Sunday, June 30, 2013

My Decision

Today I am leaving for my trip. Based on the feedback I have received and my own opinion, I have made my decision. I have decided I am going to try to post a little something everyday in French. This may not be much, it may be as simple as what I ate that day or something similar, but I will try my best to get a little update on everyday. Now i may get to camp and realize this is not going to work at all, but for now, that is what I am aiming to do. This may turn my blog into a bit more of a travel blog than a baking blog for a month or so, but I will try to keep it as food-related as possible. 
Also depending on how rushed or tired I am and how much time I have, these posts could be short. They will also be in French  and since the goal of this camp is to improve my French, my posts may contain spelling and grammatical errors (more so than usual), and may use limited vocabulary, especially at first. 

This may also change my audience for the next month. I could loose some English readers, but I may also gain some French readers. For those who do not understand much French, you could try a translating website, though those don't seem to work well, especially with blogs (I've checked). Some blogs have language translators activated, but French is not an option under my settings, so I cannot enable that. You could always just look at any pictures I have posted, as photos are a universal language. Otherwise, check back in early August, as I will be returning home to baking and English posts!

I'd like to thank everyone in advance for their cooperation and understanding. I hope you continue to read my blog, or at least return in August. I wish everyone a healthy and happy July! This will be my last English posts for awhile!

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Homemade Granola Bars

Homemade Granola Bars
2 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup sliced nuts
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup wheat germ
1 1/2 cup dried fruit
1/3 cup liquid honey
1/3 cup molasses
2 Tablespoons coconut oil
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 300F. Place the oats, nuts, coconut, and wheat germ (if not already toasted) on a baking sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until toasted. 
Increase oven temperature to 350F.
Transfer to a large bowl and add remaining ingredients, stir well. 
Press mixture into a 9x13 inch pan lined with parchment paper. Pack it in very tightly. 
Bake for 25-30 minutes, until light golden brown.
Cool for 2-3 hours, then cut into bars with a serrated knife. 
May be stored at room temperature for a week or so, or longer in the fridge or freezer. 

These granola bars are very nutritious - full of whole-grains, nuts, and fruit. They are great for the road! Use any type of nuts and dried fruit you wish. Making your own granola bars is very easy, and tastier and healthier too! I used almonds, raisins, and chopped dates in my version. The spices are optional, and the molasses can be replaced by more honey - I just really like molasses. You can leave the oil out as well, it just helps keep the bars from clumping a bit. 

Friday, June 28, 2013

Portobello Mushroom Burger

Does anyone else ever get tired of hamburgers? Okay, maybe it's just me, but I was never a huge fan of hamburgers to begin with. So I get bored of having them a lot, even though we don't eat them all that often, although more so now that it is barbecue season. To me though, a burger is just a burger, and I am not a meat lover anyway. Now veggie burgers on the other hand, there are a wide variety of different types of veggie burgers, and you can add many different flavors to them so you never get bored and each one is different. There are soy burgers, bean burgers, quinoa burgers, pumpkin burgers, tofu burgers, lentil burgers, and more. But a really different type of burger, that is probably also one of the easiest to prepare, is a portabello mushroom burger. Technically it is simply just a vegetable, but when grilled properly, it is thick and juicy with a meaty texture. All you need to do is buy some portabello mushroom caps, and maybe trim them and wash them a bit. Then brush them with oil, spices, or sauce as you would like, and grill them. They cook quickly too, only a few minutes per side. Then slap them on a bun and add toppings as you would for any burger. It's a great vegetarian alternative to burgers, and cheaper,quicker, and easier. My father grilled a few for me after I complained about having burgers, yet again. 

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Oreo Peanut Butter Brownie Cups

If you really like oreo cookies, peanut butter, and brownies, then you will certainly love this chocolaty combination! Not exactly my favorite combination, though oreo cookies are one of the few store-bought cookies I actually enjoy (maybe because it is hard to replicate them at home). However, my friend really likes these three foods, so I made these especially for her. I saw the idea online. They are quite quick and easy to make, especially if you use a brownie mix (which I certainly didn't). I just whipped up a batch of my master brownie recipe, which normally makes an 8x8 inch square pan full (see Brownies: Master Recipe). 
There isn't really an official recipe for this, but here are the steps:
Spread a layer of peanut butter on the top of twenty four oreos (chocolate creme-filled sandwich cookies). 
Place two oreos together, peanut butter sides facing up. 
Place these twelve stacks in twelve muffin cups lined with paper liners.
Prepare a brownie mix (enough for an 8x8 inch pan) and spoon a layer into each muffin cups.
Bake at 350F for about 20 minutes. 
Makes 12 chocoalty, peanut buttery brownie cups chock full of oreo goodness!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Oil-Based Pie Pastry

