Monday, December 21, 2009

Cake In A Jar - Bacardi Rum Cake

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays & A Wonderful Year Ahead Everyone!

This is the last on jar cakes. I promise!

It came about because I also wanted a cake with easier ingredients to make in bulk and guess what turned up in the search? Bacardi Rum Cake! So that was the second cake that went into my jars. This site also has many helpful baking tips. I changed the glaze from the original recipe a little as it was too heavy for us.

Apparently this is a very popular cake and came out in an Ad for Bacardi Rum in the late 1970's. From the reviews it looks like different versions can be made by adding to the recipe or changing the type of the rum used.  But for this classic cake, use only the dark/gold rum. It looks best when made in the classic bundt shape as shown in the ref picture. I didn't add chopped pecans for the jar version. Hope to make the bundt version with the chopped nuts for one of our gatherings provided there is time. It is a good looking cake I think.

In The Mix

pint sized canning jars/lids - 6 (used wide mouthed for this cake)
shortening - 2 tbsp or melted as needed

classic yellow cake mix - 1 box (18.5 oz)
jell-o vanilla cook & serve - 1.5 oz (only used half of the 3 oz. package)
eggs - 4
water - 1/2 cup (did not use the cold milk)
vegetable oil - 1/2 cup
bacardi gold/dark rum - 1/2 cup

for the glaze 
butter - 1/4 cup (4 tbsp)
water - 1/2 cup
sugar - 2/3 cup
fresh orange juice - 1/2 cup (pulp removed)
bacardi gold/dark rum - 1/4 cup

How To Do
Follow steps as before for the jars.
Sterilize by boiling in water for about 15 minutes. Take out only the jars and let dry.
Spread melted shortening to cover all the inside areas making sure to leave the lip clean.
Keep the lids in the warm water till you are ready to put them onto the jars.

Preheat oven to 325C.

Beat together the cake mix, jell-o vanilla, eggs, water, oil and rum on high for 2 minutes. The batter is ready!
Pour batter to a little less than half of the jar. Place on a cookie sheet to balance the jars and keep in the oven. Bake for 45-48 minutes.

While the jars are baking, prepare the glaze.

Melt the butter in a sauce pan. Add water, sugar, orange juice and stir till all the sugar is melted. Boil for 5 minutes while stirring constantly. Remove from heat and add the rum. The rum could cause steam to rush out so be a tad careful here. Let sit while waiting.

Insert a skewer in the center of the jar to see if done. Turn off the oven, but keep the jars inside.

As before, take out the lids and screw tops and keep on a plate. No need for this to dry out.

Take the jars out one at a time from the oven, gently insert a skewer to make deep holes and pour 2-3 tbsp or more of the glaze into each jar. Place the lid onto the jar and screw on with reasonable tightness. Set aside for the jars to self seal. The heat and moisture will help with the sealing process. When the jars are completely cooled, press the center of the lids. If they don't move up or down, they are vacuum sealed. You will most likely hear a gentle popping sound when this happens.  If they move up and down then there is no seal and use as you would a regular cake. Once completely cooled, decorate as you please. See previous post for ideas.

The original glaze when I made it was really rich and we felt the rum content was too much for us. The glaze we used was lighter and more pleasing to us. I think the gentlemen in the family will prefer this cake and the ladies will prefer the one in the previous post. I plan to make a yellow cake mix from scratch when I try to tackle this another time. The cake apparently stores well whether sealed or not. But for the jar version, it is safer to make sure that they are sealed.

When you are ready to eat, open the lids and slide out the cake and cut into circles or just spoon out of the jars or make long cuts using a knife and slide out the pieces to enjoy!

Here is the lowdown on jar cakes compiled from the many sites and from trying out:

* buy 1 pint sized jars. these can be wide mouthed or not. the wide mouthed ones are easier to slide out of but the other looks better.

