A Piece of Cake June 2011
Our summer heat may already be in the 90s, but I welcome summer because it ushers in a new style of cooking and baking. The cooking gets lighter and more garden-focused, dinners are more relaxed without the dreaded homework to do afterward, and baking is just different. Cakes and pies feature summer fruits—berries, peaches, plums—do I hear the Hallelujah Chorus? And they can and should be prepared ahead of time and stashed in the fridge to chill. Chill. That’s how summer baking and cooking should be described—chill. Relax. You’ve got dessert made and it might be a coconut icebox cake or a key lime pie or this dandy Strawberry Blueberry Refrigerator Cake to which we added some fresh blueberries. Feel free to improvise and add raspberries or blackberries or even peaches when they come into season. My mom, Bebe, always baked ahead of time. My sisters and I have fond memories of coming home from school and peering into the fridge or freezer where there might be lemon icebox pie or crème de menthe parfaits. It was a different era, no doubt, and it seemed a whole lot more relaxed than life now. But it’s good to switch gears in summer. Bake cakes ahead. Place them in cake savers or top whipped cream frosted cakes with toothpicks and drape the cake with plastic wrap. You’ve got dessert covered and can spend more summer moments reading, relaxing, chilling.
Chocolate Praline Cake for Summer Birthdays:
Anne’s Cake Mix:
Thanks for all your great feedback on my cake mixes. They are coming to stores near you. I am thrilled to announce they are in A Southern Season in Chapel Hill, NC, and soon to be in the eight Central Markets in Texas.
Why did I create a mix of my own? To give you a choice. Supermarket cake mixes are reliable and you can’t beat the price, but for those of you who have asked for a mix without artificial colorings or flavorings you might like trying my cake mix. They are made from soft wheat flour, and they contain less sugar and salt than supermarket cake mix. Good on their own, my mixes can also be doctored up should you want to be creative. I shared the Hummingbird Cake recipe in the last newsletter and now am sharing a Fresh Strawberry Cake to make using my cake mix and those juicy local berries.
New Summer Specials! Check out the website shopping cart and you see the options are new and reduced for summer. I am offering packs of three mixes, one with a frosting booklet tossed in, another with recipe cards, and there is a chocolate offer and a cookbook because you liked that one so much in February.
Gluten Free in the News
Thanks for the hospitality extended on my recent book tour with The Cake Mix Doctor Bakes Gluten-Free. My tour spanned 18 cities, literally coast to coast. Thanks to the more than 50 bloggers who wrote about the book and shared recipes. And thanks to all my Facebook friends on the Gluten-Free Cake Mix Doctor page. We have had fun building that page and community, and I have enjoyed contests and book giveaways, too.
Next up: A gluten-free Dinner Doctor. We’ve been baking gf pie crusts all week, turning them into fruit pies and quiche, and next up will be a chicken pot pie. I will share one of my favorite recipes in August. And I just might disclose the secret ingredient in gf pie crust that holds it all together…
What Can I Bring for Summer Picnics and Reunions?
Summer is peak season for toting good food, and you will find many suggestions for warm weather cooking in my cookbook What Can I Bring?
My favorites include Julia’s Chilled Zucchini Soup, Perfect Deviled Eggs, Sliced Tomato Salad with Basil and Buttermilk Dressing, Tina’s Corn and Black Bean Salad, and Lelia’s Easy Chocolate Pound Cake.
When in doubt, cook with local produce: Our family is loving the basket of fresh fruits and vegetables we get each week from Eaton’s Creek organic farm here in Nashville. It really jump-starts the cooking process when you’ve got a beautiful basket of green onions, chard, zucchini, berries, and fresh mint to add to recipes. With the first of the season spring onions, I sautéed two handfuls of chopped green onions in a little butter and olive oil, then added basmati rice, which I cooked in chicken broth. At the end I stirred in toasted almonds and dried cranberries. It was an unusual and unexpected rice pilaf to go alongside grilled chicken. Enjoy summer!
Next issue: July. Chocolate chip cake. Tomatoes. Your questions and my answers.
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