Friday, November 20, 2015

Anna Sultana’s Caramel Apple Cake and the Full Beaver Moon

Over the years Ma and I liked to send each other recipes that we’d tried and had turned out well.
A few years into the 21st century Ma tried a recipe she'd found that had a cake mix among its ingredients.
Well, why not... She was in her eighties and didn’t have to prove anything.
Pop and her guests had enjoyed eating it, so she sent me the recipe.
After she’d made a few changes, of course.

I recently posted the recipe for Ma’s Spiced Banana Cake.
That post also has links for a few other banana cake, bread and dessert recipes.

I think I’ll do the same for apples.
Well, for starters, here is the link for Ma’s Caramel Apple Cheesecake.
This post also has links for five other cheesecakes.


Place caramels in the freezer for 5 minutes before unwrapping. 
The plastic will peel off more easily.

Allow the caramel sauce to sit 45 to 60 minutes until thickened.
Make sure the cake has completely cooled before topping with the caramel sauce.
it's best if you top with the sauce right before serving.

In a rush? 
I know… really dumb question.
You can top the cake with store bought butterscotch sundae topping.
Or leave it plain and serve it with ice cream and / or whipped cream.
It also is good with a cream cheese frosting.
Don't have a cream cheese frosting recipe?
Here’s a recipe for Allspice Cream Cheese Frosting.

Want a little variety?
The cake can be made using French Vanilla pudding or lemon cake mix.
Butter pecan cake mix goes particularly well with butterscotch pudding.
You can also add
1 Cup chopped pecans and 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Counting calories?
Replace the oil with an equal amount of unsweetened apple sauce.

Making this in the summer?
Use diced fresh peeled peaches with butter pecan cake mix.

                        Caramel Apple Cake

For the Cake

Grease very well and flour a 10-inch tube pan or a 12-cup fluted tube pan

In a small bow combine
1/4 Cup sugar 
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

3 Granny Smith apples
Shred the apples.
You want to have 2 Cups of shredded apples.
Coat apples in sugar and spice mix
Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350º F 

Place in a large mixer bowl
1 package (2-layer size) yellow cake mix
1 package (4-serving size) vanilla instant pudding 
Stir to combine.
1/2 Cup water
1/2 Cup milk
4 large eggs
1/3 Cup oil
Beat on low speed until blended.
Beat on high speed 2 minutes. 
Stir in shredded apples. 
Pour into prepared pan. 

Bake for 50 to 60 minutes.
A toothpick inserted into the centre should come out clean.
Place the pan on a wire rack.
Let the cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes.
Loosen the cake from the side of the pan and invert onto a wire rack. 
Gently remove the pan. 
Cool cake completely. 
Transfer it to a serving platter.

For the Caramel Sauce

Place in a microwaveable bowl 
20 caramels
1/4 Cup heavy cream 
Stirring every 30 seconds, microwave on high for 1 1/2 minutes or more, until the caramels are completely melted. 
Stir sauce until blended. 
Cool 45 to 60 minutes or until thickened. 
Drizzle over the cake. 

Serve topped with whipped cream and / or vanilla ice cream.

About the sky this week…
According to the Farmers Almanac:

November 23 — The waxing Moon is at its closest to Earth. Orion The Mighty Hunter also comes out around 9 p.m. tonight. Look for him in the eastern sky for the remainder of November and early December.

November 25 — The full Beaver Moon, 5:44 p.m. The entire disc of the Moon appears full for three days. Watch this video to see how this full Moon got this name

November 26 — Happy Thanksgiving! After dinner go outside and see if you can spot The Summer Triangle (also called Autumn Triangle) high in the western evening sky.

November 28 — When you’re looking at lovely Venus in predawn hours, see if you can spot Spica, the brightest star in the constellation Virgo, to her lower right, about 5º. Visible for the next 4 days.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Anna Sultana’s Spiced Banana Cake and the North Taurids Meteor Shower

Sometimes recipes can be like the fairy tale of Goldilocks and the three bears.
One recipe is too big, or one recipe is too small for one’s own needs.
Luckily, as in the tale, one can always find a recipe that is just right for the situation.

Last month I posted the recipe for Anna Sultana’s Banana Pound Cake With Caramel Glaze.
For a few of you that recipe made a cake that was too big.

An easy recipe that you can make for an everyday dessert.

I got a few messages asking if bananas can be used in a cake with icing.
Of course they can, and I’m posting a recipe for that today.


Over ripe bananas are also great for Anna Sultana’s Banana Bread.

Have a half a banana left over?

If you have bananas that haven’t reached that stage you can use them when you make Sweetened Condensed Milk Cheesecake with fruit.
This post also has the recipe for Homemade Sweetened Condensed Milk.

                        Spiced Banana Cake

Grease and flour 2 9 inch round pans

For the Cake

Combine together in a medium bowl
1 1/4 Cups flour 
3/4 Cup rolled oats 
1/4 teaspoon salt 
3/4 teaspoon baking powder 
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
Set aside.

Peel and place in a measuring cup (a 2 Cup size gives you room to work)
2 very ripe bananas
Mash well.
You want to have 1 Cup of mashed bananas

Preheat oven to 350º F

Place in a large mixer bowl
1/2 Cup butter, softened 
Cream until fluffy.
1 Cup light brown sugar, packed  
1/2 Cup sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons allspice
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
Beat until light and fluffy. 

