Saturday, 21 November 2015

Gingerbread Waffles with Spiced Whipped Cream

Too early for gingerbread?  Maybe. But it happened. And it was good.  The End.

Make these this weekend.

Gingerbread Waffles with Spiced Whipped Cream

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
2 eggs
3 tablespoons butter, melted
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 tablespoons molasses

Spiced Whipped Cream

1/2 cup(s) heavy or whipping cream
2 teaspoon(s) sugar
1/8 teaspoon(s) ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon(s) ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon(s) ground ginger

Melt butter.  Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices in a medium bowl.
In a separate bowl, beat eggs and add buttermilk, vanilla, and molasses.  Add the butter.

Preheat waffle maker.  Combine flour and buttermilk/egg mixture together.  Cook according to waffle maker instructions.   While first batch of waffles are cooking, prepare spiced whipped cream.
Combine whipping cream, sugar, and spices and whip until stiff peaks form.

Serve waffles fresh and hot with syrup and a dollop of spiced cream on the side (and some powdered sugar if you feel like getting all fancy and pretty).

Sunday, 15 November 2015


Looking for something elegant for your holiday potluck or cookie swap this year that makes an impression but requires minimal ingredients, expense, time, and effort?

Palmier - A palm tree (French: palmier or cœur de France) or elephant ear is a French pastry in a palm shape or a butterfly shape, sometimes called palm leaveselephant earsfrench heartsshoe-solesPakistani jalebi or glasses.

1 package puff pastry, thawed
granulated sugar*

*be creative, add cinnamon, other spices or even lavender

Defrost the puff pastry either overnight in the fridge, or on the counter in 30-40 minutes.  You want the pastry to be cold but not soggy, so if you are defrosting out of the fridge, take care.

Sprinkle the counter top with granulated sugar, about 1/4 cup. Depending on the brand of pastry you buy, if your puff pastry is rolled or folded up in between sheets of parchment paper, carefully unfold the pastry on top of the sugar, lightly pressing down so that the sugar sticks into the pastry. Use care to keep the pastry from sticking to the counter top.  Sprinkle more sugar on top. If your puff pastry comes in two thick squares, separate the squares.  Sprinkle granulated sugar on top of one square, and use a lightly floured rolling pin to roll it out to a rectangular shape.

Once your dough is in a rectangular form, sprinkle granulated sugar on top and use the rolling pin to lightly press the sugar into the pastry dough (again, taking care to keep the dough from sticking to the counter.  Sprinkle sugar underneath the dough as needed).   If you have two sections of dough, repeat.

There are two ways to create your palmier shape. The easiest and more traditional, is to simply fold over the left third of the dough (on the long side), and then fold the right third of the dough on top of the left side.

They will end up looking like this:

The second, and less traditional, is to picture your dough in half, and starting from the left, tightly roll the dough up until the mid point.

Then do the same on the right side, so you have two curled halves meeting in the middle.

Refrigerate for 30 minutes while the oven preheats to 400 degrees.

Once the dough has chilled, use a sharp knife to cut into 1/2 inch slices and place side-up on cookie sheet covered in parchment paper.

Bake for approximately 15-20 minutes, checking at 12 minutes, or until golden brown.  Don't overbake.  Makes about 2 dozen palmiers, depending on the amount of puff pastry and size of the cookies.  

Monday, 2 November 2015

The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie

Things that make you go mmmmMMMMM.   I found it. The perfect chocolate chip cookie.  Soft inside and crispy and golden outside, with as many chocolate chips as you want in a good cookie.  A buttery and sweet and salty taste. Perfect.

This makes a big batch - 36 cookies or 24 BIG cookies.  Your choice.

I had read about freezing cookie dough so I thought I would give it try and froze 2 dozen, with 1 dozen for immediate consumption.  I'll let you know how that turns out. Joanne recommends making the dough a day ahead of time and refrigerating to allow all the flavours to mellow out together.

The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie
slightly adapted from Flour Bakery + Cafe

1 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup peanut butter chips or dark chocolate chips

Beat the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar on medium speed (with a stand or hand mixer) until mixture is light and fluffy, about three to five minutes.  Beat in the eggs and vanilla extract on medium speed until thoroughly combined, two to three minutes.

