A Basic Cheesecake

Cheesecake

Sometimes, you just have to have a great cheesecake.  It doesn’t happen often, maybe, but especially, when you got company coming by for a weekend or maybe just to indulge yourself, there is really is nothing better than beautiful cheesecake, standing there and ready to go when dessert hits.

This cheesecake is relatively light and ready for almost any filling you might like to try. And, yes, it’s just perfect for that 4th of July weekend. It’s flavor  is a very light vanilla with a chocolate graham-cracker crust (you can use just about anything you like for a crust) and apart from have to wait overnight for it to get to peak condition, it is fairly easy to make. What I like about this version is that it really does go with just about any kind of filling you can imagine, from fresh fruit to chocolate. It pretty much works with anything.

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Perfectly Done Coffee Cake

coffee cake

This is the best coffee cake I’ve ever had. For me, it’s nearly perfection. 

It started from a recipe that my wife managed to pack away maybe 5-6 years ago, but as near I can remember, never, seemed to ever actually get made. I found it the other day when looking for something else and decided to give it a try — but, of course, with my own little deviations.

So the first thing you’ll notice when you bite into this amazing coffee cake is that it has much less sweetness and but with a definite bit of cinnamon and allspice to make up for it. The second thing you may come across is this kind of unusual topping recipe, which unlike most of the coffee cakes I’ve made, actually goes into the cake mix before it gets baked. The result is that the rumbling of the cake mix while its baking cause some of the icing to settle in and actually go deep into the cake. 

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Fantastic Banana Cake

banana cake

Most of the recipes here at Discovery Cooking are either developed here or at least very heavily modified. There are notable exceptions, of course. This banana cake is one of them. It’s simply the best cake I’ve ever made and one of the best I’ve ever tasted. It’s moist, light, full of flavor and — depending on the thickness of the cream cheese icing — more than enough to satisfy any sweet tooth on the planet. It’s killer.

The recipe below I found on a refrigerator door in a beach house we rented a number of years back in North Carolina. There was nothing to indicate where it came from. We had one rainy day that vacation and so I decided to try it and it blew my family away. On searching the net, I found dozens of copies of the recipe on various food sites and blogs, none of which pointed to the original. So my guess — and it is just a guess — is that this banana cake was probably published by one of the ingredient makers (a flour company, cream cheese brand?) some years ago and has been passed around.

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Upside Down Apple Rum Cake

upside down apple rum cake

It’s getting near the time when the new crop of local apples will be hitting the farm markets, and around Discovery Cooking, that means the season’s first upside down apple rum cake. I will assume that most everyone at least understands the concept of an upside down cake, especially the classic pineapple version with canned pineapple rings and impossibly red maraschino cherries. This upside down cake is nothing like that — OK, maybe it’s a little like that.

Like its progenitor, this upside down cake is made by placing and topping of sliced fruit in the bottom of a cake pan, covering that with a brown sugar and butter based syrup and then adding the cake batter. When the cake is finished baking, it’s inverted so the topping is — duh — on top.

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Lemon Blueberry Pound Cake

blueberry pound cake

As a writer, I love words and one of the things I love most is learning how something familiar earned its name. That’s why I get a smile whenever I think about making this lemon blueberry pound cake — or any pound cake.

Cooks have been making pound cakes almost forever. In his book, Ratio, author Michael Ruhlman cites a recipe from 1747 in which “a pound of eggs is beaten into a pound of butter followed by a pound of flour” then beaten together for an hour, by hand. Hence the name.

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Applesauce Raisin Cake

applesauce raisin cake

Applesauce Raisin Cake was a staple for the holidays when I was growing up. First it was my grandmother who would make it every Thanksgiving and Christmas, then my mother. To the best of my knowledge, neither of them had a written recipe.

A little over a year ago, my mother passed away, and for the first time I can remember in six decades, there was no holiday applesauce raisin cake, so with only a few clues and my memory of what it was like, I set out to recreate it. It took a bit of research and several false starts, but this version is a dead-on replica.

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Oatmeal Cake with Walnut-Coconut Topping

oatmeal cake

“Ask your mom to give my mom that cake recipe, OK?” I asked my classmate at Buckeye South junior high. “OK,” replied Susan Zambon. Next thing you know, my mother was baking Susan’s mother’s dense, moist oatmeal cake with the coconut walnut topping. Four decades later, I’m now baking that cake for my 94-year-old mother. Everyone who tastes it wants the recipe, too. Here it is, with slight modifications from the Ohio Valley original.

Because the cake doesn’t rise very much, using the 9 x 13” baking pan favored back in the 1970s results in a fairly flat confection (maybe 2 inches high). You might want to use a smaller cake pan. Or do what I do, and increase the amount of ingredients in the batter by 50 percent. I’ve included the increased proportions in brackets.

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