Diane Prather: Cherry cake for the whole family

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Diane Prather

Diane Prather's columns appear in the Craig Daily Press and Saturday Morning Press. You can call her at 824-8809.

This year, our 3-year-old Montmorency cherry tree produced pie cherries for the first time. Last weekend, Jessica and Jaycee, our grandchildren, picked 17 cherries from the tree (plus a couple of cherries that went for tasting).

I previously had told my husband, Lyle, that no matter how many cherries there were, we'd have a pie.'

But 17 cherries?

Then Lyle came up with a great idea, one that will allow our family members to have a little taste of the cherries.

He suggested baking them in a little cake.

So, just this morning, I pitted the cherries and cooked them in a little sugar water until tender. I greased and floured two little baking dishes, each about 7 inch-by-7 inch-by-2 inch, and stirred up a cake mix according to the directions on the box.

I poured about half of the batter into one dish and set it aside. I mixed the cherries and juice into the rest of the batter and poured it into the second dish.

The little cakes baked at 350 degrees until they tested done. Once it had cooled, I froze the cherry cake. We'll thaw it one day when our grandchildren are here and hope that everyone gets to taste a cherry from our crop. Also, it's a test to see if fresh fruit can be used in cake mixes. (More about this in a future column.)

The other little cake will be tonight's dessert, served up with peaches and whipped topping.

Although I bake some cakes from scratch, I also use cake mixes, especially in "build-on" recipes that combine the mixes with other ingredients. (Some of these recipes have appeared in previous columns.) When I find cake mixes on sale, I stock up. They can be kept fresh in the freezer.

Recently, Carol Jacobson (from Downtown Books) told me about a recipe book that has directions for making desserts with "doctored-up" cake mixes. Then Carol graciously lent me the book. It's filled with wonderful recipes and lots of other good stuff, so I'm going to buy the book and probably some for gifts as well.

"The Cake Mix Doctor..." was written by Anne Byrn and published by Workman Publishing (1999).

The book has 150 recipes for desserts, all of which are featured in photographs at the beginning of the book. Also included are about twenty frosting recipes and one for "Fresh Berry Compote."

And that's not all. There are "The Cake Doctor Says" tips covering just about anything you'd want to know about baking cakes, "Cake-Mix History," and a whole lot more. I'm looking forward to spending more time with the book over a cup of coffee.

The book and a cake mix, all tied up with a ribbon, would make a great gift!

"The Cake Mix Doctor..." can be found at Downtown Books for $14.95.

Thanks, Carol.

Do you have recipes for using cake mixes? Send them (or any other recipes you'd like to share) to me at Box 415, Craig 81626 or call me at 824-8809.

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