Vanilla Half Pound Cake

I’ve been craving vanilla. Maybe it is because of the quarantining that I haven’t been anywhere to wear perfume – my favorite scent is Vanille from Bourbon French Parfums in the French Quarter. So delicious and perfect for a cooking butch like me.

As it is in the time of Coronavirus, I’m not making the full pound cake (with a pound of butter, etc) because it will mainly be me eating it.

This cake doesn’t have leavenings so you need to make sure you beat lots of air into the sugar and butter and when adding the eggs to give it all the lift it gets.

If you don’t have vanilla bean paste, use 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract. The paste gives you intense vanilla flavor plus the flecks of vanilla beans. I use it for cocktails, ice cream and cakes like this where vanilla flavor is the star of the show.

Beautiful cake and it tastes amazing.

Vanilla Half Pound Cake

2 cups all purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
2 sticks butter, softened
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
3 eggs
¼ cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Generously butter and flour a loaf pan.

Sift together the flour and salt. Set aside.

Beat butter and sugar until pale yellow and fluffy – at least 5 minutes. Add in the eggs one at a time and beat well. Mix in the milk and vanillas. Slowly add the flour and salt mixture and beat until just combined. Don’t over mix at the end or the cake will end up dense.

Pour into the prepared pan and bake for about an hour or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Let cool in pan for 15 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Serve with fresh berries or toast slices lightly for a wonderful accompaniment to your morning’s tea/coffee.

Darkly Chocolate Sheet Cake with Fudge Frosting

I had the end of a bag of powdered sugar and a little less than a cup of buttermilk. All I could think of to use them both was frosting but what to frost? I didn’t want to fuss with cake pans or layers so I went with a super easy chocolate sheet pan recipe.

The coffee makes it seem even more chocolately. By adding a full cup, the cake is super moist and tender.

The creme de cacao reduces the sweetness of the frosting. Be sure and add it after you’ve pulled the frosting from the heat as you don’t want to burn it all off.

An easy and delicious cake recipe. I definitely recommend it!

Darkly Chocolate Sheet Cake

2 sticks unsalted butter
½ cup Dutch process or natural unsweetened cocoa
1 cup hot coffee
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups granulated sugar
½ cup buttermilk, at room temperature
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 9″ x 13″ pan.

Melt the butter in a double boiler. Stir in the cocoa and hot coffee.

Sift together the flour, soda, and salt. Place in the bowl of stand mixer with the sugar.

Pour the cocoa butter mixture over the dry ingredients. Mix on low until combined. Beat in the buttermilk, eggs and vanilla. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake the cake for 30 minutes, or until it tests done with a toothpick. When done, the cake will begin to pull away from the edge of the pan. Remove the cake from the oven and cool it on a rack.

I use a tall sided pan for baking the cake so that when I pour over the warm frosting, it doesn’t make a mess.

Fudge Frosting

8 tablespoons unsalted butter
¼ cup Dutch process or natural unsweetened cocoa
6 tablespoons buttermilk, at room temperature
3 ¼ cups confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon creme de cacoa

Melt the butter in a medium-sized saucepan. Stir in the cocoa and buttermilk.

Bring the mixture to a boil, then remove it from the heat and mix in the confectioners’ sugar and creme de cacoa, beating until smooth.

Pour the frosting over the cake while the frosting is still warm. Serve the cake right from the pan.

Victoria’s Semolina Cake Love

My friend, Victoria, says this cake is the love of her life. It is an Arab Semolina Cake, sometimes spelled harissa or harisa or haresa. I was happy to make it as part of her family cookbook project.

Trust the instruction that has you mixing with your hands – it is the easiest way to incorporate everything, so embrace your inner child and get your hands busy! It definitely helps to measure out all the ingredients first, so you don’t make too big a mess. And press it down well – it won’t hold together unless you make sure you compress it to 1 inch thick (again, best results from using your hands).

Arab Semolina Cake


Cake
3 cups semolina
3/4 cups (1 1/2 sticks) butter, melted
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup grated coconut
1/2 cup whole almonds or slivers for decoration

Syrup
2 cups sugar
2 cups water
1 tablespoon orange blossom water

Preheat oven to 400˚F

Mix yogurt and baking soda in a bowl and wait until yogurt doubles in size.

In a large bowl, mix all other cake ingredients together with wet hands.

When the yogurt has almost doubled in size, pour it on top of the semolina mix and use your hands to mix well.

When the mixture is well combined, press it tightly into a buttered 9×13 pyrex baking dish. The unbaked cake shouldn’t be more than 1 inch thick, so press it well.

Cut diamond or square designs with a butter knife and place an almond on top of each piece.

Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until dark brown.

Mix sugar and water together in a saucepan, bring to a boil, stirring regularly. Reduce the heat, and simmer for 20 minutes, or until it coats the back of a spoon. Add orange blossom water and stir well.

Pour boiling syrup on a very hot cake.

Let cool down before serving.

Middle Cake from Miryam Levy

Here is another delicious recipe from Miryam Levy. It was missing a few amounts but I had a recipe in my files for a chocolate, date and walnut cake from which I was able to crib. As I’m actually allergic to walnuts, I used pecans but I kept walnuts in the recipe list for authenticity. Also, if you don’t have self rising flour (and what good Southern biscuit maker doesn’t lol), sift together 1 cup flour, 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon salt.

Victoria tells me the name “Middle Cake” comes because her family would sit around the table with spoons, eating the middle first, leaving the delicious crusty edges for last. For best results let the cake cool in fridge, but she told me “good luck with that. The smell filling the house is so intoxicating, you can’t stop the lurking kids from eating it hot. Mom threatened to put a lock on the fridge, but it never helped…”

Middle Cake from Miryam Levy

2 tablespoons cognac
1/2 cup raisins
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup water
1 stick butter, softened
4 eggs
1 cup self rising flour
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9×13 pan and, instead of flouring the pan, dust with a little bit of cocoa and shake to coat the entire interior. Knock out excess cocoa.
Place cognac in a bowl with the raisins and let soak.
Melt chocolate, cocoa, sugar and water over stove, stirring regularly until it becomes creamy. Allow to cool slightly.
In a large bowl, cream the butter. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Alternately add the flour and chocolate mixture, starting with 1/2 cup flour. Mix just until combined, scraping down the bowl at least once. Stir in raisins and all the cognac and the nuts.
Pour the cake batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake for 30-35 minutes, rotating the pan midway through cooking. Bake until a crust has formed on top and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
For best results let the cake cool in fridge, but I admit I took a spoon to it while it was cooling and it is quite yummy hot.
I sprinkled the top of the pieces I did allow to cool with confectioners sugar.