By Rochelle delaCruz
In the month of July when it comes to dessert, you may think ice cream but I think cake. It has to do with picnics. And even though we go on picnics year round in Hawai`i, here in the Northwest it is something we do mainly in July, which explains my cake-in-July association.
When a friend from Hawai`i started describing a Seattle version of liliko`i cake, I thought: “Cakes to Take to Picnics” - there’s the July Foodstuffs! Because we’re hauling food when we go to picnics, cakes work better than other desserts since they’re easier not only to carry, but to eat at the park or the beach.
In thinking more about it, I decided that for a cake to be the star at a picnic, there are two requirements: first, the cake must be fairly sturdy and easily transported – we don’t care how gorgeous it looks…it cannot be a wobbly, delicate concoction that can slide around and make a mess on the floor in the back seat of the car! So this is a sheet cake that we carry in the pan it is baked in. And second, it needs to be easy to make because picnics are supposed to be fun which for most of us means the least amount of work possible. So forget about those fancy cakes that start from scratch requiring exotic ingredients such as ganache or mascarpone; let’s begin instead with a cake mix. And nevah mind the heavy cream which we rarely use in Hawai`i anyway. A stroll through my ancient island recipe books shows Avocet, Dream Whip and now, Cool Whip as a key dessert ingredient.
Here’s the recipe for the fabulous cake that started me thinking about July picnics:
1 box yellow cake mix but replace water with liliko`i (passion fruit) juice, add a little yellow food coloring and bake as directed.
Topping: Combine 2 cups liliko`i juice and ½ c. sugar in a pan and bring to a boil. Add ¼ cup of cornstarch dissolved in ¼ cup water and stir. When mixture thickens, set aside to cool.
Frosting : Beat 8oz Philadelphia cream cheese with 1/3 cup sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla until well blended. Add 1 small thawed Cool Whip.
Frost cake all over, then add the cooled topping.
*For a guava cake, substitute liliko`i with guava juice and add a little red food coloring.
This recipe is from Francisca Lehr who is from Molokai and leader of the Seattle music group Olokani .
Inspired by Frani’s cake, I rummaged through my recipe files and found a few more cakes guaranteed to make you the favorite auntie or uncle at the next picnic:
Melt ¾ cup firmly packed brown sugar and 1 block of butter in the oven in the suggested cake pan size on the box. In a separate bowl, combine
1 box yellow cake mix
Drain one large can fruit cocktail (or any other fruit) and spread evenly over melted brown sugar and butter on the bottom of the pan. Then spread the cake batter over and bake 350º for 40-60 minutes (baking time varies with cake mixes.)
Prepare 1 pkg white cakemix as directed.
Prepare a small box strawberry jello with 1 cup hot water. Chill until slightly thicken and fold into 1 large tub of Cool Whip. Spread over cooled cake and return to refrigerator to chill until set.
Dump 1 can of cherry pie filling into a 9” x 13” pan. Then dump into same pan a #2 can crushed pineapple.
Dump 1 pkg white cake mix (dry) over this and chop 1 block of butter or margarine to dump on top.
Sprinkle ½ cup of your favorite nuts (chopped) all over. Bake at 350º for 1 hour.
Prepare 2 boxes pudding cake mix as directed and add 1 tsp. vanilla. Bake at 350º. When cake is still hot, poke holes in with a fork. Then pour 2 cans of 7-Up over the entire cake. Let stand for one hour or more in its original baking pan.
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