Deane's Blog


Vanilla Dream Cake

RecipesDeane Watters1 Comment
 I made a delicious Lemon-Vanilla Dream Cake for the shower we hosted for our daughter's welcome to motherhood shower.
Many friends asked for the recipe, so here it is!



  • 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 vanilla bean, scraped
  • 2 large eggs


Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter three 8 inch round cake pans. Set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.In a medium saucepan over medium high heat, combine water and sugar. Bring to a simmer and stir until sugar dissolves, about 1 minute. Remove from heat and add butter, stirring until melted.Let cool completely (about 20 minutes in the freezer) and then whisk in vegetable oil, vanilla extract and the scrapings from the vanilla bean. Beat in eggs. Whisk in dry ingredients, until smooth.Divide batter evenly between prepared pans and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.Let cakes cool in pans until cool to the touch, add lemon curd between layers - then frost.
Lemon Curd:
  • 5 Tbsp unsalted butter, diced
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 5 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 large egg

Place butter in heat safe bowl - set aside. Whisk together the granulated sugar, fresh lemon juice, egg yolks, and egg in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly to prevent the eggs from curdling. Cook until mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon 6-8 minutes. Remove curd from heat and strain through a fine mesh sieve over the bowl containing the butter. Stir to combine. Cover with a plastic wrap, pressing directly on the curd surface. Refrigerate until set at least four hours or overnight.

Lemon Frosting:

  • 1 1/2 cups butter
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 6 cups powdered sugar
  • 2-3 Tbsp milk
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 4 tsp grated lemon peel

In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream butter until light and fluffy. Add salt and vanilla. Add powdered sugar 1 cup at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition.Increase speed to medium and add milk and lemon juice.  Beat until blended. Add 4 tablespoons grated lemon peel and beat for 3 minutes. If your frosting is too thick, add  1 tablespoon of milk.

To assemble: Assemble the 3 layers with a thick layer of lemon curd in between the layers. Then apply a thin crumb coat of frosting on the top and sides. Pop the cake into the freezer to harden the crumb coat for about 10 minutes. Apply one final thick and even layer around the outside of the cake. Store in the fridge if not serving within the next couple of hours. Let cake come to room temperature before serving (let cake sit on counter for about 30 minutes before serving to warm up!).
© The Novice Chef - (this is the site for the original vanilla dream cake recipe. I made changes to the recipe by adding the lemon curd and lemon frosting)

The Way to a Man's Heart...

Family, RecipesDeane Watters1 Comment

"Oh boy," he quietly exclaimed when the perfectly formed pie topped with little pie crust hearts came into view. A piece was cut and carefully placed on a plate and set before him. He picked up his fork and slowly dipped it down into the buttery crusts encasing the thick layer of sugar and cherry goodness. Picking up the first small piece he slowly raised it to his lips. Opening his mouth, he set the delightful pastry onto his tongue, his lips closing to pull it off the fork. Chewing slowly he savored the sample as sweetness mingled with the tart cherry flavor. Yes, he remembered the many past Valentine's Days where this very same sensation flooded his taste buds. Love. That's what this feels like. Good old fashioned love. The way to a man's heart.... Yep, once again, I made my way into Brian's heart by presenting him with his favorite Valentine's Day Cherry Pie. (You can read about it  here .)  It turned out to be one of the best ever made by me in this kitchen! Well, when you only taste this sweetie once a year, each one seems better than any of the years before! It would be hard to judge!

I wonder if you would like to make one of these delicious delights for yourself?  If so, this one's for you.

For most of the pies I make, I usually use the old beaten up copy of Betty Crocker's Cookbook that my mom gave me for our wedding many years ago. The recipes are incredibly reliable which predictably produces  a great outcome. (Ask my husband and kids!)


Pastry for Two-Crust Pie (below)

1 1/3 cup sugar

1/3 cup flour

2 cans (16 ounces each) pitted red tart cherries, drained

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

2 Tablespoons butter

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Prepare pastry. Mix sugar and flour. Stir in cherries. Turn into pastry-lined pie plate; sprinkle with almond extract and dot with butter. Cover with top crust that has slits cut in it; seal and flute. Bake until crust is brown and juice begins to bubble through slits in curst, 35-45 minutes.


1 egg

1 Tablespoon white vinegar

Warm water

6 cups flour

2 cups Crisco

1 Tablespoon salt

Break egg into a glass measuring cup, stir in white vinegar, and add enough warm water to reach the 1-cup mark; set aside. Put flour, Crisco and salt into a large mixing bowl and mix with your hands until well combined. Add egg mixture and continue mixing dough with your hands to form a rough ball.Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface, divide into 6 equal pieces and shape each into a flat disk. Use immediately or wrap disks in plastic and freeze up to two months. Defrost dough in refrigerator before using. Makes plenty for six 9" pie shells.

Since the pie crust recipe makes 6 crusts, I bought four cans of tart cherries and made two pies with them. Since I had another two pie crusts left over and I had a can of pumpkin in the pantry, I made one pie with it and a few small hand held pies with the remaining crust.

