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Easy,quick and simple fruitcake

By: Deb

This could be the easiest fruitcake it’s possible to make. It’s that simple you almost feel your cheating. At its most basic it has only 3 ingredients but is versatile (and heavy) enough to take a few more things you may wish to throw at or in it.

I confess I stuck to the original recipe ingredients to see if I could speed up the time it takes to prepare. Not that its a difficult or a time consuming cake to make it’s just that the first step is soaking the fruit overnight in the fridge and this is hurry up after all :o)

There are numerous versions of this cake around and all seem to be popular so I used the one I thought most versatile.

At its simplest this cake could be prepared if you got unexpected visitors with the bare minimal time spent away from them. It needs virtually no preparation or nannying .

So on with the ingredient list:

600ml of chocolate flavoured milk (or coffee  or banana or caramel etc.)

2 (Australian) cups of self-raising flour

the 3 fruit cake ingredients

only 3 simple fruit cake ingredients

1kg of mixed dried fruit

Seeing as that didn’t take up much room I’ll convert:

20 fl. oz.of chocolate flavoured milk (or coffee  or banana or caramel etc.)

2  cups of self-rising flour + a rounded tablespoon to round up to an Aussie cup size

2.3 lb of mixed dried fruit

On to the method.

The original recipe tells you to mix the milk and fruit together and leave in the refrigerator overnight. The next day you sift the flour into the soaking fruit and mix well. Then you put the mixture into the tin and bake. The emphasis is on the soaking over night. The most important step.

Heh. I wanted to see if it could be made quicker than that and it can.

In a lot of the traditional fruit cake recipes I use soaking the fruit, in say tea or juice, is quite common. Again using the soak over-night method but what I’ve found is adding the fruit to the liquid and gently warming it until its just hot, then letting it sit and cool for a short while does the job just about the same.

So I thought I’d try this with the flavoured milk.

Now if you are following my instructions to replicate exactly what I did you will need to add the milk and fruit to a pan and warm gently.

Then you forget to turn down the heat and walk away for a minute while you wait for it to heat up.  You check twitter and get distracted until you hear the sound of boiling milk setting itself firmly to your stove-top ;o)

Spilt chocolate milk

Spilt chocolate milk

Did you know that bringing flavoured milk to a rapid boil encourages it to split into watery liquid and gloopy clusters of lumps? Well you do now.

So this was turning into a boiled-fruitcake kind of recipe and that isn’t what we wanted, so I guesstimated how much liquid I’d lost and added an equal quantity of normal moo juice.

An after thought was to only warm the fruit in half the milk and keep the second half chilled. Then after warming you could add the chilled milk to make the whole thing cool down quicker.

If anyone tries this please let me know how it goes.

I decided to not wait until the liquid was cold, or in fact cool and added the flour when it had lost most of its “hotness”. I think this made for more difficult mixing but I really need to build my upper body strength back up and stop sounding like a wuss :p

This does make a large volume of mixture so it does take some mixing. I greased and lined (in my own imprecise manner) a spring-form tin 22cm in diam. and 6cm deep that’s roughly 9in by 2½  in in old money.

I had previously preheated the oven to 180°C aka 350°F and popped it in there. I initially decided to bake for 45mins (didn’t go with the original recipe here as most seemed to bake in a loaf tin so the timing would be off, incidentally the reason I didn’t go loaf shaped is I felt that it has too much fruit to make slicing it awkward) and our lousy oven dictates turning round the food halfway through baking so 25 minutes in I went to turn it round and found it had over-colored, in fact almost burnt on top already so I covered with foil and turned the oven down slightly. After 45 mins it probably could of come out but I left it for an hour total because I’d reduced the heat earlier. The skewer came out clean and I took it out of the oven and let it cool in the tin.

Here she is:

quick and easy fruit cake

The finished quick and easy fruit cake

Its a very dense, fruit-rich cake. It is delicious in itself but I like spice with my fruit so I would probably

add some mixed spice next time I make it. I would also recommend using mixed fruit which has the candied peel included as this certainly added something to the cake in my opinion.

If you wanted to make this cake more special, or to have at Christmas if your usual cake runs out I’d add a bit of booze (whiskey,rum, brandy etc) Just a couple of spoonfulls and some chopped nuts, say substitute a few teaspoons of fruit with the chopped nuts. You could also mess around with the types of fruit in there.

You could make up your own flavoured milk from a powder or cocoa as long as its sweet or sweetened.

