Tuesday, September 21, 2010

As American as...Twinkies?

A dear friend wrote in an email recently that she associated America with Twinkies while growing up in Rhodesia and now living in South Africa, and she longed to taste one of those treats.  The creation came about when James A. Dewar, of the Continental Baking Company in Schiller Park, Illinois, noticed the machines making strawberry shortcakes were not used when strawberries were not in season.  He came up with this "Golden Sponge Cake with Creamy Filling" in the 1930s.  The original Twinkies were filled with a banana cream filling, but with rationing during WWII, the company switched to vanilla cream and never went back to banana.

I remember asking my mother to buy Twinkies for our lunch and occasionally she would, but always felt homemade cookies were better for us.  When I was in junior high, I remember reading that someone had put Twinkies in a time capsule and they were still good!  Surely, a testament to my mother's idea that homemade cookies were better for us!

It was at a Texas State Fair in Dallas that someone decided to take this treat to the next level and deep fry them.  I've never tasted one, nor do I have a craving to taste one, but it does show in America we think anything deep fried is better :)

This recipe comes from an April 2009 Family Circle magazine article, entitled, "Double Takes" showing off Twinkies, Ding Dongs, Snowballs, and Cream-filled Cupcakes.  I decided to try the Vanilla Sponge Cake recipe since I have had the "Canoe" cake pan for a few years now.  I bought my at Williams-Sonoma, they don't carry it anymore, but you can find it online at Amazon. It is a fun pan to have and I've made chocolate cakes in it a few times in addition to the yellow sponge cakes to surprise guests.

Vanilla Sponge Cake
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powde
1/4 tsp. salt
5 T unsalted butter
3 large eggs
1 cup plus 2 T granulated sugar

6 T unsalted butter, softened
2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 to 2 T milk

Heat oven to 350F-degrees.  Grease and flour Canoe pan or use a baking spray with flour.
Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl and whisk to blend.  Heat 1/2 cup water and the butter in a small sauce pan until the water just boils and the butter melts.  Remove from heat.

Beat the eggs with an electric mixer on high for 2 minutes.  Gradually add the sugar and beat until thick and golden, 4 to 5 minutes longer.  

Fold in the flour mixture until just blended.  Add the water and melted butter and stir until just blended.  Divide half of the batter evenly among the prepared pan indents, a scant 1/4 cup per cake.  I used a one-quarter cup scoop to achieve this.

Bake until cakes are just golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 15-17 minutes.  I baked mine in a Convection oven and it took 13-14 minutes, so watch them and remember that cake continue to cook even when they are removed from the oven.

Cool on a rack while preparing the filling.

Beat the butter until light and fluffy.  Add the confectioners' sugar and 1 tablespoon of milk and beat 5 minutes longer.  Add additional milk to create a fluffy filling.  I added 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract, even though the recipe didn't originally call for it.  Insert tip of a pastry bag into the center of the flat side of the cakes and squeeze.  (There is actually a tip made for filling cakes.)

Repeat for a total of 3 spots of frosting piped into the base of each cake, resembling the classic cream-filled treats.  Flip over cakes so flat side is down.  Repeat technique with the remaining cakes.

Mom may have not wanted us to have too many Twinkies growing up, but I'm positive she would have approved of these.  Enjoy!


  1. Oh Susan, I have just had a little giggle due to excitiment~! My friend you are remarkable...My kiddies are going to love these..down with RAW. I'm having one of these too! Now for good old South Africa to produce a baking tin like this one~ It is so fustrating when I see the unbelievable things you get over there. I will have to go hunting this week for one.

    You are very special Susan. Thank you
    Love you

  2. Dear Suzanne~Don't go looking...one is one it's way to you! Do you really think I would tempt you once more and not provide the pan|:D
    Love you, xoxo

  3. Homemade twinkies for Suzanne, how special!

  4. Very cool! They look great! Haven't had a Twinkie for years!