* only use shortening to grease the jars prior to baking

* any quick bread type of recipe (recipes with baking powder)  can be baked in the shortest time and the baking time is similar to that of the actual recipe.

* a regular cake recipe will take longer with the jar baking time about 15 min less than the actual baking time.

*quick bread types can be filled up to half or slightly more of the jar as they will not rise out of the jar too much at that level.

* regular cake recipes should be filled less than half of the jar to avoid overflow

* even if the cake overflows, it can be pushed back into the jar while closing the lid but this is not much fun to do.

* for each recipe you try, it is good to make one jar at first to get an idea of the amount of batter needed and the baking time.

* they are all time great gifts with a home made touch for friends, family, teachers, work.. you name it.

* it may sound like a lot to do but once you make the jars in a cake  a first time, it will not feel so and there is no parallel to it for a personalized gift

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Cake In A Jar - Yogurt And Brown Sugar Cake from Cannelle et Vanille

The Manger is up and lighted.

So is the tree with the ornaments.

Even the ginger bread house is made and devoured!

The dangling roof lights from last year were never taken out and so turning those on was easy as usual:-) Hey, you do what you can to make life easier.

Now it is time to bake some gifts and goodies, mainly the cake.  Unfortunately having a crazy time at work with projects moving at the speed of light does not conduce to relaxed planning at home for the holidays. Instead you develop brain fatigue at the prospect of working through the holidays leading to inertia and apathy. OK it is not that bad only pretty close. Luckily squeals of laughter from the little ones jumping in joy at the thought of the upcoming holidays (already here) and of getting gifts from Santa and everyone else can just perk you up. Why the activities can even help to relax and restart the overworked brain! Since the fruits were not bought they didn't get macerated and the fruit cake simply cannot be made this year. That is when I remembered the cakes in a jar that we had sent out as gifts to family in the early years of our marriage. They were apparently a success unless the recipients were being polite out of love:-).

Those were the early years of food blogging. Google had not made its appearance, yet the truly initiated were already making their mark on the net. When my search for Christmas gifts yielded these pages (I am so glad I was able to find them intact again now, years later!) I was energized. Had a hard time finding the canning jars (also called mason jars) then but now I see them everywhere. In grocery stores as well as in Target. I made brownies and banana nut bread then but wanted to try something different and more Christmassy this time.

Yogurt And Brown Sugar Sponge Cake from cannelle et vanille

When one of my colleagues came back from a trip to France, we were all given the delightful French Macarons. Now, they are not the thick heavy macaroons  that we are used to but melt in your mouth angelic textured pieces of sheer delight!  cannelle et vanille was brought to my attention by the colleague as a good site for homemade french macarons with detailed instructions. The recipe index at the home page makes it very easy to navigate. The pictures are so awesome that I couldn't take my eyes off of the site for the longest time. I hope I will get to make those macarons some day (I hear Starbucks sells some in their stores) but didn't want to try this for the Christmas baking. The name of this recipe is what caught me and the 'yogurt and brown sugar cake' sans the ice cream  from there is what I made as it sounded yummy and doable. I just had to get muscavado sugar from amazon. Other than that I had all the ingredients. So made them in the jars and they were delicious and light as hoped.

In The Mix
pint sized canning jars/lids - 5 (used narrow mouthed for this cake)
shortening - 2 tbsp or as needed
check here for gram conversion

butter  - 170 grams/11.942 tbsp ( keep at room temp for some time before making the batter)
brown sugar - 150 grams/10.537 tbsp (to soften this, keep covered with a wet paper towel for a while)
granulated white sugar - 85 grams/5.971 tbsp
muscavado sugar - 50 grams / 3.512 tbsp
vanilla extract - 1 tsp
eggs - 2
yogurt - 180 grams/12.645 tbsp
all purpose flour - 180 grams/12.645 tbsp
baking powder - 4 grams/0.843 tsp
zest from 1 lemon

How To Do

Sterilize the jars and lids by boiling in water for about 15 minutes.
Take out the jars and let dry.

