Weekend Cooking: A Lament to Twinkies

**A note from me regarding Hurricane Sandy can be found at the bottom of this post.**

In light of the bad news that came out of Irving, Texas from the Hostess Company yesterday, I reworked my Weekend Cooking post to honor the darling of American snack cakes, the Twinkie.  While I’m not a Hostess fan–I’m more of a Tastykake girl–I recognize that Hostess has a rabid fan base, many of whom are probably clearing Twinkies, Ho-Hos, and Donettes from the shelves of their local grocers as I type.  Actually, I know this to be a fact: four stores in my area were completely sold out when I went on a Twinkies run this morning.

The Twinkie was invented in 1930 by the late James. A Dewar, then the Chicago-area regional manager of Continental Baking Company, the parent corporation behind the Hostess Trademark.  At the time, Continental made ‘Little Short Cake Fingers’ only during the six-week strawberry season, and Dewar realized that the aluminum pans in which the cakes were baked sat idle the rest of the year.  He came up with the idea of injecting the little cakes with a creamy filling to make them a year-round product.  While on a business trip to St. Louis…he saw a sign for Twinkle Toe Shoes, and the name Twinkies evolved.  –Todd Wilbur, author of A Treasury of Top Secret Recipes, pg. 73

Did you catch that line about the ‘six-week strawberry season’?  I can’t believe that fresh fruit was ever used as filling in a mass-produced snack cake.

Jokes aside, almost 18,500 Hostess employees now find themselves unemployed.  It would be remiss to blithely post a recipe without acknowledging the company’s employees.  I’ve read online that parts of the Hostess Corporation may be auctioned off and hope that employees will find work with the new company(ies).  A company that, for the last eight decades, produced such iconic (albeit nutritionally ‘challenged’) products as Twinkies and Wonder Bread shouldn’t just go the way of the 8-track player.

In the interim, those who are hankering for their favorite spongy, creme-filled snack cake can make a relatively decent facsimile in their own kitchens.  This recipe comes from a cookbook I swiped from my sister: A Treasury of Top Secret Recipes by Todd Wilbur.  Covering everything from See’s Lollipops to The Cheesecake Factory’s Pumpkin Cheesecake, the book is chock full of insider information and secret ingredients.

Let’s get to it.  Here’s what you’ll need to make Twinkies at home:

Seems pretty simple, right? Not pictured: water

To make the Twinkies in their traditional shape, a bit of handiwork on your part is required.  You’ll need aluminum foil, a cylindrical spice or sprinkle container, and the patience of a saint.

The recipe calls for 10 molds, placed in a rectangular cake pan (for stability).

I tried several methods of fashioning my molds.  Author Todd Wilbur is delightfully vague on this step. “Fold a piece of aluminum foil in half twice.  Wrap folded foil around spice bottle to create a mold.”  He fails to mention how to fold the corners–I realize now I should have rounded them a bit more.  I ended up doing a modified ‘gift wrap corner’ on the edges.

I wrapped the ends like a present.

You’ll need two bowls for the first step.  Separate the eggs and beat the whites until they are stiff-about 4 minutes.  In another bowl, add 2/3 cup of water to the pound cake mix.  When fully mixed, fold the whites into the batter and incorporate with a spatula.  Don’t over mix or you’ll flatten the whites and your Twinkies will turn into lead sinkers.

This shows the whites added to the cake mix.  I then mixed gently until the whites were just blended.

I poured the batter into the molds–the recipe says it will yield 10 Twinkies but since we’re only two people, I made fewer.

They look a bit like baked potatoes…

I baked the Twinkies at 325°F for 43 minutes–13 minutes longer than the recipe called for–and they came out a lovely golden color.  The directions say to use a toothpick to make three holes in the bottom for filling, but I improvised and used a straw.

I put the icing in a Ziploc, put a few pieces of tape on the bottom corner to reinforce it. Presto! Piping bag.

While the Twinkies were baking, I whipped up the icing–marshmallow creme, Crisco, powdered sugar, vanilla, salt, and water.  Instead of getting my cake decorating supplies, I used a Ziploc bag to pipe the icing into the Twinkies.  Remember to add a few pieces of tape to the bottom corner to reinforce the ‘piping tip’.

Not the prettiest Twinkies on the block, but they’ll suffice!

The verdict?  During Twinkie withdrawal, these may be just what the doctor ordered!  My trusty taste tester, Anthony, declared them better than the real thing–he said they didn’t taste quite as ‘chemical’.

