Elizabeth A.S. Brooke

Crafting, traveling and everything in between.


Grand cake

Nannie sent me an old bundt pan last month. I used it last night to make a chocolate pound cake.

Chocolate pound cake

The cake stuck to the pan though I let it bake an extra 15 minutes or so. I’m not sure if it’s the pan or the recipe.

The cake also absorbed a smell from the pan. Whenever I’d take the pan out of the oven to check the cake, I caught a whiff of my grandma’s house. It apparently rubbed off onto the cake.

“It’s like licking your grandmother’s clothes,” Chris said while eating a slice.

Bundt pan

The pan is now soaking. Hopefully we can get rid of the smell. It’s nice to have memories of my grandparents’ home, I’m just not sure I want to be reminded of it while eating cake.


Homemade butterscotch pudding

Have you ever ate homemade pudding? It’s by far lots better than the box pudding you can buy in the store. Sure, the box saves some time, but it doesn’t beat the flavors and texture of the real thing. You should try to make homemade pudding at least once.

We used to keep box pudding on hand, particularly for pudding pie, which Chris loves, but we didn’t use them often enough and the last boxes I bought went bad. Though it looked like chocolate pudding, it was a tasteless mass of  dark goo. Ugh!

I found a recipe for vanilla pudding in a cookbook that Chris’ parents gave to me for Christmas a couple of years ago. It also has instructions to alter the recipe into chocolate and butterscotch puddings. This is the butterscotch:

This pudding would be darker if I'd used dark brown sugar instead of light.

This pudding would probably be darker if I’d used dark brown sugar instead of light.

It’s really easy to make and I usually have everything on hand so it comes together quickly. Here’s what you do:

1. Mix 2/3 cup brown sugar, 1/8 tsp. salt and 2 tbsp. cornstarch.

Mix sugar, salt and brown sugar.

Mix sugar, salt and brown sugar.

2. Slowly mix in 2 cups of milk. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until the mixture thickens and boils.

Slowly mix in the milk.

Slowly mix in the milk.

3. After the mixture boils for 1 minute, add half of the mixture to 2 egg yolks. Mix well and return to pot.

(I forgot to snap a photo of this step!)

4. Cook until mixture boils again. Allow to boil for 1 minute.

5. Remove from heat and add 1 tsp. vanilla and 2 tbsp. butter.

Add in the vanilla.

Add in the vanilla.

Stir in the butter.

6. Pour into serving containers or pie shell and refrigerate until set (a few hours).

That’s it! Really easy and delicious.

(This is from a 1989 “Betty Crocker’s Cookbook.”)


Pineapple Upside Down Cake

My first attempt. Waiting for the moment of truth.

We’ve been back from a weeklong vacation for about a day and, of course, Chris didn’t fail to remind me that there’s no dessert in the house. I wanted to make something quick and easy, but I wasn’t sure what that should be. I’m not a big fan of cake, but Chris is so I thought I’d make him one.

I found a recipe for Pineapple Upside Down Cake in my “Betty Crocker’s Cookbook” (published 1989) and thought that might be a good way to use up some canned pineapple in the frig. Chris had never had Pineapple Upside Down Cake, but he was game to try it.

The recipe calls for buttermilk baking mix, but I don’t keep that on hand. So I subbed 1 1/2 cups cake flour, 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda and 1 tsp. salt for the baking mix. I wasn’t sure about the proportions or the substitution, but I thought I’d give it a try. To give the cake a buttermilk flavor, I added a squirt or two of lemon juice to 1/2 cups of milk.

As you can see in the picture above, the bottom of the cake didn’t turn out too bad. I baked it for 30 minutes instead of 35.

Here’s the cake flipped right side up:

Chris’ description: That’s the sorriest excuse for a cake ever.

I’m proud of it, but Chris didn’t know what to think. His description, “That’s the sorriest excuse for a cake ever. I hope it tastes better than it looks.” He wanted to know if it was supposed to look that way. And, in case you don’t know, it is. 🙂

He was also hoping it was a cake that requires icing. He likes eating icing and graham crackers. Many times I only making icing for him to eat as dessert. 🙂

Anyway. Though the cake was falling apart, it was tasty!


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Cake mix (from scratch)

Many of the cook books I have unfortunately include cake recipes that call for a cake mix. I don’t really like mixes because they always seem to get a funky taste after a couple days. They also don’t stay as fresh as from-scratch cakes.

Last night, as I was flipping through some recipes, I came across a chocolate cherry cake that I really wanted to try, but it called for a Swiss chocolate cake mix.

I was not going to give up! So I googled for “homemade cake mix.” I found a couple of good sites, including yellow and white cake mix over at Chickens in the Road.

For chocolate cake mix I found and tried Shirley’s recipe posted on her blog, Choosing Voluntary Simplicity. Here’s the results:


I made a chocolate butter cream frosting that has coffee in it. I think it’ll be a great complement to the chocolate-cherry cake.

Happy early birthday to me! (Just 12 days early.)

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


Sweet goodness

Several years ago I had a subscription service to Easy Everyday Cooking, a service that mailed recipe cards to subscribers every few weeks. After a few months I cancelled the service, but I had already built up quite a collection.

Every once in awhile I get in the mood to flip through the various categories, 19 in all, including from “Snacks and Appetizers,” “Soups and Stews,” “Chicken from the Oven,” “Beef from the Stove,” “Pasta” and “Cookies for all Occasions.”

This weekend the mood striked and I picked “Crumb-Topped Peach Pie” from “Pies, Cakes and Tarts” and “Thumbprint Cookies” from “Cookies for all Occasions.”

I made the pie from six juicy peaches my dad bought from a local produce stand. He left them for Chris and I when he and my mom visited last weekend. I liked making this recipe because I didn’t need to make or buy pie dough and it was a quick and easy way to use up fresh fruit.
The flavors were perfect. The use of almond extract complemented the peaches. The recipe also calls for brown sugar instead of regular granulated sugar in the crumb topping. It was an interesting and delicious change.

The filling, however, was a little runny. I don’t know if I used too many peaches or not enough cornstarch. But, overall, the pie was wonderful, especially with ice cream.

The cookies were by far my favorite. I used real butter and almond extract and vanilla flavoring. Mmmmmmm, I was in dessert heaven!

Although the recipe called for raspberry preserves for the filling, I used a blackberry jelly a local woman gave Chris and I and blackberry jam that my grandmother gave us. Nothing like homemade jellies and jams. Much better than those store bought fruits loaded with sugar!

I can’t wait to eat those cookies with a new hot mug of tea.