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Friday, March 12, 2010

Basic Sweet Cake

Basic All Occasion Cake:
This recipe was adapted from a household copy of "Virginia Hospitality" and features a sweet, moist interior and beautiful golden crust. The whole thing is ready to be eaten in an hour. The basic cake recipe is absolutely perfect by itself sprinkled with a little powdered sugar but below are some equally beautiful variations. For a beginner baker it provides a little challenge with very simple, at-hand ingredients and easy preparation.

1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup milk (whole or 2% are best)
2 eggs
1 cup white, granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon each vanilla extract and almond extract
1 cup flour, sifted
1/4 teaspoon salt (scant)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup slivered almonds (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 325
2. Grease and flour an 8" or 9" square baking dish.
3. Warm butter and milk in a saucepan over low heat until butter is melted and milk looks frothy around the edges. Be careful to NOT let it come to a boil. Steam should be curling off the surface but it should not boil.
4. Turn the milk and butter mixture off and remove from heat.
5. Place flour and salt in a sifter and set aside.
5. In a bowl beat the eggs with a whisk, adding sugar slowly.
6. Add your flavorings and whisk to combine. Add the sifted flour and salt and whisk again. The mixture should be creamy and pale.
7. Gradually add the milk and butter. Be careful that it is not too hot or else it will scramble your eggs.
8. Add the baking powder and whisk again.
9. Pour the batter into your greased and floured pan. Sprinkle with almonds and bake for 30 minutes or until the edges are looking golden brown and crispy. If the almonds start to look dark cover the top loosely with tin foil.

Maple Cake: Omit the almond extract and double the vanilla extract to 1 teaspoon. Serve the cake warm a drizzle of good quality syrup.

Fresh Fruit and Cream: Prepare cake as directed. Place 1 cup of berries (such as sliced strawberries) in a bowl with 2 tablespoons of sugar. Stir and refrigerate for 20 to 30 minutes or until sugars dissolve. Spoon over cake and top with whipped cream.

Cinnamon Sugar: Prepare cake as directed omitting the almond extract and doubling the vanilla to 1 teaspoon. Omit the slivered almonds. Mix 1/4 cup sugar with 1-2 teaspoons cinnamon (according to your preference) and mix well. Sprinkle over the top of the cake before baking or serve the cake warm with a little pad of butter and a sprinkle of cinnamon sugar.

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