The British are good at many things, but they excel at cake.
And while I am known as a diehard pie fan, while we were in London and Guernsey (an island in the English Channel), it was cake that made my eyes light up and my tummy very happy.
There were Eccles cakes and buttered scones for breakfast. Eccles cakes are smaller than the palm of your hand, round and made from flaky pastry and filled with currants. Sometimes they are topped with sugar. We Americans know scones, but in England, they’re biscuit-shaped and mostly studded with raisins or currants.
The layered sponge cake I ate at the outdoor cafe at Buckingham Palace was stuffed with whipped cream, jam and strawberries. I also discovered that toffee pudding is really cake with pecans and toffee sauce served warm. The list goes on. Needless to say, we ate dessert at every turn!
So, I had cake on the brain as I started writing this column. I thought about two classic Midwestern cakes, both we’ve likely adopted from elsewhere.
The recipe for German Chocolate Tres Leches Cake is also a poke cake, a delight I’m pretty sure we need to introduce to Europeans. And with apple season upon us in the metro-east, I thought anyone with a short amount of time to bake would appreciate the Easy Cake Mix Apple Bread. While scones would never be served for dessert after dinner in London, this apple bread can do double-duty as an anytime treat here in the states.
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German Chocolate Tres Leches Cake
1 package chocolate cake mix
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream, divided
1/4 cup rum or 1 teaspoon rum extract,* to taste
3 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup flaked coconut, toasted
1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted
Chocolate syrup, optional
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare and bake cake mix according to package directions, using a 13-by-9-inch baking pan. Cool on a wire rack.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk milks, 1/2 cup cream and rum. Taste and adjust, if necessary.
With a wooden skewer, poke holes in cake about 1/2-inch apart. Slowly pour milk mixture over cake, allowing mixture to absorb into cake. Let stand 30 minutes. Refrigerate, covered, 8 hours or overnight.
In a small bowl, beat remaining cream until it begins to thicken. Add confectioners’ sugar; beat until stiff peaks form. Spread over top of cake. Sprinkle with coconut and pecans. If desired, drizzle each serving with chocolate syrup. Yield: 15 servings.
*If you wish to use rum extract in place of rum, here’s the rule: For every 3 tablespoons of dark rum in a recipe, 1 teaspoon of extract can be used. For every 5 tablespoons of light rum called for, 1 tablespoon of extract is usually sufficient. A quarter-cup of any liquid equals 4 tablespoons, so generally in this recipe use 1 teaspoon or a little more, depending on taste you desire.
Taste of Home Christmas Annual 2016
Easy Cake Mix Apple Bread
1 box yellow cake mix
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 cups coarsely shredded, peeled tart apples (2 medium)
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour bottoms only of two 8-by-4-inch loaf pans.
2. Bread: In large bowl, beat all bread ingredients except apples with electric mixer on medium speed 2 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally. Stir in apples. Divide batter evenly between pans.
3. Topping: In small bowl, mix topping ingredients. Sprinkle over batter in pans.
4. Bake 45 to 50 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes. Remove from pans to cooling rack. Cool completely, about 1 hour.
Makes 24 servings, each with 65 calories, 5.5 grams fat, 24 mg cholesterol, 12 mg sodium, 3 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams sugar, 1 gram protein. Exchanges:1/2 starch, 1/2 other carbohydrate, 1 fat. Carbohydrate choice: 1.
Notes: Add more sweetness with a powdered sugar glaze. To make glaze, in small bowl, beat 1 cup powdered sugar, 2 tablespoons milk and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla until well blended. Use fork to drizzle over tops of loaves.
Granny Smith apples were used in this recipe — choose your favorite baking apple, such as McIntosh, Braeburn or Jonathan.