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Guest Blogging Fridays: KDK’s Pantela Cake

April 22, 2011

Twelve years ago, when one of my high school best friends described his new girlfriend, he said “She is kind of a tomboy and really funny, like Maureen, except I think she is hot.” As a girl who hung out with mostly guys in late high school and college, I actually took the comment as a compliment. I mean, apparently people think I am funny!?! Anyways, I was able to return the same comment to the friend when I met AAM. Luckily, because of the similarities, I really got to know his wife and I appreciate her humor and frankness. I was honored to read at their wedding, and he read at ours. We have been busy the past few years, but always able to patch up lost time. Last year, she had twins, and this year it looks like we are going to be neighbors. Due to her neighborly diligence, she let us know about a house four doors down, before it went on the market, and it turns out it will be our house! So, I owe her alot. Now, she gives me her family Cuban recipe, and of course I will probably beg for more. I am thinking KDK wants me to be forever in debt! I will have to sculpt a pretty big thank you dinner for them.

From KDK: My Abuelito (grandfather) is turning 90 on Easter Sunday.  My parents aren’t able to make it down so the fam and I are going to head over and celebrate with he and my Abuelita (grandmother).  My abuelitos don’t eat a lot of sweets and they are big proponents of making things yourselves, so I thought I’d make a family favorite to take over as his birthday cake.  For as long as I can remember both my Abuelita and my mom have been making panetela for birthdays for as long as I can remember.  I have no idea whose recipe it initially was, but it’s amazing when executed well.  It’s basically a sponge cake, I’m guessing Cuban or Spanish in origin, and it’s delicious. We like to eat it covered in fresh strawberries with some homemade whipped cream on top.  The only thing is it’s an extremely sensitive recipe and my mom’s warning as I undertook this task was “The secret is not to over beat nor over bake!!!!!!”

**Pardon any strange language, this is translated from Spanish and some things just translate funny

Panetela (Sponge Cake)


  • 1 cup flour already presifted
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 6 tablespoons hot milk

Assemble (sift, cut, beat and heat) all ingredients and utensils beforehand because the mixing process should be minimal and quick!

Presift 1 cup flour 3 times and cut a piece of waxed paper to line the bottom of the baking pans (This part is the pits, but it all goes quickly after this)

Sift together:

  • 1 cup flour already presifted
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

Put in large bowl of stand mixer: 3 eggs and beat at about medium speed until fluffy and lemon colored (about 2-3 minutes?????)

Turn the speed of the mixer to low and add to the eggs: 1 cup of sugar and 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Turn the speed of the mixer to almost nothing and add the flour mixture gradually and quickly while scraping the bowl (only to blend, no more than 1 minute!)

Add quickly, 1 tablespoon at a time (only to blend, no more than 1 minute): 6 tablespoons hot milk

Bake 350 F for 40 to 45 minutes (golden brown and spongy to the touch).  This is the tough part.  I overcooked mine the first time.  I’d set your timer for about 15 minutes, and then check on it every 5 minutes or so, until you figure out the right amount of time for your baking dish and your oven. You can test with long toothpicks – should be moist but not watery!

While still in the pan, invert on a rack to cool, then loosen all around the sides with a knife and remove the cake from the pan onto the cooling rack.

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