Saturday, June 30, 2012

Week 26: Sandhill Peach Pound Cake

Once again I turned to my Taste of the South's Southern Cakes magazine for this week's cake.  Peaches are in abundance right now in the grocery stores and produce stands.  The ones I purchased are ripe and so very, very sweet!
My birthday was a week ago and my dear friend, Robbin, invited me to her lovely porch for lunch and sweet fellowship on Monday.  She spent time praying over me before we ate and the tears flowed as she prayed.  I love to hear Robbin pray.  She shared that her family was going camping this week and I knew I wanted to make this week's cake for her precious family.

Sandhill Peach Pound Cake

1 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
3 1/4  cups all purpose flour, divided
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon butter flavoring
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon  lemon extract
3 cups sliced or diced fresh peaches

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 10-inch bundt pan with nonstick baking spray with flour (or lightly grease and flour pan).  Set aside.
In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
In another bowl, combine 3 cups flour, baking powder, and salt.  Add flour mixture in 3 batches, alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour.  Add butter flavoring and extracts, beating at medium speed until well combined and creamy.  Set aside.
Toss peaches in remaining 1/4 cup flour to coat thoroughly.  With peaches running at lowest speed, add peaches to batter, blending just enough to incorporate.  Spoon batter into prepared pan.
Bake until cake is golden brown and a cake tester inserted near the center comes out clean, 1 hour to 1 hour 25 minutes. (I baked mine in 2 loaf pans and the baking time was one hour and ten minutes.)
Let cool in pan for 15-20 minutes before turning out onto a cake plate.

David gave this cake a "Thumbs-Up" which means I will definitely be making it again.
Happy Baking!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Week 25: Birthday Sheet Cake

I just returned home from a five day, girl's, beach trip.  All we did is spend five hours on the beach each day, crochet, read, laugh and eat.  You'd think I would come home relaxed and energized to jump into our family's routine.  But, as I sit here at my computer, I am having a hard time keeping my eyes open at 8:45 pm.
I made this week's cake for a precious friend who was having a baby shower at her house.  I found the recipe, years ago, in Ina Garten's book Barefoot Contessa Family Style.  Each time I watch her on the Food Network, I am so inspired.  She says not to try new recipes when you have company; but I love to try new recipes and often do when we have company.  So, when Debbie and I were having lunch and she said she wanted me to bake a cake for a baby shower she was having I thought of the sheet cake in Ina's cookbook and then realized I hadn't made it before.  I decided to give it a try and Debbie said everyone enjoyed it.  Ina used a chocolate frosting that you can find here...  Deb wanted a white buttercream.  The recipe I used is at the bottom of this post.

Birthday Sheet Cake
Source:  Ina Garten

For the cake:
18 tablespoons (2 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 cups sugar
6 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
8 ounces (about 1 cup) sour cream, at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 lemon, zested
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking soda

 Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a 12 by 18 by 1 1/2-inch sheet pan, or a half sheet pan.

To make the cake, cream the butter and sugar on medium-high speed in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes (or use a hand held mixer like I do). On medium speed, add the eggs, 2 at a time, then the sour cream, vanilla, and lemon zest, scraping down the bowl as needed. Mix well. Sift together the flour, cornstarch, salt, and baking soda. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and stir just until smooth. Finish mixing by hand to be sure the batter is well mixed. Pour evenly into the pan, smooth the top with a spatula, and bake in the center of the oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool in the pan to room temperature.

Basic Buttercream Icing

1 Cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup milk, room temperature
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 pounds powdered sugar

Combine all the ingredients in large mixing bowl and mix at slow speed until smooth.  Spread on cooled sheet cake.

