Archive for the ‘Sweet treats’ Category

Estonian Kringel

Posted on: March 22nd, 2013 by admin 2 Comments

This is one of those loaves that I spotted a picture of and just HAD to make. Admittedly mine is not as pretty as the one I saw, but this delicious cinnamon twist is so good, you’ll want to make it as your weekly loaf : )  It is SO delicious. I’m known for eating cake for breakfast, but this isn’t cake so I eat a huge guilt-free slab in the mornings with a strong black tea and I’m so ready to have a good day. It’s been traditionally made in Estonia for celebrations for over 100 years and it’s totally OK if it’s rustic looking. (So I’ve been told, by an Estonian who knows!)

  • Dough
  • 300 g flour (2 cups)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 120 ml lukewarm milk (1/2 cup)
  • 15 g fresh yeast (0.6 oz fresh yeast or 1 packet dry yeast)
  • 30 g melted butter (1/8 cup)
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • Filling
  • 50 g softened butter (1/4 cup)
  • 4-5 tbsp sugar
  • 3 tsp cinnamon

Mix the yeast and sugar with the lukewarm milk and let it sit a few minutes while the yeast feeds! (foams up). Then add the egg yolk, melted butter, flour and salt and knead the dough for a good 5 minutes. (I am lucky enough to have a kitchen-aid with knead attachment). Shape the dough into a ball and place it in a lightly greased large bow, then cover with a clean tea-towel. Let it rise for at least an hour, or until it doubles in size.

Preheat oven to 200°C/400ºF. Dust your work surface with flour, and roll the dough out into a big rectangle about 1cm thick. Spread the melted butter across all of the dough, then sprinkle the cinnamon and sugar mixture. Roll up the dough like you would for cinnamon buns.  Until you get a long log, press the ends of the dough in so that it doesn’t unravel. Now using a knife, cut the log in half length-wise. Pinch the top two halves back together and twist the two halves together, keeping the open layers exposed like in the photo. When you finished a long twist, join the two end together in  a circle then transfer  onto a prepared baking tray (buttered or covered with paper or silpat).  Spread the leftover butter over the top of the loaf and sprinkle on some more sugar and cinnamon.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the top is golden brown. Reduce the oven temperature to 180°C (350ºF) after 5 minutes of baking to stop it burning. Best eaten warm from the oven – definitely.

Original recipe from: Just love cookin’

Song for this recipe: ‘Everything’s wrong but me’ – Ella FitzGerald Everyone's Wrong but Me (Single Version) - Ella Fitzgerald: The Early Years, Pt. 1 (1935-1938)

Some afternoons there’s nothing better to listen to than the classic gorgeous voice of Ella.

Valentine’s vanilla cookies and flavoured sugars

Posted on: February 14th, 2013 by admin 1 Comment

I have posted these cookies before, but this year I did an awesome twist that I thought I would mention.  I rolled the cookies between layers of infused sugars.  They are amazing!  The sugars I have are Orange blossom, Violet and vanilla and Rose which I was gifted!  But I make flavoured sugars all the time.

Flavoured sugars are really delicious and can be used for lots of things.  I’m going to give you a few versions here, but do experiment!  It’s amazing how well the sugar takes on a flavour and it can be a really nice subtle addition to tea or coffee, any kind of baking and definitely good for rolling cookies in.

Start with 1.5 – 2 cups granulated sugar and jars or sealable containers that fit that much sugar in them. I like to use raw sugar for the big granules, but you can use demerara or regular white sugar also.  You can also colour your sugars with a tiny drop of food colouring mixed in to the plain sugar first. This is actually quite handy if you’re using more than one flavour at a time- so you don’t get confused which is which.

