I have not been really cooking for a while, but th…

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I have not been really cooking for a while, but thought I would share some thoughts on a cookbook that I actually use. It’s called The Cake Mix Doctor. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s a book that helps you make cakes from regular cake mixes, with a little “doctoring.” I used to do a bit of this myself, as I am a person who is loathe to use a recipe, much less the same recipe more than once! I have made quite a few cakes from this book, including the Tennessee Jam Cake, which is a spice cake mix with buttermilk added, and a little tricky caramel icing, with blackberry jam between the layers. I love it! I could not find a copied recipe for it on the Internet, but here is one that is similar – and it’s from Tennessee! I also love the Snickerdoodle Cake, which starts with a white cake mix and uses cinnamon and a cinnamon buttercream icing.

Now, I have also purchased The Chocolate Cake Mix Doctor, but haven’t tried the recipes yet, because I have been on a diet this summer!. While looking for recipes to share with you, I came across The Cake Mix Doctor.com, which does share some recipes, and even offers a monthly newsletter. Check it out!

Here’s one recipe I tried, and found on another website, which has some recipes from the Cake Doctor. It’s called:

Pumpkin Pie Crumble Cake

“This dessert is much like a pie in that it has a cinnamon-enhanced pumpkin filling, but much like a cake with a soft crust. And the crunchy topping is the best of both worlds. Don’t be concerned that 1 cup of the cake mix is reserved for the topping. The filling bakes up firm and creamy without it.”

Serves: 18 to 20

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Baking time: 70 to 75 minutes

Assembly time: 5 minutes

Ingredients:

Solid vegetable shortening for greasing the pan

Flour for dusting the pan

1 package (18.25 ounces) plain yellow cake mix

8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter or margarine, at room temperature

4 large eggs

2 cans (15 ounces each) pumpkin

1 can (5 ounces) evaporated milk

1 1/4 cups sugar

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter or margarine, chilled

1 cup chopped pecans

2 recipes Sweetened Cream (page 432)

1. Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 13- by 9-inch baking pan with solid vegetable shortening, then dust with flour. Shake out the excess flour. Set the pan aside.

2. Measure out 1 cup of the cake mix and reserve for the topping. Place the remaining cake mix, the butter, and 1 egg in a large mixing bowl. Blend with an electric mixer on low speed until well combined, 1 minute. Using your fingertips, press the batter over the bottom of the prepared pan so that it reaches the sides of the pan. Set the pan aside.

3. For the filling, place the pumpkin, evaporated milk, 1 cup sugar, remaining 3 eggs, and cinnamon in the same large mixing bowl used to prepare the batter and with the same beaters (no need to clean either), blend on low speed until combined, 30 seconds. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat until the mixture lightens in color and texture, 1 to 2 minutes more. Pour the filling over the crust in the pan, spreading to the sides of the pan with a rubber spatula. Set the pan aside.

4. For the topping, place the remaining 1/4 cup sugar, the chilled butter, and the reserved cake mix in a clean medium-size mixing bowl. Rinse and dry the beaters. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed until just combined and crumbly, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Stop the machine and stir in the pecans. Use your fingers to thoroughly knead the pecans into the topping mixture. Distribute the topping evenly over the filling mixture. Place the pan in the oven.

5. Bake the cake until the center no longer jiggles when you shake the pan and the pecans on top have browned, 70 to 75 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and let cool slightly on a wire rack, 20 minutes.

6. Prepare two recipes of the Sweetened Cream. Slice the cake into squares and pass the Sweetened Cream to spoon on top.

* Store this cake without the Sweetened Cream on it, covered in aluminum foil or plastic wrap, in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

More recipes can be found at The Good Morning America website and in an interview at Pink Sunrise.com.

Last spring, I got this hot idea for making cakes as gifts. I went to Micael’s and Walmart (they are also available at JoAnn’s) and purchased 4 Wilton cake pans in 6″ size (either 5″ or 6″), a package of round cardboard cake board (slightly larger, maybe 8″), and some doilies, and started making smaller cakes. It was a lot of fun. I followed the directions on the Wilton cake pans, and was able to get two separate two layer cakes from one recipe! I made a little more icing, as I tend to ice thickly. As I said, they make great thank you gifts, and they will serve 12 slices, if you slice it right – I like to get at least 8 slices out of them.

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