A Piece of Cake December 2013

A Word from Anne

The holidays will be festive but a little cramped as our family moved into a small duplex while renovating the old stone home built by my grandfather in 1928. It was where my father was raised, where he helped grow tomatoes and corn, pick black raspberries, milk cows, and collect eggs from the hens to go into his mother’s famed chess pies. It is a wonderful journey back in time to slowly bring that house into this century, and I will share more on the house later as I uncover lost flower gardens and sort through my grandmother’s recipes. But for now, this holiday season is upon us and we need to keep things simple.

So what to bake when you are keeping it simple? Your favorite recipes, for sure.  Which means I will bake a coconut cake for my husband’s December birthday, pull out the candy thermometer to make my mother’s Christmas toffee, bake crescent cookies and roll them while still warm in powdered sugar, and make Ambrosia and Red Velvet Cake for Christmas Eve. I have found comfort in repeating the recipes my family loves. The repetition turns into tradition, and tradition brings comfort when life gets busy. As it always does! With yet another fund-raising bake sale at school tomorrow, I am dressing up box brownies with a drizzle of melted white chocolate and crushed peppermint candy. Don’t tell anyone!

Here’s hoping your month of December is happy and healthy and that you repeat favorite recipes and try a few new ones, too.

Happy Baking!
Anne

A Steal of a Deal Dec. 8 on QVC 

 
Cake Mix Doctor & Dinner Doctor 2 Cookbook Set (Item F11376) $21.72

I’m back In the Kitchen with David on QVC this Sunday, Dec. 8, between noon and 5 pm ET. It’s been too long! David Venable has the craziest facial expressions and big personality, and I will be sharing my favorite recipes from both books with him (and you!). These two books have never been packaged together in one sell, and this is quite a value for a Cake Mix Doctor collector or someone who is new to the kitchen and needs cake and dinner how-to help. (Price does not include shipping cost, however).

Can’t watch? My item #F11376 will go live at midnight 12/8 on www.qvc.com, and you can order while supplies last.

Watch for my Lethal Chocolate Peppermint Cake, Kathy’s Cinnamon Breakfast Cake, Red Velvet Cake, Susan’s Lemon Cake, Grandma’s Coconut Icebox Cake, and the Darn Good Chocolate Cake from the Cake Mix Doctor. And from the Dinner Doctor, we will share Triple-Decker Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake, as well as Susan’s Chicken Potpie, Slow Cooker Mac and Cheese (David’s favorite), an easy Spinach and Artichoke Dip, little Cinnamon Rolls, Cherry Tomato and Basil Tart, and Tuscan Chicken and White Bean Ragout.

Searching for ebook stocking stuffers?

Homemade Holiday 101, here are so many e-books for cooking & crafting. Check out the Cake Mix Doctor Bakes Gluten-Free, Cake Mix Doctor Returns and What Can I Bring? at this holiday reduced price.

Most Asked Question of 2013

Q. How can I adapt the smaller cake mixes to your recipes?

A. Add 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour to the smaller mixes (15 to 16 ounces) and proceed with my Cake Mix Doctor recipes.

Anne’s Cake Mix

 

Thanks to Nancy Stohs of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel for the terrific review. And thank you to everyone in the Milwaukee area who ordered my mixes after reading about it in Nancy’s column. We hope to be in Milwaukee stores in early 2014.

My cake mixes contain no artificial ingredients. You can find them in Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, and South Carolina Publix stores as well as all Harris-Teeter supermarkets. Look for my mixes in Shaw’s Markets in the Boston area, and in the Central Markets throughout Texas.

Here is a favorite holiday recipe that turns a cake mix into chocolate cookies (shown in photo above):

And for more recipes to bake this month, such as Gooey Butter Cake, Red Velvet Cake, and Pumpkin Cake, here you go.

If you cannot locate my cake mixes in your area, you can always order online. A December Special Offer: A free Gooey Butter Cake recipe card with each online order!

Hot Tips from Readers

Chris Baiz saves time by freezing leftover frosting. Amen, Chris! “The last time I made chocolate cupcakes, I tried using the leftover cream cheese frosting, and did they ever taste great, sort of like a chocolate-dipped strawberry.” To freezer leftover buttercream or cream cheese frostings, place them in plastic containers and freeze up to two months. Let thaw in the fridge overnight or on the counter in a couple of hours.

