Archive for the ‘Desserts’ Category

Vicki’s Cake (Victoria Sponge Cake)

31 July 16

This is a quintessential and favorite British tea time cake. It is called the Victoria Sponge Cake because it was Queen Victoria’s favorite for high tea. When you are the Queen you get what you want. It’s good to be the Queen.

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened (1 cup)
220 gr sugar (1 cup)
2 each eggs
160 gr all-purpose flour (1 cup)
6 gr baking powder (1-1/2 tsp)
125 gr milk (1/2 cup)
4 gr vanilla extract (1 tsp)

Set your oven to 400°F (200°C). Lube an 8 inch spring form pan with unsalted butter.

If you are a masochist and doing things by hand you mix up the dry goods, cream the butter and sugar, add the dry goods, then add the wet goods. Of course, you pre-mix the flour and the baking powder. Then pre-mix the milk and the vanilla. Oh yeah, if doing by hand then you may want to use powdered sugar. It dissolves and creams a little faster.

If you are using a good mixer like a sensible person, then cream the butter and sugar until they are supple and smooth. Then add the dry stuff – flour, baking powder – and mix it in on low. Then add the milk and vanilla and mix until smooth. Notice – no pre-mix is necessary. You also want to be extra cautious if you use powdered sugar. It tends to go everywhere when the mixer starts. The flour and the milk sometimes do also. You might want to bump the mixer a time or two as you start. I wish Kitchenaid had a soft start. My Cuisinart hand mixer has soft start and it is wonderful.

Either way, dump the batter into the pan, bake at 400°F (200°C) until a toothpick comes out clean. This will be somewhere between 20 and 30 minutes depending on your oven. Mine tends to run around 30 minutes. Cool down still in the pan for about 10 minutes on top of a wire rack. Pop the outer ring off and, leaving the cake on the pan base, cool down completely. If you are not doing something else with the cake you can just leave it on the bottom of the pan.

You now have a proper Victoria Sponge Cake. Traditionally, you just whack and serve. If you want (and have a very steady hand), you can cut it in half and add some preserves in the middle. Apricot and raspberry are traditional (and good). Of course, you can use any preserves or other stuffing that you like. If you are like me, I think that this cake is a bit thin for cutting in half. I would cook a second cake and layer them together. Of course, you will have to shave the top of the bottom cake so the top layer will sit flat. Oh well, the cook gets the leftover top goodie. It’s good to be the cook. You can also sprinkle some powdered sugar on the outside if you like.

Custard is also used as a stuffer. A dollop of whipped cream has been known to be used for a topping.

As a note: a real purist would not use vanilla extract, but heat the milk and then soak a scored vanilla bean in it.


It is Truly Meat!

4 April 10

Christ is Risen! Indeed, He is Risen!

Herself here, posting a menu with links to recipes.

Pascha (Easter) Morning Breakfast:

Sauteed Hog Jowl
Eggs Benedict

Pascha (Easter) Noon – Lunch:

MEAT and CHEESE sandwiches!
Potato chips

Pascha (Easter) Evening Dinner:

Bad Man’s Steak
Creamed Peas
Salad with Olive Oil and Vinegar dressing
Strawberries Romanoff


Strawberries Romanoff

4 April 10

There are probably as many versions of this dish as chefs that have played with it. I must say that this is not one of my favorites. However – herself loves this stuff dearly. The origin is probably the French chef of Tsar Nicholas I, Marie-Antoine Carême during his very brief stint at the Russian court. Carême has been called the first celebrity chef, the inventor of haute cuisine (high cooking), and is worth studying.

2 quarts ripe strawberries
41 g Cointreau liqueur (1/4 cup)
50 g sugar (1/4 cup)
250 g heavy whipping cream (1 cup)
3 g vanilla extract (1/2 tsp)
125 g sour cream (1/2 cup)

Hull and quarter the strawberries. If you want to present pretty-pretty then reserve a handful or two whole for garnish. Stir the sugar into the Cointreau and pour over the strawberries. Cover and refrigerate 1 to 4 hours.

Beat the vanilla and whipping cream until you get soft peaks. Add the sour cream and beat until the mixture firmly holds peaks.

Just before serving put berries and juice into individual bowls. Cover with the whipped cream mix. If you want pretty top with a few whole strawberries.

Keep the berry mix and the cream mix in the refrigerator in separate containers and combine just before serving if there is any left over.

Most liquor stores around here keep single serving sized bottles around the checkout area. One of these little bottles of Cointreau is just right for this recipe. An expensive way of getting the stuff on a per ounce basis, but cheaper than a quart if you just want to see if you like this or not. If you haven’t had it before Cointreau is one of the triple sec (triple distilled) class of orange liquors. Actually you could substitute any of the orange triple sec types that you might have on hand. Triple Sec, Curaçao, and Grand Marnier come to mind as equivalents.

The Best Brownie You’ll Ever Taste

30 August 09

Herself used to say that the brownies that you made from the box were as good as it could get. There was therefore no need to make them from scratch. She no longer says this.

