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A Cooking Adventure with Thom


Cake & Frosting Recipes

Thom's Recipe File

Baking is the technique of cooking food in an oven by dry heat applied evenly throughout the oven. The person that does the baking is called a baker. Breads, desserts, and meat (see also roasting) are often baked, and baking is the primary cooking technique used to produce cakes and pastry-based goods such as pies, tarts, and quiches. Such items are sometimes referred to as "baked goods," and are sold at a bakery.

The dry heat of baking gelatinizes starch and causes the outside of the food to brown or char, giving it an attractive appearance and taste, as well as partially sealing in the food's moisture. The browning is caused by caramelization of sugars and the Maillard reaction. Moisture is never really entirely "sealed in," however; over time, an item being baked will become drier and drier. This is often an advantage, especially in situations where drying is the desired outcome, for example in drying herbs or in roasting certain types of vegetables. The most common baked item is bread. Variations in the ovens, ingredients and recipes used in the baking of bread result in the wide variety of breads produced around the world.

To compensate for moisture loss, some items (usually meats) are basted on the surface with butter or oil to slow the loss of moisture through the skin. Some foods are replenished with moisture during baking by placing a small amount of liquid (such as water or broth) in the bottom of the pan, and letting it steam up into or around the food. The term baking is not usually associated with the cooking of meats in this manner, it is instead termed roasting.

Over time baked goods become hard in a process known as going stale, this is not primarily due to moisture being lost from the baked products but a reorganization of the way in which the water and starch are associated over time, a process similar to recrystallization.


For many people, the frosting is the best part of a cake or cookie. I classify frosting into six types: butter cream, cooked, whipped cream, royal icing, gnashes, and glazes.

Butter Cream

Butter or margarine is combined with powdered sugar, flavorings, and liquid. Powdered sugar is used because it dissolves easily during beaten and contains a small amount of cornstarch which helps stabilize the frosting. There are butter cream frostings that use granulated sugar, but these take a long time to make and can be difficult. Classic butter cream usually involves making a custard, then beating butter into it until a frosting consistency is reached. I prefer simple butter cream frostings, beating softened butter with powdered sugar, liquids and flavorings. Beat the frosting longer than you think is necessary for the smoothest and fluffiest results. It's really not possible to over beat this type of frosting.

Cooked Frostings

Seven-minute frosting is the classic cooked frosting. Egg whites and sugar, along with flavorings, are combined in the top of a double boiler. The mixture is gently heated while continuously beating with a mixer. Please use a mixer if you choose this type of frosting; you can beat it by hand with an eggbeater, but it's really difficult. As the mixture cooks, a meringue forms, which is stabilized as it grows because it is being heated. Cooked frostings hold their shape because the egg white proteins have been coagulated by the heat. These frostings must be cooked to a temperature of 140 degrees for safety. These frostings are delicate and can be absorbed into the cake if not eaten the first day. If you prefer, you can use meringue powder to make seven-minute frosting without fear of food poisoning from eggs.

Whipped Cream

Powdered sugar, flavorings, and whipped cream make whipped cream frostings - what could be simpler? Again, the cornstarch in the powdered sugar helps stabilize the frosting. It is possible to over beat this type of frosting, so just beat until firm peaks appear when you stop beating and lift the beater straight up from the frosting. Cakes, cupcakes, and cookies with this type of frosting must be refrigerated.

Royal Icing

This icing is used for decorating cakes and cookies. You can make it from scratch, using powdered sugar, egg whites, and liquid, but I prefer using meringue powder, which you can buy at bakery supply stores and even some grocery stores. The meringue powder is combined with a liquid, then usually tinted with food coloring. The proper consistency for royal icing is about the consistency of pancake batter. It should flow easily since it's usually used in pastry bags with decorating tips, but set quickly so the design holds.


This fancy term is simply chocolate melted with heavy cream. This frosting makes a beautiful shiny glaze on cakes and cookies. If you chill a ganache, beat it until it's fluffy and stiff, then form it into balls, you'll end up with truffles. You can also chill and beat a ganache and use the fluffy result to quickly frost a layer cake.


Glazes are the simplest frostings. Powdered sugar is combined with a liquid to form a thin consistency. Glazes are usually poured or drizzled over the tops of cakes and cookies. This forms a shiny hard crust when the glaze sets. Melted chocolate can be used as a glaze on its own.


Black Forest Cake
Black Walnut Cake
Black Walnut Apple Cake
Carrot Cake by Lois
Christmas Praline Spice Cake
Fresh Blackberry Cake
Jam Cake
Kailua Fudge Brownies
Lemon Bars Deluxe
Lemony Carrot Spice Bread
Million Dollar Fudge
Old Fashioned Applesauce Cake
Orange Rum Cake
Pineapple Upside Down Cake
Pudding Cake
Red Velvet Cake
Rum Cake
Southern Cup Cakes
Spice Cake
Texas Tornado Cake


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