Saturday, January 9, 2016


Finished Chocolate Cake from a box,
Deliciously decadent.
If you haven't visited before, this is a blog where you can learn how to bake.  We began with the most simplistic recipe.  It was designed to get you familiar with Utensils and procedures in the kitchen.  

Baking is a science, a chemistry lesson  in disguise.  If you don't measure exactly and don't complete steps in the order they are presented then your results can be less than anticipated.  Baking is a fulfilling activity and can be a relaxing diversion if you are prepared.  If you don't prepare it can be a lesson in frustration and NOT FUN.

 I have times when I make miss-bakes and I am glad I have wild birds outside who love the gourmet treats made from my mistakes.

Our first recipe was the cake at the following link.  The one this icing is ready to decorate.

The recipe is simple and it also is on the side of a box.  The results guaranteed to come out right.  
If you have baked your cake and didn't already consume it, the recipe follows to top your cake in style (remember I told you it was delicious without icing).  You can leave this cake as a sheet cake or cut it in half and make a wonderful layer cake.

Lets ice our cake making it a decadent dessert.  
Gather your "Mise en place".

My Mise en place

2/3 Cup Hershey's Cocoa (Here I do brand name drop but I haven't tried other cocoas)
1/2 Cup Butter (1 stick)  It also suggests margarine on the label.  
1/3 Cup Milk (any milk will work)
3 Cups Powdered sugar (Brand doesn't make a difference)
1 teaspoon Vanilla (I do not recommend using "Imitation vanilla")
Your cooled Triple Chocolate cake 

Stand mixer or Hand mixer 
Flour sifter (a sieve and a large bowl is an excellent alternative) 
Flat rubber spatula (not a spoonula)
teaspoon measuring spoon
Yard Stick or ruler
Sharp large knife to cut the cake in half

glass measuring cup (They are used for measuring wet ingredients accurately.)

1/3 cup dry measuring cup.
1 cup dry measuring cup
Dry ingredients are measured in metal or plastic measuring cups. 

parchment paper or wax paper 
pretty plate or tray for your cake

A thin icing spatula or a round pointed silverware knife works

When baking, we use dry measuring cups and wet measuring cups.  There is a proper way to use each so you will end with an accurate measure.  The following is a show-n-tell on how to measure properly.

When measuring dry ingredients, use a smaller cup or large spoon and scoop the ingredient into the size cup you need to measure.  Over fill the cup and then scrape the excess off with a straight edged utensil, scraping against the edge of the measuring cup.

You don't want to scoop with the measuring cup you are measuring with.  When you scoop it will pack the ingredients into the cup, making your measurements inaccurate.

Pyrex cups are the ideal measuring cups for liquids.  (There are also clear plastic ones available.)  I prefer glass because I'm more comfortable warming ingredients in the microwave with them.  When you measure your ingredient, place your cup on a level surface and lean over so you can see the line.  Proceed to fill the cup to that level.    I've seen people hold a cup up so it is at eye level and fill it.  If the cup is slightly off level your measure could be more than you need or less than you need.  A stable level work surface is the place to set the cup.  In my "mise n place" you will see milk in a small plastic dry measure.  My excuse is my glass measure is so old you can't read the lines.   This is my new measuring cup containing the milk.

Sifting:  You did this when you made the cake (you're already a pro at it!).  This time you will sift to combine ingredients thoroughly

My ingredient list came from the back of the Hershey's cocoa can.  There are mixing instructions on the can,but I have found an easier  way for me to combine the ingredients.

1.  First thing to do is cut the cake in half and place it on a nice plate/platter/tray..  Use a ruler or yardstick to find the center of your cake. Mark it in two places down the center.  Move your ruler so it is along the the two marks and use the ruler for an edge to cut along.

Because you have paper under your cake you will be able to move 1/2 of the cake to another tray. (Cut the paper too when you are slicing the cake in half).  Have your plate/tray ready to move the "bottom of your "layer" cake onto.  When I am placing the cake on the plate I peel the paper from the bottom of the cake (You might need an adult to help you do this so you don't drop the cake or crack it in half.  It is difficult to hold, especially if you have small hands.)

I cut 4 strips of parchment paper which are 3 inches wide.  I slip these under the edges of the cake bottom.  Between the cake and the plate. This is to keep the plate clean when I ice it.  (I apologize I didn't realize I only had the finished iced cake with the papers under the edges.)

