Sunday, December 12, 2010

Sundays with Sparky - An Easy Bake Christmas

Sparky's cousin is an independent young woman who will shortly be turning a year older, just in time for the holidays.  For her birthday (if you know her, dear readers, please keep the secret) we have purchased an Easy-Bake oven - which was, understandably, my own favorite toy as a child.

Unfortunately, the oven comes with one difficulty: the mixes are expensive (for what they are) and annoyingly difficult to purchase.  As a child, my own oven wound up being a special-occasions-only toy because I rarely had anything to bake in it (although I got a lot of mileage out of my potato-chip-maker, which didn't need a mix - any potato flakes would do.  Would that I had a recipe for those!)

013Fortunately, these days we have the internet and two pairs of hands that like to be kept busy, so Sparky and I set about creating a series of mixes to package into individual servings for a Christmas present.  In addition, I created a small Easy-Bake cookbook of both sweet and savory recipes I've adapted from a number of different places, and so should keep my niece raiding her mother's pantry for quite some time.

A few tips on Easy-Baking: the cake pans are quite small, designed to hold just 1/4 cup of liquid...but to allow for expansion, make sure they are never filled more than 3/4 of the way - to be sure you don't have any spillage, it's best to measure 1/8 cup of batter into the pan.  Always follow all the directions that come with your oven; be sure to preheat as directed (at least 15 minutes) and BE CAREFUL.  Believe it or not, the oven actually reaches 375 degrees!

We decided that chocolate cake was the most important, so we made the following recipe, adapted from here, which will make 10 individual cakes.  The mixes contain no liquid, just shortening and powdered ingredients, and will keep safely in a cool pantry for about 6 months.

Easy-Bake Chocolate Cake Mix
(makes about 10 cakes)

1 cup vanilla sugar
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon powdered dry egg white
1/3 cup vegetable shortening
We mixed all these ingredients thoroughly and divided it into zip-top bags containing 1/3 of a cup of mix each.  To make the cake (we tested one in our toaster oven) mix 1 bag of cake mix with 4 teaspoons of water.  Pour into a greased and floured Easy-Bake pan and bake in a preheated Easy-Bake oven for 15 minutes.
017Since we weren't certain how well this mix would work, we baked up an experimental cake using a wide-mouth jar lid as a baking mold (they are about the same size, although they are slightly less deep.  Sparky pronounced it a good cake.
Easy-Bake Cornbread Mix
(makes 4)
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons cornmeal
2 tablespoons white flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
heavy pinch of salt
heavy pinch of sugar
1/2 teaspoon powdered egg whites
1 tablespoon shortening
To prepare:
4 tablespoons milk or cream, divided
Mix all ingredients together until thoroughly combined, divide evenly between 4 zip-top bags.  For one cornbread, grease an Easy-Bake pan thoroughly.  Mix one bag of cornbread mix with 1 tablespoon of milk or cream.  Pour into pan and bake in a preheated Easy-Bake oven for 15 minutes.
Apple Oatmeal Bar Mix
(pictured above, adapted from this recipe, makes 4)
2 tablespoons shortening
4 tablespoons brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
4 tablespoons quick-cooking rolled oats
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

6 tablespoons milk, divided
8 teaspoons applesauce or jam, divided
Mix the first 6 ingredients together until thoroughly blended.  Divide recipe evenly into four zip-top bags.  To bake one bar, blend one bag of mix with 3 teaspoons of milk.  Press this mixture into the bottom of a greased Easy-Bake pan.  Top with 2 teaspoons of applesauce or jam. 

We decided that this small cake was our favorite recipe of all.
Pastel Rainbow Cakes
(based on this recipe, makes 4)
2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon powdered dried egg white
3 tablespoons shortening

2 1/2 teaspoons red sugar crystals (or color of your choice)
2 1/2 teaspoons green sugar crystals
2 1/2 teaspoons violet sugar crystals
2 1/2 teaspoons orange sugar crystals

4 teaspoons milk per cake (a total of 16 teaspoons for all 4 cakes)

020Mix the first five ingredients together and blend thoroughly.  Divide evenly into 4 zip-top bags.  To each bag, add one color of sugar crystals and store.  To make cakes, mix one bag of mix with 4 teaspoons of milk.  Pour into a greased and floured Easy-Bake pan and bake in a preheated Easy-Bake oven for 15 minutes.

Easy-Bake Irish Soda Bread
(makes 2)

1 teaspoon confectioners sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/8 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of baking soda
pinch of salt
8-10 raisins (currants will be easier to mix in)
pinch of caraway seed
2 teaspoons eggbeaters (or beaten egg,)
1 tablespoon sour cream
1 tablespoon milk


Whisk the egg thoroughly. Mix all the ingredients until they come together in a thick batter. Grease an Easy-Bake pan well. Press your dough into the pan, until it is LESS THAN HALF the depth of the pan, keeping in mind that it will rise in the oven—you can sprinkle the top with regular sugar and caraway seeds if you like. Bake for 12 minutes in a preheated Easy-Bake oven. Allow to cool. Enjoy!

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