Lemon Coconut Bars

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I don’t know where I first found this recipe, but I made these delicious bars in 1987 for the Hamilton County (Cincinnati) Fair.  They didn’t win a prize but my youngest daughter loves coconut and they are a favorite of hers.

LEMON COCONUT BARS

Crust:

  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¾  cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1/4 cup butter, cut in small cubes

Preheat oven to 275 degrees F.

In a medium bowl, stir together the flour and brown sugar.   Add the butter and mix together until mixture is blended.

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Pat mixture into buttered 9×9 pan, using water-dampened fingertips to even out the dough.

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Bake at 275 degrees F for 10 minutes.  Remove pan to wire rack.

SET OVEN FOR 350 DEGREES F.

Filling:

  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • ¼ tsp. lemon extract
  • 1 Tblsp. all-purpose flour
  • ¼ tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • ¾ cup coconut
  • ½ cup chopped nuts

In a large bowl, whisk the egg; add the brown sugar and lemon extract and whisk until smooth.

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Stir in the flour, baking powder and salt, mixing well.  Add coconut and nuts.

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Spread filling mixture on the baked crust.

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Bake for approximately 17 minutes at 350 degrees F until top is golden brown.  Remove pan to a wire rack.

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While cookies are baking, make the frosting.

Frosting:

  • ½ Tblsp. melted butter
  • ½ tsp. lemon extract
  • ½ cup confectioners’ sugar
  • About 2 tsp. water

In a small bowl, stir together the melted butter and lemon extract.  Stir in the confectioners’ sugar and add water a little at a time to make a thin glaze consistency.
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Let the baked cookies cool for about 10 minutes, then drizzle the glaze over the top. Allow to continue to cool in the pan on a wire rack.

Cut into 12 bars. 

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These bars are moist and chewy with a sharp lemon tang.

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Poppyseed Rye Bread

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In the 1980s, I started using Saco Buttermilk Powder to make bread and sent away for a collection of recipe cards.  It was a wonderful set of cards and this was one of my early favorites.  I first made the bread in 1986 and rated it “excellent”; in 1987, it won blue ribbons at the Hamilton County and Harvest Home Fairs in Cincinnati and won a 5th place ribbon at the Ohio State Fair.

It’s wonderful toasted and also a great base for a Reuben sandwich.

POPPYSEED RYE BREAD

  • Servings: Two nine-inch or three 7-½ inch loaves
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  • 2 Tblsp. fast acting yeast*
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 Tblsp. salt
  • ¼ cup buttermilk powder
  • ¼ cup cocoa
  • 1 Tbsp. caraway seeds
  • 1 Tblsp. poppy seeds
  • 2 cups rye flour
  • ¾ cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 Tblsp. oil
  • ¼ cup molasses
  • 2 cups water
  • 2-½ cups to 3 cups all-purpose flour

*I use Fleischmann’s Instant Dry Yeast. I buy it in bulk (454 g) and the package says that it is made in Canada. I understand it is packaged under the name “Instant Dry” for distribution through stores like Sam’s, “Rapid Rise” in the U.S. and “Quick Rise” in Canada. The “Instant Dry”, “Rapid Rise” or “Quick Rise” yeast is especially formulated to be used mixed with the dry ingredients and can withstand the hot water.

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In the large bowl of an electric mixer, place yeast, sugar, salt, buttermilk powder, cocoa, caraway seeds, poppy seeds, rye flour and whole wheat flour. Insert paddle beater and beat to blend dry ingredients.

In a four-cup measure, place oil, molasses and water.  Heat in the microwave to 130 degrees F.

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Pour hot mixture into bowl and beat at medium speed for 3 minutes.

Remove paddle beater and insert dough hook.  Continue to beat for 6-1/2 minutes, adding flour a little at a time.   You may not have to use all of the flour – the dough should be smooth and elastic after 6-1/2 minutes.  The dough may feel slightly sticky because of the molasses.

Place dough in an oiled bowl, turn dough over once and cover with a napkin or tea towel.  Let rise for 45 minutes in a warm place that is free of drafts (I put mine on top of my microwave which sets under a cabinet).

