Tag Archives: Baking

More Food As A Gift


Actually it’s Apple Crostata

Apple Crostata

Just a follow up to Food As A Gift the other day…

Another Recipe For Cinnamon Buns

My SIL gave me her recipe for Cinnamon Buns many years ago, of which I have made over and over, mainly for Christmas Morning brunch.

SIL's recipe for Sticky Cinnamon Buns

SIL’s recipe for Sticky Cinnamon Buns

They’re very good, but more of a stick bun and I wanted to try something different.

I watch Cook’s Country on our local PBS station; I never miss an episode.  Most recently, Bridget Lancaster made Quicker Cinnamon Buns, I immediately printed out the recipe (you’ll need to sign up online in order get more recipes from America’s Test Kitchen as well as Cook’s Country) for Sunday Brunch, and you know I always do things with my own twist, so here we go.


Quick Cinnamon Buns


¾ C. packed light Brown Sugar (5 ¼ oz.)

¼ C. granulated Sugar (1 ¾ oz.)

1 Tbsp. ground Cinnamon

1/8 tsp. Salt

2 Tbsp. melted unsalted Butter

1 tsp Vanilla Extract


1 ¼ C. whole Milk

4 tsp. instant or rapid-rise Yeast

2 Tbsp. granulated Sugar, divided

2 3/4 C. All-purpose Flour (13 ¾ oz.)

2 ½ tsp. Baking Powder

¾ tsp. Salt

6 Tbsp. melted unsalted Butter


3 oz. softened Cream Cheese

2 Tbsp. melted unsalted Butter

2 Tbsp. whole Milk

½ tsp. Vanilla Extract

1/8 tsp. Salt

1 C. Powdered Sugar (4 oz.)

*Tip-since you’re using so much melted Butter, melt it all together, 10 tablespoons.  Also, if you only have light colored cake pans, place the oven rack at its lowest, increase the temp to 375⁰ and bake for 29-32 minutes.

Combine the filling ingredients in a small bowl until it looks like course sand; set aside.

Prepare a dark 9 inch round cake pan by greasing it with some soft butter and then line it with a piece of parchment paper, cut to fit the bottom of the pan and grease the paper as well.

Pour ¼ of the milk into a small bowl and heat to 110⁰ in the microwave.  Add 1 teaspoon of the sugar as well as the yeast, stir to combine and let proof for 5 minutes.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and remaining 5 teaspoons of sugar.  Stir in 2 tablespoons of melted butter, the yeast mixture and the remaining cup of milk, until the dough comes together, this will be very sticky.  Turn the dough out on the kitchen counter that has plenty of flour on it.  Knead the dough until its smooth, about 2 minutes or so.

use the bench flour to guide you to the 12x9 inch size

use the bench flour to guide you to the 12×9 inch size

Roll this out into a 12 inch by 9 inch rectangle.  Brush the top with 2 tablespoons of melted butter (you might need to give the melted butter a good stir or even a few seconds in the micro again if it tightens up), leaving a ½ inch border at the farthest edge from you.  Spread the filling evenly over the butter and press it in firmly.  Using a bench scraper or a spatula, loosen the dough from the counter.

12 inch log of Cinnamon Buns

Start to roll the dough away from you, into a log as tightly as you can.  Pinch the edge to seal it and turn that edge over towards the counter.  Cut the log into 8 equal pieces.  Place one piece, cut side down, into the middle of the cake pan and then the rest of the buns around it, again, cut side down.  Brush the tops with 2 tablespoons of melted butter, cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise for 30 minutes.

In the mean time, preheat the oven to 350⁰ with the rack in the middle of the oven.

Remove the plastic and bake for 23-25 minutes.


Loosen the buns with a butter knife and set to cool on a wire rack over a sheet pan for 5 minutes.  Turn the buns out on to a large plate; remove the parchment paper and turn back over onto the rack and let cool another 5 minutes.

glazed Cinnamon Buns

Here’s where I differ, the glaze.  I left out the cream cheese because my husband is not a fan.

oh my, Cinnamon Buns

Simply whisk all of the glaze ingredients together and pour evenly over the now cooled buns and serve.

