Mama’s Italian Cream Cake

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Our Mama and the youngest of the Four Sisters, Erin, have the same birthday.  So, as you can imagine, for the years of our childhood Mama’s birthday was always on the back burner (in fact, most things for Mom were on the back burner in favor of us girls).  Mom turned 70 just a few days ago and for once, the day was all about her.  Dinner at her favorite steak house accompanied by a nice glass of wine, followed by her choice of homemade birthday cake.  Her choice – a delicious Italian Cream that is soooo worth chopping pecans and getting out your baking pans! ~ Tracy

 

For the cake:

½ c. butter (1 stick)

½ c. shortening

2 c. sugar

5 eggs, separated

2 c. flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1 c. buttermilk (if you don’t have any see note)

1 tsp. vanilla

1 c. coconut

1 c. chopped pecans

Cream butter and shortening together, then add sugar.  Beat until smooth.  Add the egg yolks one at a time.  Beat well.  Combine flour and baking soda, then add to the butter mixture alternating with buttermilk.    Stir in vanilla, coconut, and pecans.   Beat the egg whites until they begin to form soft peaks.  Fold beaten egg whites into cake mixture.

Pour into 3 greased and floured 9” cake pans.  Bake at 350 for 25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

For the frosting:

8 oz. cream cheese, softened

1 stick margarine, softened

1 box powdered sugar

1 tsp. vanilla

1 c. finely chopped pecans

Cream together cream cheese and margarine.  Add powdered sugar and vanilla, beating until smooth.  Thin with one tablespoon of milk at a time, mixing after each milk addition, until frosting becomes the proper consistency to frost the cake.  Stir in nuts.

Hints:

Buttermilk can be made by pouring a scant cup of regular milk and adding approximately a T. of white vinegar to the milk.  Allow milk to sit for a few minutes to curdle and use as regular buttermilk.

Cakes frost much more easily when they have been placed in the freezer for a couple of hours.  For this cake, I actually left them in the freezer overnight covered in wax paper.  Freezing the cakes keeps the cake from crumbling into the frosting.

 

 

 

 

 

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Apple Cake

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All of us have those recipes that remind us of home, or in the case, Grandma’s house.  This is one of those recipes for me.  Normally I say you shouldn’t mess up a good cake by putting fruit in it – cakes are really for chocolate!  But this one always reminds me of my Grandma making it (and probably letting me lick the bowl).  It’s sooo yummy right out of the oven and great for breakfast or a dessert.  And that perfectly crisp top with the soft, lightly cinnamoned cake is impossible to beat.  ~Tracy

 

Ingredients:

1 ½ c. vegetable oil

2 c. sugar

3 eggs

3 c. flour

2 t. cinnamon

1 t. baking soda

½ t. salt

3 c. peeled, chopped apples (Granny Smith work well in this recipe)

1 c. chopped pecans (if desired)

 

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Sift together flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt.  Set aside.

In large mixing bowl, blend vegetable oil and sugar together.  Add eggs mixing well after each.

Stir in dry ingredients, gently mixing until all are incorporated.  Add apples (and pecans if you like them) and stir just until mixed together.

Pour into a 9 x 13 pan that has been greased & floured or sprayed with baking spray.

Bake for approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes or until toothpick comes out virtually clean.

Cookies & Cream Cake (and a one-of-a-kind birthday theme)

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Posted by Erin

So my daughter recently turned 10.  Double digits!  Shortly after her last birthday, on the way home from school one day she said to me, “Mom, guess what?!  I have the same birthday as Thomas Jefferson!”  As I replied, “Wow, that’s cool!” I noticed she looked thoughtful.  “By the way,” she asked, “who is Thomas Jefferson?”  Ha!  I laugh every time I think of that story.  Silly, sweet girl.  Anyhow, ever since she learned more about this mystery man who shares her birthday, she’s wanted to have a Thomas Jefferson themed birthday party.  Of course I had to oblige.  So I give you (drumroll please), a presidential birthday party complete with TJ’s face on the cake, a vintage Thomas Jefferson Value Book, and a $2 bill banner.  Nothing fancy but my girl was super impressed… plus I let her keep the $2 bills.

The cake was also her choice.  She loves to bake with her momma and is often coming up with new recipes.  This one was a success.  We combined our favorite cake-mix-based chocolate cake recipe with our favorite buttercream recipe and threw in some crushed Oreos.  It resulted in a rich, creamy cake, reminiscent of a milk-dunked Oreo.   I’m sure Thomas Jefferson would approve.  🙂

Cake Ingredients:

1 box chocolate cake mix (I used Duncan Hines)

1 small box instant chocolate pudding (dry)

4 eggs

1 cup sour cream

1 cup vegetable or canola oil

½ cup buttermilk *see note on how to make, if you’re like me and don’t keep buttermilk

½ cup strong coffee, cooled (to enhance the chocolate flavor – or use more milk if you’d rather)

½ T. pure vanilla extract

1 cup mini chocolate chips

1 cup crushed Oreos

 

Cake Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Grease & flour 3 9-inch round pans; set aside. (I also line the bottoms of my pans with parchment, cut the shape of the pan.)

Whisk together the dry pudding mix and cake mix.

With a mixer, blend in eggs, sour cream, oil, buttermilk, coffee, and vanilla until smooth.

Gently stir in chocolate chips and Oreo crumbs.

Divide the batter evenly among your pans.

Bake for about 35 minutes until toothpick comes out mostly clean.

After 10 minutes, remove from pan to wire rack.  Cool completely before frosting.

