and use ingredients available at the corner bodega.

They are perfect in any season -- summer for picnics, winter for an after school or lunch box snack. And they are also very quick to make and are sturdy travelers. So quick, in fact, that I began a batch just hours before a flight, intending to take them as a gift for my mother who loves all things chocolate.

Plus, who doesn't love a good brownie! I have literally dozens of vintage brownie recipes (like this one, probably from the 1950s), so it has been a longtime favorite in the American kitchen. This one is quite good, not the knock-yer-socks off brownie, but simple, direct, flavorful and rather addicting.

Get started by creating a double boiler -- just a bowl over a pan of simmering water. Place the butter and chocolate in the bowl and heat until they melt.

While that mixture is cooling, beat the eggs and sugar well, then add the chocolate and vanilla.

Sprinkle on the flour and baking powder and mix to combine. Add the nuts.

Pour the batter into a greased (or parchment lined) 8 x 8 inch pan.  You can also line the pan with foil -- lining makes it easy to lift the brownies in a single cake from the pan. I also sprinkled some sea salt on the top before baking. I'd recommend this -- salt really enhances the flavor.

Slice and enjoy!

Production notes: I halved this recipe, and have written out the instructions below.


Preheat oven to 375F
2 eggs
1.5 ounces unsweetened chocolate
3/4 c. + 2 tbs. sugar
4 tbs. butter
6 tbs. flour
1/4 t. baking powder
1/2 t. vanilla
1/2 c. chopped walnuts
Sea salt for sprinkling (optional)

Place chocolate and butter in a bowl, and place the bowl atop a saucepan with a couple of inches of water in it. Heat mixture until it is melted. Remove from heat.
In a bowl, beat eggs, add sugar in thirds, beating well after each addition.
Add cooled chocolate and butter.
Add vanilla.
Add sifted flour and baking soda and stir combined.  Add nuts.
Pour into greased 8 x 8 cake pan. Sprinkle some sea salt on the top if using.
Bake about 15 minutes.