Wild Moon Cottage is a small working homestead in the pristine Ozark Mountains. We have dairy goats, poultry, organic herb and vegetable gardens, a start of a tiny fruit orchard, several black walnut trees, wild berries and fields of wildcrafting goodness. We raise our own milk, our own eggs, much of our own medicine and food. I do laundry by hand, make my own vinegar, candles, soap, bread, cheese ........ For a living I am an artist and herbalist. My goal for myself and our homestead is to be as self sufficient and self sustaining as possible.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Sunshine & Crock-pot Cakes

It is beautiful today!  Not that it's not beautiful every day  :)  It is cold and breezy but the sun is so bright and the sky so clear.

Last night I did more experimenting. I have the wood stove and grill to bake with but I had never baked in a slow cooker before, so i decided to try it. I ended up making Orange Spice Cake with Caramel Sauce. Sheesh it's hard being poor  :)  :)  :)

I make caramel often, i love it and it's easy to make. From plain pan candy to actual caramel. But I had read a while back about making a very simple caramel sauce in the crock pot. This was using a can of sweetened condensed milk, either left in the can (bad voodoo) or poured into a pint canning jar and slow cooked on high for 8 hours.

But I am very much a from scratch person, I almost always make my own sweetened condensed milk when needed. I do use dry powdered milk for it though. So, I decided to try the simple crock-pot caramel sauce with my homemade sweetened condensed milk. It worked wonderfully!!

While looking into crock pot caramel sauce I came across several recipes for crock pot cakes. Most used box cake mix but I reckoned that if a cake mix worked then a scratch cake would too.

So I made Orange Spice Cake and tried it. It came out perfect. The recipes for the box cakes said 2 to 2 1/2 hours, mine took 3 to 3 1/2. And what a lovely round cake it made. I’ll include both recipes below.

Slow cooker baking is probably best left for summer, when you want to keep the house cool etc. A completely off grid friend told me that small crock pots are easily run off solar as well. Summer baking is quite fine on the grill and winter baking with the wood stove but it's always good to have alternatives  :)

I intend to try this easy way to make caramel sauce on the wood stove and see how it works and how long it will take etc. But having a back up way with the slow cookers is a very good thing.


Juli’s Orange Spice Cake

This is my own recipe developed from a pioneer recipe. but you could use any recipe you have or use any plain white or yellow cake and add the spices and orange.

3 c flour  (can use most flours and mix. Oat flour is very good in this)
½ t sea salt
1 ½ t baking soda
¾ t baking powder
1 1/8 c honey (or 1 ½ c sugar) it delicious both ways
(if using honey, at it with the liquids, sugar with the dry)
½ t cinnamon 
1 t cloves
½ t nutmeg
1/4 t ginger
(use what spices you love and make do with what you have. You can use mulling spice or pumpkin spice too)

2 ¼ c water
8 T butter melted (unsalted or omit salt)
2 med eggs
½ to 3/4 t orange extract  (homemade works perfectly)

2 cups total of any of the following
dried cranberries
dry apples and/or pears (broken into small pieces)
walnuts or pecans

Put the water and butter in a pan and bring to boil. If using dry fruit add it to the water and butter and boil until fruit is tender.

Mix all dry ingredients well in a large bowl with a whisk. Allow the butter water mixture to cool a bit. Make a crater in the center of the dry and add the water mixture. Slowly and carefully mix all together. Add the rest of the wet ingredients and mix well.

Pour into greased cake or bread pans and bake around 350 deg for 30 minutes or until a brown and a wooden skewer comes out clean.

Or pour ingredients into a well greased crock pot, add the lid but use something to keep it a little ajar to allow moisture to escape. I used a metal skewer. Cook on high for 3 hours or so, until a wooden skewer comes out clean.

This cake bakes well on the grill or wood stove too.


Homemade Sweetened Condensed Milk

1 c dry milk
2/3 c sugar
1/3 c boiling water
¼ c melted butter

Mix all in a small bowl and whisk hard until it comes together and thickens to the consistency of syrup.

Or add all to a small mouth quart canning jar. Screw your blender bottom assembly onto the jar and blend on high until the proper consistency.

Now you have sweetened condensed milk that can be used in recipe that calls for it. Taste it and you’ll see  :)


Simple Crock-pot Caramel Sauce

Fill a pint canning jar ½ to ¾ with homemade sweetened condensed milk. Only use proper canning jars for this. Add the lid and screw on ring tightly. Put it in your crock pot or slow cooker and fill with water. You can bring the water to just under the jar ring or higher. Put the lid on and cook on high for 7 to 8 hours. Crock pots vary greatly so watch for the color you want. Light sauce is light brown and dark sauce dark. The darker it is the stronger the flavor. Don’t remove the crock lid unless you have to, that increases cook time, but do check after several hours and make sure there’s still plenty of water, add any you need and add about 30 minutes onto the cook time.

I read that this should last easily 5 days in the fridge. I've never had any sort of caramel last more than 2 days :)

This can also be canned but I have not done it myself.

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