If you are looking for a gift that will really please your favorite cook or baker and is guaranteed to perform with optimal results for years to come, you might consider looking to companies that that have been in the cookware, bakeware and tableware business for generations, like Nordic Ware. With its swirling curves and sharp detail, Nordic Ware's Heritage Bundt cake pan (a Williams-Sonoma web exclusive, www.williamssonoma.com) is surely one of my new favorite things and may well be one of the finest cake pans I've ever used. A test of the pan with a boxed red velvet cake mix produced stunning results with literally minimal effort. You'll feel good about purchasing a stunning pink pie dish from Emile Henry (www.emilehenryusa.com), world-renowned makers of quality bakeware and tableware made in Marcigny, France since 1850 from high-fired Burgundy clay. When you buy the pink pie dish, or other pieces from the company's 'Bake for a Cause' Pink (pink for breast cancer) Collection, 10 percent of the sale is donated to breast cancer research. And Mauviel M150 cookware, available on line at www.cutleryandmore.com, is manufactured by Mauviel, a French family business established in 1830 and regarded as the world's foremost maker of professional copper cookware. With its top-of-the-line, two-ply construction of 90 percent copper and 10 percent 18/10 stainless steel, this gift is made to last and make you shine -- for a lifetime and more.
Sue Ade is a syndicated food writer with broad experience and interest in the culinary arts. She has worked and resided in the Lowcountry of South Carolina since 1985 and may be reached at email@example.com
1 (18.25-ounce) box Duncan Hines Moist Deluxe Red Velvet cake mix
1 1/4 cups water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs
Baker's Joy no-stick baking spray with flour
Simple Confectioners' Sugar Glaze or Cream Cheese Glaze (recipes follow)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease sides and bottom with Baker's Joy baking spray. Blend dry mix with water, oil and eggs in a large bowl at low speed until well moistened (about 30 seconds). Beat at medium speed for 2 minutes. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake immediately for 45 to 50 minutes, or until cake tests done. Cool in pan on wire rack for 15 minutes, then invert onto rack to cool completely before topping with confectioners' sugar glaze or cream cheese glaze. Makes 1 (10-inch) Bundt cake, serving 10.
2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
2 to 3 tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, optional (if a very white frosting is desired, use imitation vanilla extract
Place sugar in a small mixing bowl, whisking in extract (if using) and water until desired consistency is reached. Makes enough glaze for 1 (10-inch) Bundt cake.
1 (3-ounce) package cream cheese
1 tablespoon butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
2 to 3 tablespoons milk
In a medium mixing bowl, cream butter and cream cheese with an electric mixer set to medium speed until well blended. Add sugar gradually and blend in milk until desired consistency is reached. (If glaze is too runny, add more sugar, if too thick, add more milk.) Makes enough glaze to cover 1 (10-inch) Bundt cake.
(If you want to bake a Red Velvet Cake from scratch, make it this one.)
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
4 tablespoons cocoa
2 ounces red food coloring
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups cake flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup full-fat buttermilk, room temperature
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour 3 (9-inch) cake pans, shaking out excess flour. Combine shortening and sugar in a large mixing bowl; beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Stop mixer and scrape sides of bowl. With mixer on low speed, add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Blend the cocoa with the food coloring and vanilla to form a paste, then add the paste to the creamed mixture, blending well until no streaks remain. Sift flour with salt, then add to the creamed mixture, alternately with buttermilk, blending until mixed. Stir baking soda into vinegar and beat into batter. Divide batter among prepared pans and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until cake tests done. Place pans on wire racks and allow to cool for 10 minutes before inverting cakes onto racks to cool completely. Frost with cooked white frosting or cream cheese frosting. Makes 1 three-layer 9-inch cake, to serve 10.
2 cups whole milk
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 pound unsalted butter
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups granulated sugar
In a heavy saucepan, over medium heat, combine milk and flour, whisking until smooth and thick. Pour milk mixture into a mixing bowl, pressing plastic wrap onto the surface. Cool mixture to room temperature, then refrigerate until very cold. When cold, remove the wrap along with "skin" that has formed on top of the milk mixture and discard; set milk mixture aside. Combine butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl; beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Lower speed and add vanilla, mixing thoroughly. Add cold milk mixture to creamed mixture, in thirds, beating well after each addition. Continue to mix until smooth and creamy and no coarse grains of sugar are discernable. Makes enough frosting to frost and fill 1 three-layer 9-inch cake.
2 pounds (about 9 cups) confectioners' sugar, sifted
1 pound (16-ounces) cream cheese, softened
1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Cream butter and cream cheese in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer set to medium speed until fluffy. Lower speed and add vanilla, blending well. Add sugar, a little at a time, until well blended. Makes enough frosting to frost and fill 1 three-layer 9-inch cake.
Place nuts in a dry skillet over medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring and shaking the pan frequently. Watch nuts carefully to keep them burning. When nuts are toasted, place on a foil- lined dish until ready to use.
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar, plus 2 tablespoons for sprinkling on top of pie*
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon fresh orange zest
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 (12-ounce) package fresh or frozen cranberries
1/2 cup chopped toasted walnuts (directions for pan toasting walnuts follows)
2 large eggs
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks), melted and cooled
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 1 (9-inch) pie dish. Combine the flour, 1 1/2 cups sugar, cinnamon, orange zest and salt in a large mixing bowl. Stir in cranberries and walnuts. In a small mixing bowl, blend eggs with butter and vanilla. Pour egg mixture into flour mixture, mixing well. Spoon batter into prepared pan and sprinkle top with remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar.* Bake for 50 to 55 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into the center of the pie comes out clean. Place dish on a wire rack to cool. Serve warm, or at room temperature, with ice cream, or whipped cream, if desired. Also makes a nice breakfast pie. Makes 1 (9-inch) pie, serving 8.
*Kitchen Ade Note: If you like the look of coarse sugar, use sanding sugar for sprinkling on top of your pie.
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