#BundtBakers White Chocolate Bundt Cake With Raspberry Glaze And Fresh Raspberries

Since I decided to make an extra special cake for our anniversary, I really wanted to make the tastiest cake in my repertoire. This recipe is adapted from both Bettycrocker.com and Food.com. I put it all together and baked it up in my new Bundt pan that I’ve been coveting since I first saw it. Hopefully, you’ll agree this bundt is spectacular.

Our theme for February is “Red”.  In addition to St. Valentines Day, its Mr. B’s and my anniversary on February 10, so this cake was an extra special treat for me to research, prepare and enjoy.

Heartfelt appreciation  to Wendy Klik  from  A Day in the Life on the Farm for this “red” treat.  I really had a good time deciding which cake to make and the choice was not easy.  I had a good idea of what I wanted for the finished cake and drew from a couple different recipes to make this, my own creation.

At this time, I would like to add that while it may appear difficult with a long list of ingredients, it is really straightforward.  And even though a tad labor intensive,  it is WELL worth it.  It’s quite delicious and perfect for any celebration.

#BundtBakers White Chocolate Bundt Cake With Raspberry Glaze And Fresh Raspberries
Print Recipe
A beautiful, lightly almond-scented, white chocolate bundt cake with luscious white chocolate baked throughout the cake itself and a white chocolate ganache decoratively drizzled on top. Finished with a raspberry glaze, and dollops of whipped cream and fresh raspberries to complete my masterpiece. It's rich, chocolaty and fabulous, in my opinion.
Servings Prep Time
12-15 Servings 30 Minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
55-60 Minutes 15 -75 Minutes
Servings Prep Time
12-15 Servings 30 Minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
55-60 Minutes 15 -75 Minutes
#BundtBakers White Chocolate Bundt Cake With Raspberry Glaze And Fresh Raspberries
Print Recipe
A beautiful, lightly almond-scented, white chocolate bundt cake with luscious white chocolate baked throughout the cake itself and a white chocolate ganache decoratively drizzled on top. Finished with a raspberry glaze, and dollops of whipped cream and fresh raspberries to complete my masterpiece. It's rich, chocolaty and fabulous, in my opinion.
Servings Prep Time
12-15 Servings 30 Minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
55-60 Minutes 15 -75 Minutes
Servings Prep Time
12-15 Servings 30 Minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
55-60 Minutes 15 -75 Minutes
Ingredients
The Bundt cake
White Chocolate Ganache
Raspberry Glaze
Topping
Servings: Servings
Instructions
White Chocolate Bundt Cake
  1. Preheat oven to 350º degrees. Prepare a 10-inch Bundt pan with homemade cake release or use food release spray for baking, and dust with two tablespoons sugar. Be sure to tap out the excess sugar. I was not careful enough, in my opinion. And it looks like excess flour caked on the Bundt. It's actually sugar not tapped out. While it may appear a bit unsightly, it will only sweeten the finished Bundt. The sugar coating adds a very nice crunch to the finished cake. Here is my spectacular new Bundt cake pan. Don't you just love the final, gorgeous Bundt cake it produces?
  2. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt and baking powder. Set aside.
  3. Chop 8 ounces of baking white chocolate. Reserve 4 ounces of the chopped chocolate to be added to the cake before baking. Melt the other 4 ounces and set aside.
  4. In the mixing bowl of your stand mixer, cream butter and remaining sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, incorporating well after each addition.
  5. Stir extracts and the melted white chocolate and flour mixture into the creamed mixture alternating with the sour cream. Beat just until combined.
  6. Pour 1/3 of the batter into your prepared bundt cake pan. Sprinkle 1/2 of the reserved chopped white chocolate on top of the batter. Repeat and Pour the remaining (1/3) batter on top.
  7. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes or until your cake tester comes out clean. I turned the pan at 30 minutes to facilitate an even bake.
  8. Let cake cool in pan for 15 minutes, then remove from pan to a rack and allow to cool completely.
White Chocolate Ganache
  1. Place 8 ounces of chopped white chocolate baking bar pieces in a small bowl, set aside
  2. Bring 1/2 Cup whipping cream and 1 Tablespoon butter just to a boil.
  3. Pour over chopped white chocolate pieces and stir until smooth. Cool completely, about 5 minutes. Then refrigerate 1 hour until thoroughly chilled
Raspberry Glaze
  1. Place a strainer over a saucepan; pour thawed raspberries into strainer and press the berries with the back of a spoon through the strainer to remove seeds. Discard seeds.
  2. Stir Raspberry juice with cornstarch and sugar. Blend well and cook over medium heat until the mixture boils and thickens, STIRRING CONSTANTLY. The raspberry juice is a bit tart so I added a touch of sugar. The remaining tart flavor is a nice balance to the sweet cake. Cool about 30 minutes or until completely cooled.
Assembly
  1. Drizzle melted and cooled white chocolate ganache over the bundt cake and give it awhile to set up. Then, spread the raspberry glaze on top of the ganache. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes before serving
Serving my masterpiece
  1. Whip 1 cup heavy whipping cream, add sugar to taste and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract until stiff peaks form.
  2. Add dollops of whipped cream over the glaze and finish with fresh raspberries. Serve and enjoy your masterpiece.
Recipe Notes

~The History Channel~

Every February 14, across the United States and in other places around the world, candy, flowers and gifts are exchanged between loved ones, all in the name of St. Valentine. But who is this mysterious saint, and where did these traditions come from? Find out about the history of this centuries-old holiday, from ancient Roman rituals to the customs of Victorian England.

THE LEGEND OF ST. VALENTINE

The history of Valentine’s Day–and the story of its patron saint–is shrouded in mystery. We do know that February has long been celebrated as a month of romance, and that St. Valentine’s Day, as we know it today, contains vestiges of both Christian and ancient Roman tradition. But who was Saint Valentine, and how did he become associated with this ancient rite?

Did You Know?
Approximately 150 million Valentine's Day cards are exchanged annually, making Valentine's Day the second most popular card-sending holiday after Christmas.

The Catholic Church recognizes at least three different saints named Valentine or Valentinus, all of whom were martyred. One legend contends that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine’s actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death.

Other stories suggest that Valentine may have been killed for attempting to help Christians escape harsh Roman prisons, where they were often beaten and tortured. According to one legend, an imprisoned Valentine actually sent the first “valentine” greeting himself after he fell in love with a young girl–possibly his jailor’s daughter–who visited him during his confinement. Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter signed “From your Valentine,” an expression that is still in use today. Although the truth behind the Valentine legends is murky, the stories all emphasize his appeal as a sympathetic, heroic and–most importantly–romantic figure. By the Middle Ages, perhaps thanks to this reputation, Valentine would become one of the most popular saints in England and France.

ORIGINS OF VALENTINE’S DAY: A PAGAN FESTIVAL IN FEBRUARY

While some believe that Valentine’s Day is celebrated in the middle of February to commemorate the anniversary of Valentine’s death or burial–which probably occurred around A.D. 270–others claim that the Christian church may have decided to place St. Valentine’s feast day in the middle of February in an effort to “Christianize” the pagan celebration of Lupercalia. Celebrated at the ides of February, or February 15, Lupercalia was a fertility festival dedicated to Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture, as well as to the Roman founders Romulus and Remus.