As I mentioned before, I am not much of a fan of traditional pie pastry. Often I will use shortbread crust, cream cheese pastry, a chocolate crust, or even a graham cracker crust. But when I am looking for something that is as close as possible to traditional pie pastry, I use this really easy oil-based pastry. It is quicker and less tedious than regular pie dough, and does not have to be rolled. It is not as flaky, but cuts well and the taste is similar. 
I used this crust for my mock apple pie from yesterday, as well as my Caramel Meringue Pie.

Oil-Based Pie Pastry
1 1/2 cups all-purpose (plain) flour
1 Tablespoon granulated (white) sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cooking oil
2 Tablespoons milk

Mix the flour, sugar and salt together. Stir together the milk and oil and add to the flour mixture. Mix until all flour is moistened and dough starts to come together. This can be pressed directly into the pie pan or rolled out as a crust, but may require a touch more liquid if rolling. Makes one pie crust, plus a little extra for topping if you wish.

To blind bake: Place crust in pan, prick all over with fork. Bake at 400F for 10 minutes, no weights are requires. 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Mock Apple Pie

You will not believe this until you try it! It looks just like apple pie, it smells just like apple pie, and it even tastes just like apple pie, but it contains no apples! Instead, the "apple" mixture is soda crackers! I was skeptical too, so I just had to try it. The pie contains the usual apple pie flavors of lemon juice, cinnamon, and sugar, and the sugar caramelizes the crackers into a mixture that looks just like apple pie filling, if not a tad runnier and softer. Be sure to keep the cracker pieces fairly large, as in the size of apple slices. This recipe came from a mystery novel, entitled "Key Lime Pie Murder".
Mock Apple Pie
1 two layer, 9-inch pie crust
or one 9-inch pieshell plus enough dough for a crumble topping
20 salted soda crackers, lightly buttered on one side
1 1/2 cups cold water
1 1/2 cups granulated (white) sugar
3 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar

Place pie dough in the bottom of a 9-inch pie plate. For most pie crusts, I recommend pre-baking it so it does not become soggy. I baked mine at 400F for 10 minutes, without weighing it.

Place crackers in a medium saucepan, and break them up into fairly large pieces with a spoon. Add remaining ingredients, stir well, then bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, then simmer for exactly two minutes. Pour into prepared pie shell. Top with another pie crust, cutting in vents to allow steam to escape, or crumble pie dough over top. Bake at 425F for about 20 minutes, until top crust is golden. Let cool slightly before serving. 
I don't care for traditional pie pastry, but a I wanted something that would be close, so I used an oil-based pastry recipe that I have used before. It is similar in taste and texture to traditional pie dough, just a little less flaky. It uses less fat, and is a lot easier to mix up. It doesn't have to be rolled, it can just be patted in the pan. I didn't bother with an entire top crust, just sprinkled on some extra pie dough as a crumble, which was nice and less work.

I made this pie ahead, then baked it when I was ready. I pre-baked the crust to avoid sogginess and made the filling, poured the filling in the hot crust, then let it cool before refrigerating it. The topping was crumbles on just before baking several hours later. This recipe worked well made in advance. 
Actually, my mother finished the pie for me, by putting the crumble on and baking it. She also buttered the crackers for me. It seems a bit tedious  but just remember that buttering 20 crackers is much less tedious than washing, peeling, coring, and chopping a bunch of apples. 

Fluke, Joanne. "Mock Apple Pie." Recipe. Key Lime Pie Murder, New York: Kensington, 2007. 112-113.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Mock Baked Potatoes

The other day as a quick side dish to go with supper I made mock baked potatoes. I'll admit, I was too lazy to peel and cut the potatoes. I wanted something a little different than just boiled or mashed potatoes. And I didn't want to have the oven on for an hour just to bake three potatoes. So I made mock baked potatoes, which are cooked in the microwave. It is really easy, and doesn't take long at all. All I did was wrap three medium-sized potatoes that had been pricked on all sides with a fork in paper towel, to absorb the moisture. I placed them on a small plate, and microwaved them for five minutes on high, flipped them, and microwaved five minutes more. It only took ten minutes to fully cook them! Then I let them sit for five minutes or so, to finish cooking on the inside. I split them in half, and topped them as desired.

