Archive for the ‘Sweet treats’ Category

Apple cider cake

Posted on: April 9th, 2012 by admin 2 Comments

After a long week of work I really enjoy a cider or two on the weekend.  This Easter we were a little ill prepared in the food department, but we had beverages so we figured we’d be fine whipping up a left-over pasta or a simple curry.  But we’d forgotten about dessert too, so I tried a new cake made with cider.  One sip for me, one for the cake…

Now this cider cake is so wonderful you won’t feel at all bad about sharing your drink with it, promise.  It’s inspired by Jamie Oliver’s apple pepper pot cake, which he baked with cider when he was in Bristol, but I wanted a simpler version and I had seen a great recipe on the blog – Baking for Britain.  I wanted to make a light sponge without fruit, something fast and easy with a hint of spice.  I was especially pleased with how well I could taste the apple and how the bubbles from the cider helped the cake rise to fluffy perfection.

You could easily double this recipe and make 2 cakes to sandwich together with whipped cream and jam.

  • 125g butter, softened
  • 3/4 c sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 c self-raising flour (or 1 c plain flour with 1 tsp baking powder)
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 150 ml cider

Preheat the oven to 180ºC (350ºF).  Butter a square, shallow cake tin. Ours was 21cm x 21cm (about 8in x 8in), but you could use a round one too.

In a large bowl, beat together the butter and the sugar until light and fluffy, a good 2-3 minutes, then add vanilla and the eggs one at a time and beat again.

In another bowl sift together the flour, baking soda and the spices, then fold the flour mixture into the creamed butter.  Add the cider and mix just until combined, don’t over mix.

Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 35-40 minutes.  Allow to cool in the tin, then turn out and sprinkle with icing (powdered) sugar.

We served ours with unsweetened whipped cream that had a dash of cinnamon sprinkled through it and fresh strawberries.

Original recipe from Baking for Britain.

Song for this recipe:

“Lordy May” – Boy and Bear Lordy May - Moonfire

I love Boy and Bear and while they are similar to a few indie rock bands around, Fleet foxes, Mumford & Sons etc, the reason I love them above the others is Dave Hoskings voice.  I’ve been trying to explain it for the last few minutes, but instead I reckon you should just have a listen and tell me if you like it too.  Their tunes are excellent and even though there’s plenty of it, I’m always happy to hear good Aussie music.

Happy Easter and Passover for those of you who celebrate.

Carrot gingerbread muffins with maple cream cheese icing

Posted on: March 12th, 2012 by admin 1 Comment

What a delicious idea these were!  These muffins are really easy to make, although I don’t like grating carrots.  Gingerbread and carrot cake merged into one muffin, topped with maple cream cheese icing, I mean, what’s not to love?

  • 2 1/4 c (550 mL) all-purpose flour
  • 2  tsp ground ginger
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 c (112g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 c packed brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp molasses
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 c plain yogurt
  • 2 c carrots, grated
  • 1/2 c toasted walnuts, broken into pieces (optional)

Preheat the oven to 180ºC (350ºF) and grease to line a 12 hole muffin tin.

In bowl, whisk together flour, spices, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

In large bowl, beat the butter and brown sugar until light, about 1 minute. Add in the molasses and vanilla, then beat in eggs, 1 at a time. Stir in flour mixture and then stir in yogurt until just combined. Gently fold in the carrots and nuts. Spoon into paper-lined or greased muffin cups.

Bake for 20- 25 minutes. Transfer to rack and ice when cool.

Maple cream cheese icing/frosting

  • 1/2 c (4 oz) cream cheese
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 c icing/confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 Tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla

Mix all these ingredients together in a bowl, if it’s too thick add a little more maple syrup, or a splash of milk.

Original muffin recipe adapted from: Canadian Living Magazine, September 2010.

Song for this recipe:

“More Love” Smokey Robinson and the Miracles More Love - Make It Happen (Tears of a Clown)

Oh Smokey, thanks for your awesome songs.  They make me dance around the kitchen with joy, using the spatula as a microphone while the muffins bake.  More love is particularly poignant because that’s what you’ll most likely feel for these muffins.  Smokey might be my favourite singer from the 60′s (he’s still singing mind you) which is a big call considering the talent in that great decade.

Tea cake – with yogurt

Posted on: March 4th, 2012 by admin 5 Comments

I’m not sure why I always seem to need a dessert fast.  Obviously on occasion I have taken the day to make a strudel, but generally I prefer something that can be eaten quite quickly after my initial craving.  Especially when I bake during the week.  Also many times I do not have a fully stocked pantry – oh I know I should, but alas there are times when I just run out of butter, or icing sugar, or milk.  In any case, I find this type of baking the most fun.  Always proudly proclaiming “look what I made – and I didn’t even have any…”

It was by chance I stumbled across Two Spoons recipe for what she called a Three-sugar cake.  It looked fantastic and used yogurt and oil, no butter- perfect.  I have made it a few times now, so my recipe is modified.  I baked a couple vanilla cakes and a couple with citrus and I liked the citrus with the yogurt best.  Also I found I couldn’t discern between the three separate sugars, so I switched to two (I actually did have three in my pantry though!  Outrageous).