To begin the festival, members of the Luperci, an order of Roman priests, would gather at a sacred cave where the infants Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome, were believed to have been cared for by a she-wolf or lupa. The priests would sacrifice a goat, for fertility, and a dog, for purification. They would then strip the goat’s hide into strips, dip them into the sacrificial blood and take to the streets, gently slapping both women and crop fields with the goat hide. Far from being fearful, Roman women welcomed the touch of the hides because it was believed to make them more fertile in the coming year. Later in the day, according to legend, all the young women in the city would place their names in a big urn. The city’s bachelors would each choose a name and become paired for the year with his chosen woman. These matches often ended in marriage.

VALENTINE’S DAY: A DAY OF ROMANCE

Lupercalia survived the initial rise of Christianity and but was outlawed—as it was deemed “un-Christian”–at the end of the 5th century, when Pope Gelasius declared February 14 as St. Valentine’s Day. It was not until much later, however, that the day became definitively associated with love. During the Middle Ages, it was commonly believed in France and England that February 14 was the beginning of birds’ mating season, which added to the idea that the middle of Valentine’s Day should be a day for romance.

Valentine greetings were popular as far back as the Middle Ages, though written Valentine’s didn’t begin to appear until after 1400. The oldest known valentine still in existence today was a poem written in 1415 by Charles, Duke of Orleans, to his wife while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London following his capture at the Battle of Agincourt. (The greeting is now part of the manuscript collection of the British Library in London, England.) Several years later, it is believed that King Henry V hired a writer named John Lydgate to compose a valentine note to Catherine of Valois.

TYPICAL VALENTINE’S DAY GREETINGS

In addition to the United States, Valentine’s Day is celebrated in Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, France and Australia. In Great Britain, Valentine’s Day began to be popularly celebrated around the 17th century. By the middle of the 18th, it was common for friends and lovers of all social classes to exchange small tokens of affection or handwritten notes, and by 1900 printed cards began to replace written letters due to improvements in printing technology. Ready-made cards were an easy way for people to express their emotions in a time when direct expression of one’s feelings was discouraged. Cheaper postage rates also contributed to an increase in the popularity of sending Valentine’s Day greetings.

Americans probably began exchanging hand-made valentines in the early 1700s. In the 1840s, Esther A. Howland began selling the first mass-produced valentines in America. Howland, known as the “Mother of the Valentine,” made elaborate creations with real lace, ribbons and colorful pictures known as “scrap.” Today, according to the Greeting Card Association, an estimated 1 billion Valentine’s Day cards are sent each year, making Valentine’s Day the second largest card-sending holiday of the year. (An estimated 2.6 billion cards are sent for Christmas.) Women purchase approximately 85 percent of all valentines. 💜

 

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#BUNDTBAKERS FRESH PEAR BUNDT CAKE WITH CREAMY VANILLA GLAZE

National Bundt Day comes around each year on November 15th. It was originally proclaimed by the Governor of Minnesota in honor of Nordic Ware’s 60th anniversary, making 2016 the eleventh annual Minnesota Bundt Day, while coinciding with National Bundt Day! It is the perfect time of year since most families are pulling out recipes, preheating the oven and baking more than ever!

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🐝 I’ve never been a big fan of cooked pears so this topic presented me with a real challenge.   I thought that out of all the recipes I reviewed, I might actually enjoy not only making this cake but eating it too. I must thank Lauren Everson from Sew You Think You Can Cook for this interesting theme. I think this will be a refreshing change from my usual baked treats. Thanks Lauren and though it’s a bit early, Happy Thanksgiving 🦃 to you and all the other #BundtBakers 🍁.   Also, thanks for your help, I didn’t realize I was in the wrong spot.  This recipe has been adapted from Taste of the South magazine.  Thanks for this creative and unique recipe.  I plan to enjoy the taste of Fall.

As an aside, I actually made my own cake release.  It’s simply equal parts of shortening; flour, and oil.  I used coconut oil for the health properties it contains.  BTW, it works.

#BUNDTBAKERS FRESH PEAR BUNDT CAKE WITH CREAMY VANILLA GLAZE
Print Recipe
I chose to actually make this cake on National Bundt Cake Day to ensure an especially tasty cake. So far, so good. The aroma was a welcome fragrance, reminiscent of Fall. This theme was a proven success. This was a very simple recipe but with a complex flavor. It's really very tasty {and I dislike cooked pears}. I'm pretty sure all who make it will enjoy it.
Servings Prep Time
10 ~ 12 People 30 Minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
75 Minutes 2 Hours
Servings Prep Time
10 ~ 12 People 30 Minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
75 Minutes 2 Hours
#BUNDTBAKERS FRESH PEAR BUNDT CAKE WITH CREAMY VANILLA GLAZE
Print Recipe
I chose to actually make this cake on National Bundt Cake Day to ensure an especially tasty cake. So far, so good. The aroma was a welcome fragrance, reminiscent of Fall. This theme was a proven success. This was a very simple recipe but with a complex flavor. It's really very tasty {and I dislike cooked pears}. I'm pretty sure all who make it will enjoy it.
Servings Prep Time
10 ~ 12 People 30 Minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
75 Minutes 2 Hours
Servings Prep Time
10 ~ 12 People 30 Minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
75 Minutes 2 Hours
Ingredients
FOR THE CAKE
CREAMY VANILLA GLAZE
Servings: People
Instructions
THE CAKE
  1. Preheat oven to 325º F; prepare a 15 cup Bundt pan with cake release, home made or purchased
  2. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, ginger and cardamom. Whisk until well mixed.
  3. Make a well in the dry ingredenients; add eggs, continue whisking to combine.
  4. Gradually add canola oil. Fold in pear 🍐, vanilla and orange zest. Continue stirrng until well combined. Pour batter into prepared bundt cake pan and smooth with the back of a metal spoon.
  5. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until your cake tester comes out clean.
  6. Allow the cake to cool in the pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes. Invert cake onto a rack and cool completely. Drizzle with Creamy Vanilla Glaze, if desired.
CREAMY VANILLA GLAZE
  1. In a small saucepan, bring brown sugar, cream, butter, vanilla and salt. Bring to a boil over medium~high heat.
  2. Cook, whisking constantly for one minute. Remove from heat and let cool completely. Gradually whisk in confectioners sugar. Pour Glaze over cooled cake.
Recipe Notes

NATIONAL BUNDT DAY ~ NOVEMBER 15

Bundt Cake

A Bundt cake /bʌnt/ is a cake that is baked in a Bundt pan, shaping it into a distinctive ring shape. The shape is inspired by a traditional European cake known as Gugelhupf, but Bundt cakes are not generally associated with any single recipe. The style of mold in North America was popularized in the 1950s and 1960s, after cookware manufacturer Nordic Ware trademarked the name "Bundt" and began producing Bundt pans from cast aluminum. Publicity from Pillsbury saw the cakes gain widespread popularity.

Etymology:

The Bundt cake derives in part from a European brioche-like cake called Gugelhupf which was particularly popular among Jewish communities in parts of Germany, Austria and Poland. In the north of Germany Gugelhupf is traditionally known as Bundkuchen (German pronunciation: [ˈbʊntkuːxn̩]), a name formed by joining the two words Bund and Kuchen (cake).

