Thursday, March 1, 2012

Secrets of the Gourmet Grocer: My mom

February 26, 2012

I'm getting ready to pick my Mom up for church.  It is her favorite thing to do, but doesn't really know where we are going when I pick her up.  She has Alzheimer's now and doesn't remember much anymore.  What a difference from the woman who helped me every day after I started my shop:

January, 1982

Mom comes in on a terror.  Scott is making a carrot cake.  I need to keep him busy and he works so fast that he can have all of the production of the breads, croissants and sweet breads completed in 5 to 6 hours.
So I give him some of the cakes, cookies, and dessert bars to make.  This is Mom's specialty and she takes one look at his carrot cake and rushes over to me. "That is not the way the carrot cake is supposed to look."  She cuts a piece.  "That's not the way it is supposed to taste."  She gives me this look.  Oh brother, now what am I going to do?  I go to Scott and pass on her concerns.  He needs to follow the icing recipe exactly, not make it as he thinks it should be.  This is an ongoing battle I will have with every baker I ever hire.

Mom is particular.  She will get a recipe that is good and that everyone loves and she will start changing it.  This is OK for her to do, but no one else!  She likes baking the most, but works to help me find entrees, salads, and appetizers.  She brings in things daily that she has been up baking all night or early that morning.  Some of her desserts are so good that customers point to different things and will buy it only if they know she made it.

Carrot Cake

This is a true 1970s-style carrot cake and the best I have ever had.

3 Eggs
2 t Vanilla
¾ C Oil
¾ C Evaporated Milk
2 C Sugar
2 t Baking Soda
3 T Cinnamon
½ t Salt
2 t Baking Powder
2 C Flour
1 C Rice Crispies
1 C Chopped Pineapple
1 C Coconut
2 C Grated Carrots

Mix all ingredients in a mixer for several minutes.  Add the flour last.  Bake at 350 degrees in 9” Cake Pan (2) for 30 /40 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.  Ice with Cream Cheese Icing.

Cream Cheese Icing

This icing can be used on many cakes, but is great on Carrot and Italian Cream cake.  My mom kept her icing very creamy and soft.  My bakers tended to add more powdered sugar to stiffen up the icing for decorating.

1 # Cream Cheese
½ # Unsalted Butter
1 # Powdered Sugar
1 T Vanilla

Soften the butter and cream cheese and blend in a Cuisinart or blender.  Add the vanilla and powdered sugar and beat until stiff.  Add more powdered sugar as desired for a stiffer icing.  It could take another pound easily.

Italian Cream Cake
I have seen other cakes referred to as Italian Cream that are totally different than this.  This is ours.

½ C unsalted Butter                   Cream the butter, oil and sugar together until smooth
½ C oil
2 C Sugar

1 C Buttermilk                           Add the buttermilk, vanilla, egg yolks and beat.                              
1 t Vanilla
5 Egg Yolks

5 Egg Whites                           
2 C Flour
1 C Toasted Pecans
1 t Baking Soda
1 C Coconut
Beat Egg Whites until stiff.  Add flour, pecans, baking soda and coconut  to cake batter and beat until smooth.  Fold in the egg whites gently.  Pour into greased 9” cake pan (2) and bake at 350 degrees until a toothpick comes out clean-about 30 minutes.  Ice with cream cheese icing and top with coconut.

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