2.  Fit your mixer with the paddle attachment or the two beaters.  Do not use a whisk attachment (You will be cleaning the whisk, for what seems, forever).  This recipe can be made with a bowl and wooden spoon but your arm will be tired after beating it.

3.  In the mixing bowl sift the powdered sugar and the cocoa together.  If needed, sift it twice.  You want the cocoa thoroughly blended with the powdered sugar.

4.  Melt butter in the microwave.  My microwave needs 30 seconds on high.  All microwaves are different.  Start with 20 seconds and if it is not melted use 10 second intervals till it is totally melted. Stir the room temperature milk into the butter.

5.  Add the melted butter/milk to the dry ingredients in the mixer.  Turn the mixer on low to begin (remember on high you will be wearing the powdered sugar because of a huge poof).  When you notice all the ingredients combined increase the speed to medium and beat some more.  The icing will get a glistening look to it.  If at this point the icing feels a little stiff add 1 Tablespoon milk and continue beating. Never add more than a Tablespoon at a time you don't want to end up with runny icing.  If something happens and your icing is too soft or runny you can add 1/4 cup powdered sugar and beat it in.

6.  When your icing is the consistency you like add your vanilla and beat it until it is thoroughly incorporated.

7.  You are now ready to ice your cake.  This cake will not be iced on its long sides.  The main reason for this is you will have one side of your cake very crumbly because of the cut edges  exposed.  If we had made a traditional layer cake using 2 round pans you would not have this happen.  We used only one pan because it was easier.  We only had to prepare one pan.

8.  Use the rubber spatula and scrape down the sides of your bowl. Look at the contents and divide into 1/3 and 2/3.   You will take the 1/3 portion and put it on the bottom layer of the cake (the one on your nice tray).  Spread it evenly over the layer with the icing spatula or a rounded silverware table knife.

9.  Remember how you lifted the bottom layer to the plate/Tray?  You will do this again and place this layer on top of the bottom layer.  Make sure you peel off the paper.  The cut edges should be on the same side of your layer stack.  Now take the last 2/3 of the icing and put it on top.  Spread the icing, end to end, dropping it down over the ends of the cake, spreading it down to the plate.

10.  Pull out the papers when you are finished.  Your cake is waiting for you to sample it.  (Confidentially, I have found covering it with plastic wrap for a few hours really improves it.  I can't give you a reason but it seems to be even more decadent. Maybe it is because I was anxiously awaiting my piece of cake.)   There is a saying, "You can't have your cake and eat it too."  If we eat it we won't have it but now we can easily make another one!

Make sure you cover your cake with plastic wrap so it will stay moist.  It will stale quickly if left uncovered.

You will enjoy your cake much more if you have finished cleaning up the kitchen and put everything away (You can sit down and enjoy the results of your labors).   A glass of Milk is the perfect accompaniment for your slice of cake. 

These recipes have been easy ones.  They were picked to familiarize you with kitchen equipment and procedures.  Confidence in the kitchen will lead you to success.  This is any recipe not just Baking.  

Enjoy your cake and know you can mix one up at anytime.  It's not a gorgeous cake, but it is a decadent cake with flavors and textures you find in fine desserts.  It's a cake a grandma would be proud to serve.

Look back in a couple of weeks for another recipe.  This one will be chocolate too. 
With winter here, the extra heat from using the oven doesn't go to waste.

Print the blogs out and begin your own Cookbook.  If you print on only one side of the page you can use the back of the page to place clippings of recipes you would like to try.  Or use it to journal your baking results (paste a picture of your cake on the page back)

Hint:  Use clear plastic 8 1/2" X 11"sleeves to put your pages in.
That way you can have them right beside you while you are baking without risk of dirtying them.   

Looking forward to baking with you.

Other blogs by me:

A quilting, sewing, crafts, cooking, a little gardening, and prose and poetry
Tutorials for baking yeast bread and Cinnamon rolls

a cultivation of life blog. Stories about pets, and a place where I air grievances.

About our farm and gardening  (a few recipes using our produce)

Stories about our two pitbulls:
Meydel and Boychik

All contents of these blogs, the writings, photos, tutorials, are my own.
If I borrow or use something from some one else I give credit.  