Vanilla sugar, split 1 vanilla bean in half and scrape the seeds from the bean into the sugar, mix together and then bury the bean in the sugar. (Ready to use in 1 week)

Cinnamon sugar, add 1½ tablespoons ground cinnamon and 2 cinnamon sticks. (Ready to use in 2 days)

Cardamom sugar, add 1 Tbsp whole green cardamom pods. (Ready to use in 1 week)

Citrus sugar, add the finely grated zest of 1 orange and 1 lemon.  Sometimes this sugar gets a little hard after time, but you can break it up and it’s still good to use. (Ready to use in 2 days)

Lavender sugar, place 2 Tbsp vanilla in a small cheesecloth tied with thread, or a silk teabag and place in the sugar. (ready to use in 1 week)

Peppermint sugar, place a fresh bunch of mint in the jar with the sugar, but remove the mint after 2 days or it will go bad.  Peppermint sugar is quite strong so it doesn’t take long to infuse.

For more delicate floral  flavours like violet, rose or orange blossom, pick about a 3/4 cup – 1 cup of the fresh flowers, make sure they are not wet or damp or sprayed with nasty chemicals.  You want to make layers of sugar and then flowers in the jar and leave them for about 4 days.  Then you need to sieve the flowers out. You can use dried flowers also, just use like the lavender sugar (above).

The sugars will stay flavorful in a sealed container for up to 1 year.

Song for this recipe:

“Papa loves Mambo” – Perry Como Papa Loves Mambo - Perry Como's Greatest Hits

If you don’t know smooth Perry Como, I really think you should.  Valentines is the perfect day for a listen to one of the original crooners.  Born in 1912, Perry was a real gentleman, he often refused to do things he thought were in ‘bad taste’ and offered the first on air live apology when one of the guests on his tv show was offended by another.  I don’t think he was part of the rat pack but he said he was heavily influenced by Bing Crosby.  Why not spend Valentines evening with some sugar and some sweet old songs?

Griddle waffles

Posted on: January 3rd, 2013 by admin 2 Comments

I’m such a sucker for waffles you have no idea. But I don’t have a waffle iron. And I don’t really want one! My kitchen is full enough as it is to have too many individual gadgets for specific foods. Although I miss waffles, so when I heard of this recipe from my sister, I couldn’t believe my luck! A grill pan is a pretty awesome and versatile pan. Close to a BBQ if you’ve not got one of those. We heard that Jamie Oliver had an awesome grill pan waffle recipe, but when you search for it and click the many links back to it – Jamie’s site tells you it’s gone! It’s really weird. We wound up writing the recipe down from his TV show. After a few modifications – this is perfection. The crispy waffle lines are to die for. Why not make 2013 the year of the waffle?

  • 2 eggs
  • 300ml (1 1/4 c) milk
  • 100g (3.5 oz) butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 225g (1 3/4 c) self-raising flour
  • (or 220g plain flour plus another 1 1/2 tsp of baking powder)
  • 1/4 tsp salt

In a medium bowl whisk the eggs and the milk together. In another bowl sieve together the flour, baking powder and salt to combine. Whisk the dry into the wet gradually so as not to get lumps. Then dribble in the butter in stages and stir. Rest for 20 mins if you can, but I usually pour the batter through a sieve a few times to remove the bubbles.

Get your griddle pan quite hot and melt over a large knob of butter. Pour in some of the batter across the ridges in a line – it will spread down the lines. Then turn the heat down to medium and cook for 8-10 minutes. Flip it over (this can be tricky with the grill lines) and then cook the other side for about 8 mins.

We like ours with maple syrup, fresh whipped cream and berries.  But go wild!

Song for this recipe:

“Dirty dishes” – Deer Tick Dirty Dishes - War Elephant

Deer Tick is an American alt-country band from Providence, Rhode Island led by guitarist and singer-songwriter John McCauley. Deer Tick’s music is kind of  a combination of folk, blues, and country.  Nice and Southern sounding, perfect for a waffle and grits Sunday breakfast on the porch.

Happy birthday Mum!  I’ll make you some waffles for breakkie ♥

French Almond Nougat

Posted on: December 9th, 2012 by admin 5 Comments

We received couple of requests for a nougat recipe this week so here’s our favorite. This is for the lighter chewier type of nougat. There are many variations - nougatine is really crunchy, in Italy it’s called torrone and some recipes call for making a mazetta (sugar syrup) first. I like this recipe best because there is no need to add corn syrup or glucose or anything. This is a French almond nougat from Provence that uses honey which makes it perfection!

