Hummingbird Cake

Happy Birthday to my wonderful husband! We are the same age for 3 weeks, then I become the older woman again. Eric is allergic to chocolate, so I thought this looked perfect for our family celebration. I saw it on the cover of Cooks Country.

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Hummingbird cake is a banana pineapple spice cake from the United States. The cake has been a tradition in the South since the mid 19th century. The cake has three layers with pecans (or walnuts), mashed bananas, crushed pineapple and cream cheese frosting.

Hummingbird Cake

3 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
3 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tsp vanilla extract
1½ cups oil
8 oz can crushed pineapple, do not drain
2 cups bananas, mashed or about 3 – 4 large bananas
1 cup pecans or almonds/ walnuts chopped
cream cheese frosting (see recipe below)

Combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, cinnamon.

Mix together with whisk. Add eggs, vanilla extract, oil, pineapple, bananas and pecans(or nuts of choice) and mix until all ingredients are moistened.

Spray 3 (9 inch) round cake pans or one 9 x 13 inch pan. Cook in preheated 350 degree oven 30 to 35 minutes until cake is done in center. Then Frost with cream cheese frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting

1/2 cup of butter (1 stick), room temperature
8 oz of Philly cream cheese, room temperature
2 – 3 cups of powdered sugar
1 tsp of vanilla extract

With an electric mixer, mix the butter and cream cheese together, about 3 minutes on medium speed until very smooth. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl to ensure even mixing.

Add the vanilla extract and mix. Slowly add the powdered sugar. Keep adding until you get to desired sweetness and thickness.

Either spread on with a blunt knife or spatula, or spoon into a piping bag to decorate a cake or cupcakes.

Old Fashioned Banana Pudding

Banana pudding is a very old fashioned dessert generally consisting of repeated layers of sweet vanilla flavored custard, cookies (usually Vanilla Wafers or ladyfingers) and sliced fresh bananas placed in a dish and served, topped with whipped cream. It’s so simple and yet so deliciously satisfying.

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Old Fashioned Banana Pudding

Serves 6 – 8

1 cup sugar
3 eggs, beaten
1 dash salt
2 Tbs cornstarch
2 cups milk
1 tsp vanilla
3 – 4 ripe bananas, sliced
vanilla wafers
whipped cream

Mix sugar and eggs together.

Add salt, cornstarch, and milk.

Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly; cook until thickened.

Remove from heat; add vanilla and mix well.

In serving bowl, layer the wafers, bananas, and the pudding. Serve with whipped cream.

Monkey Bread with Caramel

Monkey bread or pull apart bread is something I’ve been wanting to make for about a year. I never had enough people to eat it. Finally, last Sunday I had a crowd for breakfast! This is really delicious, though it could send you into a diabetic coma!

Because I am such a giver, I have included a recipe for homemade dough below for all of my international friends that can’t get their hands on a can o’ biscuits!

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Monkey Bread with Caramel

Serves 12

3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
4 cans (7.5 oz each) Pillsbury® refrigerated biscuits
1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted
3/4 cup packed brown sugar

Grease or spray 12-cup Bundt cake pan.

Mix granulated sugar and cinnamon in 1-gallon bag. Separate dough into 10 biscuits; cut each in quarters. Shake quarters in bag to coat; place in pan. Mix butter and brown sugar; pour over biscuit pieces.

Bake at 350°F for 40 to 45 minutes or until golden brown. Cool 5 minutes. Turn upside down; pull apart to serve. Serve warm.

Homemade Dough

1 cup warm milk (about 110 degrees)
1/3 cup warm water (about 110 degrees)
2 Tbs unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 package instant (rapid rise) yeast
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for surface work
2 tsp salt

Prepare dough:
In a microwave-safe bowl, mix milk, water, melted butter, sugar and yeast. Place flour and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. Use the dough hook attachment to mix them together. With machine on low, slowly add the milk mixture. When the dough begins to come together, increase speed to medium and continue to mix until the dough is shiny and smooth. If the dough is too wet and isn’t coming together, add 2 to 4 additional Tablespoons of flour (stop the machine once to scrape sides if you need to); this should take 6 to 7 minutes. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and work with your hands a little bit to form a smooth, round ball. Coat a large bowl with nonstick spray. Place dough in the bowl and spray the top lightly with nonstick spray as well. Cover the bowl with a clean dish towel. Turn your oven on 400 degrees and let it warm up for 1 minute. Turn it OFF. Turn ON the oven light. Place your covered bowl of dough into the warmed oven until the dough doubles in size- 50 to 60 minutes.

