Tag Archives: Baking

Gingerbread Men

Better Homes and Gardens Cookies and Candies, 1968 edition

My friend Merrily gave me this cookbook when I was 16. She was one of the best cooks I knew, and certainly the best cookie maker. The recipe for my sour cream pound cake came from her.

We have literally worn the cover off of this book over the last 39 years. Joe’s luscious fudge is in this book, and this is the only gingerbread man recipe I’ve ever used.

Better Homes and Gardens Cookies and Candies, 1968

Notes:

* If rolled thick, this recipe makes a soft cookie, which is what my family prefers. However, with the last bit of dough, I roll them thinner for a crunchy cookie which goes well with morning coffee.
* Plan ahead and chill the dough. It does make a difference. I’ve tried doing it in a rush and it just doesn’t work. The dough is sticky and then I add too much flour.
*I’ve never used shortening, I’ve always used vegetable oil (canola, etc.).
* Make sure the cookie cutters are well floured before each cutting, or you’ll start losing arms, heads, etc. that don’t want to separate from the cutter.
* Keep a pastry brush handy. Flour is needed to dust both the rolling pin and the rolling surface, but you don’t want that floury taste on the bottom of the cookies. It’s a hassle, but dust them off before placing them on the baking sheet.
* Parchment paper gives the best result. For years I Pammed the sheet, but the pp results in a better cookie.
* Press raisins into the cookie after they’re on the sheet. Frozen raisins work better. Soft, room-temperature ones don’t want to press in and will likely fall off.
* Sprinkle sugar over the tops before baking.
* Bake one sheet at a time, although it isn’t as important with this recipe as it is with chocolate chip type cookies.
* Turn sheet around half way through baking.
*After baking, let set for about 5 minutes before transferring to cooling rack.

I store the finished cookies in a clear jar on my counter-top. If left out on a plate in humid weather for a long time they stay soft, but not as nice. Besides, it’s way too easy to pick up one from a plate everytime I pass by.

My grandsons love these. In fact, they asked me to make paper gingerbread men for them to play with last summer. I used my larger sized cutter for a pattern and we had the plain, regular gingerbread man, plus Gingerbread Batman, Gingerbread Robin, Gingerbread Joker, Gingerbread Superman. Construction paper was cut out to make their clothes and their faces were done with Crayolas.

This post linked to Food on Fridays @ annkroeker.

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Filed under 1960's, Baking, Books, Christmas, Cookbooks, Cookies, Cooking, Food, Recipes

Cockeyed Cake (Chocolate)

Don’t have any eggs, shortening or 30 minutes to devote to making a cake? Cockeyed Cake doesn’t even require a mixer and is a very thrifty recipe.

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The I Hate to Cook Book


This recipe comes from the Peg Bracken’s 1960 “The I Hate to Cook Book”. As you can see from the photo, my copy is quite worn, but it’s one of my favorite cookbooks because it blends good, dependable recipes with humor and clever illustrations. It’s very mid-century, so if you like this era, I highly recommend this book.

When I was in grade school at Mingo (and when school cafeterias actually cooked instead of the way they do it now – just reheating frozen food), the cafeteria ladies made this cake but they called it Wacky Cake. This is what Peg says on pages 91-92 and will give you an idea about her writing style, which I find very amusing:

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Illustrations by Hilary Knight


“This is a famous recipe, I believe, but I haven’t the faintest idea who invented it. I saw it in a newspaper years ago, meant to clip it, didn’t, and finally bumped into the cake itself in the apartment of a friend of mine. It was dark, rich, moist, and chocolatey, and she said it took no more than five minutes to mix it up. So I tried it, and, oddly enough, mine, too, was dark, rich, moist and chocolatey. My own timing was five and a half minutes, but that includes looking for the vinegar.)

Cockeyed Cake

1 1/2 c. sifted flour
3 T. cocoa
1 t. soda
1 c. sugar
1/2 t. salt
~~

5 T. cooking oil
1 T. vinegar
1 t. vanilla
1 c. cold water

Put your sifted flour back in the sifter, add to it the cocoa, soda, sugar and salt, and sift this right into a greased square cake pan, about 9x9x2 inches. Now you make three grooves, or holes, in this dry mixture. Into one, pour the oil; into the next the vinegar; into the next the vanilla. Now pour the cold water over it all. You’ll feel like you’re making mud pies now, but beat it with a spoon until it’s nearly smooth and you can’t see the flour. Bake it at 350 degrees for half an hour.”

Chocolate Icing
1 T. butter
1 1/2 c. powdered sugar
2 T. cocoa
dash salt
1 t. vanilla
3-4 T. milk
1/2 c. chopped pecans

1.While cake is baking, place butter in mixing bowl to allow to come to room temperature.
2. Sift powdered sugar, salt and cocoa together.
3. Add most of the milk and vanilla. Blend well.
4. Mix in chopped pecans.
5. Place on warm, not hot, cake and allow to soften a bit before icing.