Mix together the flour, baking soda and salt. Add both chocolates to the flour mix and toss to combine. Turn the mixer to low speed (or continue to use a wooden spoon if mixing by hand) and slowly blend the flour-chocolate mixture into the butter-sugar mixture. Mix until the flour and chocolate are totally incorporated and the dough is completely mixed.

For best results, scrape dough into a container and let rest in the refrigerator for 3-4 hours before baking. Heat the oven to 350 degrees and position a rack in the centre of the oven. Drop the dough in heaping tablespoon balls onto a baking sheet about two inches apart. Press dough balls down slightly with the palm of your hand. Bake until cookies are golden brown on the edges and slightly soft in the center, about 12 minutes. Unbaked dough can be stored for up to a week in an airtight container in the fridge, or frozen in an air-tight container for 2-3 weeks.

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Is it a Boy or a Girl? Funfetti Gender Reveal Cake!

We decided to do a fun cake gender reveal to our families.  I made two identical cakes so each set of parents could experience the surprise.  We filmed them cutting open the cake to reveal the gender of our baby, and then sent the video to our each of our siblings who are spread across the country to share the news.  I won't post the videos here (don't worry, Mom!) but it was a lot of fun.

Funfetti Gender Reveal Cake 
slightly adapted from Seriously Delish by Jessica Merchant

3 cups cake and pastry flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups white sugar
3 eggs
4 tbsp vegetable or canola oil
2 tbsp vanilla
1 cup milk
1/3 cup sprinkles - pink or blue
a handful of pink and blue jelly candies for decoration

**this recipe will make four 6" cake layers (good if you are making 2 cakes) or two 8" or 9" layers.

Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.
In a separate large bowl, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, add the eggs one at at time, beating in between, Add oil and vanilla and mix until well combined.
Add half the flour to the butter mixture, then half the milk and stir.  Add the remaining flour and milk and continue to stir until thoroughly mixed.

Add the sprinkles and stir very gently so as to avoid colouring the batter too much.   Divide into two pans (or four pans, depending on the size of cake) and bake at 350 - for approx 25-30 mins (again, depending on the size of cake).  If you are baking thin layers, start checking at 20 minutes and continue to bake until cake tester comes out clean.

Allow to cool slightly before turning out onto wire rack to cool completely.  Once cool, spread frosting (I decided to colour mine blue, but it ended up being totally unnoticeable in the end, so I recommend either adding a really thick layer of frosting in the middle or just use plain ol' white).

Make a big batch of vanilla frosting - you are going to need lots of it to cover up the blue or pink sprinkle bits - a bit frustrating at times but well worth it.   Make sure no hints peek through!

Be sure to clean up the plate or serving dish to remove all the crumbs...

And for the final touch - decorate with blue and pink candies!

Sunday, 27 September 2015

Marvelous Double Apple Pie

It's Autumn - officially, finally, autumn.  You wouldn't know it from the temperatures we have, ahem, enjoyed, lately but you can definitely tell from the cool nights, deep golden hue of the sunshine and the changing leaves.  It's baking season!!  I have been off to a roaring start - pumpkin muffins and loaves, banana bread, and this apple pie.

This is probably the best apple pie I have ever made.  The two of us gobbled up half of the pie on Saturday night, which may be normal for my husband, but two slices of pie in one sitting is definitely pas de normale for me.  It was just that good.  I followed the pastry recipe exactly - and it worked out.  Pastry is not my strong suit, and I have never had much luck with butter crusts, but I thought I would give this a try - eggs and milk and all, and it was marvelous....!

The other marvelous thing about this pie is the double apple part - it is a mixture of firm and tart apples and soft and sweet apples, sweetened simply with brown sugar and flavoured with just a hint of cinnamon.

Pâte brisée
From Joanne Chang's Flour: Spectacular Recipes from Boston's Flour Bakery + Cafe

1 ¾ cups (245 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup (2 sticks/228 grams) cold unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces
2 egg yolks
3 tablespoons cold milk

Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together the flour, sugar, and salt for 10 to 15 seconds , or until combined. Scatter the butter over the top. Mix on low speed for 1 to 1 ½ minutes, or just until the flour is no longer bright white and holds together when you clump it and lumps of butter the size of pecans are visible throughout.
In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and milk until blended. Add to the flour mixture all at once. Mix on low speed for about 30 seconds, or until the dough just barely comes together. It will look shaggy and more like a mess than a dough.

