CHEW THIS! Jeanie Irwin’s Famous Cake

Jeanie Irwin’s Famous Cake

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The following “Chew This!” column has been reprinted from “The Courier-Times”, Sunday, May 20th 2018 edition. By: Blaise Doubman

A Special Cake with Special Meaning
Blaise Doubman

I love sharing recipes that also evoke and carry special meanings. I have so many recipes that I consider my personal favorites, lots of them by my Grandma Barbra, Grandpa Max and my Mom, Darla that I go to when I am looking for comfort and warm memories. One of my dear friends, Paula Irwin, sent me a text message a few weeks ago with a picture of a cake she had made for her daughter, another dear friend of mine, Shelby. The cake looked delicious! Paula told me that she usually tries to make the cake for Shelby around her birthday. The original cake recipe came from Jeanie Irwin, who was Paula’s husband, David’s Mother. Jeanie was known for the cake and Shelby has such fond memories of her Grandma making it.

Jeanie passed away in 2008 right around Shelby’s birthday, which was especially difficult because Shelby and her Grandma Jeanie were really close but memories and recipes like this one has helped in the grieving process. As soon as Paula shared the story with me, I immediately asked for the recipe. As soon as she gave me the recipe, I knew that I had to make it. I hesitated to change anything in the original recipe, given the sentimental nature of the recipe, but guess what? No changes needed to be made! The recipe was perfect just the way it was. I loved the flavor of the almond in the cake and in the frosting. The taste was very familiar to me and very comforting. Shout out and special thanks to Paula and Shelby Irwin for allowing me to talk about and share such a special family recipe with all of my readers.

Jeanie Irwin’s Famous Cake

This cake can also be made in a standard 9×13-inch pan but needs to be baked a little longer. Be sure that if you are using this size pan, to check the cake for doneness around the 25 minute mark. This cake can also be made ahead, wrapped in plastic wrap and chilled in the refrigerator for up to three full days. Serve chilled if desired.

For the cake…
2 cups white all-purpose flour
2 cups white granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon baking soda
2 sticks unsalted butter, cubed
1 cup water
2 large eggs
½ cup sour cream
1 teaspoon almond extract

For the frosting…
1 cup unsalted butter, cubed
¼ 2% milk
4 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar
½ teaspoon almond extract
1 cup chopped walnuts

Start by preheating your oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a 15x10x1-inch baking pan with non-stick cooking spray containing flour.

In a large bowl whisk together the white all-purpose flour, white granulated sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda. In a small saucepan combine the cubed butter and water. Bring to a boil, over medium heat. Once at a boil, remove from heat and add to the flour mixture.

In a small bowl whisk together the large eggs, sour cream and almond extract until thoroughly blended together. Add this to the flour and butter mixture and whisk together well.

Pour batter into the prepared pan and smooth out the top evenly.

Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes, until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean with no crumbs attached.

Remove from oven and cool for about 20 minutes while you prepare the frosting.

To make the frosting, combine the butter and milk in a large saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Once at a boil, remove from heat and add in the confectioners’ sugar and almond extract. Beat until smooth and combined. Beat in walnuts.

Spread the frosting over the warm cake. Serve warm, room temperature or chilled.

Ask and Answer: Several people have asked me about the chocolate chip cookie recipe that “The Cake Bake Shop” in Indianapolis uses for their cookies, so I am sharing it here. Beat together 1 ½ sticks unsalted butter with 1 cup light brown sugar and ½ cup white granulated sugar. Add in 1 large egg and 1 large egg yolk. Beat in 1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste. Add in ½ teaspoon each salt and baking soda. Fold in 2 cups white all-purpose flour. Fold in 1 ¾ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips and ¼ cup bittersweet chocolate chips. Place 2 tablespoon size dough balls onto parchment lined baking sheets and sprinkle with sea salt. Bake in preheated 325 degree F oven for exactly 15 minutes. Remove, cool and enjoy! These are delicious!