Serving suggestion:

Another Sunday Brunch

 Happy Sunday Brunch!

The Best Apple Cake I’ve Ever Had!

No, really.  Our Niece-in-law sent me this recipe and photo of her finished product.  I figured, Hmmm, I have all of these ingredients, I could make this today.  The original recipe came from my SIL, I gave it a couple of tweaks; I’m thinking that a good shot (or two) of Brandy, Apple Jack or Bourbon would be excellent in this cake Pat!

The Best Apple Cake I've Ever Had!

The Best Apple Cake I’ve Ever Had!

1 ½ C. Canola Oil (or Safflower any neutral oil)

3 Eggs

2 C. Sugar

2 tsp. Vanilla

3 C. All Purpose Flour

1 tsp. Cinnamon

1 ½ tsp. Baking Soda

1 tsp. Salt

1 C. Chopped Nuts (I used Pecans)

1 C. Shredded Sweetened Coconut

3 C. Diced Apples, peeled and cored (I used Organic Fuji Apples)


Put everything except the last three ingredients into the bowl of Stand Mixer, beat well.

Add the remaining ingredients and mix until just incorporated.

Pour into a greased and floured tube pan (I used Pam® Baking Spray and a Bundt pan).

Bake in a pre-heated oven at 350⁰ for 1 ½ hours.



1 C. Light Brown Sugar

½ C. Butter (1 stick)

¼ C. Milk
Boil the Icing ingredients 2 ½ min. Pour over the cake while it’s hot, in the pan.  You might need to ‘help’ the icing pour down between the cake and the pan with a bamboo skewer or plastic knife.  Cool for about half an hour; run a plastic knife around the pan to loosen the cake and turn out on to a cooling rack.  You may have to redistribute the icing over the cake.


This is a Husband Approved Cake.

MMM, The Best Apple Cake


Trader Joe’s Blondie Bar Mix

Meh, not so much.

Normally, I do not use packed baking mixes, but I really wanted to try this from TJ’s, just to see how it would compare to my Caramel Cuts.

They were a little on the dry side for our taste, but then my Haole Brownies are da best!

Haole Brownies or Caramel Cuts



My Husband Is A Great Guy

Have I mentioned that before? He really is.  Takin’ one for the team and all!

I’ve started a small cake shop and that means that sometimes you need to test recipes. Cake is not on our diet, I mean new way of looking at food attitude. We both come from a generation that didn’t have a lot growing up and that meant never throwing out food, as well as the clean your plate club, but that’s a whole ‘nother bag of beans…

WHAT Happened Here?

When I unmolded these two cuties… I don’t know… they just weren’t right, but MAN! They sure tasted good! It started out as, “yum, let me taste that for you”.  We ate one of them and then I did finally throw the other, very nasty lookin’ one out, we just can’t have this yummy stuff in the house.


Muffins Aren’t Just For Breakfast

It has been such a cloudy, yucky, miserable day outside, I wanted something tasty.

I like cake, but not so much with the frosting on it. I had been looking online at different recipes for quick breads and cakes; I also started to look through some of my old cookbooks. I have the 1962 printing of Joy Of Cooking and Bernard Clayton’s New Complete Book of Breads. So I combined all of the above and came up with this receipt:

Moist and Cakey Blueberry Muffins

blueberry muffins

¾ C. Whole Milk

½ C. melted Butter

1 Egg

2 C. Cake Flour

2/3 C. granulated Sugar

3 tsp. Baking Powder

1 tsp. Table Salt

1 to 1 ½ C. Frozen Blueberries

Preheat oven to 400⁰

Butter the bottoms only of a 12-muffin pan (I don’t use the papercups, but you can if you like)

Beat together milk, butter and egg in a small bowl. In a separate large bowl, add the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt, stir to combine well with a whisk. Stir in the wet ingredients to the dry and mix together with as few strokes as possible, it will be lumpy, combine until all flour is just moistened. Fold gentle in the blueberries. Fill muffins tins evenly to ¾ full; bake until golden brown approximately 16-20 minutes. Remove the muffins from the tin immediately to a wire rack to cool.

blueberry muffins

** here’s a great tip that I discovered – you know those little ‘pillows’ that are in the jars of vitamins and such to keep them dry? save those in a zip-top baggie for when you have a baked good that you don’t want to go stall. Put one of those in your domed cake dish with your muffins, they’ll stay fresh much longer, that is if they stick around**

blueberry muffins

Kahlua Cake, My Favorite, Well One Of Them Anyway

When I was still twenty-something, I went to a potluck Christmas party.

