Bessie’s Best Ever Brown Sugar Pound Cake

Bessie’s Best Ever Brown Sugar Pound Cake

Bessie has been eager to make this cake again. She likes it because there are a lot of bowls an a lot of mixing, but I just like it because it’s seriously delicious with a cup of coffee.

I asked her why she drew herself five times in her recipe illustration. “That’s because it took that many pictures of me to show how excited I am about this recipe,” she said in her most matter-of-fact way.

We will make it again this weekend which will be the start of Shelter Week at St. John’s Church. That’s when we open our doors to feed and provide a nighttime home for our guests who have no home. While visiting, they will also receive gifts of personal items and brand new cold weather gear including items like boots and long johns. We always strive to give our best, and each night a different group provides the evening meal. My girls and I are in charge of the cakes for our group Sunday night because our cakes are the best. And if you haven’t figured it out yet, our cakes are the best because we use only the very best eggs!

Bessie likes to call this a “One Big Bowl” recipe because everything ends up in “One Big Bowl” before it goes into the cake pan. She was sorry she ran out of space and wasn’t able to fit everything into just one picture. Even so, her drawing should help you get everything set up correctly before the last bit of mixing, and then pouring, and finally baking.

Ingredients for Bowl One

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Ingredients for Bowl Two

1 bag toffee bits (8 ounces)
1 cup chopped pecans

Ingredient for Measuring Cup

1 cup whole milk

Ingredients for the One Big Bowl

1 and 1/2 cups butter, softened (3 sticks)
2 cups brown sugar, packed
1 cup white sugar
3 eggs

Directions For The First Part In The Picture

Preheat oven to 325°. Butter and lightly flour the inside of your 12-Cup Tube Cake Pan and set aside. Be sure to “bang out” the loose flour that doesn’t stick to the butter. Bessie likes this part even though it is a little noisy because it means we are going to bake a cake!

Bowl One Add flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix with spatula. Set aside.

Measuring Cup Add milk. Set aside.

Bowl Two Add toffee chips and pecan pieces. Mix with spatula. Set aside. (We use Heath’s English Toffee Bits in the 8 oz. bag.)

One Big Bowl Beat butter until creamy. Add brown sugar and white sugar, beating until fluffy. Stop and admire your work! What a beautiful color, right? This is called “creaming butter and sugar.” Bessie has a natural talent for this. If you have never creamed butter and sugar before there are excellent videos online that will help you. Now it’s time to add your “secret ingredients.” Add first egg. Beat until blended. Add second egg. Beat until blended. Add third egg. Beat until blended. Bessie insists that these must be done one at a time and not all together, and I trust her on this. She is much more of an egg expert than I am!

Now that you have Bowl One, Bowl Two, Measuring Cup, and One Big Bowl prepared using Bessie’s picture, you’re ready! You can finally put it all together into what may be the most amazingly delicious cake you have ever tasted! It’s practically guaranteed if you are using the very best eggs from well-loved chickens, of course!

The Last Mixing, And Then Pouring, and Finally Baking!

Begin beating your ingredients in your One Big Bowl again but this time on a low speed and gradually add about 1/3 of flour mixture in Bowl One to the butter and sugar mixture in your One Big Bowl.

Continue beating on a low speed and add 1/2 of milk from the Measuring Cup.

Continue beating on a low speed and gradually add about another 1/3 of flour mixture from Bowl One.

Continue beating on a low speed and add the last 1/2 of milk from the Measuring Cup.

Continue beating on a low speed and add the last 1/3 of flour mixture from Bowl One. Beat until just combined.

Use a spatula to fold in toffee bits and pecans from Bowl Two. Try not to get distracted by why it is called “folding.” This totally confused Bessie the first time she made this cake and it almost did not get into the oven. I can still remember her exact words. “How can you fold it if it is not paper? This makes no sense at all.” Just remember, sometimes “why” questions are best saved for after the cake is baked…because they are often forgotten by then!

Directions For Getting Your Cake In The Oven

Spoon batter into prepared tube pan. Bang it firmly on your countertop a time or two to release any bubbles. Bessie also likes this part because it’s the last thing to do before putting it in the preheated oven!

Bake 1 hour and 10 to 15 minutes (depending on your oven) and test to see if a wood pick inserted near the center of your cake comes out clean. You can add a few more minutes if needed. Cover with foil to prevent extra browning if necessary.