The two top halves are: plain Greek yogurt, paprika, wheat germ, and mozzarella cheese.
The four bottom halves are: butter, garlic powder, dry bread crumbs, and marble cheese. 

Sunday, June 23, 2013

My Trip (Without the Blog?)

In a little over a week, I will be leaving for five weeks. I will be gone for the entire month of July and returning in early August. I am heading to a camp where I will have computer access but not a lot of time for it, and limited kitchen access and not much time to cook or bake. Plus all of my meals are already provided, but groceries are not. Also, this camp is a completely French camp - that means all communication, speaking, reading, music, websites, etc. must be done solely in French. 
I am not sure what I will do about my blog over the course of those five weeks. I may not have much time for blogging at all, and if I do, I certainly won't have much time to bake, so my blog posts would be a little different than the usual. It may feature more articles or critics and less recipes and pictures. If I am able to blog though, it will have to be completely in French. That may change my viewer audience slightly (or a lot). 
So I suppose I have a few options here:

  1. Type up enough (English) articles, previously made baked goods, master recipe posts and have them automatically update everyday for the duration of my trip.
  2. Try to write (in French) about some sort of food experience I have had each day. This could be meals I ate, things I made, bakeries I've visited, etc. I could also just do this every few days when I have something interesting to report.
  3. Start up an easy column to update everyday (in French). This could be something like my alphabet posts, which would give me 26 days of posts different from my English ones, as I would be listing the French words for the foods.This could also include a picture with a short description series, or sharing a helpful hint each day.
  4. Take a five week vacation from my blog and not update it at all. This seems like the most viable solution, but the thing is after over 700 consecutive days of posts, I hate to stop now. And I hate to leave my blog idle for that long. 
I am quite torn as to what I should do. I would greatly appreciate any feedback or suggestions to see what my viewers think. That may aid me in making my decision. 

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Lovely Lemon Bar Cookies

I have been looking to make lemon squares for a while now. Simple, but light and refreshing. Most recipes for lemon squares are very similar - essentially a shortbread crust with a filling composed primarily of lemons, eggs, and sugar. These are reminiscent of lemon meringue pie - without the meringue. They can be stored in the fridge for a few days, but are best served fresh.  They can be dusted lightly with icing sugar, but they really don't need it. A refreshing, spoonful on summer lemon taste! These have plenty of lemon flavor, but are not lip-puckering sour.

Lovely Lemon Bar Cookies
2 cups all-purpose (plain) flour
1/2 cup icing sugar
1 cup cold butter, 2 blocks cut into 8 cubes each
4 large eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups white (granulated) sugar
1/2 cup lemon juice
grated lemon zest from 3 large lemons 
1/4 cup all-purpose (plain) flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease or line a 9x13 inch rectangular baking pan.
CRUST: Combine the crust ingredients in a food processor until it resembles pie crust dough. Alternately, this can be done by hand by cutting the butter into the flour and sugar. Press firmly into prepared baking pan. Bake for 15-20 minutes until edges are golden.
FILLING: Mix the eggs and sugar. Add the juice and zest. Stir in flour, baking powder, and salt. Pour on top of hot crust and bake 30-35 minutes until just set. Chill completely before serving.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Wholesome Drop Biscuits

I always like to have a stash of whole-grain biscuits in the freezer to have with my breakfasts. This recipe is particularly quick and easy, and makes delicious chewy and wholesome biscuits. 

Wholesome Drop Biscuits
1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 cup ground flaxseed
1/4 cup natural wheat bran
1/4 cup oats
1 1/2 Tablespoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 cup milk
sugar, salt, honey, and cinnamon to taste

Preheat oven to 425F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Add the applesauce and milk and stir well. Drop by spoonfuls onto prepared baking sheet. Bake for 12-15 minutes until golden. 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Rustic Sour Milk Quickbread

Rustic Sourmilk Quickbread
4 cups all-purpose (plain) flour
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon granulated (white) sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg, beaten
2 tablespoons oil
1 1/2 cups sour milk or buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease or line a 9x5 inch loaf pan. 
In a large bowl, stir the dry ingredients together. Add remaining ingredients and mix well. You may need to add a little more milk, dough should be sticky with no dry flour. Spread in prepared pan and bake for about an hour.
This is a quick and easy recipe to make as a no-fuss side for supper. It can bake in the oven right alongside the main course. If you are barbecuing, you can even cook this bread on the barbecue as well! You could easily change the recipe up a little and use whole grains or whole wheat flour, add herbs and spices, or even turn it into a cheese bread. This bread freezes well, and can be served many ways; just with butter, toasted with garlic spread, with melted cheese, with jam for breakfast, etc. 