After 45 minutes, punch down dough (press your knuckles into the dough to deflate it) and lay it on a lightly floured surface.  Roll the dough and form into two nine-inch or three 7-½ inch loaves. Turn over and pinch the edges to seal.  Place loaves in greased loaf pans.  Cover and let rise for another 30 minutes.
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Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Bake for approximately 50-60 minutes for nine-inch loaves, 45 minutes for 7-½ inch loaves or until bread is golden brown and has a hollow sound when tapped (210 degrees on a bread thermometer).  Cover with a piece of foil if top is browning too fast.  Remove bread from pans immediately, brush with butter, cover with a napkin or a tea towel and let cool on a wire rack.

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Yield:  Two nine-inch or three 7-½ inch loaves


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Best of Show Chocolate Zucchini Bread

I started making zucchini dishes in 1982 when my husband, 12-year-old daughter and I were living in Blue Jay, Ohio, on the Indiana border.  We had two acres which my husband had filled with every kind of plant, tree and bush that would produce something edible – barely leaving room for a small house in the center.  He loved to grow zucchini because he was rewarded with basket after basket of them and as a novice country dweller, I tried to make use of every single piece of fruit or vegetable he brought in the house.

By 1987, I had tried a lot of zucchini recipes and was looking for something different to take to our Hamilton County Fair (Cincinnati).  I decided to take a favorite recipe from the Bear Wallow Zucchini cookbook and change it from a spicy zucchini bread to a chocolate one.  The bread not only won the blue ribbon at the fair, but also won the Best of Show rosette.  It’s a delicious zucchini treat.

BEST OF SHOW CHOCOLATE ZUCCHINI BREAD

  • Servings: Two 9-inch loaves OR two 7-1/2-inch loaves plus one 5x2-inch loaf OR six 5x2-inch loaves and one 7-1/2-inch loaf
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  • 3 eggs
  • ¼ cup cocoa
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1-¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 cups grated zucchini (unpeeled)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup chopped toasted walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Grease and flour loaf pans of your choice

In a large mixing bowl, whisk eggs; add cocoa and whisk until smooth.  Whisk in oil, sugar and vanilla.

Stir in zucchini.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, soda and salt.  Stir into zucchini mixture.  Stir in walnuts.

Pour into greased/floured pans, filling about 3/4 full, and bake @ 350 degrees F.

Loaves are done when a tester inserted in the center of a loaf comes out clean

  • Two 9×5 loaves – bake for approximately one hour
  • Two 7-1/2×3-¾ loaves and one 5×2-1/2 mini-loaf  – bake for approximately 50 minutes (check mini-loaf at 35 minutes).
  • Six 5×2-1/2 mini-loaves and one 7-1/2×3-¾ loaf for approximately 50 minutes (check mini-loaves at 35 minutes).

Allow bread to cool in pans for 5 minutes, then remove to cool completely on a rack. 

This is one quick bread that could easily be a dessert.  It’s rich, chocolatey, moist and full of crunchy nuts.  But the most important thing to me in 1987 was that it used 2 cups of zucchini.

My picture was taken for the fair’s publication, “The 132nd Annual Hamilton County Fair Salutes its 1987 Best of Show Winners”.  (I had won Best of Show with three different items that year.)


The Next Best Thing to Robert Redford

In 1984, I participated in a recipe exchange by mail and this is one of the recipes I received.  There are a lot of versions of this dessert with a lot of names, but since Robert Redford still looks good to me, I’m keeping it.  This is an easy dessert to assemble, should be made ahead of time and chilled, and is very rich and delicious.

THE NEXT BEST THING TO ROBERT REDFORD

Crust:

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup butter, cut in small cubes
  • 1/2 cup toasted pecans, chopped

Filling:

  • 4 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 8 oz. carton of Cool Whip whipped topping, divided
  • Small package of instant vanilla pudding (four 1/2-cup svgs.)
  • 1-1/2 cups milk, divided
  • Small package of instant chocolate pudding (four 1/2-cup svgs.)
  • Block of Hershey chocolate bar or Ghirardelli milk chocolate bar
  • Pecans for garnishing

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

To Make the Crust:

Mix the flour, butter and pecans well.  Press mixture in a 9×9 baking pan.  Bake @ 350 degrees F for 15 minutes until lightly brown.  Cool

To Make Filling and Assemble:

Layer 1: Beat cream cheese and sugar until fluffy.  Fold in 4 ounces (half of an 8-oz. carton) of whipped topping.  Spread over cooled crust.