Opinions differ as to the significance of the word Bund. One possibility is that it means "bunch" or "bundle", and refers to the way the dough is bundled around the tubed center of the pan. Another source suggests that it describes the banded appearance given to the cake by the fluted sides of the pan, similar to a tied sheaf or bundle of wheat. Some authors have

Uses of the word bund outside of Europe to describe cakes can be found in Jewish-American cookbooks from around the start of the 20th century. The alternative spelling "bundte" also appears in a recipe as early as 1901.

Design

Bundt-style pans can be made of silicone and metal. Bundt cakes do not conform to any single recipe; instead their characterizing feature is their shape. A Bundt pan generally has fluted or grooved sides, but its most defining design element is the central tube or "chimney" which leaves a cylindrical hole through the center of the cake. The design means that more of the mixture touches the surface of the pan than in a simple round pan, helping to provide faster and more even heat distribution during cooking. The shape is similar to that of the earlier European Gugelhupf or Bundkuchen. A Gugelhupf differs from contemporary Bundt-style cakes in that it follows a particular yeast-based recipe, with fruit and nuts, and is often deeper in shape and more decorative. Also similar in shape is the Eastern European Babka, dating from early 18th century Poland. While Babka is associated with Jewish culture, Bundt cake is firmly set in Christian tradition and is traditionally baked for Christmas and Easter. Today, there is no recipe for "Bundt cake". Anything can be baked in a Bundt-style pan, and is. Recipes range from Pine Nut and Chili cakes to ice cream and fruit concoctions. And, Bundt-style pan design has expanded beyond the original fluted ring to today's designs of skylines, octopus and cathedrals, all with the requisite hole in the center of the pan made by Nordic Ware and others. Since a toroidal cake is rather difficult to frost, Bundt cakes are typically either dusted with powdered sugar, drizzle-glazed, or served undecorated. Recipes specifically designed for Bundt pans often have a baked-in filling; Bundt pound cakes are also common.

Since the name "Bundt" is a trademark, similar pans are often sold as "fluted tube pans" or given other similar descriptive titles. The trademark holder Nordic Ware only produces Bundt pans in aluminum, but similar fluted pans are available in other materials.

Rise to Popularity:

The people credited with popularizing the Bundt cake are American businessman H. David Dalquist and his brother Mark S. Dalquist, who co-founded cookware company Nordic Ware based in St. Louis Park, Minnesota. In the late 1940s, Rose Joshua and Fannie Schanfield, friends and members of the Minneapolis Jewish-American Hadassah Society approached Dalquist asking if he could produce a modern version of a traditional cast iron Gugelhupf dish. Dalquist and company engineer Don Nygren designed a cast aluminum version which Nordic Ware then made a small production run of in 1950. In order to successfully trademark the pans, a "t" was added to the word "Bund". A number of the original Bundt pans now reside in the Smithsonian collection.

Initially, the Bundt pan sold so poorly that Nordic Ware considered discontinuing it. The product received a boost when it was mentioned in the New Good Housekeeping Cookbook in 1963, but did not gain real popularity until 1966, when a Bundt cake called the "Tunnel of Fudge", baked by Ella Helfrich, took second place at the annual Pillsbury Bake-Off and won its baker $5,000. The resulting publicity resulted in more than 200,000 requests to Pillsbury for Bundt pans and soon led to the Bundt pan surpassing the tin Jell-O mold as the most-sold pan in the United States. In the 1970s Pillsbury licensed the name Bundt from Nordic Ware and for a while sold a range of Bundt cake mixes.

To date, more than 60 million Bundt pans have been sold by Nordic Ware across North America. 💜 ~Wikipedia

And don’t forget to take a peek at what other talented bakers have baked this month:

BundtBakers is a group of Bundt loving bakers who get together once a month to bake Bundts with a common ingredient or theme. You can see all our of lovely Bundts by following our Pinterest board. We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient.

Updated links for all of our past events and more information about BundtBakers, can be found on our <a href="http://www.foodlustpeoplelove.com/p/bundtbakers.html">home page</a>.

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#BUNDTBAKERS TUNNEL OF FUDGE BUNDT CAKE

This cake is “old” enough to be considered a vintage recipe and is almost solely responsible for the rise of popularity and sales of Bundt pans.

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Today’s recipe, is from The Cook’s Country Cookbook, and is for an updated version of the classic Tunnel of Fudge Cake. The bakers at America’s Test Kitchen made two dozen cakes before arriving at this rendition, and swaps half of the granulated sugar for brown sugar.  This cake was very popular in the 60’s and fondly remembered by the baby~boomers.  Later, as I recall, there were “cake mixes” available in the local supermarkets.

I have substituted Splenda white and Splenda brown sugar to make it a healthier version.  I’ve been baking and cooking with both Splenda sugars for quite awhile.  I’ve always had success in texture and taste.  It’s an even swap, 1 to 1.

When testing this cake for doneness, do not use the inserted toothpick method as the tunnel of fudge will always look underdone.   Instead, look to see if the sides are beginning to pull away from the pan. When pressed, the top of the cake should feel springy.

This month, our theme is a Healthy cheat, sneak or substitute hosted by Andrea Potter Kruse.  It didn’t take me too long to decide which recipe to use.  My brother~in~law has been asking for this cake even before #BundtBakers became a part of my interests.  So, thank you Andrea for this ingenious theme which also required a bit of thought and research.  But my brother~in~law thanks you in a BIG way {plus, it’s his birthday this month}.

THE ORIGINAL RECIPE:

Tunnel of Fudge Cake
1 1/2 cups soft Land O’ Lakes Butter
6 eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 cups Pillsbury’s Best Flour (Regular, Instant Blending or Self Rising*)
1 package Pillsbury Double Dutch Fudge Buttercream Frosting Mix
2 cups chopped Diamond Walnuts

Oven 350° [ed. 350 F / 175 C]
10-inch tube cake

Cream butter in large mixer bowl at high speed of mixer. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. Gradually add sugar, continue creaming at high speed until light and fluffy. By hand, stir in flour, frosting mix, and walnuts until well blended. Pour batter into greased Bundt pan or 10-inch Angel Food tube pan. Bake at 350° for 60 to 65 minutes. Cool 2 hours, remove from pan. Cool completely before serving.

Note: Walnuts, Double Dutch Fudge Frosting Mix and butter are key to the success of this unusual recipe. Since cake has a soft fudgy interior, test for doneness after 60 minutes by observing dry, shiny brownie-type crust.

It originally required Pillsbury “Double Dutch Fudge Frosting Mix”, which was later discontinued by Pillsbury.   In response to widespread complaints, Pillsbury released a revised version that introduced cocoa powder in place of the frosting mix.

REVISED  RECIPE FOR TUNNEL OF FUDGE BUNDT CAKE FROM PILLSBURY

This revised recipe makes up for the now-extinct ingredient of “Double Dutch Fudge Frosting Mix.” Note that Pillsbury introduced a glaze, whereas the original did not have one. Pillsbury notes that the cake will not work without the called-for amount of nuts.