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Mocha Graham Brownies

Mocha Graham Brownies
1 can (11 ounces/300mL) sweetened condensed milk
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 Tablespoon instant coffee granules
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups honey graham cracker crumbs

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease or line an 8x8 inch square pan.
In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients except crumbs. Add crumbs and mix well. Spread in prepared pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out moist, but not wet with crumbs. 

These are not really brownies in the traditional sense, but a shortcut to really tasty squares with a taste combo of chocolate, caramel, and coffee. They have got to be one of the quickest square recipes I have ever made, and as their caption says, "Start now, and you'll be enjoying your second square in less than an hour." These squares are quite decadent and chocolaty, and especially good warm from the oven. They cut well, travel well, and store well - as long as they don't get eaten!

Paré, Jean. "Mocha Brownies." Recipe. Chocolate Squared, Edmonton Alberta: Company's Coming Publishing Limited, 2009. 44.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Can't Believe It's Quick Bread

This bread is so sturdy, hearty, and easy to slice, you won't believe that it only takes about five minutes to whip up! Its texture and taste is just like that of a traditional yeast bread, yet this bread requires no kneading, rising, or yeast. It is one of the easiest and least crumbly quick breads I have ever made. 

Can't Believe It's Quick Bread
2 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 cup ground flaxseed
1/4 cup wheat germ
1/4 cup wheat bran
2 Tablespoons oats
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 Tablespoon molasses
1 egg
1 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup water

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 9x5 inch loaf pan.
In a large bowl, stir together the dry ingredients. Beat the liquid ingredients together and add them, stir until combined. Spread batter in prepared pan. Bake for about 40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. 

Monday, June 17, 2013

Buttermilk Frosting

To tell you the truth, I had never heard of a buttermilk frosting before I tasted it on my own birthday cake. It is similar to buttercream, but uses buttermilk in place of regular milk or water to add a little more flavor. The texture and consistency is therefore slightly different and reminds me of the Creamy White Frosting I once made. Because buttermilk is slightly sour, it cuts down on the sweetness in the frosting a bit, so this is a could frosting recipe for those who do not like sickly sweet frostings. I am not sure if homemade buttermilk (essentially milk with vinegar) would work as well in this recipe as store-bought buttermilk. 

Buttermilk Frosting
1/2 cup butter, softened
approximately 4 cups icing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4-5 Tablespoons buttermilk

Beat butter until creamy, gradually beat in sugar. Slowly beat in vanilla and milk, beat until smooth. Add a little extra sugar or buttermilk to achieve desired consistency. 

Adapted from:

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Devil's Food Cake

Have you ever noticed that the exact same recipe can differ a lot depending on who makes it? For example, we have shared some of our favorite recipes with others, and then sampled them when they made them, and found they were a lot different than ours. I too have made recipes given to me by others, and had them say my version was different. Still tasty, just different. Sometimes recipe do turn out nearly the same, but often they don't. How many times have you made a recipe from a cookbook, only to find the one in the book looks a lot better? Yeah, I've been there too. Recipes differ due to many variables, such as: ingredient substitutions  equipment used, freshness of ingredients, ingredient brands, attention to directions, processes used, oven type, etc. I will use my mother's chocolate chip oatmeal cookies as an example. Mom's always turn out nice and round and crunchy. I had someone else's version of the same recipe once, and theirs were thick, flat, and chewy. But they were both good.

Here is the cake recipe from my Devil's Food Birthday Cake. Surprisingly, it is extremely similar to the basic chocolate cake recipe I always use, though mine is not considered to be a devil's food cake. Despite the incredibly similarities, this cake turned out notably different than mine. Some of the tasters who have tried both preferred my chocolate cake, though this recipe is nearly identical. I actually think I might prefer this one, though I do like them both a lot. It just goes to show how a few changes can really make a dramatic difference. Anyway, here is the recipe, because it  is a really good one. Very moist and chocolaty! 

