It’s officially fall, but Irene Santarsiero gave us one last taste of summer.
She made a cake so delicious it practically begged us to revisit the hot weather: Polynesian Cake, which earned Santarsiero a $100 grocery gift card and helps us celebrate the end of the season.
“It’s so easy, and that’s the best part,” Santarsiero said on a recent afternoon at her Jessup home. “You just mix it up and bake it. But it tastes so good.”
The cake is a simple and straightforward one-bowl recipe, she said, and it’s great for taking to parties and other get-togethers.
At her workplace, Drug and Alcohol Treatment Service in Scranton, she and her coworkers take turns bringing in goodies. The day she brought in Polynesian Cake, everyone went crazy for it.
“Sometimes, I get a taste for something and I want to make it, but I have to bring it into work. Otherwise, I’d eat the whole thing myself,” she said, laughing.
Local Flavor could’ve eaten this whole cake, too. It encompassed all the great tastes of summer in a sweet, fluffy package. Cool pineapple, tasty coconut and crunchy walnuts made a delectable topping on the creamy icing. Served with a cup of fresh-brewed hot coffee, Polynesian Cake was the perfect afternoon snack.
Santarsiero has had plenty of practice in the baking realm. She makes a Fruit Cocktail Cake and Rice Pudding as well as her mother’s recipe for Banana Cake, Italian cookies in white and riccotta varieties, and more. She loves to cook, too, and makes lots of recipes that belonged to her parents, the late Cataldo and Irene LaManga, such as Chicken Strips in Wine and Garlic Sauce, Shrimp Scampi and homemade sauce. Her children, Erika and D.J., enjoy cooking as well and get recipes from her.
The only culinary regret Santarsiero has is that she didn’t pay closer attention to her mom’s recipes.
“I’m sorry I didn’t watch my mother cook as much as I should have,” she said. “They never wrote anything down then, and you have to really try to get the taste perfect.”
Contact the writer:
[email protected]; 570-348-9127;
@gmazurTT on Twitter
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 cup canola oil
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 (8-ounce) can crushed pineapple
(do not drain)
1 cup shredded coconut
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 cups shredded carrots
1 cup chopped walnuts
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix. Grease and flour a 13-by-9-inch pan. Bake at 350 F for 50 minutes.
8 ounces Cool Whip
1 small package instant vanilla
1 cup milk
Crushed pineapple (drained), chopped walnuts and shredded coconut,
Mix pudding and milk. Fold in Cool Whip.
Frost cake and sprinkle with remaining drained pineapple, chopped nuts and coconut.