For the cake:
1 3/4 cups white sugar
1 3/4 cups margarine or softened butter
6 eggs
2 cups icing sugar
2 1/4 cups Pillsbury BEST® All Purpose or Unbleached Flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups chopped walnuts

For the glaze:
3/4 cup icing sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
4 to 6 teaspoons milk

Start heating oven to 350 F / 175 C.

Grease and flour a 12-cup (3 litres) fluted tube cake pan or a 10-inch (25 cm) tube pan. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time and beat after each one. Add the 2 cups of icing sugar a little at a time, beating after each addition. Stir in flour (if you have been using an electric beater, switch to hand for this) and all remaining ingredients in the cake section. Pour or spoon batter into the prepared cake pan and smooth it out. Pop into oven and bake until edges start to pull away from the pan and the top is set. Don’t go by standard tests such as a dry toothpick test; they won’t work with this cake. The cake should be done in 45 to 50 minutes. Remove cake from oven, leave in pan, and set on wire rack to cool 1 1/2 hours, then invert onto a plate and let cool a further 2 hours.

Now, mix all the glaze ingredients. You want the glaze to be runny enough to drizzle, so add a bit more milk if you have to. Drizzle over top, and let some run down the sides of the cake.

#BUNDTBAKERS TUNNEL OF FUDGE BUNDT CAKE
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My dear brother~in~law has been asking for this cake ever since he heard about my joining the #BundtBakers group. What makes this a perfect opportunity is that I substituted Splenda for both brown and white sugars. He is diabetic and so swapping out the sugars is perfect timing. I know he will love it and I'm sure I will too.
Servings Prep Time
1 Bundt cake 30 ~ 45 Minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
45 Minutes {approximately} 2 1/2 Hours
Servings Prep Time
1 Bundt cake 30 ~ 45 Minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
45 Minutes {approximately} 2 1/2 Hours
#BUNDTBAKERS TUNNEL OF FUDGE BUNDT CAKE
Print Recipe
My dear brother~in~law has been asking for this cake ever since he heard about my joining the #BundtBakers group. What makes this a perfect opportunity is that I substituted Splenda for both brown and white sugars. He is diabetic and so swapping out the sugars is perfect timing. I know he will love it and I'm sure I will too.
Servings Prep Time
1 Bundt cake 30 ~ 45 Minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
45 Minutes {approximately} 2 1/2 Hours
Servings Prep Time
1 Bundt cake 30 ~ 45 Minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
45 Minutes {approximately} 2 1/2 Hours
Ingredients
For the Cake
For the Glaze
Servings: Bundt cake
Instructions
  1. For the cake: preheat oven to 350º F And prepare a 12 cup, non~stick Bundt pan by brushing the interior with 1 T butter plus 1 T cocoa powder. Or use your own homemade cake release, then dust with cocoa powder.
  2. Whisk the boiling water and chocolate together in a small bowl until melted and smooth; let the mixture cool slightly.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, nuts, confectioners sugar, cocoa and salt together.
  4. In a large bowl {Kitchen Aid if you're lucky enough to have one.} beat the butter, sugars and vanilla together on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 6 minutes.
  5. Beat in eggs, one at a time until combined, beat in the chocolate mixture and blend on low for about 30 seconds. Slowly beat in the flour mixture until just incorporated, about 30 seconds.
  6. Scrape the batter into prepared pan and smooth the top. Wipe any drops of batter off the sides of the pan and gently tap the pan on your work surface to settle the batter.
  7. Bake the cake until the edges start pulling away from the sides of the pan and the top feels springy with pressed finger, about 45 minutes. The toothpick method will not work with this cake as the tunnel of fudge will not appear done at any point.
  8. For the glaze: In the meantime, whisk all the ingredients for the glaze together in a medium bowl until smooth and thickened.
  9. Allow the cake to cool in the pan, on top of a cooling rack for 10 minutes, then flip it out on a wire rack. Let the cake cool completely, about 2 hours. Drizzle the chocolate glaze over the top and sides of the cake. Allow the glaze to set up ~ about 25 minutes, before serving.
  10. Once completely cooled, mix all the glaze ingredients together until the desired consistency. Drizzle the glaze over the cake while it is still on the wire rack, putting a sheet pan beneath to catch the drips. Move to serving plate and add chopped, toasted walnuts to the finished cake.
Recipe Notes

The Bundt pan was invented in the 1950s by a man named H. David Dalquist. The pan was based on a traditional ceramic dish with a similar ringed shape. Though Dalquist's version was lighter and easier to use than the clunky previous version, sales were disappointing.

Then, in 1966, a woman named Ella Helfrich took second place {and won $25,000 dollars} in the annual Pillsbury Bake-Off with her recipe for Tunnel of Fudge Cake. The walnut-filled, chocolate-glazed cake had a ring of gooey fudge at its center. Eating a slice was reminiscent of indulging in under-baked brownie batter. Helfrich's cake was an overnight sensation. Pillsbury received more than 200,000 requests for the pan she used, and Dalquist's company went into overtime production. Today, more than 50 million Bundt pans of all shapes and sizes have been sold around the world.

Though her recipe only won second prize, it was enough to clinch her place in American cooking fame. The first prize recipe from that year has been forgotten. Ella's, though, was an immediate sensation.

Pillsbury ran newspaper ads across America showing a photo of a slice of the cake with the large, bold caption "Makes its own tunnel of fudge as it bakes". The ad (accompanied by an 8 cent clip-out coupon) said:

"Sensational Tunnel of Fudge Cake is a  Rich, yummy chocolate cake that makes its own thick, fudgey center as it bakes. What an idea! And Tunnel of Fudge Cake is easy. Shortcutted, streamlined, up-to-dated (sic) by Pillsbury's Best. Makes baking from scratch easy as baking from a mix! Just one bowl. Six ingredients. Ten minutes' preparation time. Because Pillsbury Double Dutch Fudge Frosting Mix goes right in the batter—makes the flavor, the tunnel as the cake bakes! You'll bake Tunnel of Fudge Cake again and again. The recipe's at your grocer's. Pick it up at the same time you get your Pillsbury's Best —Plain or Self-Rising."

Mrs. Helfrich continued to enter the Bake-Offs after 1966, but never won again. She felt it was owing to her resisting the pressure to go "light and lively" in her recipes. She told reporters there were four major food groups for her: butter, chocolate, pecans and sugar. "You can't go low-cal when you're using pecans and brown sugar," she said in 1999, I like her style.  She especially liked cooking with pecans, as she had a pecan tree in her backyard.

You may notice that this cake has many similar versions:  the original from Mrs Helfrich; The new recipe from Pillsbury once they stopped making the fudge frosting included in the original; and the one from Cooks Corner which I have adjusted and chosen to share with you all today.  Similar yet distinctive, this version just works for me. 💜

 

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BundtBakers

#BundtBakers is a group of Bundt loving bakers who get together once a month to bake Bundts with a common ingredient or theme. Follow our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated each month on the BundtBakers home page.

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#BUNDTBAKERS ALMOND LAVENDER BUNDT CAKE

While this cake was baking, the house was filled with the most enticing aroma. When working with culinary lavender, it’s best to remember that a little goes a long way. If you use too much it just tastes like perfume.