 

Frosting Ingredients:

1 cup (2 sticks) real butter, softened

4 cups powdered sugar (approximately)

1 tsp. vanilla

½ cup to ¾ cup heavy cream

2/3 of a family size Oreo package, crushed

 

Frosting Instructions:

Making frosting isn’t an exact science…

Start with 1 cup softened butter, mix on high until fluffy & smooth.

Add 2 cup powdered sugar, some of the heavy cream and 1 tsp vanilla; blend until smooth.

Add the crushed Oreos, more powdered sugar, and more heavy cream until it reaches the desired consistency (and desired taste – Yes, taste as you go!)

 

Place one layer of cake on cake plate or platter.  Cover the first layer of cake with frosting, add the second and third layer with frosting between those as well.

End by frosting the sides of the cake & sticking on a few whole Oreos for decoration.

 

I found this cake was better refrigerated… more like an Oreo dunked in cold milk!

 

*To make buttermilk, warm your milk in the microwave or on the stove just until it’s barely more than room temp.  Not hot!  Stir a ½ Tablespoon white vinegar into your ½ cup of milk.  Let it sit for about 5 minutes.  Ta-da!… buttermilk!

Strawberry Lemonade Cake

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Let’s begin by talking about this frosting.  Kool-aid frosting was our favorite, growing up.  We had many a birthday cake slathered with some version of this delicious icing.  A few of the best variations have always stood out:  Lemonade frosting is classic on fresh lemon cake; Cherry frosting is the perfect burst of flavor for angel food cake; and this Strawberry Lemonade frosting is a bright and summery compliment to this moist strawberry cake.  Plus, they’re all great for bowl-licking!

Now, about this cake… this cake is seriously the best strawberry cake ever.  It’s perfectly moist, and bursting with strawberry flavor!  Plus, it’s pretty.  Make it today.  Make it for Easter.  Make it for 4th of July.  Make it every chance you get; you don’t need an excuse!  Enjoy!!

For the cake:

1 box white cake mix

1 (3 ounce) box dry strawberry flavored gelatin

1 (15 or 16 ounce) tub of frozen strawberries in sugar, thawed and pureed in a blender

4 large eggs

½ c. vegetable oil

 

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Grease & flour 2 9-inch round cake pans.

In a large bowl, whisk together cake mix & gelatin.

Add pureed strawberries, eggs, and oil; beat at a medium speed until smooth.

Pour into prepared pans & bake about 20 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.

Let cool 10 minutes before turning out of pan; then allow to cool completely before frosting.

 

For the frosting:

1 c. softened butter (2 sticks)

4 c. powdered sugar

3 T. milk

1 package dry, unsweetened strawberry Kool-aid powder

½ to ¾ tsp. dry, unsweetened lemonade Kool-aid powder

Zest of one lemon, optional

Strawberries & lemon slices for garnish, optional

 

Blend all ingredients until smooth.

Spread evenly over cake, stacking layers as you frost.

Garnish with sliced strawberries & lemon slices, if desired.

 

*For a different variation, top this strawberry cake with your favorite cream cheese frosting and garnish with fresh strawberries.

Coconut Sour Cream Cake

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This is the perfect coconut cake. It’s decorated in the photo for Easter, but it really is so fabulous and moist, it’s perfect for any occasion, any time of year!

Ingredients:

1 white or vanilla cake mix (and necessary ingredients according to package)

16 oz. sour cream

2 c. sugar

4 c. flaked coconut

2 c. cool-whip, thawed

Green food coloring (optional)*

Instructions:

Combine sour cream, sugar, and coconut. Stir well. Cover and refrigerate for 1 ½ hours (this allows the sugar to dissolve).

Make cake according to directions on box. Bake in two 9” cake pans. Allow to cool on wire rack. Slice each cake horizontally in half.

Reserve 11/2 cups of coconut mixture. Spread each cut layer of cake with the remaining coconut mixture (you will have some left over).

Gently mix Cool-whip into reserved coconut mixture. Spread on top and sides of cake. Cover cake in cake stand or under an inverted large bowl. Best if chilled for 8 hours before serving.

*To dye coconut green, place about ½ cup of coconut in a small bowl. Add a few drops of green food coloring and stir.

Caramel Sheet Cake

This cake is so addictive, we’ve lovingly nicknamed it “crack cake.”  The caramel frosting poured over the warm cake seals in the spicy deliciousness, making it impossible to walk past it without taking a little sliver.  Our Mammaw used to claim she was “just evening out the edge!” Make it when you can share, and be prepared for everyone to request the recipe.

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For the cake:

1 c. butter (2 sticks)

1 c. water

2 c. all-purpose flour

2 c. sugar

1 tsp. baking soda

½ tsp. salt

¼ tsp. ground cinnamon

¼ tsp. ground ginger

½ c. sour cream

2 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla

For the frosting:

½ c. butter

1 c. packed brown sugar

½ tsp. salt

½ c. sour cream

2 ½ c. powdered sugar

½ tsp. vanilla

For the cake:

Preheat the oven to 325˚F.

Grease and flour a 15×10 sheet cake pan or jelly roll pan; set aside.

Boil butter and 1 cup water in a medium sauce pan medium/high heat.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour sugar, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, & ginger.

Add hot butter mixture to flour.

Beat on low speed just until moisturized.

Add sour cream, beating well.

Beat in eggs, one at a time.

Stir in vanilla.

Spread evenly in prepared jelly roll pan.

Bake at 325˚F for 25-30 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean.

For the frosting:

Bring butter, brown sugar, and salt to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally.

Remove from heat and stir in sour cream; return to a boil.

Remove from heat and gradually add powdered sugar & vanilla; beating at medium speed with a mixer until smooth.  Pour over warm (not hot) cake & spread evenly.

*Note:  For the frosting, use a stainless steel pan or transfer to a bowl before mixing.  The mixer will chip nonstick coating.