Thanksgiving Pumpkin Spice Cake

Well, California is a State that has plenty of Fall bonfires (aka wild brush fires!) around this time of year but we can still put some good smelling holiday scents in the air with this cake. Yeah, cheating a bit starting with a cake mix but in the hurry of the holidays and with the enrichment ingredients, no one will guess it’s lowly origins and happily indulge in a serving or two. AND, don’t forget some holiday sprinkles when you frost the cake! Batter will work for cupcakes, too.

Thanksgiving Pumpkin Spice Cake

1 Spice Cake Mix
3/4 Cup mayonnaise
1 16 oz can pumpkin
3 Eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon grated orange zest

Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 8oz. Package Cream Cheese (softened)
1/4 Cup Butter or Margarine (softened)
3 Cup Confectioners Sugar
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
Mix all of the pumpkin bar ingredients in a bowl just until combined well. Pour in a greased 13×9 cake pan and bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes until toothpick comes out of the center clean. Cool completely.
While the cake is cooling, cream the cream cheese and the butter together in your mixer bowl until quite fluffy. Mix in the powdered sugar ½ cup. at a time until well blended. Add vanilla, orange zest, and mix well. Chill in refrigerator until the cake is completely cool, frost and serve.

Orange Juice Cake – A Good Summer Treat

This has always been a favorite in my family. There is something about the sweet orange with the chewly raisins and crunchy walnut. It is easy to put together and travels well and always seems to get requests for the recipe.

Orange Juice Cake — From the recipe files of Barbara Barthelette

6 oz. can frozen orange concentrate, thawed
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup milk
2 eggs
1 cup light raisins (optional)
⅓ cup chopped walnuts

Grease and flour bottom of 13 x 9–inch pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine ½ cup of orange juice concentrate with remaining ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Blend at lowest speed of mixer for 30 seconds. Beat 3 minutes at medium speed.

Pour into pan and bake for 30 to 40 minutes until golden brown. Drizzle remaining orange juice over warm cake and sprinkle with topping.

Sugar-Nut Topping

⅓ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup chopped walnuts
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Surprise Cake

Surprise Cake . . . Have them enjoy it first and tell them later!

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
2 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened
One can tomato soup
1 cup raisins
½ cup chopped walnuts
grated rind of one lemon and juice
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 11 3/4 x 7 ½ inch baking pan.
In a small bowl, stir together the dry ingredients.
In a larger bowl, combine the sugar and butter, beating until blended. Beat in tomato soup until smooth. Stir in the rest of the ingredients and the dry ingredients. Spoon batter into pan, smoothing the top. Bake about 30 minutes until top springs back when lightly touched. Cool in pan. Dust with powdered sugar before serving.

Cinnamon Crumb Top Cake

Even with the rise in temperatures, we still have some baking going on around here. Hey, that’s why we got the air conditioning system fixed, right! Don’t want to waste cool air on a summer day!

We are huge fans of cinnamon and spice and if we can put all that into one cake, we’ve put in a good day’s work. This makes a small, 8x8x2 inch cake so there is enough for a surprise dessert and a slice or two for whoever gets up first in the morning.

Crumb Topping
1/4 cup softened butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour*
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup roughly chopped walnuts

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl until the mixture is crumbly but mixed. Scatter over cake before putting it in the oven.

Cinnamon Crumb Top Cake
1/3 cup softened butter
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour*
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/3 cup whole milk
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts
Finely shredded zest of one orange
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Vegetable oil spray a square 8x8x2 inch baking pan.

Combine the butter, sugar and eggs in a mixing bowl. Beat together until mixture is light and fluffy. Blend together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Add to butter mixture, stir in lightly, and then add remaining ingredients (except the nuts!) and beat until just smooth. Fold in the nuts and smooth into prepared pan. Sprinkle over the topping mixture and bake approximately 30 minutes or until done. Let cool a bit before servings.

*If you are gluten-free, King Arthur’s Cup for Cup Gluten-Free flour blend would probably work well in this recipe. Although I haven’t tried it yet, the success I’ve had with other recipes using the King Arthur’s blend were successful.

Quick Gingerbread cake

I think that Gingerbread has to be one of my favorite flavors. It reminds me of the onset of the holiday season and seems to go so well with a cup of hot tea and a little peace and quiet.

Quick Gingerbread Cake

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup molasses
1/3 cup softened butter
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Mix together the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Warm up the molasses and butter until the butter is melted and mixed in. Add the egg and buttermilk to the dry ingredients, incorporate a bit to break up the egg and then mix in the warm molasses mixture.

Bake in either 2 vegetable-oil sprayed 8-inch cake pans or a 9×13 oblong baking pan.

Bake for approximately 20 minutes or until top springs back when lightly touched. Cool and serve with fresh whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. Butter pecan ice cream can be pretty festive!

Long lasting whipped cream.

In order to make your whipped cream a hour or so ahead, whip up a pint of heavy whipping cream with 1/4 cup sour cream until it holds a peak. Add a bit of vanilla or almond extract for the final beating. Be careful, you don’t want to turn it into butter! Serve immediately or put in the refrigerator for a couple of hours.

Barbara’s Dessert Squares

Barbara’s Dessert Squares

This is a fast and easy dessert to put in the oven about an hour before dinner so the melting ice cream I’m sure you will want on this will melt a bit into the little cakes. Hey, I would condone a serious helping of freshly whipped cream, too, if you felt so inclined!

1/3 cup softened butter (no margarine, please!)
1 cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 ½ cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ cup whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest

Preheat over to 350 degrees.

Cream together the butter, sugar, and ½ teaspoon of salt in a mixing bowl until combined. Add the eggs and beat until light an fluffy. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour and baking powder. Combine the vanilla, milk, and grated zest. Add to the butter mixture alternately until just combined and smooth. Stir in the walnuts to distribute evenly.

Vegetable oil spray a 9 x 13-inch baking pan. I like the glass Pyrex baking dishes but any pan will work. Spread the mixture in the prepared baking pan and bake for approximately 25-30 minutes or until it springs back when gently touched in the center.

When partly cooled down, dust with powdered sugar. If you have a small strainer, this works well for evenly distributing the sugar easily on the cake. Cut into squares and serve.

Sherry Lemon Bundt Cake

Years and years ago, my mother came across a recipe that we have been baking for the family almost every holiday since then. The cake takes on the subtle tang of the included cream sherry and the spices enhance the overall flavor. If it lasts more than one day, it gets better with a little age. Top it with a lemon glaze and people will think you spent hours in the kitchen. Just don’t let them catch you putting the cake mix in your grocery cart!

Sherry Lemon Bundt Cake

1 package yellow cake mix
1 four-ounce box instant vanilla pudding mix
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
3/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup cream sherry
4 eggs
Grated zest of one lemon

In a mixing bowl, add the cake mix, pudding mix, spices, oil, sherry, eggs and lemon zest and blend with the mixer until blended. Pour batter into a vegetable oil-sprayed bundt pan. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 50 minutes or until top is nicely browned and a toothpick inserted toward the center comes up clean. Remove from oven and let cool 15 minutes and then turn out onto serving plate.

1 ½ cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest


If you don’t care for the taste of the sherry, you can use juice, water, or milk.

Not crazy about lemon? Substitute orange for the lemon in the cake and glaze recipe.

Want to add some mini chocolate chips? Well, no one will stop you.

½ cup of finely chopped nuts can only add to the ‘health’ factor, right?

Don’t have a bundt pan? You can bake the batter in cake tin rounds or in an oblong baking pan.

With this basic recipe, you can use any flavor cake mix or pudding you like. This is the basis for some very creative cake inventions.