Spread melted shortening to cover the insides making sure to keep the lip clean.
Keep the lids in the warm water till you are ready to put them onto the jars.

 Preheat oven to 350C.

Beat the butter, brown sugar, white sugar and muscavado sugar together for about 2 minutes. If you find that the muscavado sugar does not completely get broken, this is just fine and even desired. Makes for a crunchy bite in the cake as the site suggests.  Add lemon zest and vanilla extract and mix well together. Add the eggs one at a time and then add the yogurt. Time to add the flour and baking powder. Both can be sifted together for a good mix.

Checkout my new digital scale. I had bought this for my HMom before she left last year and meant to get one for myself based on all the awesome reviews. Got it at last and it is all that and more. Love it.

Pour the batter to a little over half of the jars. Place on a cookie sheet to balance the jars and keep in the oven. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Insert a skewer in the center to see if done. Turn off the oven, but keep the jars inside.

Now that the jars are ready, take out the lids and screw tops and keep on a plate. No need for this to dry out. Take the jars out one at a time from the oven, place the lid onto the jar and screw on with reasonable tightness. Set aside for the jars to self seal. The heat and moisture will help with the sealing process. When the jars are completely cooled, press the center of the lids. If they don't move up or down, they are vacuum sealed. You will most likely hear a gentle popping sound when this happens.  If the lid moves up and down, then there is no seal and just use as you would a regular cake. The sealed cakes are perfect for mailing and have been known to keep fresh and moist for up to 6 months when stored in a cool, dark place. They never last this long anyway so I have not experienced the longevity personally. Can vouch for 3-4 weeks for sure.

Once cooled, decorate to your heart's content. You can make little notes and thread on a ribbon tied to the jar. Little pieces of fabric cut as 10" squares or circles will add to the festive look. This time we printed out little index cards and punched holes on them to thread. We had greetings from the 4 of us as well as a link to the original recipe site and the name of the cake on it. Lovingly homemade yet with a nice professional touch I'd say. If that is too much, just put a little circular festive label on the top with the cake's name handwritten on it. We tasted some ourselves a few days later and the cake stayed as fresh and moist as the day it was made!

For these type of narrow jars, use a knife to slice inside and slide out the pieces.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Apple Car....t A Fun Kitchen Activity With Kids

"Mom, Mom I want you to do the cutting." says my girl. She's been at it from the morning. I wave her away impatiently. "Later Molu, Mommy is busy". She is persistent yet yielding so Mom gets away without cutting anything. Later, when the two of us were all dressed to go out but waiting so we can open the door for the cleaning service, I could still see the unspoken request in her face. I give up and say, "Now is the time to do this cutting. Where and what do you want me to cut?" Little did I know that this oh so patient requester had a very specific task at heart  and knew exactly how to go about it!! The above picture is the result of our few minutes together in the kitchen. A lovely fruit snack that she observed in their baking class by volunteering Moms.

To make it, I was assigned to peel and cut carrots. Not to be cut long but as discs K? We don't have pear? No problem. Let us use those apples sitting in the fruit bowl. Now we need some cream cheese and with some colorful fruit loop cereal pieces we are all set. I still had no clue what it is all about. So I went about focused on  following the deftly thrown instructions from up there on the high stool.

Finally the apples were cut as specified and we glued the carrot discs to each side with cream cheese. Then it dawned on me that we are trying to make a fruit car here. Call me clueless, though I prefer guileless:-) Now I am totally on board and dutifully pasted on the carrots as well as the fruit loops. Let me put it into a recipe format here.
In The Mix

apple or pear - 1
carrots - 1
cream cheese - 2 tbsp or as needed
fruit loops or cheerios - 8 - 12 (fruit loops add color)
whipped cream - (optional)

How To Do

Most of it is as mentioned above. Cut 2 slices from the apple as seen in the picture. Dice the carrots into tire shapes. Glue 2 of these on to each side of the apple pieces. Glue the fruit loops over the carrots. If you glued some of those fruit loops to the top it will look like this.

