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!

Happy Baking!

Recipe Swap: Chocolate Mint Ice Cream Cake

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.

From My Kitchen: Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho

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.

Unbelievably Gluten-Free

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
Oct. 20: Books by the Bank, Cincinnati, 10-4 p.m.
Oct. 27: Parnassus Books, Nashville, 2 p.m.
Nov. 2: Matherne’s, Baton Rouge, dinner and signing, 6 p.m.
Nov. 14: Gluten-free event with Arizona Diamondbacks
Nov. 17-18: Miami Book Fair

Follow Me!
On Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/Cake-Mix-Doctor
On Pinterest – http://pinterest.com/cakemixdoctor
On Twitter – http://twitter.com/#!/annebyrn

Next Issue: Fall baking tips and ideas.

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Showing 17 comments
  • Sylvia Joyner

    I love your latest cookbook!

  • janet Byrne

    I wonder if there pumpkin cake with cream cheesefrosty

    • Anne

      It is plain, all-purpose flour.

  • Katy

    I love your website.

    Is the flour that you are adding to the cake mixes self rising or plain

  • Mary

    I made your mocha buttercream frosting (p 419, The Cake Mix Doctor) – but knew it needed more coffee flavor for the coffee lovers in my office so I added one packet of Starbucks VIA mocha flavor coffee. Topping your Triple-Chocolate to-live-for Muffins ( 302, Chocolate from the Cake Mix Doctor), this was a huge hit. A special added touch was a dark chocolate covered espresso bean. Thanks for your great recipes!

    • Anne

      Getting the right amount of coffee flavor can be tricky, but it sounds like you know your crowd! Great idea to take the chocolate muffin recipe and turn it into a chocolate mocha cupcake. Love the garnish!

  • Rita

    Hi Anne,

    I am one of your earlier contributors, having contributed a recipe you used in your Chocolate Cake cookbook. I have purchased all of your cookbooks and love them all. I would enjoy a cookbook of cookie recipes that are made using a cake mix. I know that there are lots of recipes on the web, but they all are pretty simple and not too inspiring! Any plans for such a cookbook?

    Hugs and Blessings,

    • Anne

      Hi Rita,
      Thanks for your early support of my cookbooks! I will remember your request for a cookie cookbook. I am pretty picky about cookies and always on the lookout for great recipes. Will consider such a cookbook!

  • Deanna Kyle

    Hi! Dinner Doctor is listed at Apple Store as $9.99. I would love the e-book–my paperback copy is falling apart. Was there a misprint?

    • Anne

      Thank you Deanna for the heads-up! There was an error and now Apple has corrected it.

  • Greta Dain

    Happy Birthday, Ann, mine is in August also. My favoirte cake is White Coconut.
    Where can we purchase your cake mixes??

    • Anne

      Go to my website – http://www.cakemixdoctor.com and click on Anne’s Cake Mix. You will see a list of stores, state by state, on where to buy it. Distribution is growing! Until it comes to your area, you can purchase it online from me. I try to offer the best price possible but have to factor in shipping. Happy Birthday!

  • CarolynB

    Thanks so much for suggesting a solution to the down-sized cake mix packages. It’s been driving me crazy! Would the same thing work with Ghirardelli’s double chocolate brownie mix? I’ve always added a scant 1/4 cup flour to your Chocolate Drops recipe so hate to add more. I’ve been keeping one brownie mix box open and measure how 2 oz. of mix to make up the shortfall. The package size changes have sure played havoc with so many recipes.

    • Anne

      I just noticed the smaller brownie mixes yesterday! Am going to bake up my jazzed-up brownie mix recipe and see if I notice a difference. Will post it on the blog. For now I think your method of adding 2 ounces more mix to make up for the shortfall is a good one.

    • Anne

      Hi CarolynB,
      So nice to hear from my friends from the early days! I baked the smaller G. brownie mix this past weekend and was pretty disappointed with the rise in the pan even though it was just 2 ounces smaller. I used the same add-ins – 1 stick melted butter and 2 eggs, and the brownies were good but just smaller. Guess we have to get used to the smaller amounts!

  • Karen M

    I am really happy to hear about a gluten free cookbook. Thanks

    • Anne

      You are so welcome! It has a lot of surprises and great recipes!

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