"You don't have to bring anything, but if you want to bring dessert, it would be great."
Every other Friday night, friends and I gather for a Torah study. We observe Shabbat, and then enjoy a light potluck meal.
Last week, I brought some roasted garlic flatbread and hummus instead of dessert. One of my friends liked the hummus but said, "I sure miss your desserts."
The same thing happened at church. I made my favorite fresh banana cake, and Rachel Davis, our pastor's wife, asked me to make it again.
Often I shy away from making or writing about desserts because I think folks want healthier foods, but I am finding that this is not always true. Sometimes a sweet treat is just right.
Even Bidwell Redmond, a good friend who has been monitoring his diet so carefully, wants to indulge every now and then.
"Whatever you do, please make a dessert," he said.
Today, I thought I would share a few favorites of mine, some easy and a German chocolate that is time consuming.
I enjoy pound and spice cakes, but most of the time, friends want some type of icing on the cake. For spice, a tomato soup cake is perfect. Yes, it is made with canned tomato soup, and is topped with a cream cheese frosting.
The banana cake uses bananas in the batter and in the icing. It is a thick cake batter that gets its moisture from the ripe bananas. A little lemon juice in the frosting cuts the sweetness.
The German chocolate cake recipe comes from Kraft. It is the best and most consistent that I have found. The coconut-pecan frosting does take time but is so worth the trouble.
For a quick cake, the fresh strawberry upside down cake has been a hit with my friends. I found the recipe on Pinterest a couple of years ago. As I write this, I have a sour cream pound cake in the oven for a friend. She likes pound cakes as much as I do.
Yes, today is all about cakes. When you need a dessert for a gathering with friends or family, one of these might be perfect.
BANANA NUT CAKE
3- 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1-2/3 cups sugar
1- 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1-1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup shortening
2/3 cup buttermilk (divided) (See note)
1- 1/2 cups mashed bananas (3-4 bananas)
1 cup chopped pecans (I used my food processor for a finer chop)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-by-13-inch pan well, not just with non-stick spray.
Sift all dry ingredients together. Add shortening, 1/3 cup buttermilk; beat at medium speed for 2 minutes.
Add other 1/3 cup of buttermilk and eggs; beat until well combined. Fold in pecans. Pour in pan and bake for 40 minutes.
Let cool and remove from pan before icing.
Note: I used regular milk and added 1 teaspoon of vinegar instead of buttermilk. Works just as well. I turned the cake out on a cake board, but you could use a large tray.
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup mashed bananas (1)
1 (16-ounce) box powdered sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Mix butter and bananas in mixing bowl. Gradually add powdered sugar, mixing well. Add lemon juice. Mix well.
TOMATO SOUP SPICE CAKE
2 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/3 cups sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1- 1/2 teaspoons ground allspice
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 can (10-3/4 ounces) condensed tomato soup
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1/4 cup water
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and lightly flour 13-by-9-inch baking pan. Set aside.
In large bowl mix flour, sugar, baking powder, allspice, baking soda, cinnamon and cloves. Add soup, shortening, eggs and water.
With mixer on low speed, beat until well mixed, constantly scraping side and bottom of bowl. At high speed, beat 4 minutes, occasionally scraping bowl. Pour into prepared pan.
Bake 40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan on wire rack 10 minutes. Remove from pan and cool completely on rack. Frost with cream cheese frosting.
CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
1 (3-ounce) package cream cheese, room temperature
1-3/4 cups powdered sugar
4 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
In small bowl, combine ingredients. Beat at low speed to mix, then at high speed to blend smoothly. Makes about 1- 1/2 cups.
-- From "Bell's Best"
ORIGINAL BAKER'S GERMAN'S SWEET CHOCOLATE CAKE
1 package (4 ounces) Baker's German's Sweet Chocolate
1/2 cup water
4 eggs, separated
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup buttermilk
Coconut-pecan filling and frosting (recipe below)
Heat oven to 350 degrees.
Cover bottom of 3 (9-inch) round pans with waxed paper; spray sides with cooking spray. Microwave chocolate and water in large microwavable bowl on "high" 1- 1/2 to 2 minutes or until chocolate is almost melted, stirring after 1 minute. Stir until chocolate is completely melted.
Beat egg whites in a small bowl with mixer on high speed until stiff peaks form; set aside.
Mix flour, baking soda and salt. Beat butter and sugar in large bowl with mixer until light and fluffy. Add egg yolks, 1 at a time, beating well after each. Blend in melted chocolate and vanilla. Add flour mixture alternately with the buttermilk, beating until well blended after each addition.
Add egg whites; stir gently until well blended. Pour into prepared pans.
Bake 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean. Immediately run small spatula around cakes in pans.
Cool cakes in pans 15 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. Spread Coconut-Pecan Filling and Frosting between cake layers and onto top of cake.
-- From Kraft Foods
COCONUT-PECAN FILLING AND FROSTING
4 egg yolks
1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk
1- 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1- 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup butter or margarine
1 package (7 ounces) flaked coconut (2-2/3 cups)
1- 1/2 cups chopped pecans
Beat egg yolks, milk and vanilla in large saucepan with whisk until well blended. Add sugar and butter; cook on medium heat 12 minutes or until thickened and golden brown, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.
Add coconut and nuts; mix well. Cool to desired spreading consistency. Makes enough frosting to frost top and sides of 3 (8- or 9-inch) cake layers, tops 2 (13-by-9-inch) pans or 36 cupcakes.
-- From Kraft Foods
FRESH STRAWBERRY UPSIDE DOWN CAKE
2 cups crushed fresh strawberries
1 (6-ounce) package strawberry gelatin mix
3 cups miniature marshmallows
1 (18-ounce) package yellow cake mix
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Spread smashed strawberries on the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch pan. Evenly sprinkle strawberries with gelatin. Top with miniature marshmallows.
Prepare the cake mix according to package directions and pour on top of the marshmallows. Bake in the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted into the center of cake comes out clean (about 40-50 minutes). Cool in pan 15 minutes.
Run a knife around the pan to loosen the sides and turn cake out onto serving tray. Store cake in the refrigerator.
-- From "The Best of Pinterest"
Let me know if you try one of these cakes and your opinion.
Check those recipe files for a good peach bread recipe. A reader has requested this recipe.
Andrea Yeager, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and takes requests at Cook's Exchange, P.O. Box 4567, Biloxi, MS 39535-4567.