Top 100 Cake Blog

Top 100 Cake Blog

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Classic Pound Cake


With just five simple ingredients, you can easily create this moist and delicious old-fashioned pound cake from a vintage recipe. Pound cake, so named because it originally called for one pound of each ingredient, is a perennial favorite, and one that has survived the years. Most modern recipes gild the lily with sour cream, milk or any number of other flavorings and additions. As good as those are (and who doesn't like variety?), this classic version is rather perfect.


Here's the mis en place for the recipe. Flour, butter, eggs and sugar. (Also, vanilla and a pinch of salt, which I forgot to photograph.)


Start by beating the butter and sugar. Add the eggs one at a time.Add the flour, a pinch of salt and vanilla -- and that's it!


Spoon the batter into a greased bundt pan.


Smooth it with an offset spatula, a butter knife or the back of a spoon.


Bake for about 45 minutes. The top will look underbaked, but you can tell it's done by the way the cake is separating from the sides.


Let it cool in the pan for about ten minutes. Then run a knife around the edges to loosen it, turn it out on a rack, and tap the top until the cake releases.


The cake has a nice crumb.


Production notes: Have the butter at room temperature, and beat it well. Add the sugar and beat the mixture until it's light and fluffy before adding the eggs. I also added the vanilla to the butter-sugar-eggs mixture, instead of after the flour. The first time I made this (see below), I sprayed the pan with Pam and overbaked it, which resulted in a broken cake. This time, I greased the pan with Crisco -- not sure that made a difference.
It is essential not to overbake this cake. Don't go by the color, but do test with a skewer.
I also made an quick icing -- put some confectioner's sugar in a bowl, and add liquid (milk, cream, water or lemon juice)  and mix to the desired consistency.



Sunday, April 2, 2017

Bee's Matzo Meal Bagels


I didn't have to look far for this vintage recipe card -- it's from my mother Bee's collection. She wasn't a particularly good cook or baker, but she made dinner six nights a week without fail and always made special food for holidays, these Matzo Meal Bagels among them.

I'm not fan of food hacks that use a substitute to imitate the real thing (Tofurkey, for instance), but even during Passover, some people will insist upon bagels, I suppose. And they are handy if observant folks need to have a sandwich during the holiday.

Even those these are called "bagels" they resemble them only in shape, not in texture or flavor. But, they are pretty good and take but minutes to make. The outside is crispy, while the inside is soft. My son-in-law said they taste like matzo balls, which is pretty accurate, since they have the exact same ingredients.


Let's get started. Mix the dry ingredients (matzo meal, salt and sugar) in a bowl.


Add the boiling liquid all at once, mix well, and add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition.


Let the batter stand for about 15 minutes. Then, with greased, wet or gloved hands, form balls. Place on a greased or parchment-lined baking sheet.


Flatten each ball slightly, and use your index finger to create a center hole.


Bake for about 40 to 50 minutes, until the tops are golden brown.


Cool and serve.


Below is Bee's very stained recipe card, with rather incomplete instructions.  Below that, is the recipe written out.


Matzo Meal Bagels

Preheat oven to 350F

2 c. matzo meal
1 c. water
1/2 c. vegetable oil
dash salt (up to 1 t.)
2 T sugar
4 - 5 eggs

Combine the matzo meal, salt, and sugar in a bowl. 
Bring the oil and water to a boil and add to the matzo meal mixture. Stir well to combine. 
Add eggs,o­ne at a time, mixing well after each addition. (I used four eggs, as the batter seemed too wet to accommodate an additional egg.)
Let batter stand for 15 minutes.
With oiled hands, shape into balls and place o­n a greased or parchment-lined cookie sheet.

Pat each ball down slightly, and using a greased finger, insert it into the middle of the roll, moving it around to create a hole in the center. 
Bake at 375°F for 40-50 minutes.

Carol's Raw Apple Cake



This isn't a pretty dessert, and I was about to classify it among my many recent vintage recipe fails, until my son-in-law was crestfallen that, after eating one slice, there was no more left. Even the DS liked it. And so, with those endorsements, I bring you a simple raw apple cake. It is brimming with apples and is super moist as a result. It also takes just 15 minutes to make, and is super low-tech -- you only need two bowls, a spoon, a knife and a baking pan.

It's not apple season, but I wanted to bake a quick treat for the lovely workers in my house and I was a bit short on ingredients -- until I spied two apples in the fruit bowl. It was meant to be.

Start by peeling and chopping some apples.


Next, mix the wet ingredients -- just oil and eggs.


Combine the dry ingredients in a separate bowl.


 Add the dry ingredients to the wet, and stir in the apples and some nuts.


Spoon the batter into a greased pan and push to the edges. The batter is very thick.


Bake, cool and enjoy.