Monday, January 4, 2016


You may find my descriptions lengthy.  This is because I can not talk you through the steps needed to complete the recipe  (I won't be handy to ask questions).  I want your first attempt to be like you have been baking for years.

Grandparents or others, join your kids, have fun .  Be in the background reading the recipe and telling them what step comes next or share your know how (if you are a first time baker, then you can learn along with them how easy it is to bake.)

Baking from recipes is not difficult, but you have to follow the directions exactly.  Baking is a Chemistry lesson.  The ingredients need to be measured accurately and  they need to be added in the order given to achieve the results you expect.

The processed box of ingredients has gotten a bad rap.
The convenience of pre-measured ingredients can give gourmet results
There are a couple of very important to dos when you bake :

My mise en place, equipment, utensils,
and ingredients assembled.
1.  Pick a recipe and read it completely through.  Don't just glance at it and say, "Oh, I like this" and  then proceed to do it.  Read the recipe, see if you are proficient in the techniques needed to make it (proficient: competent or skilled in doing or using something).

2.  Copy the recipe.  I like having a copy because it keeps my cookbooks from getting dirty.  (I wish I had done that 50 years ago.  If I had, my favorite cookbook would still be in great condition, not ready to fall apart and horribly stained.)

3.  This last must do, is a French term called "Mise en place".  It is a French culinary phrase which means "putting in place".  This means, to get everything you need together before you start making your recipe.  The equipment you need and the ingredients you need to make it.  You don't want to be surprised when you are half way finished making the recipe to find you are out of something to complete it.  Be prepared! This practice has saved me lots of frustration.

I have said the best way to learn the rules is to bake something.  Let's start Baking!

I picked this recipe because of the ease of preparation and the basic techniques it contains.
It will start your New Year out on a high note.  This very simple recipe will thrill you with its tasty results.  Even accomplished bakers will be happy. This box cake doesn't taste like it's from a prepared cake mix.  It's quick and easy to prepare.  If you have never baked before, it will give you the basics on how to use your equipment in the kitchen.

You are ready to begin after you gather the following, they are your "Mise en place".

1 (15.25 oz) box of very chocolaty cake mix.  The brand doesn't make a difference.  German Chocolate cake mix gives you a very "dull" tasting cake.  Look for cake mixes that say "fudge" or "dark chocolate" on the label. If the cake box says "pudding mix added" you still add your box of pudding mix too.   Don't use a box brownie mix by accident.

1 (3.4 oz)  box "jello" Brand INSTANT chocolate pudding.  DO NOT USE diet or no sugar instant pudding mix. (I've never tried any other brands of instant pudding mix)

1 (12 oz pkg) semisweet chocolate chips (do not use mini chocolate chips) If you use the bulk packages of chips, 1 1/2 cups chips is equal to a 12 ounce package.

2 large eggs (room temperature)
1 3/4 cup whole milk (room temperature) you can use skim without effecting the outcome.
(Cold ingredients are brought to room temperature when baking.)

1 1/2 teaspoons Vanilla (I don't recommend "Imitation Vanilla". It is sometimes it is called Vanillin.)
Unsweetened Cocoa or flour

Stand mixer or Hand mixer (wooden spoon and bowl works too)
Flour sifter (a sieve and a large bowl is an excellent alternative) 
rubber spatula
measuring spoons
glass measuring cup
coffee cup and table fork
parchment paper (wax paper works too), pencil and scissors

9" X 13" cake pan (aluminum or glass) If you use a glass pan lower the oven temperature to 325.

cooling rack ( if you don't have one, use 4 matching coffee cups turned upside down)  The object is to elevate the hot cake so air can circulate evenly on all sides.

pot holders/oven mitts
Sharp pointed steak knife or any thin bladed knife

When I set up my work space I also have paper towels handy and a small towel to be ready for spills.  Yes, adults spill too.

1: Preheat your oven to 350 F degrees.  Before you turn on the oven make sure the rack is set in the center of the oven.  The rack set too high will burn your cake top, The rack too low will burn the bottom of the cake.  If you don't know how to do this have someone show you.  All stoves are different so I can't explain how to set your oven temperature and turn it on (my stove has 2 knobs I have to set to turn on my oven).