Or try whipped cream AND fruit loop!

When we took that first bite of this quick snack I was taken aback to find it crunchy and tasty! I know, I know.  It is all the cream cheese. Yet all the additions went very well together! This is so simple, many of you probably are in on this but I am glad that my little one got me to see the possibilities by keeping after me. She made another set just for Dada & bro since they had gone out earlier.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Thanksgiving - Cranberry Sauce

When it first dawned on me that cranberry sauce is one of the sides on the Thanksgiving table and that I would need to see to it, I wasn't very enthusiastic. Especially after visualizing that store bought can of cranberry sauce. Finally we picked up a good looking fresh sauce at Trader Joe's and that was that.

When I invited one of our relatives - a distant cousin - staying nearby for the Thanksgiving dinner, she generously offered to make the cranberry sauce. Didn't give it much thought as it was sort of taken care of by then and didn't want her to dwell more on this unfamiliar sauce. As luck would have it, my eyes fell on a fresh bag of cranberries while shopping and I picked it up just in case.

Well, the turkey was done and while the mashed potatoes were heating up and the gravy was cooking I decided to bring out the sauce. At the mention of cranberry our cousin's eyes lit up and she again offered to make the dish. When I said that I have some fresh cranberries, her enthusiasm knew no bounds. Gave her complete freedom and she was busy looking for things. I heard pan, sugar, water etc and the next thing I know there she is, standing next to a shimmering mix of dark pink on the stove. One of the kids had tagged on as a temporary associate. My daughter is a constant companion in all cooking activities but this time it was my son. The color was irresistible and in the white dish it literally sparkled! Only when I tasted it along with the turkey and all the sides that I understood its purpose. The tangy taste is a perfect accompaniment with all the food. And very easy to make.

I asked for the recipe which she generously recited. It is reproduced here.

In The Mix

Fresh cranberries - 1 bag ( 12 oz.)
water - 1 cup
sugar - 1 cup (do not heap)
orange rind - 1 tbsp or less. (peeled thin)
cardamom - 1 or 2 pods crushed (optional )

How To Do

Wash the cranberries and remove remaining stems etc. Dissolve sugar with water in a sauce pan and start heating. Add the cranberries and boil. Also add the orange rinds and cardamom if you are adding those at this time. After a while the cranberries will start popping. This is a contained activity so no worries there. Stir once in a while and add more sugar if preferred. Can cover and cook or leave it uncovered which is what she did.

Remove from heat, cool to room temp and refrigerate if time permits. Remember to remove the orange rinds and the cardamoms too if you can find them. We were a little rushed and so I cooled it down by holding afloat in a larger bowl full of water and stirring. The first spoonful made all of us say aha!. A permanent addition to our Thanksgiving table has been born. She apparently makes it all the time for her mom who loves to snack on it, Thanksgiving or not!

We tasted the Trader Joe version afterward and as the cousin had stated, it is a good substitute if you are pressed for time.

Missing Dessert

Didn't make any dessert this time and we had ice cream and an Indian sweet. Made this pound cake from a Box next day to compensate:-).

When we were having leftovers the next day - 'leftover feast' according to my girl - I realized I didn't make fresh dinner rolls like I had wanted to. The guests didn't seem to mind. It was great fun planning the dinner together with my husband and pulling it off -thanks mainly to word wide web resources - with fairly minor mishaps. Our thanks to all resources. I hope to repeat this in the coming years and add new sides that we discover....

It gives a good feeling to have finished off the TG dinner chronicling while it is still fresh in our memories. I can hear my girl waking up. Time to press the post button. Holiday season is always one of joy and I wish all my readers a wonderful time ahead.