Production notes: I halved this recipe, using 1/4 c. oil, because I didn't have enough apples.  I used an 8 x 8 inch pan.  The batter was so thick and dry, that I added about 1/4 cup of water to make sure it held together. The only nuts I had -- slivered almonds -- worked just fine.



Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Upside Down Chocolate Meringue Pie




I'm thrilled to present -- on Pi Day, yet -- the most unusual pie I've ever encountered.  Unlike every other chocolate meringue pie, where the custard is chocolate, this one turns convention upside down. The custard is vanilla and the meringue is chocolate. Search as I may, I could not find one other example of this.  The recipe is vintage, probably c. 1940s. If not for the housewife recording (and possibly inventing) this gem, this recipe would be lost to history. Which would be a shame, because it is soooo delicious.

This upside down chocolate meringue pie is light, airy, rather addicting and pretty easy to make.
Below are most of the ingredients you need.


Start the crust by making graham cracker crumbs in a food processor or by placing the grahams in a plastic bag and crushing them with a rolling pin (or wine bottle). Add the melted butter.


Combine the mixture and place in a nine-inch pie plate.


Press the mixture into the pan.


Next, separate the eggs. Because the egg whites (for the meringue) are not cooked, I recommend using non-factory eggs, like those from the farmer's market.


Start the vanilla custard.  The lumps of flour will disappear as the cooking proceeds.


If you're not sure your custard is silky smooth, then push it through a strainer for extra insurance.


The cooked custard, below. Not sure why it looks so yellow in this photo.


Fill the cooled pie shell with the custard, and begin the chocolate meringue.


Whip the egg whites until stiff and gradually add the confectioner's sugar.


Fold in the melted chocolate carefully and spread over the custard. Be sure to reach the edges.


Tada! One indication that this is a vintage recipe is that proportions are modest.  Neither the filling nor meringue are "supersized."


The pie kept well in the refrigerator for two days!



Production notes for the crust: I used butter, but Nucoa is a margarine that first appeared in the 1930s, and is still available but with a different formulation. There's even a Facebook page called Bring Back Original Nucoa (which was dairy and lactose-free). I had to bake the crust about seven minutes, instead of five.


Production notes for filling: To achieve success, you need to beat the egg yolks slightly and temper them. This simply means that you place a small amount of the hot custard into the eggs while stirring to warm them before to the very hot custard. If you just added them, you'd have scrambled egg yolks. Although the instruction wasn't there, I stirred the vanilla into the custard at the very end.


Production notes for filling: I always use cream of tartar when beating egg whites, which prevents overbeating. I think salt serves the same purpose, though. Fold the melted chocolate very carefully into the egg whites to prevent them from deflating. I used a plastic spatula for this.


This pie was enjoyed with some of the fine people renovating my house, like Zeke, a musician and cabinetmaker who worked on my beautiful new closet, designed by Robert Kalka.


Saturday, March 11, 2017

Hamantashen


It's Purim and time to make the hamantashen, filled cookies designed to symbolize the defeat of Haman, an enemy of the Jewish people. They appear in bakery cases all over NYC this time of year, and are beloved by tribe members and others. And homemade ones abound -- people who rarely bake the rest of the year are known for making these triangular treats.

So I made them, using a c. 1960s recipe in the Temple Israel (of Akron) Synagogue Sisterhood Cook Book. 

Dear readers, I will probably never make them again. The dough was difficult to work with and the process was rather tedious. Everyone who tried them loved the cookies, though, so there was that. And the dough is rich and delicious.

So for those of you interested, hang on to your three-pointed hats and let's get started. Place all the ingredients in a large bowl. I misread the instructions and did not beat the egg yolks with the sour cream first, but it didn't seem to matter in the end. And I saved a step.


Mix until it forms a dough.


Form the dough into a couple of spheres and refrigerate until firm, usually an hour or two.


Roll out on parchment paper or a lightly floured surface. I sandwiched the dough between to sheets of parchment. Using a 2.5 or 3-inch cookie cutter, make the circles.  At this point, I refrigerated the sheets of cutouts to firm up again.



There are many fillings for these cookies. I used prune lekvar because I happened to see it while shopping at Pomegranate, an upscale Kosher restaurant in Brooklyn.


Place a teaspoon, or less, of filling in the center of each cookie.


There are many ways to create the triangle shape. At first, I used the old-fashioned one, below, of pinching the sides together.



Brush the formed cookies with egg white before baking.


But my first batch was a fail. See how many opened up?


But then I discovered a webpage on how to make them perfect. You can see it here. In the tutorial, Tori Avery demonstrates a folding technique. You can see how much better my second batch looked following those instructions.  (There was no third batch, as I ate the dough raw for dinner!)


Production notes: I halved this recipe, using only butter and not Crisco, and followed it exactly save for mixing the sour cream and egg yolks together first. I brushed the tops with egg white before baking. Each batch took about 12 to 15 minutes. (Eleanor Applebaum was the rabbi's wife at Temple Israel, and an editor of this cookbook.)