This week’s column will be the last for a couple weeks as I am packing and heading home for the summer. The snow has dissipated and spring has arrived.
We are leaving high 80-degree weather for the unknown temps for which Ohio is famous. Maybe we have missed the cold and snowy weather and the spring flowers are showing their beautiful blossoms from the frozen ground.
Our winter in Florida was wonderful as usual but the weather was up and down with a good deal of rain. Summer lies before us with picnics, family get-togethers and kids outdoor sporting events. Hopefully we will be home in time to see our granddaughter (Anna Borton) run track.
Packing to return home is a major job. We live in a double-wide unit in an RV park which means we have more room than the average camper. But this means we need lots of room in our SUV to bring things home. A closed-up home in Florida’s hot summer weather prevents leaving too many things there for the summer.
Besides, we have to have room for our pet’s car seat (yes, there is such a thing) for our two precious dogs, Katie and Kassie.
So you won’t be hearing from me for a couple weeks until I am back with more stories and recipes. Don’t forget to keep checking the WNJ so you won’t miss any news from my kitchen!
Today, I am going to share a great recipe for a Basic Vanilla Cake with optional twists. Everyone loves a vanilla cake and with these recipes you can change up the flavor with a few added ingredients.
BASIC VANILLA CAKE
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for the pans
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for the pans
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 eggs, at ROOM temperature
1 tablespoon Real vanilla
3/4 cup heavy cream
1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter two 9-inch round pans and line the parchment paper. Butter the parchment paper and dust pans with flour, tapping out the excess. (NOTE: Prevents the cake from cracking and sticking.)
2) Whisk 3 cups of flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl until completely combined. Set aside.
3) In separate (large) bowl, beat butter with a mixer on medium high, then add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce the mixer speed and beat in the eggs one at a time, scraping down as needed. Stir in vanilla (mixture may look curdled and separated at this time, but it is OK.)
4) Mix 1/2 cup water with the cream in a liquid measuring cup. Beat the flour mixture into the butter mixture. Do this in 3 batches alternating the cream mixture with the first 2 batches. Begin and end with the flour until just smooth — do not overbeat!
5) Divide the batter between the prepared pans. Bake until the cakes are lightly golden on top and the cake springs back when lightly touched. About 25-30 minutes. Transfer to cooling racks and cool for 10 minutes, then run a knife around the edges of the pan and carefully turn the cakes onto the racks again to cool completely. Slowly remove the parchment paper. If desired, trim the top of the cakes off with a long serrated knife to make the tops level. (I only do this on one of the layers — the one I use for the bottom.) Ice with your choice of frosting or use one of these variations to change up your cake.
LEMON MERINGUE CAKE
Spread lemon curd between 2 cake layers. For the meringue, whisk 4 egg whites and 1 cup sugar in a double boiler over simmering water until the sugar has dissolved, 4-5 minutes. Remove the top pan and beat in a pinch of cream of tarter and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla with a mixer on medium high speed until stiff and glossy peaks for 6-8 minutes. Cover the top and sides of the cake with meringue. OPTION: Brown meringue with a kitchen torch if you desire
COOKIES AND CREAM CAKE
Melt 6 oz. chopped white chocolate in the microwave in 30 second intervals stirring after each 30 seconds (chocolate can get hard if you overheat it). Let cool slightly. Beat 3 sticks of butter until fluffy and no large pieces of butter are left. Mix in 1 teaspoon vanilla and a pinch of salt with mixer on medium speed, 1 minute. Beat in cooled melted chocolate. Gradually beat in 3 cups sifted confectioner’s sugar. Spread some frosting on the first layer then sprinkle with crushed chocolate sandwich cookies. Top with the other cake. Cover the second layer with the remaining frosting. Top the frosting with more chocolate cookie crumbs.
COCONUT PECAN CAKE
Prepare vanilla cake, trimming off lower layer to level cake. Prepare meringue frosting as in lemon meringue cake. Cover the top of one cake with “lots” of coconut and 1/3 cup chopped pecans. Place the other cake on top of the coconut/pecans. Use the remaining frosting and spread over the second cake. Sprinkle top layer with more with more coconut and chopped pecans.
Sheryl Sollars, a Clinton County native, is an accomplished cook and homemaker. She contributes her column “Welcome to My Kitchen” out of her love of homemaking and of sharing her thoughts with her readers. If you have cooking questions or a recipe you want to share, please contact Sheryl at email@example.com.