French yogurt cake is a great way to use up the yogurt that is hanging out in your fridge. It’s so simple, made with ingredients you probably already have, and bright and fresh with citrus flavors! Yogurt, eggs, oil, sugar, flour, citrus, and powdered sugar – that’s all you need to make this super-simple cake! I always seem to have a half-eaten tub of yogurt and some on-the-brink citrus (lemons, limes, clementines…you name it, I have it) in the fridge and this is the perfect way to use them up!
Italian cream sheet cake is a classic Southern cake made simple in a sheet pan. With cream cheese icing, pecans, and coconut, it’s perfect! Scroll down for video.
Italian Cream Cake
Some time ago, Philip announced that he had decided that he wanted an Italian cream cake for his birthday. As ubiquitous as Italian cream cake seems to be, you might be surprised to know that I don’t have a single recipe for Italian cream cake in any of my many cookbooks. However, I was searching through my grandmother’s recipe books over the holidays and discovered this:
Sheet Cakes 4-Evah
A few adjustments (I’ve never seen canned coconut in my life, and you guys know I don’t buy shortening) and I turned out a lovely and delicious sheet cake. Oh, did I mention that this rectangular cake pan from USA Pans has revolutionized my cake baking life? I may never bake another layer cake again. I love the ease of doing everything in one pan and then just throwing some foil over the top of the pan for transport instead of having to turn it out of the pan (crumbs everywhere), ice it on a cardboard round, and then load it into a cake carrier while praying that it doesn’t somehow topple into the sides of the carrier. Easy cake recipes = life!
It’s a Southern Cake!
The funny thing about this cake is that I am almost certain that there’s nothing Italian about it. As I searched for the origins of Italian cream cake online, I found this information on Food Timeline that describes a cake that sounds nothing like this Italian cream cake that Southerners have come to know and love…which leads me to the conclusion that the origins of this cake are not Italian but from right here in the Southeast region of the United States.
I am fairly certain that I gained a couple of pounds just scraping the bowl of icing. And I still have this cake in my kitchen. It’s threatening to be my downfall.
Yield: 1 13x9 sheet cake (about 20 servings)
30 minPrep Time:
40 minCook Time:
1 hr, 10 Total Time:
- 5 eggs, separated
- 8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup shredded sweetened coconut
- 1 cup chopped pecans
- 4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
- 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup shredded coconut
- 1 cup chopped pecans
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Generously butter a 13×9 cake pan and set aside.
- Using a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment or a hand mixer, beat the eggs whites on high speed until stiff peaks are reached. Set aside (if you are using a stand mixer, you will need to transfer the whites to a different bowl and clean out the mixer bowl).
- Whisk the flour and the baking soda together in a medium bowl.
- Cream together the 2 sticks of butter and the sugar until fluffy. Add the egg yolks one at a time, beating after each addition. Add the flour mixture and the buttermilk alternately, about a third of each at a time. Add the vanilla then scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat in the pecans and the coconut.
- Carefully fold the reserved eggs whites into the cake batter. Spread the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 35-40 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack.
- To make the icing, cream the butter and cream cheese using an electric mixture on medium speed. Add the powdered sugar, about 1/2 cup at a time, and beat until well combined. Add the vanilla and the coconut and beat until incorporated.
- Spread the icing over the cooled cake and sprinkle evenly with the chopped pecans.
These White Lily biscuits are a Southern tradition. They’re based on my Granny’s baking powder biscuits and they’re perfect with creamy sawmill gravy!
When you order anything other than breakfast at Cracker Barrel, there is a very important question that they ask you:
“Biscuits or cornbread?”
Biscuits, duh. Ah, biscuits. Though I’ve developed a much greater appreciation for cornbread since I developed my own method of making it, I would never, ever choose cornbread over a biscuit. NEVER.
I remember as a kid asking my mom to make biscuits from scratch, or to make biscuits from scratch with me, or something. I don’t recall that it ever happened. My mom is a great cook but was never much for baking from scratch, which is a shame since her mom made some famous-in-these-parts yeast rolls (she was the cafeteria manager at the elementary school near their home and made the rolls from scratch. People from the community would come to the school to buy her rolls). I never met my mom’s mom (Mamaw) but wish I knew how to make those rolls. The biscuits in our house back in those days were poppin’ fresh, probably with flaky layers.