Layer 2: Mix vanilla pudding and 3/4 cup of milk until thickened.  Spread over Layer 1.

Layer 3: Mix chocolate pudding and 3/4 cup of milk until thickened.  Spread over Layer 2.

Layer 4: Spread remaining 4 oz. of whipped topping over Layer 3.

Grate the block of milk chocolate over the top of the dessert and garnish with whole toasted pecans.

Refrigerate for at least one hour before serving. 

This dessert won a ribbon at the Hamilton County Fair (Cincinnati) in 1984 and has been a favorite dessert in our family ever since.

I’m so glad I took part in that chain mail recipe exchange.

“Redford”, as we call it, was our dessert today when my daughters and grandchildren returned from swimming at Boomerang Bay (Kings Island, Mason OH).  We had another old favorite for lunch – Mom’s Tuna Melts.

Fresh Corn-Zucchini (Squash) Relish

cornOver twenty years ago when my husband and I lived in rural Ohio on the Indiana border with a huge vegetable garden, I tried a lot of recipes to deal with the surplus produce.  In 1985, I found this recipe for Fresh Corn Zucchini (or Yellow Summer Squash) Relish in a cookbook called, “Seasoned with Sunshine”.  I made it on July 21 and the next week entered it in our Hamilton County Fair (Cincinnati).  It won a blue ribbon and became a family favorite.

Since I’m by myself now in a small bungalow with no garden, I pick up produce at the farmer’s market and make one quart of the relish.

  • Servings: 1 quart (2 pints)
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  • 2 cups fresh corn, cut from cob
  • 3/4 cup onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup red bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup green bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp. pickling salt
  • 1/2 tsp. celery salt
  • 1/2 tsp. turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp. mustard seed
  • 1/4 tsp. dry mustard
  • 2 cups zucchini or yellow summer squash, unpeeled, sliced 1/4″ thick (cut larger diameter slices in half)

squashbwl2In a large pot, combine all ingredients EXCEPT ZUCCHINI/YELLOW SQUASH.  Bring to a boil over medium heat, then reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

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Add zucchini/squash slices and simmer uncovered on low heat for 20 minutes longer, stirring occasionally.

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Spoon relish into sterilized jars – one quart or two pint jars.  Relish can be kept in the refrigerator for use within a month or so, or processed in a boiling water bath for 20 minutes for longer storage. 

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I could refrigerate the two pint jars for my own use, or even more fun, keep one jar and make up the second one for a neighbor.  It’s easy to dress up the giveaway jar with a circle of fabric placed between the jar cap and lid.  Yes, I think I like that idea best.  Now, which of my neighbors would enjoy some relish today?

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Apricot Cheese Dainties

I found this recipe in 1990 in a publication called Blue Ribbon Gazette, a collection of winners from county and state fairs all over the country.  The lady who submitted the recipe cautioned that Solo apricot filling should be used, not jam or preserves, to keep the filling from seeping out too much.  I can attest to that, since I tried other products and found Solo to be the best.

The cookies won a ribbon at the Ohio State Fair and a Blue Ribbon at the Hamilton County Fair (Cincinnati) in 1990, and have become a favorite of my daughters for every holiday – Christmas, St. Nick, Valentine’s Day, birthdays.

APRICOT CHEESE DAINTIES

  • Servings: 1-1/2 dozen cookies
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  • 1/2 cup margarine (I like Imperial)
  • 1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 Tblsp. ice water
  • 1/2 can of Solo Apricot Filling

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Cream the margarine and cheese until smooth.  Add flour and salt, mix together until blended.  Add water and stir with a fork until the mixture forms a ball.  Divide dough in half,  roll one portion 1/8″ thick (like pie crust) on a lightly floured surface and cut with a floured 2″ cutter.

cutterPlace cutouts on an ungreased cookie sheet.  Place 1/2 tsp. of apricot filling on each circle of dough.

fillingRoll the remaining portion of dough 1/8″ thick and cut into 2″ circles.  Place the circles on top of the filled cutouts, press together lightly and prick with a fork around the edges.

Bake @ 375 degrees F for approximately 10 minutes until cookies are golden brown.  Cool slightly and then remove to a rack.

