A Piece of Cake February 2012

A Word from Anne:

Valentine’s Day is around the corner, and thank goodness this food writer made it through January — the most unfriendly month to cake baking in the year! Love for baking is in the air — I feel it — so I thought it would be a good time to share with you some of the things I love best. Now, granted, this is not the definitive list, so don’t hold me to it. You know, this newsletter started about 12 years ago, right after my first Cake Mix Doctor cookbook was published. It was my way of keeping connected with you in between books being published. Now, some 60,000 of you receive this newsletter. And day to day, I email with many of you. Thanks for your great ideas, encouragement and constructive criticism. I didn’t mention this on the list of things I love, so I will now — I love hearing from you.

Happy Baking and Happy Valentine’s Day!

Ten Things I Love:

  1. I love the Nordic Ware Heritage Bundt pan. It is hands-down my favorite Bundt pan because the look is so sculpted, so dramatic, and the cake releases beautifully after cooling. I bought mine at Williams-Sonoma, but I you can find them elsewhere. Really love, love this pan. See number 5, coffee cake below.
  2. My husband John’s hot chocolate sauce. He says he begins with cocoa, sugar, butter, brandy, vanilla, and cream, stirring the cocoa, sugar, and butter over low heat, adding cream, then brandy and vanilla. It is pure alchemy and genius. We pour it over vanilla ice cream. We eat it straight from the pan!
  3. Earl Grey tea. I’m really obsessed with it. Must be the bergamot. I love it in the morning or afternoon in my favorite Anthropologie mug with the initial “a” on it, given to me by my friend Dayna.
  4. My grandmother’s yellow Pyrex bowl, in which she layered orange slices and sugar before making marmalade. It is well over 50 years old, possibly 60. I make chocolate frosting in it because I can soften the butter in the microwave in this bowl, then add the cocoa, vanilla, and confectioners’ sugar and blend until creamy.
  5. A good coffee cake. Perfect with that Earl Grey tea or coffee. Here is a great basic recipe using my cake mix, Anne’s Cinnamon Streusel Coffee Cake. Or turn to page 191 of the Cake Mix Doctor Returns for Kathy’s Cinnamon Breakfast Cake. Regardless of the recipe, a fun trick is to grease and flour a Bundt pan, then sprinkle finely chopped pecans — about ¼ cup — in the bottom of the pan, then pour in the batter. The pecans bake into a crunchy crown once the cake is inverted onto a serving platter.
  6. Brownie mixes in the pantry. I bake brownies from scratch but I also rely on mixes – either Ghirardelli or Trader Joe’s are my current favorites. To slim them down I use unsweetened applesauce instead of oil. To turn them into cookies, I add 3 tablespoons flour and reduce the eggs to just 1 egg. The cookies bake at 350° for 10 to 15 minutes.
  7. Friends who send me emails that make me smile. Thanks to Julie of Charlotte, NC, who says she made The Best Pound Cake (from The Dinner Doctor) for her daughter’s 17th birthday. “It truly is the best,” said Julie. And because her family knew the movie “Elf” inside and out, her kids imitated the scene where Will Ferrell screams in the coffee shop advertising “World’s Best Coffee.” But in this case, it was world’s best pound cake, and Julie’s kids screamed, “Congratulations!!! You did it!!!”
  8. Baking in a jar. My friend Marty of St. Louis reminded me of this recipe when she was trying to send the cake in a jar to her daughter in college. You will find it on my Community Board. Grease and flour wide-mouth glass canning jars. Pour in the cake batter of your choice, filling the jars just a little over half full. Place the jars on a cookie sheet and bake at 325° until the cakes spring back when pressed with your finger. Remove the cookie sheet from the oven, and when the jars are cool enough to handle, place the flat tops on the jars and screw the bands around to tighten them. Place the jars on a towel to cool, and after they cool the cakes will shrink back and be easy to unmold. Now they can be wrapped and shipped to someone you love.
  9. An organized pantry. It is like a clean closet, and it is an essential part of cooking and baking well. Sort and sift through food twice a year, pitching or donating what you have not used. Wipe down the shelves and set up shop for the next six months. I have a pasta shelf with quick-cook, thin spaghetti or orzo, as well as Israeli couscous and basmati rice. I buy tomatoes when they are on sale, and will try new flavor combinations to keep fast sauces interesting. And, I always have canned chicken broth, canned white beans, tuna, artichokes, corn, and pasta sauce. When it comes to baking ingredients, I keep cocoa — Hershey’s and Ghirardelli — as well as instant pudding mixes, confectioners’ sugar, brown sugar, creamed honeys from Vintage Bee — www.vintagebee.com — and cake mixes, of course.
  10. My Frosting Booklet called, “The Icing on the Cake.” Here are my absolute best frostings ever, and all in one place. You can receive a free copy with each online order of my cake mixes through the end of February. Go to Anne’s Cake Mix and click on Buy to be directed to the shopping cart.