My attempt had some Twinkie characteristics but didn’t quite hit the mark; with a few tweaks, they might be better.  If I ever make these again, I’m going to use a smaller container as my mold template or less batter in each mold–these were just too big.  The cake was more dense than a real Twinkie.  Maybe Angel food cake would be better than pound cake?

After taking photos, I sliced a third of cake (lengthwise) from my Twinkies and filled them.  They were more palatable with less cake.

After slicing off the bottom third of the Twinkie, they were much better!

Hostess Twinkie

from Todd Wilbur’s A Treasury of Top Secret Recipes

                    CAKE

  • nonstick spray
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1 16-oz box golden pound cake mix
  • 2/3 cup water
                    FILLING
  • 2 teaspoons very hot water
  • Rounded 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups marshmallow creme (one 7-oz jar)
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F.
  2. Fold a piece of aluminum foil in half twice.  Wrap the folded foil around the spice bottle to create a mold.  Leave the top of the mold open for pouring in the batter.  make ten of these molds and arrange them on a cookie sheet or in a shallow pan.  Grease the inside of each mold with a light coating of nonstick spray.
  3. Disregard the directions on the box of cake mix.  Instead, beat the egg whites until stiff.  In a separate bowl combine cake mix with water and beat until thoroughly blended (about 2 minutes).  Fold egg whites into cake batter and slowly combine until completely mixed.
  4. Pour the batter into molds, filling each one about 3/4 inch.  Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes or until the cake is golden brown.
  5. For the filling, combine the salt and hot water in a small bowl and stir until dissolved.  Let this mixture cool.
  6. Combine the marshmallow creme, shortening, powdered sugar, and vanilla in a medium bowl and mix well with an electric mixer on high speed until fluffy.
  7. Add the salt solution to the filling mixture and combine.
  8. When the cakes are done and cooled, use a toothpick* to make three small holes in the bottom of each one.  Move the toothpick around inside of each cake to create space for the filling.
  9. Using a cake decorator, pastry bag, or Ziploc, inject each cake with filling throughout all three holes.
Yields 10 cakes
Thanks to Candace over at Beth Fish Reads for hosting Weekend Cooking!

On a personal note: Thank you so much to everyone who sent emails, texts, cards, thoughts, and left comments here in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.  We are safe and our property sustained only minor damage.  Our power was restored after 9 days–with the help of utility workers from across the country–only to have a snowstorm blow through a day later, taking down more trees, plunging people back into the dark and cold.  My neighborhood was under an evacuation order during the second storm, but we were fortunate again.  Sadly, many people in our town and neighboring communities–especially Mantoloking–were not so lucky.  I’m working on a post of the aftermath and hope to have it posted in the next few days.  Thanks again for your concern and kindness. xo

 

18 Comments

  • At 2012.11.17 20:30, Beth F said:

    I was never a bit Hostess or TastyCake fan, but it’s kind of sad that Twinkies and those pink things (I forget what they’re called) are gone from our shelves. Thanks for the Twinkie lookalikes. I’ll have to get Mr. BFR on the mold thing. It’s just the kind of challenge he’d like.
    Beth F´s last blog post ..Weekend Cooking: Pure Vanilla by Shauna Sever

    • At 2012.11.17 20:36, bermudaonion(Kathy) said:

      I’m sad about Hostess going under but I never supported them. I didn’t even like Twinkies as a kid. Those homemade Twinkies are a lot of work!
      bermudaonion(Kathy)´s last blog post ..Saturday Snapshot

      • At 2012.11.17 20:45, Jess (The Cozy Reader) said:

        Thanks for this! I pinned this and shared it on Facebook. 🙂 The day without Twinkies is a sad day.
        Jess (The Cozy Reader)´s last blog post ..Giveaway | Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm: A New English Version by Philip Pullman

        • At 2012.11.17 23:45, Michelle said:

          I am sad about this because it effects my small town-we have a Wonder Bread factory with quite a few employees. I’ve heard many opinions though that employees were not treated well for years. It is sad to see a food icon go by the way side though. Thank you for working so hard to create a real Twinkie for those that will miss them.
          Michelle´s last blog post ..Chilly weather makes me think of soup!