  • 1 1/4 c plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 c plain, natural yogurt or sour cream
  • 1/2 c brown sugar
  • 1/3 c white sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 tsp zest of any citrus you’re craving (we used Meyer Lemons)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 c oil

If you don’t want a citrus cake, just omit the zest and make the vanilla a whole tsp.

This makes a nice loaf, or you can bake a round 8in cake.

Preheat the oven to 180ºC (350ºF) and lightly grease your pan.

Mix the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl to combine.  In another large bowl, whisk yogurt, eggs, oil, sugars and vanilla together until smooth. Gradually mix in the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, until uniformly moist.

Pour batter into your pan and pop it on the middle rack of your oven, baking for about 40 minutes, or until a skewer inserted comes out cleanish. Let cool in pan until warm before serving. Can be served the next day, and can last for several days if kept covered.

This cake is delightfully moist.  Quite yogurty if you use yogurt, sour cream is a little less flavourful.  You can leave out the citrus zest if you want a regular vanilla teacake, but also feel free to add some berries maybe, or nuts, almond essence instead of vanilla.  It’s quite versatile and totally delicious.

With thanks to Two Spoons for the original recipe.

Song for this recipe:

“Vanilla’s the Killer” – Amon Tobin The Killer’s Vanilla - Foley Room

Amon Tobin is a Brazillian electronic musician. I think his music is more like sound design, sophisticated experimentation.  He’s noted for his unusual methodology while making music.  In 2007 he released Foley Room an album based entirely on the manipulation of field recordings and this is my favorite album still.  He lives in Montreal too so I feel a little connected to him, even though that’s silly.

Perfect vanilla cupcakes

Posted on: February 14th, 2012 by admin 2 Comments

A while ago I stumbled across this blog- Form V Artisan, a scientific approach to baking, which totally intrigued me.  It makes sense anyway, all those molecules being beaten and whipped and warmed and cooled.  I was first drawn to Christina’s authentic Pad Thai, but after having tried many of her recipes – I have a new fav.  These cupcakes are nothing fancy, but their texture is so delightfully soft and perfect, I will never use another recipe for fluffy vanilla cupcakes again.

1 3/4 c all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 c granulated sugar
1/2 c butter, at room temperature
2 large eggs
1/3 c full fat sour cream
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2/3 c milk

Preheat oven to 180ºC (350°F). Line 18 standard muffin cups with paper liners.

In the bowl of an electric stand mixer, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add sugar and mix on low speed until well blended. Add softened butter and beat on medium-low speed until butter is coated with flour and mixture resembles dry crumbs, about 3 minutes. Increase speed to medium and beat 30 seconds longer. If you don’t have a mixer – mix the above dry ingredients together with a fork and then rub in the butter by hand (like making scones or pie crust).

In another bowl, whisk together eggs, sour cream and vanilla extract until smooth. Add this to the flour mixture and mix on medium-low speed until moistened, about 45 seconds. With mixer on low speed, gradually add milk and beat until batter is smooth, about 20 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix until batter is light, airy and creamy looking, another 15-20 seconds on medium to medium-low speed. Whether mixing with the mixer or by hand make sure you do not over mix.

Divide batter evenly among muffin cups, filling them about two-thirds full. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean, about 14 minutes. Transfer cakes to wire racks to cool completely and ice however you choose.

Original recipe from Christina Marsigliese.

Song for this recipe:

“Lonely Boy” – The Black Keys Lonely Boy - Lonely Boy - Single

We’ve loved this band for a long time – so it’s no surprise that eatpress is excited by the Black Key’s new album, El Camino, that was released in Dec.  This is the first single released and it is classic Keys.  Classic like a good vanilla cupcake.  I’ve always enjoyed the way Dan and Patrick make their band sound like there are at least half a dozen members in it.  Especially live – they play so hard you seriously think some extra musicians hiding backstage.  It’s raw and bluesy.  Songs feel like you might already know them, but Dan’s voice makes you want to hear them over and over.  They make me want to take a road trip in an old car with my dog, a fully packed lunch-box and just follow sunsets.

Whether you’re alone or ‘en semble’ this Valentines, treat yourself.

Mini Pavlovas

Posted on: January 28th, 2012 by admin 2 Comments

January 26th was Australia day, we celebrated this year with a delicious Aussie favourite – Pavlova.  It’s long debated origins are constantly discussed, but regardless of whether it was Australia or New Zealand, pavlova is delicious.

We made mini ones, quick and easy.  Basically pav’s are big meringues topped with whipped cream and fresh fruit.  Like a not so messy Eton mess.  The combination of these three things is something wonderful.  Crisp sweetness, with a chewy meringue centre, whipped cream and tangy fruits.  Needless to say after being photographed there was nothing left on the plate 60 seconds later.

  • Makes 4 – 6 mini pavlovas
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/2 cup (110g) caster sugar
  • a pinch of cream of tartar (it’s not totally necessary though)
  • 300ml cream, whipped
  • 2 bananas, sliced
  • 1/2 punnet (125g) fresh blueberries
  • 1/2 punnet (125g) fresh strawberries, hulled
  • 2 passionfruit, pulped
  • (You can use almost any fruit you prefer – as you can see we only had blueberries, but passionfruit pulp and strawberries are traditional and very awesome).

