Pies, Cakes, Desserts, Comfort Foods from Grandma

No, you don't have to be a rocket scientist to make desserts like Grandma. So don't waste your money on that expensive birthday cake from the bakery that was probably made with a mix. Make your own pies, cakes, and desserts and save big bucks. Here's a selection of fun and easy sweet things. Get in the habit of making these items, and everybody will swear you are a cook that is touched by heavenly flavor.

Bob's Favorite Easy Very Tasty Cobbler

1 cup flour | 1 cup sugar | 1 stick of butter | 2 tsp baking powder | 1 cup milk | 1 or 2 cans pie filling or canned fruit

Mix flour, sugar, and baking powder. Add milk and melted butter, mix well. Pour batter into baking pan (use a casserole dish). Pour pie filing on top of the batter, or pour the drained can of peaches or other fruit on top. Use one or two cans, as budget and taste allow. The batter rises up and covers the fruit as it bakes. Bake in 350 degree oven for 30 minutes (or until golden brown on top). If you use canned fruit, you can thicken the syrup. Pour the fruit and syrup into a pan, mix 1 tablespoon corn starch with a small amount of water, add to syrup, cook until thick, add sugar if necessary.

Mulberry Cobbler

Mulberries are widely grown in Oklahoma and they are the earliest spring fruit. They don't keep very well, so as soon as you pick them, make mulberry cobbler or jam. Put the mulberries in a pan, cover with water, bring to a boil, turn heat down and simmer about 10 minutes. The water will turn dark purple. Mix 1 tablespoonof corn starch with a small amount of water, and add to mulberries and cook until it thickens. (Adjust amount of corn starch based on the amount of water and berries.) Taste, add sugar or honey if necessary. Use the recipe for Bob's Favorite Easy Very Tasty Cobbler, and use this mulberry mixture in place of canned fruit or pie filling.

Sugar Cookies

1/2 cup butter | 1 cup sugar | 1 egg | 1/3 cup milk | 1/4 tsp salt | 1 tsp vanilla | 2-1/2 cups flour | 1/2 tsp cream of tartar | 1 tsp soda

Blend butter, sugar, egg, milk and vanilla. Stir. Add the rest of the dry ingredients. Roll out on a floured board 1/8 inches thick and cut into cookies. Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for 5 to 7 minutes.

Sweet Potato Pie

Sweet potatoes | 2 eggs | 1/2 stick butter | 1/2 cup brown sugar pie crust

Boil sweet potatoes whole until done, peel the skins off (after boiling). Mash with beaten eggs, butter, and brown sugar. Add pumpkin pie spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger), pour in unbaked pie crust and bake at 350 degrees until a knife in the center comes out clean (about 45 minutes).

Dorothy's Never Fail Pie Crust

3 cups flour | 1/4 teaspoon salt | 1-1/4 cup butter | 1 beaten egg | 1 tablespoon vinegar | 5 tablespoons water

Mix the flour and salt, add the butter, mix thoroughly. You can mix this in a blender or you could use a mixer. The point is to thoroughly mix the flour and the butter. Mix the water and the vinegar, add that and the egg, mix together with a fork. Knead a few times. Roll out on a floured board. Manipulate only as much as necessary, the more you roll it, the tougher it will get. Place dough between two sheets of wax paper when rolling it out. To put in pie pan, fold it in half, and then again in quarters, place in baking dish. Then unfold and arrange in pan. If the dough tears, dip your fingers in water and press it back into place, or "patch" with extra pieces of dough. There are as many different recipes for pie crust, this recipe is among the less complicated. Makes enough for 4 one crust pies or 2, two crust pies.

Memo's lesson about pie crust. Many years ago, I complained to my grandmother Dovie Waldrop that I couldn't make a decent pie crust. She said, "Bobby Max, the reason you can't make a good pie crust is because you haven't made enough pies. When you have made 100 pies, I bet your pie crust is as good as mine." Well, as it turns out, she was right. I don't know that I would claim that my pie crust was as good as hers, but these days I can make a pie crust worthy of serving to company.