This month’s theme is Secret Garden, and  I want to give an appreciative shout out to Sue Lau of ~A Palatable Pastime~ for this ingenious and fun theme.  Well done Sue, many thanks.  I really enjoyed this particular theme and had a lot of fun with it.

In my previous home in Southern California, I had an absolutely lovely garden.  I had a huge lavender field in one corner, an English garden filled with all my favorite herbs, and a long side garden filled with flavored and aromatic geraniums; several varieties of mint along my back fence and just one rose bush.  I am not able to have a garden like that here in Arizona and I miss it all, every day.

My point was I loved my garden and harvested mint and herbs on a daily basis.  But my lavender, oh my lavender was not only my cat’s favorite spot, but it was, in my opinion, quite gorgeous.  I had lavender “everything”, sugar, salt, jelly and anything else that was edible lavender. So now, “My Secret Garden” is only in my heart and just a memory.

#BUNDTBAKERS ALMOND LAVENDER BUNDT CAKE
Print Recipe
A very tender, aromatic and unusually flavored cake. I baked it in my rose Bundt pan so there was a bit of very tasty crunch which was a nice surprise. This cake was not difficult, nor did it require a great deal of time to put together. It was well~received with various exclamations of satisfaction and compliments. I will make this again for special occasions or at the request of family. The flavor was a little sophisticated but perfect for special occasions, holidays or everyday as well.
Servings Prep Time
1 Bundt Cake 25 Minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
30 + 30 Minutes approximately 20 Minutes
Servings Prep Time
1 Bundt Cake 25 Minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
30 + 30 Minutes approximately 20 Minutes
#BUNDTBAKERS ALMOND LAVENDER BUNDT CAKE
Print Recipe
A very tender, aromatic and unusually flavored cake. I baked it in my rose Bundt pan so there was a bit of very tasty crunch which was a nice surprise. This cake was not difficult, nor did it require a great deal of time to put together. It was well~received with various exclamations of satisfaction and compliments. I will make this again for special occasions or at the request of family. The flavor was a little sophisticated but perfect for special occasions, holidays or everyday as well.
Servings Prep Time
1 Bundt Cake 25 Minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
30 + 30 Minutes approximately 20 Minutes
Servings Prep Time
1 Bundt Cake 25 Minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
30 + 30 Minutes approximately 20 Minutes
Ingredients
Servings: Bundt Cake
Instructions
The Bundt Cake
  1. Use your favorite cake pan release in a 10 inch bundt cake pan and sprinkle with sugar. Set aside.
  2. Place 1/2 cup sugar, almonds, and 1 teaspoon lavender in a food processor, cover and process until finely ground.
  3. In a large bowl, cream butter and remaining sugar until light and fluffy; beat in processed almond and lavender mixture until combined. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla.
  4. In a small bowl, combine sour cream and half~and~half. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt, sift and add to the creamed mixture alternately with sour cream mixture, beating well after each addition.
  5. Pour into prepared pan. Bake at 300º F for 30 minutes then raise temperature to 325 F for an additional 30~35 minutes until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack to cool completely.
Glaze Drizzle
  1. For drizzle, in a small bowl, make a tisane combining lavender buds and hot water. Cover and let steep for 5 minutes. Strain, discarding lavender buds. {alternate glaze recipe follows directly below}.
  2. In another small bowl, Combine confectioners sugar, the almond extract and enough half~and~half to reach desired consistency. Garnish with additional lavender buds if desired.
Recipe Notes

The Bundt pan was invented in the 1950s by a man named H. David Dalquist. The pan was based on a traditional ceramic dish with a similar ringed shape. Though Dalquist's version was lighter and easier to use than the clunky previous version, sales were disappointing.

Then, in 1966, a woman named Ella Helfrich took second place in the annual Pillsbury Bake-Off with her recipe for Tunnel of Fudge Cake. The walnut-filled, chocolate-glazed cake had a ring of gooey fudge at its center. Eating a slice was reminiscent of indulging in under-baked brownie batter. Helfrich's cake was an overnight sensation. Pillsbury received more than 200,000 requests for the pan she used, and Dalquist's company went into overtime production. Today, more than 50 million Bundt pans have been sold around the world. They come in a multitude of sizes, shapes and specialty cakes.

Instead  of a lavender tisane for the glaze, I added almond extract which gave the cake a mild but tasty addition.  I think the next time I might reduce the amount of lavender because although I loved it this way,  I felt one more lavender bud might just be too much.  At 3 teaspoons of lavender, I felt it put the cake just at the borderline.  I would make it exactly the same as well depending on my guests tastes.  This would be a fine addition to any tea. 💜

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#BundtBakers is a group of Bundt loving bakers who get together once a month to bake Bundts with a common ingredient or theme.  Follow our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated each month on the BundtBakers home page.

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WHAT IS THE DIFERRENCE BETWEEN WHITE AND BROWN EGGS

 

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There are all sorts of rumours surrounding brown eggs and white eggs. Some people say that brown eggs are better for you and contain more nutrients; some people think brown eggs taste better; some think that brown eggs are better for cooking things like quiches, while white eggs are better for baking cakes (or vice versa, depending on who you talk to).

We here at Today I Found Out are all about uncovering the truth amongst all of the myths, and so here is the fascinating difference between brown eggs and white eggs:

Brown eggs are brown. White eggs are white.

Seriously, brown or white, they are the same on the inside, with one minor caveat which we’ll get to in a minute that has nothing to do with whether the chicken is a brown egg layer or white. But besides that caveat, a brown egg or a white egg will give you the same amount of nutrition, they taste the same, and they are equally delicious in quiches and cakes.

The two also have more or less the same shell thickness. The differences in shell thickness that you may have observed likely has to do with the age of the chicken- young chickens lay eggs with shells that are typically harder than older chickens’ eggs, but this is true for both white and brown egg layers.

How the rumours started about brown eggs being “better” is thought to be because they are often more expensive at supermarkets. If something costs more, it has to be better quality or better for you, right? Not in this case (and not in many others either- increasing the price of something, sometimes drastically, is an occasionally used marketing trick to get people to think one product is better than a comparable cheaper product. Sometimes that’s true, but many times it’s not.)

As for egg prices, brown eggs cost more in part because the hens that lay them usually eat more, which means the hens cost more to keep per egg. You see, white eggs are most often laid by white or light coloured hens with white ear lobes, while brown eggs are most often laid by red-feathered or brown / dark-feathered chickens with red ear lobes. (This is not a universal truth, just a general rule. Further, the chicken’s ear lobes are really the indicator here, not the feathers, but there is a very strong correlation between ear lobe colour and feather colour, so feather colour can be a decent indicator too. Ultimately, egg colour is determined by genetics, but the ear-lobe / feather colour thing is a good, though slightly flawed indicator.)

In the end, red-lobed chickens tend to be larger than their white-lobed counterparts, which is why they eat more. The farmers need to get reimbursed for the extra feed somehow, so they up the price of the brown eggs.

This also explains why white eggs tend to be more popular in supermarkets. White-lobed chickens cost less for farmers to keep, which leads to cheaper eggs, which leads to grocers buying more white eggs to put on the shelves to offer this product cheaper to customers. White eggs are simply more cost-effective.

