Weekly Photo Challenge: Dense


The first thing that came to mind when I looked at this week’s photo challenge on the daily post- Dense– was chocolate. I associated the word dense with a recipe I saved years ago.  Now I had a great reason to actually make it! The cake was baked in ramekins so the math formula seemed appropriate! Dense, moist and, yes, perfect as headlined on the recipe!

Favorite Things: Bananas

cm-banana-focus_fotorWhile grocery shopping a few weeks ago, I realized how much I like bananas. Let me count the ways…

  1. You get a lot of bang for your buck: 3 pounds for $1.48. That’s amazing.
  2. They are packaged on their own. I don’t need to put them in a bag or a box to put in a lunch bag.
  3. They are versatile. Great for a snack on their own or as an ingredient in a bread, muffin, or cake (more on that later.)
  4. You can buy them and feel healthy, knowing that you can use them in less “healthy” ways when they brown and still feel good about yourself because you’re not wasting!!! Wow!

I am sure there are more positive things to point out but I want to get to the recipes! My first terrific recipe using bananas is my banana cake recipe. I would have never tried it if it wasn’t for our friend, Mark, who was always more adventurous than me. Anyway, he saw the recipe first so I want to give credit where credit is due…

This recipe is from the Ann Arbor’s Cookin’! cookbook and has been my husband’s choice for his birthday cake for many years now. It was also the favorite of our dog Katie, who never even begged for food, but one year she somehow was able to eat half the cake before my husband even touched it. To add insult to injury, she couldn’t stop licking her “lips”  for quite awhile afterwards even as she tried to look innocent. Hopefully that is a hard enough sell for you to try it!


Banana Spice Cake


-2 cups all-purpose flour

-1/2 teaspoon baking powder

-3/4 teaspoon baking soda

-1/2 teaspoon salt

-1-1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

-1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

-1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

-1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 3)

-1 teaspoon vanilla

-1/4 cup sour milk (or fresh milk with squirt of lemon juice)

-1/2 cup butter or margarine

-1-1/2 cups sugar

-2 eggs


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift dry ingredients together. In separate bowl combine bananas, vanilla and milk. Cream butter and sugar. Beat in the eggs. Continue to beat until color lightens. Add flour mixture alternately with banana mixture, stirring until smooth after each addition. Turn into 2 greased 9-inch layer pans. Bake for about 30 minutes or until done. Cool on racks and ice with buttercream frosting.

An adjustment I make with this recipe is to make 1 small cake (6 inch round) and 12 cupcakes instead of a 9 inch 2 layer cake. I can freeze the cupcakes to enjoy later and the small cake is plenty to celebrate the day!

The second banana recipe I would like to share is for banana bread. My friend, Ann, shared this recipe with me and this is what it looks like.


I am always worried that I am going to lose it because it is so small! As you can see I have used this recipe many times and have to agree with Ann- it is the best banana bread I have ever had!  I hope you try it and enjoy it as much I have!


Ann's Best Banana Bread


1/3 cup shortening or margarine

3/4 cup light brown sugar

1 cup mashed bananas (2-3)

2 eggs

1-1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup chopped walnuts


-Cream margarine/butter and sugar

-Add bananas and eggs

-Mix separately flour, salt, baking soda and add with milk

-Stir in walnuts

-Bake 350 degrees 1 hour (at least) in greased loaf pan

-Cool on rack, wrap in Aluminum Foil

-Slices better on the 2nd day

Like the previous recipe, an adjustment I make with this recipe is that I make it in 3 smaller sized loaf pans. I cook it until the testing skewer comes out clean. It is close to an hour. Another way to know it is finished is it smells wonderful!


Favorite Things: Color Part 2



Large cakes and color are becoming a new theme! Last month I found the Wilton Performance Color System for baking and made a pumpkin cake for Halloween that was fun to make!


Now Thanksgiving has provided an opportunity to use the color chart again! Once again I went back to my old recipes and found a Turkey Cake recipe that I had made years ago. This cake, like the Pumpkin Cake, was the actual size of a roasted turkey.

I remembered that the last time I made it, I was disappointed with the final color of the turkey. It looked raw. Now that I had my color chart, I was hoping it would look more realistic this time. The recipe is from a back issue of Family Fun, which was my favorite magazine when my children were young.

You bake 2 vanilla cakes in round bowls. They take longer than when they are baked in 9 inch round pans.

Then bake 1 spice cake in a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan. Similarly it takes longer in the loaf pan than a round pan. I kept checking for doneness but I think they took about 40 minutes. The round bowls were closer to an hour. I just kept checking with a cake tester.


Once the cakes were finished I let them cool on a rack for 10 minutes and then popped them out to finish cooling.

This cake takes a lot of frosting. I used close to 4 cans of store bought buttercream frosting.

Before assembling the pieces I put the cake in the freezer for 15 minutes.


Basically you make a very large Whoopee Pie!


This is an important step- secure the “Whoopee Pie” with a dollop of frosting on the platter.


Trimming the legs out of the spice cake is tricky. Just keep trimming until it looks like a leg! Frosting hides a lot.


I used coffee stirrers (wooden ones) to attach the legs to the body (it is no longer a very large Whoopee Pie!)


It’s starting to look like a turkey. I also think it looks like a Harry Potter Snitch or Captain America’s mask.


Now to the color- I used “Sand” for the base layer of frosting.



Mixing 4 cans of frosting required my large mixer.


Once I frosted the cake with the base “Sand” color I added more brown and black to the remaining frosting until it turns a few shades darker. I added the darker color to the parts of the “turkey” that would darken as it cooks.


Adding the oranges and paper caps added a touch of authenticity!


It was fun to carve it like a turkey!


Happy Thanksgiving!


Favorite Things: Spooky Cake

What’s there not to like about Spooky Cake?


We call it Spooky Cake but I found my original recipe (from 1996!), and it apparently was called “Ghosts in the Graveyard.” It was fun to make together when my children were young.  Once they  went away to college, I continued the tradition and sent the ingredients so they could make it with friends. I substituted the box of pudding with already made pudding cups and used Peeps instead of cool whip (sorry original recipe!)

Our cakes don’t turn out as nice as the professionals but they sure taste great!


 Our first Spooky Cake. I’m not sure why we put lollipops on it…


Spooky Cake: The College Version


We got a little more sophisticated.