Q: I have a rose cake pan, but no recipe for using it. Can you help?
Antoinette Rader, Davie
A: The rose shape cake pan is simply a riff on the Bundt pan, so you can use any recipe suitable for a tube or a Bundt. For those unfamiliar with the pan, it looks like a giant blooming rose, with petals unfolding from the center of the pan. A version currently is available from Nordic. It has a 10-cup capacity; for most batters count on baking in a heated 350-degree oven for about an hour, testing to see if the cake is done by inserting a toothpick into the center. For pound cakes, count on 11/2 hours before testing. One tip: Given the deep grooves in the pan, I’d recommend greasing and flouring the pan even if you have a version with nonstick coating. Let the cake cool in the pan for about 15 minutes before inverting on a wire rack
This is one of my favorite cake recipes that works perfectly in a tube or fancy Bundt pan. It is essential you use real butter and real vanilla since the ingredients are so simple. The cream cheese gives just a tiny tang to the vanilla and butter goodness. It needs no frosting, though I like to slather it with homemade whipped cream for birthdays and special occasions. The texture is wonderful — sturdy enough to hold up to a scoop of ice cream, a spoonful of macerated fruit or a douse of liqueur — and yet tender with a little caramelization in the crust.
Q: A friend, knowing I love anything with pumpkin in it, recently told me of some absolutely delicious pumpkin pancakes she had on a trip. They were supposedly made with canned pumpkin added to the batter. By some chance do you know of such a recipe?
Julie J., Elyria, Ohio
A: Like you, I love anything with pumpkin and have never subscribed to the only-at-Thanksgiving standard. I actually stocked up this year when a pumpkin frozen waffle was a “seasonal flavor,” scouring local groceries for the last few boxes. The pumpkin pancake recipe here has all the flavors you want with pumpkin — cinnamon, ginger and a whiff of clove. The pumpkin puree does make it pretty thick, but it is still a great pancake. The recipe makes a lot but can be halved, or you can store the cooked pancakes in the freezer and simply warm them in the microwave at will. And yes, you can substitute pumpkin pie seasoning for the individual spices in the recipe. I tend to shy from the blend because it goes stale faster than I could ever use it.
Southern cooking is getting lots of attention in the spring cookbook releases from publishers. Two favorites:
The New Southern Table by Brys Stephens (Quarry Books, $21.95) is a fresh take, with traditional Southern ingredients in recipes using French, Mediterranean, Asian and Latin flavors and techniques. In the gratin here, for example, the classic Southern squash casserole is lightened and refreshed with a taste of Provence. Other intriguing recipes abound — pimiento cheese made with habañeros, Monterey jack and pecans, lamb-stuffed collard leaves, roasted sweet potatoes with tahini yogurt are just a few.
The Southern Slow Cooker Bible by Tammy Algood (Thomas Nelson, $24.99) is a down-home primer with 365 recipes for getting more use out of your slow cooker. In addition to recipes for everything from country ham polenta to green bean casserole to butterscotch cream cake, there is a primer on how to convert your own favorite recipes to a crock pot.
Send questions and responses to LindaCiceroCooks@aol.com or Food, The Miami Herald, 3511 NW 91st Ave., Doral, FL 33172. Replies cannot be guaranteed.