Category Archives: Cakes

Angel Food Cake

This Angel Food Cake is exactly what it should be – just the right amount of sweetness, light, fluffy, and moist with a slightly crunchy bottom.  This is a great lighter dessert for a break from heavy holiday food or for a little something sweet in January when New Year’s resolution diets are in full force.  When we served this, my nephew came back for seconds saying, “I didn’t think I liked Angel Food Cake that much – I didn’t know it tasted like THIS!”

Source:  American Home All-Purpose Cookbook (copyright of my mom’s cookbook is 1966!)

1 cup sifted cake flour

1 1/2 cups sifted confectioner’s sugar

1 1/2 cup egg whites (from 10-12 eggs)

1 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup sugar

1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 teaspoon almond extract (original recipe calls for 1/2 teaspoon, but I prefer 1/4)

Heat oven to 350 degrees or 325 convection bake.


sifted powdered sugar before leveling

After measuring sifted flour and confectioner’s sugar, sift flour and confectioner’s sugar together.


Combine egg whites, cream of tartar, and salt in large bowl; beat until foamy.


Add sugar gradually.  Continue beating until meringue forms stiff, glossy peaks.

see the stiff peak i made with the spatula
see the stiff peak I made with the spatula

Fold in vanilla and almond extract.  It helps to move the batter to a bowl with the wider top before folding.

vanilla added to angel food cake batter

Click on link below for a demonstration of folding (thanks to my mom for folding while I videoed!)

folding in the flour and sugar mixture

Sift flour mixture, one quarter at a time, over meringue; fold in.  Push batter into ungreased 10×14 inch tube pan.  Cut through batter gently with knife or spatula to prevent air pockets.


Bake 30-35 minutes (35 in my oven) or until cake tests done when you poke it with a toothpick.

angel food cake after baking

Invert pan.  If your pan does not have feet to keep the cake from touching the counter, place inverted on a bottle for cooling.


Let stand until cold.  Run a knife around the edge of the cake to loosen the cake from the pan.  Remove cake from cake pan by turning it upside down over your cake plate and hitting the sides of the pan.  It may take some hitting and shaking for awhile to work the cake loose.  Serve plain, with strawberries and whipped cream, or with fudge sauce (see link below) and ice cream.


 Variation:  For a chocolate version, sift about 1/3 cup cocoa into sugar and flour mixture.

Share Button

Poppy Seed Bread

Poppy Seed Bread makes a great Christmas or hostess gift.  It’s dense, moist, and very sweet.  The only complaint I’ve ever heard about this recipe is that the name is misleading – it’s better described as Poppy Seed Cake!  It’s great served warm or buttered and toasted. 

Difficulty:  Easy (This is a batter bread, so it’s as simple as making pancake batter.)


3 cups flour

2 1/3 cups sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons poppy seeds

3 eggs

1 1/2 cups milk

1 1/8 cups oil

1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract

1 1/2 teaspoons butter flavoring

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract


1/2 teaspoon butter flavoring

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1/4 cup orange juice

3/4 cup sugar


Batter:  Mix all ingredients from flour through the first listing of extracts and flavorings.  Just stir with a big spoon or whisk, and allow some lumps to remain.

The purpose of this pic is to show you this super whisk. It has a whisk inside a whisk and a ball inside that for extra whisking power. If you ever run across one, get one for every cook in your family.
Not a great pic, but it’s really that easy – dump ingredients in bowl and stir

Pour into two greased loaf pans or three smaller foil pans.  These are 8.5″ x 4.5″ x 2.5″.


Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes.  If you’re using smaller loaf pans, check to see if the bread is done after 35 minutes.  The loaves are done when a fork or toothpick comes out clean when poked into the top.  Cool in pan for 10 minutes.  Poke holes in bread with a toothpick, pour on glaze (recipe below), and let sit awhile.  Remove from pans and slice to serve.

