Making Martha’s Cakes: How to Save a Cake

In all fairness, I strayed far, far, far from Martha’s recipe this week. I was overly-stimulated by the whimsy of the contestants on The Great British Baking Show and thought I’d be able to freestyle it. I’m sure if I’d laid out my baking plans to Judge Mary Berry beforehand, she would have given her most delicate frown and delivered a sweetly-packaged warning… something along the lines of, “It sounds delightful and troubling all at once.” or “I can’t say I’ve ever heard of that, but perhaps it’ll be scrummy!” or maybe just a plain old, “That sounds different. Good luck.” while quickly skirting herself away and hiding her mortification.

This was supposed to be a raspberry almond chocolate pound cake, but all the filling sank to the bottom. In the before photo, the cake is upside down so I could surveil the crime scene in more detail.

It certainly was scrummy. Michael and I devoured half of it while watching The Queen on Netflix. But I still am not permitted to put this in the win column, so back to the drawing board I go.

Stay tuned.

Making Martha’s Cakes: Martha Stewart’s Pound Cake

Pound Cake Recipe from TvFoodAndDrink.com
I was able to master Martha Stewart recipes before I understood the “Pulse” function on my food processor. I was still afraid of slow cookers when I was pulling perfect cookies out of the oven because of her. Martha deserves all her success. Her recipes are easy to follow, they never fail, and they make everyone happy.

I met Martha when she was a guest player on Hollywood Game Night, a show I helped produce. I was going to bring her muffins I made from one of her recipes, in a basket, bedded with a gingham cloth napkin. But I didn’t do it because I decided I would have felt guttted if she wasn’t visibly impressed. I learned my lesson when I met Carson Kressley from Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. I wore my best form-fitting, striped shirt with metal-docked pearly-snap buttons. I was hoping he’d get wide eyed and compliment me, but all he said was, “Where’s Kleenex? I think I’m getting a cold.”

I’m sure anyone who invites Martha to their home frantically cleans it before hand. But she doesn’t really go into your bathroom and judge you. Before she ever walks in to someone else’s bathroom, before she’s ever halfway down the hallway, Martha Stewart is already thinking to herself, “My bathroom is better.” And she’s right. Martha has the best bathroom. If I was at Martha Stewart’s house, I bet I would think her bathroom was so nice, instead of using it, I’d excuse myself and sprint to the gas station.

Martha Stewart can make a poncho work. She can do anything. I once saw Martha Stewart convince Rosie O’Donnell to sample low-calorie dip. Rosie said it was “delectable,” and that was absolutely the wrong word choice, but Martha just smiled, like there’s no reason in the world it should have ever annoyed her.

Pound Cake Recipe from TvFoodAndDrink.com

Pound Cake Recipe from TvFoodandDrink.com

Pound Cake Recipe from TvFoodandDrink.com

Martha Stewart’s Basic Pound Cake

  • 2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature, and more for pans
  • 1 pound (about three cups) AP flour
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 9 large eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten

Preheat over to 325 F

Butter two 9 by 5 inch loaf pans

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and salt

With an electric mixer on high speed, beat butter and sugar until pale and fluffy (about 8 minutes).  Scrape down sides of bowl.  Reduce speed to medium; beat in vanilla.  Add eggs in 4 batches, beating thoroughly after each and scraping down sides of bowl.  Reduce speed to low; add flour mixture in 4 batches, beating until just incorporated

Divide batter evenly between prepared pans.  Tap pans on counter; smooth tops with an offset spatula.  Bake until a cake tester comes out clean, about 65 minutes.

Transfer pans to a wire rack to cool 30 minutes.  Turn cakes out onto rack to cool completely.

Serve with the whipped cream and macerated berries.

Whipped Cream Instructions

With an electric mixer (or by hand), whisk 1 cup cold heavy cream in a well-chilled bowl until soft peaks form.  Add up to 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar (or leave out for unsweetened whipped cream), and whisk until medium-stiff peaks form.