Anne’s Cinnamon Streusel Coffee Cake

This recipe begins with your favorite box of yellow cake mix. The 21.6-ounce cake mix is the Cake Mix Doctor’s Old-Fashioned Yellow cake mix, which you can find in stores near you or order online.

Makes 12 servings
Prep: 15 minutes
Bake: 50 to 55 minutes

1 package (21.6 ounces) Cake Mix Doctor’s Old-Fashioned Yellow Cake Mix
For the Filling:
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 cup finely chopped pecans
For the Batter:
1 cup sour cream
½ cup vegetable oil
½ cup water
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons milk

  1. Place a rack in the center of the oven, and preheat the oven to 350°. Grease and flour a Bundt pan, and set the pan aside.
  2. For the filling, measure out 2 tablespoons of the cake mix and place in a small bowl. Stir in the brown sugar, cinnamon, and pecans. Set the filling aside.
  3. Place the remaining cake mix, sour cream, oil, water, eggs, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl, and blend on low speed for 30 seconds. Increase the mixer speed to medium and blend until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes longer.
  4. Pour half of the batter into the prepared pan. Scatter the filling over the top of the batter. Pour the remaining batter over the filling. Place the pan in the oven.
  5. Bake until the cake springs back when lightly pressed with a finger, and it is golden brown, 50 to 55 minutes. Remove the cake from the oven, and let it cool in the pan 20 minutes. Run a knife around the edges of the pan, and invert it onto a rack to cool completely, 45 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, prepare the glaze by stirring the milk into the confectioners’ sugar. Drizzle the glaze over the top of the cake and let rest 15 minutes to let the glaze set. Or omit the glaze and just dust with confectioners’ sugar. Place the cake on a platter, slice and serve.

Next issue: April. Spring cakes. Spice Cake and Caramel Frosting.

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Showing 42 comments
  • Mary Lee Rossmaessler

    Hi. Can any type of gluten-free yellow cake mix work for this coffee cake? I, too, love the Nordicware Bundt pan you mentioned bought mine at Nordicware.com.

  • Jennifer Kelsey


    I have all your cookbooks and absolutely love them. Can you kindly help me with 2 issues.

    Why are my cakes & cupcakes wet on the top?

    Why do my cheesecakes come out of the oven high but then after a little while they sink in the middle?

    Looking forward to your response. MANY THANKS!

  • Janet Byrne

    I want to tell you. Be careful of pecans. Did you know some people have allergies to tree nuts. My son have allergies to Pecans and other tree nuts.


  • Mary S Thaman

    I have one of the Williams Sonoma bundt pans and plan to make your coffeecake recipe in it soon! I’ll probably skip the glaze in favor of powdered sugar topping.

  • fran bellamy

    Could you send instructions for high-altitude baking using this recipe.

  • Margaret Moore

    Can you share the recipe for the chocolate cookies pictured in the header to this newsletter? They look deliciious!

  • Leticia


    Regarding the Nordic Ware Heritage Bundt. Which one is it? Nordicware Commercial Heritage Bundt Pan Heavy Duty Cast Aluminum. Teflon Non-stick Coating OR Nordic Ware Platinum Collection Heritage Bundt Pan.

    I love Bundt pans, but have some cheapo ones that I really don’t like to bake in. Looking for a new pan and your newsletter was quite timely.

    Please advise.

    And, thanks for your cool books. People think I’m a baking genius. heee


  • Donna

    I wish I cou ld have a piece of that cake right now! They did a similar thing on Paula Deen today and served it with grilled plums and whipped cream.

  • Dottie

    What a fun newsletter this is.

    Spice cake with caramel is next? As a kid spice cake was always my favorite and caramel just makes it “purrfect.” Oh goodie yum yum. LOL

    Keep up the fun.

    baking with a smile, dottie

  • danielle

    I had that Pyrex bowl. Mine was my great aunt’s. My movers lost it when i moved to PA. I loved that bowl. 🙁

  • Carol Barclay

    What if you use the regular cake mix? What changes do I make to the ingreidants to mix the cake? thank you. Carol

  • Lynn

    Would you and your husband be willing to share his hot chocolate sauce recipe, or is it published in one of your books?

  • Juanita sumner

    If you love Earl Grey tea, have you tried Creamed Earl Grey? It’s gorgeous.
    My favorite in Toronto is from David’s Tea, but if you don’t have one near you, go to any good tea shop.

    Better to buy loose leaves. Now how about a creamed earl grey cake? Is that too far out a flavour?

    It was a good day when I found out about The Cake Doctor.
    Thank you.

  • Allie

    where is the cookie recipe for the choc cookies I see under the piece of cake ??

  • Kitty

    Yes, please post your husband’s chocolate sauce recipe or please tell us where we can find it in your cookbooks? Nothing like a great chocolate sauce!! Plus it’s right before Valentine’s Day!!

  • Kitten

    I would love to have your husbands hot chocolate sauce recipe also.

  • Sherry

    Beautiful cake, looks easy too. I can’t wait to try it!

  • Julie

    Wow! I made it to your newsletter! I am honored. I guess I should say, “Congratulations!!! I made it!”