Devil's Food Cake
2 cups all-purpose (plain) flour
2 cups granulated (white) sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup milk
1 cup hot coffee 2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325F. Grease and flour a 9x13 inch rectangular pan or two 9-inch round pans.
In a large bowl, sift thedry ingredients together. Add oil, coffee, and milk, beat for two minutes at medium speed. Add eggs and vanilla and beat for two minutes more. 
Pour batter into preaprd pan(s). Bake large pan for 45 minutes, smaller pans for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. 

Recipe from:;

"Cake.”, n.d. Sunday, June 16, 2013. 

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Greek Yogurt Filling

Here is the filling I put in my crêpe. It is nothing difficult or special, but it's simplicity works well with all of the other complex flavors in this dish. This filling can be used for a number of different things, such as pastries, cakes, muffins, etc. It also makes a nice light topping, perhaps in place of whipped cream or ice cream, for pies, pancakes, even squares.  Yogurt-based fillings and toppings are easy and healthy choices for a number of dishes, they also make great sandwich spreads and dips. The seasonings and add-ins just need to be varied to suit the dish. In this case, I used simply a mixture of yogurt with honey and ground cinnamon. I used approximately 1/4 cup yogurt, one tablespoon honey, and one teaspoon cinnamon to fill one crêpe. Greek yogurt is typically ideal, because it is thicker and stands up better in dips and fillings. It also has a lot more protein than regular yogurt. However, regular yogurts will work as well. In this case I used plain, though vanilla would be good too. A fruit flavor could work if you match the fruits with those in your fruit sauce. 

Friday, June 14, 2013

Multigrain Crêpes with Yogurt & Fruit

Crêpes from Wednesday's post, plus fruit sauce from yesterday's post, plus possibly yogurt filling in tomorrow's post, equals some really delicious crêpes. Altogether this makes a relatively quick and easy breakfast, snack, or even dessert recipe that is nutritious and tasty! And it can easily be made to look fancy. Crêpes may seem a little daunting at first, but they are really no more difficult to make than pancakes. This was actually my first time making a crêpe, and I found it quite easy. The great thing about crêpes as well, is they don't served warm, although they are good that way. They can be made in batches and set aside while others are cooking, or they can even be refrigerated or frozen for later. Here is the process to make this crêpe:
1. Prepare crêpe batter and set aside.
2. Begin the sauce, and cook it.
3. Meanwhile, mix up the yogurt filling.
4. Cook the crêpe.
5. Assemble: Spoon the filling onto the crêpe, roll it up, and serve it with sauce piled on.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Easy Berry Sauce

This is a quick and easy recipe to do when you just want a little fruit sauce as a topping or garnish, and need it in a hurry. The berries may easily be varied. I used frozen, though it would probably work with fresh as well. 

Colorful Fruit Sauce
1/2 cup frozen mixed berries (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries)
1 scant Tablespoon corn starch
1 heaping Tablespoon lemon juice
sugar or honey to sweeten
cinnamon, if desired

Place the berries in a small saucepan over medium heat. In a small bowl, mix the cornstarch and juice until smooth, add to berries and increase heat. bring to a boil and boil, stirring occasionally, for a few minutes until thickened. Stir in sugar and cinnamon, if desired. Serve warm or cold. 
The amount of berries can easily be adjusted to make more or less sauce, though you really can't make a batch much smaller than this. The amount of cornstarch and juice should remain relatively the same unless you add more than double the amount of berries, then increase these amounts as well. 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Multigrain Crêpe Batter

This quick and simple recipe makes only one, individual crêpe, although it may easily be doubled. The batter will not seem very liquidy, because this is not meant to be a paper thin crispy crêpe, but more a soft and fluffy large pancake-like crêpe. It would also work well as a wrap or tortilla for tacos or sandwiches. It makes a quick and nutritious breakfast, snack, or lunch, as the recipe has no added fat or sugar and a great mix of multigrains. It also contains some protein, especially if you use Greek yogurt and add some nuts or nut butter to the filling.

Multigrain Crêpe Batter
1/4 cup plain, fat-free yogurt
1 Tablespoon fat-free milk
1 egg white
2 Tablespoons whole wheat flour
1 Tablespoon rolled oats
1 Tablespoon wheat germ
1/2 Tablespoon ground flaxseed
In a small bowl, whisk the yogurt, milk, and egg together. Whisk in remaining ingredients until combined. Batter can be used immediately, set aside to rest briefly, or refrigerated for up to 24 hours.
To cook: Heat a lightly greased 8-inch round skillet or frying pan over medium heat for a few minutes until hot. Spoon batter into skillet and gently spread evenly in one thin layer to cover the skillet. Cook for about two minutes until dry and cooked. Gently flip over and cook another minute or two until dry and cooked. 

