Tag Archives: Louise Bastron

Angel Food Cake with 7-Minute Icing and Summer Berries

Every Fourth of July my Grandma and I make an angel food cake (from a box) with 7-Minute Icing (from scratch). Fourth of July is probably the only hot holiday in Minnesota, so we take full advantage of the “summer heat” by preparing a suitable light dessert. Independence Day also happens to be my birthday, and aside from the usual “Born on the 4th of July!” comments that I get, a lot of people want to know why I want to make my own birthday cake. I think it’s less about the work (after all, I am using a cake mix) and more about the time I get to spend with my Grandma. We’ve been baking this cake since I was in high school, and it’s one of my favorite summer rituals.

Here I am a high schooler, with my traditional bday cake and my beautiful grandma Louise!

I won’t bore you with how to make a box angel food cake – the Betty Crocker package instructions are quite accurate! – but I will share a few tips we’ve learned along the way, as well as a recipe for making  7-minute icing.

The first thing you want to do when you take the cake out of the oven is to turn it upside down right away. They sell angel food cake pan “stands,” but a bottle of Tabasco hot sauce works just as well.

When the cake is fully cooled, use a knife or flat spatula to loosen the sides and remove it from the pan.

Gently remove any crumbs from the cake, as they can be a nuisance when frosting. Allow the cake to cool completely.

To make the frosting, create a double boiler out of a medium saucepan and a medium mixing bowl. Fill the saucepan with water until the level is just below the bottom of the mixing bowl (do not let the bowl sit in water). REMOVE the mixing bowl from the saucepan before you heat the water. Turn the burner on high until the water boils, then reduce to a simmer.

Meanwhile, whisk together 2 egg whites, 1/3 c. water, 1 c. plus 2 T. sugar, 1/4 tsp. cream of tartar, and a pinch of salt in the mixing bowl. Once combined, place bowl over simmering water and beat mixture on low speed for about 1 minute.

Gradually increase the speed of your mixer to high, until the frosting forms stiff peaks (about 5 minutes). Be sure to periodically lift the side of the mixing bowl slightly to allow some steam to escape. You don’t want to end up like my great-aunt and have 7-Minute Icing all over your kitchen walls!

Remove mixture from heat and beat for 2 minutes more.  Gently fold in 1 T. vanilla.

Frost the cake immediately. For best results, begin frosting the cake from the top (use more than you think you’ll need)…

…then spread the extra frosting over the sides. Use a flat spatula or knife to smooth the top and sides.

For Independence Day, we decorated our cake with blueberries and fresh strawberries from my uncle Jamie’s garden.

Happy (belated) Independence Day from Chef Louise and Sous-Chef Sarah!

8 Comments

Filed under Birthdays, Family, Food, Grandmothers, Holidays, Nostalgia, Recipes, Traditions

Eating Our Way through Texas

Recently, my mom and my grandma visited Austin. We had such a fun time touring the city and of course, sampling the local cuisine…

Our first stop was The Mighty Cone trailer on South Congress Ave. I ordered a shrimp cone, but Mom and Grandma opted for the “classic” Hot and Crunchy Chicken Cones – chicken breaded in sesame seeds, almonds, chili arbol flakes, sea salt, sugar, and corn flakes, topped with mango slaw and chipotle aioli, then wrapped in a warm tortilla. While they weren’t the easiest things to eat (at one point Grandma confused the cone with the tortilla and took a bite out of both), they sure were tasty. Mom was glad to have checked the iconic food trailer off her Austin bucket list (she had wanted to try a “the chicken cone place” ever since I sent her the recipe, which was featured in Food & Wine).

Mom and Grandma enjoying their first Mighty Cone

The next day we went to Fredericksburg and shopped around. We were in awe of all the culinary novelties at Der Kuchen Laden – a kitchen store located in what was formerly the Fredericksburg Hospital (weird, right?). And then we went on a hunt for the perfect Christmas ornament for Mom’s friend Debbie. We finally settled on one, but I can’t reveal it here, just in case Debbie is reading along!

In the courtyard outside Der Kuchen Laden

For lunch, we went to Rather Sweet Bakery and Café, where Christian and I dined no less than three times on our honeymoon (yes, it’s that good). Mom and I saw Rebecca Rather – the Ina Garten of Texas – in the courtyard!