For a lemon variation, decrease sugar to 1 tablespoon and add 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest

Macerated Berries

Combine 2 1/4 cups fresh berries, 2 tablespoons sugar, and 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice,  and let sit for 1 hour

Cheesecake Marbled Brownies 2014




I was four seasons into watching Game of Thrones before I finally had the nerve to admit to Michael I had no idea what the fuck was going on.

So many beards. So many heads on pikes. All the boobs and scullery maids and stone walls. None of it makes sense to me. I feel like HBO forgot to air one of the seasons and just decided to see if anyone would speak up about it.

Every so often Peter Dinklage would say something snarky, or a dragon would fly by, and for a moment I’d be back on board and really proud of myself for keeping up. But it wouldn’t be long before a man with long hair would start growling next to a fireplace about crossing some giant sea and getting revenge against some other flea-ridden Jack Black look-a-like who may or may not still have his penis, and suddenly my head would drop forward like someone yanked my cervical vertebrae right out the back of my neck.

I still have no idea how many fucking Stark children there are. I know there’s the sourpuss red head, the butch one, the paralyzed one, the half-breed. And I feel like there are two younger ones — a Bobby and Cindy Stark — stashed away someplace, deep under the roots of some thousand year old talking tree, cowering in fear because some evil warlord needs to find them and eat their livers so he can take over Gallipoli.

For me, Game of Thrones was over once and for all when the show killed off that bratty little inbred king who liked to stomp around and scream and kill people when they irritated him in the slightest. Was I the only one who liked that kid? I felt he was very relatable.

So now, Michael is in the den watching Sunday night’s episode while I make cheesecake marbled brownies for work tomorrow. I could hear the show from the kitchen, and as I dropped the pans into the oven I said to myself, “I bet pretty soon someone’s gonna be bitching about taking back Castle Black,” and sure enough I was right! I don’t even know which one Castle Black is. I looked it up once on the Game of Thrones wiki, and this is what it said: “Castle Black is one of only three mannered castles left on the Wall along with Eastwatch-by-the-Sea and The Shadow Tower. It has a sept but no Godswood. Those who are followers must travel into the Haunted Forest to take their vows before a heart tree.”   It’s like calculus for hobbit nerds.  I’m turning my Sunday nights back over to baking.  Follow me to the brownies, and leave your dire wolf at the door.

Get the Recipe for Cheesecake Marbled Brownies HERE

January 24 is National Peanut Butter Day!

As it’s Friday, I’m sure many of you already had plans to tear home from work, drop yourselves down onto the couch and eat an entire jar of peanut butter with your index finger while watching Shark Tank. Well, this week you don’t have to experience any of that pesky Catholic guilt over it because it’s National Peanut Butter Day!

Here are my Tv Food and Drink’s top five peanut butter recipes. I suggest you NOT MISS the recipe for Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars after the jump. One bite are you will be re-born.

Peanut Butter Cup Blondies – Found at Bake or Break

  • 1 & 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted and slightly cooled
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 0.75 ounces peanut butter cups (about 4 regular size) chopped

Preheat oven to 350°. Coat a 9-inch square baking pan lightly with cooking spray.

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, combine peanut butter, melted butter, milk, vanilla extract, and eggs. Stir well.

Add peanut butter mixture to flour mixture, stirring until combined. Stir in chocolate chips.

Transfer batter into baking pan. Arrange the peanut butter cups over the batter.

Bake for 19 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted into the center comes out with moist crumbs. Cool in pan on wire rack.
CLICK HERE FOR FOUR MORE PEANUT BUTTER RECIPES

Homemade Blueberry Sauce OR “Why An Intruder Will Never Be Able to Murder Me”


I once wrote a story about a nice guy who ended up breaking into the home of his boss and strangling the maid when he unexpectedly found her there, innocently cleaning the inside of a giant vase with a vacuum hose. He snuck up behind her, yanked the hose from her hands and wrapped it around her throat. She twisted and kicked for a while, but he just dragged her around the house, tugging her along backwards from one room to the next to keep her from re-gaining her balance and putting up any real fight.