There are a few things about nougat that you need to know before starting. Although pretty easy to make, in theory (the recipe is straightforward), the process is all about timing. Don’t attempt this without a candy thermometer or a stand mixer as the temperature of the honey and sugar is a huge part of the chemistry of the confection and a hand mixer is not likely to have enough power. Also experts say to only attempt the recipe on a dry day — if it’s cloudy they say the honey will not fluff.

For candy (and most recipes) it’s best to use a kitchen scale and grams if you can, otherwise we’ve made conversions.

  • Wafer paper or rice paper (an edible paper that will stick to both sides of the nougat.)
  • 1/2 kilogram almonds (1 pound or about 2 cups)
  • 50 grams pistachios (1.75 oz or 1/4 cup)
  • 250 grams honey (1 1/8 cup)
  • 200 grams sugar (1 cup)
  • 2 egg whites
  • 50 grams powdered sugar (1/4 cup)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

(This is originally a halved recipe – feel free to double it if you like, just use a 13 x 9 inch pan)

Lightly grease an 11 x 7 inch or 8 x 8 inch square cake pan and line the bottom with wafer paper (you can use baking paper if you need, just spray it or grease it first, I’ve also heard of people powdering the base with a thickish layer of icing sugar.)

Begin with roasting your almonds and pistachios.  You can use blanched almonds if you like, but we like them with the skins on.  Spread them out on a baking tray and put them in a 350ºF (180º) oven for about 10 minutes, shaking the pan every few minutes to make sure they toast evenly. And don’t leave them!  (I’ve burnt many a nut).

In a double boiler or bain marie if you have one (fill a medium saucepan a third full of water and then place a smaller saucepan within that one), heat the honey, stirring constantly. In another regular pan, heat the sugar, aiming for 250-265°F (120ºC – 130ºC). Once it reaches the right temperature, add it to the honey (being careful not to burn yourself). Keep the heat constant and continue to stir the mixture until it reaches 280-290°F (around 140ºC)

In a stand mixer (like a kitchen aid), beat the egg whites to stiff peaks as if making meringue and then add the hot honey/sugar mixture a little at a time and carefully. The mixture should begin to thicken almost immediately as it cools. Keep the mixer at medium to high (this can get tough on your mixer). This is where you’re beating all the fluffy chewiness into the nougat. It will begin to form a ball around the beater and have a consistency like very thick  cookie dough with the stickiness of taffy after 6-8 minutes. At this point add the nuts and powdered sugar.

As soon as the nuts have been mixed into the batter, pour it into the prepared pan. It will be very thick and you might need an extra hand to get it spread out (and to quickly clean the beater!). Try coating a wooden spoon with cooking spray to help with the stickiness. Smooth the batter and cover it with a sheet of wafer paper. Use a rolling pin to smooth out the pan, the candy will begin to harden almost immediately so get it smooth as quickly as you can, it won’t ever be perfect, but that’s perfect, nougat is meant to be rustic. Allow it to cool overnight or, if you’re in a hurry, for at least 3 hours.

Once cool, unmold the nougat onto a cutting board and slice through in strips and then slice those into the desired size. Wrap the pieces in cellophane or wax paper and they’ll last a while.

You can also experiment with adding chocolate chunks, currants, lemon peel, other kinds of nuts, etc. This is just the classic recipe that you can use as a jumping off point. Best of luck and happy holidays!

Original recipe from a friend (Thanks Dave) I’ve heard Martha Stewarts recipe is also good but I can’t say for sure.

