Pinterest Test Kitchen # 92 ~ Italian Cranberry Orange Pound Cake

Have you ever smelled something and the scent instantly transported you to a long ago memory? Noxzema does that for me. I smell it and immediately my mind is flooded with childhood recollections of sandy beaches and sunburns. Isn’t it remarkable how God engineered us so that scents and tastes can bring to mind such vivid memories?

One bite of this cake is a reminiscent mouthful of Christmas past. Seriously, it is the flavor of Christmas with its tangy orange zest, fresh cranberries and spicy overtones. The cranberries give it a zing like the crisp winter air. Rather poetic I know but really, it is the flavor of the holidays I think. Try it and let me know what you think.

cranberries_oranges_pound_cake_ homemade

What you’ll need:
For the cake ~
3 cups of flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cups sugar
4 eggs, room temperature
1/4 cup orange juice
2 TBS orange zest*
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese**
1/2 cup buttermilk
3 cups fresh cranberries
What you’ll do:
Whisk the first three ingredients together and set aside.
Cream butter and sugar together until smooth.
Add eggs one at a time.
Mix in the vanilla, orange juice & zest, spices, and mascarpone cheese until well combined.
Add in half of the flour mixture. 
Stir in the buttermilk.
Mix in the remaining flour mixture just until the flour disappears.
Gently fold in cranberries.***
Pour into a well greased bundt pan. (I am a huge fan of Bakers Joy.)
Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour and 15 to 20 minutes or until a knife inserted comes out clean.
Let cake rest for 5 minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack.
Coat the cake with the orange glaze and allow to completely cool.
Pour the orange cream cheese frosting over the cake.
Orange glaze:
Mix 1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar with 1/3 cup orange juice until smooth.
Orange cream cheese frosting:
Mix together 4 oz softened cream cheese with 1 TBS orange zest, 1/4 cup of orange juice, and 2 cups confectioners sugar until smooth.

This is one of those cakes that really taste even better the day after you make it and the flavors have all gotten cozy with each other so don’t be afraid to make it up ahead of time!

*    Orange zest…smells so good!
**  If you can’t find mascarpone cheese you can use 1/2 cup sour cream.
***My family enjoyed the cake but found the cranberries a little too tart for their liking. I figure the         next time I make this I may reduce the amount down or leave them out all together.

Pintrest Test Kitchen # 77 ~ White Sour Cream Cake with Butter Cream Icing

So, I knew it had been a while since I shared a recipe but I had no idea it had been since December.

I mean it’s March already! Can you believe that? Where does the time go?

(Totally unrelated to the recipe but last week we took our oldest daughter to visit MSU and I had the most surreal experience on the drive over. Sarah was sitting in the back seat and said something and Rob turned his head to answer her and I had the craziest flashback. Seriously, it was like something out of the movies…I could see her as a little girl on our first road trip, little curls all over her head and feet swinging and bouncing. The echo of her laughter was as clear as day. I cried a little.)

While we may not be able to stop time from flying by and our children from growing up too fast we can slow it down a little and enjoy a piece of cake every now and then with a cup of coffee.

That was a really smooth transition to the recipe wasn’t it? Yep, that’s why everybody reads my blog 🙂

This cake is kind of a mash up of box and homemade. You begin with a cake mix but jazz it up a bit for a nice dense cake. Also, I am not normally a huge fan of butter cream icing but I made this the morning and kept it refrigerated until after lunch and it was quite tasty all nice and chilled. Here is a link to the original pin but I changed a few things. Mainly because you need two cake mixes to get the amounts required and I didn’t so I added an extra cup of flour. I also reduce the amount of sugar added.

For the cake ~ What you’ll need:
1 box white cake mix
2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
2 TBS oil (I use canola) 
1 1/3 cup water
3 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
What you’ll do:
Mix together all dry ingredients with a whisk.
Add liquid ingredients and beat on low until well combined.
Pour into prepared cake pans. 
Bake at 350 degrees for thirty minutes. (Time will depend on size of pans so check after 30 minutes.)

The cake is pretty dense and heavy and pairs well with the butter cream frosting. This is the strangest icing recipe to me. Other than the Hershey icing I’ve never made one that required cooking.