After she was dead, he kept his grip around her throat for another few minutes because he had seen so many movies where characters who are certain to be dead turn out to not be, and come back in the third act to surprise the killer who then stumbles down some basement stairs in shock and bangs their head against a water heater and dies.

Of course, the killer then never comes back to life in the same unexpected way the original victim did because they’re after all, a killer, and we expect fairness to prevail in our movies, unless the movie is directed by Robert Altman or someone German. But in real life, I know for a fact that you’re less likely to die from hitting your head against a water heater than you are if an intruder drags you around a house backwards by your neck with a vacuum hose. Ask anyone off the street about this; you’ll get the same answer.

When I was a kid and my parents let me stay home by myself, I would pull the largest knife out of the kitchen drawer and stab a cardboard box in my toy closet repeatedly, honing my aim and fortitude in case a burglar broke into the house and tried to kill me. Looking back, perhaps I should have asked myself why I thought a burglar might break into the house between 2 and 4pm on a Sunday afternoon, but ever since the time I was first able to pull myself out of my playpen, I have lived feverishly by the motto that you can never be too prepared.

As an example: I don’t wait until the end of the day to buy tickets for a movie Michael and I are planning to see that night. I buy them first thing in the morning. And if Michael is in charge of buying the tickets and plans on waiting until the end of the day, I try to warn him. “Maybe they’ll be sold out by the time you go to buy them. And then where will we be, hmmm?” But Michael just does what he wants. And almost always, there are good seats left. But sometimes there aren’t, and when that happens I don’t wag my finger and look at him with crooked lips, even though I could. It’s the same thing with being ready with a giant knife on a Sunday afternoon. “Maybe someone will crawl in through the doggie door and kill me when I’m home alone. And I won’t notice in time because I’ll too busy playing UNO against myself at the kitchen table. Then where will I be, hmmm? Dead. Dead with three Skips and a Draw Four card still unplayed, that’s where! And then people could say, “He should have been ready with a giant knife just in case,” and wag their fingers at each other during my funeral. Who wants that? Not me. That’s why I’m always ready: buying movie tickets, avoiding being murdered, and everything in between.

Needless to say, Michael is not fond of this paranoid quality of mine. When he’s supposed to call me at a certain time and doesn’t, I get panicky and start dialing his phone over and over, then hanging up before I leave a message, so he can see I’ve called fifteen times but won’t actually be met with the desperate voicemails I used to leave him, such as, “I need to know that a serial killer hasn’t gotten you. I’m worried. Plus I don’t understand how people are identified by dental records and I won’t do it right. PLEASE CALL ME BACK!”

Michael sighs sadly and presses his eyelids together dramatically whenever I start acting this way. Sure, I may sometimes walk down the street with my head facing the sky in case a piano is about to fall out a window. And when we hear about a trainer being pulled into the water by a whale at a marine park, I may look over at him and state plainly, “And THAT is why I want a harpoon!” I think secretly Michael believes I need help for this. But I don’t care. Sometimes, when we’re leaving the movie theatre he goes down the stairs without holding the handrail, and I say to myself, “We’ll see who gets the last laugh, buddy.”

Click here for an AMAZING Blueberry Sauce Recipe!

Season of the Cookie: Cream Cheese Walnut Cookies (How to Make “Halloween Brains”)


Butter continues to be the primary ingredient in most of the latest creations that have sprung to life in my rinky-dinky Holly Hobbie kitchen. Papered in the image of an Indian maiden holding a butter box (Land O’ Lakes), salted or unsalted (my brief research into the subject indicates that either can be used in a recipe that demands one or the other – any argument?), I have not been able to keep enough on hand to prevent me from stopping at the Rock and Roll Ralphs on Sunset every other day to replenish my supply. But even I consider it a bit much when a recipe calls for FOUR FULL STICKS of the stuff.

Happily, I didn’t let that stop me from making this recipe. These babies will SET YOU FREE!

Continue reading “Season of the Cookie: Cream Cheese Walnut Cookies (How to Make “Halloween Brains”)” »

Lemon Cinnamon Icing… or “When I Confused the Salt and the Sugar”


I may be fast approaching middle-age, and on my way to senility, but I’m still entitled to make the mistakes of a rookie now and again.