Miracle Pie

1 cup sugar | 1/4 cup butter | 4 eggs | 1/2 cup flour | 2 cups milk | 1 cup coconut | 1/4 tsp salt | 1/2 tsp baking powder | 1 tsp vanilla

Mix all ingredients together (you can dump them all in a blender and spin). Mix thoroughly. Pour into a ten inch pie plate that has been greased and floured. Bake at 350 degrees for 60 minutes. This pie makes its own crust and a coconut topping.

Peach Pie

1 cup sugar | 2 eggs } pinch of salt | peaches | 2 tbsp flour | 2 tbsp butter | unbaked pie crust

Line unbaked pie crust with sliced peaches (fresh or canned/drained). Mix other ingredients together and pour over the peaches. Let stand for five minutes before baking. Bake at 400 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes. Reduce heat and bake at 325 degrees for 30 minutes or until filling is set.

Better-than-a-Bakery White Cake

2 cups sugar | 3/4 cup butter | 1 cup milk| 5 egg whites, beaten | 3 cups flour | 3 tsp baking powder | 1 tsp lemon flavoring | 3/4 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Mix the flour and baking powder together. In a separate bowl, mix the sugar and butter together and then mix in the flour and baking powder mixture. Add the milk, mix well. Add the beaten egg whites. Mix well. Makes two 8 inch layers or one 13 x 9 inch cake. Bake layers 30 to 35 minutes, sheet cake 35 to 40 minutes, at 350 degrees.

Easy Very Tasty Brownies

1 cup flour | 1 cup sugar | 1/3 cup cocoa | 1 stick butter | 2 eggs | 1 cup nuts (optional)

Mix dry ingredients. Add melted butter, then add beaten eggs. Mix well. Bake at 350 degrees in 9 inch square pan for about 15 minutes. Icing: Mix 1/3 cup milk, 1 stick oleo and 4 tbsp of cocoa, bring to a boil. Remove from heat and add 2 cups powdered sugar and 1 tsp vanilla. Spread on brownies.

Easy Very Tasty Brownie Mix

Mix 6 cups flour, 6 cups sugar, 2 cups cocoa. Use two cups mix in place of dry ingredients in Easy Very Tasty Brownie Recipe

Biscuit Mix Cake

1-1/3 cups biscuit mix |3 tbsp soft butter | 3/4 cup milk | 3/4 cup sugar | 1 egg | 1 tsp vanilla

Mix biscuit mix, sugar, butter, egg, and 1/4 cup milk. Beat vigorously for 1 minute. Add vanilla to remaining milk, stir in gradually the cup milk. Beat 30 seconds. Pour into 8 inch square pan. Bake in 350 degree oven for 35 to 40 minutes.

Chocolate, Banana, or Pineapple Pudding

2/3 cup sugar | 2 eggs | 1 tsp vanilla (optional) | 3 tbsp flour | 2 cups milk | 2 tbsp butter (optional)

Mix flour and sugar together, add milk and beaten eggs, mix very well, so there are no lumps. Add butter and cook over medium heat until thickened, stirring constantly. Add sliced bananas and vanilla. Put a layer of vanilla wafers in a dish. Pour pudding over wafers. Chill and serve. Variations: use crushed pineapple in place of bananas. Use 1/4 cup cocoa instead of bananas for chocolate pudding.

Fruit Cocktail Bars

2 eggs | 1-1/2 cup sugar | 1 can fruit cocktail | 2-1/4 cups flour |1/2 cup chopped nuts | 1-1/2 tsp baking soda | 1/2 tsp salt | 1 tsp vanilla | 1-1/2 cup coconut

Beat eggs and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add fruit cocktail (with syrup) and beat again. Mix dry ingredients together, add to fruit cocktail mixture, mix well. Add vanilla, mix. Spread in a 15 x 10 x 1 inch pan that has been greased and floured. Sprinkle coconut and nuts over the top (optional), Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes. Glaze while warm with icing:: mix 3/4 cup sugar, cup butter, 1/4 cup milk in pan and boil for 2 minutes, stirring constantly, add tsp vanilla and cool.

