A cooking and baking journal

"Layering" on the Flavors This Week

5/17/09: Cheesy Meat Lasagna and Warm Chocolate Pudding Cake

  • Sources: Both recipes came from http://www.kraftfoods.com/foodandfamily/.
  • Defining moments: This would be my first ever lasagna and pudding cake. Actually, I never even heard of a 'pudding' cake until I came across the recipe on the Food and Family website.
  • What I learned/modifications: Guess what? I learned how to make instant pudding! :) Nah! I'm kidding. What I did learn was that there are two types of lasagna noodles: oven-ready and boil. The oven-ready are very easy to use (you just place the dry noodle in the casserole dish and allow the sauce to cook it), so I used them. The ones you have to boil are tricky to use and a bit sloppy. I never handled them before but that is what I gather from Annemarie.
Any modifications? I substituted ricotta cheese for the cottage cheese and I didn't really pay attention to the exact number of noodles to use. I just made the layers and eyeballed it. And instead of using ready-made pizza sauce I used our homemade tomato puree. I allowed it to reduce and thicken and then I added oregano, Italian seasoning, and granulated garlic to the pot.
I made a tiny mod for the pudding cake. Instead of using the boxed devil's food cake I made the cake batter from scratch using the "New Popular Devil's Food Cake" in Annemarie's Betty Crocker cookbook. The cake recipe uses melted chocolate so it is a bit different than your traditional. You should have been by the oven during the last ten minutes of baking time for this pudding cake! The cake started forming huge bubbles and rupturing like a volcano! The recipe instructions gave me a head's up to this, um, 'pudding cake quality' so I placed a cookie sheet under the 13x9 pan it was baking in. No spills made it to the bottom of the oven, and that is a very good thing!
  • How it tasted? The lasagna noodles were a bit crunchy on top and I think the flavors didn't stand out--according to my taste buds. Everyone else seemed to like it but I think it could have been better if I added more seasoning and placed sauce and ricotta cheese on top of the final layer of noodles. The ricotta cheese probably would have aided in the noodle cooking.
The pudding cake was a bit dry and the pudding top layer was rubbery. I could have baked it for too long. I wanted to make sure a toothpick would come out clean (like the recipe says) so I kept on waiting and waiting. The pudding probably threw off my toothpick readings so the cake ended up baking for too long of time. I mean, a typical cake bakes for 30 min. or so, but this pudding cake stayed in the oven for an hour and 10 min.! So I think 50 minutes in the oven would be just right for this dessert.

  • How about a 2nd time? If I pay attention to the points above I will make these two dishes a 2nd time.

Can you see the lava flow in this picture? :) Wow, that was some cake!

Here's an interesting tidbit: both recipes use a layering technique in their assembly. I do love layering, it always add visual appeal, but it always reminds me that we don't have a trifle dish. :( Ah, another wish of mine. I shall but it right beside my cake stand wish!

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