Dump the dough onto an unfloured surface, the gather it together into a tight mound, smearing the butter chunks into the dough as you go.

Gather up the dough, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and press down to flatten into a disk about 1 inch thick. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours before using. The dough will keep in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or in the freezer for up to 1 month.

Makes enough for one 9-inch double-crust or lattice-top pie

Double Apple Pie
adapted slightly from Joanne Chang's Flour: Spectacular Recipes from Boston's Flour Bakery + Cafe

2 large or 4 small Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
2 medium Macintosh apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
Pinch of ground cinnamon
2 tbsp sanding sugar

Roll out 2/3 of the chilled dough to fit a 9-inch pie pan. Gently press the dough into the bottom and sides of the pie pan, leaving a small lip at the edge of the pan. Place the pie shell in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

In a medium bowl, combine the apples, brown sugar, flour, salt, and cinnamon, toss until the apples are coated evenly. Let this sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes so that the apples get all juicy and saucy.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Roll out the remaning 1/3 of dough and using a pizza cutter or knife, cut the dough into 8 strips, with 4 a bit longer than the other 4. Remove the chilled pie crust from the fridge and pour the apples in, pressing down slightly to fill in the gaps. Lay 4 strips over the top, leaving an inch or so in between, starting with the two longer strips down the middle, and the two shorter strips closer to the edges. Lay the remaining 4 strips over top, making a criss-cross pattern, No need to weave in and out, unless you want to get all complicated : )

Sprinkle the lattice top with the sanding sugar. If you want to be fancy, you can brush the lattice with egg first.

Bake pie at 425 degrees for 15 minutes, then reduce oven temperature to 350 and continue baking until tops and edges are a nice golden brown and the apples are all bubbly, about 40-45 minutes.

Monday, 21 September 2015

Chocolate Chip Cookies for Two

This post marks two milestones - 100 posts, and 3 years of blogging!  Wow!

When I write Chocolate Chip Cookies for Two, I mean two hungry people (or one hungry man and his pregnant wife!) This recipe makes 4 hearty chocolate chip cookies.  We ate these for dessert on pizza night - I wouldn't recommend nor repeat that choice.  Who needs dessert after pizza? So full....but so good.  And, you have to eat them warm out of the oven or what is the point, really?  

These cookies are Comfort Food.  With capitals. 

Apologies for the poor quality pics - they were taken at 10pm on a Friday, and we were in a hurry to sample. 

Chocolate Chip Cookies for Two
totally borrowed from Chatelaine

2 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg yolk
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup chocolate chips

PREHEAT oven to 350F. Line a baking pan with parchment.
STIR butter with brown sugar in a medium bowl until creamy. Stir in egg yolk and vanilla until combined. Stir in flour and baking soda until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips.
DIVIDE batter into 4 portions. Scoop each portion onto prepared sheet, 3-in. apart. Cookies will spread as they bake. Sprinkle with sea salt if desired.
BAKE in centre of oven until cookies are golden around the edges, about 10 min. Transfer sheet to a rack to cool just slightly, about 2 min.

Monday, 14 September 2015

Pumpkin Muffins or Loaf (or both!)

It feels like fall this weekend.  What a change....we were literally hiding out in a dark air-conditioned theatre last weekend to escape the sweltering heat.  Right now our house is cooler than it is in the depths of winter, but we refuse to turn on the furnace.  It is still summer, after all.

I fully welcome the change in seasons this year - and all the yummy things that come along with it. Yesterday morning I was up early and felt like baking, and as I looked through all my favourite cookbooks for inspiration, I was drawn to this pumpkin muffin recipe in Flour.  I kept flipping the pages though, thinking, no, too early, what else can I make, but all the other recipes required some ingredient or other that I just didn't have, nor did I have the 'drive' to go out and get it.  What I did have was two large cans of pureed pumpkin. So, pumpkin spice it was.

You can add raisins to this if you like, or espresso powder and chocolate chips.  You can add a maple glaze, cream cheese icing, or maple roasted pepitas to jazz them up or turn them into cupcakes.  I just baked them up, plain and simple.