2:  Prepare your 9" X 13" pan.  Cut parchment or wax paper to fit the bottom of the pan.  Trace the bottom of the pan on the paper and cut just inside the line.  Put a heaping tablespoon of shortening on a piece of paper towel to grease the pan.  Cover every surface of the pan, especially down in the corners.   When your pan is well greased place the parchment in the bottom.  Stick it firmly down and smear shortening on the top of the parchment too.

Do this next step over a trash can: take a heaping tablespoon of cocoa or flour and shake it around in your pan.  Dust all the sides and bottom with the cocoa or flour.  (It's a chocolate cake, I like to use cocoa.  Flour sometimes leaves white dust on the outside of the cake when it is baked).  When you have every surface coated, dump the excess flour or cocoa in the trash.  You are greasing and flouring the pan to prevent your cake from sticking to the sides of the pan.
3: Sifter and bowl (your mixer bowl can be used to sift into): Sift the pudding mix with the cake mix.  You can dump both boxes in the mixer, but if the cake mix has lumps in it the more you will have to beat it to remove the lumps.  Over beating of the cake makes the cake less fluffy.  When you sift the cake mix it breaks up the lumps and distributes the pudding mix evenly though out the cake mix.

4:  Crack the eggs into the coffee cup.  Scramble them with the fork.  (If you are a new to baking, have some one show you how to crack an egg.  It can be a scary thing to do.)  If you get shell in your eggs, you use one half of the shell to scoop out the little piece.  (If you try to pick it out with your fingers or use a utensil to get it out, all that happens is, it scoots away from you).

5.  Stir the scrambled eggs and vanilla in to the 1 3/4 cup milk.  With the dry mix in the mixing bowl, turn the mixer on the lowest speed.  If you turn to a higher speed it will cause the dry ingredients to poof out of the bowl when you add the milk mixture.

With the mixer running slowly add the milk mixture.  When you have added the milk mixture mix only until all dry mix is incorporated.  Stop the mixer and use the spatula to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.  Make sure all the dry mix has been incorporated.  Remove the spatula and turn the mixer back on.  Mix on medium speed approximately 1-2 minute.  Your mixture should now be smooth. (I only needed 1 minute to finish mixing.)

6. Remove the beaters and scrape them off.  Pour Chocolate chips into the mixture.  Use the spatula to "fold" them throughout the batter. (Folding is stirring but you don't go round and round. You use the spatula to slice down into the batter and scoop it up and fold it over.  You do this till you have thoroughly mixed the chips throughout the batter. (do it quickly so you can get the cake in the oven.)

Pour cake batter into the center of the prepared pan.  Use the rubber spatula to scrape out bowl and  smooth batter evenly out to the edges in the pan.

7.  Place the pan of cake batter in the oven on the center rack in the center of the rack.  (The pan's long dimension should be parallel to the front of the oven).  Close the door.  Don't forget to set the timer.  I use 25 minutes to start.  The cake may take longer, all ovens are different.  Do not open the door to look at the cake before this.  Opening the door only cools the oven and makes the cake cook unevenly.

At 25 minutes check the cake.  When you open the door and pull out the rack, leave the cake on the rack.  Take the tips of your fingers and gently pat the center of the cake.  If it feels bouncy (Pudding like) like there is liquid under the surface push the rack in and set the timer for 10 minutes more.

If the cake feels firm, take the steak knife and in the center of the cake slide the knife straight down and then pull it straight back up.  Do not leave it setting in the cake.  If the blade has the look of of thick pudding stuck on it then you need to bake it another 5 minutes.  If it comes out with hardly any chocolate on it your cake is done (I was taught to use a tooth pick to test for done ness, it doesn't work on this cake because the melty chips cling to the wood and make you think the cake is not done..

If the cake has pulled away from the sides of the pan it is usually done.

Cake out of the pan cooing on the rack.
8.   Remove the cake from the oven, let your cake cool on the cooling rack for 10 minutes. (Turn off your oven at this point).   After 10 minutes run a round pointed  knife around the edge of the pan to make sure the cake is loose from the sides.    Turn your cake out onto a cookie tray or sheet pan, lined with wax paper, and place on the cooling rack to cool.  Don't forget to peel off the parchment paper (what is on the bottom of the cake while baking) while the cake is warm.    (When you put wax paper under the cake on the tray it keeps it from sticking to the plate/tray.  You may want icing on the cake.  When it is cool you can move it to a nicer plate if you have the paper to keep it from sticking to the plate.  (You can leave it on this tray, icing it when cool as a one layer cake)

9.  The cake is perfect to eat just like it is with no icing, but if you like icing there will be simple directions on how to ice your cake, turning it into a layer cake.  This is a very rich moist cake it is very good without icing.