    • Anne

      You made it! Congratulations, Julie!

  • pat

    i would love to have the chocolate sauce also

  • Rose Angel

    Would love to have the recipe for the cookies you show at the top of the newsletter!

    • Anne

      Cookie recipe will be posted on Valentine’s Day – Tuesday, Feb. 14. Enjoy!

  • Arlene

    I would really like his recipe also for the chocolate sauce.

    • Anne

      Chocolate Sauce recipe will be posted Monday, Feb. 13!

  • Susan Haddock

    Anne, how do you remain so trim and slim? Just reading the recipes adds pounds to me! Susan

    • Anne

      Ha! Anything I can do to boost metabolism. Walking my Labrador helps as does tennis. Thank you!

  • Dottie Gustafson

    Re: your Pyrex bowl
    I am the proud owner of a large PYREX BOWL, which was a shower gift together with 3 nesting smaller bowl all of different colors, back in the summer of 1950, the year in which I was married. I no longer use it because of it’s size. However, it was frequently put to use both as a mixing bowl or a large baking bowl for scalloped potatoes and ham and various other recipes. I/m replying just to give you an idea as to the possible age of the one you have. I often wish I still had the 3 smaller bowls as they were of such convenient sizes in preparation of my families meals.
    I was told if they had been washed in a dishwasher their use is limited because of the dishwasher destroying the finish. Can’t remember if I did put mine in the dishwasher but I think it’s possible I did.
    I enjoy your website.
    Dottie Gustafson

    • Anne

      Dottie, it is nice how much mail the Pyrex Bowl is receiving. Thank you for placing a date on the bowl as well – 1950. I occasionally put my bowl in the dishwasher and do feel a little guilty about it. The color is still there – pale yellow – but I think it might be shinier if I hadn’t placed in the dishwasher. Know my grandmother only washed the bowl by hand. And not sure about my mother. Will guess she only washed by hand, too. She was pretty meticulous about what went into the dishwasher.

  • Barbara

    Just letting you know that you have saved me many times in a pinch. Your newsletters are fun and inspiring! I believe you’ve even inspired me to organize my pantry in short order. Thank you very much.

  • Kathleen Williams

    I am a Celiac and I wish you would write something about new gluten-free ideas. Yes, I do have your cook book “The Cake Mix Doctor bakes Gluten-Free” and I simply adore it. Your cookbook has a Hummingbird cake which is delish, but I combined and altered two old recipes of mine, “The Swedish Pineapple Cake” and “The Sunshine Cake” which turned out simply divine. It has become “The Birthday Cake” for all my friends now and there is never any left for me to take home. boo hoo hoo 🙂

    • Anne

      Kathleen, so happy to hear it is helping you create gf cake recipes of your own. If you would like to share one of those recipes with other gf cooks, please send it to anne@cakemixdoctor.com and I could share in the spring newsletter.

  • JuneC

    I think I have the same yellow pyrex bowl (it was part of a set red, green, yellow), except I am the greatgrandmother, and I bought mine new

    • Anne

      Love this. June, I hope your bowls have brought as many good recipes into your home as they have into ours.

  • JuneC

    Why did you make your brad of cake mix 21.6 oz?

    • Anne

      Great question! I tried to formulate an 18-ounce package but the ingredients were not sufficient to produce the size layers I desired. Because my mix has no emulsifiers or artificial ingredients, the cake layers rise up normally and on their own. There are no fillers or any ingredient designed to give more loft. Hope this helps!

  • Anne

    Recipes are coming today and tomorrow. Sauce recipe will be posted Feb. 13 and cookies Feb. 14.

  • Shelley Finnerty

    My pyrex mixing bowls were also nested but aqua blue in color. I loved to bake and had a large family, 4 boys and a girl. My husband enjoyed giving me cooking/baking paraphernalia for any and all holidays. Those bowls were a Valentines Day present along with a bunch of daffodills. Loved it.

  • Jan

    I, too, have the yellow pyrex bowl and still use it all of the time. Mine came from my grandmother’s kitchen as a gift to me when I got my first apartment. My grandmother was 103 yrs old when she passed away in 1990. I confess to putting it in the dishwasher, but think I might just wash it by hand from now on. So glad to see that that yellow bowl is a proud member of so many kitchens!

    • Anne

      It is a treasure. I am washing my yellow bowl by hand these days!

  • Marion Wandrei

    I have 4 of your book-The Cake Mix Dr, The Chocolate Cake Mix Dr.,The Cake Mix Dr. Returns and Cupcakes from The Cake Dr. I love them all. People think I’m a genios because the cakes are soooooooooooo good. Keep up the good work.

  • Marion Wandrei

    Woops!!!! I also have the “What Can I Bring” Cookbook.
    It’s easy to goto this book and pick something for picnic invites. Great book.

  • Frances


    A while ago, I thought I saw something about you had a Christmas Cake Mix Doctor book, but now I can’t find one. Do you have one? If not, is there a possibility of you coming out with one in the near future? I love your recipes and would welcome a Christmas Doctor into my collection of your books.



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