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Makes about 1-1/2 dozen cookies. 

Note:  These cookies are like pie – best the day they are made.

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Mom’s Blue Ribbon Watermelon Pickles

I once heard Garrison Keillor say something to the effect that the only purpose for watermelon pickles was to have an item on the Thanksgiving table that you could pass up.  When I was a child at my Grandmothers’ or Great-Aunt’s tables, the very things I looked forward to were corn relish, picallili and watermelon pickles.

I was a late-comer to canning and preserving.  My mother never attempted it and I was 50 before I found myself in a country home with a big garden and a lot of produce to use up.  Once I got started, I enjoyed canning so much that I spent the entire summer “putting up” everything my husband brought into the kitchen in his oversized basket.  We never grew watermelon but I bought a good Indiana melon each summer at the farmer’s market and made these pickles in quantity.  Now that I’m alone, I make up one small jar so I can have something on the Thanksgiving table for people to pass on.  This recipe won a Blue Ribbon at the Hamilton County Fair (Cincinnati) in 1983.

MOM'S BLUE RIBBON WATERMELON PICKLES

  • Servings: Makes one cup
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  • 3 cups of watermelon rind, prepared*
  • 1 cup cold tap water
  • 3/4 Tblsp. pickling salt

Brine:

  • 1 tsp. whole cloves
  • 1 tsp. whole allspice
  • One 2″ piece of cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 Tblsp. granulated sugar

*To prepare watermelon rind:

I used a medium sized seedless watermelon.  This melon had a thin rind.  Big old-fashioned black-seeded melons have a very thick rind and may need a longer cooking time.  The very small melons don’t have enough rind to use in this recipe.

Cut the melon in sections and cube the watermelon to set aside for some good eating.  Don’t cut too closely to the white portion of the rind.

Trim off the green rind and scrape the watermelon off the white section.  I cut my melon in matchstick strips about 1/2″ wide.

Place the rind strips in a non-metal container, cover with water and add salt.  Soak overnight.

The next morning, drain the rind, cover with fresh water and cook approximately 30 minutes at medium heat until almost tender.  Add water if needed.  Drain.

In a large pan, place the allspice, cloves, cinnamon, white vinegar, water and sugar and bring to a boil.  Add the drained rind and simmer gently for about 45 minutes.  The brine should be syrupy and cover the rind with a little to spare.

Remove the cinnamon stick and pour pickles into a sterilized 1/2 pint jar and cap.

Process in a boiling water bath for 5 minutes. I’ve found an asparagus steamer is good for processing just a jar or two.   Let jar cool on a rack before storing. Allow pickles to cure for at least a week before using for best flavor. 

This is a good web site for information on canning and preserving foods.

Blue Ribbon Zucchini Marmalade

For 20 years, we lived in a rural area where my husband delighted in tending a huge vegetable garden.  He liked to grow zucchini because he got such great results.  Prior to moving to the country, I had cooked zucchini once when I was in my 30s because a kind Italian neighbor lady had given me some and raved about how good it was.  I wish I could have told her how much experience I got later in life with her favorite vegetable.

Trying to keep up with the zucchini my husband brought into the kitchen daily, I fixed it every conceivable way.  My sister-in-law from Somerset, Kentucky, gave me this recipe for using SIX CUPS of the stuff, so I made several batches.

MOCK ZUCCHINI MARMALADE

  • Servings: 8 half-pint jars
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  • 6 cups peeled, seeded, chopped zucchini
  • 6 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1 cup crushed pineapple, drained
  • 6 oz. package Jello (I used banana-strawberry)

Combine zucchini, sugar and lemon juice in large pan.  Bring to boil and let boil for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.  After 15 minutes of boiling time, add the drained pineapple, bring to a boil and boil for 6 more minutes.

Remove from heat and stir in Jello.  Place in sterilized half-pint jars, cap and process in a boiling water bath for 5 minutes.  Let cool on a rack before storing.

Makes eight half-pint jars.

This is a good web site for information on canning and preserving foods.

We all enoyed the “marmalade” and I decided to enter it in the Hamilton County (Cincinnati) Fair in 1984.  I was thrilled and surprised when it won not only the Blue Ribbon, but the Best of Show Rosette. 