I don’t think the cake could handle full on Christmas style icing but could certainly handle something simple. I’m not sure how long the cake will keep as I only made it a couple of days ago. Because it lacks a lot of the traditional ingredients that help it’s storage life I would recommend eating it as soon as possible. It is a large cake and I will be making a half-mixture next time.

One suggestion is to cook the cake in a square tin and cut in to 4 after it has cooled, drizzle with a glaze or light icing and give away to hosts of your holiday gatherings. They will think you’ve spent hours (and a fortune) making it.

So there she is, what I consider the easiest, quickest and simplest(and possibly the most versatile) fruitcake to make

So easy it's almost a cheats fruitcake

So easy it's almost a cheats fruitcake

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Easy Strawberry Cake

By: Pfoinkle

Strawberry cake with white frosting.

Strawberry cake with white frosting.

With rustic good looks, the strawberry cake batter, a fresh strawberry layer, and creamy sweet icing this homespun sweetheart is a sure winner for cake fans and strawberry lovers.

Note: Because the frosting for this cake uses fresh whipped cream, the cake must be refrigerated.

Easy Strawberry Cake Ingredients

  • 1 Betty Crocker White Cake Mix (SuperMoist)
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1-1/4 cup milk
  • 1 box White Chocolate Pudding Mix (1 oz size)
  • 1/3 cup strawberry puree
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • Food coloring (optional)

Artificial color vs. natural strawberry coloring.

Artificial color vs. natural strawberry coloring.

Before you start baking your cake, you have to decide if you want to add artificial coloring. As red as strawberries are, they will not turn your cake red (or even pink). The pictures above show one layer of strawberry cake with food coloring (Wilton’s Gel Coloring, Rose) and one without any added food coloring. There’s absolutely no difference in taste between the two layers, just appearance. Coloring may be added at any time while making the batter.

And no, I don’t usually bake the layers in two different colors… that was all for you. :D

Easy Strawberry Cake Recipe Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients in large mixing bowl.
  2. Mix on low speed for 30 seconds.
  3. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl to ensure all dry mix is incorporated.
  4. Mix at medium speed for an additional two minutes.
  5. Use baking time and temperature listed on box (varies dependent on size and type of pans you use)

While the cake is baking, prepare the strawberries for the middle layer.

Fresh Strawberry Layer Preparation

  • 4 – 5 fresh strawberries, washed and hulled
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup sugar

Soak strawberries in sweetened water.

Soak strawberries in sweetened water.

Slice strawberries as thinly as possible. The sliced strawberries are placed between the two layers of cake and the thinner the slices, the better the overall texture in each bite of cake.

In a medium bowl, combine sugar and water. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Place thinly sliced strawberries in the sweetened water. Cover and refrigerate until needed (or a minimum of 30 minutes).

Creamy Confectioner’s Frosting Ingredients

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 8 oz unsalted butter (2 “sticks”) at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 4 cups confectioner’s (powdered) sugar
  • 3 tablespoons milk

Creamy Confectioner’s Frosting Instructions

  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine whipping cream and granulated sugar.
  2. Using a wire whisk (either mixing by hand or with an electric mixer), whisk the cream and sugar until it forms thick soft peaks.
  3. Refrigerate whipped cream while you prepare the next portion of the frosting.
  4. In large mixing bowl, cream the butter with the vanilla (for electric mixers, use the paddle or “beater” attachment)
  5. Add 1 cup of powdered sugar, cream thoroughly. Repeat until all of the powdered sugar has been added.
  6. Add the milk, beat at medium speed for 4 minutes.
  7. By hand (no electric mixing), gently fold the whipped cream into the powdered sugar mixture. Do not overmix — this is not a smooth textured frosting.

Add layer of sweetened strawberries to cake.

Add layer of sweetened strawberries to cake.

Once the cake has cooled and the frosting is ready, drain and discard the liquid from the thinly sliced strawberries. Use a paper towel to gently pat the strawberries dry.

Frost the bottom layer of the cake and place the sliced strawberries on top of the frosting. Place the second layer of cake and frost entire cake. Don’t bother with trying to smooth this frosting — just add some homey swirls and blips with the frosting knife.

Strawberry cake with white frosting.

Strawberry cake with white frosting.

Refrigerate for a minimum of one hour and serve. Keep leftovers (if there are any!) refrigerated.

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Easy Microwave Cake

By: Pfoinkle

Frosted microwaved cake -- good enough to eat.

Frosted microwaved cake -- good enough to eat.

I didn’t intend to create a microwave cake recipe. But I was looking for a way to “bake a cake” in a plastic container (more on that at another time) and naturally, I started experimenting with some of the microwave cake recipes I found online.