Glaze:  As soon as you put the loaves into the oven to bake, stir the second set of flavorings together with the orange juice and 3/4 cup sugar.  Let rest until time to pour it over the loaves after baking.

DSC01422      DSC01428

  Poppy Seed Bread makes a great gift – I give it out as Christmas gifts every year.



Share Button

Pumpkin Cake

What’s not to like about this pumpkin-shaped cake?  It doesn’t require a huge amount of effort, and it’s a Halloween treat that looks and tastes great.  Note:  there is no pumpkin flavor in the cake or the frosting.

Where I got the idea: a picture on Pinterest (the link did not work)

What I like about this recipe:  It’s really cute (and seasonal) without requiring a huge amount of effort, and it tastes great as well.

Difficulty:  Medium


The Recipes

Grandmother Sarah’s Pound Cake (1 recipe cooked in 2 6-cup bundt pans)

Buttercream Frosting (make 2x this recipe)


The Process

Cake:  Bake one recipe of Grandmother Sarah’s Pound Cake divided into two small bundt pans.  Let cool on cooling racks.  If the bottoms of your cakes (top while they’re in the pans) are rounded, cut most of this off to get the desired pumpkin shape when the cakes are placed on top of each other bottom to bottom.



Frosting: Make 2x the Buttercream Frosting recipe, using a little less milk than it suggests since you’ll be adding quite a bit of moisture with the food coloring.  I used Wilton orange food coloring and next time will add some yellow food coloring to make it closer to a real pumpkin color.


Pulling it all together:  Place one cake upside down on your cake plate with several strips of wax paper tucked under the edges to catch extra frosting.  Frost the top of this cake (actually the bottom of the cake that is facing up) and place the other cake on top of the icing.  Next ice the cake with a thin layer of icing (a “crumb layer”) to seal the crumbs.  Then ice the cake, using extra icing in the hole in the center, while still leaving room for your stem.  Use upward strokes on the frosting to create the look of a grooved pumpkin.  Cut a bunch of chocolate twizzlers to the desired height (they can be tall enough to rest on your cake plate), and place them in the middle for the stem.  Touch up the frosting around the stem and add twizzlers to the edges to cover up any frosting that has gotten onto the twizzlers.

pumpkin cake



The Story:  I saw this on Pinterest the week before Halloween and just HAD to try it.  So I made it for book club and served it with ice cream and fudge sauce.  It was a hit both at book club and at the office as leftovers.



Share Button

Grandmother Sarah’s Pound Cake

Grandmother Sarah’s recipe makes an excellent basic pound cake.

Difficulty:  Easy to Medium (lots of sifting and some folding)

2 ¾ cups sugar

1 cup sour cream

6 eggs, separated and at room temperature

2 sticks butter, at room temperature

3 cups flour, sifted

¼ teaspoon soda

¼ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon almond flavoring (if you don’t like almond, just double the vanilla)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cream butter and sugar.  Add yolks of eggs one at a time.  Sift flour with salt three times.  Seriously, the recipe calls for this – just think of your own grandmother as you sift again and again.  Mix sour cream and soda.  Alternate sour cream and flour into butter sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture and mixing just until ingredients disappear.   (I sift the flour onto a piece of waxed paper and then divide it into four sections so I can get the amounts right when adding to creamed mixture.)  Add flavoring.

In another bowl, beat egg whites until stiff but still moist and fold in by hand.  (I use a handheld mixer for this.  Do not do this step first because they will begin to separate while you are creaming the butter, etc.)  Pour into greased pan and bake at 350 (325 convection) for 50 minutes or so.  If you’re splitting the batter into more than one pan, check before 50 minutes.  Test for doneness by inserting toothpick in center of cake.  It should come out clean.

pound cake batter
I used two 6 cup bundt pans.


Share Button

Train Cake

This cake provides the wow factor for kids and adults alike.  If you need a birthday cake for someone who likes trains, this cake is for you – it was quite the hit!