Standard Cookie Recipe

1 cup butter | 1/2 cup brown sugar | 1/2 cup white sugar |1 egg | /2 tsp salt | 2 cups sifted flour | 3/4 tsp soda | 3/4 tsp cream of tartar | 1 tbsp vinegar | 1 tsp vanilla

Cream sugar and butter together. Mix dry ingredients, add to sugar mixture. Mix well. Add remaining ingredients, mix well. To this basic cookie, you can add: chocolate chips, nuts, coconut, lemon juice, etc. You can also substitute one cup oats for one cup of the flour. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes. These cookies are very easy to make and taste good just as they are without any added flavorings. They are good made with white flour OR with 100% whole wheat flour.

Yellow Cake

2 cups flour | 1-1/3 cups sugar | 1/3 cup butter | 4 egg yolks | 1 cup milk | 1/2 tsp lemon flavoring | 1/2 tsp vanilla | 3 tsp baking powder

Mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, dash of salt. Add butter, milk, lemon and vanilla. Beat for two minutes. Add unbeaten egg yolks, beat for two more minutes. Pour into two 8" pans (greased and floured) or one 13 x 9 pan. Bake in 350 degree oven. Layers: 30 to 35 minutes, large cake, 35 to 40 minutes.

Your Basic Very Easy One Cup Cake

sugar | flour | 2 tsp baking powder | 2 eggs | milk | 1/4 cup butter | 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

Take a cup, any reasonable size, fill it with sugar. Put it into a bowl. Take the same cup, fill it with flour, put it into bowl and add baking powder. Mix the butter with the dry ingredients. Break eggs into the cup and beat with fork. Add milk to fill the cup, pour over sugar and flour, beat. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes.

Custard Pie

4 eggs | 2/3 cup sugar | 1/2 tsp salt | 1/4 tsp nutmeg | 2-2/3 cups hot milk | 1 tsp vanilla

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Beat eggs, add rest of ingredients. Pour into unbaked pie crust. Bake 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake 10 to 15 minutes more, until a knife inserted one inch from the side o the pie comes out clean. The center may still look soft, but it will set. If you bake it too long, the custard becomes watery. You can make this pie with three eggs, if so, reduce milk to 2 cups.

Easy Very Tasty Fruit Cocktail Cake

2 cups flour | 2 tsp soda | 1 egg | 1-1/2 cup sugar |1/2 tsp salt | 1 can fruit cocktail and syrup | 1/3 cup butter

Mix all ingredients together well. Pour into a greased and floured 9 x 13 pan. Bake 30 minutes at 350 degrees. (For richer cake, use 2 eggs. For icing: cook 1 stick butter, 1 cup sugar, cup milk, for 3 minutes (boiling). Remove from heat and add 1 cup nuts (optional), 1 cup coconut, 1 tsp vanilla, spread on cake.

Easy Very Tasty Chocolate Cake

2 cups flour | 1-1/2 cups sugar | 1-1/4 tsp baking soda | 1 tsp salt| 1/2 cup cocoa | 1/2 cup butter| 1 cup buttermilk |1 tsp vanilla | 2 eggs beaten

Mix the dry ingredients together, then add the melted butter, buttermilk (or milk with a tbsp of vinegar in it), eggs, and vanilla. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Makes two 8" layers or a 9 x 13" pan or a cast iron skillet-full. Icing: combine in a pan one stick of butter, 6 tbsp of milk, and 4 tbsp of cocoa. Bring to a boil, add 2-3 cups of powdered sugar, vanilla, and nuts (optional). Mix thoroughly, spread on cake while hot. Variation: add 1/2 cup mayonnaise to the batter for extra richness. Add 2 tsp cinnamon for cinnamon chocolate cake. To make this cake with regular milk, use 2 tsp baking powder instead of 1-1/4 tsp soda.

