Yellow Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting Fig Preserves and Caramelized Hazelnuts

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When I was a little girl my mom and I traveled to Texas every two years to visit My Uncle John and his wife Aunt Ida. Uncle John was mom’s brother, and Aunt Ida was one of the best cooks that ever lived. Aunt Ida would always load us up with fig preserves and pecans to take back home. My uncle and aunt had a pecan tree in their yard and with each step you were likely to step on pecans. What I wouldn’t give to have them now!

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At the time I also didn’t appreciate the goodness of those fig preserves. These days I’ve come to love and appreciate figs and often add them to my granola. Last week on a whim I bought a jar of fig reserves and at first bite I was reminded of my Aunt Ida. At second bite the wheels starting turning on how to use them in a cake.
The yellow cake recipe is one I found on the box of Swans Down Cake flour. The cream cheese frosting is from, and the caramelized hazelnuts from Nestle’s. What a line up! What a cake! My original idea was to only bake one layer, top it with cream cheese frosting, fig preserves and the caramelized hazelnuts. When you have all that sugar, fat and flour, what’s one more layer!
The frosting and the caramelized hazelnuts pack a powerful sweet punch and I’m very happy that I did add the extra layer, and that I didn’t frost the sides. One layer frosted and all that sugar might have been too much. That being said I loved all the texture. Soft moist cake, creamy smooth frosting, and the crunch of the caramelized hazelnuts are a great combo and a small slice is more than enough to get you where you’re going.

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1-2-3-4 Cake – adapted from Swans Down Cake Flour
2 sticks unsalted butter
2 cups sugar
3 cups sifted Swans Down Cake Flour, see note
4 eggs, separated
1 cup milk
3 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
1 ½ tsp vanilla
Cream Cheese Frosting
Caramelized Hazelnuts
Fig Preserves, approximately 2/3 cup

Note: sift the cake flour and then measure. It’s a royal pain but you gotta do it.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare 2 8 inch pans for baking. I used the pan grease/grease and flour method and then lined the bottoms with parchment paper. This makes for a sure fire release. In a grease free bow beat the four egg whites until stiff peaks form and set aside. After sifting the cake flour lightly spoon it measuring cups to yield 3 cups. Sift the already sifted cake flour ( ai -yi-yi!!) with the baking powder and salt into a large bowl. Cream butter and gradually add sugar, creaming until light and fluffy. Add egg yolks one at a time beating well after each addition. Add flour mixture alternately with the milk and vanilla, taking care not to over beat. Using a large spatula, fold in the beaten egg whites a third at a time just until they disappear. Pour into prepared pans and bake for 20-25 minutes or until they test done.

Place one layer on a cake plate and pipe a generous ring of frosting approximately right on the edge of the cake. This time you not only want to create a dam to keep the filling in but allow it to fill out the space between the layers. This is purely for aesthetics since the sides won’t be frosted. Spread ½ cup of cream cheese frosting inside the frosting ring then top with 1/3 cup of fig preserves. On top of the preserves sprinkle approximately a third of a cup of the caramelized hazelnuts. Make sure the pieces aren’t too big. Top with the other layer and repeat the steps and amounts for the cream cheese frosting, fig preserves and caramelized hazelnut pieces. Place in refrigerator until serving time and refrigerate any leftovers.

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Cream Cheese Frosting
3 cups Powdered Sugar
8 oz Cream Cheese, softened
¼ butter, softened

Cream cream cheese and butter until smooth and add powdered sugar one cup at a time until firm enough to spread.

Caramelized Hazelnuts – Adapted from Nestle
2 TBS butter
1 ½ cups sugar
1 ½ cups chopped hazelnuts

Place sugar and butter in a small non-stick sauce pan and stir constantly over medium heat until sugar becomes golden brown in color then add the chopped hazelnuts, then remove from heat and stir.. After that, pour and spread it over cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.. Let cool to room temperature. Place in zippered bag and break into small pieces with a mallet or rolling pin. Allow part of the caramelized to be very fine or crumb like.

