As Seen in New Hampshire Magazine

Susan Laughlin of New Hampshire Magazine included my Carrot Cake recipe in April 2014′s issue.  Ms. Laughlin always adds her wonderful sense of style to every article she showcases and her love of quality food shines through in her photography.

Read the article on New Hampshire Magazine’s website.

Carrot Cake

Carrot Cake

Ingredients
2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
4 large eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups carrots, finely grated
1 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup coconut
1/4 drained pineapple chunks
Raisins, if desired

Preparation – Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour one 9″ x 13″ x 2″ cake pan. Line bottom with parchment paper.

In a mixing bowl, beat together sugar and vegetable oil. Add eggs and beat well.

In a separate bowl, mix and sift together flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt, then add to eggs and oil mixture and beat well. Add carrots, nuts and then coconut, pineapple or raisins, if desired.

Pour batter into cake pan and bake for 45 minutes.

As Seen On NH Chronicle

WMUR NH Chronicle Clip

WMUR NH Chronicle Clip

WMUR’s New Hampshire Chronicle showcased some cakes from Memories: Vintage Cake Recipes in a clip on this evening’s show.  You can watch the video on their website.

Creating this clip with the crew from Chronicle was fun, and definitely something out of my usual element. I made four cakes for the production: Lane Cake (aka Prize Cake), Chocolate Icebox Cake, Husband’s Cake (aka Mystery Cake) and the Lightning Cake.

Vintage Leavening: Saleratus & Pearlash

saleratusFrom around 1740, a powder called pearlash was used as leavening in quick breads. Pearlash’s chemical makeup is potassium carbonate and it was created by baking potash in a kiln to remove impurities. The fine, white powder remaining was  pearlash.  When mixed with water, it forms a strongly alkaline solution.  Pearlash was used until around 1850, when it was entirely replaced by a new compound: Saleratus.

Around 1840, saleratus was sold in packets, and was advertised as a leavening agent. Saleratus was a naturally occurring high alkaline mineral found in the western United States. Also known as sodium bicarbonate or sodium hydrogen carbonate, its chemical compound formula is NaHCO3.

The product which we call baking soda today was referred to as saleratus from around 1860. Some people today still call baking soda biscuits “saleratus biscuits.”

So what’s the difference between modern-day baking soda and baking powder?  Baking soda is pure sodium bicarbonate.  Baking powder contains sodium bicarbonate, but it includes the acidifying agent already (cream of tartar), and also a drying agent (usually starch).

Spices for Holiday Pumpkin Pie

Spices from Memories: Vintage Cake Recipes, by Becky Johnson

From Memories: Vintage Cake Recipes, by Becky Johnson

Are your baking a pumpkin pie for the holidays?  Sometimes, it’s difficult to come up with just the right pumpkin pie spice combination to please everyone around the table.  Some people use only cinnamon, some add ginger or nutmeg, while others use cardamom.  I’m sharing my mother’s simple but sweet combination of spices for pumpkin pie, as well as her recipe.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees (F)

  • 1-15oz can pumpkin
  • 1-12oz can evaporated milk (not condensed)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1/2 cup granulated white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 1 prepared 9″ deep dish pie single crust (do not blind bake)

Place prepared crust on a cookie sheet that has been warmed in the oven.  Beat eggs with pumpkin and milk until smooth.  Stir in both sugars until well incorporated.  Add vanilla and spices, and then pour into prepared crust.  Cook first 10 minutes at 425 degrees F and then drop temperature to 350 degrees F for 50 minutes.  Leave the oven door open and allow the pie to remain for 10 more minutes.  Enjoy with homemade whipped cream!

Culinary Mace

mace1Mace is a “sibling” of nutmeg.  The two spices are from the same tree Myristica fragrans, a large evergreen tree native to the Moluccas Islands and the East Indies.  Nutmeg is the fruit of the tree and mace is the red finger-like sheath or “aril” that covers the nutmeg.  Nutmeg can be dried and ground or left whole. The “blades” or mace is sold in pieces but more commonly is ground as it is very tough to grind manually.

In large doses, raw nutmeg has some poisonous effects, but in small quantities it is safe for cooking.

Mace’s flavor is a cross between cinnamon and coriander seed or pepper, and is very pungent.  You’ll find mace in many vintage baking recipes, but you’ll also see it in Indian, Caribbean and Middle Eastern cuisine.  In Scotland, mace and nutmeg are usually both ingredients in haggis.

Using Rose Water in Cooking

rosesIn the 18th century, bakers used rose water as a flavoring, sometimes as a substitute for vanilla.  Rose water has a sweet and lightly spicy flavoring and it is a popular additive in Middle Eastern and Indian cuisine.

In my book Memories: Vintage Cake Recipes, rose water is used as an ingredient in Fruit Cake, and it is ground up with almonds to make a fragrant almond paste.  It took me a while to find rose water for cooking (okay, it was actually my husband who found it).  There are several types of rose water or rose “products” available, so when you buy yours, be sure it’s been approved for use in food.  Be careful not to buy powdered roses, rose oil or rosewater tonic, which are all be used in beauty products, not cooking. You can make your own rose water through a process of distillation, but it is time consuming and tedious.

John Willoughby from the New York Times offers several ideas for uses in cooking.  He pairs rose water with cardamom for rice pudding, and he also mentions its use in rice pilaf, carrot salad and French toast.  Worth a try!

How to Candy Citrus Peel

Citrus FruitWash your citrus well, scrubbing off any dirt or ink from the supermarket.  Using a vegetable peeler, peel off 1/2″ wide strips of the peel, careful not to include the white pith. Save the rest of the fruit for another recipe or meal.

Combine 1 cup water and 2 cups sugar to make a simple syrup.  Heat over medium-low heat until sugar is completely dissolved.

Add peel slices to simple syrup and simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until peel starts to soften.  Remove from heat and dredge peel pieces in granulated sugar.  Arrange on a baking sheet and dry overnight.

Lorraine’s Cake Supply in Hanover, MA

lorrainesIf you’re ever in Hanover, Massachusetts, stop by Lorraine’s Cake Supply.  The employees there are extremely professional and knowledgeable about what they sell.  I was very impressed with their inventory and helpfulness.  I found several sizes of cake pans that are now on my wishlist for the holidays. They also sell a wide variety of flavorings for frosting and cake recipes.  Stop in and check them out or order something online!