Beat in
2 eggs 
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla 
Add 1/3 of the dry ingredients to the butter mixture; mix well. 
1/3 cup sour cream 
Mix well. 
Add another 1/3 of the dry ingredients; mix well. 
Add half of the bananas; mix well. 
Repeat with remaining 1/3 of the dry ingredients and remaining bananas. 
Pour batter into prepared pans.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes.
A toothpick inserted into the centre should come out clean.
Place the pans on a wire rack.
Let them cool in the pan for 5 minutes, and then turn onto wire rack to cool. 

When completely cool, place one layer on a serving plate.
Frost with half of Allspice Cream Cheese Frosting.
Top with second layer and repeat.

For the Allspice Cream Cheese Frosting

Place in a medium bowl
3 ounces cream cheese, softened
1⁄3 Cup butter, softened
3⁄4 teaspoon allspice
Beat until blended.
Gradually add 
4 cups confectioners' sugar
Mix until well combined.
Stir in 
1 teaspoon vanilla 
Gradually add 
2 tablespoons milk
Beat until frosting is of spreading consistency.

About the sky this week…
According to the Farmers Almanac:

November 7 — Before dawn, look to the southeast to see the tiny, waning crescent Moon paired up with Venus, with Mars nearby, and Jupiter above them.  The Moon is also it’s farthest from Earth.

November 9 – Start your Monday off early – see the tiny, waning crescent Moon paired up with the blue-white star, Spica, way low in the horizon before dawn. Venus, Mars and Jupiter will be high above them.

November 11 — New Moon, 12:47 p.m. The Moon is not illuminated and is completely invisible to the naked eye. After that, it will now start growing!

November 12-14— North Taurids Meteor Shower, best viewing direction south 12 – 2 a.m. EST. The Taurids are actually two annual meteor showers created by the comet Encke. They are named for constellation Taurus, where they are seen to come from in the sky.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Anna Sultana’s Banana Oatmeal Crumb Cake - Full Hunter’s Moon

A little while ago I posted the recipe for Ma’s 
It is a great way to use overripe bananas.
And it makes an impressive dessert if you’re having the family over for a big meal.

But it is big if you’re cooking for a small family.
And it does take a bit of time to bake.

Ma had a a quicker recipe that uses the bananas.
This is a smaller cake, so it’s just right for a regular meal.


If you don’t like a caramel flavour use regular sugar.

If you’d like to dress it up you could dust it with confectioners’ sugar.

You could also make a quick glaze and squiggle it over the cooled cake.
This is a small amount and is a bit runny.
Don’t try to ice a whole cake with it.

In a small bowl combine
1/4 Cup oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
a dash of salt
3 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
1 Cup sifted icing sugar
Beat well until smooth.
You want it to be runny but still solid enough to hold its shape.
Drizzle over the cake.

If you’d like a mocha flavour add 1 Tablespoon instant coffee.

Still have a few more overripe bananas?
Why not make a few loaves of Ma’s Banana Bread?

                        Banana Oatmeal Crumb Cake

Grease and flour an  8 inch square pan

For the Crumb Topping

Place in a medium bowl
3/4 Cup rolled oats
1/3 Cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 Tablespoons butter, melted 
Cut the ingredients together until crumbly.
Set aside.

For the Cake

Stir together in a medium bowl
3/4 Cup all-purpose flour 
1 1/3 Cups rolled oats 
1/4 teaspoon salt 
1 teaspoon baking soda
Set aside.

Peel and place in a measuring cup (a 2 Cup size gives you room to work)
2 very ripe bananas
Mash well.
You want to have 1 Cup of mashed bananas

Preheat oven to 350º F

Combine in a large mixer bowl
1/2 Cup butter, softened
2/3 Cup brown sugar, packed  
Beat until light and fluffy.
Beat in
2 eggs 
1 teaspoon vanilla 
Add the mashed bananas.
Add the combined dry ingredients.
Stir just enough to blend.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
Sprinkle over the batter
2 Tablespoons chopped walnuts 
Top with the crumb topping.

Bake for 40 to 45 minutes.
A toothpick inserted into the centre should come out clean.
Cool on a wire rack.

About the sky this week…
According to the Farmers Almanac:

The large, waxing Moon will be right between planets Uranus and Neptune. Because the Moon will be so big and bright, you might not be able to see the two planets. Look to the southeast in the evening.

October 26 – Venus reaches its greatest elongation west of the Sun in the morning sky. Look to the east, before dawn: Venus is also very close to Jupiter and Mars, which will be the closest for all of 2015. We won’t see this close of a grouping of planets until January 2021. 
Bonus: look for Mercury near the eastern horizon while it’s still dark.

October 26— The nearly-full Hunter’s Moon will be at it’s closest point to Earth.

October 27 – Full Hunter’s Moon, astronomically full at 8:05 a.m. The entire disc of the Moon is fully illuminated by direct sunlight. Though the Moon is only technically in this phase for a few seconds, it is considered “full” for the entire day of the event, and appears full for three days.

I think the kiddies will be calling it the Halloween Moon!