In Hawaii, food is a big thing.  Men and women take genuine pride in the dishes that they make.  It was such a blast to go to potlucks; you never knew what would be on that groaning table full of food.  When I say table, I refer to what is called the Luau-sized table.  They could easily be 20 feet long with plain white paper tapped to the top.

I remember this particular party because of this cake that was my dream come true. I’m not one for sweet, sticky, gooey icings or frostings. My sister loved it when we had cake as kids, because she could always have the frosting that I scraped off. I’d just eat the cake and not the icing, unless it’s German Chocolate cake, that’s a whole n’other story. I must have had three pieces of this wonderful Bundt cake. I sought out the maker and begged her to give me the recipe. She swore me to secrecy, that I could make this cake for other people, but I couldn’t share the recipe. My sister doesn’t feel as though it’s Christmas if I don’t make and/or send her this cake. Many years later, I was searching the Internet and found many recipes very similar to the one that I had been given.

I am not the best baker out there.  I use to bake a lot when I was younger, but as time marches on, so do our waistlines.  But Christmas is a time for indulgence. Normally, I make most of what DH and I eat from scratch, no packaged dinners and such. But this is how I learned to make this cake, and I’m sticking to it.

Kahlua Cake

1 Duncan Hines Butter Recipe cake mix (any brand will do)

1 pkg Instant Vanilla Pudding

4 Eggs

½ C Kahlua

½ C Vegetable Oil

½ C Water


In electric mixer, beat eggs; add the remaining cake ingredients beat on medium speed for 4 minutes. Pour into a well greased and floured Bundt pan and bake at 350⁰ for about 50 minutes. Cool in pan for 5 minutes.



1 stick (8 Tbsp) Butter

¼ C Kahlua

½ C Water

1 C Granulated Sugar


In a small saucepan melt the butter and then stir in the remaining ingredients; boil for 3 minutes.

Pour over the warm cake still in the Bundt pan.

Cool for 1 hour before removing.

This cake is best on the second day.

This cake is moist but not overly so. The booze in it isn’t so strong that it’s like jet fuel, burning your throat on the way down. This past Christmas, DH and I spent the holiday with very dear friends of ours and I took this cake, made up all fancy like. I still can’t believe that domed cake stand didn’t break along the way in our car. As we were leaving, Missus Dear Friend came running out, ‘you forgot this’.  I told her what My Grandmother would say, you give it back to me when you see me again, and I’ll fill it back up for you.

Food As Gifts

When I was growing up, our family didn’t have alot of money, as many homes in Hawaii were and are today. My parents taught my sister and I the value of a dollar, and a fun thing that we would do was to make the gifts that we gave. It started out as most kids will do in school, clay pieces that we made, or our first collage from magazine clippings. Little by little, as we got older, the gift ideas changed. As we matured, so did what we made. I’ve made all kinds of things, of course my most favorite gift is something to do with food.

Last year I made up a wonderful spice rub and packaged it in an uber cute way.

spice rub

My Mother had given me 48 spice jars, I really only needed 12. So I put this aromatic blend into the extras, along with a small bottle of Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar; our friends loved it.


Cookies or any baked good for that matter is most welcome at anytime. I make a point of giving something each year to our USPS delivery person as well as of UPS guys. They are all very kind to us here in the middle of the desert.