Where I got the idea:

Difficulty:  Labor intensive but worth it for a little one who loves trains


Grandmother Sarah’s Pound Cake (cooked in 5 mini loaf pans)

French Silk Frosting (for engine)

Buttercream Frosting (for train cars)


The Process

Cakes:  Make Grandmother’s Pound Cake (or your favorite pound cake) batter.  We used pound cake so it would be less flimsy and easier to work with than regular yellow cake.  Spread batter into 5 greased mini loaf pans (5.75”x3.25”) and one cleaned out corn can (we used a can that held corn and sprayed it with Pam).  Turn out onto cooling rack once the cakes have cooled for about 10 minutes.

Once the cakes have cooled, you’re ready to make your engine.  Cut a rectangular sized chunk out of one of the cakes by cutting about halfway lengthwise and cutting down about halfway so that you still have the entire bottom portion of the cake but the top only has about 1/3 of its original part.  You are going to place the cake baked in the corn can on its side in the place of the piece you cut out of this cake.  You may want to cut the bottom part of the chunk in a curve so that the corn can part will nestle nicely into place.  Use a dab of icing to secure the corn can cake in place.  Then place the part you cut out of the cake on top of the remaining top at the back of the engine.  A dab of frosting will help this stay in place.

Now your train cars and engine are ready to be frosted.

photo 1

Frosting:  Make one recipe of French Silk Frosting and 2 recipes of Buttercream Frosting.  If you don’t want to make French Silk but still want chocolate for the engine, make a third recipe of Buttercream frosting and add cocoa to taste.  You may need to add a little more milk as you add the cocoa.  Divide the Buttercream frosting into fourths and place into bowls to add the food coloring.  I used Wilton gel food coloring from Michael’s.  Just keep adding coloring until the frosting gets to your desired color.

Frost the train cars.  If your cakes are a little rounded on top, you can cut the rounded part off and flip the cakes before frosting.  It can be frustrating to frost the cut sides of cake.  We did not cut the rounded parts off our cakes, and you can see ours are a bit rounded.

Spread frosting on sides, going from the bottom to the top as you go around the cake.  As you do this, form a little rim of frosting above the top edge of the cake.  Last, spread remaining frosting over the top.  Having that little rim of frosting sticking up keeps the cake from looking like it is drooping its shoulders.

IMG_1594Iced train cars

Board:  Place the cake pans on the counter in desired arrangement to measure the size board you will need.  We used a wooden board covered in foil.  You could also use wrapping paper to cover the board and then cover that with saran wrap.

For the tracks, we used chocolate Twizzlers held in place by small dabs of French Silk Frosting.  We put the cross ties on top of the rails (opposite of real train tracks) to make it easier to keep everything in place.

photo 3

Pulling it all together:  Place the frosted train cars on the tracks, and then decorate the cars.  We used red and yellow Twizzlers for borders on the top and different candies to top each car.  Our wheels are gummy Life Savers and peach gummy candies for the bigger wheels on the engine.  The light on the front of the engine is a Dot, and the top of the engine is paved with mini Kit Kats.  The smoke stack is a stack of two Rolos.  The cow-catcher (a term I learned during the making of this cake) on the front of the engine is made of chocolate Twizzlers.  Enjoy!

IMG_1600 train cake IMG_1642

The Story:  My mom and I volunteered to make the cake for my nephew’s second birthday, and we had a few days to plan but only one evening to make it happen.  Having several older nieces and nephews who are “over” the magic of some of these things, I knew it is only for a few years of a child’s life that a birthday cake can be truly magical.  So we wanted to find something fun for us to make that would be magical for him.  I found a few ideas on the internet (see link above), and the train was our favorite.  But we wanted to change the engine, so we got to work on planning.  My dad was consulting engineer and all-around helper, not to mention both bowl-licker and bowl-cleaner.

Share Button