County Fair White Cake

My youngest daughter’s adventures with baking award-winning cakes for our county fair started in 1983 when she was a 13-year-old 8th grader and never that interested in fairs – to attend or to exhibit.  But her older sister and her mother were immersed in getting things ready for the Hamilton County (Cincinnati) Fair and she decided to enter the cake division.

Cakes were not allowed to be frosted, so all of the attention was centered on the attributes of the cake itself.  She made the cake, I took it to the fair and she won a Blue Ribbon and even got her recipe printed in our community newspaper.  Here is the recipe:

BLUE RIBBON WHITE CAKE

  • 2-3/4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1-2/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 4-1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2/3 cup Crisco shortening
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 5 egg whites

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In large mixer bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.  Add one cup milk and Crisco.  Beat with electric mixer for 2 minutes at medium speed.  Add 1/3 cup milk and vanilla and beat until smooth.

Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form.  Fold into batter.  Pour batter into two greased and floured 9″x1-1/2″ round cake pans.  Bake approximately 25 minutes until cake tests done when a toothpick is inserted near the center.

Cool in pans for 15 minutes, remove from pans and cool on wire rack.  Frost as desired.

The years passed by,  she married, had two children, and out of nowhere in 2006, 23 years after her first blue ribbon, she decided to enter again.  But this time she was adamant that she was going to get a Best of Show Rosette.  Her sister and I, seasoned fair exhibitors, tried to tell her it was very difficult to get the Rosette which would represent the best cake out of all kinds of cakes – white, chocolate, spice, layer, sponge, angel food, pound, etc.  She said the Rosette was all she really wanted and she would retire from fair competition after winning it.  In spite of a broken oven, coping with two young children and taking the cake to the fairgrounds on a day so hot that we were afraid the cake itself would dissolve – she did it.  She won the blue ribbon and the Rosette for Best of Show.

The cake was a favorite she had been baking for quite a few years as my birthday cake – White Velvet Cake from the Cake Bible cookbook.

WHITE VELVET CAKE (Cake Bible)

  • Servings: Makes two-layered 9-inch cake
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  • 4-1/2 large egg whites (4 full liquid ounces)
  • 1 cup milk, divided
  • 2-1/4 tsp. vanilla
  • 3 cups sifted cake flour
  • 1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 Tblsp. plus 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 12 Tblsp. butter, softened

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a medium bowl lightly combine the egg whites, 1/4 cup milk and vanilla.

In the large bowl of an electric mixer combine the cake flour, sugar, baking powder and salt and mix on low speed for 30 seconds to blend.  Add the butter and remaining 3/4 cup milk.  Mix on low speed until dry ingredients are moistened.  Increase to medium speed and beat for 1-1/2 minutes.  Scrape down sides.  Gradually add the egg mixture in 3 batches, beating for 20 seconds after each addition.

Pour batter into prepared pans and smooth surface with a spatula.  Pans will be about 1/2 full.  Bake 25-35 minutes or until a tester inserted near the center comes out clean.  Cakes should start to shrink from the sides of the pans only after removal from the oven.

Let cakes cool in pans on racks for 10 minutes.  Loosen sides with a small metal spatula and invert onto wire racks.  To prevent splitting, reinvert so the tops are up and cool completely.

Frost as desired.

Note:  Two 9×1-1/2″ cake pans should be greased, bottoms lined with parchment or wax paper and then greased again and floured.

Can be frozen for two months.  Texture is most perfectly moist the same day as baking.

The fair exhibit rules called for a single layer with no frosting, but I’m including the recipe for the lucious caramel frosting that she always uses for my two-layer birthday treat.

QUICK CARAMEL FROSTING (Fannie Farmer Cookbook)

  • Servings: Frosting for 9-inch layer cake
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  • 6 Tblsp. butter
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 3 cups confectioners’ sugar

Melt butter and brown sugar in a heavy-bottomed pan, stirring over moderate heat until sugar is dissolved.  Add the milk and blend.  Cool in the pan.  Then beat in the confectioners’ sugar until the frosting is thick enough to spread.

I don’t expect my daughter to enter a fair again but I do expect her to bake this wonderful cake for my birthday in September.

UPDATE:  My daughter did bake the cake for my birthday and it was delicious, as always.

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