Song for this recipe:

“The love you gave” – Elisapie The Love You Gave - Travelling Love

I love to listen to Australian and now Canadian musicians.  Don’t you especially enjoy good artists from your country?  Of course music is totally global, but it always seems nice to know when they’re from your neighbourhood.  Elisapie is from Quebec, she was born in the North and besides being a pop singer, is also a broadcaster, documentary filmmaker and activist.  In 2005 she won Juno Award for Aboriginal Recording of the Year. This year her second album Travelling love was released.  I think she could be influenced by both ABBA and Blondie, but her voice is definitely her own.

Raspberry lemon loaf

Posted on: November 19th, 2012 by admin 1 Comment

For some reason Beans doesn’t like loaves. It’s just the name loaf that he doesn’t like, not the actual baked goodness, so I have to call everything cake. But a loaf is not a cake.  A loaf is something you can eat for breakfast if you want, or as afternoon tea, or for dessert. I feel like a loaf is more versatile than a cake, at least that’s what I tell myself as I eat a slab for breakfast!

In any case, I’d been wanting to make this one ever since I saw it posted on one of my favorite blogs – A splash of vanilla from a few years ago.  I’ve made it lots since then. What sold me on this particular loaf was the combination of both raspberries AND lemon.  My two favorite treat ingredients.  (For those who don’t know – I can’t eat chocolate – sad but true!) I’ve only modified Emma’s recipe a little, but it works wonderfully for me so here it is.

  • 1 3/4 c all purpose white flour (you can substitute 1/2 c of wholemeal if you like)
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 c Greek yogurt or buttermilk (if using 1/2 cup wholemeal flour, you might need to add a tablespoon more)
  • 1/4 c grapeseed oil (or melted and cooled unsalted butter)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • Grated zest from one medium lemon
  • 1 c raspberries (fresh or frozen)

Preheat oven to 180ºC (350ºF). Grease and line a loaf tin with butter and baking paper.  I just use a strip of baking paper along the base and up the short sides of the pan.

In a large bowl sift the flour(s), baking powder and baking soda and then mix in the sugar and salt.  Gently stir through raspberries to coat with the flour mixture using a wooden spoon.

In another bowl or jug whisk together the yogurt, vanilla, oil, eggs, and lemon zest.  Add your wet ingredients to the flour mixture and fold until just combined.

Spoon into prepared loaf tin and bake for 40-45 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean and the top is light golden.

Cool in the pan for 8 minutes then remove and cool completely on a wire rack.

Thanks to Emma for the original recipe.

Song for this recipe:

“Sweet home Chicago” – Robert Johnson Sweet Home Chicago - Robert Johnson: The Complete Recordings

I love blues.  Especially Robert Johnson.  I tend to listen to him a lot on Sundays – it makes it feel more like Sunday for some reason.  I wish I had a porch to rock a chair on, I would spend the day eating fresh baked cake and spiked lemonade, instead of cleaning windows and sweeping twice a day after a shedding dog. This Sunday listen to a little of your favourite old blues (some more I love are Blind Lemon Jefferson, Bessie Smith, Howlin’ Wolf or Skip James) close your eyes for a minute or two and dream…

Swedish apple cake

Posted on: October 16th, 2012 by admin 5 Comments

There are some chefs/bakers/cooks who are so solid in their methods that you know even before trying one of their recipes that it’s going to be good.  For me one of those people is baking with Dorie Greenspan.  Obviously I am not the only one who agrees, because ‘Tuesdays with Dorie’ is a massively popular online bake-along with tons of participants from all over the world.


In any case, after an apple filled few weeks, I had just a couple more to use up (they were delicious baked, but not so on their own).  This Swedish apple cake is quite thin, not huge portions, but let me tell you it is literally the best little cake I have ever made.  It was so popular the first time round – and so easy I might add – I made it again, and again etc.  It is all in the consistency and texture.  It has a light crispiness around the outside and the inside is light, moist and bit chewy. It really is my no-fail, ready to bake in 10 minutes, favourite recipe.   I do sometimes use other fruits.  Peaches and plums work well and so do berries.