          • At 2012.11.17 23:47, MarthaE said:

            Thanks for sharing this nice highlight. Although I am another person who wasn’t a big Twinkie or similar snack fan, it is sad about the closing of Hostess and the special concern for their employees.
            I am glad that you have not suffered too badly during Sandy and the snow storm. The weather has hit your area very hard and I have had the NE coast in prayers.
            MarthaE´s last blog post ..Winners of The Trouble With Cowboys and Holdiay Affair

            • At 2012.11.18 07:57, Jenners said:

              I was so worried when we had that stupid snow storm. The last thing everyone needed.
              And I know what you are missing in the twinkies: lots of chemicals and preservatives!

              • At 2012.11.18 08:37, rhapsodyinbooks said:

                Wow, I think your twinkies came out quite impressively! I personally am a Tastycakes Girl, however! (although I always liked to eat Hostess cupcakes, especially by making a sandwich out of the frosting and the inner goo)
                rhapsodyinbooks´s last blog post ..Review of “What Are You Looking At?” by Will Gompertz

                • At 2012.11.18 09:28, Joanna said:

                  I can probably find all the ingredients except one – the patience of a saint. No way will I be trying these at home! I like the sound of that top secret cookbook though, that might be fun to have!
                  Joanna´s last blog post ..Weekend Cooking: Party Food

                  • At 2012.11.18 09:59, Care said:

                    Hang in there! I’m cheering for you and your ultimate Twinkie recreation success. And for all the victims of Hurricane Sandy. We were just driving from Colo to Kansas and saw quite a few utility trucks convoying from what we assume was the Sandy devastation areas.
                    Care´s last blog post ..Private Demons

                    • At 2012.11.18 10:48, Joy Weese Moll (@joyweesemoll) said:

                      I was a Hostess kid, but they had to be banned from my diet when I decided to be a healthy adult because I don’t seem to have any sense around stuff like that. In fact, it would make more sense for me to make them if I want to eat them — kind of a natural control on the frequency. What a fun post!
                      Joy Weese Moll (@joyweesemoll)´s last blog post ..Botanical Garden of the Ozarks — Saturday Snapshot

                      • At 2012.11.18 11:53, Sandy said:

                        I think my mom put Ding Dongs in my lunch when I was a kid, but once I was able to make an informed decision of my own, I rejected all this stuff! When I hear about Twinkies I can’t help but think about Zombieland, where the one guy was on a mission to find them.
                        Sandy´s last blog post ..Sunday Salon: Catch-up

                        • At 2012.11.18 13:19, SprungAtLast said:

                          What’s a twinkie without the chemical aftertaste?

                          Great effort! I haven’t had a twinkie in years and won’t miss them. Now sno-balls, that’s another story …
                          SprungAtLast´s last blog post ..Country Style Potato-Leek Soup

                          • At 2012.11.18 15:25, Sim@chapter1-take1 said:

                            What a long sad goodbye for us all! This is my first visit – I was reeled in by your adorable blog title. I’ll be back.
                            Sim@chapter1-take1´s last blog post ..The Silver Linings Playbook: My Take on the Book

                            • At 2012.11.18 16:47, Diane @bookchickdi said:

                              I do feel awful for those who lost their jobs. I’m sure that the Hostess products will be made by another company soon, so the Twinkie fans need not fret.
                              Diane @bookchickdi´s last blog post ..Weekend Cooking- An NYC Chocolate Tour

                              • At 2012.11.18 22:11, Laurie C said:

                                I’m impressed by your efforts too, though not a Twinkie fan. Now, how about the recipe for those orange-y Hostess cupcakes with orange-y frosting and that curlique of white frosting across the top?
                                Laurie C´s last blog post ..Meaningful Holiday Gift Idea Exchange

                                • At 2012.11.19 01:03, Jac @ For Love and Books said:

                                  I’ve never been a big Twinkie Fan — but YUM!! These look delicious! I think my 4 year old and I may have a baking plan for this week!
                                  Jac @ For Love and Books´s last blog post ..Book Review: Head Over Heels by Jill Shalvis

                                  • At 2012.11.20 15:46, Teresa said:

                                    I haven’t had a twinkie in ages, but I’ve heard the home made versions are much better. I was searching for a recipe on Friday to give them a try. Thanks for sharing.
                                    Teresa´s last blog post ..Author Spotlight: Morgan C Talbot

                                    • At 2012.11.21 00:46, Holly (2 Kids and Tired) said:

                                      I’m not a big Twinkie fan, but I love Ho Ho’s! If someone can come up with that recipe, I’d be all over it!
                                      Holly (2 Kids and Tired)´s last blog post ..Christmas Roses…Review

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