Thursday, October 31, 2013

Cake Jack-o-Lantern

Happy Halloween! This is the jack-o-lantern I carved for this year. Of course I had to keep with the theme of the past few years, and the fact that I am a foodie, and carve something food-related. Not a scary face, or a cute design, but something that really suits me. This year it is a cake. Basically I carved two round cake layers, a top layer with a squiggly border, and four cherries on top. Though the cherries may also be interpreted as lumpy candles. However, if they are assumed to be cherries, you could say my cake is a Black Forest Cake! Ha, bet you though I would never mention Black Forest Cake again, considering how many times I have already featured it in my posts. Well, you were wrong. It is evident that my carving skills are not as great as my baking skills, but this occasion only comes around once a year, and it is fun to celebrate it. Last year I made an ice cream cone jack-o-lantern check it out here) and two years ago I made a cupcake jack-o-lantern (check it out here). 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal

Tomorrow is Halloween! So I decided to share another pumpkin recipe today. This is not a typical pumpkin recipe, but it certainly is good. We often don't think of incorporating pumpkin into our breakfast foods, but it certainly works out well. This bowl of warm, hearty oatmeal is flavorful and nutritious and is stirred together in cooked in a matter of minutes. 1/4 cup of canned pure pumpkin purée contains 5% of your daily iron requirements. If you top your oatmeal with 1/3 cup of raw sunflower seeds, you will add 20% more iron. This small breakfast provides you with 1/4 of your daily iron needs in just one bowl of oatmeal! This is a great option for vegetarians, those who avoid meat, or those who are iron-deficient. 
Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal
1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 cup canned pumpkin purée
1/4 cup milk or water
1 Tablespoon almond butter (or other nut butter)
sugar, honey, or maple syrup, optional

Stir all ingredients together in a microwave-safe bowl (you don't need a large one). Microwave on HIGH (100%) power for 60-90 seconds until thickened. 
Top your oatmeal with chopped nuts, raisins, sunflower seeds, fruit, brown sugar, or whatever else you wish!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Single Banana Pancake

I like to prepare a little something different for breakfast. I also like to make the servings individual  This is my new favorite breakfast. It is surprisingly quick and easy, and tasty too.

Single Banana Pancake
1/2 ripe banana, mashed
1/4 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 Tablespoon ground flaxseed
1 Tablespoon water
1/3 cup minus 1 Tablespoon whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)
Heat a little oil in a medium frying pan over medium heat. Mash the banana, and add the milk and vanilla. Mix the flax and water together and add. Stir in the dry ingredients. Pour the batter into the pan and cook for a few minutes on each side until golden.

This is excellent served slathered with peanut butter and the other half of the banana, sliced. It is also good with any nut butter and any type of fruit. Try it with nutella, and some nuts. Or sprinkle some chocolate chips on top. This makes one fairly large (the size of a saucer), soft and fluffy banana-flavored pancake. 

Monday, October 28, 2013

Cranberry Ribbon Loaf

Fall also means cranberry season. I had some cranberries in the fridge, and I was looking for something to make with them. I remembered this idea for a cranberry ribbon loaf, which sounded nice, and decided to try a combination of this and my own ideas. It turned out great. This loaf is soft and very moist. It is certainly sweet enough that you don't get that lip-puckering tart cranberry bite. It is a lot like banana bread, but with cranberries instead of bananas. It also gets some flavor and texture from the addition of coconut, though this could probably be omitted if you wish. Chopped walnuts may be a nice addition instead. The cranberry is swirled into the batter. Not only does this make for a pretty presentation, it also blends the tart cranberries with the sweet loaf, so you get a bit of each in every bite. 
Cranberry Ribbon Loaf
2 1/2 cups all-purpose (plain) flour
1 cup granulated (white) sugar
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup orange juice
1 large egg
3 Tablespoons oil
2 cups coarsely grated cranberries (fresh or frozen)
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 Teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
pinch ground cloves

CRANBERRY FILLING: Stir all ingredients together.
LOAF: Preheat oven to 350F. Grease or line a 9x5 inch loaf pan.
In a large bowl, combine the first five dry ingredients. Add remaining ingredients and beat for a minute. 
Spread 1/3 of the batter in the prepared pan. Spread with 1/2 of the cranberry mixture. Spread another 1/3 of the batter, the remaining cranberry mixture, then the remaining batter. Gently swirl the batter using a butter knife. 
Bake for about one hour, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan for five minutes, then remove to cool completely. This slices better after a day or so, if you can wait that long! 

