A Piece of Cake August 2012
You might think I’m crazy if I said my favorite time to cook was in the dog days of summer, but it’s true. I love cold suppers of fried chicken, sliced tomatoes, and potato salad. I love last night’s leftover grilled steak sliced atop greens with a spicy Thai dressing. I adore the ease of folding shredded roasted chicken into a pasta salad with roasted eggplant and squash. And I cannot get enough of the classic Italian Caprese salad this time of year–sliced good tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and basil leaves from my garden. The same goes for dessert. I’ve become a bit of a gelato junkie lately, scarfing down hazelnut, Donatella, pistachio, and double chocolate with abandon.
August is my birthday month, and the only cake suitable for August heat is an ice cream cake, made days ahead of the party and stashed in the freezer. I am happy to share my friend Beth’s recipe for layering chocolate cake, mint chocolate chip ice cream, slathering with real whipped cream and freezing the masterpiece for such an August birthday. Beth’s recipe, as first printed in What Can I Bring, begins with a from-scratch cake, but the one I share today is simpler – using your favorite chocolate mix.
I used my chocolate mix, as it has a dense crumb and holds up well to freezing. Other favorite cake and ice cream combos in addition to chocolate and mint are chocolate and hazelnut, chocolate and coffee, yellow cake and salted caramel ice cream, or yellow cake with strawberry ice cream and garnished with loads of berries. And you can frost an ice cream cake with a cream cheese frosting, too, either plain or with chocolate, but I’m partial to whipped cream. It’s so soothing in this heat. And any way you slice it, ice cream cake is cool, delicious, and pretty on the platter. But whatever you do in this heat and humidity, slice the cake and rush it back to the freezer!
Nothing soothes the summer palate better than ice cream. And nothing is more in sync with summer’s relaxed approach to baking than a do-ahead ice cream cake you stash in the freezer for up to a week before serving. We love the Chocolate Mint Ice Cream Cake, but if you’re not a fan of mint use coffee, salted caramel, vanilla, or strawberry ice cream. This recipe uses my chocolate cake mix, which holds up well to freezing. But feel free to use your favorite cake mix recipe or the scratch chocolate cake recipe found in What Can I Bring?.
New eCookbook Club
My publisher has launched a new promotion, and it is worth checking out. Called Workman’s Blue Plate Special, this is an eCookbook Club. For the month of August the theme is “Back to School” and offers unbeatable prices on digital versions of two of my cookbooks – The Dinner Doctor and Chocolate from the Cake Mix Doctor. Both books offer a lot of recipes that can help you get back into the rhythm of school-night dinners. My children’s favorites from The Dinner Doctor are the Mexican Lasagna, Family-Style Vegetable Soup, and Susan’s Chicken Potpie.
Outside the temperature soared above 100 degrees, but inside my cool kitchen the food processor was the work-horse, pureeing tomatoes, herbs and a pepper from the garden, along with garlic, olive oil, and lemon juice into gazpacho. I stuck a spoon in the bowl of the processor and pulled up a taste – perfection. Here is the recipe for our favorite gazpacho. It toted it to an impromptu picnic with friends last weekend.
|Anne’s Cake Mixes
Thanks for all your great feedback as I work to bring a cake mix with no artificial ingredients to the supermarket baking aisle. My chocolate and yellow cake mixes are now in 20 Winn-Dixie stores in Florida and Georgia, as well as the Central Markets in Texas, Straub’s Markets in St. Louis and dozens of other retailers. To find a store near you, click here.
If you would like updates on my mixes, books, and appearances, as well as more recipes, I invite you to subscribe to Mix-cellaneous, a lively newsletter I am launching this fall.
Shrinking Cake Mixes
A frequent question I get these days is about the shrinking size of many cake mixes. My answer is to add 5 to 6 tablespoons flour to the smaller cake mix to boost its volume, then proceed with the recipe. Package downsizing is incredibly frustrating, but for tips using the smaller mixes check out my Facebook page and also this story from the Charlotte Observer.
Falls bring book tours, and in a few months I will hit the road on tour for my new dinner cookbook called Unbelievably Gluten-Free! The tour will take me through at least 20 cities, and here are a few of my appearances:
Oct. 3: QVC, In the Kitchen with David, 9 p.m. ET
Next Issue: Fall baking tips and ideas.