Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Joy's Red Velvet Marble Cake

I am slowly but surely working my way through all the recipes in Joy the Baker's delightful cookbook (available for purchase at Chapters Indigo and Amazon.ca) and I have had my eye on this one for a while.....but since I always like to have a reason to bake a big beautiful delicious cake...I waited for my in-laws birthday celebration to test this one out.   

Get out all your mismatched mixing bowls and measuring spoons for this one - you will need 'em all.  You essentially have to make two cake batters - which should come as no real surprise to anyone, but since this was my first try at both red velvet cake and a marble cake - I brought my A game. 

In all honesty, the chocolate cake part was perfect - light, moist, and chocolate-ty.  I don't know what I did wrong, but my red velvet cake part was dry....   I also didn't quite marble the cake enough, which didn't help.  Don't get me wrong, it was delicious and every last crumb is gone. 

Red Velvet Marble Cake - from Joy the Baker

Chocolate Cake
1 cup flour
3/4 tsp baking soda 
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup coffee
1/3 cup +1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1/2 cup softened butter 
1/2 cup +2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla

Let's start with the Chocolate cake. Whisk together flour, baking soda and salt.  In another bowl, mix together the cocoa and coffee (its easier if the coffee is still hot).   In yet another bowl, cream together butter and sugars.  Add eggs one at a time (I always add them at the same time.... : ) and continue to beat for another couple of minutes.  Add in the coffee-cocoa mixture and vanilla and mix well. 

Add in the flour mixture and the buttermilk (if you don't have buttermilk on hand, add a dollop of white vinegar to milk and let sit for a couple of minutes - ta-da!).

Red Velvet Cake 
1 cup + 2 tablespoons flour
3/4  tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 tablespoons red food colouring
1/4  cup softened butter
3/4  cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1/2  teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2  cup buttermilk
1 1/2 tsp white vinegar

Next up - the red velvet cake.  Similar to the chocolate cake batter, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt.  In a small bowl, mix together the cocoa and red food colouring.  They didn't actually mix very well when I tried it (ratio of dry to wet was a little off), but not to worry, it will all work out in the end. 

Cream together butter and sugar.  Add in egg.  Add in cocoa mixture.  Beat until well mixed.  Add in flour mixture and half of the buttermilk, mix well, then add in the rest.  Finally, add in the vinegar and finish mixing with a spatula. 

Now for the marble part.  I was nervous for this, silly but it's true.  I didn't say I was logical : )

Divide the red velvet cake batter between 2 round 9x9 greased and floured cake pans.  My red velvet batter was thicker than the chocolate, and it didn't quite cover the bottom of either pan.  Top it off with the chocolate cake batter.  Using a butter knife, make a few swirls in each pan.  I was too cautious in my swirling, so I didn't end up with a really great marble effect. 

The recipe calls for using two oven racks, one in the middle and one in the top third, and to bake the cakes for 15 minutes at 350 degrees F and then switch and bake for another 15-20 minutes.  My oven was wide enough to bake both in the middle, so I just baked for 35 minutes and they came out perfectly well done. 

Let cool in pans for about 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to finish cooling. 

I had a hard time deciding between cream cheese frosting and chocolate buttercream, and in the end I went with the buttercream.  I adapted Joy's recipe (also from the book) by using milk instead of heavy cream, and omitted ovaltine.  It whipped up like a dream....

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Butterscotch Squares

Sweet nostalgia....coming home after a day at school, walking into the house and dropping your backpack and jacket on the floor, kicking off your shoes...running into the warm kitchen where a pan of these babies were still warm out of the oven.  I am so fortunate that I grew up in a household where Mum was always home, and there were almost always home-baked goodies like this to dig into after a tough day at school.  Hey Mum....I have a confession.....I didn't eat my sandwich...or my apple....but I definitely ate my home baked cookies/squares/muffin....but I bet you already knew that. And I know that we always whined about not having the fruit roll-up/packaged brownie with icing/other preservative packed garbage the other kids brought to school.....hey Mum?  Thanks.   

I feel like a kid again when I eat these squares - light and crisp meringue crust on top, gooey butterscotch middle, and shortbread-like crust. 

Butterscotch Squares

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour minus 3 tbsp*
1 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup white sugar
1/3 cup butter
2 egg yolks

Sift together flour, baking powder,and sugar. Cut in butter and break up with your fingers until butter bits are  like coarse crumbs. Stir in slightly beaten egg yolks and pat mixture in a greased 8 x 8 inch pan.