Updated Nov28, 2014:
The kids tried to make the cranberry sauce today and thought some of the steps could be more detailed. Isn't this cute that they tried it? So I have updated the recipe based on their questions.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Thanksgiving - Corn Bread

Corn Bread is a favorite of yours truly and it was with pleasure that I started the process. An arduous process that included a trip to the store, buying a box with instructions and following it. Seriously, it turned out to be a little longer than I intended simply because I didn't follow the last step of adding only two cups instead of the entire bag of corn bread mix. I should have known this would be the case because it was a different brand and I wasn't familiar with "the" ways. Mixing it thoroughly like for appam batter also probably didn't help:-)

Sooooo, the next time around I brought home with me two familiar brands. The always dependable - our sole pound cake source - Betty Crocker and that worthy maker of delicious pies, Marie Callender's. Betty Crocker had good instructions and Marie Callender just needed to add water. The key in both cases was to contain the number of strokes while combining the mix with the liquid. Too much and the resulting bread will be flat.

Verdict: Betty Crocker's looked and tasted like the traditional version and are shown sliced inside the glass pan in the pic above. Marie Callendar's was more moist, ate like a cake and is in the first pic as well as the at the end. Both were good but I guess for corn bread it will be MC from now on.

For leftover cornbread:
If you like 'avalose podi' a Kerala snack (made of fried powdered rice/coconut) with honey, then trains cannot stop you from enjoying cornbread with a generous drizzle of pure golden honey. But then, what can you expect from a honey lover?

Last Up : Cranberry Sauce and the Missing Dessert

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Thanksgiving - Mashed Potatoes

I had always loved mashed potatoes. From Boston Market and KFC, I mean. Never knew how to make them although I have mashed quite a few for our regular dishes. This mashing seemed different. And so it was! It also has turned from a healthy side selection to a guilty pleasure once I found out the ingredients.

The recipe came straight from pioneerwoman and I would like to reproduce it here for reference and notes. Thanks PW for this delicious recipe!

In The Mix
potatoes - 5 lbs (Use only Russet or Yukon Gold for the fluffy texture. I used Russet)
butter - 3/4 cup (keep at room temp)
cream cheese - 8 oz. (1 package, keep at room temp)
half and half milk - 1/2 cup
seasoned salt - 1/2 tsp
freshly ground black pepper - 1/2 tsp or more
regular salt - 1/2 tsp
fresh chives - 1 tbsp minced

How To Do
Peel and halve potatoes before cooking. I always cooked potatoes with skin on. So it was liberating and easy to do this. No messy stuff remaining while trying to peel hot potatoes! Boil water in a large pot and add potatoes. Cook for about 35 minutes while boiling. I covered with a lid just for the last 5-10 minutes. Make sure the potatoes don't fall apart but are pretty close to it.

Drain the cooked potatoes and put back into the same pot. Mash over low heat. This step from PW is just great as it helps to make the mashed potatoes not too ....mushy. Do this for about 6-8 minutes. Occasionally getting distracted with other things is allowed.

Turn off the stove but keep the pot there depending on your moisture confidence. Add 1 1/2 sticks of butter, the cream cheese and milk (1/2 & 1/2) and mash well to mix through. Now add the seasoned salt and ground pepper. I kept adding more black pepper since the husband favors pepper. Then I added 1/2 tsp of regular salt and that was the end of the salty road for us.

Mix all together and keep in a baking dish. I made it the previous day as suggested and this helped a lot with the time. Sprinkle in some herbs and serve hot or cover with foil in the refrigerator to heat up the next day.

The next day right after the Turk came out I lowered the temp to 350C and baked the potatoes covered for about 45 minutes. Had kept at room temp for about 3-4 hours before that. Sprinkle chives on top and use a new foil to cover before baking. Add 2-3 slices of butter spread along the top to complete the experience. The potatoes were so unbelievably fluffy when mashed that both us found it hard to keep our hands off of it. The reheated version was good but next time I'll serve it fresh made which just melts in your mouth!

Coming Up: Corn Bread