Jean Tabor and her husband Jim moved from Iowa to Independence to be closer to their three adult children, seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
Jean is a retired realtor, while Jim is retired from banking. They met when Jean was attending college in Lamoni, Iowa, and have been married for 54 years. They often host groups to play cards. In addition, they enjoy golfing and especially like spending time at their vacation home on a lake in Arkansas.
Q: How did you learn to cook?
I grew up on a cotton farm in the bootheel, or the southeastern area, of Missouri. My mom helped with the farm, yet there was always a lot to do. I had one sister and two brothers and we all had jobs to do.
I started helping with the cooking when I was about nine or ten. My sister did not like to cook, but I loved it. My dad wanted cornbread every day, but he didn’t want my sister to make it since he liked mine better.
Growing up, I even killed and plucked chickens for our dinner. I no longer have to pluck chickens, but still love time in the kitchen.
Q: What do you enjoy cooking now?
I especially enjoy baking desserts, like pies or this cake. I enjoy clipping recipes from magazines.
Q: What tips do you have for someone starting to cook?
Start simple. If you like it, it becomes a part of you.
Q: This cake looks spectacular. What tips can you offer to those wishing to bake it?
I found the recipe in a magazine. While the recipe starts with a cake mix, it calls for several other ingredients, making it taste rich and moist. Oil is not added to the cake in this recipe, but mayonnaise is used instead.
Each of the layers are split horizontally, which is easy to do if you use a long-bladed sharp knife. A delicious, homemade custard is the filling that is spread between the layers.
The cake is full of finely chopped walnuts. I find the easiest way to chop them is to use a food processor or blender to finely chop them.
I doubled this recipe, so the cake looks large and elegant. I doubled all of the ingredients, baking four (9-inch) layers, then split each one of them. Be sure to double the custard and whipped cream so there is plenty to work with.
You will need to make the custard several hours before you plan to serve the cake so the custard can cool. The cake is frosted with whipped cream, which means if there happens to be any leftover, store it in the refrigerator.
Walnut Dream Cake
Makes 1 (9-inch) layer cake
1 (16 to 18-ounce) package white cake mix
½ cup cornstarch
½ cup packed light brown sugar
3 egg whites
1 cup water
½ cup mayonnaise
1 cup finely chopped walnuts
Custard filling (recipe below)
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons sugar
Walnut pieces, for garnish, optional
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease and flour 2 (9-inch) round cake pans.
In a large bowl, using an electric mixer at medium speed, beat together the cake mix, cornstarch, brown sugar, egg whites, water, mayonnaise and walnuts, scraping bowl occasionally, for 3 minutes or until well blended. Pour into prepared pans.
Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Set on a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes. Remove the cakes from the pans and allow to cool completely.
Split each cake layer in half horizontally. Stack the layers on a cake plate, filling between each layer with the custard filling.
In a deep bowl, using an electric mixer at medium speed, beat the cream until frothy.
Gradually beat in the sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form.
Frost the cake with the whipped cream. Garnish the top of the cake with walnuts, if desired. Store the cake in the refrigerator.
¼ cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
2 cups milk
3 egg yolks, slightly beaten
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Blend together the sugar and cornstarch in a 1-quart saucepan. Gradually stir in the milk, stirring until smooth. Stir in the egg yolks.
Cook, stirring constantly over medium low heat until the mixture comes to a boil. Boil 1 minute. Remove from the heat. Stir in the vanilla.
Spoon into a bowl. Cover the surface of the custard with plastic wrap. Refrigerate until the custard is cool.
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