Ugliest Cake Ever

I keep dreaming that I’ll make a beautiful cake, worthy of a site like Foodgawker. But I seemed destined to make cakes decorated with gummies – fish, bears, worms – all gummies.

Clare blows out cake #1


My grandkids, and my kids and their spouses were all home last week so we decided to celebrate little Clare’s birthday early. (By calling the soon-to-be-six year old “little” does this resign me to being “big Clare?”)
Clare and I actually have birthdays that are only a few days apart and because they live in Florida we have to take our cake occasions where we can find them.

Clare and her cake


So I whipped up a chocolate cake from scratch and the other grandchildren frosted and decorated it with gummy fish, and other candies. The cake was nothing to blog about, even tho I got the recipe from a reputable magazine. But Clare still enjoyed the attention and the candle-lit fun.

Sophia and Clare

A few days later Clare and I decided we needed to invite three neighbor children for cake to continue our birthday month. After we visited a very large garden in 90 degree heat, Sophia (7), Clare and I headed to a grocery store to pick up items for dinner. While I picked out some salmon, Clare wandered to the bakery counter next to us. She fell in love with a “rainbow” cake.
I rarely purchase cakes, for a whole host of reasons, but this time I thought, “It’s going to be nearly 100 degrees this afternoon and we’re trying to get to a movie.” So I gave in.

Of course, we couldn’t leave the cake a plain rainbow. Sophia and I put a bowl in the middle of the cake and then crushed Oreo cookies and put them around the edges of the bowl. Next we took the gummy worms that I had in my pantry (doesn’t every grandmother have gummy worms on hand?). And the girls adorned the rainbow cake with worms.

The “garden” needed an edge so M & M’s provided that. And when they weren’t looking, I stuck a clown head in the middle.

ugliest cake ever

Kara and Oliver in back, Sophia and Clare in front


When we finished, the girls and I headed off to see the Lorax in 3D in a nice cool movie theater. As we wore our dorky glasses and giggled at all the antics, and hummed with the music, I realized I was happy I wasn’t baking in my hot kitchen.

And there you have it – a really ugly cake that brought smiles as we again lit candles and enjoyed the moment together.
I love having a birthday month so that you have several chances to get it right. We’ll see if I do…

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Caramel Apple Cake in a Cup


This caramel apple cake was created for those who want a single serving of a decadent caramel cake and they want it in a hurry. Before you could even run to the store, you can have this easy cake out of the microwave and into your tummy. And yes, it’s sweet, but I sneaked in some oats for a bit of fiber and to give the batter more body.
It’s part of my series on “single serving foods.” Watch for others in the future.

The “cake in a cup” journey has been an interesting one.

chocolate cake in a cup

Recently I posted my chocolate cake in a cup, which was very well received. http://www.nanaclareskitchen.com/2012/02/03/chocolate-cake-in-a-cup If you’re a chocolate lover, you’ll want to try it.

Along the way, I experimented with Muffins in a Mug with some great results.

breakfast muffin in a mug


The cinnamon muffin in a mug has also gotten a lot of attention.
http://www.nanaclareskitchen.com/2012/02/24/cinnamon-muffin-in-a-mug/ It’s a healthy breakfast muffin that will really keep you feeling full for hours. It started with the directions for the “Skinny Muffin” featured on Dr. Oz and then evolved into something that I thought was more palatable. In fact, I’ve made so many different versions of this that I’ve created an easy “muffin mix” that I’ll share with you soon.

caramel apple cake version one


My son-in-law, Jason requested a caramel cake after I posted the chocolate one, so I couldn’t let that challenge go unmet. I may not keep my own kids happy all the time, but I really try to please my three “in-law” kids, Jason, Becky and Kara. I had a great time creating this recipe and I hope you all enjoy it.

leaning tower of cake


Note: The texture of any of the mug or cup creations won’t be the same as a cupcake or muffin baked in an oven, but don’t let that stop you from trying it.

choose a large mug


Tips
Be sure to use a baking apple, such as Honey Crisp, McIntosh, Braeburn, Jazz or Pink Lady. Do not use Red Delicious apples, as they do not bake well and you won’t get the same result.
Although Granny Smith are great for regular apple pies, you may find them too tart for this cake in a cup.

caramel apple cake in a cup


Caramel Apple Cake in a Cup
Into a coffee cup put:
1 egg
2 TBS vanilla yogurt
1 TBS oil
3 TBS brown sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 TBS flour – your choice
1 TBS quick oats
dash salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 of a small apple (or 1/3 of a medium one) Wash and core the apple and cut into small pieces. No need to peel.

Directions
Whisk the egg, oil, yogurt, vanilla and sugar in a coffee cup that holds at least 1 1/2 cups.
Add the dry ingredients and stir just until blended.
Fold in the apple pieces.
Microwave about 2 1/2 minutes.
Invert onto a plate and enjoy warm.

Caramel, apples, cake – in a cup. In a few minutes. No guilt added. Enjoy.
Other Single Serving items you may enjoy:
Chocolate Chip Muggin
Oatmeal Cinnamon Muggin:
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Chocolate Cake in a Cup

first cake in a cup

Warning, if you are a chocolate addict, this may be the most dangerous recipe you encounter.

Yes, that’s right. You can now have your own homemade mini chocolate cake in five minutes. No unpronounceable ingredients, no box mixes, no saying you can’t have cake because you live alone, or that you don’t have time to make a rich, dark chocolate cake. And no waiting for a birthday – anybody’s birthday.
This recipe has been so popular that I went on to create a caramel apple cake in a cup and several muffins in mugs, called muggins. They are all part of my single serving series, so I hope you watch for more in the future.

