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Jun 1, 2010 11:18 AM

What are you baking these days? Part III [old]

(Note: There's a newer "What are you baking these days?" thread started. If you have a question or comment about something below, please go ahead and post it. But if you want to add a new thing you're baking to the list, please find the newest thread from this list: -- The Chowhound Team )

Almost hit 200 on Part II, mnosyne reminded me ;-) to start a new one for ease of access. So, those of you in presently cooler climes, those of you who crank up the AC to counteract the oven, and those of you who bake regardless of how hot it gets in the house...what are you baking these days?

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  1. Friend's birthday tomorrow. I'm making her a strawberry cake that I originally saw on Chowhound. I wanted to avoid using flavored gelatin, but the blogs I've read say strawberry cakes made without it lack that intense berry flavor. So I am going with'll be raspberry jello. I went to two stores and couldn't find anything else. Thanks, Deutschland.

    I'm following this recipe, which was posted elsewhere on CH:

    Strawberry Cake

    2 cups Self rising Flour
    3 eggs
    1 cup Vegetable Oil
    1 Cup Sugar
    1 Pkg. Strawberry Jello
    1/2 cup Buttermilk
    1 1/4 cup of Strawberries , Pureed

    Pre heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 8 in round pans. Sift flour into a bowl, set aside in another bowl beat eggs then add oil, sugar, gelatin, and buttermilk. stir untill well blended. Add flour to the mixture and blend. Drain 1/4 cup of juice from berries and save for icing. fold in berries . pour in pans and bake for 25 to 30 min, or till browned. Turn out on a rack to cool.


    1/4 lb. butter, softened
    1 pkg. (8oz) Cream cheese
    1/4 cup berry Juice
    1 1 lb box Powdered Sugar

    Mix all until creamy and well blended.

    3 Replies
      1. re: ChristinaMason

        I made this yesterday, but as cupcakes. Turned out very nicely! Topped each cupcake with a slice of strawberry & brought them into work.

        1. re: jenscats5

          Mine didn't turn out so great. I couldn't find strawberry gelatin, so I had to sub. raspberry. Weird combination of flavors, and it tasted distinctly "fake" to me. I am not sure if the strawberry would be better, but probably. I also had problems with getting one of my layers to bake through.

          Ah, baking. I'll stick with my single layer chocolate cakes for a while. Hard to screw up!

      2. I had a bunch of egg whites in the fridge, so I made some Financiers using a recipe on CH. Perhaps I overmixed, but I got only 17 instead of the 24 you are supposed to get, or maybe my mini-muffin pan was too large. I was not overly impressed with the results; they seemed a bit too chewy. They were also unevenly baked; I don't think I needed the baking sheet under the muffin pan. Oh well, another try the next time I have egg whites - should not be too long as I keep making sabayon to help the wifey's sick throat!

        16 Replies
        1. re: souschef

          How many egg whites does the recipe use? I have a jar of them lurking in the freezer that I imported from NYC to my new kitchen, child of Depression-era parents, couldn't bring myself to throw them out. (Sabayon on a sore throat: no wonder she keeps you around ;-)

          1. re: buttertart

            It uses 6 egg whites.

            The financiers taste much better today; I got impatient yesterday and ate them right out of the oven. I will definitely make them again. I want to see them uniformly brown all over.

                1. re: souschef

                  Back in the late 80's/early 90's, the restaurant Montrachet in NYC made amazing financiers. At one point I had their recipe - they used almond flour (from Bazzini's down the street). Think you inspired me to make them again.

                  1. re: sbp

                    A slew of sabayons left me with egg whites, so I made them again, this time increasing the quantity of the ingredients by 1/3 so I was able to fill all 24 molds.

                    I left out the baking tray on the bottom, and they got nicely browned, but I am not too crazy about the taste or texture, and they seem a bit too oily, perhaps because there is a lot of butter in them.

                    Oh BTW I saw almond flour in an Italian deli, and used that instead of the sliced almonds as the guy in the store said that it was just very finely ground almonds.

                    1. re: souschef

                      I often have some almond flour in my freezer, and I really wish all the recipes that ask you to finely grind whole/slivered/sliced almonds would give a weight or measure for the almonds once ground so I could use the preground stuff I have. Some do, but most don't. Also, even when I don't have the flour, I could then use whatever sort of almonds I already have on hand. For the latter reason, I appreciate when they give a weight of almonds before processing, though weights for pre- *and* post- would be most helpful.

                      1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                        The solution to that is easy - when in that situation I pull out (you guessed it) ...... Ta Daaah! ...... The Cake Bible. The "Ingredients" section has weights of a variety of ingredients in various forms.

                        1. re: souschef

                          Oh, good reminder! Unfortunately, my copy is currently in storage, but I may pull it out next time just to have that info handy. I know I can find it on the web, but I've seen enough conflicting info there not to blindly trust. I'd trust RLB's measurments, though.

