Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Egg Nog Cake

(This article originally appeared in the December 2005
issue of LaBrea Living Magazine.)

Egg Nog Cake: The Gift Mary Gave Me

by dale reinert, food editor

Christmas eve went something like this: gather together, share a meal, play Canasta, lay around or nap till 11:00p.m., rush to get ready for midnight Mass, then go to midnight mass, return home, watch the last 30 or so minutes of the Pope’s Midnight Mass pre-recorded in Rome, and then finally head to bed.

It was somewhere around age 10 when watching the Pope was paired with drinking a large, cold glass of Egg Nog. The creamy, thickness of this seasonal drink made me feel like I was drinking liquid bubble gum. (To this day, I have not been able to describe the sensations experienced when drinking Egg Nog any more clearly then as “liquid bubble gum,” yet I feel it is an inadequate description.)

This little personal tradition, which may be my first, went on for 10 years. Then, the Egg Nog became harder and harder to digest.

This difficulty settled into a pattern of another ten years where I longed for the one flavor which had become inseparable in my mind and heart from Christmas. But tasting a small sip would confirm the need for me to avoid it.

Then at 30 years old, I told my story to my school secretary at the time. Mary, an energetic mom of 4, knew a hundred million things about cooking. And while I also knew an equal number of things, she knew one that I did not.

On the last day of school before the long Holiday break, I entered my office to find a bundt cake and a Christmas card. I opened the card, read the seasonal well wishes from Mary and unfolded a piece of paper she had inserted into the card. I opened it and there in dark, black ink was a recipe called: Egg Nog Cake.

I dug into the cake. I ate a second piece. I lifted it to my nose and inhaled the amazing flavor I longed for for a decade. I looked up and Mary stood in the doorway. Her arms crossed, wearing a big smile, and she simply said, “You’re crazy but I am glad to see you like it. Merry Christmas.”

Each Christmastime, I make the following recipe:

Egg Nog Cake

l package of yellow cake mix
l cup egg nog
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
l/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

l (8 ounce) package softened cream cheese
2 cups icing or powdered sugar
l-l/2 teaspoon egg nog
yellow food coloring

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. In large bowl, combine all ingredients. Hand beat with a balloon whisk for at least one minute or more if lumps remain visible.

3. Pour into a well greased and floured bundt cake pan. Bake 40 minutes or until wooden pick inserted near center comes out clean.

4. Cool 10 minutes, then invert on plate or cake stand. Cool completely, frost with icing or evenly shift with powdered sugar.

Tips and Hints:
A. Take your time when buttering the pan. Bundt pans have a hundred nooks and crannies and only patience will make sure they are all coated.

B. If a recipe calls for you to butter and sugar the bundt pan, then ignore that direction. In my experience, unless you have a perfectly new pan, you are inviting the cake to stick. Always thoroughly butter and flour bundt pans.

C. Use a thermometer to make sure the oven is at the right temperature, and place the bundt pan on a cookie sheet. Its uneven bottom increases the likelihood the cake will fall if you drag it across an oven rack.


Post a Comment

<< Home