This past week I was rather busy in my kitchen making treats for friends and family for Valentine’s Day.

I made tons of chocolate-covered strawberries in milk chocolate and white chocolate. Peanut butter fudge was another request and tons of Almond Joy candy in milk chocolate and dark chocolate. I was afraid the strawberries had not been looking good but I finally found some very nice ones. I feel that homemade is always better than store-bought. Someone special added sapphire earrings to my collection of sapphires.

Happy Birthday wishes go out to Evelyn Haynie. 

If you have a special chili recipe please take time to send it to me. I’m collecting recipes for a special column coming soon. 

This week I’m sharing some unique but good cake recipes. These are all good but simple recipes I think you will enjoy.

Banana Pudding Cake

Ingredients 

3 cups all-purpose flour 

1 3/4 cups sugar 

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. salt

1 cup vegetable oil 

1/2 cup buttermilk 

3 large eggs 

1 tsp. vanilla extract 

2 cups mashed ripe bananas 

1 (3.4 ounces) box instant vanilla pudding mix

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened 

1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream

1 box Nilla wafers

4 medium bananas, thinly sliced

Frosting:

1 cup salted butter, softened

5 cups confectioner's sugar

1 (8-ounce) container frozen whipped topping thawed

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 3 (9-inch round) cake pans with baking spray with flour. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. Add oil, buttermilk, eggs and vanilla extract and beat on medium-low speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Beat in mashed bananas. Pour batter into prepared pans doing your best to fill them with equal amounts. Place in oven and bake 20 to 25 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cakes cool in pans for 10 minutes and then remove to wire racks to cool completely. Place pudding mix and cream cheese in a medium bowl and beat with a mixer set to low speed until smooth. Gradually add in cream and beat until mixture is very thick. Arrange about 15-18 vanilla wafers on top of one of the cake layers. Use a spatula to spread half of the pudding mixture on top of the wafers. Top with 1/2 of the banana slices placed in a single layer. Place a second layer of cake on top of bananas and repeat vanilla wafers, pudding mixture and bananas. Top with final cake layer.

Make frosting: Beat butter in a large bowl until creamy. Slowly add confectioner's sugar beating until smooth. Add whipped topping and beat until evenly mixed in. Spread frosting over top and sides of cake. Decorate with vanilla wafers. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

Orange Cream Cake

Ingredients 

1 box orange cake mix

1 (3.4-ounce) box vanilla pudding mix 

1 cup vegetable oil 

1/2 cup whole milk or 2-percent milk 

1 cup sour cream 

3 large eggs

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature 

4 cups confectioner's sugar 

1/4 tsp. salt 

1 tsp. vanilla extract 

2 Tbsps, heavy whipping cream or milk

3 Tbsps. sweet orange marmalade jelly

Directions 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 2 9x2-inch cake pans with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside. Use an electric mixer, mix the cake mix, vanilla instant pudding mix, vegetable oil, milk, sour cream and eggs until combined. Pour cake batter evenly into 2 prepared cake pans. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.  Allow to cool before frosting.  

Frosting

Mix the softened butter on medium speed with an electric mixer. Beat for about 3 minutes until smooth and creamy. Add confectioner's sugar, whipping cream, vanilla extract and salt. Increase to high speed and beat for 3 minutes. Using a spoon, stir in 3 Tbsps. of sweet orange marmalade until evenly distributed throughout the frosting. Place 1 layer on your cake stand. Evenly cover the top with buttercream frosting. Top with 2nd layer and top with frosting. Spread the frosting around the sides evenly and over top. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Cherry Almond Cake

Ingredients 

Almond Cake

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 

1 tsp. baking soda 

1/2 tsp. baking powder 

1/2 tsp. salt 

4 large eggs

2 cups granulated sugar 

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature 

4 tsps. almond extract 

1 cup sour cream 

Cherry Buttercream Frosting 

1 1/4 (2.5 sticks) cups butter, softened 

5 cups powdered sugar 

1/3 cup heavy whipping cream 

1 (10-ounce) jar Maraschino cherries 

3 tsps. vanilla extract 

Directions 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 2 9-inch cake pans with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside. In a medium bowl, mix flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.  

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat eggs and sugar for 2 minutes until light and creamy. Add the butter and almond and beat on low speed for about 1 minute or until well blended. Beat in the dry ingredients on low speed until just blended. Do not over-mix. Add the sour cream and beat until smooth. Cake batter will be on the thicker side. Fill prepared pans halfway with cake batter. Bake for 23-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cakes cool in pan on a wire rack before frosting.  

Frosting: Mix softened butter on medium speed with an electric mixer. Beat for 30 seconds until smooth and creamy. Add powdered sugar, heavy whipping cream, vanilla extract and jar of Maraschino cherries. Increase to high speed and beat for 3 minutes. Add more cream if needed for spreading consistency. Assemble the 2 layers with a thick layer of frosting in between the layers. Then apply a thin layer of frosting on the top and sides. Place the cake into the freezer to harden the frosting for about 10 minutes. Apply one final thick and even layer of frosting around the outside of the cake.

Cinnamon Sugar Cake

Ingredients 

Cake

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 

1 tsp. baking powder 

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

5 tsps. ground cinnamon 

4 large eggs

2 cups granulated sugar 

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened 

3 tsps, vanilla extract 

1 cup sour cream 

Cinnamon Buttercream Frosting 

1 (2 sticks) cup unsalted butter, softened 

5 cups confectioner's sugar 

2 Tbsps. 2-percent milk

1 tsp. ground cinnamon 

1 tsp. vanilla extract 

1 Tbsp. cinnamon sugar sprinkle on top of cake

Directions 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray two 9-inch round baking pans with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside. In a medium bowl, mix flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and ground cinnamon. Set aside. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat eggs and sugar for about 2 minutes or until light and creamy. Add the butter and vanilla extract and beat on low speed for about 1 minute or until well-blended. Do not over-mix. Add the sour cream and beat until smooth. Divide batter evenly into prepared baking pans. Bake 18 to 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Allow cake to cool before frosting. 

Frosting: Mix softened butter on medium speed with an electric mixer. Beat for 30 seconds until smooth and creamy. Add powdered sugar, milk, ground cinnamon and vanilla extract. Increase to high speed and beat for 3 minutes or until smooth. Spread the frosting between the layers and over the top and sides of cake. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.

Strawberry Upside Down Cake 

Ingredients 

2 cups crushed, fresh strawberries 

1 (6-ounce) package strawberry Jell-O

3 cups miniature marshmallows 

1 box yellow cake mix

1 2/3 cup buttermilk

4 large eggs

Directions 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray a 9 ½-inch pie dish or 9x13 cake pan with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside. Spread crushed strawberries on the bottom of pie dish or cake pan. Evenly sprinkle strawberries with the dry strawberry Jell-O powder, and top with mini marshmallows. Using an electric mixer, mix together the cake mix, buttermilk and eggs until combined. Pour cake batter on top of the marshmallows. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool cake in the dish/pan for 15 minutes. Run a knife around the dish/pan to loosen the sides and turn the cake out onto a large serving plate. Drizzle chocolate across the top if desired. 

Joyce Jacks is a native of Barrow County and a graduate of Winder-Barrow High School, Athens Technical College and the University of Georgia. She can be reached at georgiagirl2424@yahoo.com.

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