2 egg whites beaten stiff
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup shredded coconut**

Beat egg whites until stiff.  Add sugar to beaten egg whites gradually, continuing to beat. Fold in coconut and spread over crumbs. Bake at 350F for 25 to 30 minutes.

*original recipe calls for 1 1/2 cups cake and pastry flour
**original recipe calls for 1 cup flour and/or 1 cup walnuts. I suggest adding to taste.

Friday, 9 November 2012

Fudge Pudding Cake

This was one of my favourite desserts growing up - my Mum baked it in a round casserole dish and the cake puffs up right to the top with the pudding on the bottom.  Needless to say, with three kids in our house plus one father with a serious sweet tooth (thanks Dad!) there were never any leftovers....so now I get to make this just for my husband and I...wait, there are still barely any leftovers!

The original recipe calls for cocoa to be added to the cake batter - I love chocolate just as much as the next girl, but to be honest, I find it tastes sooo much better with a vanilla cake.  Plus, it looks awesome with the chocolate-y smidgens on top. 

Fudge Pudding Cake

1 1/2 cups flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp cocoa**
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup milk
2 tbsp melted butter or margarine
1 tsp vanilla

1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups hot water

1. Combine flour, baking powder, sugar, cocoa (if making chocolate cake, otherwise omit) and salt.
2. Add the melted butter, milk and vanilla.  Mix well.  It will be a sticky, thick batter. 
3. Pour into a square or round 8x8 pan, or a large round casserole dish.
4. Boil water, and pour into a medium sized heat-safe bowl.  Slowly stir in the cocoa, brown and white sugar. Mix well.  Pour the pudding mixture over top of the cake batter.  The liquid will sit on top of the batter - don't worry, it will magically end up on the bottom as pudding. It is okay if there are lumps in the pudding mixture - these will end up as little chocolate smidgens on top of the cake.

Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 45-50 minutes or until cake tester or toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Best served warm. Keeps well for 2-3 days covered in the fridge.

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Groovy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

It was a dark and stormy night....and I had a craving for home-made cookies, hot out of the oven.

This recipe is from my Mum's high school home economics class back in the Sixties....Groovy Cookies, anyone?  And no, this recipe does not contain any "medicinal" ingredients, please and thank you, just the good ol' basics.  Made a great cookie back in 1965, makes a great cookie now.  Yes, that is a photocopy of the original hand-written recipe!

This is my comfort food recipe...it makes between 3 and 4 dozen old-fashioned-style cookies, depending on how big you make them, of course.  This time, I threw in a handful of leftover peanut butter chips and walnut pieces to the mix.  You can also add coconut (3/4 cup) as per the original recipe if you like, I have never tried it but I am sure they would be even groovier.....

Groovy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup all purpose or whole-wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups oats
3/4 cup butter or margarine
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup raisins and/or chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped nuts

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
2. Combine flour, baking soda, salt, and oats.
3. Cream butter, brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla
4. Add the oats and flour mixture.  Mix well.
5. Stir in raisins, nuts, and chocolate chips.
6. Drop dough by teaspoonfuls onto greased cookie sheets.
7. Flatten slightly with floured fork.
8. Bake at 350 degrees F for 12-15 mins or 'till golden.
9. Eat one soon as its out of the oven, making sure to burn your mouth : )

Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Heavenly Sour Cream Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Writing about strawberries and rhubarb seems nostalgic at this time of year, no?

This recipe is an old family favourite, adapted by my Mum from my brother's boy scout cookbook dating back to 1985.  In car years, that makes it a classic.  Rich, easy to put together, and worth it.  The perfect marriage of sweet strawberries and sugar balanced out by the tartness of the rhubarb.

Heavenly Sour Cream Strawberry Rhubarb pie

unbaked pie shell

2 cups cubed rhubarb 
2 cups strawberries
1 1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup flour
1 cup sour cream

1/2 cup flour

1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup soft butter
Arrange rhubarb and sliced strawberries in unbaked pie shell.
Mix sugar and flour together, then stir in sour cream. Pour over stawberry-rhubarb mixture. 
Combine flour, brown sugar, and butter until crumbly and sprinkle over top
Bake at 450 for 15 minutes, then 350 for 30 minutes or until fruit is tender, filling is set and crumbs are golden brown
Note:  Sour cream puffs up like a cloud