My first experience with homemade biscuits? NOT GOOD. Don’t ever try to make biscuits from scratch for the first time on Thanksgiving. Take. My. Word. Why I decided to make biscuits on Thanksgiving anyway I’m not quite certain (Thanksgiving doesn’t generally make me think, “Mmmmm, biscuits….”) but I did. It was the very first Thanksgiving-the very first anything-that we hosted in our house, with Philip’s family and my family jammed into our not-very-big house. Philip’s sister put the sweet potato casserole into the teeny little broiler drawer in our ancient stove (yes, you read that correctly. A broiler drawer. It was wide enough to fit a broiler pan into and it was on the bottom of the stove because what could possibly go wrong with fire shooting out of a broiler that’s four inches from the floor?????) and set the marshmallows on fire. But that’s not the point here.
The point is this: I set out to make biscuits. They involved flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, shortening, and milk. The directions stated that the biscuits should be rolled to 3/4″ thickness. Those jokers at Better Homes and Gardens actually showed someone measuring the biscuit dough with a ruler. I don’t think Philip and I got out a ruler, but we were definitely all like, “No, we definitely need to roll it more.” The directions said not one thing about not overworking the dough or any of that important stuff.
So. I pulled those babies out of the oven, expecting big, beautiful, puffy biscuits. Instead? Hockey pucks. Freaking disks of baked biscuit dough. Philip’s sister called them “biscuit cookies”.
My ego was bruised. For several years, I bought my biscuits from the freezer section, till I found the book Small Batch Baking at a bookstore. My interest was piqued and while I didn’t make very many of the recipes (mainly because they required specialized small equipment) I immediately glommed on to a recipe for southern-style biscuits, supposed to be similar to Hardee’s. I made them from the book until I eventually committed the recipe to memory, then I started experimenting with my own methods, using all-purpose flour with baking powder, soda, and salt instead of self-rising. Eventually I started using more baking powder a la my Granny Reese, who used shortening in her baking powder biscuits, but you know I just can’t do that so I use unsalted butter. Then I started folding the dough to make layers. I make my White Lily biscuits every Saturday. Sometimes I serve my White Lily biscuits with gravy, sometimes with jam. But regardless what I serve with them, one thing’s for sure…
I’ll never choose cornbread over a biscuit. And if you try these White Lily biscuits, you may never either.
Yield: 10-12 biscuits
15 minPrep Time:
12 minCook Time:
27 minTotal Time:
- 2 cups all-purpose flour (a soft wheat brand like White Lily will turn out the best biscuits)
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter (cold, cut into chunks)
- 1 cup buttermilk (can also use milk, cream, or half-and-half or splash a little vinegar into the bottom of a measuring cup and fill it the rest of the way with milk to approximate buttermilk)
- 4 tablespoons bacon or sausage drippings
- 4 tablespoons flour
- 2 cups milk
- salt and pepper (to taste)
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Put a baking stone or baking sheet in the oven to preheat.
- Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in a large bowl. Use a pastry blender or your fingertips to work the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
- Add buttermilk a little at a time, stirring after each addition, until the mixture comes together into a sticky dough. Turn out onto a floured surface and lightly coat the outside with flour. Flatten and fold into thirds. Repeat the flattening and folding twice, adding flour as needed but being careful not to add too much flour, which will toughen your biscuits.
- Lightly press the dough into a rectangle about an inch thick. Use a biscuit cutter or knife to cut into the desired number of biscuits. I use a knife and don't worry about the shape of my biscuits. Not using a biscuit cutter prevents me from having to re-roll the scraps, which will also toughen it.
- Place the biscuits on the preheated pan barely touching one another. Bake until lightly golden brown, about 12 minutes. Serve with butter, jelly, gravy, etc.
- To make the gravy: While the biscuits are baking, Preheat a 10-inch skillet (cast iron works great) over medium heat. Add the drippings and heat until the fat starts to shimmer. Whisk in the flour and cook for about 1 minute, until it just begins to brown. Add the milk a little at a time, whisking and allowing to thicken after each addition. Continue adding until the gravy reaches the consistency that you like (you may need a little more or a little less than the recipe calls for). Salt and pepper the gravy to taste and serve with biscuits. It's also delicious on toast, chicken-fried steak, mashed potatoes, fries....the list goes on and on!