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Pumpkin Scone

It's no secret I love to bake for others. But I also love it when others decide to bring me a treat too! I always appreciate when my friends decide to return the favor and bake something for me. Or maybe they are baking for their family and themselves, but think of me and decide to bring me a taste! Recently I was brought a pumpkin scone - the perfect thing considering the season. Though I don't share every gift on this blog, I feel the need to share this one because it was so delicious! The scone had a tasty pumpkin spice flavor, but not too spicy. The scone was also very moist, and not the least dry, which is difficult to achieve in a scone considering they are made from basically a biscuit dough. However, the icing on the cake (so to speak) was indeed the glaze on top. It was a simple glaze I am sure, but it provided almost a caramelized flavor, gave the scone a bit more sweetness, and added another layer of flavor and moistness. All together very yummy.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Grilled Spaghetti Squash

What do you get when the autumn season weather lingers a bit longer, yet the harvests of winter are beginning to appear? Grilled winter squash. That's right - take a vegetable that's meant for the winter seasons, and prepare it using an outdoor barbecue or grill, the preferable cooking method of the summer season. Sound a bit ironic? Who cares, it certainly is tasty!
Spaghetti squash never fails to amaze me. You cook a vegetable, then pull a fork along the cooked flesh and it comes out in strands and looks exactly like spaghetti! No other squash does that. You could definitely fool people into thinking it is actually pasta, especially if you serve it with a pasta sauce. You can cook squash just as you would pasta; al dente, soft, or well done.
This dish is really simple to prepare, and the squash does not even require prior cooking. Simple wash the squash, cut it in half, and scoop out the seeds. Brush it with a little oil, and place it cut-side down on the barbecue. Cook it as you like it! Then pull it off the grill and grab a fork to pull it into spaghetti strands. 

Friday, October 25, 2013

Wood Fired Pizza

Today I had something a little different for lunch. Instead of preparing lunch myself at home, or going to a restaurant for lunch, I visited an outdoor food stand downtown. This stand offers only one lunch item - pizza - but the pizza has been perfected. The set-up is basically a mobile hand-crafted, wood-fired brick oven. The oven is parked outside next to a stand where the pizzas are prepared to order. The organic, whole wheat crusts are topped with just enough sauce, then your toppings of choice, which are always fresh, and cheese of course. The pizzas come in personal or family size, and gluten free crusts are also available upon request. Then the pizzas are slid into the oven via a wooden pizza board, and baked until perfection. The entire process - from ordering to eating - takes less than ten minutes. The pizzas offered today included pulled pork, Hawaiian, and the classic pepperoni and cheese, but I went with the Mediterranean. This included broccoli, tomato, onion, green peppers, and green olives. This pizza was perfect - a thin and very crispy crust, that would have been good enough even plain, but was topped with just the right amount of toppings. These pizzas are Neopolitan-style, and definitely a welcome change from the usual Americanized pizzas - with thick, doughy crusts, overloaded with sauce, cheese, and meat. These pizzas are light, but satisfying. They come in cute little boxes to go, and are given to you piping hot. I really enjoyed this pizza lunch, and I'm sure I will return to this hidden gem. Among all of the restaurants around, this stand offers pizzas that are the freshest and the quickest. They may not be the cheapest, but they certainly aren't expensive, and the quality,freshness, and attention to detail is well worth it. My only complaint - the stand is only set up at certain times and certain days. 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Cinnamon Sugar Oatmeal Squares

This recipe begins with a basic recipe for oatmeal squares. The squares are one of the quickest and simplest recipes (only four ingredients), and are good on their own, but they need a little something extra to make them special. They aren't exactly the kind of squares you should just throw some chocolate into, although I do tend to enjoy some chocolate with everything. Instead, I thought it might be nice to sprinkle a cinnamon-brown sugar mixture on top before baking. This turned out very nicely - a nice oatmeal base and a sweet and spicy topping. I have made these squares before but this time my mother made them and added the topping. 
Cinnamon Sugar Oatmeal Squares
1/2 cup butter or hard margarine
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 3/4 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 325F. Grease or line an 8x8 inch square pan. 
In a medium saucepan, melt the butter then add the sugar and bring to a boil. Stir in the baking soda, then the oats. Spread evenly in prepared pan. Mix the sugar and cinnamon together and sprinkle over top. Bake for 15 minutes, do not overbake. These are delicious warm, but a bit crumbly. They firm up once cooled, and stay together quite well. 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Autumn Muffins

These spicy, flavorful, moist muffins have some nice harvest flavors of apples, cranberries, dried fruit, nuts and spices. They are a different muffin but definitely delicious and certainly a nice flavor of fall. They may not look that presentable, but they certainly smell good during baking. 