For the icing ~ What you’ll need:
5 TBS flour
1 cup of milk
1 tsp vanilla
2 sticks of butter, at room temperature  
1 cup granulated sugar
confectioner’s sugar to taste*
What you’ll do:
Whisk together the flour and milk in a small saucepan over medium heat. 
Stir constantly until it thickens being careful not to burn it.
Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.
Allow it to completely cool before finishing or it will not work.
(I emptied mine out of the hot saucepan and into a small bowl to help it cool quicker.)
Cream together the butter and sugar until well blended and fluffy.
Add in the cooled flour mixture.
Keep beating it until it has the consistency of whipped cream.

white_cake, butter cream_frosting_dessert

*I mentioned that I am not a fan of butter cream frosting. The taste is a little sharp to me so I added just a wee bit of confectioners sugar until I liked the flavor. You may be fine without it so suit yourself.

The cake iced well although it was a little plain looking so I covered the top with some lovely gold sprinkles. In my opinion taste is only part of it…pretty counts for something.

Would I make it again? Yes and no. It tasted good and everyone seemed to enjoy it but I am solidly a cream cheese icing gal. But I don’t think I will ever make a cake any differently other than to tweak the amount of flour depending on how stout I want the cake. It has a great texture and flavor and it seems rather versatile. I’ve made it using a cup less flour and a yellow cake mix with almond extract and it went together nicely with some strawberries and whipped topping. I’m trying to figure out some kind of chocolate and mint combination now…maybe in time to celebrate the luck o’ the Irish!

I’d love to know if you try it as is or if you tweak it.


Titus 2 Tuesday

Test Kitchen # 56 ~ Strawberry Almond Cake

Last week Sarah pulled the, “Mom, it’s the last field trip I will ever take…you have to come” card so on Friday, despite overwhelming work yet to be done, including getting her graduation announcements in the mail, I went strawberry picking with the 12th graders and K5ers. (I love how the school matches up the younger kids with the older kids for certain field trips. It really does foster the sense of community. On Thursday I went to the zoo with Claire’s class (1st grade) and the 9th graders.)

fresh strawberries on the vine fruit red ripe delicious

The weather was perfect with just enough cloud cover to keep the temps down and a steady breeze. And the strawberries were so delicious! Did I mention that you can eat while you pick? Yum-o.

We had friends over Friday night and enjoyed homemade strawberry shortcake. It was pretty tasty. But on Sunday I wanted to do something special since it was Mother’s Day so I adapted Rob’s favorite dessert to accommodate the fresh red goodness and the strawberry almond cake was born.

What you’ll need:
yellow cake mix
3 eggs
1 cup of butter, melted
1 cup of milk
1 1/2 TBS almond extract
What you’ll do:
Mix everything together and pour into 2 well greased cake pans.
Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes
Allow to cool in the pans for 15 minutes and then flip them out on a cooling rack.
Completely cool before icing. 
What you’ll need for the icing:
2 8oz packages of cream cheese
1/2 stick of butter
1 16 oz box of confectioner’s sugar
1 TBS almond extract
milk to reach desired consistency
What you’ll do:
Cream together the cream cheese and butter until smooth.
Add in half of the confectioner’s sugar and a little milk and beat until smooth.
Mix in the remaining confectioner’s sugar again adding enough milk to reach the desired consistency (I like my icing thick and robust)
Stir in almond extract

Once you’ve done the above put a generous amount of icing on the bottom layer.

Sprinkle sliced strawberries and then add the top layer of cake.

Repeat with the icing and sliced strawberries.

Let the cake chill in the refrigerator for a few hours for a truly scrumptious dessert.

Tuesday’s Table

Test Kitchen # 31 ~ Summer Edition (Blueberry Lemon Torte)

It’s been a few weeks since I posted a test kitchen so I’m dusting off the recipe box to share something a little extra special. Today’s recipe is a family favorite circa BP (before pinterest) and I can’t even remember where I found the recipe. But with it’s delightful combination of lemon and blueberry it is a summertime treat. Technically considered a type of torte it is a layered cake with homemade cream cheese frosting.