Gift Coupon Booklet

This past Christmas, I was trying to figure out a funny, loving and heartfelt gift for my DH as well as my Mother. Mom doesn’t drive any more, but doesn’t like to bother me by asking me to take her places. So I made her a coupon book; I called it ‘Hot Chicks Express Transport Service-redeemable only by calling xxx-xxx-xxxx’ (she likes to email to me rather than pick up the phone and call) and did a copy&paste of photos of 2 gals in a great cars. I added a fun paper punch that I found at the hobby store, so that each ticket gets a punch with each trip.

DH feels that I don’t make his favorite dishes as often as he would like. So in his stocking was a booklet of coupons, advance reservations are required. One for a batch of Chocolate Chip cookies, homemade Raviolis, Pizza, Apple Pie and scratch made Double Crust Pot Pie (his choice of meat).

Homemade Dilly Beans

Mom loves Dilly Beans, but we can’t find them in the Supermarket any longer. So I figured out how to can my own, but we’ll talk more about this later. Suffice to say she was over the moon with this one.

Home Canned Italian Peppers

My American-Italian husband has tried to get me to make ‘Peppers and Eggs’, what the heck is that? Well, after years of research I finally got it. I put up my own Peppers, just as his Nonna did. You should have heard him, where did you get these? He was very happy. I’ll elaborate farther with this recipe as well, later.


My Husband and I have been together for nearly 25 years.  During this time he has talked about Mother’s Cake and why can’t I make this for him.  HUH?  I searched the Internet for years.  I interviewed numerous in-laws.  No luck.   

Not so long ago, I came across a recipe that looked like it might be promising.  I’ll admit it, I am not the world’s best baker.  I lean more towards the savory side of the kitchen. I use to make cookies and a few cakes, regularly.  But as life marches on, so do our waistlines.  It was better that I cut back on the sweet stuff for both DH and me.

 As I mentioned, we are retired and I have time now to ‘play’ as my husband refers to my cooking/baking.  If something comes out horribly wrong, oh well, at least it didn’t cost me nearly as much as it did in Hawaii.   

Once I honed the recipe, I sent a copy to our Niece-in-law, whose husband also asks for Mother’s Cake.  “Hey, this is just a basic yellow cake Auntie”, she exclaimed over the phone to me.  I never thought of it that way, she’s right.  But MAN, this is the best scratch cake I’ve ever had, sorry Grandma.


This recipe makes a 3 layered cake or 3 dozen cupcakes.  If your cupboard is like mine, I have only 2 cake pans and 1 cupcake tin, that’s what you’ll get.  A double layered cake and a dozen cupcakes.  If this all sounds like too much cake, not to worry, it freezes well for later.  We usually eat the cake first and then the cupcakes are in reserve.


Mother’s Cake

2 ¼ C. All-Purpose Flour, don’t sift it, just fluff and scoop, lightly

1 ½ C. granulated Sugar

3 ½ tsp. Baking Powder

1 tsp. Table Salt

1 ¼ C. whole Milk

Vegetable Oil, any type except Olive

½ C. unsalted Butter, softened

1 Tbsp. Vanilla Extract (that’s right, not teaspoon)

3 large Eggs, at room temperature


Preheat the oven to 350

Cut parchment rounds for the bottoms of the cake pans.  Lightly, spray cooking oil into the pans; place the paper in pans and then spray the paper.  If you’re making cupcakes, just use the spray. 

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt with a whisk; set aside. 

Pour the milk into a two-cup measuring cup.  Now add to the milk just enough vegetable oil that it comes to the 1 and 1/3 mark on the cup.  Add this mixture, along with the butter and vanilla to the dry ingredients and beat with an electric mixer on medium-high speed for 2 minutes, scraping the sides of the bowl. 

Add the eggs and continue beating for an additional 2 minutes. 

Pour the batter in the pans. 

Bake for 20-25 minutes for the cakes or 15-17 minutes for the cupcakes.  Do not over bake, an inserted wooden toothpick should come out with a few crumbs or when touched in the centers, they spring back. 

Cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes and then remove them from the pans to cool completely on the rack. 

Once cooled, frost as desired.  

( I used Hershey’s “Perfectly Chocolate” Chocolate Frosting )