This recipe makes a lot of pumpkin muffins.  A double batch of average sized muffins, or perhaps a dozen jumbo muffins.  I decided on 12 muffins and a loaf.

Pumpkin Muffins
from Flour
makes 24 muffins, 12 muffins and 1 9x5 loaf, or 2 9x5 loaves

3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
3 tbsp molasses
4 eggs
3/4 cup pulp-free orange juice
454g pumpkin puree
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves

Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and cloves in a medium-large bowl.

Cream butter, sugar, and molasses together in a separate bowl until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at at time, beating in between additions.

Add the orange juice and the pumpkin.  Mix well until thoroughly combined.

Add flour mixture, all at once, and stir until well combined.

Pour into lined or well-greased muffin tins or loaf pans if using.

Bake muffins at 350 degrees for 20-22 minutes.  Loaves will take between 45-55 minutes.

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Lindsay's 5 Star Peach Pie

This is a family recipe courtesy of my dear friend Lindsay - she recently brought it to a weekend cottage getaway where it received rave reviews.  A lovely combination of a rich buttery shortbread crust and a creamy custard filling studded with slices of fresh ripe sweet Ontario peaches.  It's rich, but that won't stop you from wanting seconds.  I think this would be amazing served with a dollop of whipped cream on top.

Lindsay's 5 Star Peach Pie

2 cups all purpose flour
2/3 cup white sugar
3/4 cup butter

Blend ingredients together in order given.
Pat mixture into a buttered 9x13 inch pan.
Bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees C.

2 beaten eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup white sugar
1/4 cup flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
4-5 cups peaches, sliced (about 6 good sized peaches)

Beat eggs, add vanilla and dry ingredients.
Blend and add peaches.
Pour mixture over crust and bake 30-45 minutes at 350 degrees C.

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

White Chocolate Vanilla Cake with Strawberries and Cream Frosting

How is it already the end of July?!  We celebrated my Mom's birthday last week so I naturally baked her a nice cake.  Happy Birthday, Mom!

This year's version is the birthday vanilla cake recipe from last year, with some updates.  I added white chocolate chunks throughout the cake, and replaced the chocolate ganache filling with sliced ripe strawberries, white chocolate bits and pieces, and whipped cream.

Instead of vanilla buttercream frosting, I used a sweet whipped cream to top the cake (and for filling).  All you need is whipping cream, vanilla, and a bit of icing sugar.  So easy!

Sprinkle the top of the cake with white chocolate and a couple of pretty strawberries - or do an artful design on top with sliced strawberries - whatever floats your boat.  As strawberry season has now come to an end here in Ontario, I think this cake would be equally (or possibly even more) delectable with ripe peaches.   Who has a birthday in August?!

White Chocolate Vanilla Cake with Strawberries and Cream Frosting

White Chocolate Vanilla Cake
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour                        
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
100g chopped white chocolate
2/3 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup milk

Strawberries and Cream Frosting
1 1/2 cups whipping cream
1/4 cup icing sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups sliced strawberries

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease 2 9-in. round cake pans* and line bottoms with parchment.
Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. In a separate bowl, cream softened butter together with granulated sugar using a hand mixer. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well and scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Beat in 1 tsp vanilla.  Add one-third of flour mixture, then add half the milk. Repeat, ending with flour mixture.  Fold in about 2/3 of the chopped white chocolate.
Divide mixture evenly between the two cake pans.

Bake in centre of oven until a cake tester inserted in centre comes out clean, about 24 minutes.  Cool in pans on a rack for 10 min, then turn cakes out onto rack. Remove parchment. Cool completely, about 30 min.

Beat the cream, vanilla, and icing sugar using a stand mixer with the whisk attachment (or hand mixer) on medium speed until soft peaks form, about 2-3 minutes.  Carefully continue beating just past the soft-peak stage, about 1-2 more minutes.  The frosting should hold its shape, but still be smooth and spreadable.

Place one cake layer on a stand.  Cover generously with frosting, and place sliced strawberries and the rest of the white chocolate over top, pressing gently into the frosting.  Place the second layer on top and cover with frosting.  Sprinkle the top with white chocolate 'dust' and arrange any remaining strawberry slices on top if you like.

* makes 2 on the thin side layers of cake.  If you prefer thicker layers, try 8 inch pans.