Let your cake cool in pan for 30 minutes. Remove from pan, and let cool completely on a wire rack.

Special Note: If some of the cake looks imperfect, don’t get crazy the way Bessie did the first time she made this cake. Once the cake is cooled, we get to cover all the imperfections with a Yummy Brown Sugar Blanket! 

Warm And Yummy Brown Sugar Blanket!

1 can sweetened condensed milk (14 oz.)
1 cup brown sugar, packed
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Put sweetened condensed milk and brown sugar into a sauce pan and bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Lower heat and continue to boil and stir for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, whisk in butter and vanilla extract.

Drizzle over the cake while it is still warm from the pan. It will be difficult to work with once cooled. Spatulas, fingers, and even very careful chicken feet can’t spread it very well once it has cooled. (Trust me on this.) There will be plenty of it, and you may want to put the extra into the center hole of the tube cake so it will ooze out when you cut the cake. A little vanilla ice cream on the side is nice too!

Bessie and I hope you will enjoy making this cake and sharing it with those who are special to you! And even if you don’t bake this cake, please remember what Bessie has so wisely said.

“Chickens don’t need blankets, but people do. Make sure you blanket people with a love that warms every part of them. And don’t forget that love covers imperfections.”

Each post shares a glimpse into my journey as a writer and illustrator. Every “Like,” “Follow,” and “Comment” is truly appreciated! 

Bessie’s Best Ever Sweet Onion And Walnut Mini Muffins

Bessie’s Best Ever Sweet Onion and Walnut Mini Muffins

Bessie was very eager to get this recipe out to you before the holiday season officially starts. We both agreed this is one of our favorite “good any time” recipes, especially when you need to dress up leftovers.

This is also an especially easy recipe for anyone who is new to baking, and that includes children and chickens. Her step-by-step illustration makes it especially easy too.

Onion and walnut may seem like an unusual combination, but as Bessie reminded me, “Julia Child said a great chef needs to be inventive.” I’m sticking with Bessie and Julia, and I hope you will too!

Bessie’s Best Ever Sweet Onion and Walnut Mini Muffins

Small Bowl Ingredients

1 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
2 eggs

Large Bowl Ingredients
1 and 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 and 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 and 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Directions

Preheat oven to 400°F and lightly butter three mini muffin pans.

Part A

Chop finely 1 onion, enough to make 1 cup, and put in small bowl. Melt butter on low heat, and pour over onion. Mix with spatula. Make sure butter has cooled before adding two eggs. (This is so you don’t have scrambled eggs!) Mix with spatula.

Part B

In large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Mix with spatula.

Add wet mixture in small bowl to the dry mixture in the large bowl. Mix with spatula until everything is nice and moist. Fold in the walnuts. The muffin batter will be thicker than most muffin batters, but that is okay.

Part C

With a spoon, scoop The muffin batter into the buttered mini muffin baking pans. Fill each one about 3/4 full. The batter will rise some, but not as much as a regular muffin. This is because of all the chopped onion and walnuts. Yummy!

Bake at 400° for 10 to 12 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks.

Additional Information Bessie is also considering adding some sprigs of fresh thyme to the butter as it melts to add a little more savory taste and maybe even some other herbs like chopped chives. She has a feeling this basic recipe has endless possibilities, and she may be right!

These are great warm and great cool. You can make them early in the morning and they will still be moist and tasty in the evening…or even the next day if there are any left! They are great by themselves or with most hearty wintertime roasts, stews, or soups. (And that includes soup made from all of that leftover turkey!)

Each post shares a glimpse into my journey as a writer and illustrator. Every “Like,” “Follow,” and “Comment” is truly appreciated!

(Bessie and I followed Emily’s smart advice and made individual cutout pictures for each part. This lets us move them around until they are just right, and Bessie won’t need to draw them all over again for each new recipe. Thanks, Emily!)

Bessie’s Best Ever Ricotta Frittata

Ricotta Frittata

Here is a new recipe from Bessie as we work to fulfill her dream of being a master chef. It’s easy to make and fun to say!

Bessie likes to call this a “One Frying Pan and One Bowl” recipe, and it is our weekend (or anyday) gift to you, our readers. As you may remember, she insisted on illustrating each recipe herself so anyone could follow them, and look at that! There really is one frying pan and one bowl. She is so clever, and the chicken drawings are really nice too!