What you’ll need:
lemon cake mix
2 8oz packages cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup of butter softened
3 to 5 cups confectioners sugar
lemon juice
fresh blueberries
What you’ll do:
For the cake: make according to directions. On this point I will share that I have made the lemon cake from scratch, used a plain yellow cake mix and added lemon juice, and used a lemon cake mix and added more lemon juice. Whatever works best for you and pleases the taste buds in your house. I also found it easiest to bake three round cake layers instead of two normal ones and cutting them in half. (I can’t draw a straight line with a ruler either so there’s that. I’m looking for easy and pretty 🙂
Let the cakes completely cool.
For the frosting: You may have noticed there aren’t exactly precise measurements on the ingredients here. I’m more of a little bit of this and a dash of that kind of cook. I tend to follow the basic idea of a recipe and tweak and taste test it until I get it like I like it. Plus, as far as the confectioners sugar goes, in depends on how sweet you like it and how much icing you actually want between your layers. I don’t want the icing, however tasty, to overwhelm the cake and I usually have some left over. Which completely thrills my kids.
Combine the cream cheese and butter until smooth.
Add confectioners sugar until you reach your desired taste, consistency, and amount you think you’ll need. 
Stir in lemon juice, beginning with 2 tablespoons and adding more if you want a stronger lemon flavor. You don’t want it to be pucker up lemony but you do want the flavor to make itself known.
Ice one layer of the cake. Sprinkle fresh blueberries across the top and add the next layer of cake. Repeat with icing and blueberries. Add the final layer of cake and icing. You can sprinkle the blueberries on top again or, like I did, arrange them in a heart. (Remember, when I said I can’t draw a straight line with a ruler? Be impressed with my ingenuity rather than my skills on my blueberry heart. I lightly pressed a giant heart shaped cookie cutter into the icing and then placed the blueberries on the outline.)

The cake is best served slightly chilled in my opinion but doesn’t have to be.

Pinterest Test Kitchen #28 ~ Cream Cheese Coffee Cake

Cream cheese coffee cake. I’m a sucker for any recipe that calls for cream cheese and even though I’m not a big cake eater I do enjoy a good coffee cake.

Mmmmmm…good stuff.

I enjoyed the flavor of this cake but it was a bit to stout for me. I really like the thin Entenmann’s cream cheese coffee danish and I think I’d enjoy this one more if it was slightly smaller. When I make it again I will probably play around with it and make two separate cakes instead of one.

What you’ll need for the cake:
3 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter 
1 cup sugar
4 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup sour cream
What you’ll do:
Mix together the first four ingredients. In a separate bowl cream together butter and sugar. Add eggs one at a time. Add the vanilla. Alternately add in flour mixture and sour cream until combined. Spread half of the mixture into the bottom of a greased 9×13 pan. 
You’ll add the filling mixture at this point and then add the remaining cake mixture. Swirl with a knife. Add your streusel  topping.
Bake for forty minutes or until a tooth pick is inserted and comes out clean. 
What you’ll need for the filling:
16 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup of sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 large egg
What you’ll do:
Mix together all ingredients until smooth and creamy.
What you’ll need for the streusel topping:
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
3 TBS chilled butter, cut into pieces
What you’ll do:
Combine all three ingredients until mixture is crumbly.

It’s quite tasty with a cup of coffee and warm from the oven. And quite tasty not so warm from the oven with a glass of milk. Actually just quite tasty. Enjoy!

Test Kitchen Repeat (So Good I Make It All the Time) #11 ~ Almond Cake

I’ve always thought that the best way to tell how good a dish taste is by seeing how messy the recipe card is. Like a good book will have well worn pages I tend to think that an oft used recipe will be a little dogeared too. The recipe I share with you today, my friends, is a delicious cake. As proof I offer you this photograph:

The recipe was shared with me almost ten years ago and I have probably made it a hundred times. Not even kidding. One year around Christmas I made a bunch of them for people my Mother worked with. One year they were teacher gifts. My husband even went through a phase where almost every other night I was making a fresh one for him to enjoy still warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

What I love about this cake is that generally speaking you probably have everything you need to make it already on hand. Seriously, look back on that list…it’s pretty uncomplicated ingredients. The first time I baked it I only had to get some almond flavor but since we enjoy this cake so much even that is a staple in our pantry now.

Of course me being me means that I changed it a little bit from the original but only because I had no idea what a jelly roll pan was nor could I find one at any local stores. I have since learned that a jelly roll pan is essentially a baking sheet with sides but it was too late. We were hooked on a loaf style as opposed to a sheet cake. So I pour the batter directly into the greased loaf pans, sprinkle the top liberally with sliced almonds and bake at 350 degrees for about 40 to 50 minutes.

In these pictures I made a couple of cute little mini loaves in some pretty Thanksgiving ceramics that someone had picked up for me as a gift. They were pretty adorable and made lovely little take home gifts for some guest we had over Friday after Thanksgiving.

You really should try this cake…simple, great flavor and very moist. But beware that it could lead to a dangerous obsession.

Sharing the goodness with Mealtime Monday, Sweet Sharing Monday, Melt in Your Mouth Mondays, Try a New Recipe Tuesday and This Gal Cooks.