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Magic Cake

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Thank you foodie friends for all the well wishes on my birthday. The flu bug has left the building and my energy is back, woo-hoo!! I felt that I deserved a little post birthday treat so I whipped up these cutie patooties. This is the recipe that I had intended to make for my birthday and it comes from C&H Sugar. A while back I tweeted that I was in search of a white cake recipe and they responded. This is the second time that they’ve responded when I sent out an SOS for a recipe. Thanks a bunch C&H!!

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What really struck me about this recipe is the inclusion of cream cheese frosting. Can you imagine what that does to a cake? And believe it or not it’s not overly sweet. The only thing I changed was the type of pan. The recommended pan size is 8×8. I used a 9-inch round and then cut 3” circles from it. Then I piped chocolate frosting on half the circles, topped them with the remaining ones and piped more super rich chocolate frosting on top. Oh yeah!!!!

Everyday is a celebration friends and life is too short not to have dessert, a couple of times.

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Magic Cake – From C&H Sugar
1 (3 oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened
½ cup butter or margarine, softened
1 (1-lb.) pkg. Domino® Confectioners Sugar (approx. 3 3/4 cups)
1/3 cup milk
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 ¼ cups all purpose flour
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
1/3 cup water

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour an 8×8-inch square baking pan.
Frosting: In large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and butter at medium speed until smooth. Add confectioners’ sugar alternately with milk, beating 1-2 minutes or until blended. Remove 1 cup of frosting from bowl and set aside.

Cake: With mixer at slow speed, add eggs to remaining frosting in mixing bowl. Add vanilla; beat until blended. In small bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Add flour mixture to mixing bowl alternately with water and continue beating 1-2 minutes or until well blended.

Pour into pan and bake 30-40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pan. Cool completely. Place cake on serving plate. Spread sides and top of cake with remaining frosting set aside. Makes 9 servings.

Part 2 – Back to School and Birthday Cakes

Ok, where was I? Yeah sitting on the couch with a painful, swollen ankle and kicking myself for overdoing it. I knew there was a long restless night ahead of me. I also knew I would be at the doctor’s office as quickly as I could in the morning. Fridays aren’t the best days for seeing specialists around here and come to think of it office hours in general are only a half day on Friday. I see their point in that one. I like to be off on Friday’s also; however, sickness and pain don’t follow a schedule.

What I wanted in addition to an examination was the boot. This would stabilize my ankle. I also knew that stairs and driving would be out of the question or a long time. The ortho dr was out of town. I called the rehab facility and they suggested I see my family doctor. Roger that. She took a look at it and thought that I had a full tear instead of a partial and wasn’t sure about the type of boot necessary. So back home I went to wait and see if she was able to reach the doctor or his associate by page.

Other than being in pain I was growing antsier by the minute because my classes were set to start in three days. In a nutshell here’s what happened. Family doctor calls back a couple of hours later and says they couldn’t reach the ortho dr or his associate, continue using the crutches and they’d call be back first thing Monday morning. 20 minutes later the ortho office called wanting to know what was going on. I gave them a recap and they said to come in and a technician there would fit me with a boot.

Let me stop right here and tell you how absolutely wonderful my husband, daughter and granddaughter have been through all of this. Repeated trips to the doctor, taking on all of the household stuff and waiting on me hand and foot, literally. I love them to pieces!!

The fitting of Das Boot only took about fifteen minutes. It’s very heavy and when laced up it hurts like the dickens. The compression is supposed to take care of the swelling. I was advised to nix my therapy appointment for Monday morning and come back to the office early. Bummer! Not being able to totally submit to the couch, Chari and I went to the grocery store on Sunday. Oh I was careful and I was in an amigo. Talk about a humbling moment. That’s when I knew that I had really had enough of this. I managed to make it through the store without incident. Although I almost took out a display of mayonnaise trying to make a right turn around it, LOL!!
Bright and early Monday morning I was back at the ortho office. Dr. says it’s not a full blown tear but we’re getting close. Continue to wear the boot, ice the ankle 2-3 times a day, use the crutches, no physical therapy, go super easy with my classes and if it’s not better in a week we have to start talking about surgery. Oh no, he said the “S” word!!!