CHEW THIS! Macy’s Favorite Biscuits

Macy’s Favorite Biscuits

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The following “Chew This!” column has been reprinted from “The Courier-Times”, Sunday, April 15th 2018 edition. By: Blaise Doubman

Dog Love, Biscuits and a Broken Heart…
Blaise Doubman

It has taken me countless attempts at this column and I am still writing through tears. Never did I imagine that I would be creating a column “in memory” of my little fur baby Macy. For the past 12 years Macy has been such a strong part of my family that I can hardly remember life before her. Of course, before Macy, came my first fur baby, Chloe. Both Shetland Sheepdogs and both have taught my family and I so much about life. Chloe was a huge part of my childhood, Macy a huge part of my young adulthood. Chloe seen so much life. She seen my brother Damon and I through Elementary School and even into High School. She was a huge part of my brother’s Senior photos and a huge part of my beginnings into real responsibility. So much life happened those 12 years we had Chloe and so much happened the 12 years after that we had Macy. Macy got to see my brother and I both graduate college with Bachelor’s Degrees, watch as my parents and grandparents grew, struggled, celebrated and learned new normals. There was so much life, so much living in those 24 years. 24 years! A lifetime of memories, both good and bad, but always with either Chloe or Macy right by my side. But now, neither.

I always told people that Macy was like my child. Why? Because she really was! She was my “fur baby”. I felt like she was a part of me just as much as I was a part of her. We went though everything together, the good and the bad. When “Blaise the Baker” first really took off I would get messages and comments about what a beautiful baby she was, so gorgeous, glamourous even. People from all over the Country would comment to me when I would post her picture online and talk about how she looked almost like a “living doll baby”. People would send her gifts for her Birthday and Christmas, but that was nothing unusual for her, because for 12 years I had thrown her a Birthday party, complete with cake and presents. She loved the attention. Chloe had more of my brother Damon’s personality. Macy had mine. She always wanted to be center of attention, laughed a lot, smiled, very rambunctious, barked a lot, never wanted to be left by herself and was full of nothing but love…and perhaps was a little bit of a troublemaker.

She was spoiled rotten to the very core. Around her 11th Birthday my family and I noticed the aging process starting to take its toll on her. She started having more and more trouble until on March 31st, 2018 she passed away. My heart will never be the same. I am heartbroken. I still look for her. Listen for her. Worry about her. My family and I are devastated. Things will never be the same I am sure and the only thing getting me though this is my family, friends and the good memories I will always carry with me of my sweet little Macy. So many friends have reached out to me, thank you. So many of my readers, followers and fans have reached out also, thank you. Thank you also to “Country Acre Animal Clinic” of New Castle and thank you to Veterinarians Rob and Nathan Rich who extended the life of Macy and helped her anyway that they could and were always there for us, day or night. As I type this the tears are flowing. I am not sure how my family and I will get through this, but we will. Together. If you are reading this and have a fur baby of your own, please stop right now and give them a hug from me – and from Macy. I love you Macy and I will never forget you. Thank you for everything.

Macy’s Favorite Biscuits

These biscuits can be made ahead and stored in an air tight container for up to two weeks. Feel free to use any type of cookie cutter design you would like, even using special ones for Holidays. If you do not own a cookie or biscuit cutter just use the bottom of a drinking glass. Be sure to flour the cutter, or glass, for easier cutting of biscuits. You can replace the vegetable oil with bacon grease for a richer biscuit. When adding in the broth feel free to use whatever style broth you wish – such as chicken broth or beef broth. The color of the dough will vary slightly.

1 ½ cups instant oatmeal
¼ cup vegetable oil
½ cup white all-purpose flour
½ cup broth

Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees F.

Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl combine with clean hands, the instant oatmeal, vegetable oil, white all-purpose flour and broth. Once the dough comes together and forms a ball, transfer to a clean and slightly floured surface. Knead a couple of times and then allow to rest for about 5 minutes.

Using a floured rolling pin, roll the dough carefully into about ½-inch thickness.

Cut out shapes, using desired cutters, and place carefully onto the prepared baking sheets.

Bake, one sheet at a time, in preheated oven for 30 minutes until firm and slightly dry.

Remove from oven and allow to cool at room temperature before removing.

Ask and Answer: I received a question about why I specify in my recipes, that my sticks of butter, salted and unsalted, are “4 oz”. The reason I specify this is because not all stick butter is 4 oz. Some European or Amish butters are slightly more or less ounces per stick.