I made this in your honor friend or relative far away!

The next time you hear of a friend or relative in another state who’s having a birthday, you can make this cake and eat it in his/her honor. Bonus – you can post a pic on Facebook so they know how devoted you are.

he likes it!


First a disclaimer: you may have tried a “cake in a mug” before. These recipes use a cocoa mix or pudding mix. Or they have you mix two box cake mixes together and then you scoop out some powdered chemicals and wait for it to explode in the microwave. I’ve been there and I basically threw the whole mess out after even my grandkids wouldn’t eat it. The textures and taste of these globby concoctions will not compare to this recipe.
Where did I find this, you ask?

choose a large cup


I was skulking around the internet looking for healthy chocolate recipes (snort! Did I hear you snort?) when I found this one on Eggland’s Best – you know, the egg people. http://www.egglandsbest.com/recipes/desserts.aspx.

add some zesty flavor


Because it uses all natural ingredients, I gave it a try. (Shine my halo, I’m such a purist…Don’t snort at that!)
Now a few words of caution – it is very rich, but the texture is spongier than a normal cake, most likely because of the microwave. (It’s still warm chocolate, so we’re all good.) You’ll want to share your cake or save some for tomorrow.

cut this in half...yeah right

(Sure.) It is very rich and is over 350 calories, (kill joy) so it would be best to cut it in half. (But I didn’t.) End of lecture.

I made one of these plain and then I made another version just for my hubby and we compared the two. His was laced with Kahlua and pecans and it had more flavor, but both were soul satisfyingly chocolate.

pecans are a nice addition

Hang with me to the end, as I’ve listed all kinds of additional ingredients that might make this even more decadent.
Ingredients
2 TBS flour
3 TBS sugar
2 TBS unsweetened cocoa
1 large egg
2 TBS milk (or Kahlua or brandy or…)
2 TBS canola oil
2 TBS chocolate chips
½ tsp vanilla
Dash salt

second cake stuck to the cup a bit


Directions
Find a cup that will hold about 1 ½ cups of liquid. More is fine, but less will make a mess. Also, the smoother the inside of the cup, the easier the cake will fall out onto a plate when it’s done. You do NOT need to grease the cup.

Add dry ingredients to the cup.
Add the egg, milk, oil and vanilla and mix well with a fork or small whisk.
Add the chocolate chips (or nuts, coconut, whatever else) and stir to blend.
Put the cup in the microwave and cook on high for two minutes.
Allow to cool for 15 – 30 seconds and tip onto a plate. Or eat it in the cup.

Oh Baby


Yes, this would be amazing with ice cream, or whipped cream.

Finally, think of all the possibilities. Here are a few to get you started. Please comment with new ideas you may have tried.
1. Swap the milk for your favorite brandy or liqueur.
2. If you’re trying to assuage your conscience, use pastry whole wheat flour and add a tsp of wheat germ.
3. Swap dark chocolate chips instead of semi sweet.
4. Swap or add white chocolate chips, or peanut butter chips.
5. Sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar before “baking.”
6. Add any of the following: ¼ tsp chili pepper.
7. ¼ tsp cinnamon.
8. Coconut
9. Craisins or dried blueberries.
10. Pecans, walnuts or almonds.
11. Your idea goes here.

So this throws the door wide open for experiment. Bakers unite. Whip up a “cake in a cup” and write to me while you’re on a sugar high! Gingerbread? Carrot? Caramel Apple? Red Velvet? Lemon? So many possibilities! But you have to admit, the chocolate cake in a cup looks enticing.

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Caramel Apple Cake

caramel apple cake with whipped cream

What do you get when you mix apples and caramel? A hit, always. Well this recipe bakes them into a cake with amazing results.
My sister Holley found this recipe in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune Newspaper some years ago. The article attributed the cake to Paula Grauer, an import from Arkansas.

Holley made the cake for her daughter, Liz, and Liz has requested it every year for her birthday.

I decided to make it as an addition to all the Thanksgiving pies. It was a great hit. Very flavorful and moist. I served it with real whipped cream, sweetened with powdered sugar and vanilla.

I did make one change – I poured only half the glaze on the cake while it was still in the bundt pan. I then spooned the rest over the top of the cake after I had inverted it onto a plate.

caramel apple cake glazed

Preheat oven to 350 F
Ingredients
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups granulated sugar
3 eggs
1 TBS vanilla
3 cups flour (all purpose or cake flour)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cloves
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
3 cups apples thinly sliced
1/2 cup pecans chopped

Cake directions
In large mixer combine the oil and sugar.
Beat in the eggs and stir in the vanilla.
In a small bowl combined the flour, soda, nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, and salt.
Stir flour mixture into the egg mixture just until blended.
Stir in apples and pecans by hand. The batter will be very heavy.
Pour mixture into a well greased, 12 cup fluted tube baking pan (Bundt pan)
Bake at 350 for one hour and 10 minutes.
Before the end of the baking time, prepare the caramel glaze.
Remove the cake from the oven and leave it in the pan.
Pull the cake away from sides of pan with a fork, and then pour the glaze onto the cake immediately. Leave cake in pan to cool slightly, about ten minutes.
Invert it over a serving plate.
Serve warm or cooled with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

cake ready for the oven


Caramel glaze ingredients

boil glaze for a minute


1/2 butter
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla
Combine ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook for 1 minute. For a thicker caramel, let glaze stand for 1/2 hour before spreading on warm cake.