Author Topic: Vanity Cake Woes  (Read 3527 times)

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MerryCat

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Vanity Cake Woes
« on: August 28, 2012, 01:33:49 AM »
So, if you're a fan of Little House on the Prarie, you probably already know what these are. If not, they are supposed to be crisp, round balls of fried dough that are hollow in the middle. Unfortunately, when you follow the recipe the result is doughy and often not fluffy. I've searched every on line resource, but none of the results are exactly like the book. I've found that reducing the amount of flour, adding a pinch of baking powder and beating the eggs until they are super frothy will make the cakes fluff up like crazy, but the result is rather too eggy tasting.

Has anyone been able to make a variant on this that actually came out like the book?

NyaChan

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Re: Vanity Cake Woes
« Reply #1 on: August 28, 2012, 01:44:53 AM »
http://sixboxesofbooks.blogspot.com/2008/09/vanity-cakes-are-not-at-all-what-i.html  --- This seems to indicate that these didn't actually exist as does this:

http://www.thegardenhelper.com/cgi-bin/ubb/cgi/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic;f=39;t=000567;p=0

which has more specific explanations as to the fictional parts of the books and an alternative recipe.

NyaChan

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Re: Vanity Cake Woes
« Reply #2 on: August 28, 2012, 01:47:00 AM »
http://www.pioneergirl.com/blog/archives/tag/vanity-cakes

Also found this which is interesting for options

greencat

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Re: Vanity Cake Woes
« Reply #3 on: August 28, 2012, 02:05:41 AM »
It seems to me that if you took a smaller amount of dough, flattened it out pretty thin, greased it pretty good, and then folded it in half and pressed the edges together to make a "pocket" on the inside, you might get a hollow ball.  Layers of grease are how you make puff pastry puff, after all.

WillyNilly

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Re: Vanity Cake Woes
« Reply #4 on: August 28, 2012, 09:17:13 AM »
The end description sounds more like a cream puff shell or a popover, although both of those are baked.  They are both totally hollow in the center once cooked.  The cooking description sounds like fried dough, or donuts though.  I'm wondering if the description is based on vague childhood memories and is melding two items together.

Generally the way to get a hollow center is to let steam build up inside, and that's going to work better with a slower cooking like baking.  Both popovers and cream puff shells can end up rather greasy feeling, so a kid might assume they were fried, especially if a kid remembers mom making home made donuts as well.

Hmmmmm

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Re: Vanity Cake Woes
« Reply #5 on: August 28, 2012, 09:35:45 AM »
Reading the recipes, I don't see how they could ever be hollow as described in the book.  Her description reminds me of beignets.  But those require a yeast dough more similar to a donut batter but they do puff upand become a little airy in the middle.


wheeitsme

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Re: Vanity Cake Woes
« Reply #6 on: August 28, 2012, 12:37:39 PM »
They sound like beignets

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beignet

wheeitsme

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Re: Vanity Cake Woes
« Reply #7 on: August 28, 2012, 12:49:20 PM »
I did find this online:

"I think I found the solution. Once you mix up the flour, eggs and salt, roll into a ball then roll the ball flat and fry them. I rolled them to about 1/8 inch thick. If they're thicker they won't get done all the way through and if they're thinner they end up more like a chip with tiny bubbles on the surface, rather than a big bubble in the middle. They are a little like sopapillas with a little of a cream puff flavor. Make sure your oil is hot enough (375-400) and deep enough for your vanity cakes to bubble."


also, this:



http://www.flickr.com/photos/78002105@N00/5486871088/sizes/l/in/photostream/
« Last Edit: August 28, 2012, 12:55:15 PM by wheeitsme »

MerryCat

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Re: Vanity Cake Woes
« Reply #8 on: August 30, 2012, 02:18:07 AM »
Thanks for the feedback, everyone. I'll try these out and let you know how it turns out. If it turns out well, maybe there will even be pictures :)

Luci

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Re: Vanity Cake Woes
« Reply #9 on: August 30, 2012, 11:25:08 AM »
As wheeitsme quoted, my first thought was that the fat is not hot enough. Does Crisco get hotter than cooking oil?

I pulled out my grandmother's cookbook, 1904, and looked under Cakes, Cookies, Doughnuts, and Eggs and found nothing, even going to some recipes that were not called 'Vanity Cakes' but sounded plausible. The Index is in categories only, so I'll be glad to search more if anyone can think of another section to look under.

It even has a recipe for making your own yeast!

Oh Joy

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Re: Vanity Cake Woes
« Reply #10 on: August 30, 2012, 01:06:04 PM »
I also have not made them but will share an online recipe (because I keep forgetting to check my bookshelf for it at home, as I think I have a copy and I keep remembering this thread at the wrong time). 

It's on pages 202- 203 of the Little House Cookbook  http://www.amazon.com/dp/0064460908/ref=rdr_ext_tmb  and can be read through the Look Inside feature if you have an Amazon account, or perhaps you can find it at the library.  Is that the recipe you've been trying?  They have a few tips, including using an electric deep fryer with temperature controls and flouring the exterior before frying.

Good luck!