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story.lead_photo.caption (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Kelly Brant)

Recipes that appear in Idea Alley have not been tested by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

Alley Kats, fire up your ovens. Today's column is sure to warm your kitchen, fill you up and please your sweet tooth.

For chocolate-loving bakers, this from-scratch cake from Steven Long sounds divine.

"This was my grandmother, Mabel Auger Oliver Long's, recipe. The icing is delicious, but can be temperamental,'' Long writes.

Mabel's Chocolate Cake


2 cups granulated sugar

1 cup shortening

2 eggs

2 teaspoons baking soda

2 cups buttermilk

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tablespoon vanilla extract


1 cup butter, softened

3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon corn syrup such as Karo

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 3 (9-inch) cake pans; set aside.

In a mixing bowl, cream sugar and shortening together. Add eggs and mix well.

Stir the baking soda into the buttermilk; set aside.

Sift together the flour and cocoa.

Add the flour in three additions, alternating with the buttermilk, to the shortening-sugar-egg mixture. Stir in the vanilla. Transfer batter to the prepared pans. Bake 30 minutes or until a tester inserted near the center comes out clean.

Cool completely before icing.

For the icing, cream the butter, cocoa and flour together in a glass or metal mixing bowl; set aside.

In a small saucepan, heat the sugar and 1 cup water to 230 degrees. Pour the hot syrup over creamed butter-cocoa-flour mixture and the vanilla. Beat by hand until the icing begins to turn dull in color and is the proper consistency to spread. If the icing begins to harden and does not spread easily, a small quantity of white Karo can be added.

If embellishing a boxed mix is more your style, this banana cake from Barbara Neal is as versatile as they get.

"I have used the following recipe for 50 plus years," Neal writes.

"It will make a layer cake with frosting added, a loaf cake or muffins."

Banana Cake


1 box deluxe white cake mix

1 cup Wesson oil

4 eggs, slightly beaten

2 cups mashed bananas to which 1 teaspoon of baking soda has been added

½ cup chopped pecans (optional)


1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, at room temperature

1 (16-ounce) box confectioners' sugar

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 to 2 tablespoons milk

In a large bowl, combine the cake mix, oil, eggs, bananas and stir with a wooden spoon. Fold in pecans, if using. Bake in desired pan(s) according to directions on cake mix box.

In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar and butter with an electric mixer. Add vanilla and mix well. If frosting is too thick, beat in 1 or 2 tablespoons of milk. Makes enough to frost a two-layer cake.

Most chicken pot pie recipes we've seen call for a short crust pastry. Neal's is different.

Chicken Pot Pie

3 cups cooked, chopped chicken

1 cup cooked, diced potatoes

3 (10 ¾-ounce) cans creamed soup (mushroom, celery, chicken; it's your choice)

1 large can mixed vegetables

8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

1 medium onion, chopped fine

1 cup self-rising flour

1 cup milk

¾ cup butter, melted

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Coat a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with nonstick spray.

In a large bowl, combine the chicken, potatoes, soups, canned vegetables, cheese and onion. Mix well. Transfer mixture to the prepared pan.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, milk and butter.

Pour over the chicken mixture. (The crust mixture will be thin, but Neal promises it works.) Bake 45 minutes.

Send recipe contributions, requests and culinary questions to Kelly Brant, Idea Alley, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, P.O. Box 2221, Little Rock, AR 72203; email:

[email protected]

Please include a daytime phone number.

Food on 02/12/2020

Print Headline: Cakes, pot pie to fill your kitchen with warmth

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