Cream Filling for Cakes.

Mix in saucepan 1/4 cup sugar, 1 tbsp cornstarch, 1/4 tsp salt, gradually stir in 1 cup milk (or put milk in a jar, mix dry ingredients, add to milk, put lid on jar, shake until mixed). Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Boil 1 minute. Remove from heat. Put 1 egg yolk, slightly beaten into another bowl. Add a couple of spoonfuls of the milk and sugar mixture to the egg yolk, mix, add 2 more spoonfuls, mix, then pour back into the remaining milk mixture in saucepan, mix thoroughly. Boil one minute more, remove from heat, add 1 tbsp butter and 1 tsp vanilla. Stir well and cool, stirring occasionally. For Chocolate Cream Filing, add 1/4 cup cocoa with the dry ingredients.

Chocolate Cake Mix

6 cups flour | 4-1/2 cups sugar | 4 tsp baking powder | 1 cup powdered milk | 1-1/2 cup cocoa | 3 tsp salt

Mix ingredients and store in an airtight container. Use four cups mix for one cake. Add 1/2 cup melted butter, 1 cup water, 2 beaten eggs, and 1 tsp vanilla. Bake in 350 degree oven for 25 to 30 minutes.

Fast and Quick Short Cake

1 cup sugar | 1 cup flour | 1/2 tsp salt | 2 eggs beaten | 1 tsp baking powder | 1 tsp vanilla- | 1 cup milk with 1/3 cup powdered milk added | 4 tbsp butter

Mix dry ingredients, add milk, vanilla, and eggs, mix well until smooth. Bake in a 9 x 9 inch pan at 350 degrees until brown and the top springs back when you touch it. Serve with strawberries and ice cream, or other favorite topping. For small shortcakes, fill muffin tins about 2/3 full and bake.

Apple Dumplings

2 cups flour | 1/2 tsp salt | 4 tsp baking powder | 1/3 cup butter | 2/3 cup milk

Mix dry ingredients, add melted butter and mix until it is the consistency of coarse corn meal. Add milk and stir. Turn out onto floured board and knead for a minute or two. Roll the dough out so it is 1/8 inch thick. Cut into 8 squares. Place some sliced apples into the center of each square and sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon, dot with butter (apple pie filling can be used in place of apples and sugar). Fold in the corners over the apples and pinch together. Place folded side down in a 10 x 13 baking dish and cover with sauce. Sauce: mix together 2 cups sugar, 2/3 cup melted butter, 3 tbsp flour, 1 tsp vanilla. Add 3 cups boiling water. Continue to boil until the sauce thickens, so it is like a think white sauce (it will thicken more while baking. After covering with sauce, bake 45 minutes at 350 degrees. Serve warm: variation: use prunes or cherries or apricots instead of apples.

Pudding Mix

1-1/2 cup sugar | 2-3/4 cup dry milk | 3/4 cup cornstarch | 1 tsp salt |

Combine all ingredients and stir until well blended. Store in tightly covered container. Keep mix on hand and you'll always be able to fix a good dessert or snack fast.

Vanilla or Chocolate Pudding from Mix

1-1/4 cup pudding mix | 2-1/2 cups water | 1 egg, beaten | 1-1/2 tsp vanilla | 1 tbsp butter

Combine pudding mix and water in saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thickened. Add butter and remove from heat. Stir some of the hot mixture into the beaten egg, then blend this mixture into the pudding and cook one minute. Remove from heat and add vanilla, pour into dessert dish. Serve warm or chilled. Makes six servings. For chocolate pudding, add 1/4 cup cocoa.