If you have any chickens or children at home, they can help out using Bessie’s easy-to-follow recipe illustration, starting with getting out one medium bowl and one 8-inch non-stick frying pan! Arrange everything like you see it and get started! (Except you won’t need three separate measuring cups! Just measure three times.)

Although her recipe illustration tells just about all you need to know, below is her recipe in a more traditional format if you don’t have chickens or children at home to help you!

Special Notes: If you have a large “flock” of your own to feed, use a 10-inch non-stick frying pan, and double all ingredients. Baking temperature and time can stay the same. This is a great way to use leftovers!

Bessie’s Best Ever Ricotta Frittata

Ingredients for 8-inch Frying Pan

Butter (just enough)
1/4 cup (more or less) your choice already cooked meat such as ham, diced bacon, crumbled sausage, etc.
1/4 cup (more or less) your choice raw veggies such as onion, sweet pepper, corn, etc.
All of one and none of the other is okay too! Just keep the total about 1/2 cup.

Ingredients for Bowl

1/4 cup Ricotta cheese
3 large eggs
salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Preheat your oven to 350°.

Part A In your frying pan, add small amount of butter and turn on heat to melt. Add veggies to pan and sauté. Add meat to pan just to warm since it should already be cooked. Turn off heat. Set aside.

Part B In your bowl, add 1/4 cup Ricotta cheese, wisk lightly to break up. Add 3 large eggs and then salt and pepper if you’d like. Wisk all together.

Part C Pour cheese and egg mixture into pan over your meat and veggies. No need to stir in…otherwise you’d have scrambled eggs! Place in oven and bake for 15 minutes. (Since oven temperatures and pans vary, you should watch carefully at least the first time or two when you make this. After that, you’ll know exactly what time works best for you.)

While you are waiting, Bessie suggests drawing and coloring your own little chickens…just like she did!

Part D Remove from oven. Let cool slightly while you’re making your toast. You can serve right out of your frying pan if you’d like! Just cut into wedges, sort of like a pizza! Or since you’re using a non-stick frying pan, you can slide your Ricotta Frittata out onto a serving dish.

Additional Information Bessie thought adding some other type of cheese to the top before placing in the oven might be a great idea, either grated or sliced. I have to say she was right! American cheese slices placed on top and then covered with the egg mixture make a nice oozy cheese filling! Don’t forget the better the eggs, the better the results!

Each post shares a glimpse into my journey as a writer and illustrator. Every “Like,” “Follow,” and “Comment” is true appreciated, especially if you’ve tried Bessie’s recipe! And if you did, what did you use for your meat and/or veggies? We tried quite a few different things, but the possibilities seem almost endless!

Ricotta Frittata

Bessie’s Best Ever Nesting Box Brownies

Nesting Box Brownies

This post is last in a sequence which began with a previous post about Bessie that you may want to read as well.

Bessie likes to call this a “Two Bowl and One Pan” recipe, and it is our holiday (or anyday) gift to you, our readers. As you may remember, she insisted on illustrating each recipe herself so anyone could follow them, and look at that! There really are two bowls and one pan. She is so clever!

Just so you know, these are not really brownies, but Bessie knows people like something called “brownies.” (We could not make real chocolate brownies because chickens, like many animals, should not have chocolate.)

When these have cooled and are cut them into squares, they do resemble nesting boxes with a firm cookie bottom layer and a softer, almost fluffy coconut “nesting straw” layer on top.

Go ahead and “be a chicken,” if that means being a chicken like Bessie, and bake these for yourself! If you have any chickens or children at home, they can help out using Bessie’s easy-to-follow recipe illustration, starting with getting out two bowls (one medium and one large) and one 9- x 13-inch pan! Arrange everything like you see it and get started!

Although her recipe illustration tells just about all you need to know, below is her recipe in a more traditional format if you don’t have chickens or children at home to help you!

Bessie’s Best Ever Nesting Box Brownies

Ingredients for First Bowl

1 cup chopped pecans
1 (18.25-oz.) package yellow cake mix
1 large egg
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted (1 stick)

Ingredients for Second Bowl

1 (8-oz.) package cream cheese, softened
2 large eggs
1 (16-oz.) package powdered sugar
1 cup flaked coconut

Directions

Preheat your oven to 325° and meanwhile melt 1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick) on low heat, set aside. Lightly grease your 13- x 9-inch baking pan with a little extra butter.

