Hello, smart shoppers. It's back to school time already! Unbelievable!
Ovens don't have a rack directly in the center. To prevent cookies or cakes from burning on the bottom, place the rack just above the oven's center. For pies, place rack just below the center.
NOTE: Always preheat oven for 20 minutes; an oven thermometer is a must. Bake at 350. Do not use dark pans; they burn too easily.
When I mention a butter substitute, Smart Balance (in the original version) is my preferred choice.
I must give you a biscotti recipe from Liz Behn.
What's great about biscotti is it contains only about 100 calories and one equals about two regular cookies; great for a treat even on a diet.
Biscotti are twice baked. First baked, then sliced 1/2-inch thick with a serrated knife, then baked again. To prevent crumbling when slicing, simply spritz logs with water then wait 5 minutes.
Rather than laying them down to bake on each side, Liz suggests standing them up (both sides bake at the same time). For soft biscotti, simply eliminate the second baking.
Biscotti can be stored in air-tight containers for up to two weeks. To freeze, place in gallon zipper bags with waxed paper between the layers.
CHOCOLATE CHIP BISCOTTI (NIB)
makes about 3 dozen
2 cups flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2-cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, or substitute, softened
1/2-cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2-cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
2 large eggs
1 cup each of coarsely chopped walnuts and semi-sweet chocolate chips
Butter 2 jelly roll pans. Sift together first 4 ingredients into a bowl. Set aside.
Combine butter, both sugars and espresso powder in a large bowl, beat until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time. Combine with flour mixture, blend well; stir in chips and nuts.
Divide dough in half. Place each half on a prepared pan. Form each into a log about 3-inches wide and 3/4-inch high.
Bake until firm to the touch, about 25 minutes. Cinnamon and sugar may be sprinkled on top of biscotti logs before baking.
Now to the wacky cake. It's amazing how sometimes a recipe brings responses you never expected.
In the past, I have printed a recipe for a cake created during World War 1 when there was a shortage of butter, milk and eggs.
Millie Zasowski wrote me the following letter. She said she was so surprised to see the recipe for the "War Cake." It seems during World War II, her mom made the cake all the time. She was an excellent baker and baked three times a week. Millie's job as a little kid was to add the raisins. She was told the raisins stood for the bullets her uncles and cousins were using in the European part of the war. She hasn't made the cake in a very long time but now she'll make it very soon. And then she said the words I love the most, "keep those beautiful recipes coming." Thank you Millie!
The next letter, from Ann Welly Revels, had a different and very unusual recipe. Her mom, Milly Welly, a Depression-era bride, made a chocolate cake she called a "Wacky Cake." When Ann taught preschool she called it the "Rainy Day Mud Puddle Cake." Different and unusual? Very!
Then Ann said, "Enjoy your column and love that it includes little stories in addition to the recipes."
I love your story, too.
WACKY CAKE, or the RAINY DAY MUD PUDDLE CAKE (NIB)
Into an 8-inch square pan sift together 1-1/2 cups of flour, 1/3-cup cocoa powder, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1/2-teaspoon salt and 1 cup sugar. Mix well.
Make 3 holes in the dry ingredients. In one put 1/2-cup vegetable oil (canola oil). In the second put 2 teaspoons vanilla, and in the third, 2 tablespoons white vinegar. Pour 1 cup cold water over it all.
Mix well and bake for 25 minutes in a preheated 375-degree oven.
If you are letting kids make it, be sure and check the corners of the pan and that it is mixed well with no big lumps.
The vinegar will make the baking soda fizz and you need to mix quickly and get it into the oven while the leavening is active.
If you make it with young children, let them have fun mixing without the vinegar and then add it just before baking.
When a recipe is not in my cookbook it will have (NIB) next to the title.
For an autographed cookbook visit www.romancingthestove.net.