Cake Notes
:
*At the bottom of this post I’ll include the amounts for a double recipe, which is what I usually make. Realizing that anyone can double the above amounts, I have gotten myself in trouble on other recipes by forgetting to double some of them. It’s so much easier to have it all written down.
*Even though she says you can mix it in the cake pan itself, I find it difficult to do. If you are proficient at it, go ahead, it will save you having to wash a bowl.
*A few years ago, I read that one should only grease the bottom of a cake pan, because an ungreased side gives the cake something to cling to and rise nicely. So that’s what I’ve down ever since and it’s never caused a problem. Just run a knife around the edge of the pan before serving to loosen it.
*The picture below doesn’t do justice to the cake. It’s a really nice, chocolatey cake, just as Peg said.

Icing Notes

*The Mingo School cafeteria ladies didn’t ice the cake, they simply sifted powdered sugar over the cake. This works fine if you’re serving all of it immediately, but the next day it absorbs some of the oil from the cake and begins to look tired.
*This is my standard icing recipe that I learned from my mother. I never measure the ingredients, but I did today for this post.
* Baking time is subject to the vagaries of your own oven. This morning it took an extra 30 minutes. There must be something wrong with my thermostat. Just keep checking it after 30 minutes and use the toothpick test.
*Once I used cream in the icing recipe instead of milk and really didn’t care for the result. It stayed way too soft for me.
*The milk requirement in the icing is variable. Too much and it will be runny, too little and it will tear up the cake when you try to spread it. After adding the initial amount, mix it up and add only 1 T. at a time.
*Don’t put the sifter in the sink after you use it. You might need to add more powdered sugar if the icing is too thin. This has happened to me many times.
*This is a good recipe if you have a vegan in your family. Just use vegetable shortening (instead of butter) and water (instead of milk) in the icing recipe.

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Cockeyed Cake

Double Cake Recipe:
3. c. flour
6 T. cocoa (1/4 c. + 1/8 c.)
2 t. soda
2 c. sugar
1 t. salt
~~
10 T. oil (1/2 c. + 1/8 c.)
2 T. vinegar
2 t. vanilla
2 c. cold water

Double Icing Recipe
2 T. butter
3 c. powdered sugar
dash salt
2 t. vanilla
1/4 + 1/8 c. milk
1 c. chopped pecans

This post is linked to:
Food on Fridays @ annkroeker
Frugal Fridays @ Life as Mom

*Updated October 28, 2012: a reader (Peg) pointed out that I had doubled the amount of cocoa in the half recipe. That has been corrected, and I sincerely hope it didn’t cause any trouble for anyone. The Wacky Cake recipe that our cafeteria ladies made was indeed more chocolatey than this one from the I Hate to Cook Book, but I doubt it was twice as chocolatey.

Mea Culpa.

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Filed under 1960's, Books, Cookbooks, Cooking, Mingo, Oklahoma, Thrift, Using What You Have

Sour Cream Pound Cake with Chocolate Marble

Five O'Clock Tea, by Mary Cassatt

Five O'Clock Tea, by Mary Cassatt


My friend Merrily gave me this recipe over 35 years ago. It’s absolutely wonderful and would be perfect with either tea or coffee. My husband thinks that an icy glass of milk is the only suitable drink for cake, pie or cookies.
( Posted below this one is the half recipe which is just right for a loaf pan.)

Sour Cream Pound Cake with Chocolate Marble
(Full recipe – fits tube pan or bundt pan)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and place oven rack to center.
2 3/4 c. sugar
1 c. butter
6 eggs
1 1/2 t. vanilla
~
3 c. flour
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. soda
~
1 c. sour cream
~
1/3 c. cocoa powder (not the drink mix)

1. Pour sugar into mixer.
2. Soften the butter, but do not melt. Add.
3. Break the eggs, 1 at a time into a separate bowl, then add to the mixture. It’s just too difficult to try to get chips of eggshell out of the mixer.
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4. Cream together until light and fluffy.
5. Add vanilla. Mix thoroughly.
6. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, salt and soda.
7. Add about a c. of flour mixture to batter, beat until well mixed.
8. Add about 1/3 c. of sour cream, mixing well.
9. Keep alternating until all the ingredients (except cocoa) have been added.
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10. Set aside 1 c. of batter into a small mixing bowl. Add cocoa & mix thoroughly.
11. Oil or Pam baking pan.
12. Spoon about 1/2 of batter into baking pan.
13. Spoon chocolate mixture on top.
14. Add remaining batter.
15. To marble, use a table knife and drag once around the batter.
16. Bake at 350 on middle rack. (This one took 1 1/2 hours.) Keep checking after 1 hour. Use toothpick test when it looks done.
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17. Let cool slightly and turn over onto serving plate. Absolutely needs no icing.
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Half Recipe
1 1/3 c. sugar
1/2 c. butter
3 eggs
1 t. vanilla
~
1 1/2 c. flour
1/4 t. salt
1/8 t. soda
~
1/4 c. cocoa powder (not drink mix)

Directions same as above. Use loaf pan.