Autumn Muffins
3 cups all-purpose (plain) flour
3/4 cup granulated (white) sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup melted butter or margarine
2 large eggs, beaten
1 1/4 cups milk
1 cup chopped, peeled apple
1 cup fresh, frozen, or dried cranberries
1/2 cup chopped dried figs, dates, or raisins
3/4 cup chopped (toasted) nuts, optional
Preheat oven to 375F. Grease or line muffin cups.
In a large bowl, stir together the first nine dry ingredients. Make a well in the center and add the butter, eggs, and milk. Stir in remaining ingredients. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups. Bake for 15-20 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Apple Pork Steak

Apple Pork Steak
1/2 cup apple juice
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 Tablespoons granulated (white) sugar
1/2 Tablespoon white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon mustard
salt and pepper to taste
pork chops
apple slices

Mix all ingredients together except for the pork. Marinate the pork in the mixture for a few hours or overnight. Place pork in a casserole dish and pour sauce over. Place the apple slices on top of the pork. Bake, basting occasionally with the sauce. Baking time depends on temperature and thickness of pork cuts. 

This sauce makes the pork moist and gives it a little apple flavor. The sauce is not thick and does not coat the pork, but it just lends it some juiciness. A good flavor for fall. My mother made this dish for a change, and although I am not a huge fan of pork, it was an ideal way of preparing it. 

Monday, October 21, 2013

Overnight Almond Oatmeal

Overnight Almond Oatmeal
1/2 cup oats
1 Tablespoon ground flaxseed
2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon almond butter
1-2 Tablespoons raisins or chopped dates
1/2 cup milk of choice

Put everything in a bowl or jar and stir well. Store in the refrigerator overnight. The next morning, the mixture should be thickened like oatmeal and ready to eat. It may be enjoyed cold, or heated if desired.
This is a nutritious breakfast that is quick to throw together the night before  and is ready to grab and eat in the morning. There is a lot of variation that could be done with this of course, but the principle is oats and liquid, which "cooks" overnight in the fridge. The raisins or dates add some sweetness, especially the dates which will caramelize overnight. The cocoa adds a hint of chocolate, the almond butter adds protein, and the milk adds nutrients. Even if you are not an oatmeal fan, you may enjoy this dish!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Oatmeal Quick Bread

Oatmeal Quick Bread
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
1 cup mixed whole grains (bran, wheat germ, oat bran, flax, etc.)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1-2 Tablespoons sugar, honey, or molasses
2 cups buttermilk
2 teaspoons baking soda
3 large eggs, beaten

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease or line a 9x5 inch loaf pan.
In a large bowl, mix together the oats, flour, grains, baking powder, and sugar, if using. In a separate bowl, mix the milk and soda, wait until it foams up (be sure to use a larger bowl). Beat in the eggs and honey or molasses, if using. Stir in flour mixture. Spread evenly in prepared pan. Bake for about 50 minutes. 
This is a really quick bread! No kneading or rising times, it goes together in 10 minutes and finished baking within the hour. It has a nice taste and texture, and makes a nice high loaf. 

Saturday, October 19, 2013


This is hefezopf, which is the German term for a yeast braided sweet bread. It is also commonly known around here as egg bread, Easter egg bread, or challah, which are all braided sweet yeast breads with fairly rich doughs often made with eggs, butter, and milk. Easter egg bread is often made around Easter time, with pockets made within the braids to place colored Easter eggs. Challah is a Jewish bread typically eaten on holidays. To my understanding, hefezopf is simply a tasty German version of these types of breads, though there are probably some differences among each of the different bread recipes. 