And Carol Williams bakes my gluten-free Snickerdoodle Cookies from the Cake Mix Doctor Bakes Gluten-Free and uses them like a graham cracker. “My family goes camping a lot and we love cooking on the campfire. I have been missing s’mores. I found that if I bake the snickerdoodle cookies until they are crisp they make a great graham cracker substitute…They actually taste like cinnamon graham crackers.”

Next Issue: February. Chocolate. And a sneak peek at my new cookbook!

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Showing 29 comments
  • Janet Byrne
    Reply

    I wonder if you make peppermint cake that use cake mix. I only found recipe that was from scratch. I do not want that I want to use cake mix to make peppermint cake.

    • Anne
      Reply

      Janet, yes you can bake a chocolate cake with a peppermint buttercream frosting, using a chocolate mix. Or you could bake a yellow or white cake and flavor with peppermint extract and also frost with peppermint buttercream frosting. Would be very pretty!

  • Judy Meinders
    Reply

    Anne: You don’t know it, but you and I go way back! I bought your “Cake Mix Doctor” book back about 1998 or 1999. It quickly became my favorite book for a good cake. I then bought the newer book (very similar) when it came out a few years later. Your recipe for carmel frosting is one of my very favorites–also my husband’s favorite. I always tell him that I could make it and spread it on cardboard, and he would love it. Thank you for sharing your recipes with all of us women who enjoy baking, especially when someone shows us how to do it a little easier and a whole lot better. Judy

    • Anne
      Reply

      Judy, thank you for taking the time to write. When I think back on these books, my youngest child was in a high chair when I was writing the Cake Mix Doctor. Now, he is a freshman in high school and has forever been the Cake Mix Doctor’s son. Builds patience!

  • Diane Teoli
    Reply

    My first Cake Mix Doctor cook book is coming apart! It is my go to for baking.
    I love to bake and decorate…. this was absolutely the best gift my husband ever gave me except for himself that is…. 16 years now <3

    • Anne
      Reply

      Diane, some people back up their physical book with an ebook copy if you are into that…

  • MK
    Reply

    I have both of these cookbooks and they are amazing, so anyone ordering from QVC will get a good deal and two great cookbooks! I also love the “What Can I Bring?” Cookbook. I love the convenience of your recipes, yet they taste homemade and look lovely to serve.

    • Anne
      Reply

      Thanks, MK! The What Can I Bring book is a mainstay in our kitchen, too. I just made the banana bread to leave my guys when I headed up to QVC. Back to a snow day in Nashville and cookie baking. First up – Barbara’s Oatmeal Cookies.

  • jim kaim
    Reply

    Thank you and enjoyed that. Have ever heard of a banana split cake recipe?

    • Anne
      Reply

      Why do I think it crosses my mind? We did a banana pudding cake, and maybe banana split cupcakes but not a whole cake. Please share!

  • Sherry
    Reply

    Wow – the Piece of Cake newsletter is slowly dwindling down to bare nothingness! Why even bother, Anne?

    • Anne
      Reply

      Sherry, sorry you didn’t find enough content this go-around. I have been putting a cookbook to bed, and it is done, so I will have time to devote to a fuller, better newsletter next time. Hope you have a great holidays!
      Anne

  • Rita Jenne Ryan
    Reply

    A dear friend gave me your Cake Doctor book when I retired. She said with grand kids I’d need it. How right she was. I am the designated birthday cake maker. Each child has their favorite cake they request each year. Two go for Red Velvet, one is strawberry, another is white cake, son requests the chocolate and my husband Hornets Nest. You’ve made me a star in my family.

    • Anne
      Reply

      That was the whole idea to the Cake Mix Doctor book, Rita. I wanted to make the reader the hero. People have taken my recipes and started baking businesses with them, or at the very least improved their baking skills. It was been a wonderful experience to watch how something as simple as a recipe can lend inspiration to others.

  • Myrna
    Reply

    I always love to hear from Anne.