To serve: This may be served hot, or chilled for later. It can be rolled up or served flat with a favorite topping or filling: fruit, yogurt, jam, nut butters, and nuts all go well; but because there is no sugar in the batter, this may also be used for savory fillings such as ham, cheese, vegetables, etc.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Cocoa Ganache Glaze

Cocoa Ganache Glaze
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup milk
2 Tablespoons hard margarine
2 Tablespoons golden corn syrup
2 cups icing sugar

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the first four ingredients together. Stir until smooth. Gradually stir in the icing sugar until smooth. Immediately pour over cake(s). Spread evenly and refrigerate briefly to set. Leftover ganache can be chilled in a shallow layer and rolled into truffles once firm. Makes enough to coat two single layer 8 or 9 inch rounds, or one double layer. 
This will be my go-to glaze for chocolate cakes now. It is so much quicker, easier, and more convenient than buttercream, and tastier too - definitely provides more of a chocolate kick. The look is simple shiny, and clean. This is not quite a traditional ganche, as it does not use cream and melted chocolate  but more of a sweeter glaze. However, because it uses ingredients I always have on hand, it is a recipe I can make anytime. I used t on my birthday cake.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Fudgey Chocolate Cake

This is the cake base I made for my birthday cake from yesterday's post. It is a really quick and easy recipe, and makes just one layer. It is a fudgey and dense cake, that is quite rich and a bit heavier, so it will go further than a light, tender cake recipe. It needs only a bit of icing or topping, chocolate ganache works well. 

Fudgey Chocolate Cake
1 cup all-purpose (plain) flour
1 cup granulated (white) sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup butter or hard margarine, softened
1 cup milk
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and flour an 8-inch round baking pan.
In a large bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, cocoa, and baking soda. Add remaining ingredients and beat to moisten. Beat on medium speed for two minutes. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for 40-45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Sunday, June 09, 2013

Cake #3 - Made By Me

Here is my third (and I'm pretty sure last) birthday cake. I made this one myself. I have absolutely no problem making my own birthday cake, in fact I quite enjoy it. I love to bake and decorate cakes anyway, and this way I can make exactly what I want, and if I mess up, I have no one to blame but myself. In fact, I did mess up slightly, but oh well. This is just a simple, one layer, eight inch chocolate cake recipe. Not my standard chocolate cake, but a fudgey one instead. I covered it in a chocolate cocoa ganache - much easier than frosting, shiny, and tasty too! Then I went a little border crazy. I did four borders, using two different shades of chocolate buttercream icing. The bottom has a dark shell border on the bottom and a light ruffle border on the top. The top has a dark reverse shell border on the outside, and a simple light star border on the instead. Then I used a little purple buttercream to pipe Happy Birthday Rebecca (the happy ran a little), a simple flower, and some stars. I kept this simple, quick, and chocolaty because I didn't have much time and already had two other cakes, and because I love chocolate. 

Saturday, June 08, 2013

Devil's Food Birthday Cake

Here is my second birthday cake. I actually can't remember any year where I had less than two birthday cakes. This year I have three. My parents do not agree with me making my own birthday cake. So they made me one, but I also made one myself this year. Last year I compromised and decided to make a cake together with my boyfriend. They agreed to this, but still thought I should not have helped make my own birthday cake, and made me another one.
This year, me boyfriend decided to make one by himself. I didn't say anything, not a peep (okay maybe I mentioned cake and birthday a few times). But I guess my boyfriend understood since I made him a birthday cake, he would make me one. I had no idea what kind of cake it would be - if it would be simple, or decorated with icing or just fruit or what. I actually hadn't hinted at anything, I was totally cool with a surprise! This is the masterpiece he came up with.
This is a double layer Devil's Food chocolate cake (to contrast my angel food cake), and from scratch of course. It is frosted with homemade buttercream icing, and filled with buttercream and raspberry marmalade. The outside is decorated with fresh raspberries, some pink spikes, and pink piping. Lettering is not an easy feat for someone who does not decorate very often! The look is very simple, but of course very nice! I was quite impressed, considering my boyfriend does not normally bake or decorate, and he did this himself by scratch. The look was very nice, and the two layers were stacked perfectly, I always had trouble with layered cakes when I first started out. And the cake also survived the hardest part - transport.
That was before tasting it. The Devil's Food cake is very good - it is chocolaty and moist, with a tender crumb. A very nice cake. The buttercream was also sweet and tasty, and the hint of raspberry flavor complemented the chocolate perfectly. I am extremely pleased and I greatly appreciate all the effort that went into making and decorating this cake, as cakes can be daunting tasks for even the most experienced bakers. 