Monday, 29 June 2015

Mom's Granola Bars

This is an oldie but a goodie - the stuff of lunch-box treats and after-school snacks, and probably healthier than these ones... and it takes like less than 5 minutes to whip up.  The longest part is waiting for the oven to preheat!

Mom's Granola Bars

3 cups large flake oats
1 cup chopped unsalted peanuts
1 cup raisins
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 can sweetened condensed milk (300ml)
1/2 cup butter, melted

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
Line a 9x13 pan with parchment paper, allowing some to overlap the sides.
Melt butter.  Combine oats, peanuts, raisins, and chocolate chips in a large bowl.
Pour in condensed milk.  Add in slightly cooled melted butter and mix well.
Press evenly into prepared pan.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown.
Cool slightly.  Remove from pan by using the overlapping edges of the parchment paper.
Cut into bars.

This recipe is easily halved and baked in a 8x8 inch square pan.

Monday, 15 June 2015

Fudgey Peanut Butter Chip Brownies

After a bit of a hiatus, I have returned to baking and blogging! What better way to jump back in than fudge brownies with peanut butter chips?

I have had a bag of peanut butter chips sitting in my cupboard for months.  You see, I have been trying to recreate a favourite dessert from one of our favourite coffee shops for a while now - I have attempted it twice, and was definitely closer the second time around.  Third time's a charm? Anyways, that recipe isn't ready to share with you yet, so instead, here are some brownies with peanut buttter chips in them, because, why not.  And also, because peanut butter and chocolate are the second best flavour combination in the world, after bread, cheese and tomato.

This are actually one of the easiest brownie recipes out there - you can throw these together in 5 minutes.  I love recipes where the butter is melted, so you don't have to plan ahead and remember to keep the butter out of the fridge in advance!

If you are a fudgey brownie fan, these are are for you.  These are incredibly fudgey and the peanut butter chip adds just the right hint of flavour to make it extra special.  Yum-my.

Fudgey Peanut Butter Chip Brownies
adapted slightly from Sally's Baking Addiction

2/3 cup unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup peanut butter chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8-inch or 9-inch square baking pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil, leaving an overhang on the sides to lift the finished brownies out.

Melt the butter, granulated sugar, cocoa powder, and salt in a saucepan. Transfer into a large bowl with a spatula.  Allow to cool slightly.

Stir in the vanilla extract. Add the eggs one at a time, stirring after each addition. The batter will be thick and look shiny. Add the flour, beating with a whisk until fully combined. Try not to overmix the batter at this point. Gently fold in the peanut butter chips, leaving a few to sprinkle on top. Pour into prepared baking pan and sprinkle with remaining peanut butter chips.

Bake for 25 minutes and check the brownies. Insert a toothpick or cake tester in the centre. If it comes out with only a few crumbs, the brownies are done. Bake for an additional 3-5 minutes if the middle is still too gooey. Be careful not to overbake. Allow the brownies to cool completely before cutting into squares.

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Lemon Squares

Hello Spring! These lemon squares are so quick, simple and delicious, you will want to have a lemon or two on hand at all times in order to whip up a batch on a whim.  I picture these as the perfect dessert for a spring BBQ or for Mother's Day brunch.

This is my second foray into baking with citrus - this lemon cake was a beauty and a winner for Easter dinner.  I love working with my new little zester - a bit messy but doesn't the kitchen smell wonderful!

Lemon Squares

Butter Crust
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
pinch of salt

Lemon Filling
2 large eggs
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice  (approximately 1 large lemon)
1/4 cup icing sugar  (for sprinkling on top)

Begin with the crust.  Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add 1 cup of flour and the pinch of salt.  Mix well until dough starts to come together.  It's OK if the dough is a little crumbly.

Grease an 8x8 inch pan and line with parchment paper, letting the paper hang over the sides a little. This step is important in order to create beautiful squares, as it helps to get the squares out easily.

Spoon the crust mixture into the pan.   Using a measuring cup or your fingers, lightly press the crust down into the bottom of the pan, ensuring it covers the bottom equally.   It's OK if a little more crust mixture gets into the corners or up the sides - these are the best pieces.  Bake for 15 to 18 minutes in a preheated 350 degree oven until just browned around the edges.  The crust will go back in the oven to bake with the topping, so be sure not to overbake at this stage of the game.