    Merry Christmas everyone!

    • Anne
      Reply

      Thank you, Myrna!

  • Rita
    Reply

    I agree with Sherry. I wouild certainly like more content to the newsletter.

    • Anne
      Reply

      Working on that! Thank you!

  • Kirsten
    Reply

    Anne,
    I’ve been living in a 1928 house for several years now, and wish you much success in your renovations. Since we move fairly frequently I’m aware of the challenges of putting on holiday meals in suboptimal surroundings. Our first year in Hawaii we landed on December 19th, and were living in the TLF (military acronym for Temporary Lodging Facility–essentially an apartment, lovely for me because it was furnished, had a kitchen/laundry area and separate bedrooms) while we waited for our stuff to float over to us. I even fed the kids turkey nuggets for their Christmas dinner! Ah, good times.
    Thanks for the holiday ideas!

    • Anne
      Reply

      Kirsten,
      Thanks for the encouraging words. We will not forget Christmas 2013, and that is certain! Best to you in 2014!
      Anne

  • Linda
    Reply

    Hi Anne,
    I was wondering if you ever made a pumpkin cake this way:
    I had pumpkin pie filling left over so I added 2 cups of it to a yellow cake mix and baked it for 40 minutes in a tube pan and frosted it with cream cheese frosting.
    My husband said it was the best cake I ever made.
    About your newsletter….whatever news you send is more than I had before it came.
    Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year!

  • Phyllis Barlow
    Reply

    Hi Anne,

    Enjoy your newsletter. When I got this one I realized it had been quite a while since I got one. Did I somehow miss them, or have you not had new ones this year?

    And yes, I realize you have been working on a new cookbook; just wanted to make sure I hadn’t missed anything. Happy Holidays!!!

  • Peggy Martin
    Reply

    Hi! Is the Lethal Peppermint Chocolate Cake 2 or 3 layers? The pictures I saw on the t.v. show recently looked like 3, but the recipe only calls for 2 layers. Help! Making this for Christmas!!! Thank you!

    • Anne
      Reply

      Peggy,
      The recipe is written as 2 layers, but for TV our stylists will often bake 3 layers to make the cake look taller. You can make 3 layers out of the recipe by either baking the batter in three pans (bake slightly less because the layers are thinner) or by making another half recipe of cake and half recipe of filling and frosting to fill and frost the taller cake. Hope this helps. And Merry Christmas!

  • Peggy Martin
    Reply

    Thanks so much! I made it but just 2 layers this time. Everyone loves it!! A big hit that is going in my Christmas recipe notebook! Thank you!! I may try it with the buttercream instead of ganache as I dearly love your buttercream recipe!

  • Joyce
    Reply

    Just found your site while searching for a pound cake recipe. Your recipe: Almond Cream Cheese Pound Cake had been mentioned on another site. Thus, I am going to give it a try. I am having guest tomorrow, New Year’s Day for a non-traditional menu: lasagna (made from scratch and takes a lot of time)…..salad, garlic bread. Thus, I wanted something plain but tasty for dessert. I have also just signed up for your newsletters. Keep them coming and best wishes for a successful 2014 for you and your family.

  • Ann Doerzaph
    Reply

    I have to tell you that I have made your Best Banana Bread from “What Can I Bring
    Cookbook” so many times. I always have requests for it. I did make a small change, I add vanilla to the batter. I love this book and use it often, especially when I have to bring a dish to a potluck. Thanks for publishing it!!———I enjoy your newsletters too no matter how long or short they are! Happy New Year.

    • Anne
      Reply

      Thank you, Ann! We love than banana bread, too. And a little vanilla always seems to improve everything!

  • Karen
    Reply

    Hi Anne.
    I have and love all your cake mix books. I have had them since they came out. I remember seeing you on GMA with Charlie. I also make your lethal peppermint cake, 2 or 3 layers. It’s my oldest son’s favorite cake and his choice for his birthday cake. In fact, I’m not allowed to make it for any other occasion. I appreciate your newsletter, no matter how short. I just found the time to read it, over a month after I rec’d it – life is busy. I hope after your mixes are in Milwaukee, that Madison will be next.

    Thanks for all you do.

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