I quickly discovered that many microwave cakes have a rubbery texture and/or more than a hint of “poached egg” flavor. Another big difficulty with microwaved cake is how quickly they dry out — which is quickly. Very, very quickly.

So I started experimenting. Approximately sixty microwave cake recipe experiments later, I had this cake.

Gathering microwaved cake supplies.

Gathering microwaved cake supplies.

Microwave Cake Ingredients

  • 1 box cake mix
    I strongly recommend using one of the Betty Crocker “SuperMoist” mixes. I tried several different brands/flavors and the Betty Crocker “SuperMoist” was the standout every time.

    IMPORTANT: Avoid dense cakes like “fudge cake” or “pound cake”. Those are just hockey pucks waiting to be nuked.

  • 1 box (3.4 size) instant pudding in a similar or complementary flavor
  • 3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon meringue powder
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1-1/3 cup milk

Additional Supplies

  • Non-stick cooking spray
  • 2 – 9″ glass (or other microwave-safe material) pans
  • Your favorite easy-to-spread frosting

The Not-So-Secret ingredients: meringue powder

The Not-So-Secret ingredients: meringue powder

The Secret Ingredient

Eggs are a vital ingredient in most cake recipes… but when you microwave a cake with eggs in the recipe, you can easily end up with cake that has a hint of “poached egg” taste and the texture of a rubber chicken. I tried a variety of alternate recipes including: eliminating egg (good for making cake crumbles), substituting egg with applesauce (not bad if you like applesauce cake), substituting egg with prepared pudding (good for a burnt candy flavor), and a host of experiments not worthy of mention.

I know that Meringue Powder isn’t a standard ingredient in a lot of kitchens, but it’s the secret to making a moist “non-eggy” microwaved cake. Meringue Powder can be found in most cake supply stores or craft stores with a cake decorating section. I buy it at the local Michael’s Arts & Crafts store.

Batter will be lumpy -- it's okay.

Batter will be lumpy -- it's okay.

Microwave Cake Instructions

  1. Combine box of cake mix (dry), pudding mix (dry), and meringue powder in a large mixing bowl. Thoroughly mix ingredients. Break up any large clumps.
  2. Add oil and milk. Mix by hand for approximately one minute.
  3. Don’t worry about small lumps in the batter.

  4. Batter spread in pan

    Batter spread in pan

  5. Spray two 9″ x 9″ microwave-safe containers with cooking spray.
  6. Spread 1/2 of the batter in each pan. Spread evenly. Or as evenly as humanly possible. Don’t worry about those few little bits of dry mix — it’s part of the microwave’s magic to make those disappear.

    Watching cake in microwave.

    Watching cake in microwave.

  7. Place one batter-filled pan in microwave. Now here’s the dicey part: Cooking Time. As you likely know, microwave ovens vary greatly in “power and efficiency” and that means there are no absolutes when it comes to “just how long” you should microwave your cake.

    My microwave is ten years old and lists “wattage output” at 1100W. The perfect microwaving time/power setting with my microwave is 3 minutes and 45 seconds at Full Power. If your microwave has a lower wattage, you might need a longer bake time. If your microwave has a higher wattage, you might need a shorter time (or less than full power).

    When the first layer is finished “baking”, cover tightly and then microwave second layer. When finished, cover second layer. Allow both layers to cool before frosting (but keep tightly covered). Covering the cakes helps keep them moist — as mentioned earlier, one of the biggest difficulties with microwaved cakes is how quickly they dry out.

    Finished microwaved cake.

    Finished microwaved cake.

    Finished Microwaved Cake

    And here’s the unfrosted cake — in just over seven minutes of “bake” time, you have moist, delicious cake!

    “Lumpy?” Yes, it does look a bit lumpy, but it doesn’t taste lumpy at all. And I’ve not found a solution to the visual problem that doesn’t sacrifice taste… so always remember: frosting is our Cakey Cosmetic friend. ;)

    Frosted microwaved cake -- good enough to eat.

    Frosted microwaved cake -- good enough to eat.

    Frosting the Microwaved Cake

    Microwaved cake is more fragile than an oven-baked cake and requires a “soft” frosting. Homemade buttercream frosting works well. If you’re selecting a “canned frosting”, select one of the whipped varieties as the standard canned frostings will be nearly impossible to spread on microwaved cake without shredding the cake.

    Suitable for Company?

    The taste of this cake is certainly suitable for company, but because you can’t make this cake too far in advance and then the cake has to cool before frosting, it’s a difficult dessert to prepare without abandoning your guests.

    But it’s the perfect quick and easy treat for casual gatherings and lazy family weekends. ;)

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