While you are waiting for the crust to bake, prepare the lemon filling.  In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs and sugar until well combined.  Add in the flour, lemon juice, and zest and whisk until blended.

Once the crust is ready, remove from oven and let cool slightly. Pour the filling over the warm (but not hot) baked crust. Return to the oven and bake for 18 to 20 minutes.  The squares should be just lightly browned on top and no longer jiggly in the centre. 

Sift icing sugar (about a 1/4 of a cup, or to your liking) over top as soon as you remove from the oven, so it will stick nicely.   Allow to cool completely in the pan.  (Yes. You have to wait. Don't ruin the beautiful squares). Run a knife around the edges of the pan. Slice lemon bars into nine large squares or 12 smaller squares. Use the over hanging parchment paper to lift the squares out. 

Squares store well for several days between layers of waxed paper, and freeze well for 1-2 weeks, wrapped tightly. 

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Maple Oatmeal Scones

These scones are the perfect on-the-go breakfast.  It's maple oatmeal without the bowl!  As an added bonus, these are 100% naturally sweetened with maple syrup.  Make a batch, freeze them individually, and then take out of the freezer the night before or a couple of hours before consuming.

Maple Oatmeal Scones
Recipe from Flour

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/4 cups oats
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/3 cup cream
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 egg (cold)

Combine flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium sized bowl.   Add the butter and using a pastry cutter or two forks, cut the butter into the flour until it is broken down into pea sized pieces. 

Mix together cream, maple syrup, and the egg until well combined.  Pour into the flour mixture and mix until the dough comes together.  

Using a measuring cup or large spoon, scoop dough and drop onto a baking sheet covered in parchment paper.  Makes enough for about 8 large scones.   Bake at 350 for about 25-30 minutes or until scones are nice and golden brown and a cake tester inserted in the middle comes out clean. 

Delicious served fresh out of the oven with a mug of coffee. 

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Lemon Bundt Cake

Nothing says spring like a fresh lemon cake - now, if only the weather would keep up with the calendar!

Happy Easter!

I hope your holiday is filled with all things sweet!


Lemon Bundt Cake
from Amy Kay's Kitchen 

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups milk
2/3 cups unsalted butter
4 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp lemon zest

Lemon Glaze & Lemon Sugar garnish
1 to 1 1/2 cups icing sugar
1 -2 tbsp of freshly squeezed lemon juice
water as needed
1 tbsp lemon zest
2 to 3 tsp sugar 

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and lightly flour a large bundt pan.

Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl.  Set aside.

Add milk and butter to a small saucepan and heat just until butter is melted.

While waiting on the butter, beat eggs on high speed for 5 minutes or until thickened and lemon-colored. Gradually add sugar, continuing to beat until mixture is light and fluffy.  Beat in vanilla and lemon zest. 

Gradually add the dry ingredients and beat at low speed until combined, scraping bowl as needed.
Once the butter is melted, gradually add the butter and milk mixture to batter; beating just until combined and scraping bowl as needed.  The batter will be thin. 

Pour into prepared bundt pan and bake at 350° for 40-45 minutes or until top springs back when pressed and a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean (or with a few moist crumbs). As the baking time will vary widely between ovens, I recommend starting to check at 35 minutes, and monitoring every few minutes. 

Remove from oven, place on a wire rack and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes or until the cake starts to pull away from side of pan.  

Gently pass a knife around the sides of the pan to release the cake and carefully turn out onto a wire rack to cool.

Lemon Glaze
Whisk together the icing sugar and enough lemon juice until the right consistency is obtained.  Taste test for tartness (say that 5 times fast!). If needed, add a teensy bit of water to liquify to glaze consistency.  Pour over cake, letting it drip over the sides prettily.

Lemon sugar garnish
Mix lemon zest and sugar in a small bowl and sprinkle on top of freshly glazed cake while the glaze is still wet.

Monday, 23 March 2015

Cocoa Almond Brownies (gluten-free!)

Looking for something different to bake for a gluten and dairy-free friend? Look no further. These brownies have only, like, 4 ingredients.  Okay, 5: almonds, icing sugar, cocoa, eggs, and vanilla. 
At first, I was suspicious. And doubtful.  Then, I had a few bites and thought, maybe.  Let's put them in front of a group of people (of which the vast majority are gluten-gobblers and lactose-lovers) and see what happens. Success.  Unless they are really good liars... 

