Dr. Pepper Apricot Nut Bread

This recipe may be the closest thing to fruit cake my family likes for a Christmas treat although the only fruit it contains is dried apricots. I open the frayed, stained pages of a little blue book and begin stirring up memories along with all the ingredients! The recipe for Dr. Pepper Apricot Nut Bread came from a booklet handed out at the Texas State Fair in 1978!  A family trip to the fair resulted in a recipe we have used ever since.

Dr. Pepper Apricot Nut Bread

1 Tablespoon melted butter

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 egg, unbeaten

2 1/4 cups flour

2 teaspoons soda

1/2 teaspoon slt

2 cups dried apricots, choppd

1 cup pecans, chopped

1 1/2 cups boiling Dr. Pepper

1 Tablespoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream together melted butter, sugar and egg in large bowl and set aside. In another bowl, combine flour, soda, and salt.  Add flour mixture to chopped apricots and pecans and toss. Add flour and fruit mixture  to sugar and egg mixture alternately with boiling Dr. Pepper.  Add 1 Tablespoon vanilla and mix. Pour into standard loaf pan and bake in 350 degree oven for 1 hour or until toothpick tested in center comes out clean.  I always double the recipe. This freezes well.

Orange Marmalade Cake

Over 20 years ago I began reading the series of books by author Jan Karon which began with a book titled At Home in Mitford. I have read and enjoyed all books that Jan Karon has written and have most of them on my bookshelf. I am not alone as there are many Mitford fans.  Esther Bolick is a character in this book series whose baking creation becomes famous:  the OMC!.  I don’t know why I waited this long to try it myself, but last week I needed a special dessert to take to our poetry group’s dinner at a friend’s house so I decided to spend an afternoon in the kitchen creating this famous dessert. In the beginning, no recipe was mentioned, but as the series grew in popularity Jan Karon was frequently asked for the cake recipe. It wasn’t until Victoria magazine and Southern chef Scott Peacock teamed up that the recipe was born. There are a number of sources online for recipe, including Pinterest. I used my Mitford Cookbook and Kitchen Reader by Jan Karon.  I made only minor adjustments for my version. And yes, it makes 3 layers!  When I walked in the kitchen with it, friends who were Mitford readers knew what it was immediately. And it was declared delicious by all.

Orange Marmalade Cake(as mentioned in Jan Karon’s books and baked by Esther Bolick)

I have indicated where I changed the recipe for my use.

For the cake
1 cup unsalted butter, softened, more for greasing the pans
3 1/4 cups flour, more for dusting the pans * I used all purpose flour. The original recipe           calls for cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 2/3 cups granulated sugar
5 large eggs, at room temperature
4 large egg yolks, at room temperature
2/3 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature

For the orange syrup
1 cup orange juice * the original recipe calls for freshly squeezed0
1/4 cup granulated sugar

For the filling
1 (12-ounce) jar orange marmalade

For the frosting
1 cup heavy cream, chilled
4 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 cup sour cream, chilled

Directions:
The cake. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly butter three 9-inch round cake pans, line them with parchment paper, then lighly butter and flour the paper, shaking out the excess.

Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl. Sift a second time into another bowl. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter on medium speed until light in color, about 4 minutes. Add the 2 2/3 cups sugar in a steady stream with the mixer running. Beat until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add the eggs and yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Be sure to stop at least once to scrape down the batter from the sides of the bowl. After all the eggs have been added, continue to beat on medium speed for 2 more minutes. With the mixer on low speed, add the oil and beat for 1 minute. In a small bowl, combine the orange zest, vanilla, and buttermilk. Using a rubber spatula, fold in half of the dry ingredients. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add half of the buttermilk mixture. Fold in the remaining dry ingredients, scrape down the sides, and add the remaining buttermilk.

Pour the batter among the prepared pans, smooth the surface, rap each pan on the counter to expel any air pockets or bubbles, then place in the oven. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the cakes cool in the pans on racks for 20 minutes.