Happy Baking!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Week 24: Father's Day and Five Flavor Pound Cake

Since tomorrow is Father's Day I gave David a choice for what cake I would make for week 24.  He enjoys homemade pound cakes so I wasn't surprised when he chose Five Flavor Pound Cake.  I found this recipe in a magazine of mine but recently saw Paula Deen make this cake on her afternoon Food Network show and knew I would make one this year.
The five flavors are vanilla, almond, coconut, orange and lemon.  As I was preparing the cake batter all of the flavor's scents were evident and made our kitchen smell so wonderful.  They all melded into one lovely smell as the cake baked. 
Samuel and I met David downtown for dinner at our favorite Greek restaurant and then on to the square to enjoy the weekly summer concert.  Before we left I cut him a piece of cake to surprise him.

Five Flavor Pound Cake

1 cup butter, softened
3 cups sugar
5 large eggs (at room temperature)
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup whole buttermilk
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon orange zest
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon coconut extract

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Grease and flour a 12 to 15-cup tube pan.

In a large bowl, beat the butter at medium speed with a mixer until creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the sugar and beat until fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Gradually add to the butter mixture alternately with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture, beating just until combined after each addition. Stir in the extracts and zest. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until a long wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove from the pan, and cool completely on a wire rack.

Father's Day:
I have the sweetest memories of my dad.  I was a daddy's girl and spent hours and hours of time with him.  He was a home builder and took me along with him as he would visit the beautiful houses he had under construction, he also took me to many, many football, baseball, basketball and hockey games.  He was killed in an airplane crash when I was almost 12 years old, so I am very thankful for the years I had with him. 

My precious husband has so many of the wonderful traits that my dad had and I could have looked the world over and not found a better man to spend my life with.  Not only is he a wonderful husband to me; but is a wonderful dad to our three children.  Here is a picture of David with Baby Samuel.

Our oldest son, Benjamin, wrote a tribute to David a few months ago:

A Father Worth Celebrating
For anyone who knows me well I am not a morning person and it can be difficult to wake me up, but as a young child I was an early riser. After hopping out of bed I would make the short trek from my bedroom to the kitchen to the smell of fresh coffee brewing. On the way I would see my Dad sitting quietly, reading his Bible and in prayer, but he would pause quickly once he saw me for a good morning hug and kiss. We would then go into the kitchen for a cup of coffee ... well it was more like coffee milk for me, which is a tiny bit of coffee mixed in with a lot of milk and some sugar (He did not want me bouncing off the walls, because my attention span was already short enough). I wanted to be just like my Dad (and I still do), so if I saw him drinking coffee I wanted some too.
Needless to say I thought he was a pretty big deal. In my pre-school years I would look out the window every morning to give him a thumbs up before he left for work. I can only remember forgetting to do so once. I thought the world was coming to an end. That was the reality of my little four-year old mind, so I called him sobbing to tell him I was sorry. He assured me that everything was okay and that he loved me no matter what.
From age five to age seven my birthday parties consisted of me and about 20 of my buddies dressing up as Robin Hood, cowboys and Indians, and army men and chasing him around our house.
Time with dad was just a big deal. Even if he had a long day at work or was tired he always found time for my sister, brother and me, whether it was asking us about our days, reading to us or playing outside with us. And play outside we did. That is where he passed his love for sports down to me. When he would get home from work he would often play kickball, basketball or football with me and the other neighborhood kids. I loved shooting hoops with my dad. His jump-shot from 15-feet is still automatic. On Friday nights he would often take us to high school football games in the fall and high school basketball games in the winter. When the Tar Heels were on TV you could find us in our living room cheering. We even made it to some Carolina games, which was always a treat.
As a kid my dad coached me in basketball. He taught me how to be a team player and have good sportsmanship. He would always tell my teammates and me to play hard, play smart and play together. My dad was my biggest cheerleader. At one of my football games a league official asked him to calm down, because he was running up and down the sidelines shaking the downs marker when he was supposed to be standing there objectively and without bias, but that is my dad. He is all in and goes hard.
Most importantly my dad loves. He has been faithful to my mom and our family since they exchanged wedding vows over 26 years ago. I have seen him eagerly take care of my mom and serve her when she was sick. He would and continues to unashamedly declare his love for her by kissing her and talking about how beautiful she is and what she means to him and is not afraid to do so publicly.
My dad is humble. He is not above any job, and for a man with a master's degree that is impressive. When I was about nine years old he was in between jobs, so he unloaded banana trucks and worked other odd jobs to provide for our family.
Ever since I can remember my dad has been a pastor, and he practices what he preaches. He is the shepherd, the spiritual leader, the pastor of his home, whatever you want to call it, and he takes his responsibilities with that role very seriously. He is eager and faithful to initiate Gospel-centered discussions, and lead family devotions. My dad is always pointing us to the Cross of Christ, and encouraging us to love and good deeds.
I love you, Dad. Happy Birthday!
Thanks for being there,
Happy Baking and Happy Father's Day!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Week 23: Gooey Butter Cake

