November 25, 2012


Hostess went off long before its Twinkies (Christopher Caldwell, 11/23/12, Financial Times)

[T]he dark age of US cuisine was a golden age of good jobs. Hostess, 80 per cent unionised, was a throwback. It was also $1bn in debt. Hostess had asked its 18,500 workers to take steep wage cuts and sought to extricate itself from responsibilities to pay into pension funds until 2015. Executives warned the company would die otherwise. They were not bluffing. The company blamed one of its bakers' unions for having "launched a campaign to cripple the company's operations". Those workers accused the company's investors of "vulture capitalism". An argument is about to begin on whether the bakers or the bankers were right.

If there was mismanagement, it was well-meaning mismanagement. Far from being stripped by union-bashers, Hostess was an experiment in union promotion. As Fortune magazine has pointed out, the private equity company Ripplewood Holdings, its top shareholder after 2009, sought out union-friendly companies to strengthen. Ripplewood was close to Richard Gephardt, former House minority leader, and other Democrats.

Fear not, Twinkling Good Vanilla Snack:

Remember those golden vanilla snack cakes from when you were a kid? Soft, springy and full of rich creamy white filling. Well, these snack cakes will bring you right back to Saturday morning cartoons and school lunch boxes, without the chemical additives. These cakes won't last through a nuclear winter like the urban legend says, they are so good they will disappear in a twink of the eye! 

vanilla snack cakes

snack cake filling

1) Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spritz a filled cake pan (aka cream canoe pan) with a light layer of cooking spray. Set aside.

2) Place all ingredients except beaten egg whites into a large mixing bowl. Beat until smooth.

3) Working in thirds, fold the beaten egg whites into the batter. Take care to keep the batter light; fold, don't beat.

4) Fill each section of the snack cake pan 2/3 full. The cakes will puff quite a bit during baking, but will shrink back during cooling. Bake the cakes in a preheated oven for 8-12 minutes, until golden brown.

5) Remove the pan from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes. Using a flexible spatula, gentle remove each cake and cool flat side down on a rack until completely cool. In the meantime, prepare the snack cake filling.

6) In a small saucepan cook flour and milk over medium heat until a paste forms. Stir constantly and do not allow mixture to brown. Remove from heat and let cool 1 minute. Add vanilla and stir until smooth. Press a piece of plastic wrap down on the surface of the paste to avoid forming a skin and set aside to cool completely.

7)In the bowl of your mixer beat butter, shortening, and sugar until fluffy, scraping bowl to fully incorporate ingredients. Add cooled flour/milk mixture and continue to beat 5 minutes on medium-high speed until smooth and creamy. Use to fill snack cakes or cupcakes. Filling will remain creamy; store at room temperature 3-4 days.

8) To fill snack cakes: Place about 1 cup of filling into a clean pastry bag fitted with a round pastry tube, or use filling tool included with snack cake (cream canoe) pan. Gently insert the tube into the underside of the cake, about halfway through the cake. Using gentle pressure, squeeze a small amount of filling into the cake. You'll feel the cake expand under your fingers. Do not overfill, or the cake will burst. Repeat for a total of 3 times per cake. Store cakes well covered at room temperature for up to 4 days.

Posted by at November 25, 2012 10:06 AM

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