This recipe makes 10-12 biscuits, but I usually cut the recipe in half to make 6. Also, to make the biscuits pictured here I used self-rising flour and omitted the salt, baking soda, and half of the baking powder.
Christmas pie is my grandmother’s classic recipe, and it is simplicity in a pie dish. That may be what makes it so beautiful and delicious! Sugar, egg whites, gelatin, milk, almond extract, vanilla extract, and coconut in a baked pie shell – that simple! This is an easy and classic Christmas dessert that is a family heirloom!
Salty or Sweet?
Which do you prefer – sweet or salty? Most of us in my family are pretty balanced between having a sweet tooth and a salty tooth (though I have to admit that it would be a rare occasion that I would choose a cupcake over a bag of nacho Doritos or some stovetop popcorn). My dad, though…he does not care much for sweets (he’s been digging into the desserts a little bit more over the past few months, and I am sure he’d deny that).
One dessert that he can’t say no to, though, is my grandmother’s Christmas pie. It’s something that she made every Christmas, and I am sure that’s why. You know, the whole childhood/nostalgia thing. I mean, besides that fact that it’s delicious, of course.
My grandmother was a phenomenal cook. Everything she made was delicious. And visually perfect. I wish I had her eye for detail. Maybe one of these days I’ll have the time to perfectly measure my cookie dough then roll it into perfect little balls so that every cookie is the same size and shape. Not that she wasn’t busy, but perfection in the kitchen was important to her.
Christmas Dessert Recipe
Anyway, back to Christmas pie. Honestly, I do not remember it. Not.One.Bit. I don’t remember her ever making it, though I’m told (as I mentioned before) that she made it every Christmas. As a kid I hated coconut, so that’s probably why I don’t remember this pie.
It’s okay, though. When you have an aunt who loves to cook as much as you do and as much as her mother did, and who has amazingly organized binders of all of her favorite recipes, you can always ask for the recipe. That’s just what I did.
Easy Christmas Recipe
This Christmas pie recipe is just as my grandmother made it. I did add a little decoration, you know, for pictures. Everything else, though…it’s exactly as my aunt wrote it down. No cheating here, and no embellishment.
Really, this Christmas pie is so simple, it just reminds you that food doesn’t have to be difficult or fancy to be perfect and tasty. This delicious Christmas dessert takes a little time, but every step is so easy! Definitely worth it to bring back my dad’s childhood memories.
I hope that you enjoy my grandmother’s white Christmas pie!
Yield: 1 9-inch pie (about 8-10 servings)
25 minPrep Time:
40 minCook Time:
1 hr, 5 Total Time:
- 1 pie crust (use your favorite recipe or a store-bought crust)
- 2 cups granulated sugar, divided
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 envelope unflavored gelatin
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 3/4 cup whole milk
- 3/4 teaspoon almond extract
- 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 egg whites
- 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut (or mix 1/2 cup sweetened coconut and 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut), plus another 2 tablespoons for decorating the top.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Form the pie crust in the dish and press a sheet of aluminum foil into the crust. Fill with pie weights. Bake until light brown, about 25 minutes. Set on a cooling rack to cool completely.
- Fill the sink with about 3 inches of water and 4 cups of ice (2 ice trays).
- In a medium saucepan, combine 1 1/2 cups of the sugar, the flour, the gelatin, and the salt. Gradually whisk in the milk. Set over medium high heat and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Once the mixture boils, boil it for one minute. Remove from heat and place into the ice bath. Stir from time to time and allow to cool until the mixture mounds slightly when dropped from a spoon (this took about ten minutes for me). Stir in the vanilla and almond extracts.
- In a stand mixer or using a hand mixer with a large bowl, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar on high until soft peaks form. With the beater still going, gradually pour in the remaining half cup of sugar. Beat until stiff peaks form. Fold the beaten egg whites into the milk mixture.
- Wash and dry the mixing bowl. Beat the heavy cream on high until stiff peaks form. Fold into the milk and egg white mixture until completely combined, then fold in the coconut. Pour into the pie shell and sprinkle the remaining 2 tablespoons of coconut on top. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours, until firm.
NOTE: This recipe contains uncooked egg whites. People with compromised immune systems, young children, and elderly people should avoid consuming raw eggs due to food borne illnesses. However, you can purchase pasteurized eggs at many grocery stores. Pasteurized eggs are processed in a way that makes them safer to consume raw. I purchase eggs that I am comfortable consuming without cooking them.