Last Sunday our church, along with another church, had a picnic by the river.  Many people were baptized and we enjoyed sweet fellowship and delicious food.
The setting was so beautiful!  I had no idea this small river even flowed through our county. The owners of the property along the river have added some fun touches including a picnic shelter and a wonderful porch swing hung over the river from a large tree limb.  David said he plans to take me back there for a picnic so I'll be sure to add pics of this lovely place in the future.
For my potluck dish I brought Gooey Butter Cake.  It is an easy cake to make and always enjoyed by all! There are many variations; but I just made the original.
I hope you are all enjoying the summer!  It is so beautiful in western North Carolina!

Gooey Butter Cake
Source:  Paula Deen

1 18 1/4-ounce package yellow cake mix
1 egg
8 tablespoons butter, melted

1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
8 tablespoons butter, melted
1 16-ounce box powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Combine the cake mix, egg, and butter and mix well with an electric mixer.  Pat the mixture into the bottom of a lightly greased 13 by 9-inch baking pan.
In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth.  Add the eggs, vanilla, and butter and beat together. 
Next, add the powdered sugar and mix well.  Spread over cake batter and bake for 40 to 50 minutes.
 Make sure not to over bake as the center should be a little gooey.
This cake is easy to cut into bars to take to pot luck gatherings.

Here are the different Gooey Butter Cakes you can make:

Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cake: For the cake part use a spice cake mix or a yellow cake mix.  Follow the original recipe, adding a 15-ounce can of pumpkin pie filling and an extra egg to the cream cheese filling. Bake as usual, remove from oven, and allow to cool. Cut into squares and top each square with a pecan half. Serve with a dollop of fresh whipped cream. I promise you’ll never want pumpkin pie again!

Pineapple Gooey Butter Cake: Add a 20-ounce can of drained crushed pineapple and an extra egg to the cream cheese filling. Proceed as directed above.

Lemon Gooey Butter Cake: Use a lemon cake mix in place of the yellow cake. Add the juice (approximately 1/4 cup) and zest of 2 lemons to the cream cheese filling. Proceed: as directed above.

Carrot Cake Gooey Butter Cake: Use a spice cake mix, and add 1 cup chopped nuts and 1 1/2 cup finely grated carrots to the cream cheese filling. Proceed as directed above.

Peanut Butter Gooey Butter Cake: Use a chocolate cake mix. Add 1 cup creamy peanut butter and an extra egg to cream cheese filling. You can sprinkle the top of batter with 1 cup chopped peanuts if you like. Proceed as directed above.

Chocolate Chip Gooey Butter Cake: Use either yellow or chocolate cake mix. Sprinkle 1 cup chocolate chips and 1 cup chopped nuts on top of filling. Proceed as directed above.

Banana Gooey Butter Cake: Use a yellow cake mix. Prepare cream cheese filling as directed, beating in 2 ripe bananas and an extra egg. Proceed as directed above.

Nutty Gooey Butter Cake: Use a yellow cake mix, and add 1 cup chopped nuts to the cake mixture. Proceed as directed above.

