Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Never Fail Chocolate Cake

Wow! Where did summer go? It's canning season for those of us who do that. I don't do as much as I used to when my children were at home, but there's always something I like home canned. This year, we gathered buffalo berries. They've been in short supply for the last couple of years due to lack of moisture in our area. Buffalo Berry Jelly is always a treat. We did make jelly and will be sending to the girls. I also made Wild Huckleberry Jam, yum, my favorite. Our tomatoes are producing, so I've been canning tomato juice cocktail. Now it 's time for my 30 day friendship cake. Doing all this doesn't leave a lot of energy or time for actual cooking of meals and desserts.

One of my favorite recipes that doesn't take a lot of energy or time, while I'm being productive, is the Never Fail Chocolate Cake. Super easy. Just dump all the ingredients in a bowl and mix and cook. No extra sifting or blending needed.

It truly is never-fail. I remember once in my younger years, I had mixed it up and put it in the oven and about ten minutes later suddenly remembered I had forgotten to put in the soda. I quickly dumped the batter back into a bowl , added the soda and put it back in to bake. It baked just fine with no problems, raised nicely and tasted wonderful. Being chocolate, what more could a chocoholic ask for. Of course, this is not the recommended method for baking. This is also a good recipe to start kids out on for guaranteed success. Try it and enjoy.

NEVER FAIL CHOCOLATE CAKE

1 cup hot water
1 cup sour milk (if you don't have sour milk, add 1 tablespoon vinegar OR lemon juice to sweet milk, stir and let sit a minute)
1cup butter or shortening
2 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons soda
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 or 3 eggs (3 if you have them, but 2 will work, so don't run to the store for an egg.)

Mix all ingredients together and bake in a greased, floured 9x13 pan at 350 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes until tooth pick comes out clean.
If you turn out while hot, onto waxed paper, it makes good brownies, too. I usually just go for cake and frost with the following frosting. (my husband doesn't like brownies, but really goes for cake with frosting.)

FROSTING FOR NEVER FAIL CAKE

1/2 cup shortening or oil
1/3 c milk
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla
3-1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup cocoa
1/4 teaspoon salt

Sift dry ingredients into moist ingredients and mix well. Add more powdered sugar or milk, if needed, to make spreading consistency.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Very Best Maine Blueberry Muffins

This recipe began life as one my mom in Maine got off a tea towel. It's evolved a bit since then. It's dead easy, like most muffin recipes. You can use frozen blueberries but drain as much of the water from as possible. The only thing I can think of that could be tricky is that if you overstir muffins they become tough and won't rise properly. I like to substitute finely shredded fresh lemon zest, a generous teaspoon, for the nutmeg in the sugar topping since a little nutmeg goes a long way with me. I've been known to add more lemon peel, dried cranberries, almond or hazelnut meal (in place of part of the flour), nuts, or ginger.



Ingredients

  • 1 to 1/2 Cups blueberries, adjusted to taste
  • 2 Cups flour
  • 1 Cup sugar (may be slightly reduced depending on berries)
  • 1/2 Cup milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar mixed with 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Procedure

  1. Grease muffin pans or use liners.
  2. Beat butter, add sugar beat till creamy and fluffy.
  3. Mix in eggs, vanilla, baking powder, and salt.
  4. Fold in half the flour, then half the milk. Stir gently.
  5. Add the rest of the flour and milk alternately.
  6. add the blueberries, folding them in gently. Don't over stir.
  7. Pour into muffin tin cups, lined with paper shells.
  8. Sprinkle the tops of the muffins with the sugar and nutmeg mixture.
  9. Bake at 375 25-30 minutes until the muffins are golden brown.
  10. Let the muffins cool about a half hour before removing.

These freeze really well. If you're planning to freeze them, take them out of the oven one or two minutes before they're done, and let them cool before you freeze them.