I did not make this bread. I have made an Easter egg bread before years ago, before I even began this blog, but I'll admit it was not as tasty as this one is. This bread was made by my boyfriend's mother, who is from Germany and has certainly become an expert at making this bread. She was kind enough to send me home with a large piece, which I really appreciate. I may even share some of it with my family. She makes this bread fairly often, and it always turns out amazing. It is a soft, tasty bread that is sprinkled with slivered almonds, which always become nice and toasted after baking. My favorite way to eat this bread is spread with Nutella, but it is also good with butter and honey. It makes a satisfying snack, but is also nice for breakfast or as a lighter lunch. Since she is a loyal reader to my blog, I thought she deserved to be credited to a post featuring her yummy bread!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Shortbread Base

This basic shortbread recipe is great to use for a wide variety of dishes. It makes great cookies, pie crusts, cut-outs, square bases, cheesecake bases, or cake bases. I most recently use it for my traditional miniature German Black Forest Cake (here). It is sweet, buttery, and not too dry or crumbly. The dough is so easy to work with, it holds together well, it lasts a long time, and may be refrigerated before baking or frozen after baking. It is also really quick, easy, and requires only four common ingredients. 

Shortbread Base
1/4 cup butter
2 Tablespoons icing (powdered) sugar
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
scant 1 cup all-purpose (plain) flour

Beat the butter and sugar. Add the cornstarch and flour. Roll out into desired shapes. Bake at 325F for about 15 minutes.
This recipe makes a very small batch, the perfect amount for a five inch cake base. 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Chocolate-Flecked Cake Squares

This is a really different type of square  It has a much more cake-like texture than a typical square texture (though those can vary drastically), and is not overly sweet. The base is high, and very fluffy from the addition of beaten egg whites. The grated chocolate adds some pretty flecks and a little flavor, try using your favorite type - dark, milk, or semi-sweet. They definitely need a frosting, but use whatever type you wish!
Chocolate-Flecked Cake Squares
1/2 cup butter or hard margarine, softened
2/3 cup granulated (white) sugar
1 1/3 cups all-purpose (plain) flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
2 large egg whites, beaten until stiff
2 ounces, 60 grams, or 2 squares of grated chocolate

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease or line an 8x8 or 9x9 inch square pan.
In a medium bowl, cream the butter and sugar. Add 1/3 of the flour, the baking powder, and the salt. Stir in 1/2 of the milk. Add another 1/2 of the remaining flour, then the milk, then the remaining flour, mix well. Fold in beaten egg whites. Fold in chocolate. Spread batter evenly in prepared pan. Bake for about 35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool and frost as desired. 

I used a chocolate fudge ganache frosting on these, which was quite tasty. Any type would work - vanilla, caramel, cream cheese, or a chocolate drizzle. 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013


Here is another quick and healthy breakfast that is cooked together all in one mug. The flavor possibilities and combinations are endless!

1 piece or bread, biscuit, bagel half, or pita pieces
salsa, mayonnaise, yogurt, butter, hummus, or pickle
1 large egg
seasonings, herbs, spices
sesame seeds or other garnishes

Fit the bread piece into the bottom of a microwave-safe mug. Spread with your spread of choice. Crack the egg over top. Sprinkle with remaining garnishes. Microwave on HIGH (100%) power for 60-90 seconds. 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Heavenly Hash Brownies

These heavenly hash brownie squares should be reminiscent of the ice cream flavor. Contrarily  they are delicious warm from the oven, so make a great winter alternative to a summer treat. I actually left out the almonds, so it is more like simply marshmallow brownies, and not true heavenly hash, but still gooey, chocolaty, and delicious!
Heavenly Hash Brownies
3/4 cup melted butter or margarine
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups granulated (white) sugar
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose (plain) flour, divided
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup toasted slivered almonds
1 cup miniature marshmallows

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease or line a 9x13 inch pan.
In a large bowl, stir together the butter and cocoa until smooth. Beat in sugar, then eggs, vanilla, almond extract, and salt.
Add 3/4 of the flour and quickly stir for a few strokes. Then sprinkle chips, nuts, marshmallows, then remaining flour on top and mix until well blended. Spread batter in prepared pan and bake for about 35 minutes. 