Preheat oven to 150°C (300ºF).  Line a baking tray with baking paper.

Place egg whites into a clean bowl. Beat until soft peaks form. Gradually add caster sugar, beating well between each addition. Beat until mixture is thick and glossy this will take at least 5 minutes.

Spoon heaped tablespoonfuls of meringue onto baking trays. Flatten meringues into discs. Bake for 20 minutes then turn the oven off and let them cool completely in there, you can crack the oven door after another 20 minutes or so.

When they’re cool, top the meringues with cream and decorate with fruit. Serve immediately.

Song for this recipe:

“I should be so lucky” – Kylie Minogue I Should Be So Lucky - Kylie Minogue

She’s been around so long now you can’t help but love her.  Kylie Minogue is one of Australia’s biggest pop stars of all time – pretty sure everyone knows that.  Anyway when I feel nostalgic I like to listed to her.  Plus it’s especially patriotic this week.  Some of her songs are so silly, but all of them are danceable, so crank up any of her dozen albums and enjoy.

Happy Australia day.

If you’d like to make a chocolate pavlova, we have an awesome recipe here.  Or another Aussie favourite, Anzac biscuits.

Peanut brittle

Posted on: December 18th, 2011 by admin 6 Comments

There is nothing more special to me than when someone shares a family recipe.  This time of year I especially love to know what people like to make for the holidays.  One of those recipes you just can’t imagine living without at this time.  One that was passed on from Grandparents.  A taste that brings you back to a certain memory the instant it touches your tongue.  Here’s one now from Alex in Australia, via Colorado – sweet, easy and irresistible.

Mama Chambers’ Peanut Brittle.

  • 1 c sugar
    1/2 c light corn syrup (Aussies look for light Karo in IGA)
    1/2 c water
    pinch salt
    1 c or so, raw peanuts
    1 Tbsp Butter
    1 tsp vanilla
    1 tsp baking soda

Cook the sugar, corn syrup, water and salt in a saucepan on med-high heat until hard ball stage, stirring occasionally (about 10+ minutes).  Add the peanuts and butter and cook until light brown, (another 5+ minutes, stirring occasionally so you don’t burn the peanuts) remove from heat, add vanilla and baking soda. (The soda will make the mixture expand and fizz.)

Pour immediately onto a buttered non stick baking tray, and pull thin and even with 2 buttered forks.  Set aside to cool. Once the brittle has cooled completely, snap it into pieces and store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.  This recipe is also great if you add a handful of macadamias.

YUMMO!!!  Thanks Alex!

Song for this recipe:

“Doin’ Time” – Sublime Doin' Time - Sublime (Deluxe Edition)

This album is like one of those familiar recipes for me – everyone has one like this.  Brings you back to certain memories in an instant.  In my early days of glass-blowing this album was a hot-shop fav.  Now every time I hear the reggae/ska beats and poor old Brad Nowell’s voice I am immediately directed back in time to fun school days when I spent time learning an awesome art with good friends like Alex.  Bring on the memories – and happy holidays my friends.

Lemon and thyme cookies

Posted on: December 12th, 2011 by admin 7 Comments

I love to bake with fresh herbs, they go wonderfully in sweet treats, because the familiar flavors are usually very fragrant, so you only need a little to give a cookie or a cake a little special something extra.  This summer we made a version of this recipe but with lemon, lime and basil.  Now that it’s cooler and my basil has long gone, I wanted to use winter thyme with the citrus instead.  This is a really simple recipe that has a wonderful unexpected flavor.

  • 115 g (4 oz/1 stick) butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 c caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • Zest from 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp thyme leaves, finely chopped (if you want to use basil – use 2 tsp)
  • 1 2/3 c flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt

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

Cream the butter and sugar in a bowl until pale in color, then add the egg and beat again.  Add the herbs and the zest and mix once more.  In another bowl, mix the flour baking soda and salt and then add this gradually to the butter mixture.

Roll walnut sized balls and place about and inch apart on the prepared tray.  Flatten them a little and them pop the tray in the oven for 10 – 15 minutes.  10 for chewier cookies, 15 for a little more crunch.

This recipe is adapted from Chasing Delicious

Song for this recipe:

“Concerto #4 in F minor – Winter – Largo” – Berliner Philharmoniker The Four Seasons, Concerto No. 4 in F Minor (L'Inverno/Winter) RV 297 (Op. 8 No. 4): II. Largo - Nigel Kennedy - The Vivaldi Album

Vivaldi’s 4 Seasons is one of my favorite collections of music.  My favorite is recorded by the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra and it is a fantastic version.  This particular Largo is not a very long piece, but as the snow falls here in Montreal it’s the absolute best thing I can possibly listen to that audibly explains the snowfall.  It is so perfectly descriptive it makes me emotional.  This Sunday I could sit with a cup of tea and a fresh baked cookie and watch the sparkling snow fall for hours.