There is also a commonly touted myth that brown eggs taste better, and that’s why they’re more expensive. As noted, this white egg / brown egg taste difference is a myth.

But the potential difference in taste from one egg to another does lead us to our one caveat, though it isn’t anything to do with the colour of the egg—rather, it has to do with the chicken’s diet. Many chickens raised at home are brown-egg layers, while most of the chickens raised for commercial use are white-egg layers. The different diets affect the taste of the eggs and even the colour of the yolk, similar to how diet can drastically affect the taste of the meat of some animal.

However, if you were to take one of those brown egg-laying chickens and raise it on the same food as a white egg laying chicken, their eggs would taste the same and be otherwise indistinguishable aside from the colour of the shell. If their diets are the same, the yolks will even be identical in colour. Today, chickens raised for commercial purposes, whether layers of white eggs or brown, are all getting fed the same thing, with perhaps just a slight variance from company to company. If you’ve had some brown eggs from a neighbor or a chicken of your own that’s fed a different diet than commercially fed chickens eat, then there may be a difference in taste. It just doesn’t have anything to do with the colour of the egg.

So, if brown egg-laying chickens are more expensive to feed and to keep, why do farmers keep them around? The answer is that so many people buy into the “brown eggs are better” myth that brown eggs are still a viable business option. As long as people keep buying the more expensive eggs and are willing to pay marked up prices beyond factoring in the extra feed, farmers will keep raising chickens that lay them.

Of course, these days some of the most hotly debated arguments aren’t over white vs. brown eggs, but over the superior quality of organic vs. not organic eggs, or free range vs. cage eggs. While differences in diet can affect the taste, if you’re wondering about quality of the egg or nutritional value, a study done by D.R. Jones et al. through the Agricultural Research Service and published in Poultry Science in 2010 found that, ultimately, there is very little difference in the quality of eggs produced in these different ways. The small differences they did find “varied without one egg type consistently maintaining the highest or lowest values.”

So, in the end, while there are small ways the composition and taste of chicken eggs can be influenced, the colour of the egg shell isn’t one of them. 💜

Article from Today I Found Out, February 17, 2014

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WHY DO AMERICANS REFRIGERATE THEIR EGGS AND MOST OTHER COUNTRIES DON’T

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How long do eggs last unrefrigerated?

In supermarkets across the United States, Australia, and Japan, eggs can be found in the refrigerated section alongside other cold items such as milk and cheese. However, in most other countries of the world, eggs can be found stored at room temperature alongside nonperishable food items. People eat both kinds of eggs every day, usually without any ill effects. So why do some people refrigerate eggs and others don’t? The answer lies in the bacteria group known as salmonella and how a particular country chooses to make sure their eggs don’t get contaminated with it.

Salmonella enters eggs through one of two ways- via contaminating the egg internally before the hen lays it (when a hen’s ovaries have been infected); or via the porous egg shell (when an egg comes in contact with contaminated matter such as chicken manure).

Egg producers in the United States address the salmonella problem with eggs by concentrating on preventing the bacteria from entering through the shell. Towards this end, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) mandates that all eggs be washed with water at a minimum temperature of 90 degrees Fahrenheit and at least 20 degrees warmer than the internal temperature of the egg at the time of washing. (If it were colder than the egg, this could result in a very slight contraction, sucking in contaminated water through the shell’s pores).

The eggs will also be washed with some form of detergent and chemical sanitizer like chlorine, then are rinsed again and thoroughly dried- the latter further helping make sure pathogens can’t easily find their way through the egg’s thousands of pores. After this, the eggs are often sprayed with some form of protective coating like mineral oil. Finally, the eggs are taken into a room where they are stored at temperatures at or below 45 degrees Fahrenheit.

This effectively deals with the external sources of salmonella (and helps ensure you won’t accidentally contaminate other foods with salmonella from touching a contaminated egg shell then touching other items as you prepare food). However, this does nothing to destroy any salmonella potentially already present within the egg. This is where the refrigeration comes in. By keeping the eggs sufficiently cold, it mostly makes sure any salmonella present will not multiply sufficiently to cause problems given a couple month shelf life, keeping the eggs safe to eat so long as they are cooked.

Even for those eggs not internally contaminated with salmonella, it’s still best to keep them refrigerated if they have previously been. As scientific adviser to the International Egg Commission Vincent Guyonnet notes, “Once you start refrigeration, you have to have it through the whole value chain, from farm to store. Because if you stop — if the eggs are cold and you put them in a warm environment — they’re going to start sweating.” The United Egg Producers Association further notes that condensation on egg shells “facilitates the growth of bacteria that could contaminate the egg.”

So why aren’t Europeans and others who don’t refrigerate their eggs getting food poisoning left and right from eating contaminated eggs? They rely on other methods to keep the salmonella problem in check and don’t refrigerate them at any point, though because of the sweating and contraction issues with significant temperature changes, they do recommend eggs be stored in transport and by supermarkets at specific temperatures- in the winter between 66.2 – 69.8 degrees Fahrenheit (19 – 21 degrees Celsius) and in the summer between 69.8 – 73.4 degrees Fahrenheit (21 – 23 degrees Celsius).

For starters, the European Union prohibits egg producers from washing their eggs. You see, shells have natural protection from salmonella and other contaminants via a waxy substance known as the cuticle. The cuticle coats the shell initially as a liquid when a hen lays the egg and then dries within minutes of being exposed to the air. Egg washing, when done properly, may eliminate surface contaminants, but it also washes away the cuticle and its natural protection, potentially allowing bacteria to get into the egg via its pores or hairline cracks.

Both methods of eliminating external contaminants are quite effective, but the washing strategy requires that the eggs are processed in a very precise way to be effective. If, for instance, eggs are allowed to sit in dirty washing water too long after losing the cuticle, this would be an ideal situation for microbes to quickly infect the inside of the eggs. Thus, the EU and others deem it safer to cut out the potentially error-prone middle man and simply leave the cuticle on.

Of course, by not washing the eggs at all, the occasional egg with feces and other such things will pop up (the egg being laid via the same hole the chicken poops through and the laying area potentially not being perfectly clean). But the fact that visibly dirty eggs will most definitely turn off some customers and that European Union egg farmers aren’t allowed to wash the eggs is actually seen as a net-positive by some. For instance, Britain’s Egg Industry Council’s Chief Executive Mark Williams states of this, “In Europe, the understanding is that [prohibiting the washing and cleaning of eggs] actually encourages good husbandry on farms. It’s in the farmer’s best interests then to produce the cleanest eggs possible, as no one is going to buy their eggs if they’re dirty.”

Unfortunately, in this scenario you’ll still get the occasional egg with fecal matter or the like on it. This also increases the chances of cross contamination with handling the potentially contaminated egg shells and then perhaps touching other food items without washing your hands. But both of these problems are easily solved by simply washing the eggs (and your hands) directly before using them.

This “do nothing” method also saves an amazing amount of effort and cost in the processing of the eggs. It’s also a superior method of keeping eggs as safe as possible in areas where end customers don’t necessarily have refrigerators, as well as helps minimize the risk of egg contamination if a customer has a long drive home from the supermarket, which potentially allows the cold egg shells to form condensation giving pathogens easier access to the inside.

