Strawberry Shortcake


Ready for summer? Not that we’ve been suffering *at all* here in the Bay Area, but I hear the rest of the country has. And by golly I can’t just sit idly by as they thaw out from Snowmageddon or Blizzard-pocalypse or whatever it’s being called without providing some warm weather-style recipes for their enjoyment. I’m just that sweet and nurturing.

And I love me some strawberry shortcake.

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12 Holiday Food Comas: Rum Cake

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People who first meet this cake don’t quite know what to do with themselves. They stutter. They pray. They beg for more. It’s a sad and beautiful spectacle to behold, especially since I was once one of those fools. Now my reaction to seeing it in residence is to simply punch everyone in the vicinity, shove the cake down my shirt for storage, and sprint for the hills. You could say it’s excessive, but I call it survival of the fittest.

Since my grandmother passed, my mother has gallantly taken up the mantle when it comes to Rum Cake prep. This is no small feat (she usually makes 4-5 during mid-December alone), but she does it without complaining (most of the time. One time I was worried she cracked in the middle of a holiday baking extravaganza because she sat down to “lunch” with a bowl of cookie dough.)

It’s highly addictive, moist, rummy, and has a beautiful butter-rum glaze that gives it a teeeeensy crunch on the outer crust. It’s amazing.

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Rum Cake

1 Yellow cake mix
1 package vanilla instant pudding
4 eggs
1/2 c oil
1/2 c water
1/2 c rum
1/2 c chopped pecans (optional)
1 stick butter
1/4 c rum
1 c sugar
1 tsp rum extract (I didn’t have this and it turned out just fine, so consider it optional if rum extract is not a staple in your house)

Heat your oven to 350. In a large bowl, mix the cake mix, pudding, eggs, oil, water, and rum together. I would recommend doing one liquid at a time and mixing until homogenous, or else you’ll end up with lumpies. Generously grease a bundt pan and sprinkle the pecans on the bottom. Pour the batter in and level out with a spatula. Bake for 45-50 min, or until a knife comes out clean. For the glaze, bring all ingredients to a boil in a small saucepan, then immediately pour over the hot cake. Let stand until absorbed (about 10 minutes), then invert onto a plate to cool completely. Serve alone or with a dollop of whipped cream. Enjoy!

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Apple Dapple Cake

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Five years ago I spent 3 months on a farm in Tuscany. It was about as magical as it sounds, times 78 billion trillion million. We drank wine from the farm’s vineyards, ate toasted bread with olive oil straight out of the presses, herded pigs (I did less of that and more of the eating), partied with visitors to the B&B, and generally enjoyed all that Italy has to offer. I wrote down a thousand recipes from the cooks, sort-of perfected the art of the pizza dough toss, and crafted so many delicious pillows of gnocchi goodness that I think I passed out directly into the bowl of potato dough. But the one recipe I come back to most?

Apple Dapple Cake.

Is it Italian? Nope. Is it maybe Italian-American? Not even a little. Is there perhaps a Tuscan twist to it? Please stop, it’s pure-blooded American.

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The owners of the farm made this throughout the autumn months and graciously shared it with the 9 interns me. It’s nothing fancy, but it makes my heart sing with joy and gluttony. Apples, cinnamon, and a brown sugar glaze that will make you dissolve into a puddle of love. It requires no adornment but a humble fork and — perhaps– a sink to catch the stray crumbs as they come flying out off the plate as you snarf yourself into an apple dapple haze.

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The only tweak I made was to the glaze, which would curdle if the fat content from the milk wasn’t just right. Subbed in some cream and kablooie– super fab.

Apple Dapple Cake

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3 eggs
2 c sugar
1 1/3 c vegetable oil
1 t vanilla extract
3 c flour
1 t salt
1 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
1 t cinnamon
3 c peeled and chopped Granny Smith apples
6 T butter
1/2 c brown sugar
2 T heavy cream
1/2 t salt
1 t vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 350 and generously grease a bundt pan. In standing mixer beat the eggs on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3-5 minutes. Add sugar and vanilla, then, with mixer running on medium low, slowly stream in the oil. This should take about 1-2 minutes. Definitely don’t dump the oil in all at once, or else it won’t emulsify properly. Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon, and mix on low speed until combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and fold in the chopped apples. Pour the batter into the bundt pan, making sure to even it out with a spatula. Bake for 60-75 minutes, or until a knife comes out with no wet streaks. Place on a cooling rack while you make the glaze.

For the glaze: In a small saucepan combine the butter and brown sugar. Heat on medium low until the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved. Add the cream, salt, and vanilla and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and let cool a few minutes. Poke holes in the cake (while it’s still in the pan) with a chop stick or knife and pour the glaze over the top evenly. Let the cake cool for about 20-30 minutes, invert onto a plate, and serve warm. Then, put your socks back on, because they will have inevitably been blown off by tasty deliciousness.

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