INDIANAPOLIS - This week Hostess Brands, one of America's stalwart snack magnates, announced it was filing for bankruptcy. That could mean the end to many of our beloved snacks and treats, and end to an American era in branding.
And that could mean an end to the Twinkie.
This mysterious golden snack cake has been a part of American life for more than 80 years. It has spawned urban legends and has been poked and prodded by scientists.
"The iconic status of Twinkies is partly this perception that there's nothing real in it," said Ken Albala, professor of history at the University of the Pacific, in Stockton, Calif., who specializes in food history. "It's this cake filled with an unidentifiable sugary cream filling that never goes bad."- wsj.com
Twinkies have even had a few central television appearances and movie roles.
So, what happens if the last Twinkie disappears from the shelves? It's not the end of the world or even the dawning of the apocalypse. You merely preheat the oven and make your own.
Let's start with the basic cake part of the Twinkie – a simple golden sponge cake. It's got your major baking players: flour, butter, eggs and milk. These are the ties that bind.
Solving the mystery of the filling is simple. In one word: shortening. When mixed with butter and sugar and vanilla extract, any naysayers disappear. It's not on your diet, though, that's for sure.
A big plus about making your own Twinkies is that you can experiment. Starting off with the basic Twinkie recipe as a blank canvas, add orange zest to the batter and the filling for an Orange-Creamsicle. How about Devil's Food Twinkie with peanut butter filling? You can even make a few substitutions and create a vegan and gluten-free batch.
To get started on your own, you'll need a canoe pan. You can get them on Amazon if you do not already have one, or you can make them yourself, like I did with aluminum foil.
Golden "Twinkie" Cake:
2 cup all-purpose flour
3 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
½ cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup whole milk
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Spray molds/pan with non-stick spray.
Sift together flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl and set aside.
In a large bowl, beat together butter and sugar at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy. Next, beat in the eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute in between each addition. Reduce the mixer speed and add flour mixture alternating with the milk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Add the vanilla and mix until the batter just comes together. Over mixing with make your cake chewy. Makes 12 cakes.
Spray your Twinkie canoes and bake at 350 for 15 minutes, or until the cakes are just a light golden color and a tester inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let cool.
¼ cup shortening (I prefer Crisco brand)
¼ cup margarine
1 cup sifted powdered or 10x sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
Beat together the shortening and margarine until light and fluffy. Add the powdered sugar in a little at a time and beat on high until peaks form. Add vanilla and beat for one minute. Place in prepared icing tubes for piping into cakes.
To fill the cakes, insert the icing tip – preferably a large star tip – into three points along the flat-side of the cake, about 1/8 of an inch deep. Squeeze lightly until you see the filling begin to ooze out.
For more on food and for more recipes check out twinklevanwinkle.com.
Twinkle VanWinkle was born in a small town in Mississippi. A life-long lover of music, media and food, she grew up following those three things along her path. She has almost 20 years of professional cooking under her apron strings, feeding thousands of friends, family and other folks while working in restaurants and bakeries in Oxford, Miss. She baked 300 apple pies for the "Oprah Winfrey Show" and appeared on "The Best Of..." in the same year. Along with producing dynamic entertainment content for LIN Media, she is a mother, musician and social media fanatic.
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