A creamy Chocolate Icing:

10.  While your cake is baking, you can clean up.  Make sure to wipe the mixer down.  Any batter left on it will to dry and be very hard to get off. The batter will grow bacteria which can make you sick.  After you wash and dry all your items, put them away, wipe down the counter.  Don't forget to sweep the floor too.

You have made a great start to baking a bonanza of desserts and breads for your friends and family.
It has been fun sharing my kitchen with you .  Don't forget to look back to see if you want to ice your cake. The recipe will follow.

  With each recipe I will introduce a different procedure/technique used to bake great breads, cakes, cookies and pies.  I want you to be able to complete the recipes you choose with success.

Other blogs by me:

A quilting, sewing, crafts, cooking, a little gardening, and prose and poetry
Tutorials for baking yeast bread and Cinnamon rolls

a cultivation of life blog. Stories about pets, and a place where I air grievances.

About our farm and gardening  (a few recipes using our produce)

Stories about our two pitbulls:
Meydel and Boychik

All contents of these blogs, the writings, photos, tutorials, are my own.  If I borrow or use something from some one else I give credit.  Please do not copy without permission.

Sunday, December 27, 2015


Nice to meet you.  Thank you for stopping by.
I would like to introduce myself.  I am BABA.  To children and some grown-ups that is what I am called.  If you are not Jewish or Russian you may not know that BABA is the slang word for Grandmother (Bobe or Bubela).  My nieces and nephews also call me that.

The Blog intro picture is me.  I am at the Butterfly house.  A great place to be in a midwest winter. This is the  Midwest and we're being deluged with rain.  It is not a good day to make things which you want to be crispy.  This is exactly what we are going to discuss in the first chapter,
when to bake and what.  

Each Chapter will have easy to follow directions.  Some, you will be able to do them all by yourself but I recommend you enlist the help of a "Baba" or someone well versed in kitchen equipment.  Besides it is more fun to bake with someone else.  There is a saying, "Too many cooks spoil the broth."  This can be true if you get side tracked and don't pay attention to what you are doing.

Baking is a science.  You need to follow recipes exactly.  Yes, you can make your own recipes but you must follow the rules for what you are baking.  If you break those rules your end result turns out wonky.  The easiest way to teach baking rules is to bake something.

Chapter one:  Chocolate Cake (From a Box), you don't have to make it from scratch to be a baker.  

While we are on introductions I would like to introduce two of my grandchildren.  They baked their own Cinnamon rolls.  This was their first try.  They are 13 and 14 1/2.  Kids can bake!

Thanksgiving they were visiting and were begging for rolls.  I told them if they wanted them they would have to do it themselves and they did.  They also enjoyed being able to eat them without having to ask permission.  

I could not have done any better.

These are three Nieces, visiting on summer break, Making their first Challahs.  They had never made a yeast dough before, their breads were excellent.

Later that day they baked very professional Dutch Apple pies.  Their pie crusts were flaky not doughy and tough.

They were 10, 9, and 8. Kids can bake!

The best memories are baked in the kitchen.  Bake some up with someone you love.
Looking forward to baking up treats with you for our families.

more blogs by me:
I write about the things I make. 
 There are recipes for food, Quilting and gardening.  
It is a homemaker type blog, even has grand kid stories and poetry
Where I have stories of my cats and other pets
a blog about my courtship with my husband,
and a blog about my most embarrassing moment.
A "Soap box" blog where I do air my opinions.

blogs about the wildflowers on our farm
Organic methods we use, some cooking and some poetry,
blogs about Seed sprouting, insects, and garden pictures
Blog about an endangered beneficial beetle
Chronicling our adventures with a dumped Pit Bull Pup,
 who has become a hidden treasure.

All recipes, pictures, and writings are my own.
I give credit for items which belong to other people in my blogs .
Please do not copy without permission