Here’s a timely treat: Former Seattleite Lara Ferroni has a new cookbook out featuring home-baked versions of childhood junk foods. First on the list are “Vanilla Snack Cakes,” a.k.a. a Twinkie by any other name. (Could she have known that people are fearing withdrawal with the news that Hostess is going out of business?)
Ferroni’s recipes specify that her “Real Snacks” recipes are junk food “without all the junk” — rather than high-fructose corn syrup and preservatives, she’s recreating recipes with whole-wheat pastry flour and cane sugar and even the occasional serving of millet or rice flour. Every recipe has vegan and gluten-free options. (But don’t worry, if you don’t like the idea of ground chia seeds or barley, she also provides measurements for regular old white flour and sugar.)
She told Epicurious that the millet flour in her Twinkies, besides being nutritious, “is super light in flavor, and has the added benefit of reducing the overall gluten content in the cake, making it less likely to get tough even if you over mix a little.”
Ferroni’s Twinkies won’t last forever. But, she notes in her recipe, the real thing actually doesn’t either — the ones from a box she got as a gag gift were “hard as a rock in less than a year.”
Here’s her recipe (the book includes weight measurements too) — and she also recreated “real” versions of squiggle-topped cupcakes and Ding Dongs for a complete Hostess-esque memorial.
Vanilla Snack Cakes
3/4 cup white spelt or all-purpose flour
1/4 cup ground millet or cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 egg whites
1/3 cup cane sugar
2 tablespoons honey
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons safflower oil
4 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 batch (about 1 cup) Snack Cake Creme (recipe online here)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease a canoe-style snack cake pan. If you don’t have a snack cake pan, you can use 4-ounce loaf pans. Alternatively, create your own molds out of foil by shaping double thicknesses of aluminum foil around a spice bottle and setting the individual foil pieces next to each other in a cake pan.
Sift the spelt flour, ground millet flour, baking powder, and salt together and set aside.
In a dry mixer bowl with dry beaters, beat the egg whites until stiff, about 2 minutes.
Transfer the beaten egg whites to a clean bowl and set aside.
In the same mixer bowl, add the sugar, honey, water, oil, egg yolks, and vanilla and beat for 1 minute. Add the flour mixture and beat until smooth, about 2 minutes. Fold in half of the beaten egg whites; once the first half is fully incorporated, fold in the second half.
Pour the batter into the prepared molds, filling them 2/3 of the way full. Bake until golden, 15 to 20 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through baking. Cool the cakes in the pan for at least 20 minutes, then remove to a wire rack and cool completely before filling with the Snack Cake Creme.
To fill the cakes, use a skewer or chopstick to poke 2 holes partially through the snack cake from the bottom, and wiggle around to hollow out some space. Use a piping bag fitted with a Bismarck (#230) tip or a very small star-shaped tip to fill the cake with the Snack Cake Creme.
— Recipe and photo from “Real Snacks” by Lara Ferroni