  • 3/4 c + 1 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • Pinch of salt (optional)
  • 1 extra-large egg or 1 large egg plus 1 large egg yolk
  • 3/4 c sugar
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract (optional)
  • 115 g (1 stick/4 oz) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 to 1 1/2 apples (any kind) peeled, cored and cut into 1/2-inch thick wedges

Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC), Butter a 9 in (22cm) deep dish pie plate or similar size cake tin – or you can use a cast iron skillet if you like.

In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.

In another larger bowl use the same whisk and beat the egg(s) and sugar together until thick and pale, then mix in the vanilla and then the melted butter.  This mixture should be smooth and shiny.

Stir in the dry ingredients into the wet, but don’t overmix.  Scrape the batter into the prepared tin.  Top with the apples, but do leave some space between the apples as Dorie says – “so the batter can puff up between the wedges – it looks much nicer with the puffs.”

Pop the cake into the oven and bake for 40 – 45 minutes, until a knife or skewer inserted into the middle, comes out clean.  Transfer the cake to a cooling rack and leave for at least 15 minutes before serving.

I find it’s best eaten on the same day, but not hot out of the oven.  It is still delicious the second or even third day (cooled and covered), but I guarantee you won’t have it last that long!

This recipe is slightly modified from Dorie Greenspan, but is originally from her friend Ann Brettingen.

Song for this recipe:

“Shortie” Hannah Georgas Shortie - Hannah Georgas

Hannah Georgas has a lovely new second album out by the same name.  She’s from Vancouver, BC and is a really great mix of styles, I find her quite enjoyable. She is a little bit pop, a little bit indie, bit electronica, not too overdone, with a charming voice.  She probably hates being compared to countrywoman Feist, but the two have some similarities for sure.  Enjoy while you eat cake!

Glazed lemon almond cookies

Posted on: September 15th, 2012 by admin 1 Comment

It’s not often that I have spare almond meal around the house.  Usually the expensive delicious flour is gone in 60 seconds around here.  But I bought a massive bag for a bargain, so I’ve been using it a lot.  These cookies are a lot like lemony shortbread, the almond meal makes them a hint nutty and makes the texture slightly grainier, but nicely so.  They’re pretty quick and I find a glaze really takes a cookie to the next level.

  • 1 1/4 c flour
  • 1/2 c almond meal
  • 1/2 c powdered sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp lemon zest
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 c butter at room temperature

Combine the dry ingredients- the flour, almond meal, sugar and salt, then add the lemon zest and juice, mix well.  The lemon zest will rub into the dry ingredients and really make everything nice and lemony.  Add the butter and egg and mix until it forms a smooth dough.  But not too much mixing.  Roll the dough out into a flat disc, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for about 1/2 hour. (Please note – sometimes when I make this dough, it’s a little sticky, I think it depends on how moist the almond meal is – so you can add a Tbsp more flour if this happens)

Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC) and line a baking tray.

Roll out the dough onto a lightly floured surface to a nice 1/4 inch, just over 1/2 cm. Thickish is nice, I find.  Cut out all the dough into whatever shape cookie cutter you have. At this point I like to put the whole tray of cut cookies into the freezer for just a couple minutes, to chill everything again after working the dough for cutting. Then pop into the oven for 12 – 15 minutes.  (Mine usually take closer to 15).

For the glaze:

  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 c powdered/icing sugar

Mix these two together until nice and smooth.  When the cookies are totally cool, ice using the back of a spoon. We eat them right away, but the glaze should set after about 15 minutes.

Song for this recipe:

“Forget” Lianne La Havas Forget - Is Your Love Big Enough? (Deluxe Edition)

Lianne La Havas is a wonderful young singer from the UK, her new album is called Is your love big enough? I think it’s really a great listen.  I guess she sounds a little like bits of Corine Baily Ray, Alicia Keys, Erykah Badu, Laura Marling or even a little Nina Simone.  Anyway you get the idea.  Seems like there are many many lovely solo girls singing beautiful songs these days.  I like Lianne though, because she’s a little quirky and you can have a little dance to some of her songs too. Plus on a side note –   Forget is my favourite song on the album.