Monday, October 14, 2013

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

Happy Thanksgiving! In lieu of pumpkin pie, here is an even better treat - my mother's homemade pumpkin chocolate chip muffins. The pumpkin makes them incredibly moist, the chocolate chips make them a decadent treat, and the spices remind me of fall and the flavors of pumpkin pie. This recipe originally called for chopped nuts, but why use nuts or raisins when you can substitute chocolate chips? This recipe can also be doubled for a huge batch, or halved for a smaller batch. It works well as muffins, a loaf, or a cake. My mother always makes this recipe in the fall, especially around Halloween time. They get a nice orange color from the pumpkin purée, but they don't have a really strong pumpkin flavor, just like her chocolate zucchini loaf (here)doesn't have a strong zucchini flavor. Actually, you don't even taste the zucchini at all! I remember helping my mother make these muffins several years ago, and instead of adding chocolate chips to the batter, we placed the chocolate chips on top, arranged in the shape of faces, to make them look sort of like jack-o-lanterns to celebrate the Halloween season. I'm not sure why, buy my mother has always used miniature semi-sweet chocolate chips for this recipe, and I think this way works the best!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Pecan Honey Butternut Squash

To go with our codfish supper, it is the perfect time of year to cook some squash as well. This is some fresh butternut squash, homegrown by my aunt, who was kind enough to give us some. I wanted to do a little something different with the squash, instead of simply cooking it. I also often cook squash in the microwave, as I find it takes too long to bake in the oven, and will become more tender in the microwave. Here is what I did:
Cut the squash in half and scoop out seeds.
Place cut side down in a microwaveable dish and pierce all over with a fork.
Cover and microwave on HIGH (100%) power for 20 minutes, or until tender.
Scoop the flesh out from the skin and place in a small casserole dish. This can be cubed for firmer squash, or mashed for more tender squashed, or simply scooped out as is. 
Cover dish and place in a warm oven to keep warm.
Melt a little (1-2 Tablespoons) butter or margarine in the microwave.
Add a handful or two (1/4-1/3 cup) of chopped pecans. Microwave for a minute or so until pecans are toasted and butter is absorbed. 
Stir in 1-2 Tablespoons honey.
Add a dash of nutmeg, ginger, or allspice.
Sprinkle over squash. Bake a little longer if you want, to heat it through and make the squash more tender, or serve immediately!

Pecans may be toasted in the oven or in a frying pan for a deeper flavor if you prefer, but the microwave is much quicker. 
Any leftovers are great reheated!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Crispy Cod

Recently we tried a different type of fish for supper. We tried some cod, however, I didn't really want to just use the typical breadcrumb coating we use for pan-fried haddock. Now could we plank it and grill it as we do salmon. After searching through some suggested recipes for cod and other similar fish, and discovering we didn't have cornmeal, cornflakes, or panko bread crumbs on hand, I came up with this, untypical coating - crisp rice cereal. It's similar to using bread crumbs, or cracker crumbs, or crushed cornflakes. So, we tried it. 
The procedure:
cod fillets
all-purpose flour
beaten egg
salt & spices
lightly crushed crisp rice cereal

Dredge the cod fillets in the flour mixed with desired herbs and spices, then the egg, then the cereal. Place on a lined baking pan and bake at 375F for 15-25 minutes until cooked through, and fish flakes easily with a fork. The amount of baking time will vary depending on the thickness of the fillets. Once they are cooked, brush the tops with a little oil or melted butter if desired (or leave plain) and broil them for a minute or two for an extra-crispy top coating.
The result? A nice change from regular breadcrumbs - crispy on the top and a moist coating on the bottom. The flavor was different, but not really reminiscent of breakfast cereal. The coating doesn't have the usually problem of slipping right off either, due to the flour, egg, cereal process. And the flavor may be altered depending on what herbs and spices are added to the flour.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Raisin Bran Muffins

Raisin Bran Muffins
1 1/2 cups raisins
3/4 cup water
2 cups natural wheat bran
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 large eggs
3/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease or line muffin cups.
In a small saucepan, bring the raisins and 3/4 cup water to a simmer and simmer for ten minutes. Purée to desired consistency.
In a large bowl, mix together the bran, 3/4 cup water, and milk. Stir in the raisin mixture, followed by the eggs. Mix in the remaining ingredients. Divide evenly among prepared muffin cups, the yield will depend on how big you make them. Bake for 25-30 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

These muffins are fairly firm and dry. I made them small and eat them like biscuits for breakfast - split in half and slathered with peanut butter. They are sweet, but get their sweetness only from the raisins, so there is a distinct raisin flavor as well. If you wish, leave a portion of the raisins uncooked for more texture. Also add spices as you please!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Fluffy Chocolate Sheet Cake