                          1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                            Anyone who would have you weigh egg yolks/whites for accuracy is a stickler and a half.

                            1. re: buttertart

                              Well, when I made those sabayons I just chucked the whites into a jar and lost count, so weighing them was the best way to get the number of whites I needed.

                              Yes, I know I should freeze them individually, but I knew I was going to need them within a few days, so did not.

                              1. re: souschef

                                I know, I'm planning to use some of them I have frozen and am glad of the weight measurement information. I've lightened up on RLB since your advocacy.

                        2. re: Caitlin McGrath

                          Caitlin: Do you have almond flour or almond meal? I buy the meal in the cooler near the bulk bins at Berkeley Bowl. I think it's more grainy that almond flour.

                          Also, I've never had much success grinding my own almonds. The food processor doesn't get them fine enough (Cuisinart) and blender is just too much trouble - bottom gets almost gummy and top has chunks. A pain to keep dredging up the finely ground ones and letting the pieces get down to the blade. Or maybe I have a defective blender. It IS very old, but it is a Waring and has never given me trouble before.

                          1. re: oakjoan

                            You will never be able to grind almonds at home as finely as they do commercially.

                            1. re: oakjoan

                              I buy the same almond meal as you, though on occasion I've bought it from TJ's.

                              1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                Aaagh another mention of Berkeley Bowl! (sticking fingers in my ears and humming loudly) You are so lucky out there in that finest of all college towns.

            1. Had some friends over for cards on Sunday night and couldn't resist making pineapple upside-down cake in my cast iron skillet. It's from my family cookbook and is printed with the following commentary by my Great-aunt Lil: "This was real good in 1950, '51, '52 especially during a game of Canasta, when Jim [my granddad] or Doc [Lil's husband] announced they were hungry. Then Pinky [my grandma] and I started in." Isn't that priceless? :)

              Anyhow, it's a pretty standard recipe (though I do use butter rather than the specified shortening/margarine) but turns out perfectly every time! One card-playing guest downed darn near half the cake. I'm happy to post the recipe if anyone's interested.

              10 Replies
              1. re: LauraGrace

                Adorable. Brings back memories of my family in the late 50's and early 60s. Please do, in direct transcription if possible (since it's your great-aunt's and not copyrighted I expect). I love seeing notes like that on my mom's recipes (I unearthed them during my move and am so happy to see them again.)

                1. re: buttertart

                  Your wish is my command, buttertart! Copied verbatim from my family cookbook (my notes in parentheses):

                  Put 1 c. brown sugar in the bottom of a #10 cast iron skilled - 1/2 oleo (I use butter) dotted on sugar - drain a can of pineapple slices (I reserve the juice) - place on sugar

                  1 1/2 c. flour (see my notes at the bottom)
                  2 t. baking powder
                  1/3 c. shortening (again, I use butter)
                  1 c. sugar
                  1/2 t. salt
                  2/3 c. milk

                  Beat 2 minutes. Add 1 egg and beat 2 minutes more. Pour over pineapple. Bake 20-30 mins at 350.

                  My notes: This was originally a typical WWII one-bowl economy/dinette cake, with few rationed ingredients like eggs and butter. Living as I do without ration books, I increase the flour to 2.5 cups, increase the butter in the cake to 1/2 cup, and add another egg. I also add a splash of vanilla, and sour the milk with 1/3 cup of the reserved pineapple juice before adding. I use the creaming method rather than beating everything together.

                  I tell you what, so many family cookbooks nowadays are just dire collections of jello salads and cream-of-alligator soup casseroles, but I'm sure blessed with a good one. So many 100-year-old classic Midwest recipes, creative ones from the Depression, oh, and the *candy* recipes! Sigh. It's a real treasure. It even includes a copy of my great-grandparents' marriage certificate from 1902, with the following aphorism on the back (too sweet not to share):

                  The Ornament of a home is Cleanliness,
                  The Honor of a home is Hospitality,
                  The Blessing of a home is Piety,
                  The Happiness of a home is Contentment.


                    1. re: LauraGrace

                      I'm going to try this too. Thanks.
                      How great to have a family cookbook and a good one at that. Love the sentiment and nostalgia factor. Curious, what kind of sigh-worthy candy did your family make?
                      Cream of alligator soup; really?

                      1. re: Island

                        My grandmother's peanut brittle, my mother's English toffee. Plus fudge, divinity, all sorts of wonderful things!

                        Oh, "cream of alligator soup casserole" is just one of my many nicknames for those gloppy cream-of-(chicken/celery/mushroom) soup-based casseroles that make up such a big portion of so many cookbooks of a certain era. I have another cookbook put out by a church, and it is FULL of stuff like that -- thirty variations of "Mix 1 jar cheez wiz, 2 cans cream-of-whatever, 1 envelope french onion soup mix, 8 heaping tablespoons of salt, a stick of margarine, ten drops yellow food coloring, and cubed chicken breasts in a casserole dish, top with canned green beans, crushed potato chips/tater tots/both, bake at 350 for 2 hours or until chicken is completely dessicated. To make it extra special use Mexican-style cheez wiz or add a scant 1/8 t. of the curry powder you got from the A&P fifteen years ago and haven't opened since."