I suppose it was going to happen sooner or later. Instead of one tablespoon of salt and two cups of sugar, I accidentally used one tablespoon of sugar and two cups of salt in the blackberry buttermilk cake batter I was making.

As you might have guessed, it did not taste delicious.

I suppose I’m no longer allowed to permit my “inside-head” voice to re-assure me I’m smart enough to tell the difference between salt and sugar based on looks alone.

I suppose I’m also no longer allowed to keep the two in identical canisters, sitting right next to one another, unmarked and usually filled to nearly the exact same levels.


I suppose I’ll have to buy one of those label-makers now… the ones that near-sighted great-gradmas have to use so they can tell the difference between the jar of gumdrops and the jar of buttons.

I suppose it could have been worse.  I could have posted it to Facebook.

See right in the middle of the comments, where Gloria says she has no comment?

I suppose that could have been worse too.

She could have decided she did, in fact, have a comment, and call me at home as I was dumping batter into the garbage can and weeping over my ineptitude.

Click on the link below to listen.

salt_cake.mp3

Continue reading “Lemon Cinnamon Icing… or “When I Confused the Salt and the Sugar”” »

Slow-Cooked Blueberry Cobbler


To celebrate my three-hour-plus visit to the dentist this past Friday, I present the absolute most sugary dessert I have made in months.

Yes, I said three-hour-plus.   Actually it was even more than that because it had been so long since I had been to see the dentist that the hygenist actually had to break my simple, routine cleaning into two separate appointments. So the second appointment began with the resumption of scraping, plying and carving plaque off my teeth. Sadly, from there, it went seriously downhill.

Recipe for Slow-Cooked Blueberry Cobbler

Sour Cream Chocolate Cake


Lone believed lost, the much-revered "Gary Green Cake Booth Countdown Sign" was discovered on my old iPhone - April 7,2012

I have made less than ten cakes in my entire life.  The first ever was just a little over two years ago, when I foolishly made a casual offer to bake one for my fellow control room members at GSN Live.  I didn’t think at the time I would actually have to go through with it, or that they would remind me of my promise every day from that point forward.  I definitely didn’t expect a sign reading “Countdown to Gary’s Cake” to end up on the wall, forever reminding me that, among other things, I have a very big mouth.

But when you make a promise to your cohorts in the control room, you’d be stupid not to come through.  You spend hours a day, five days a week, in a darkened room with these people, in close proximity, with zero windows and only one exit.  It’s a foxhole environment. You’re acutely aware of all sneezes, sniffles and congestion levels detectable in a cough. You discuss current headlines, wedding plans, the previous night’s dinner, sporting rivalries (I just listen), family frustrations, pet situations, in-laws, dental emergencies, broken bones, broken relationships, and on the rare occasion, politics.

It makes sense, considering the tight quarters, that you all do your best to get along with one another.  First of all, it makes the day go by faster.  But there’s also that annoying little thing called live television… and when things start to go wrong in front of the camera, you need to make sure you’re all on the same side of the situation. And even if there’s very little you can do to save it, you hope you at least have some people around you you’ll want to laugh about it with, even two years later (The “oh shit” moment happens at 4:34).

 

I didn’t know how to make a cake in 2009.  And I don’t mean a cake from scratch… even pre-made box mixes confounded me.  I didn’t own cake pans.  I certainly didn’t have things like flour, sugar and oil just sitting around my kitchen.  And if I did somehow manage to successfully pull a cake off, I had no idea how one moved it from its place of origin to a second destination without leaving half its frosting behind on the passenger seat of a car.

But you can’t let down your control room.  So I recruited MG who helped me purchase not only the necessities, but also suggested some candy lettering, because come on…  gay men are experts at snappy little messages.  Witness our Facebook updates.  They’re legendary! And if we can do the same thing across the top of a cake using colorful little letters made of sugar, saying no isn’t even an option.

Continue reading “Sour Cream Chocolate Cake” »