Class was interesting and my students are supportive and understanding. The Mr. takes me to class and helps me get everything set up. From now on the staff at the college will take care of that. I sit in the chair for lecture and during the workouts. It’s mainly an upper body workout with some floor exercises. Getting on the floor with the boot on isn’t the daintiest maneuver either. Typically I am a hands on instructor. I don’t like for my class to do something that I can’t or won’t do. Not this time. When they were running I wanted to jump right in there with them. Realistically I know that probably won’t happen again. Even after this heals it’s not worth the risk.

For me it’s going to be like tweaking a recipe. I’ll add a little of this and omit some of that until I have the formula that works for me. Right now the ankle is still swollen though not as much and the same goes for the pain. We’ll see what doc says on Wednesday.

Back to the birthday cakes. Charisse couldn’t really decide between a banana or chocolate cake, so being the doting mother that I am I made both. I’ve used the recipes before and they never fail.

The banana cake was covered with a cream cheese butter cream frosting.

To Gabbi’s great delight the chocolate one was slathered with chocolate frosting.

I’m sorry there aren’t any pictures of the cakes cut. Gathering props and standing to do that was out of the question. Shopping for the ideal teal accessories wasn’t happening either so I grabbed what I saw and made the best of it. Hence the plastic table cover and teal paper plates. Had this been on a folding table in another room, I wouldn’t have felt so bad. Using them in the formal dining room just didn’t feel or look right to me. What I did really like was the teal colored bling that I put on the black stemware.

You can bet I’ll be using that idea many more times. My go with everything plain stemware from the thrift store was also used. For the runner I folded my white tablecloth length wise. I also used black dinner plates and black napkins. The black napkins were folded into a triangle and placed on top of a white salad plate. Silver flatware that I scored from Big Lots completed the setting.

It surely wasn’t my best and was definitely a case of working with what was accessible. The best thing about it was that Charisse didn’t complain about having a plastic cloth and paper plates for her 30th birthday. She’s a sweetie pie!

Thanks for all of your well wishes and being kind enough to read all of my updates. I’m in the process of having some of my “stuff” brought upstairs so I don’t have to make the trip downstairs to bake. I’ll be at it again soon, fingers crossed!!!

Banana Cake Recipe

Devils Food Cake Recipe

Banana Cupcakes

I’ve been so busy with Thanksgiving preparations that I almost forgot to give you this recipe. These banana cupcakes were on the kids table. Before I give you this easy peasy recipe I have a question for you. How do you keep your cupcake liners from buckling when you fill them? That drives me nuts and I’ve wasted so many trying to get them to stand up straight. I’ve trained spooning in the batter slowly. Letting it dribble from a spoon, and doubling them. Sometimes you can tell if they’re going to be a problem child if the pleats aren’t tight from the beginning. Using my square cupcake pan seems to work the best in solving this dilemma, but sometimes you want them round. Let me know if you have any tricks of the cupcake trade that will help.

The cupcake was moist but not heavy as banana cake can often be. This batter also would take well to the addition of nuts or white chocolate chips. I used a basic butter cream frosting, but cream cheese would be the bomb. Make an extra batch and freeze them, we’re going to need lots of timesavers in the month ahead. Enjoy!

½ cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup mashed bananas
1 egg, beaten
1 ½ cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
Buttercream Frosting

Mix above ingredients, fill muffin tins (lined with cupcake liners) 1/3 to ½ full. Bake at 350° for 15 to 20 minutes. Let cupcakes cool completely and frost them as you like.