"The Poke Cake Cookbook: 75 Delicious Cake and Filling Combinations" by Jamie Sherman, Page Street Publishing Co., $19.99, 160 pages, paperback
The poke cake craze is going strong, and it’s easy to see why. These cakes are simple to make, and the flavor combinations are abundant. They are appropriate for many occasions, including children’s parties, bake sales and afternoon coffee breaks.
What is a poke cake? It’s a cake in which you poke some holes after baking and fill with a pudding, pie filling or a liquid like condensed milk to give the cake extra flavor.
Jamie Sherman, founder of the food blog “Loves Bakes Good Cakes,” has written a cookbook devoted to the poke cake. All 75 cakes in her book begin with boxed cake mixes, an easy choice for any busy mom like Sherman, the mother of five children.
She offers creative flavor options, including seasonal choices like Pumpkin Spice Poke Cake; the for-grown-ups Bourbon Sweet Potato Spice Poke Cake; Peppermint Mocha Poke Cake; Love Potion #9 Poke Cake, a Valentine’s Day option; and Irish Cream Poke Cake, perfect for an adults-only St. Patrick’s Day party.
Recipes are divided into five chapters, including one devoted to chocolate cakes and another for kid-friendly cakes like Peanut Butter & Jelly Poke Cake and Bubble Gum Poke Cake. Many of the recipes are illustrated with full-color photographs.
After deciding to try Sherman’s recipe for Pumpkin Spice Poke Cake, I encountered a problem typical with cookbooks that rely on buying specific products — I couldn’t find the Jell-O brand pumpkin spice pudding flavor Sherman suggests.
After going to eight different grocery stores, I checked online and discovered only one store in East Baton Rouge Parish, a Winn-Dixie far, far from my house, had the flavor on its shelves. I decided to substitute a vanilla pudding and pie filling to which I added powdered gingerbread spice mix. The spice mix is strong on the nutmeg, so my filling tasted more like eggnog than pumpkin spice. But the cake still tastes good, and I don’t think anyone will turn down a slice.
I also suggest waiting until you are about to serve the cake to top it with the suggested Mellowcreme pumpkin candies. The orange coloring in the candies leaches out into the whipped topping after sitting in the refrigerator for a while.
Cheramie Sonnier is a food writer and columnist. Contact her at email@example.com, and follow her on Twitter, @CheramieSonnier.