Form the bread balls:
Remove dough from the bowl onto a lightly floured surface and gently pat into an 8-inch square. Using a sharp knife or bench scraper, cut the dough into 64 pieces (cut the square into 4 pieces and then cut each piece into 16 pieces). Roll each piece into a ball.

Hershey’s Chocolate Pound Cake

Merry Christmas! I was discussing family Christmas traditions with my friend Pam. She said her mother makes this Hershey’s Chocolate Pound Cake and that they eat it on Christmas morning. Of course, I made it immediately. This made one bundt cake and 4 mini loaves. Next time, I will line the loaf pans with parchment paper. This cake is so moist and delicious, perfect to serve with tea. Thanks Pam!

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Hershey’s Chocolate Pound Cake

16 oz Hershey’s syrup
1 lb Hershey’s chocolate candy
1 cup buttermilk
2 1/2 cup flour
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp baking soda
4 eggs
2 sticks butter
2 cup sugar

Melt chocolate over low heat with syrup; cool and add vanilla. Cream sugar and butter. Add eggs, one at a time. Add chocolate mixture to butter. Add flour and soda alternately with buttermilk. Grease and flour 3 loaf pans or 1 bundt and 1 loaf pan or 1 large sheet pan. Bake at 300 to 350 degrees for approximately 1 hour. Check with toothpick or finger press after 45 minutes. Cool before taking from pans.

Peanut Brittle

Grandma loves peanut brittle. My daughter, Zoe made her a batch, which did not last long! It works best if you use raw peanuts. She used roasted peanuts, which get a bit dark.

Have all your ingredients measured out and ready. You have to work quickly before it hardens. Also, you will need a candy thermometer for this recipe.
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Peanut Brittle

Serves 16

1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup water
1 cup peanuts
2 Tbs butter, softened
1 tsp baking soda

Grease a large cookie sheet or use a rubber baking mat. Set aside.

In a heavy 2 quart saucepan, over medium heat, bring to a boil sugar, corn syrup, salt, and water. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Stir in peanuts. Set candy thermometer in place, and continue cooking. Stir frequently until temperature reaches 300 degrees F (150 degrees C), or until a small amount of mixture dropped into very cold water separates into hard and brittle threads.

Remove from heat; immediately stir in butter and baking soda; pour at once onto cookie sheet. With 2 forks, lift and pull peanut mixture into rectangle about 14×12 inches; cool. Break candy into pieces.

Chocolate Tart

I recently watched the movie Haute Cuisine about Danièle Mazet-Delpeuch who worked in the Élysée Palace as the private chef to French President Francois Mitterrand.  Mitterand wanted a chef from the country in the palace to create the kind of food his grandmother would make. The president wanted something other than haute cuisine.

This tart is should be called Chocolate Coffee Tart because the coffee plays and equal part in this tart.  If the dough is to crumbly, press it into a shallow tart pan with your hands.  This recipe actually made 2 tarts.  The photo does not do it justice!

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This recipe is from Danièle Mazet-Delpeuch’s Book Carnets de Cuisine: Du Périgord À L’elysée

Chocolate Tart

For the pastry:
2½ cups flour
¾ cup butter, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg

For the filling:
1 cup dark chocolate (70 % cocoa or more)
1 cup salted butter
½ cup confectioners sugar
3 medium eggs
4 cups coffee, strongly brewed

For pastry dough, combine butter, sugar, and egg. Add flour to mixture and knead into smooth ball. Refrigerate for at least one hour.

Roll dough into thin sheet and place into shallow cake pan that has been buttered and floured, with dough extending over sides of pan.

Melt chocolate over low heat and mix with coffee, sugar, and melted butter.

Beat eggs in separate bowl, then add to chocolate mixture.

Pour chocolate mixture over pastry shell and bake at 350° for about 15 mins, or until chocolate is slightly firm on top.