So, the cuticle solves the problem of external sources contaminating the inside of the egg, but how does the EU and other countries that don’t refrigerate their eggs deal with eggs that were contaminated while being formed inside the chicken? They mandate that their egg laying chickens must be vaccinated against salmonella, among other requirements, if they are to receive the Lion Quality Code of Practice seal. The result of this is that approximately 90% of chicken eggs sold in Britain come from vaccinated hens, with the other 10% coming from small farmers who don’t typically sell eggs through major retailers.

So which way of storing eggs produces fewer cases of salmonella induced food poisoning? As the aforementioned Vincent Guyonnet notes: “They’re different approaches to basically achieve the same result… We don’t have massive [food safety] issues on either side of the Atlantic. Both methods seem to work.”

But what about the numbers? In that, there seems to have never been any definitive studies (at least that I could find), but it would seem on the surface that the European method is the winner. (Though there are uncontrolled factors that could potentially be skewing the numbers, so take this with a very large grain of salt.) On average, there are approximately 142,000 cases of egg-related salmonella poisoning in the United States every year according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. This is approximately 1 in 2,200 people infected every year (give or take depending on whether an individual is a repeat offender in a given year). In contrast, in England and Wales in 2009, there were just 581 cases of egg-related salmonella poisoning, or about 1 in 95,000. Notably, before the British started vaccinating their chickens in the late 1990s in response to a major egg-induced salmonella outbreak, in 1997 there were 14,771 cases of egg related salmonella poisoning in England and Wales, or 1 in 3,700.

You might then be wondering why it simply isn’t mandated that United States egg producers vaccinate their chickens. This is primarily because when the last batch of rules concerning this very thing were put together, the limited number of large sample-size studies available indicated vaccination wasn’t an effective way to stop the internal contamination of salmonella in eggs. More recent vaccination methods and studies have produced entirely different results. Because of this, and the fact that henhouses and eggs are now being continually tested for salmonella contamination (with a positive result meaning the egg farmer must break all the eggs open from a batch and pasteurize them, leading to significant profit loss), approximately one-third to one-half of all egg producers in the United States have voluntarily begun vaccinating their chickens. This voluntary adoption of vaccinations was also spurred on in response to a 2010 egg-related salmonella poisoning outbreak in the United States resulting in half a billion eggs needing recalled. To avoid such problems, more and more U.S. egg farmers are jumping on board the hen vaccination train every year.

In the end, while there are pros and cons of each method of keeping eggs contaminate free, both have proven extremely effective when properly executed, though seemingly the European method has a large edge in terms of keeping people from getting sick. However, if you’ve got a refrigerator handy, it is superior in one regard- eggs that are not refrigerated have a shelf life of about three weeks. Those stored in a typical consumer’s refrigerator are generally good for about two months, and drastically longer given better regulated temperatures, something that used to be key to keeping eggs on the supermarket shelves year round.

You see, naturally most chickens will stop laying eggs in the winter as a response to shorter daylight hours. (There is a photo-receptive gland in a chicken’s eye that, when exposed to sufficient light, ultimately triggers the release of the hormone that in turn spurs egg production when present in sufficient quantities in the hen.) This created an egg supply problem that used to be solved by egg farmers in the United States via keeping the eggs at the perfect, constant chilled temperature not found in your normal consumer refrigerator which is regularly being opened and closed. This allowed egg producers to store eggs for as much as a year according to United Egg Producers’ Vice President of Government Relations, Howard Magwire. Today, of course, the problem is somewhat controversially solved with artificial light and strictly controlled egg production environments with the egg finding its way from hen to customer generally in under a couple weeks, regardless of what time of year it is.💜

Article from Today I Found Out, Feed Your Brain,

November 20, 2015

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SABLES vs BISCUITS vs COOKIES

Hardtack
Hardtack

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Cookie or “Biscuit”

The introduction of the baking of processed cereals including the creation of flour provided a more reliable source of food. Egyptian sailors carried a flat, brittle loaf of millet bread called dhourra cake, while the Romans had a biscuit called buccellum. Roman cookbook Apicius describes: “a thick paste of fine wheat flour was boiled and spread out on a plate. When it had dried and hardened, it was cut up and then fried until crisp, then served with honey and pepper.”

Hard biscuits soften as they age. To solve this problem, early bakers attempted to create the hardest biscuit possible. Because it is so hard and dry, if properly stored and transported, navies’ hardtack will survive rough handling and high temperature. Baked hard, it can be kept without spoiling for years as long as it is kept dry. For long voyages, hardtack was baked four times, rather than the more common two. To soften hardtack for eating, it was often dunked in brine, coffee, or some other liquid or cooked into a skillet meal.

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The American biscuit is soft and flaky like a scone; whereas British biscuits are drier and often crunchy.  Biscuit is a term used for a variety of baked, commonly flour-based food products. The term is applied to two distinct products in North America and the Commonwealth of Nations and Europe.

In Commonwealth English and Hiberno-English, a biscuit is a small baked product that would be called either a “cookie” or a “cracker” in the United States and sometimes a “cookie” in English-speaking Canada.   Biscuits in the United Kingdom, the Isle of Man and Ireland are hard, and may be savoury or sweet, such as chocolate biscuits, digestives, hobnobs, ginger nuts, rich tea, bourbons and custard creams. In the Commonwealth Nations and Ireland, the term “cookie” typically refers to only one type of biscuit (chocolate chip cookie); however, it may also locally refer to specific types of biscuits or breads.

In the United States and some parts of English Canada, a “biscuit” is a quick bread, somewhat similar to a scone, and usually unsweetened. Leavening is achieved through the use of baking powder or when using buttermilk baking soda. Biscuits are usually referred to as either “baking powder biscuits” or “buttermilk biscuits” if buttermilk is used rather than milk as a liquid. A Southern regional variation using the term “beaten biscuit” (or in New England “sea biscuit”) is closer to hardtack than soft dough biscuits.

Early biscuits were hard, dry, and unsweetened. They were most often cooked after bread, in a cooling bakers’ oven; they were a cheap form of sustenance for the poor.   By the seventh century AD, cooks of the Persian empire had learnt from their forebears the techniques of lightening and enriching bread-based mixtures with eggs, butter, and cream, and sweetening them with fruit and honey.  One of the earliest spiced biscuits was gingerbread, in French pain d’épices, meaning “spice bread”, brought to Europe in 992 by the Armenian monk Grégoire de Nicopolis. He left Nicopolis Pompeii, of Lesser Armenia to live in Bondaroy, France, near the town of Pithiviers. He stayed there for seven years, and taught French priests and Christians how to cook gingerbread.  This was originally a dense, treaclely (molasses-based) spice cake or bread. As it was so expensive to make, early ginger biscuits were a cheap form of using up the leftover bread mix.

With the combination of the Muslim invasion of the Iberian Peninsula, and then the Crusades developing the spice trade, the cooking techniques and ingredients of Arabia spread into Northern Europe.  By mediaeval times, biscuits were made from a sweetened, spiced paste of breadcrumbs and then baked (e.g., gingerbread), or from cooked bread enriched with sugar and spices and then baked again.  King Richard I of England (aka Richard the Lionheart) left for the Third Crusade (1189–92) with “biskit of muslin”, which was a mixed corn compound of barley, rye, and bean flour.