Thanks again so much to my amazing boyfriend for a beautiful cake. It is delicious! :)

Friday, June 07, 2013

Apple Rhubarb Cobbler

It is that time of year, where the rhubarb is ripe and ready to be picked and baked with! Strawberries are also beginning to pop up, so you could easily replace the apple in this recipe with strawberries, or even more rhubarb, though you may need to adjust the sweetener in these cases. I love rhubarb  but it has a very short season, and you can't just enjoy it raw, it needs to be baked into something delicious. We have a small patch of rhubarb in the backyard, and usually I go grab some and bake with it right away. This year however, our rhubarb patch is not doing so well. Luckily we know someone who has an overabundance of rhubarb in their yard, and were nice enough to give us some! Thanks again!
Apple Rhubarb Cobbler
4 cups chopped rhubarb, fresh or frozen
2 cups peeled, diced apple
1/4 cup liquid honey
grated zest of one orange or lemon
1 large egg
1 cup milk
1/2 cup butter or hard margarine, melted
1/3 cup liquid honey
1/4 cup orange or lemon juice
1 1/2 cups flour (white or whole wheat)
1/2 cup chopped nuts (walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts), toasted if desired
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 375F. Butter a 9x13 inch glass baking dish.
Combine fruit, honey, and zest in the dish, spread evenly.
In a large bowl, whisk the egg, milk, butter, honey, and juice. Stir in remaining ingredients. Pour topping over fruit, spreading to evenly cover. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the topping comes out clean. Serve hot, warm, cool, or cold. Garnish as desired.

The recipe came from a recipe calendar we have in the kitchen, but is also available here:

My notes: I would recommend using a lot more honey (or sugar instead) with the fruit, as it is quite sour (definitely do not use lemon!) The fruit is fairly liquidy as it as. Add a little cinnamon as well. I liked the topping. the nuts add a little texture, but even when using only 1/2 cup whole wheat flour, it is still a bit bland. Overall not my favorite cobbler, but not terrible.

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Katie's Apple Cinnamon Muffins

These are some muffins my friend made for me on my birthday.  She was awake at four am and decided to bake for me! I really appreciate gestures like this, as I love to try other people's baking, it helps me get a feel for others' tastes and styles. I also just enjoy receiving food in general. I always seem to be baking and sharing with others, so I appreciate when they return the gesture. I also love surprises, and really wasn't expecting this! I will have to get her back on her birthday,
These muffins were really good. They were chock full of tender apple chunks, which kept them moist, and had a nice amount of cinnamon to make them spicy. They were soft and delicious! A nice birthday treat! Of course I felt obligated to share them with others, but I certainly enjoyed what I got. Thanks again!

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Instant Chocolate Icings

Here are the recipes for the chocolate filling and frosting from my birthday cake yesterday. Both are quick, easy, chocolaty, and delicious!

The outside frosting for my cake:
Whipped Pudding Icing
1 cup whipping cream
1 package instant chocolate pudding (four serving size, the no-cook type)
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients and stir gently. Then beat for five minutes or so, until thick and peaks form.
The inside filling for my cake:
Easy Dark Chocolate Icing
1 cup icing sugar
3 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 Tablespoon water
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Mix all ingredients together well. Add more icing sugar or water to achieve desired consistency. The amount of cocoa can be altered depending on how dark you would like the icing to be. This doesn't make a big batch, but may easily be doubled.

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Heavenly Chocolate Cake

Voilà! Here is my birthday cake for 2013! As I said yesterday, my only criteria was an angel food cake with chocolate and fruit. It is based on a simple, but delicious, angel food cake. I have actually never had angel food cake from scratch anyway, so I don't know if this is as good as  scratch cake, but I can say it is a lot better than a store-bought angel food cake. 
I actually wasn't expecting a filling in the middle, but when I sliced into it I found a dark chocolate icing. I know it is probably not easy to slice an angel food cake (or any cake for that matter) evenly in half horizontally, and I really appreciated the extra hidden chocolate treat! The icing all outside the cake is as light as the cake itself; and it has to be light to be able to spread it on such a delicate cake, which my mother did an excellent job of (props to her for even icing in around the center hole). This icing is actually made with fresh whipped cream and instant chocolate pudding mix - which took me a few minutes to place the taste, but it works really well. And the pudding really provides a nice chocolate flavor. So this icing is very light in texture and not too rich to clash with the light cake, but certainly delectable. Of course, the cake is garnished with fresh strawberries and cherries.

