In celebration of Mother’s Day, we asked Wilton employees to share some special memories and stories. For many of us, our moms – or someone who is like a mom to us – piqued our interest in baking. Who did you learn from? What special memories do you have? Or, are you a mom who enjoys baking with her kids? In this series, we will feature a different story each day. We hope you enjoy reading the stories of those who chose to share their MOMent!
Baking has been my thing for as long as I can remember. As a little girl (a VERY long time ago), I remember making up a recipe for peanut butter and jelly cookies, excited to mix and stir, bake and present my little gems to my dad who was entertaining a business client one evening. I’m not sure it sealed the deal, but I was very proud of my sweet treats. When I was a few years older, I spent a summer baking pies, brownies and cookies for a neighborhood bake sale, pouring through my mom’s Betty Crocker Cookbook, opening the tabs to recipes for lattice crusts, meringue toppers, butterscotch brownies (my mom’s favorite), eager to try them all! I even got a business lesson as I calculated my ingredient costs to figure what to charge. Of course the labor was free in those days!
My adventure in cake decorating began with a Snoopy cake I made for my younger brother’s birthday celebration. I followed the steps for cutting out shapes from a sheet cake, gluing them together with buttercream and piping stars in different colors, watching the Peanut’s character emerge from my pastry bag. I was hooked! And so were my siblings, each requesting their favorite cartoon or super hero cake for their birthday. My mom was more of a seamstress than a baker, but she was so patient with the mess that I made in the kitchen, often cleaning the sugar-coated counter tops and pastry bags (no disposable ones in those days!)
Fast forward to my life as a working mom of three, I was determined to pass on my passion for baking. I quickly learned that kids love to stand side-by-side (often on a step stool) to get in on the action in the kitchen. Of course there was the request to snack on the chocolate chips before they tumbled into the cookie batter or lick the beaters once the cake was iced. My most ambitious birthday cake was a three dimensional pirate ship, complete with red licorice rigging and Hostess Ho Ho cannons for my son who was obsessed with first mates and deep-sea treasures. I learned the hard way that transporting that cake was no easy feat as it looked like it had lost a battle by the time we got it to the local gym where all the kindergartners were meeting us for the birthday party. Luckily after a few repairs, it was ready for candles and cutting.
Years have passed since flower pot cupcakes and first communion cross cakes, but my kids still request their favorite desserts. My son, Riley, remembers most a raspberry pie made with tiny wild raspberries that we spent days picking in the fields outside a summer cabin in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, fighting off the bees and mosquitoes, determined to collect enough berries for a pie. There was no TV or internet connection way up north, so when we weren’t fishing or swimming in the lake, we were picking raspberries! Everyone had to help wash and sort the tiny ruby berries bursting with intense flavor. My girls helped mix and roll the pastry dough, lifting the alternating strips of dough as we wove the lattice top and then waited for our masterpiece to emerge from the oven. The warm, juicy raspberry filling with its buttery crust was the topper to a perfect summer vacation day!
My youngest daughter, Bridget, loves Anna Banana cake, a moist fluted cake, drizzled with her favorite brown sugar caramel candy-like glaze. She always hangs around the kitchen when I top it to sneak some of the glaze that drips under the cooling grid. And Maddie, my college-age daughter, volunteered to make an emergency run for more chocolate one pre-Christmas night for her favorite, Tricolor mousse cake. I make this lovely layered white, milk and dark chocolate mousse from chocolate expert Alice Medrich’s Cocolat at Christmas not only as an impressive, decadent holiday finale, but also because it can be made days ahead, which was key during my busy Mrs. Claus days.
My own mother often requests a family favorite 15-second carrot cake, a recipe that stems from my first job out of college when I was working on a magazine published by Cuisinart. She loves the not-too-sweet cream cheese frosting, and I love the quick work in the kitchen thanks to the food processor. As for me, I think I may treat myself (and a few of my fellow dessert-loving fans) to strawberry rhubarb pie this Mother’s Day made with the tart, rosy stalks in my garden. No doubt it won’t be completely cool before cutting into the lattice crust with little pinkish windows of berries and rhubarb, our plates swimming with the warm, sweet sauce, a little vanilla ice cream and lots of spoons!
ANNA BANANA CAKE
3 medium, very ripe bananas
1 3/4 cups (350 grams) granulated sugar
1/2 cup (110 grams) brown sugar
1 cup + 2 tablespoons sweet butter, cut into pieces, at room temperature
6 tablespoons plain yogurt
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 tablespoon dark rum
2 cups + 2 tablespoons (8 1/2 oz) cake flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease and flour a 12-cup bundt pan – grease it well!
Process bananas in a food processor until almost smooth but still retaining some texture, using on-off turns. Remove from work bowl to 2-cup measure (should have at least 1 1/2 cups). Do not clean bowl.
Add eggs and sugar; process until fluffy (about 1 minute), stopping after 30 seconds to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Add butter pieces. Process 1 minute, stopping after 30 seconds to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add yogurt, vanilla and rum; process 5 seconds. Add banana, process just to blend.
Sift flour baking soda and salt together into a large bowl. Gently but thoroughly fold in the banana mixture.
Pour batter into prepared pan. Run knife around to cut air bubbles. Bake 38 to 45 minutes or until tester inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 5 minutes. Invert cake onto rack; cool completely.
Place piece of wax paper under cake. Prepare brown sugar glaze (recipe below). Spoon warm glaze over cake, allowing excess to drip down sides. Serve at room temperature.
BROWN SUGAR GLAZE
1/4 cup sweet butter
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
3 tablespoons milk
1/2 cup sifted confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
Melt butter in small heavy saucepan over low heat. Add brown sugar; cook until bubbly, swirling pan occasionally, about 30 seconds.
Increase heat to medium-high. Cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add milk; cook 1 minute. Remove from heat.
Cool a few seconds. Add sugar and vanilla. Stir until smooth. Use immediately.