After baking all three (plus the three little ones) I cooled them all at room temperature. I set a side the Valentine pie for that night's consumption and the others were thoroughly wrapped in Saran wrap and then completely in aluminum foil. The pie's name, date and instructions for warming up were written in marker on the foil. CHERRY PIE  2/14/17 THAW COMPLETELY IN REFRIGERATOR UNCOVERED. ONCE THAWED, WARM IN 300 OVEN FOR 15 MINUTES.

They tell me the pies are good for two months in the freezer. This is a great make-ahead tip and both the cherry and pumpkin pies came out perfectly from the freezer and thaw.

Now that your taste buds are totally enthralled with the idea of a piece of this scrumptious  pie, go to the kitchen and get started! Let me know if you have any questions.

Nobody, and I mean nobody, doesn't like pie; especially when it is targeted directly at the heart.


Pumpkin Cake and Kid Lit

Recipes, Good ReadsDeane Watters3 Comments

Once a month a group of children's literature fans and I get together around a book written for kids. This talking together is great fun but what we really look forward to is gathering around the table afterwards to eat something delicious and continue our talk about the book or whatever else comes up. We usually end up laughing a lot, which is just so fun.

In our discussion last night, we recalled a scene in Eleanor and Park when the family sat down to eat a special Christmas meal. Their abusive step-dad (Richie) had given the mom enough money to buy ingredients to make a traditional Christmas dinner. In this dysfunctional family, Richie's anger ruled everybody with a terrifying control. After they were done eating Richie realized that there was no pumpkin pie and he went berserk, not understanding how she could forget to buy pumpkin to make a pie. Screaming and swearing, he threw the dessert she did make across the room. This was just one of many stressful moments in this heartbreaking young adult novel.

So in spite of this awful character, I made something with the pumpkin I didn't forget to buy:

Three Layer Pumpkin Cake


3 cups flour, 1 1/2 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp salt, 3/4 cup unsalted butter (softened) 2 cups sugar, 3 large eggs, 1 Tbsp vanilla extract, 1 (15 oz) canned pumpkin, 1/4 cup vegetable oil, 1 cup milk

12 oz. (1 1/2 packages) cream cheese(softened) 3/4 cup unsalted butter(softened) 3 Tblsp pure maple syrup, 2 tsp vanilla extract, 2 tsp cinnamon and 6 cups powdered sugar


Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Grease 3, 8-inch round cake pans. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, mix flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl/stand mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in vanilla, pumpkin and vegetable oil. Beat in the flour mixture alternately with the milk.

Divide batter evenly into prepared pans. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove pans from oven and immediately place in the freezer for 45 minutes. (This keeps the cake moist by immediately stopping the baking so the cake does not continue to bake when you remove it from the oven.)

For the frosting: In a large bowl, cream butter and cream cheese until smooth. Beat in maple syrup, vanilla and cinnamon. Add confectioners' sugar and beat on low speed until combined, then on high until frosting is smooth.

Assemble the 3 layers with a thick layer of frosting in between each layer. Then apply a thin crumb coat on the top and sides. Pop back in the freezer to harden the crumb coat for about 10 minutes.

Apply one final thick and even layer around the outside of the cake. Store in the fridge until ready to serve.

This is a delicious dessert and we have mostly reserved it as our Rachel's September birthday cake, because she loves anything pumpkin.

I hope you get a chance to bake one sometime.

Tortellini-Sausage Soup

RecipesDeane Watters3 Comments

Welcome to September! Are you aware of the fact that I look forward to this orange and brown season more than any of the others? I'm guessing you are. You've probably heard it way too many years in a row to have forgotten. I've probably been a bit over the top in my expressions of exuberance in the midst of such beauty and comfort but there is just a relief and a joy that comes once that horrid humidity lifts from our shoulders and the cooler, dryer air takes over. It just goes to my head!

One of the ways I welcome the September coolness is by cooking up my first big pot of tasty, mouthwatering soup. Last night was the night!

This soup did not disappoint, especially when served with a warm baguette and icy cold milk. A simple green salad rounded out the flavors wonderfully.

Perhaps you might like to gift your family with such deliciousness!


Tortellini-Sausage Soup

Brown 1 lb. ground Italian pork sausage in a large stockpot over medium heat; drain.

Add: 1 cup onion, chopped and 2 cloves garlic, minced; saute until tender.

Stir in 4 cups beef broth, 1/2 cup dry red wine, (or beef broth) 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes, 28-0z can petite diced tomatoes, 15-oz can tomato sauce, 2-3 cups diced carrots, 1/2 tsp dried basil, 1/2 tsp dried oregano and 1 Tbsp. dried parsley.

Bring to a boil; stir well. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 30 minutes.

Stir in 2 cups chopped zucchini and 2 cups of corn, and a 9-oz. pkg. refrigerated cheese tortellini, uncooked; cover and simmer for an additional 15 minutes.

Makes 10-12 servings.

And as I go on and on about September I must confess with Ms Peggy Horton:

"Ah, September!

You are the doorway to the season that awakens my soul...

but I must confess that I love you only

because you are a prelude to my beloved October."


Ahh...truth be told. What are some of the ways you welcome autumn?