Part A In your first bowl, combine pecans, box of yellow cake mix, 1 egg, box of yellow cake mix, and butter, stirring until well blended. Press in bottom of a lightly greased 13- x 9-inch pan. (Chicken feet must be washed clean for this step! If by some chance you do not have a chicken to help you with this step, you can use your fingers, but it will not be as much fun!)

Part B In your second bowl, beat softened cream cheese, 2 eggs, and box of powdered sugar at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Fold in 1 cup flaked coconut. Pour over cake mix layer.

Part C Bake at 325° for 40 minutes or until set. (While you are waiting, Bessie suggests drawing and coloring your own copy of this recipe…from memory…just like she did!)

Part D Cool in the pan on a wire rack, and then cut into squares. 1-inch squares seem best because these are sweet. (The firmer edge pieces are nice as an ice cream topping when coarsely chopped and heated slightly.)

Additional Information Bessie thought adding some speckled jelly beans and maybe toasted coconut on top might make a nice extra touch as well. Don’t forget, the better the eggs, the better the results!

I will do my best to post each Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. Every “Like,” “Follow,” and “Comment” is true appreciated, especially with an out-of-the-ordinary post and recipe like this one!

Nesting Box Brownies

 

My Life With Gracie…A Song You Can Taste

This post is next in a sequence which began with a previous post about Bessie that you may want to read as well.

What could be simpler than posting a recipe with Bessie’s name on it? Bessie would be happy. I would be happy. Hopefully our readers would be happy. Things do not always work out the way we expect. Bessie’s first baking adventure turned out to be a marathon!

Fortunately Gracie came along for moral support and out of curiosity as well. She had seen Bessie doing her “spatula twirling practice.”

As you may have figured out already, chickens are excitable, very excitable. So when I told Bessie that her first bake would be cookies for the annual Flute and Harp Concert at our church, a flood of questions followed.

“What kind of cookie will we make? What is a flute? What is a harp? What is a concert? What if nobody eats my cookies?” And, of course, “Will there be any chickens there?” You really do have to love Bessie.

So while I took out all of the equipment and ingredients, we discussed flutes and harps and music and concerts.

“Flutes make sounds like those little trilling musical notes you chickens make when you are very happy in the morning or at the end of the day. Those sounds let everyone know how joyful you are.”

Bessie and Gracie did a little trill for me.

Harps were a bit more difficult to explain. “Harps make sounds like the rustling of chicken feathers when you spread them out or when you are dancing. Those let everyone know how light and carefree you are.”

Bessie and Gracie rustled some feathers for me even though some of Bessie’s new wing feathers were still growing in because it was her time to molt.

They were so proud to learn the first songs ever heard on earth were probably sung by birds.

“So why do people need harps and flutes and musical instruments?” they asked in unison. “Why doesn’t your church just let birds and chickens come in and make a concert for you?”

With my most thoughtful and solemn expression, I replied, “I believe it has to do with fire codes.” That seemed to satisfy them, at least for the time.

Both were very excited when I brought out two mixing bowls which had belonged to my grandmother. These were decorated with what looked like a raised feather pattern and were therefore perfect for Bessie’s big baking adventure.

Gracie found a nice place to perch on top of the flour canister so she could observe but not be in the way.

Bessie was eager to begin working with real ingredients like pecans and cream cheese. She watched. She helped. She chopped. She mixed. She got cookie dough on her beak and tasted. She looked in the pantry and suggested adding coconut because “Julia Child said a great chef needs to be inventive.”

She trilled with happiness. She danced as an expression of how light and carefree her heart felt. She gave me her own kind of concert without ever knowing it. Bessie baked from her heart.

We were all convinced her recipe would be an absolute success.

When I got home from the concert and went to tuck them in for the night, everyone was still wide awake. All six chickens wanted to know what everyone thought of Bessie’s Best Ever Nesting Box Brownies.

My chickens were delighted to hear their intensely bright egg yolks had made Bessie’s culinary invention come out so yellow some people thought they were actually lemon bars, not pecan and coconut bars!

They also wanted to know how I enjoyed the concert, and I let them know in all truthfulness how a chicken or two would have made it perhaps the most memorable concert ever. They nodded unanimous agreement and trilled a few bars for me with feather ruffling.

My Life With Gracie taught me good cooking is like a song you can taste.

I will do my best to post each Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. Every “Like,” “Follow,” and “Comment” is truly appreciated! Watch for Bessie’s recipe later this week which she will be illustrating!This is the first post from a series. You may want to skip to the next post about Bessie’s dream of being a master chef.