A cup of watermelon gazpacho at Rather Sweet

After touring the Japanese peace garden at the Museum of the Pacific War, we decided to give our feet a rest and get some coffee at the Java Ranch, where they “don’t dial 911″… (only in Texas!)

Don't mess with Java Ranch

Feeling a bit adventurous, we drove out to Becker Vineyards for an afternoon wine tasting. Mom tasted a Viognier for the first time, and Grandma sampled some of the lighter red grapes, like the Prairie Rotie and the Claret.

Outside the Becker Vineyard tasting room

To finish the day, we feasted at the recently-renovated Fredericksburg Herb Farm, that featured a new dining room, an expanded spa, and a B&B. It was totally different from when Christian and I had lunched there during our honeymoon, but the food was still decadent!

Housemade ciabatta with chive butter at the Herb Farm

Three Generations of Bastron women at the Herb Farm

The following day we toured the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center. It was a poor year for wildflowers, due to the fact that we’ve had very little rain. But it was still fun to tour the grounds and to “hunt” for bluebonnets.

Hunting for bluebonnets at the LadyBird Johnson Wildflower Center

Our grand finale was a southern brunch at Olivia Restaurant. Their chef, James Holmes, was recently featured in Food & Wine. Little did Mom and Grandma know that they would be dining at not one, but two Food & Wine-acclaimed Austin restaurants that week. We Bastron women have a talent for sniffing out good food, wherever we are.

Olivia Benedict: braised flatiron beef, poached farm eggs, hollandaise, biscuit

2 Comments

Filed under Family, Food, Travel

You say “I do,” I say “I do, too”

Last week Christian traveled to Limestone, ME (population 2,361…eek!) for a job interview, while Sarah went home to Rochester, MN for her cousin Jeff’s wedding. We both had to don our winter coats for the trek north…

The wedding ceremony was lovely, and it had just the right amount of comic relief. The bride and groom had some difficulty lighting the unity candle (the wax from their candles kept dripping and suffocating the recently-lit flame), so they improvised and placed a lit votive on top of the wick of the unity candle. The minister congratulated Jeff & Beth for having passed their “first test of marriage,” and we all got a healthy laugh out of it.

The reception took place at the Rochester Art Center, which overlooks the Zumbro River. Sarah’s uncle Mick – true to form – had prepared a slide show of pictures of the bride and groom from childhood to the present. He plans to add wedding pics and a soundtrack and sell the DVDs for $20 for wedding guests and $10 for family (just kidding, but don’t get any ideas Mick).

The speeches were brief but heartfelt. Beth’s sister read a lovely poem that she had authored in honor of the couple. Jeff was welcomed to the family by Beth’s father as his “third son” (Beth’s other two sisters are married). The best man averted disaster, admitting that he had drank too much and would spare Jeff the embarrassment of a speech. Beth gave some kind words of thanks, and Jeff followed it up with a heartfelt “ditto” – also true to form.

Sarah witnessed two “firsts” at the wedding. The first of which was “kissing”…Certainly there is plenty of it at most weddings, but it takes on a whole new form at a Minnesota wedding. If someone taps their glass (much like they’re about to make a toast), others chime in, and as the sound of forks clanging against crystal grows, all eyes turn to the head table, where the bride and groom are expected to embrace and kiss in a dramatic fashion – each kiss more dramatic than the previous one. Finally, when the bride and groom are exhausted, they seek revenge on those who put them on display (all is fair in love and war, right?). The bride or groom clings their glass (feigning a toast) and then calls on a couple from among their guests to kiss in front of the entire party. After much “kissing,” the reception began to feel like an NBA game, where “kiss cams” scan the audience looking for couples eager to have their smooch broadcast for all to see on the jumbo tron hovering over center court.

The second “first” was a polka that Beth and her dad danced for the father-daughter dance. Sarah had never seen a bride step so quickly or so lightly in a wedding dress (in heels no doubt!), let alone after a pit stop at Kathy’s Pub before arriving at the reception. Hats off to Beth for winning the “Most Hardcore Bride” award of 2011.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Leave a comment

Filed under Family