Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Paula Deen's Strawberry Cake - the cupcake version

Back when I was pregnant I saw Paula Deen make this cake on one of her shows. Soon thereafter, I ran out and got the ingredients and made it for myself, it was my very first double layer cake. I obviously need more practice with layer cakes because though it tasted wonderful, it looked awful. One of the layers stuck in the cake pan and I had to puzzle piece it back together on the cake stand. When a piece was cut from the cake, it's structural integrity was pretty much nonexistent. At the time this was fine with me, my pregnant self just took a bite off the cake with a fork every time I walked through the kitchen.

The next incarnation of this recipe came at my birthday party when it was made into cupcakes. Much better for this inexperienced baker-gal! I'm including Paula's cake recipe, but the conversion into cupcakes was simple, just watch the baking time. The cupcakes can also be prepared ahead of time and frozen.

Paula Deen's Simply Delicious Strawberry Cake
Source: Food Network


1 box white cake mix
1 3 oz box strawberry flavored instant gelatin
1 15 oz package frozen strawberries in syrup, thawed and pureed
4 large eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup water

1/4 cup butter, softened
1 8 oz package cream cheese, softened
1 10 oz package frozen strawberries in syrup, thawed and pureed
1/2 teaspoon strawberry extract
7 cups confectioners' sugar


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Grease 2 9-inch round cake pans.
In a mixing bowl, combine cake mix and geletin, add strawberries, eggs, oil and water, beat on medium until smooth. Pour into prepared cake pans and bake for 20 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the center. Let cool for 10 minutes, remove from pans and cool completely on wire racks.

In a mixing bowl, beat butter and cream cheese on medium until creamy. Beat in 1/4 cup of the strawberry puree and the vanilla extract. Gradually add confectioners' sugar and beat until smooth.

Frost cake and garnish with fresh strawberries.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Cookie baking equipment

My mom was kind enough to put together a list of her favorite cookie equipment as a compliment to an earlier guest post she did about her cookie sheets here.


My interpretation of the word gadget is something you can get by without, whereas equipment is something you have to have to perform the task. I love both gadgets and equipment and feel that what is one man’s gadget is another man’s equipment and that you can never have enough of either.

My pride and joy is my Kitchen Aid mixer. When I got it I went all out and got the 6 qt. bowl lift model and I love it. The only thing that would make it better is to take it into an auto body shop and have flames painted down the sides like the one Alton Brown used to use on the Food Network show ‘Good Eats’. Don’t laugh, I’ve seriously considered it!

There are some things to consider if you are thinking about purchasing one of these behemoths. First thing is, do you have the counter space to leave it out? If not, keep in mind that it weighs over 25 pounds and it takes some muscle to lift it out of a cabinet. If you think you have enough counter space to leave it out, make sure you have enough clearance. The 6 qt. bowl lift model is almost 17” tall, I do not have the clearance under my cabinets to store it on my counter. So, I’ve gotten rid of my weight lifting equipment and use my mixer instead.

Another important item is see through canisters. Decorative ceramic canisters are not the place to store flours and sugars. My choice is see though square or rectangular Tupperware or Snapware. Both brands slide in side by side, taking up much less room than round containers, and stack well. Get containers large enough for entire bags of flour or sugar.

For cookie baking I love using serving scoops. I have two of them, a 1 tbsp. and a 2 tbsp. They make very uniform size and shaped cookies that cook consistently and are pretty. I have to admit, I shape every cookie I make after scooping it onto the sheet.

If you’re over the age of 30, you’ve probably used brown paper bags to cool cookies. A couple years ago I graduated to non-stick cooling racks with criss-cross wires and I love them! Anyone who bakes cookies should have two or three of them.

Pot holders, something everyone has, and never has enough of. The little crocheted and knitted ones that your grandmother made for you, or your daughter made for you in Girls Scouts, should be kept only as heirlooms. You will burn yourself for sure, pretty though they are. Last year I found some silicone potholders that I love! They are a little pricey but definitely worth the money.

Measuring equipment, not gadgets mind you, equipment. I cannot get by without two standard sets of measuring cups and measuring spoons. The orange are Tupperware circa 1973, the white ones are also Tupperware, but I’m pretty sure they are less than 15 years old. The white measuring spoons are the best as you can see that they have a flared end and will sit flat on your counter.
I also believe in two and four cup glass measuring cups and have several of the small glass ones for liquid measurement of teaspoons and tablespoons, those are very handy. My next purchase will be a plunge type measuring cup which will be great for peanut butter, shortening, etc.

Spatulas, spoonulas, whatever. You don’t have as many of them as you need. The three I use the most are the narrow one from Food Network, but I am not crazy about wooden handles on anything because gunk can get up in the joint and is hard to clean out; the large one from William’s Sonoma, but it also has a wooden handle and isn’t flexible at all. Ahh, the bright yellow one with no brand name that I bought at a hardware store! It is my go to for everything I do. It’s flexible, there are no crevices to gather goo, and it is absolutely perfect. The only problem is I’ve looked high and low to find more and haven’t had any luck. If I ever find them again I’ll buy one in each size they have and ditch all my others.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Banny's Southern Cream Cookies

Work has picked up again, thankfully my mom has been cooking a lot and has graciously written a guest post for me. I ate like five of these awesome cookies in about two minutes, they are that good.


When I started my cookie making odyssey a month or so ago I made 18 different kinds, all but just a few were recipes that were new to me. Some weren’t so great (and you’ll never have to hear about those) but I received the most requests for this recipe. I got this recipe from and absolutely loved it!!

Banny’s Southern Cream Cookies

1 c. shortening
2 c. sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. sour cream
5 c. flour
1 tsp. salt
3 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1.5 c. chopped walnuts

3 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350, lightly grease baking sheets.

Cream the shortening w/ 2 cups sugar until light and fluffy, beat in the eggs, vanilla and sour cream mixing well.

Stir in the flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda to make a stiff dough. Add the walnuts.

Drop by teaspoonfuls onto prepared sheet. Mix the 3 Tbsp. sugar with the 1 tsp. cinnamon. Grease the bottom of a small glass and dip it into the cinnamon and sugar and gently press the cookies to flatten the balls slightly.

Bake for 10 to 15 minutes until centers are done.

These are amazing, delicate, not overly sweet and very yummy. The recipe actually calls for black walnuts but I couldn’t find any so I just used regular chopped walnuts. Also, I did not grease my cookie sheets, I have good non-stick pans. These barely spread out so you can crowd the pan. I used my small scoop and baked them for 11 minutes.