Chippy Gooey Butter Cake: Stir 1 cup white chocolate chips, peanut butter chocolate chips, butterscotch morsels, Heath Almond Toffee Bits or Heath Milk Chocolate Toffee Bits into filling. Proceed as directed above.

Happy Baking!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Week 22: A New Cake and a New Friend

May 5th was a special day for me! Bethany Louise had come home the day before and she joined me in running my usual Saturday errands.  We picked up the church bulletins and did some shopping for some things she needed for the summer.  Our last stop was the grocery store. I stopped by the bakery to price a large sheet cake for Samuel's graduation open house (did I really want to make homemade cakes for 75 people?).  The bakery employee said that they could make the icing in Sam's school colors and I mentioned that we homeschooled. A lady, shopping nearby, said, "Excuse me, I overheard that you homeschool."

This began a sweet conversation with Kimberly - my new, God sent, friend.  Her pastor husband, two daughters and she moved to the next city over in January from Raleigh, North Carolina. They had homeschooled for years and her husband had just been named head teaching pastor for the first time.  I knew that David and I could encourage them in many ways since we left a large church 15 years ago when David took his first church as lead pastor. So I got her phone number and told her that I would call her so we could all get together after Samuel's open house.

I went home and excitedly told David about Kimberly and Joel and mentioned that she reminded me of my Arkansas friends.  I looked for her on Facebook and when I found her I discovered that we had mutual friends from Arkansas!  She had actually lived in Arkansas and knew people that we knew!!!  As we have gotten to know each other we have discovered that not only do we have the "Arkansas connection", but she also lived in Coral Gables (where I went to college) and her mother went to the church I went to, David and Samuel had been reading about her daddy in a book they are reading together (a former college football coach), the woman that introduced her to her husband, Joel, was a good friend of mine and was in our wedding and we have mutual friends from Raleigh.  We have so many things in common.  The Lord truly intended for our paths to cross that day in the grocery store.  Kimberly said that she had intended to go to another store; but went to the one we met in because they had a Starbucks. : )  God had BIGGER plans.

Last Friday Kimberly and Joel came for dinner.  We enjoyed such sweet fellowship in the kitchen while our husbands fellowshipped and discussed ministry around the grill and then we all enjoyed time around the table and our backporch.

For dessert I made Pioneer Woman's Blackberry Cheesecake, except I made mine with blueberries and I made the traditional graham cracker crust.  David said it may be the best cheesecake he's ever eaten.  You bake the cheesecake first and once it has cooled you add the cooled, cooked berries (you can use any type of berry - I just happened to have two pints of blueberries in the fridge).  Another tip is to throw in a handful of berries into the cooked berries before pouring it over the cheesecake.  I made it the day before I served it and placed it on the serving dish before I unlatched the springform pan.  The blueberry sauce ran down the sides in a most beautiful way!

I do hope many of you will bake this cake  - so delicious!!!


Blueberry Cheesecake
Source:  Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman

1 Cup graham cracker crumbs
2 Tablespoons sugar
3 Tablespoons melted butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine all and press into a 10 inch springform pan.  Bake for 8 minutes at 350 degrees.

3 packages 8 oz. bars of Cream Cheese, at room temperature
1 and 1/2 cups sugar
4 eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream

For the filling, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Add sour cream and mix again. Pour mixture into crust, smooth the top, and bake for 1 hour, 10 minutes. Turn off oven and open door and allow to sit in the oven with the door opened for 15 minutes. Remove and allow to cool.

 2 cups blueberries (you can also use blackberries, raspberries or strawberries)
1/2 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons water

For the topping, add blueberries, sugar, and water to a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook for 4 to 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow to cool slightly. Throw in an extra handful of whole berries to the pot of cooked berries.
Pour berries over the cheesecake and place pan into the fridge to cool and set for at least 2 hours---overnight is best.

Happy Baking!