When I was offered a review copy of Ree Drummond's cookbook, Pioneer Woman Cooks: Recipes from an Accidental Country Girl, I couldn't have been more excited. As I mentioned last week, her website and her life are both really something to drool over. I was only kidding when I said you would hate her of course. I'd like to think it's natural to be a bit jealous of her (I am!) but if you hate her, you probably have your own issues. She seems quite likable.
This cookbook does a wonderful job of translating her website into book form. The gorgeous step-by-step pictures are there, although those pictures are smaller by necessity. Even for an experienced cook, those step-by-step pictures are helpful. The humor, the stories, the fantastic photography and her beautiful family are all included in this book.
But what about the recipes? She couldn't include them all but I think she did a great job of selecting the best ones from her website. Her recipes are nothing new. I made Grandma Iny's Prune Cake and I can find that recipe in many of the cookbooks I own but what are the chances that I would have ever thought to make it without PW's presentation online (where it first caught my eye) and now in this book? Hmmm, let me do the math. Nada. Zilch. No way. It never would have occurred to me to give this recipe a try but Pioneer Woman does what Paula Deen does - she gets us excited about recipes that have been under our noses all along. Both use humor and personality and while I enjoy Paula Deen, I can relate to Ree Drummond's humor a bit more. And, no offense to Paula Deen but her earlier cookbooks were downright boring. They had the recipes but not a lot of 'Paula Deen'. Her later ones have a bit more personality but I think Pioneer Woman Cooks does a better job of bringing Ree Drummond's personality to life.
Back to Grandma Iny's Prune Cake. I will just link to Pioneer Woman's version here. I can't do this cake justice, photographically speaking, but here is my version:
Funny, she talks about her husband liking this cake so much yet she failed to tell him about the prunes for so long. My own husband started asking about this cake from the moment I poured the caramel on and for the first time, he complained about my taking my baking to work. He wasn't even satisfied when I said I wasn't going to take all of this cake. I ended up leaving it all home. I have been taking most of my baking to work for years and this recipe is what prompted him to complain that he didn't feel he was getting his fair share! I told him it was Spice Cake, by the way. That is the name of it in some cookbooks, so not a complete lie.
This is a deliciously moist cake. As I was eating it though, I started thinking, isn't this somewhat of a variation of Sticky Toffee Pudding, which is usually made with dates? I've heard people rave about Sticky Toffee Pudding but Prune Cake, not so much. Just goes to show how much presentation plays into food.
Actually do we even have 'prunes' anymore. Or are they 'dried plums'? I got the Sunsweet Gold Label prunes and I swear they were the best prunes (or dried plums) I ever had. So moist and flavorful. Why do prunes get such a bad wrap? They are so good. Now, prune juice is another story but I don't even like apple juice all that much even though I love apples.
Question of the Day: Do you like prunes (dried plums)?