published Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

Shortbread, pudding and cakes sate the sweet tooth

Jane Henegar
To Reach Us

Fare Exchange is a longtime meeting place for people who love to cook and love to eat. We welcome both your recipes and your requests. Be sure to include precise instructions for every recipe you send.

• Mailing address: Jane Henegar, 913 Mount Olive Road, Lookout Mountain, GA 30750.

• E-mail: janehenegar@gmail.com.

• Fax: 423-668-5092.

Good morning, good readers. Our requests today are full of cakes and baking: cranberry cake, one-layer cakes, oatmeal cookies made with applesauce and "a soft, sweet yeast bread made with eggs."

Susan Miller lost the recipe for cranberry cake that she tried and liked; can you help her dig it up? The other recipes were part of a neighborly conversation, and if you can dig up their requested recipes, these neighbors promised to share with each other.

Last week I walked past the Easter candy markdown at a local supermarket. No Dove dark chocolate, as I had hoped; nothing remained but the off-brand eggs and a shelf of Peeps, those marshmallow treats the kids love. Nothing usable here, I thought. A man passed by and scooped most of the Peeps, both yellow and pink, into his cart.

"Why so?" I asked the stranger. "How on earth are you using Peeps?"

"They are wonderful. Melted, they make the best Rice Krispies treats you can make. The kids love the colors. Try them with Fruity Pebbles cereal too. Bound to please."

So there's today's first recipe, and it's something those of us who love young children CAN use after all.

We turn the page over now to Ginnie Gaines, who graciously responded to my request to share the recipes she mentioned in a recent missive. She was speaking of the comfort foods that really do comfort, and of course banana pudding has to be at the top of anybody's list.

Interestingly, Mrs. Gaines first found this recipe on a Nilla Wafers box. That is a good place to find such recipes, as the vanilla wafer manufacturers want nothing but the best showcase for their product.

Mrs. Gaines has made other recipes, "ones that call for instant pudding and Cool Whip, but this one is the very best," she says. "Making pudding is really simple and makes such a difference. Making the pudding from scratch takes no more than 10 or 15 minutes from start to finish."

Banana Pudding

45 vanilla wafers

4 or 5 small bananas or 3 large, peeled and sliced

3/4 cup sugar (divided)

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

3 eggs, separated

2 cups milk (divided)

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

In an 8- by 8-inch glass dish, put a layer of wafers, then bananas and repeat.

Mix 1/2 cup sugar and the flour in a saucepan or double boiler.

In a separate bowl, place 3 egg yolks. Put egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer. Whisk egg yolks until thick and yellow, then add 1 cup milk, and beat with a whisk. Add the other cup of milk slowly into the flour/sugar mixture so that you can stir out any lumps.

Pour milk/egg mixture through a strainer into the flour/sugar/milk mix. (This keeps any unmixed egg from going into your pudding.) Cook over medium heat until thickened, stirring constantly so it will not stick to bottom of pan.

Remove from heat, and add vanilla extract. Pour mixture over wafers and bananas, spreading over all.

Beat egg whites with 1/4 cup sugar until stiff but not dry. Spread over pudding mixture. Turn broiler on and place pudding under element for perhaps 1 minute. Watch carefully, as the idea is just to brown the meringue slightly so that it is heated and is a nice color.

This is delicious right out of the oven, served immediately, although some people like banana pudding cold.

The next two recipes also are from Mrs. Gaines' kitchen.

My Friend's Shortbread

1 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup sugar

21/4 cups plain flour

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

Cream butter and sugar. Sift flour and baking powder, and add to butter and sugar. Beat well; a stand mixer works well for this. Press into ungreased 9- by 13-inch pan. Prick with a fork.

Bake in a preheated 325 F oven until golden. Cut in pan while warm.

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

1 (81/2-ounce) can sliced pineapple

3 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup brown sugar

4 maraschino cherries, halved (optional), or pecan halves

1/3 cup shortening

1/2 cup sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup all purpose flour

11/4 teaspoons baking powder

Drain and reserve juice or syrup from the pineapple. Halve pineapple slices. Melt butter in 8- by 8-inch pan. Add brown sugar and 1 tablespoon reserved juice. Add water to remaining juice to make 1/2 cup. Arrange pineapple in bottom of pan. Place cherry or nut in center of each halved slice.

Cream shortening and sugar until light. Add egg and vanilla, and beat until fluffy. Add to dry ingredients (flour and baking powder) alternately with the 1/2 cup reserved juice, beating after each addition. Spread over pineapple.

Bake in a preheated 350 F oven for about 40 minutes. Remove from oven and immediately invert on a plate. Serve immediately; hot is a must.

Priscilla Kyner read about the request for a Southern Lady magazine strawberry cake. "I had just prepared a strawberry birthday cake with poor results, so I found the recipe you were looking for to try it. I hope this is the one; it is credited to that magazine."

Triple-Decker Strawberry Cake

The recipe below recommends doubling the frosting called for in original recipe, to add extra richness to this cake. It keeps best in the refrigerator.

1 (18.25-ounce) package white cake mix

1 (3-ounce) package strawberry gelatin

4 large eggs

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup finely chopped fresh strawberries

1 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup milk

Strawberry Buttercream Frosting (recipe follows)

Whole strawberries to garnish

Heat oven to 350 F. Grease and flour 3 (9-inch) cake pans.

Beat cake mix and next 7 ingredients at low speed of an electric mixer for 1 minute. Scrape down sides and beat at medium speed 2 more minutes, stopping to scrape down sides if needed. (Strawberries should be well blended into batter.) Pour batter into 3 greased and floured 9-inch cake pans. Bake at 350 F for 23 minutes or until cakes spring back when lightly pressed with a finger. Cool pans on wire racks for 10 minutes. Remove from pans and allow to cool completely on wire racks.

Spread Strawberry Buttercream Frosting between layers and on top and sides of cake. Garnish, if desired. Serve immediately, or chill up to 1 week. Makes 16 servings.

To make ahead: Place finished cake in the refrigerator, uncovered, and chill for 20 minutes or until the frosting sets. Cover well with wax paper, and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. To freeze, wrap chilled cake with aluminum foil, and freeze up to 6 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.

Strawberry Buttercream Frosting

1 cup butter, softened

2 (16-ounce) packages powdered sugar, sifted

1 cup finely chopped fresh strawberries

Beat butter at medium speed with an electric mixer for 20 seconds or until fluffy. Add powdered sugar and chopped strawberries, beating at low speed until creamy. (Add more sugar if frosting is too thin, or add strawberries if too thick.)

Makes 21/2 cups.

Lots of comfort and good taste came packed in today's recipes. So it is, always, with you. Please do come back next Wednesday.

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