The passion of the Italian or the Italian-American population is endless for food and love and everything about it. – Mario Batali
My last post was a little more personal and emotional than I like to be, but I thought my absence over the past year deserved a proper, and honest explanation. Luckily, it’s not my style to get all sappy and emotional on a normal basis; only when necessary. I prefer my sarcastic and witty self the majority of the time and hopefully anyone reading this does too. I chose the above quote this week because I wanted the focus here to return back to passion and food!
So last weekend as I sat at Uncle Handsome’s babysitting, I was thinking about what I wanted to make next. I decided I would bake a cake for my Grandpa’s birthday dinner that Sunday.
One of my favorite cakes growing up was my Grandma’s Jell-O cake. I had no idea it was a classic American recipe. I always thought it was this secret cake she knew how to make, kind of like magic.
I like Jell-O. I really like cake. I love Jell-O cake. Perfect addition to my recipe collection.
I went to the store and had the intention of being creative with my Jell-O flavors, and maybe mixing things up, but in the end I just wanted the classic Strawberry Jell-O cake.
Strawberry Jell-O Cake
1 box of Strawberry Jell-O
1 box of Betty Crocker white cake
1 container of Cool-Whip
4 Round Cake Pans
Bake cake according to the directions on the box.
(You could always make your own white cake, but I had to pick up miss Concetta who was stranded after a fun night out, so I didn’t have as much time as I would have liked).
While the cake is baking, make the Jell-O according to the directions on the package.
When the cakes are finished let them cool and then switch each cake to a clean plan. This is an important step – so don’t forget! If you don’t do this, you will have a really hard time getting the cake out of the pan and it will more than likely fall apart. Mine did.
(I was not aware of this step, so when I brought my Jell-O soaked cakes to my Grandma’s to ice with Cool-Whip, my Aunt Anette and Grandma had to help me salvage my cakes.)
Stab each cake all-over with a fork (I attempted to do slits to control the color and this worked fine) and then pour the Jell-O equally all over each cake.
Put in the refrigerator for at least three hours to let the Jell-O set.
(This is also an important step. I am the most impatient person, so I took them out way too early. Again, I was lucky my Aunt Annette is a genius and helped me salvage my cake!)
Once the cakes have been in the refrigerator for at least three hours, remove the first cake and place it upside down on a cake tray (rounded part on the bottom).
Ice the top with room-temperature Cool-Whip and then place the second cake, with the round part facing up, on top of the first cake.
(If you buy Cool-Whip and it’s still frozen, don’t put it in the microwave. I attempted this and was looked at as if I was a crazy person by my Grandma. Who knew you couldn’t microwave Cool-Whip?)
Ice the remainder of the cake and add sliced strawberries on the top.
My cake had a few issues, as I noted above, but it really ended up turning out pretty good. Most of it was in part to my Aunt who literally helped me piece my cake back together after it fell apart.
It turned out moist and had a lot of flavor. My cousin Antonia even took the leftover cake home because she thought it was so good. Turned out to be a nice little Sunday surprise!
As I told my Aunt and my Grandma while we were holding my cake together, hoping the Cool-Whip would help to bind it, “that’s why I call this blog ‘Kitchen Adventures’ – if you don’t try, you’ll never know!” Learning is always an adventure, good or bad.
Luckily this adventure turned out to be a good one!
So Happy Birthday to my wonderful and loving Grandpa! He is one of the reasons I love to cook and experiment with recipes. I am so thankful for his influence in the kitchen and in my life.
Some of my earliest memories of being in the kitchen are with him, standing over a bowl of pancake mix and laughing while he threw random ingredients into the batter. One of my all time favorites was when he added Orange Juice.
It wouldn’t be Sunday dinner without some sort of entertainment. The only person missing in the above picture is Nick, who is typically right next to Michael standing behind Grandpa doing some sort of torment.
Until next time…