*updated January 18, 2012

Linked to:
Food on Fridays at annkroeker
Tempt My Tummy Tuesday at Blessed With Grace

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Filed under Baking, Cooking, Recipes, Tea

Snickerdoodles (and sort of a cookie tutorial)

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This recipe for cinnamon cookies came from a Bryan Chapel (Oklahoma) cookbook which my husband’s grandmother gave me in 1974. It is probably the most inexpensive cookie I make.

A little attention to detail and you can make cookies every bit as good as your favorite bakery. Probably better.

Snickerdoodles
(Makes about 3 dozen.)
~Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees.

2 eggs
1 1/2 c. white sugar
1 c. vegetable oil (not olive oil)
~Mix together very thoroughly (it will look creamy).

2 2/3 c. flour
2 t. cream of tartar (if you don’t have cream of tartar, see * below)
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1 t. cinnamon
~Sift together and add to creamed mixture, just until blended. Do not overmix.

2 T. white sugar
1 T. cinnamon
~Stir together in a small bowl and set aside.

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~Form dough into 1″ balls, then roll in sugar/cinnamon mixture and place 2″ apart on parchment lined cookie sheet.

~Place on middle rack in oven (only 1 tray at a time). Set timer for 10 minutes.

~After timer goes off, turn tray around and set timer for an additional 5 minutes. (see * below)

~When done, slide paper off onto table and allow cookies to cool for about 5 minutes, then transfer them to a cooling rack.

*****Notes*******
If you’re an experienced baker, then you may know everything I’ve written in this section. Most of it I’ve learned from making thousands of cookies. Please don’t be put off by how detailed this is. Baking good homemade cookies is not difficult but it does take focus. I’ve had some real disasters by trying to do something else while I bake, thereby being distracted enough not to set the timer, or thinking that a couple of extra minutes won’t hurt anything (when I haven’t even checked on them). Believe me, it matters. A good recipe is merely where you begin – it’s no guarantee of a good cookie.

*Most recipes call for an oven temperature of 350, but I’ve found that 300-325 (only you know your own oven) with a longer baking time (and turning the tray) gets better results.
*Shortening was listed in the original recipe, but I rarely use it and find that vegetable oil works great. It’s perfectly fine if you prefer it, but the texture and taste will change some.
*If you don’t have any cream of tartar, you can substitute 2 t. baking powder and eliminate the baking soda. This will change the flavor a little.
*I learned from America’s Test Kitchen to NOT overmix cookie dough after adding the flour. It will result in a cake-like texture, rather than a cookie one. Before learning this, I knew that sometimes I got that fluffy texture, but I didn’t know why. Just mix thoroughly, then stop.
*The original recipe calls for equal parts of cinnamon and sugar to roll the balls in, and sometimes I do but it will make them very cinnamony and darker.
*You don’t have to use parchment paper. You can lightly grease or Pam the baking sheet, but it will change slightly the way the cookie browns. I’m not much on buying speciality stuff for the kitchen, but I really like the result I get when using parchment paper. Before placing the paper down, I flick a few drops of water onto the baking sheet. This helps to prevent the paper from sliding around and landing the cookies onto the floor. This has happened to me.
*Placing them 2″ apart will allow them to expand without melding into each other.
*Another important lesson I learned by myself (and it was confirmed by America’s Test Kitchen) is to never bake more than 1 tray at a time. I don’t know why this is true, I just know that it is. For years, I’d bake 2 sheets at a time (or more if they were smaller) thinking that it would save both time and energy. Then each tray would turn out differently and some were just awful. As I’ve said before, science is not my forte and this sounds like a physics question. I’ll ask my husband.
*They’ll be puffy when you remove them from the oven, then deflate slightly.
*This part is just observation, not science: I can’t tell you exactly how long to bake them. This morning when I checked them after the second timer, they were still doughy in the middle and I put them back in for another 4 minutes, then they were just right. I had to break one in half to check it. To me, the best texture for Snickerdoodles is slightly crispy on the outside and chewy (not underdone) in the middle. There again, bake them to your own preferences.
*Sliding the parchment paper off of the cookie sheet prevents them from continuing to bake a little after removing from the oven. Placing them on a drying rack helps them to cool without drawing moisture to the bottoms and becoming soggy or heavy.

Now, let’s get the coffee started.
(This post linked to Food on Fridays http://annkroeker.wordpress.com/)

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Filed under Baking, Cookies, Cooking, Food, Recipes