Monday, December 24, 2007


Today's brunch was fun and wonderful. It's always so good to laugh with our friends. I'll be off-line for a week or so.

Happy Yule to all!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Food gifts

Oh my stars and bells, where have I been? It's not as if I haven't been cooking. I just haven't been posting!

So - food for gifts. Do you like to get this? Do you like to give it? I'm partial to both! This year, I'm branching out: I'm giving away cute little bags of the pancake mix I invented that's loaded with many healthy whole grains. Amaranth, oat flour, brown rice flour, flaxseed meal... all kinds of things. It makes fluffy, nutty pancakes and waffles and probably nifty biscuits, too. Haven't tried that, yet.

I also ventured into rum cake territory. I ran into an ethical dilemma with this one. If you google "rum cake recipes" you get a million hits, most of them the old Bacardi rum cake recipe from the 60s. It's a very popular cake and I can't disagree: it's great!

But it uses a cake mix and instant vanilla pudding mix. And oh blessed Gaia, I can't do that! I'm sorry. I just can't. Those two things would load my beautiful cake with...with... you know.

I hate to cook with anything that comes with a 6-inch list of poly-syllabic ingredients only a chemist can read. And don't bother telling me that even broccoli has a long list of "poly-syllabic ingredients only a chemist can read." I know everything on the planet is made from basic chemistry.

It's not the same thing and you know it.

But I really wanted rum cake.

I can handle the cake mix part without any problem. I have tons of recipes for a basic yellow cake. Easy. But what did the pudding mix add? I had no idea and I didn't think it would do any good to check the box for ingredients. I doubt there's any Real Food in the stuff.

But I make pudding. What goes in the pudding? Milk, of course. Sugar, cornstarch, egg yolks. Vanilla. That's about it.

Ah. I bet the cornstarch does something. Adds binding, thickening, moistness, and it's the only ingredient that's not already in the cake. Was it that simple?

What the heck. Won't know if I don't try. So, here's the recipe. It made moist, dense, lovely rummy cakes. From scratch. And you can pronounce every organic ingredient.

Meals by Marlene Rum Cake

3 cups whole wheat white flour
2 cups sugar
½ cup powdered dry milk (my only nod to processed food. I wanted to replace the liquid ingredient (milk) with rum.)
1 tbsp baking powder
2 tbsp cornstarch
½ cup butter, softened and cut into small chunks
1 ½ cups spiced rum
1 ½ tsp. vanilla
2 eggs

Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add the butter, rum, and vanilla. Beat on low speed until combined, then on high speed for 2 minutes. Add the eggs and beat on high speed for 2 more minutes.

Pour into a greased bundt pan or 2 greased 9-inch round cake pans. Bake at 375 for 25 to 30 minutes.

CAUTION! Stand well back when you open the oven and open it slowly. There WILL be a small explosion of flames because of all the rum. It should go out immediately, though.

Check with a toothpick to see if cake is done. Cool on wire racks for 10 minutes, then remove from pans. Cool thoroughly on the racks.

*Note: for gifts, I baked these in small loaf pans. You could easily give away a whole cake, though.

Like the original cake, this should keep well. With all that rum, it ain’t spoilin'!

Let me know if you make it or any changes you make. This is a big experiment!