                        Haha! :)

                        1. re: LauraGrace

                          Toffee and fudge mmmmm yum! Love em both.

                          Oh funny. "Hot dish" as my husband would call it. He grew up on those versions of alligator soup casseroles and I don't think he's nostalgic for any!

                          1. re: Island

                            Oh, I definitely grew up on them too! And share your husbands non-nostalgia for them... ;)

                            The ladies at my church growing up made the same casserole for every funeral, to the point that it's simply referred to now as "funeral casserole" -- and it literally is hamburger, cream of mushroom soup, and canned green beans, topped with tater tots and sprinkled *liberally* with Lawry's seasoned salt! I can feel my arteries hardening just thinking about it! Tee hee!

                            1. re: LauraGrace

                              What a riot LauraG! Makes you wonder if funeral casserole can kill.

                          2. re: LauraGrace

                            LG, that is hilarious and so accurate, too. I love those cookbooks but mostly for the entertainment value. The curry powder comment cracked me up!

                        2. re: LauraGrace

                          LauraGrace, this is a wonderful post. Thanks for sharing.

                    2. Strawberry Cheesecake Swirl Brownies. I used the recipe right from the Ghirardelli canister for the brownies, then used the rest of my first batch of native strawberries (1/3 cup) to make a strawberry cheesecake batter and swirled it into the brownie batter.

                      buttertart, I know you think Malgieri's brownies lead the pack, but Ghirardelli's remain my go-tos. By the way, I DON'T add nuts and chocolate chips to mine...they are plenty delicious without them.


                      You can't tell from the pics, but the cheesecake part had an ever-so-slightly pink hue.

                      This week I've gotta go classic, though, and make shortcake biscuits for the first batch of native berries we pick ourselves. And yes, for the first time, I'll do it without Bisquick (the way I grew up eating shortcake biscuits and how my mom still makes them).

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: kattyeyes

                        Ok ok kattyeyes, I'll try yours (the G ground chocolate in a canister, right?) - but you're transgressing upon 2 of my my deeply-held tenets:
                        1. Strawberries do not go with chocolate in any way, shape, or form.
                        2. Native strawberries? Must be eaten as is immediately while alone so nobody else gets any. (But I bet your brownies are dreamy nonetheless.)
                        (One of the two or three best desserts of my life was a wild strawberry sorbet on a crisp meringue with wild strawberries on top, at L'Angle du Faubourg in Paris. Those Taillevent folks make some dynamite fruit desserts - white peaches and lemon verbena ice cream, anyone?)

                        1. re: buttertart

                          To be specific (because there's more than one Ghirardelli ground chocolate in a canister), it's this one:
                          Sweet Ground Chocolate and Cocoa

                          And as much as I love what I made this weekend, my all-time fave special twist on this particular brownie is adding white chocolate chips and native raspberries, but I digress! ;) I can't wait to go pickin', then get in my kitchen and make these.

                          Ohmygoodness re your number 1 tenet--are you sure we can still be friends? :) I could easily sit with a bowl of melted Callebaut and go nuts with fresh strawbs. Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

                          1. re: kattyeyes

                            I'll forgive you because of your better qualities ;-) . And I will try your brownies soon!

                            1. re: kattyeyes

                              And if you find your local market is out of or doesn't carry the Sweet Ground Chocolate and Cocoa, look for Ghirardelli Double Chocolate Hot Cocoa mix, which I discovered is exactly the same product, just branded differently. I assume it doesn't have thebrownie recipe on the label, though!


                              1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                I'll have a look, since somebody is twisting my arm to try these! Thanks Caitlin.

                        2. I made strawberry crostata, using Giada’s crust recipe (1.5C flour, 2 T sugar, ½ tsp salt, 5 oz butter cut into small pieces and chilled, and 3-4 T ice water, mixed in food processor and chilled, and combining a couple of others for filling: sliced fresh strawbs mixed with 2 T sugar and set aside; the dough rolled out and filled to within 2” of edge with a layer of mixed softened cream cheese (the real stuff, not Philly), 2 T flour, 2 T sugar, 1 T vanilla extract. Strawberries piled on cream cheese mixture; crust edges turned up and sealed. A light egg wash. Sprinkle with golden sugar and press slightly. Bake 25 min in a 400 degree oven. Serve room temp or slightly warm. Mr. M. appreciative!

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: mnosyne

                            What real cream cheese are you referring to and where did you get it?

                            1. re: bushwickgirl

                              It was full-fat cream cheese from the local bagel store.