Pumpkin Crumble Pie

Pumpkin pie is good, don’t get me wrong, but it’s very boring.  I ran across this recipe that has a crunchy, maple-y topping.  What could be bad about this? Nothing! I will admit, it’s not a thing of beauty….
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Pumpkin Crumble Pie

Serves 8

For Pumpkin Pie:
15 oz can pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
12 oz evaporated milk
1/3 cup firmly-packed brown sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (see recipe below)
9-inch deep-dish frozen pie crust, thawed

Maple Crumb Topping:
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup firmly-packed brown sugar
6 Tbs cold butter
1 Tbs cinnamon
2 Tbs maple syrup

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large bowl, mix pumpkin, eggs, evaporated milk, brown sugar, maple syrup and pumpkin pie spice. Mix well, and pour into thawed crust.

Place pumpkin pie on a baking sheet, and bake 20 minutes. While your pie is baking, make the crumb topping:
Combine flour, sugar, butter and cinnamon, mix until mixture becomes crumbly. Do not over-mix, or the mixture will turn into a dough.

Remove pumpkin pie from oven. Sprinkle crumb topping over pie. Drizzle with maple syrup.

Bake another 35-40 minutes, until crust and crumb topping are golden brown. Let pumpkin pie cool completely before cutting.

Drizzle with maple syrup before serving.

Pumpkin Pie Spice

Makes 1 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice

½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp ginger
⅛ tsp allspice or cloves
⅛ tsp ground nutmeg

Berry Crumb Bars

I haven’t had a chance to cut them into bars yet, due to catering chaos. I used raspberries, blueberries and blackberries.

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Berry Crumb Bars

Makes 20 to 24 bars

For the Crumb Crust:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
1 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1 egg

For the Berry Filling:
4 cups fresh berries
½ cup granulated sugar
4 tsp cornstarch
Juice of one lemon

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9×13-inch baking pan.

Make the Crumb: In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Use a fork or pastry cutter to blend in the butter, and then the egg (the dough will be crumbly). Press half of dough into the prepared pan.

In a separate large bowl, whisk together the sugar, cornstarch and lemon juice. Gently fold in the blueberries to coat evenly with the sugar mixture. Spread the blueberry mixture evenly over the crust, drizzling any excess juice in the bowl over the filling. Crumble the remaining dough evenly over the blueberry layer.

Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until the top is light golden brown. Cool completely before cutting into squares. Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container or wrapped in plastic wrap at room temperature or in the refrigerator.

Apple Loaf

It’s apple season people! I guess you already knew this. I made this apple loaf in 3 mini loaves instead, if you do this make sure to check it periodically. I also used some Trader Joe’s Cinnamon Sugar on the top before baking. What I like about this loaf is that it is not too sweet.

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Apple Loaf

Makes 1 Loaf

2 tart apples, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch pieces (3 cups)
3 Tbs plus 1 cup sugar, divided
1 tsp cinnamon
2/3 cup butter, softened
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
1/8 tsp salt

Preheat oven 350*.

In a large bowl, combine the apples, 3 tablespoons sugar and the cinnamon. Let stand for one hour to get the juices out.

In a separate bowl, cream butter and remaining sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Then add the vanilla.

In a different bowl, combine flour and salt; slowly add to creamed mixture and beat until smooth.  Then fold in the apples.

Transfer to a greased 9-in. x 5-in. loaf pan.

Bake at 350° for about an 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.  Cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack.  Run a knife along the outside edge and then invert onto a wire rack.  Serve warm.

Starbucks Lemon Loaf


My family loves anything lemony. My husband, Eric, always says nothing can be too lemony. Here is a copycat version of Starbucks Lemon Loaf. I made 3 mini loaves.

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Starbucks Lemon Loaf

1 1/2 cups flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

3 eggs

1 cup sugar

2 Tbs butter, softened

1 tsp vanilla

1 tsp lemon extract

1/3 cup lemon juice

1/2 cup oil

Lemon Icing

1 cup powdered sugar, plus 1 Tbs

2 Tbs whole milk
1/2 tsp lemon extract

Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a bowl.

Use a mixer to blend together the eggs, sugar, butter, vanilla, lemon extract and lemon juice in a medium bowl.
Pour wet ingredient into the dry ingredients and blend until smooth.

Add oil and mix well.

Pour batter into a well greased 9×5-inch loaf pan.
Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until a toothpick stuck into center of the cake comes out clean.
Make the lemon icing by combining all the icing ingredients in a small bowl with an electric mixer on low speed.

When the loaf is cool, remove it from pan and frost the top with the icing.
 Let the icing set up before slicing.