As the making and quality of bread had been controlled to this point, so were the skills of biscuit-making through the craft guilds.   As the supply of sugar began, and the refinement and supply of flour increased, so did the ability to sample more leisurely foodstuffs, including sweet biscuits. Early references from the Vadstena monastery show how the Swedish nuns were baking gingerbread to ease digestion in 1444.   The first documented trade of gingerbread biscuits dates to the 16th century, where they were sold in monastery pharmacies and town square farmers markets. Gingerbread became widely available in the 18th century. The British biscuit firms of McVitie’s, Carr’s, Huntley & Palmer, and Crawfords were all established by 1850.

Most modern biscuits can trace their origins back to either the hardtack ship’s biscuit, or the creative art of the baker.   Biscuits today can be savoury or sweet, but most are small at around 5 cm (2.0 in) in diameter, and flat. The term biscuit also applies to sandwich-type biscuits, wherein a layer of “creme” or icing is sandwiched between two biscuits, such as the custard cream, or a layer of jam (as in biscuits which, in the United Kingdom, are known as “Jammie Dodgers”)

In Britain, the digestive biscuit and rich tea have a strong cultural identity as the traditional accompaniment to a cup of tea, and are regularly eaten as such. Many tea drinkers “dunk” their biscuits in tea, allowing them to absorb liquid and soften slightly before consumption.  The best selling biscuit brand in the UK, McVitie’s biscuits are the most popular biscuits to dunk in tea, with McVitie’s chocolate digestives, Rich tea and Hobnobs ranked the nation’s top three favourite biscuits in 2009.

Savoury biscuits or crackers (such as cream crackers, water biscuits, oatcakes, or crisp breads) are usually plainer and commonly eaten with cheese following a meal. Many savoury biscuits also contain additional ingredients for flavour or texture, such as poppy seeds, onion or onion seeds, cheese (such as cheese melts), and olives. Savoury biscuits also usually have a dedicated section in most European supermarkets, often in the same aisle as sweet biscuits. The exception to savoury biscuits is the sweetmeal digestive known as the “Hovis biscuit”, which, although slightly sweet, is still classified as a cheese biscuit.   Savoury biscuits sold in supermarkets are sometimes associated with a certain geographical area, such as Scottish oatcakes or Cornish wafer biscuits.

In general, the British, Australians, South Africans, New Zealanders, Nigerians, Kenyans, Indians, Pakistanis, Sri Lankans, Singaporeans and the Irish use the British meaning of “biscuit” for the sweet biscuit, the terms biscuit and cookie are used interchangeably, depending on the region and the speaker, with biscuits usually referring to hard, sweet biscuits (such as digestives, Nice, Bourbon creams, etc.) and cookies for soft baked goods (i.e. chocolate chip cookies).   In Canada this term is now used less frequently, usually with imported brands of biscuits or in the Maritimes; however the Canadian Christie Biscuits referred to what Americans would call crackers.   This sense is at the root of the name of the United States’ most prominent maker of cookies and crackers, the National Biscuit Company, now called Nabisco.

A biscuit in the United States and parts of Canada, and widely used in popular American English, is a small bread with a firm browned crust and a soft interior. They are made with baking powder or baking soda as a chemical leavening agent rather than yeast although they can also be made using yeast (and are then called angel biscuits) or a sourdough starter.   They are traditionally served as a side dish with a meal. As a breakfast item they are often eaten with butter and a sweet condiment such as molasses, light sugarcane syrup, maple syrup, sorghum syrup, honey, or fruit jam or jelly. With other meals they are usually eaten with butter or gravy instead of sweet condiments. However, biscuits and gravy (biscuits covered in country gravy) or biscuits with sausage are usually served for breakfast, sometimes as the main course. A biscuit may also be used to make a breakfast sandwich by slicing it in half and placing eggs and/or breakfast meat in the middle.

~Wikipedia~

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What Gives Chiles Their Heat Have You Ever Wondered What Makes a Chile Pepper Burn Your Mouth? By Nancy Lopez-McHugh Spicy Food Expert

After giving myself second degree burns, I still wanted to share a post without cooking anything.  Personally, I’m always interested in learning new things and hope you will enjoy also.

Glistening skin, curvaceous, and a colour that begs to be touched, smelled and tasted. Chile peppers are among nature’s prettiest creations. They range in colour, shapes, and in heat levels. Some will leave a pleasant tingle on the tongue, while others will make you feel like flames are shooting out of your mouth and steam is blasting out your nose and ears just like a teakettle.

What exactly is it that gives chile peppers that pleasant or unbearable heat?

Pepper, Chili, Red Pepper Seeds, Capsaicin or Hot Hot Peppers

The common misconception is that the seeds are where the heat is at, not entirely so. It is actually a chemical called capsaicin that is responsible for the burning sensation we experience when eating hot peppers. Capsaicin is found in the chile’s membranes and to a lesser extent across the inside of the pod.

The white pith inside of each pepper pod is also called the placenta and this is the hottest part of the chile. Though the seeds are attached to the placenta, they do not produce capsaicin. It is only because they are attached to that white pith that they end up being spicy, and therefore tricking people into believing that they are responsible for the heat.

Capsaicin is found in nearly all members of the capsicum family, in other words, all chile peppers. The only exception to this are bell peppers, which contain no capsaicin.

Capsaicin is believed to have evolved in pepper pods as a form of protection against predatory mammals and competing plant species. The reason behind this is that mammals grind the chile seeds and the digestive tract completely breaks them down; whereas species like birds pass the seeds intact and thus helping to germinate and spread the chili seeds.

Not all Earth species feel the effects of capsaicin or fiery heat of a chile pepper. So depending on whether you like the heat or not, you can consider humans lucky or unlucky.

When we eat a chili pepper, the capsaicin binds to pain receptors in our mouths that are responsible for pain. Capsaicin tricks these pain receptors into thinking that something hot (as in temperature) was introduced to the body, which in turn sends signals to the brain to try to cool down the mouth.

We begin to sweat, our noses run, sometimes we cough, our mouth and eyes water, all in our bodies attempt to flush out the unwanted (capsaicin) substance. Depending on how piquant the pepper is, our bodies will expel the burning sensation in a matter of minutes or it can take hours. It all depends on how spicy and where on the Scoville Scale the chili falls onto.

While eating chili peppers has many great benefits for our bodies, capsaicin in it’s purest form can be very unpleasant. Pharmaceutical Chemist Lloyd Matheson of the Univeristy of Iowa stated “Pure capsaicin is so powerful that chemists who handle the crystalline powder must work in a filtered “tox room” in full body protection. The suit has a closed hood to prevent inhaling the powder. It’s not toxic, but you wish you were dead if you inhale it.”

While most of use will not be handling (or inhaling) pure capsaicin, its smart to play it safe and wear gloves when handling peppers. Of course it is also important to work ourselves up from milder chiles to the spicier ones, in order to give our bodies time to adapt to the heat.💜

Appreciation to:  Nancy Lopez-McHugh
Updated October 08, 2015.

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