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Caster Sugar

----- Original Message ----- 
From: Heidi 
Sent: Sunday, November 22, 2009 2:18 PM
Subject: Caster Sugar Recipe Request

Hello Uncle Phaed

Would you be so kind as to try to find me instructions on how to make Caster Sugar? 
I have checked websites and your Archives with no success. The only thing I found out 
(by word of mouth) was to put it in a blender. I'd like to know for how long and how 
fine.  I am trying to find a recipe for Shortbread that uses Caster sugar as my 
Sister-in-Law lost hers.Thank You so much!


Hello Heidi,

"Caster sugar", as it's called in the UK, is just superfine sugar. That's what it's called in the U.S. - "Superfine sugar". It is ground finer than granulated sugar but not as fine as powdered sugar. Caster sugar got its name because the sugar was ground fine enough to be used in a sugar "shaker" or "caster", which is similar to a powdered sugar shaker like a salt shaker. Caster sugar's main benefit is that it dissolves quicker than granulated sugar.

To make a reasonable facsimile:

Put granulated sugar in a food processor and process for about a minute. use in any recipe calling for caster sugar.

You can, however, substitute ordinary granulated sugar for it in almost any recipe that calls for it.


Coffee Coffee Cake

----- Original Message ----- 
From: carolyn 
Sent: Wednesday, November 25, 2009 6:32 AM
Subject: Coffee cake recipe

I hope you can help me locate this recipe.  I don't have a year but I remember my mother 
making this and it was absolutely wonderful.

Some of the ingredients and I can't remember all of them:

Brewed coffee
And there are a couple more but ?????

Bake in oblong pan at ?? For ?? Mins.

I remember that it was very moist and very TASTY!!

My name: 

Hi Carolyn,

That's not much to go on. There are lots of coffee cake recipes with those ingredients plus more. See below for three possibilities.


Coffee  Cake  With  Raisins

1 c. raisins
2/3 c. hot coffee
2/3 c. shortening
1 c. sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 c. flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 tbsp. milk
4 tbsp. margarine
2 c. powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. almond extract

Pour hot coffee over raisins.  Let stand until cool.  Cream shortening and sugar. 
Add eggs.  Stir dry ingredients together, then add alternately with drained coffee 
to shortening mixture.  Stir in raisins last.  Spread on greased 10 x 15 pan.  Bake 
at 350 degrees for 15-17 minutes.  Meanwhile, heat milk and margarine.  Add powdered 
sugar and flavorings.  Beat until smooth.  Frost cake while hot.
Coffee  Cake

1 1/2 c. sugar
1 c. butter
3 eggs
1 c. molasses
1 c. raisins
1 c. strong coffee
2 tsp. soda
4 c. flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. cloves

Cream sugar and butter; add eggs and stir well.  Sift flour, spices and soda together. 
Mix alternately with molasses and coffee.  Add raisins last.  Bake in a loaf pan at 
350 degrees.  
Coffee  Cake

2 c. coffee
1 box raisins
2 c. sugar
2 sticks margarine
4 eggs
4 c. chopped nuts
3 c. self rising flour
1 tsp. allspice
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. cloves

Boil raisins in coffee until liquid is soaked up.  Let cool.  Cream together sugar 
and margarine.  Add eggs, continuing to cream until well blended.  Sift together dry 
ingredients.  Add.  Add raisins and coffee, then nuts.  In loaf pan that has been well 
greased and floured, bake 1 1/2 hours at 325 degrees. 

Brer Rabbit Gingerbread

----- Original Message ----- 
From: Mareni 
Sent: Wednesday, November 25, 2009 2:20 PM
Subject: ginger bread


This is Marie again.  

Was wondering if you could help me find a gingerbread recipe using B'rer Rabbit Molasses. 
I think my grandma got it out the Chicago Tribune or Sun-Times in the late 60's early 70's. 
I know it uses a dash of red pepper.



Hello Marie,

I can find several gingerbread recipes with Brer Rabbit molasses, such as the one below, but I cannot find any with red pepper.


Old  Time  Ginger  Bread

1/2 C. Shortening
3/4 c. Brer Rabbit (Green Label) molasses
1/2 c. sugar
2 eggs
2 c. flour
1 tsp. ginger
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. cloves
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. soda
1 c. buttermilk

Cream together shortening, molasses and sugar.  Sift together dry ingredients. 
Add with remaining ingredients and mix.  Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes in 
8 x 8 inch pan.  Cool and cut in squares.  

Paraffin in Chocolate

----- Original Message ----- 
From: Mary 
Sent: Sunday, November 22, 2009 10:00 AM
Subject: Info request....Paraffin Wax in food?

Hello Uncle Phaedrus,

Love your site and went through just about every listing to see if I could
find info on using "Paraffin wax".  I have several recipes that require the 
chocolate and the wax be melted together before covering candies.

I ignored the wax and used melted chocolate but it made the top real
hard and impossible to slice.   What's the reasoning behind using wax?
Is there a substitute method?  If not, where do you get this wax?

Many, many thanks!

Hi Mary,

Many older recipes for chocolate candies and chocolate coatings call for paraffin to be added to the chocolate. There are three reasons:

1) The resulting product has a glossier shine to it

2) The resulting product is firmer.