Cocoa Almond Brownies (gluten-free)
slightly adapted from Chatelaine

2 1/2 cups icing sugar
2 cups ground almonds
2/3 cup cocoa powder
1/8 tsp salt
3 eggs
2 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350F.  Line the bottom and sides of an 8 × 8-in. pan with parchment, letting it hang over the edges of pan.

Combine icing sugar, almonds, cocoa and salt in a large bowl. Stir in eggs and vanilla.

The batter will be very thick. Soldier on.  Scrape into prepared pan with a spatula.

Bake at 350 for 40-45 minutes until cake tester inserted in the centre comes out clean.

Cool completely on a wire rack before cutting into squares.

I recommend waiting until they are fully cooled before trying a bite - and although the appearance is a little different (you can clearly see the almond bits), these are really fudgy and tasty.

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Happy St. Paddy's - Chocolate Stout Cupcakes and Blarney Chips

Happy St. Pat's!  I did you a solid. I perfected this recipe for you - this is my fourth year running baking chocolate stout cake or cupcakes and St. Patrick's Day just wouldn't be right without them.

Our surname is about as Irish as it gets - my husband's family is from Co. Cork by way of Boston - and if we moved to Boston today we would fit right in (although the O' was dropped over a hundred years ago, like so many other Irish families).  I have been fortunate to visit Ireland twice and it is truly a lovely place and lovely people - make sure you stop in Cork City for some Murphy's.  We celebrate St. Patrick's Day every year - starting the evening off with Black Velvet's (half a pint of Guinness topped with half a pint of Irish Cider) and our homemade version of Blarney Chips (waffle fries topped with cheese, green onion, diced tomatoes, diced green pepper, and more cheese) and served with salsa and sour cream.


Chocolate Stout Cupcakes

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup stout beer (preferably Irish - Guinness or Murphy's)
2 eggs

Sift flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium sized bowl.  Set aside.

Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add eggs, one at at time, beating in between with a hand mixer.  Add vanilla.  Continue to beat.

Add half the flour mixture and mix in gently, scraping down the sides of the bowl every so often.  Add about 1/3 of the stout and half of the remaining flour.  Repeat, alternating stout and flour until well combined.  Be careful not to overmix.

The batter will be thick.  Spoon into 15 greased or lined muffin cups and bake at 350 for 18-20 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the middle comes out clean.

Chocolate Stout Buttercream Frosting
1/4 unsalted butter, softened
1 - 2 cups icing sugar
1/4 cup cocoa
1/3 cup stout
1/2 tsp vanilla

Cream butter with cocoa.   Add one cup of icing sugar and the stout.  Add vanilla and begin to add more icing sugar until you reach the right consistency.  If too thick, just add a little more stout!

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Carrot Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

It's three weeks until Easter! Last year on Good Friday we jetted off to Iceland for our 5th wedding anniversary (if you are even considering going to Iceland, do it!).  Our anniversary fell on Easter Sunday and we did a tour of the South Coast - it was captivating.

This year it's all about a more traditional celebration and the Easter dessert is, of course, the first thing I think about.  I did some research (umm...Google) and apparently you simply can't get any more traditional than Carrot Cake at Easter.

I have never actually made a carrot anything before....and since steamed carrots don't count, I suppose....I figured let's give it a shot.  I decided to make a 'trial' cake (why wait?) and found a lovely carrot cake recipe already scaled down for two.

Maple syrup is synonymous with spring - so I added my own twist with the addition of maple syrup to both the cake and the frosting.

Result?  Magically delicious....( only excuse for that is that St. Paddy's day is just around the corner). I think it's far too early to make a solid decision for Easter dessert, though, so the journey will continue....

Carrot Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
adapted from Dessert for Two

yields 1 six inch cake

1/4 cup oil
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 tbsp maple syrup
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup packed grated carrot (from 1 small carrot)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

3 ounce block of cream cheese, softened
2 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
5 tbsp icing sugar
1 tsp maple syrup

Grease a 6” round cake pan.

In a medium bowl, beat oil and sugar together with an electric mixer for about 1 minute.