{{HERSELF SEZ: Lots and lots of Yummy Sounds!!}}

8 – 1 ounce squares of unsweetened chocolate
2 sticks butter (1 cup)
5 eggs
600 g sugar (3 cups)
12 g vanilla (1 Tbs)
230 g flour (1-1/2 cups)
7 g salt (1 tsp)
250 g chopped pecans or walnuts toasted (2-1/2 cups)

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lube a 9 x 13 pan with your favorite grease. I like unsalted butter.

The easiest way to melt the chocolate and butter is in a double boiler. Put enough water in the bottom pot to do some good, but just shy of touching the top pot when it is seated. Plop the butter and chocolate into the top pot and set it on the bottom pot when the water is boiling. Reduce the heat enough to keep the water boiling without getting it all over the place. Stir the chocolate and butter fairly frequently. When it is completely melted and smooth take it off the heat.

While the chocolate and butter melt set up a mixer and beat the eggs, sugar and vanilla at as high a speed as you can get without a mess. Usually works out to a 4 or 5 on my Kitchenaid. You want to just let it run for about 10 minutes. Yea, I know that this sounds excessive, but you will notice a definite color and texture change about 6 to 8 minutes into this. I would hate to do this by hand!

When the chocolate and the sugar/butter are ready, add the flour and salt to the butter/sugar and mix briefly. Add the chocolate melt in small batches, then add the nuts.

Dump everything into the pan and then bake for 35 to 40 minutes at 375°F.

Resist temptation and do NOT cut it until it has cooled off. Some nice home-made whipped cream goes well with this.

My Recipes – Trifle

12 May 09

{{Herself is posting today}}

Here is one of my favorite dessert recipes. I’m putting all my recipes together into an e-book, as is the Ol’ Curmudgeon. We’ll let you know when they are ready to purchase and download.


Trifle is a British dessert that was used extensively in the Old South. It was varied with the fruit available and the basic recipes used by the cook. You can go as crazy as you want to with it, but basically it is simply layers of fruit, cake soaked in booze, custard, and whipped cream. You can use any kind of sponge cake or pound cake, but the old fashioned POUND cake is probably best. Serving it in a large footed bowl makes it look elegant!!

I first had Trifle at my Cousins Bill and Charlotte’s home. Cousin Charlotte, Bill’s wife, is a wonderful cook! She did NOT make the fast version of this treat!

Sponge cake (or pound cake)
1 1/2 to 2 cup fresh fruit**
3 1/2 – 4 cups custard
3/8 cup 10-X sugar, sifted
1 1/2 to 2 cup heavy cream, whipped
3/4 to 1 cup bourbon, brandy, rum or sherry
fruit and mint for garnish**

Slice pound cake about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick and slice off crust. Line bottom of a pretty bowl (there is even such a thing as a “trifle bowl!!”) with the sliced, trimmed pound cake. Sprinkle with 1/3 of the liquor.

Arrange fresh fruit around lower edge of bowl, between cake and side of bowl. Spoon 3/4 of the custard over the cake. Arrange about 1/2 remaining cake slices on top of custard. Spoon preserves over cake. Layer rest of cake slices over preserves. Pour rest of liquor over cake. Cover with remaining custard. Cover and chill.

Just before serving, whip cream until foamy. Slowly add powdered sugar, continuing to beat until soft peaks form. Top trifle with whipped cream and garnish with fresh fruit and mint.

The custard you use can be any basic vanilla custard. Many recipes call for a richer custard made with half and half rather than milk, and with 2 or 3 extra eggs. You can use either vanilla or liquor to flavor it. Guess which I prefer?? It should be chilled thoroughly before adding it to the trifle.

When in a hurry, I have used Sara Lee or Pepperidge Farm frozen pound cake, frozen strawberries or raspberries, strawberry or raspberry jam, Jello Instant Vanilla Pudding Mix and Cool Whip!! Hey, it works, and only gourmets will be the wiser!!

** NOTE: Fruit for the inside layers can be any fruit in season, but berries (blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, etc) work best. Raspberries are traditional. Preserves should “match” the fresh fruit. Fruit for garnish should match fresh fruit. Fruit for trifle layers can be lightly crushed (or halved, in the case of strawberries). Fruit for garnish may be used whole or sliced partway down, in the case of strawberries. When desperate, UNSWEETENED frozen fruit can be used; firm berries work best, strawberries “don’t quite make it” for trifle when they’ve been frozen.

VARIATION FOR CHOCOHOLICS: Substitute chocolate egg custard for the vanilla egg custard. Substitute chocolate pound cake for the sponge or pound cake. Substitute Chocolate Cool Whip or Chocolate La Creme for the whipped cream (or add cocoa powder and extra 10X sugar to whipping cream while making it). Use a chocolate or coffee liqueur thinned “somewhat” with vodka for the liquor. Strawberries and raspberries go best with chocolate, but other fruits may do OK, too.

Make in layers, as above.

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