3) The resulting product has a slightly higher melting temperature. This is important in the summertime and in areas with warmer climates, such as the Southern U.S. It helps to keep your chocolate candies and chocolate-covered things from melting too easily and becoming messy.

Some folks say it isn't necessary and make it sound, well... "icky." See:

The texture of chocolate can also be improved by adding vegetable shortening to it.

If you do wish to add paraffin to your chocolate, you can find it in the grocery store, usually with the canning supplies. If you are using melted chocolate chips, you can melt the two together, but if you use other kinds of chocolate, it works best to melt them separately and then mix them when they're both melted.

There are instructions for using paraffin in chocolate here:

Tempering Chocolate

Chocolate Basics

Although the labels on ordinary paraffin wax may say "not for human consumption", I've never heard of anyone being harmed by eating the paraffin/chocolate combination. I live in the Southern U.S. , where paraffin has long been used in homemade chocolate candy, so I've been eating candies made that way all my life with no known ill effects. It's often sprayed on apples, etc to make them shine, so we've all probably ingested a bit of it at one time or another.


Un-Bland Roasted Chicken

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Ken " 
Sent: Thursday, November 26, 2009 1:17 PM
Subject: probably impossible request

I roasted a chicken - organic and all that - the other day and, although it 
was succulent, tender etc. it was so boring.
Do you have a delicious recipe for roast chicken? Perhaps a marinade or 
stuffing to enhance the "flavour" of the meat?
Cheers, Ken

Hi Ken,

Well, it's hard for me to choose a "delicious" recipe, since I don't actually try all these recipes. So, all I can do is pick a few that look to me like they'd be good and definitely not boring. See below for three such choices.


Roast  Chicken  Alla  Novarese

 4-5 lb. roasting chicken (washed, fat removed)
12 oz. ground veal
8 oz. Italian sausage, peeled
4 oz. Uncle Ben's rice
2 eggs
1 med. onion, chopped
4 oz. pancetta (Italian bacon)
Optional:  2 carrots, celery, 2 garlic cloves, Italian rice
Pinch nutmeg
Salt and pepper

 Cook rice (al dente) and set to one side.  In skillet, combine onion, 
pancetta, veal, garlic cloves; cook only partly.  Remove to a mixing bowl 
and stir rice in together with everything.  Fill cavity of roaster with the 
stuffing and sew closed with thread.  In preheated oven, place chicken after 
seasoning outside, approximately 2 hours at 325 to 350 degrees.  (Add water 
or broth or white wine).  Add carrot and celery cut in chunks to roaster pan.
Roast  Chicken  With  Chinese  Basting  Sauce

Serves 2 to 4. 1 (2 1/2 to 3 lb.) chicken
1/4 c. soy sauce
2 tbsp. honey
2 tbsp. cider vinegar
1/2 tsp. grated ginger root
1/2 tsp. minced garlic
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper

Place chicken in large deep bowl.  Combine remaining ingredients in blender 
or food processor fitted with steel knife and puree.  POUR SAUCE OVER 
CHICKEN, COVER AND REFRIGERATE OVERNIGHT.  Drain sauce off chicken and set 
aside and proceed with basic recipe.  After chicken has cooked 20 minutes, 
pour sauce over.  Continue roasting, basting with sauce every 20 minutes. 
(Chicken is cooked 25 minutes per pound.)
Roast  Chicken  -  Cantonese  Style

1 lg. chicken
1 c. sugar
5 oz. soy sauce
1/2 c. orange juice
1/2 c. red wine (opt.)
1 clove garlic, crushed (opt.)
1/8 tsp. ginger

Combine all ingredients and pour into the cavity of the chicken.  Marinate 
1 1/2 hours.  Roast in covered roaster for 2 1/2 to 3 hours at 325 degrees. 
Baste occasionally.

Timm has some tips:

To bring out the flavors of a chicken I usually brine it. Brining enhances the natural 
flavors and allows the chicken to absorb added flavorings while keeping the chicken 
moist and juicy

Brined Roast Chicken

1 roasting chicken, washed inside and out
For the Brine:
1/2 cup kosher salt 
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed 
4 cups water 
1 tablespoon black peppercorns 
1 to 2 sprig fresh thyme 
3 bay leaves 
4 cloves garlic, sliced 
1 lemon, sliced


Mix together salt, brown sugar and water in saucepan until sugar and salt dissolve. 
Bring to a boil and then remove from heat; add the herb and spices and allow cooling 
to room temperature. 

Place the chicken in a food-safe plastic bag and add slices of 1 lemon to the bag or 
place in the chicken's cavity. Add the brine to the bag, making sure the chicken is 
covered completely. Seal the bag, removing as much air as possible, and refrigerate 
for 1 hour per pound of chicken, agitating the brine mixture from time to time. 
Do not leave the chicken for more than 6 hours or it will become too salty.

Remove the chicken from the brine and discard brine. Thoroughly rinse the chicken with 
cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Place you favorite herbs under the skin of the 
chicken and roast at 400F degrees until the temperature reaches 170F degrees.

Sometime I place the chicken in a Reynolds Oven Bag. The chicken stays juicer; no basting 
required and cleanup is a snap.

"Will you not sit down and share our roast duck with apple sauce and sage and onion stuffing? ...Over a slice of the breast and a glass of the best any little differences may be adjusted."
Busman's Honeymoon by Dorothy L. Sayers

Copyright (c) 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 Phaedrus