I really enjoyed this cake. I am usually vague on my criteria because to be honest, I never really know what kind of cake I want for myself. But I know that my parents will always come up with something delicious that will please me! When I asked my mother what she called this cake, she first responded with "heaven". (Actually, she first responded with "Angel Food Cake With Whipped Pudding Icing and Dark Chocolate Filling" but that title was a bit lengthy for a blog post). Then she dubbed it "Chocolate Heaven" because it is so light, and it is like eating a glad. I concur. This certainly is a heavenly chocolate cake! I couldn't have made it better myself.
Thank you Mom and Dad!

Monday, June 03, 2013

My Angel Food Birthday Cake

Tomorrow is my birthday. Again, I was not allowed to make my own cake (though I may make one for myself yet). My parents are making my birthday cake for me. I decided to be fairly easy with my criteria this year, and I am even letting them use a cake mix. The only reason for that is I asked for an angel food cake, and I actually think it is better to use a mix rather than having to separate twelve eggs and worrying about what to do with all those yolks. Also my mother seems to like cake mixes, and I thought it would be easier for her. Along with an angel food cake, I asked that my cake simply incorporate chocolate, and some sort of fruit. It could be either in the batter, or on top, it doesn't matter. Other than that, my parents can go to town! I am assuming they already know what I like and what I don't like, and I trust that they will create something pretty and delicious.
The cake is already baked, though there was a bit of trouble with loosening it from the pan. I actually ended up doing that myself, and I got to eat the crumbs from the bottom of the pan. So I am assuming it will be decorated while I am away tomorrow, and hopefully there will be no more troubles!

Sunday, June 02, 2013

Salmon Steaks

Yesterday we tried grilling some salmon steaks. By we, I mean my father, he is the grill master in the house! Usually when we eat salmon we buy salmon portions - they are the perfect size, easy to do, cook quickly, and have no bones (supposedly anyway). This time we decided to try salmon steaks. We prepared them the same way - grilled on the barbecue on maple planks with a little brown sugar. Overall though, the reviews were not as good as they are for salmon portions. I did not mind the steaks myself, although I must say I do prefer portions because they are a bit tastier, an easier shape to deal with, and usually have no bones to pick out. Steaks have skin that needs to be peeled off too, though this isn't difficult at all, but portions already have the thick skin removed. The steaks seemed to lack a bit in flavor. Maybe this was just an off batch of steaks, but usually we do not have any problems with portions, so I think we will stick to them. These were nice to try for a change, but fresh salmon can be expensive, even when on sale, and these didn't really live up to their price tag. I personally love pretty much any type of salmon, or all seafood for that matter, so I enjoyed these too, just not quite as much as the portions.
You can see the brown sugar melting into the steaks here.

Saturday, June 01, 2013

Cinnamon Toast Cake

This is a cake that will remind you of a hot piece of sweet, rich cinnamon toast! It is very quick and easy to put together, and delicious served warm. As a bonus, this recipe contains no egg, and may easily be adapted to be gluten free and/or dairy-free!
Cinnamon Toast Cake
2 cups all-purpose (plain) flour
1 cup granulated (white) sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
2 Tablespoons butter or hard margarine, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup butter or hard margarine, melted
1/2 cup granulated (white) sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 325F (for glass pans) or 350F. Grease an 8x8 or 9x9 inch square pan.
CAKE: In a large bowl, stir together the flour, sugar,baking powder, and salt. Add the milk, butter, and vanilla and mix. Spread batter evenly in prepared pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes.
TOPPING: Combine all ingredients. Spread evenly over hot cake, beginning with the edges and moving toward the middle. Bake for ten minutes more, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let stand for ten minutes or so before cutting.

The topping may seem a bit greasy after coming out of the oven. It will firm up upon cooling. When warm, the top is a tad on the greasy side, so you could definitely reduce the amount of butter in the topping if you wish. It is certainly a sweet topping! The topping is really what makes the cake moist, rich, sand sweet, although the cake base is nice and fluffy and moist as well.

Adapted from: