Posts Tagged ‘baking’

I searched for a recipe that had significance for the New Year and discovered the Orange Brandy Cake below, since it brings the consumer good luck, with a lucky coin hidden inside.   All I can think of when items are put into a cake, is a trip to the dentist!   I did just that favoring a broken molar, after consuming a lovely slice of pie of my making and biting down on a peach pit chunk.  Is that luck or what?!


I had the intention of making this cake but after reading it over I decided it resembled the always yummy Brandy Pound Cake offered in Little Neva’s Bakery.  The recipe below uses orange juice as well as zest.  My cake requires sour cream and I add in 4 pure extracts to exotically dance around the brandy.    Serve it with macerated fruit, whipped cream, ice cream or chocolate sauce.  Eat it plain, but no matter your version, you will be so satisfied with every bite, down to the last morsel or crumb.  Yum!


Moist, extremely flavorful, terrific shelf life and just darn good, this tried and true recipe has been in my possession for many years.  The original recipe called for Apricot Brandy but I have since used basic brandy or sometimes blending apricot with it.  It had been a favorite with the family and has been shipped around the world many times, arriving in spectacular shape, regardless of the destination.  Perfect as a gift, party, treat and made in Virginia, too!

If your curiosity has been peaked here is the link to our adored Brandy Pound Cake: https://www.etsy.com/listing/67054935/pound-cake-butter-rich-moist-embraced?ref=shop_home_active_3

Do give this one from Epicurious a peek, bake it, eat it, let me know what you think..  If you order Little Neva’s pound cake also please let me know what you think!   Love feedback!

 New Year’s Orange and Brandy Cake

( from Epicurious website)

Makes one 10–inch round cake


    • 4 large eggs, separated
    • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
    • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted, or a combination of butter and margarine
    • 1 1/4 cups freshly squeezed orange juice
    • 1/2 cup brandy
    • 4 cups all-purpose flour
    • 4 teaspoons baking powder
    • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
    • Grated zest of 1 orange
    • Grated zest of 1 lemon
    • Whole blanched almonds


    1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Grease a 10-inch round cake pan.
    2. In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, beat the egg yolks with the sugar until light yellow and creamy, about 3 minutes. Add the butter or butter and margarine and beat for 1 minute more. Beat in the orange juice and brandy.
    3. Whisk together the flour with the baking powder, baking soda and the zests in another large bowl. Add to the yolk mixture and stir with a rubber spatula until incorporated.
    4. In a large clean bowl, with clean beaters, beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Fold them into the batter. Pour the batter into the pan and shake gently to even the top. Decorate the top with almonds.
    5. Bake the cake for about 1 hour, or until it is golden brown on top and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool on a rack before removing from the pan and serving.



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While bringing up the dashboard for my two blogs I was struck with the thought that Baking for Life may have disappeared since it has been relegated to the mothball section of the internet.  No time or desire to put that direction.  No big loss in the grand scheme of things, but I had a twinge of regret now that I might  be resurrecting the blog after having abandoned it for so long. Magically it appeared, poor thing!

I was cleaning out one of our overly cluttered areas of the house the other day and came across a paper bag with some of my mother’s older cookbooks.  Some are careworn, laden with my mother’s imprints as well as mine as a kid, Aside from ironing in the afternoon after school, one of my jobs was to make dinner before my mother arrived home from her long commute at the end of her work day.   We had 3 female college students boarding with us so the dinner needed to be plentiful,  As I flipped through the pages, certain recipes caught my eye, I was transported back to the specific production of the recipes.  Some which were well used had food stains around the print.  Wonder what I was thinking while putting the ingredients together?  Wow!

But I digress.    Tonight I used one book, from 1973, to make brownies.  When one is overcome with the urge to eat chocolate sometimes it is better to give in to it.  One of the things I remember while working for a weight loss program, which rings true, is to satisfy the urge or else you’ll go through a lot more food trying to scratch that itch.

I’ll indicate at the end of the recipe how I altered it.  Yes, you can still count on me fiddling around with the ingredients!



Whole Wheat Brownies    ‘Family Favorites from Country Kitchens’ cookbook  c 1973

1/2 c butter or margarine

1 c brown sugar, firmly packed

2 eggs

1/2 tsp vanilla

1/2 c whole wheat flour

1/4 tsp salt

6 Tbsp cocoa

2 Tbsp melted butter or margarine

1 c chopped walnuts

Cream together butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a tine, beat till well blended after each addition. Beat in vanilla.

Gradually stir in whole wheat flour and salt. Combine cocoa and butter or margarine, blend well. Add cocoa mixture and nuts to flour, butter, egg mixture.  Mix well, spread into greased 9″ square pan.

Bake 45 minutes @ 325°.  Cool on rack cut into 16 bars.

****   Now I substituted 1/4 c ground Kashi Go Lean Crisp cereal with 1/4 c unbleached flour because I did not have whole wheat on hand.    I also substituted 1/4 c coconut oil for 1/2 the butter / margarine.

The brownies took about 20 to bake in my convection oven so keep track of the bake time, check for doneness way in advance of 45 minutes.

I think I’ll try Pumpkin Pie Squares next from this book.  They look delightful. You’ll see!

Until next time we meet , eat… enjoy … mangia!



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Saturday August 25,2012

We have lived on our property in the woods for a considerable length of time!   Over the years we have dedicated a portion of the wooded land to a garden, which has morphed, as we play in the garden making it larger and more regulated.  I generally have become the primary keeper of the garden, which is a blend of flowers and vegetables.  I develop the beds, plant, weed, play, water, weep and battle insects.  The deer amazingly enough do not test the fence.  Why should they as they roam everywhere else indiscriminately ravaging plants as they please.   We are presently dog-less and while our cat freely explores the property, he does not threaten deer!

Last zucchini, out of frig, waiting

Each new growing season yields varying degrees of success.   I believe the most plentiful zucchini harvest was realized in the irregular, haphazard garden design.  Oh well.    Last year I lost my plants early on to squash bugs… this year my dozen or so plants grew magnificently as I trudged out in the early morning light to scrap off the eggs deposited by the dreaded squash bugs.  I abandoned my brother’s concoction of mouthwash & dish soap which stops the bugs dead in their tracks but does adversely affect the leaves over time and concentrated on eggs.  There were moments when I resorted to squeezing the persistent bugs to death, in order to exercise my power over them, I was so determined to beat these guys, but you can’t really fool mother nature!!!    My zucchini plants were lush, vibrant and huge. yielding  fruit and my pleasure.  Eventually BER, blossom end rot, or perhaps borers won the battle and one by one the plants fell in on themselves , giving up the ghost.  I cannot bring myself to use chemicals so I choose the trial by error method.  We might starve!

My last home grown zucchini deserved an  inspired finale and an eternal written memory, hence this post.  I came across these luscious Zucchini Bread Pancakes posted by Smitten Kitchen but a recipe for Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread, caught my eye from King Arthur Flour, what to do… such a dilemma??   My hardy zucchini could provide enough meat for both recipes,  if I reduced each recipe, so VOILA!    I preceded to create my last home grown zucchini treats.    I was psyched!  First I whipped up the chocolate bread so it would bake while I mixed up and then consumed with glee, the light moist pancakes.  It reminded me of a long ago family outing for pizza pick up.  We placed the order then while we waited, we tootled over to another pizza place to chomp on slices to satisfy our immediate hunger and to sustain us for the 1/2 hour ride home.  Yes we were /are crazy.   The zucchini bread did last 2 days, it was a small loaf!

Chocolate Zucchini Bread     adapted from King Arthur Flour
Yield: 1 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 ” loaf
      2 large eggs
      1/3 cup honey
      1/2 cup vegetable oil
      1/2 cup brown sugar
      1 tsp vanilla extract
      1 tsp baking soda
     1 tsp baking powder
     1/2 tsp espresso powder, optional
     1/3 cup natural unprocessed cocoa
     1  2/3 cup unbleached or all purpose flour ( feel free to blend a partial portion of whole wheat if you like)
     2 cup shredded, unpeeled zucchini
     1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350° F, lightly grease an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 ” loaf pan with butter, oil or spray “Pam”
In large bowl, beat eggs, honey, oil, sugar, and vanilla till smooth.    Add salt, baking soda & powder, espresso powder ( I did not use), cocoa, and flour, mixing till well combined.    Stir in zucchini and chocolate chips.     Pour batter into prepared pan.
Bake for 65 – 75 minutes, till loaf tests done with toothpick or cake tester, inserted into center comes out clean. ( chocolate on tester is OK! )
Remove from oven, cool 10 – 15 minutes before turning out onto rack.    Cool completely before slicing unless you can’t control the urge to dig in!  Store carefully wrapped at room temperature.   Lovely!

small loaf, 1/4 of recipe!

dense and delightfully moist

Zucchini Pancakes      adapted from Smitten Kitchen … Thanks  for the inspiration
Makes 10 – 12 Pancakes
      2 large eggs
      3 Tablespoons olive oil
      2 Tablespoons light or dark brown sugar or white
      1/4 cup buttermilk or 2 Tbsp each milk & plain yogurt or 1/4 c milk with 1/2 tsp vinegar ( I use almond milk)
      1/2 tsp vanilla extract
      2 cups shredded zucchini ( 1  1/2 c medium heaping zucchini )
      1 cup unbleached flour
      1/4 tsp salt
      1 tsp baking soda
      1 tsp ground cinnamon
      1/8 tsp ground or freshly grated nutmeg
Butter or oil for skillet
In large bowl combine eggs, olive oil, sugar, buttermilk ( or your choice as above) and vanilla till smooth.  Stir in shredded zucchini, then in another bowl whisk together flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon & nutmegStir dry ingredients into wet: egg, milk, zucchini, etc,  until combined.  Do not over mix.
Preheat oven to 170 -200° F, if you care to keep cooked pancakes warm on tray, while cooking rest, depending on how quickly you will consume as they come from skillet!
Heat large heavy skillet, I prefer cast iron, over medium heat.  When hot( toss sprinkle of water in, if it sizzles, proceed)  add pat of butter or oil, coat bottom of pan.  Spoon approximately 1/4 cup batter or amount you choose for size pancake you desire, into pan.  I do one at a time.   This is where a griddle comes in handy for multiple pancake cooking!   Cook until bubbles appear on the surface, about 2 – 3 minutes, then FLIP, cook another 2 – 3 minutes till  golden underneath.   Continue until batter is used up.  Stack, slather, douse with your choice syrup, whipped cream or jam.   Dig in.  

cooks up quickly in my trusty cast iron pan


Old family pancake cover in use!

stacked and ready



    Until next time we meet….enjoy life, food, family and baking.  Mangia!

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Friday February 25, 2012

This night started with one very large white potato which begged to be baked.  I would have to split it with my hubby but you have to do what is necessary.  You will notice in the photo below, the potato is undressed…. that is because it had to be split, I didn’t want a half potato to spoil the presentation!

I planned on making chicken burgers, brussels sprouts, salad and that potato.   Now because the oven would be on my thoughts wondered rather quickly to dessert and since I was recovering from the ravages of Valentine’s, that is CHOCOLATE , day, I instantly decided to whip up my tried and true COCOA CAKE.  I am not a cold turkey kind a gal, I slowly wean myself off of an indulgence.  Anyway, I digress,  since the oven was on for that one large potato, why be too wasteful with the electric watts surging, let’s do the cake.    As you may have heard COCOA and DARK CHOCOLATE are found to be quite healthy, so this electric usage is a healthy thing.   None the less, I have been known to experiment, usually quite successfully, so to bolster this cake on the healthful scale I used canola oil instead of butter, substituted in 1 cup of white whole wheat flour, cut back a tad on the sugar quantity and used part soy milk with the water.  call me crazy or prudent this cake was in the works, regardless.

I mixed up the burgers, ground chicken, red quinoa, herbal seasoning, tamari, onions and squirt of mustard.   I then cut off the ends of the brussels sprouts, put them in my trusty steamer, always on the cooktop, ever used,  formed up the burgers set it all aside to concentrate on the main focus of the meal…. cake.


2 cups all purpose flour ( you can use unbleached, or a blend with white whole wheat)

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa, not Dutch process which is less flavorful

1 1/4 tsp baking soda

3/4 tsp salt

1 1/2 sticks 9 3/4 cup)  butter

1 3/4 cup packed brown sugar

2 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla, be liberal

1 1/3 cup water ( or water & milk)

Confectioners sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Butter ( I use the wrapper from the butter stick) a 9 x 2 ” round cake pan or spring form.  Dust with flour, knock out excess.

Whisk flour ( s ), cocoa, baking soda and salt.

Beat together butter and brown sugar preferably with an electric mixer, not necessary though arms will tire out quickly otherwise:>), until pale and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time , beating well after each addition, then add vanilla.

Add flour mixture and liquid alternately, in batches, beginning and ending with the flour, mixing till combined.

Pour batter into prepared cake pan and bake in middle of oven until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 55 minutes to 1 hour.  Cool in pan 1/2 hour, loosen and invert, cool another 15 minutes , dust with confectioners sugar.

Cut and consume!  YUM.

This will be a learning experience, blogging, not so much baking,  so I hope you enjoy my posts.  Please bear with me as I make this journey.  As time progresses I’ll be discussing my life, food, family and baking experiences.

Mangia! As my mother in law would say.  Until we meet again, have a blast in your kitchen with your life, family and food.

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