The orange syrup. In a small bowl, stir together the orange juice and 1/4 cup sugar until the sugar is dissolved. While the cakes are still in the cake pans, use a toothpick or skewer to poke holes at 1/2-inch intervals in the cake layers. Spoon the syrup over each layer, allowing the syrup to be completely absorbed before adding the remainder. Let the layers cool completely in the pans.

The filling. Heat the marmalade in a small saucepan over medium heat until just melted. Let cool for 5 minutes.

The frosting. In a chilled mixing bowl, using the wire whisk attachment, whip the heavy cream with the 4 tablespoons sugar until stiff peaks form. Add the sour cream, a little at a time, and whisk until the mixture is a spreadable consistency.

To assemble the cake. Invert one of the cake layers on a cake plate and carefully peel off the parchment. Spread one-third of the marmalade over the top, smoothing it into an even layer. Invert the second layer on top of the first, peel off the parchment, and spoon another third of the marmalade on top. Place the third cake layer on top, remove the parchment, and spoon the remaining marmalade onto the center of it, leaving a 1 1/4-inch border around the edges. Frost the sides and the top border with the frosting, leaving the marmalade on top of the cake exposed.

Chill for at least 2 hours before serving, overnight if possible.

 

Cup of Christmas

Today it is cold, windy, and wet. We may have a fire in the fireplace for the first time this season tonight. Siting by the fire and the Christmas tree is a perfect time for a hot drink. Along with our collection of Christmas mugs,we have a number of hot drink recipes that have been favorites during the holidays through the years. Years ago, I always kept a spiced tea mix and hot chocolate mix that I made.  I don’t make those anymore because there are so many available on the shelves of the supermarket, but there are other recipes  I will share.

Hot Cranberry Punch 

This recipe is on a card in my mother’s handwriting. As usual when she passed on a recipe she liked, she noted “Good!” at the top of the card!

3/4 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon allspice

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

4 cups water, divided into 1 cup and 3 cups

2 cans jellied cranberry sauce

1 quart unsweetened pineapple juice

Butter to add before serving

 

1.Bring spices and 1 cup water to a boil and simmer just until well blended.

2.Combine (separate from above) 2 cans jellied cranberry sauce and 3 cups of water.  Add water a little at a time and beat to blend well.

3. Then combine spice mixture and cranberry mixture with 1 quart unsweetened pineapple juice. Heat to serving temperature.  Add 1 pat butter to each cup you are serving and ladle hot punch on top.

Mother added an asterisk, telling me “never serve without tasting”

This sounds crazy, but it is delicious!

 

Hot Buttered Pineapple Punch

1 46 ounce can unsweetened pineapple juice

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup lime juice

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

3 1/4 cups dry white wine

Butter

In large saucepan, combine pineapple juice, sugar, lime juice, and nutmeg. Bring to boiling, stirring till sugar dissolves. Reduce heat,; stir in wine. Heat through but do not boil. Pour into heatproof glasses or mugs; float a pat of butter on each. Serve cinnamon stick with each serving if desired. Makes about 9 cups

 

Spiced Percolator Punch

We used to make this so often, we kept an extra large coffeemaker with spigot to make it.

2 32 ounce bottles cranberry juice cocktail

1 46 ounce can unsweetened pineapple juice

1 cup packed brown sugar

4 teaspoons whole cloves

12 inches of stick cinnamon, broken

peel of 1/4 orange, cut in strips

Optional – 1 fifth (3/14 cups) light rum

In 24 cup electric percolator, combine cranberry juice, pineapple juice, and brown sugar. Place cloves,cinnamon stick pieces, and orange peel in coffee maker basket. Assemble coffee maker; plug in and percolate. Just before serving, remove basket and stir in rum if you are using.. Keep hot. Float a quartered lemon slice in each mug if desired. Makes about 17 cups!

Of course we enjoy wassail, and everyone has their favorite recipe for that cup of holiday cheer, but I hope you enjoy trying one or all of the above as well.