Better than Twinkies

1 recipe Better Times white cake | 1 cup milk | 4 tbsp flour | 1 cup sugar | 1/2 C shortening | 1/2 cup butter | 1 tsp vanilla

Bake white cake in a 9 x 13" pan. Let cool. Split cake in half between top and bottom. Mix flour & milk, cook until thick. Cool and then add shortening, butter, vanilla, and sugar. Beat until light and fluffy. Spread between the two layers of cake and let set. Cut into bars. Bars may be wrapped and frozen.

Whole Wheat Chocolate Cake

This is the recipe for "Texas Sheet Cake" that my Aunt Carol Rae Perry used to take to potluck dinners and family events when I was growing up in Frederick. I've adapted it for whole wheat flour by substituting yogurt or buttermilk for the sweet milk of the original recipe. IMHO, when baking with 100% whole wheat flour, a sour/acid liquid is best. Thus, use buttermilk, yogurt, or some regular sweet milk with a little vinegar added. I know that "whole wheat chocolate cake" sounds intolerably pious, but it is very good, and it stays fresh and moist for a couple of days (if you can keep it around that long, lol.)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Put some oil in the bottom of a rectangular baking pan, smear it around to cover all the surfaces, then sprinkle flour on it and shake it around so it coats the pan. Dump any extra flour in the compost bin. This makes a "greased and floured pan" which is essential for cake-baking. Also, you sometimes see energy conservation tips that say "don't preheat the oven". That might be fine if you are cooking a roast or a casserole, but not if you are baking. It is essential to get the oven to the right temperature before baking a cake in it.

Combine in a large bowl: 2 cups sugar, 2 cups flour, 1 tsp baking soda, 1 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp cinnamon.

In a pan on the stove, heat together: 1/2 C butter, 1/2 C oil, 1/4 C powdered unsweetened cocoa, 1 C water.

Bring this mixture to a boil, and boil it briefly. Pour it over the dry ingredients, and mix. Add: , 1/2 C buttermilk or plain yogurt, 2 beaten eggs, 1 tsp vanilla.

Mix all together, pour in the greased and floured pan, and bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes or so.

I usually don't frost the cake, it's just fine without it. But if you want frosting. . . Combine in a saucepan: 1/2 C (1 stick) butter, 1/4 C powdered unsweetened cocoa, 6 Tbsp milk. Boil briefly, and add: 1 box or 2 1/2 C powdered sugar, 1 tsp vanilla, 1/2 C chopped nuts.

Cool for 10 minutes and frost cake.

Y'all bon appetit, you hear?

Cake Icings and Frostings

Essential Frosting Basics Courtesy of Mary Freeh: Combine equal amounts butter and shortening, add powdered sugar until the mixture is almost dry, add a drop or two of vanilla, a dash of salt, and enough milk to make the consistency you want.

Fluffy White Frosting. Blend 1/4 cup flour and 1 cup milk, cook over medium heat until thick, cool. Cream together cup butter, 1/3 cup shortening, 1 tsp vanilla, 1 cup sugar. Add the cooked milk mixture, whip until it looks like whipped cream. Frosts 2 layers or a 9 x 13 inch cake. Variation: add cocoa for chocolate fluffy frosting.

Quick White Icing. Put a cup or two of powdered sugar in a bowl, add a little (say two tbsp) milk until it is to spreading consistency. Add flavorings if desired (such as lemon extract, for lemon icing). Color with food coloring, if desired.

Cocoa Quick Icing. Mix 2-2/3 cups powdered sugar and 1/3 cup cocoa, add 1/3 cup butter (room temperature) and 3 to 4 tbsp milk. Stir until well blended.

Butter Icing. Blend together 5 tbsp butter, 3 cups powdered sugar, add about 3 tbsp milk and 1-1/2 tsp vanilla and stir until smooth. Makes enough frosting for two 8 inch layers or one 13 x 9cake. Can substitute butter.

Orange or Lemon Icing. Make butter icing, only omit the vanilla and use orange or lemon juice instead of the milk. You can add a little grated orange or lemon rind.

Robert Waldrop

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