Beat in the egg, cinnamon, vanilla and maple syrup.  Add the carrot and continue to beat - don't be too gentle, you want it to stain the batter orange, but not so tough that the carrot is obliterated!

Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl.  Add the flour mixture to the carrot mixture beat until just combined.  Avoid over-mixing.

Pour the batter into one 6 inch cake pan and bake at 350 for 22-24 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the middle comes out with only a few moist crumbs attached.

Let the cake to cool completely on a wire rack. While you are waiting for the cake to cool, make the frosting.

Start with room temperature cream cheese and butter.   This is important or your frosting will be lumpy.  Tasty, but not pretty.

Beat together the cream cheese, and butter.  Add in a few tbsp of icing sugar and the maple syrup. Beat a little more.  Add in the remaining icing sugar.  Add more icing sugar if needed until you obtain the right consistency for frosting.

Frost generously and keep in refrigerator until 30 minutes before serving.

Tell me....what are you making for Easter?

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Cinnamon Sugar Pull-Apart Bread

 A perfect Saturday begins with coffee.  This is the essential first step. Without the coffee, it can be a wonderful Saturday, but not a perfect Saturday.  A ski in the woods on fresh snow, with light flurries floating down.  A milky coffee or latte for recovery.  A perfect Saturday also involves baking. Baking with cinnamon and sugar and yeasty dough...

Cinnamon Sugar Pull-Apart Bread
slightly adapted from Joy the Baker

Makes: one 9x5 inch loaf

For the Dough:
3 cups all-purpose flour, separated
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 envelope active dry yeast**
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 ounces unsalted butter
1/3 cup whole milk
1/4 cup water
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the Filling:
1/3 cup granulated
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

Start with the dough:
In a large mixing bowl whisk together 2 cups flour, sugar, yeast**, and salt. Set aside.
Whisk together eggs and set aside.

In a small saucepan, melt together milk and butter until butter has just melted. Remove from the heat and add water and vanilla extract. Let mixture stand for a minute or two.

Pour the milk mixture into the dry ingredients and mix with a spatula. Add the eggs and stir the mixture until the eggs are incorporated into the batter.  Add the remaining 3/4 cup of flour and stir with the spatula for about 2 minutes.

Place the dough is a large, greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and a clean kitchen towel. Place in a warm space and allow to rest until doubled in size, about 1 hour (mine didn't rise very much, see note above about yeast).  The dough can be refrigerated overnight for use in the morning.  Once you are ready to bake, let the dough rest on the counter for 30 minutes before rolling it out.

While the dough rises, make the filling.  Whisk together the brown and white sugars, cinnamon and nutmeg for the filling. Set aside. Melt the butter and set aside. Grease a 9x5 inch loaf pan.

Knead about 2 tablespoons of flour into the dough. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rest for 5 minutes. On a lightly floured work surface, use a rolling pin to roll the dough out. The dough should be 12-inches tall and about 20-inches long (mine didn't make it that far - it's ok - just roll it as large as the dough will go). Use a pastry brush to spread melted butter across all of the dough. Sprinkle with the sugar and cinnamon mixture.

Slice the dough vertically, into six equal-sized strips (mine only made between 4 and 5 strips - it's ok, it will all turn out fine). Stack the strips on top of one another and slice the stack into six equal slices once again. You’ll have six stacks of six squares (again, don't worry about not having exactly the right number of squares). Layer the dough squares in the loaf pan like a flip-book. Place a kitchen towel over the loaf pan and allow in a warm place for 30 to 45 minutes or until almost doubled in size.

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Place loaf in the oven and bake for 30 to 35 minutes (or longer, depending on the thickness of your dough squares. I had to bake mine for about 45 minutes, honestly), until the top is nice and golden brown.

**A note from Joy: Some bakers have found that the dough doesn’t rise, because the yeast is not first activated in warm water. As a fail-safe, feel free to activate your yeast first. To activate yeast, whisk yeast into 3 tablespoons of warm water. The water should be between 105 and 115 degrees F. Add a pinch of granulated sugar and allow the mixture to sit for about 5 minutes, until the mixture is foamy and frothy. Your yeast is ready to go! If the mixture does not foam and froth, toss the yeast and try again with another package of yeast. Add the activated yeast when you combine the wet and dry ingredients.