Saturday, July 25, 2015

Pineapple Upside Down Cake


It was a very hot and humid day and I had no desire to spend any time at all outside. Since I had all of the ingredients on hand, I went searching the internet for a recipe for pineapple upside down cake. I found this one.

Old Fashioned Pineapple Upside Down Cake

4 eggs
1/2 cup butter
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 (20 ounce) can sliced pineapple
10 maraschino cherries, halved
1 cup sifted cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1 teaspoon almond extract
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).
2. In a 10-inch heavy skillet with a heat-resistant handle (I use a cast iron skillet),

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My grandmother's iron skillet.

melt 1/2 cup butter over very low heat. Remove from heat, and sprinkle brown sugar evenly over pan. Arrange pineapple slices to cover bottom of skillet. Distribute cherries around pineapple; set aside.

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3. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt.
4. Separate the eggs into two bowls. In a large bowl, beat egg whites just until soft peaks form. Add granulated sugar gradually, beating well after each addition. Beat until medium-stiff peaks form. In a small bowl, beat egg yolks at high speed until very thick and yellow. With a wire whisk or rubber scraper, using an over-and-under motion, gently fold egg yolks and flour mixture into whites until blended. Fold in 1 tablespoon melted butter or margarine and almond extract. Spread batter evenly over pineapple in skillet.

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5. Bake until surface springs back when gently pressed with fingertip and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 30 to 35 minutes. Loosen the edges of the cake with table knife. Cool the cake for 5 minutes before inverting onto cake plate.

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I had trouble with the egg whites. It took forever to reach medium peaks and before I knew it, I had stiff peaks. I'm sure that had something to do with it. And I cannot, for the life of me, figure out where all of the cherries went! I have an old cookbook that belonged to my Aunt Mary that was published in 1948 and I checked the recipe in it. The sugar is added to the yolks in it, so I think that may have been the problem. On the bright side, the taste is yummy.

I think that I will try again, sometime, but use the recipe in Aunt Mary's cookbook. Maybe that will help.

Friday, July 17, 2015

The Best Laid Plans...

Or what I like to call "cooking ADD".

I did a mental run-down of the ingredients available to me while trying to decide what to cook for dinner...ground turkey, mixed veggies, onions, tomatoes, tomato paste...I decided to try my hand at hand pies. It sounded like fun and was something that I had never made before. I searched the internet for a good recipe and found a Martha Steward recipe that sounded pretty good.

But the thought of hand pies reminded me of my Aunt Alma's fried apple pies.

Aunt Alma had a learning disability (my best guess is that she was dyslexic) and could neither read nor write. There are no hand written copies of her recipes, but she was an amazing cook. And her fried apple pies were to die for. Aunt Alma and Uncle Fred would go to my Uncle Ed and Aunt Mary's farm and pick apples in the heat of summer. They would take them home, peel them, slice them, and lay them on newspapers on the shelf in the back of their 1963 Chevrolet Impala until they were perfectly dried. She would reconstitute the dried apples in a pot with a little water, lots of sugar and cinnamon, and finish it off with a little butter.

Uncle Ed is standing behind my grandmother in this photo, that is my dad holding me beside him, and Aunt Alma is the beauty in the white color. I love this picture because it has my grandmother with all of her living children.

She would make a dough much like a biscuit dough and fill them with the apple mixture. She fried them an iron skillet. They appeared at family reunions and disappeared quickly, but Aunt Alma always had a bundle for my dad and I stashed away.

I loved those pies.

I've tried over the years to duplicate them and have come close, but never fully succeeded. Possibly the fact that the apples weren't from Uncle Ed's farm. that they weren't hand dried, or the fact that I could only try to guess the proportions.

So, while preparing the dough for my hand pies I looked over and saw a bowl of peaches sitting on the counter.

So I decided to try fried peach pies.

The Filling:

2 c peeled and diced ripe peaches
1 c sugar
1 Tbs lemon juice
1/2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 c warm water
3 Tbs corn starch

Mix corn starch in water and set aside. Cook peaches, sugar, and lemon juice until sugar is melted. Add corn starch mixture and cinnamon and bring to a boil. Cook until thick and remove from heat. Allow to cool.

The pastry:

2 1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 c cold butter cut into 1/2" dice
1 tsp kosher salt
1 large egg
1 1/2 tbsp white vinegar
1/2 c cold water

Mix together flour and salt. Using a pastry cutter, mix butter into flour mixture until it resembles coarse meal. Add egg to water and beat slightly. Add liquids to flour mixture and work with hands until it comes together. shape into a disc and wrap in plastic wrap. Place in fridge for a minimum of 1 hour. Roll between 1/8 and 1/4 inch thick and cut into 4" rounds. Place filling in the middle, fold over and seal with a fork along the edges. Refrigerate approx 20 minutes.

Heat approx 2" of oil (canola) to 350 degrees and fry pies two at a time. Place on paper towel lined plate.

I had lots of filling left because the pastry only made 4 pies.

I decide to make a cheesy macaroni for supper. I'll get around to making hand pies one day.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Happy 4th of July!

Or Cookie Decorating Fail.

So in preparation of the holiday, I decided to try docking, flooding, and piping cookies. In my imagination they would be as elegant and beautiful as anything Martha Stewart ever produced. I started by making Ina Garten's shortbread cookies. That did not turn out as well as it should have.


3/4 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix together the butter and 1 cup of sugar until they are just combined. Add the vanilla. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour and salt, then add them to the butter-and-sugar mixture. Mix on low speed until the dough starts to come together. Dump onto a surface dusted with flour and shape into a flat disk, about 1-inch thick. Wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes, until firm but still pliable.

Roll the dough 1/2-inch thick on a lightly floured surface and cut with a 3-by-1-inch finger-shaped cutter. Place the cookies on an ungreased baking sheet and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the edges begin to brown. Allow to cool to room temperature.

You will note that the cooking time listed is 20-25 minutes. I set the timer for 20 minutes and pulled the cookies out early because they were too brown. The next batch went in for 18 minutes and then came out early be cause they were still a little too brown. Finally, I started checking at about 13 minutes and took them out of the oven at 16 minutes.

I made Julia Usher's recipe for Royal Icing found here. Mine was far thinner than hers and required adding more Confectioner's sugar. Also, it took a lot of gel color to get anywhere near the color I wanted.

The recipe for the Royal Icing

2 lbs Confectioner's Sugar (1 used about 1/2 cup more)
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
5 pasteurized egg whites
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

The next challenge was the parchment paper piping bags, found in this video. Blue and white were okay, but the red ran all over my hand.

Things I have learned....

You need a very steady hand.  photo IMG_20150702_133216_985_zpsavzkmmrg.jpg

I do not have a very steady hand.

Flooding is easy, piping is not.

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My very ugly, yet quite tasty, 4th of July cookies. Martha Stewart...your career is safe. For now.