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Food
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Kitchen Mailbox: Drab oatmeal comes alive in cake

Thursday, March 08, 2001

By Arlene Burnett, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

Oatmeal cake -- it sounds dull, but it tastes great.

 
 
Cooking term
of the week

Roux -- A mixture of flour and fat or other liquid that's cooked slowly over low heat and is used to thicken soups and sauces.

   
 

We admit we were not excited about testing oatmeal cakes, but we quickly had a change of heart. Here's why: it's easy (this cake can be prepared by hand without an electric mixer), it's versatile (it can be served as a breakfast cake or dessert) and it's delicious (oatmeal, brown sugar and butter are a winning combination).

To top it all off, so to speak, this oatmeal cake has a scrumptious gooey topping of brown sugar, coconut, evaporated milk and butter. One more thing we liked: After the topping is spread on the cake, the cake is placed under the broiler until the topping turns golden brown -- this makes an eye-catching presentation.

If you've ever wondered what the difference is between old-fashioned rolled, quick-cooking and instant oats, read on:

Rolled oats, or old-fashioned oats, are oat groats (cleaned, toasted and hulled oats) that have been steamed and flattened with a large roller.

Quick-cooking rolled oats are groats that have been cut in several pieces before being steamed and rolled. Old-fashioned oats and quick-cooking oats are interchangable in recipes.

Instant oats have been precooked and dried before being flattened. When instant oats are combined with a liquid, they can turn baked goods into globs of mush -- which means they can't be used for baking.

Helen Clinton of Penn Hills requested a recipe for oatmeal cake.

Here's the recipe, sent in by Linda Gaskins of North Carolina.

Oatmeal Cake

1 cup quick-cooking oats
1 1/2 cups boiling water
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda

Topping:
2 tablespoons softened butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1 cup coconut

Combine oats and water and set aside to cool, about 20 minutes. In small bowl, combine flour, salt, cinnamon and soda. In large bowl, combine softened butter, sugars, 2 eggs and vanilla. When well blended and light, add flour mixture and mix thoroughly, then add oatmeal mixture. Blend well. Pour into greased 11-by-13-inch baking pan or 2 8-inch round pans (we used the round pans). Bake at 350 for 30 to 35 minutes.

Make the topping. Combine butter and sugar, add milk and coconut. When cake is done, spread topping over the cake and place under broiler until coconut is brown (4 to 5 minutes).

Note: Test after 30 minutes.

Requests

"Boy, they were good." Lynne Riley of West Mifflin is referring to the sauce and hot dogs at the old Blue Goose Hot Dog Shop in Homestead. She hopes someone will have the sauce recipe, as well as Wohlfarth Bakery's recipe for iced cookies and a yellow cake with marshmallows and coconut.

Darlene Hohn of Swissvale writes: "I would like to find a recipe for a casserole made with frozen pierogies. A few years back I tried some from the prepared food counter at the Food Gallery, Shadyside. The pierogies were whole and layered with other ingredients. It was delicious. As I recall, it had onions, cheese -- I don't know what else. If I had to create my own I would probably put sauteed celery, bacon, a bit of garlic, sour cream and a blend of cheeses or some kind of cream soup. Hopefully, someone out there has a wonderful recipe they can share."

A request from Margaret Meyer of Avalon: "About 15 years ago, The Pittsburgh Press ran an article about Funny Cakes. They were cakes made by the Amish with pie crust on the bottom, cake in the middle and filling poured on top. The filing ended up in the middle and the cake on top. I saved this recipe but cannot find it since I moved. Can anyone help?"

Helen Moore, food writer for the Charlotte (N.C.) Observer, has a special request for Magnolia Petal Cake, which one of her readers (90 years young) remembers the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette printing.

Kay L. Dick of Peters writes: "Would the former owners/cooks of Arthur's, Downtown, be willing to give up their Heritage Pie recipe? It had an almond-amaretto flavor and the consistency of hard, creamy butter. It was the best." T.D. Jacobsen of Squirrel Hill has the same request: "Years ago, there was a wonderful cafe in Shadyside called Cafe Stephen B's. My wife and I discovered it soon after we moved to Pittsburgh. They had a fantastic dessert called Heritage Pie. We asked the owner for the recipe but were never able to get it. Does anyone remember this dessert and, more importantly, does anyone have the recipe?"

Jane Bayhan of Eastmont writes: "As a young girl, my aunts would take me to Joseph Horne's Tea Room for lunch. I remember I always ordered the chicken a la king on toast points because I loved the marvelous golden sauce. Since then I have eaten chicken a la king in many restaurants but have never been able to experience that exquisite flavor again. Would any one of your readers have the recipe?"


If you want to answer a recipe request from a reader or are looking for a recipe yourself, please write to Kitchen Mailbox, c/o Arlene Burnett, 34 Blvd. of the Allies, Pittsburgh 15222, or e-mail to aburnett@post-gazette.com. Please include a name, neighborhood and a daytime phone number on all correspondence. All recipes are kitchen-tested by the Post-Gazette.



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