I’ve been watching a lot of the Great British Baking Show over the past week. Okay, I blew threw a whole season in one week, but I love it and honestly it inspires me to bake. I love that they focus on bakes that are traditionally British. In the same way, I love how individuals find reason to celebrate Southern foods and recipes. When we were in Charleston, I found a book called “Charleston Receipts,” which is a collection of traditionally Southern recipes that celebrate the culture of the Lowcountry. Because I’m from Ohio, I tried to hunt down a book that was all about traditional Midwestern baking, but overall came out at a loss. The Midwest is largely overlooked in this area. In addition, after living on the East Coast, I’ve gotten the impression that the Midwest gets somewhat of a bad rep for being bland and boring. It’s true that the Midwest is very different from New England, or the South or West Coast for that matter, but if i had to pick among them, the Midwest it would be.
The Midwest is a peaceful place where people are kind, they put their heads down and work without complaining, and have their own rich and celebrated family history dating back hundreds of years, even if it isn’t as well documented as other regions. It’s a place where so many immigrants have come together to create a unique, distinctive culture different from anywhere else in the USA. We have kielbasa for Christmas, knodel and sauerkraut for New Year’s, corned beef in March, and fatayer, hummus, shawarma, and fatoosh every other day of the year. It’s the true heart of America — the place of innovation and where so many people work to provide resources for the rest of the America (yes, we have a lot of corn!). If the Midwest is vanilla, then give me all of it ‘cause that’s my favorite flavor.
Midwestern traditions are something that I hold dear to my heart and am passionate about, and want to explore further on this blog to preserve that rich history. This week, I decided to concoct my own “icebox cake.” Icebox cakes aren’t specifically a Midwestern delicacy, but I did enjoy my fair share of them when I was a youngster — lots of dirt cake with gummy worms and Oreos, my favorite! They’re cool and creamy and elicit that summer feeling, and I can see why American mamas love making them. Charlottes and trifles were big in 1950s America, but to make it simple, women began layering wafer cookies with whipped cream rather than custard, which had to be baked. Layer some whipped cream and cookies, pop it in the icebox (aka refrigerator), and you’ve got yourself a cake. Because of their ease, icebox cakes took off, and allowed women to spend more time out of the kitchen. They’re meant to be made ahead of time, so that the cool whipped cream will run into the cookies, making them soft like a cake.
I was inspired by the 1950s, but also by my childhood in the Midwest. This cake is all about nostalgia. What is more nostalgic than Dunkaroos and Funfetti and Animal Cookies? Yes, remember Dunkaroos?! The whipped cream is spiked with Funfetti cake batter, layered with animal cookies that turn soft into a cake within a few hours, and topped with chocolate ganache and sprinkles. It reminds me of my days in Girl Scouts, baking cakes and covered in Funfetti frosting. I’m in love!
Dunkaroo Funfetti Icebox Cake
2 ¾ cups heavy cream
8 ounces vanilla yogurt
3/4 – 1 cup Funfetti cake mix
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup sprinkles
1 bag animal cookies
1 ½ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
- Make the whipped cream: Whip 2 cups of heavy whipping cream in a cool bowl until stiff peaks form. Add vanilla yogurt, vanilla extract, sprinkles, and Funfetti cake mix to taste, and then mix to incorporate.
- Layer: Align animal cookies in the bottom of a pie dish or an 8×8 dish. Top animal cookies with whipped cream mixture, then top the whipped cream layer with another layer of animal cookies. Keep layering cookies and cream until you have eight layers (four layers cookies, four layers cream). Your final layer should be whipped cream.
- Make the ganache: Heat ¾ cup heavy cream until it just starts to bubble at the edges. Take off the heat, and toss in semi-sweet chocolate chips, and let them sit for 3-5 minutes without stirring. Whisk ganache thoroughly, making sure no clumps have formed.
- Assemble: Top your final layer of whipped cream with the ganache. Add sprinkles to the top of the cake. Place in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours before serving. Enjoy!