Thursday, January 7, 2010

Kitchen Klutz: It's my birthday! Let's eat cake!

By Michèle De Meglio

It’s my birthday!

I repeat! It’s my birthday!

I may not be psyched about getting older but I am excited about opening presents and eating cake! Yeparoo!

In advance of my big day, my best buds and I set out to make the yummiest birthday cake ever! Fellow Courier-Life reporter Joe Maniscalco kindly offered his grandmother’s go-to recipe and I jumped at the chance to enjoy a classic yellow cake with homemade sugar icing.

Joe told me that when his grandma, the lovely Eleanor Pittman, made this cake on special occasions, all the kids in Cypress Hills would run to her kitchen in hope of securing a slice. That means it’s gotta be good!

With a silly party hat on my head, I was ready to bake Nanny’s Cake.

The cake is pretty simple. In fact, it’s super simple – combine a Duncan Hines classic yellow cake mix with four eggs, oil and a super special secret ingredient. Want to know what it is? Do you? Well? Okay! I’ll tell ya! It’s a package of Jell-O vanilla pudding mix. Joe said this makes the cake extra moist and flavorful. I like vanilla pudding so this sounds good to me!

With the batter ready, we had to grease Nanny’s old bundt pan with Crisco shortening and top that with flour so the finished cake would slide out easily. I don’t mean to complain but I was not so happy about having this buttery gook under my freshly manicured nails. So upsetting!

I was more than happy to put the batter-filled bundt pan in the oven (for an hour at 350 degrees) so I could finally rid my hands of Crisco.

Once the cake was done (it smelled so good!), my pals and I got to work on the icing.

You need a lot of arm strength to make this icing! First, I filled a small bowl with a few spoonfuls of confection sugar. While continuously stirring, one of my friends drizzled in milk. I kept stirring (my arm fell asleep!) and adding milk and sugar until the mixture was thick and creamy.

Sadly, my birthday excitement almost ruined the whole cake! You’re supposed to spread the icing when the cake is cool – not piping hot the way I wanted to do. The icing would’ve seeped into the hot cake, creating one big sugary mess.

I will never stray from Nanny’s rules again!

Verdict: Mrs. Pittman knew best! Nanny took a simple packaged cake mix and made it magical thanks to a bit of vanilla pudding and a super sugary homemade icing.

This cake will melt in your mouth and warm your heart.

Nanny’s Cake is all that a birthday gal could ask for. Now it’s time for presents!

Nanny’s Cake

1 Duncan Hines yellow cake mix
1 Jell-O vanilla pudding mix
1/3 cup oil
4 eggs

1/4 cup confection sugar
1/4 cup milk

Prepare cake batter according to box directions and combine with pudding mix. Bake in bundt pan for one hour at 350 degrees.

For icing, fill a bowl with confection sugar and pour in half the milk while stirring. Continue to add milk, and sugar if needed, until icing is smooth and thick. When cake cools, drizzle icing on cake.

Kitchen Klutz follows 20-something Michèle De Meglio as she burns casseroles and her fingers, all in hope of trading frozen dinners for home cooking.


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