I forgot to include this recipe the other day with my black forest cakes. It is the recipe I used for the bases. It makes one large, long cake, which can be decorated in the pan and served as a sheet cake, or cut into rectangular pieces and assembled into a four layer torte. Although baked in a jelly roll pan, this cake is too fluffy and fragile to roll into a cake roll. For my black forest cakes, I cut out six circles, about five inches in diameter. This is a high cake, so the layers will be thick. It is not quite a spongecake, but a fluffier and very moist tasty chocolate cake - even plain pieces of it! 

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

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease or line a 10x15 inch jelly roll/sheet pan.
In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar until creamy. Beat in the eggs and vanilla. Sift together the dry ingredients and add to the butter mixture in three additions, alternately with the milk in two additions  Spread batter in prepared pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. 
Publications International Limited. "Chocolate Mousse Torte." Recipe. Hershey's Classic Recipes, Lincolnwood Illinois: Publications International, Limited, 2000. 25.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Sweet Caramel Icing

Sweet Caramel Icing
1/4 cup butter or hard margarine
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
3 Tablespoons milk
1 2/3 cups icing (confectioners') sugar

In a small saucepan, heat the butter and sugar until butter is melted and sugar is dissolved. Add milk, heat and stir until smooth. Remove from heat and gradually add icing sugar.

This is the icing recipe I used for my Caramel Apple Coffee Bars from yesterday's post. This icing recipe is really good - not too sweet or too thick, but I did get a little frustrated with it. I thought it wasn't liquidy enough to spread, but I trusted with the recipe and tried it anyway. The result? An icing that wouldn't spread over the entire pan of squares, and cracked in places  Therefore I couldn't cover all of the squares and I didn't get the icing smooth. Oh well, it still tasted good, and I'll know for next time to add a little extra liquid. 
Paré, Jean. "Coffee Apple Squares." Recipe. Chocolate Squared, Edmonton Alberta: Company's Coming Publishing Limited, 2009. 2.

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Caramel Apple Coffee Bars

Caramel-apple. Apple-walnut. Apple-cinnamon. Apple-raisin. Caramel-walnut. Coffee and raisins. Coffee-caramel. All good combinations. Why not all together?

These squares are really good. Like REALLY good, or so I am told. Actually, they aren't squares really, it's better to cut them into long rectangular pieces. The texture of these squares is more cake-like, and in fact, the flavor is reminiscent of gingerbread, though they contain no ginger or molasses. The coffee is subtle, but adds a nice flavor, the raisins plum and juicy, and the caramel icing decadent. The apple flavor isn't very prominent, so I think next time I would try adding another apple, which may make them even more moist as well. Garnish them with chopped, toasted walnuts if you'd like.
Caramel Apple Coffee Bars
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup raisins
1 Tablespoon instant coffee powder
1/2 cup butter or hard margarine, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 large egg
1 1/2 cups all-purpose (plain) flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 medium apple, peeled and grated

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease or line a 9x13 inch pan.
In a small saucepan, combine the water, raisins, and coffee. Bring to a full boil then remove from heat. Set aside to cool.
In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar. Beat in egg, then cooled raisin mixture. Add flour, powder, soda, and cinnamon. Stir in apple. 
Spread evenly in prepared pan. Bake for about 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. 

These are delicious when still warm from the oven. Actually they are delicious once cooled too. Though they are yummy without icing, a caramel frosting (check out tomorrow's post) makes these extra decadent. Bonus: These squares are really quick and easy to make! 

Paré, Jean. "Coffee Apple Squares." Recipe. Chocolate Squared, Edmonton Alberta: Company's Coming Publishing Limited, 2009. 2.

Monday, October 07, 2013

Black Forest Trifle

No, I really never stop talking about Black Forest cakes. After the two miniature versions I made on the weekend, I had some leftovers. So I decided to make a small trifle to use them up. This also gave me the opportunity to have a taste of my creations, even though I couldn't cut into the real cakes.  Because I made one large rectangular cake and cut out six rounds from that, I had some cake scraps. Since the cakes were fairly small, I had some leftover cherry filling - both sweet and sour. I just used the entire carton of whipping cream, so I also had some leftover whipped cream, both spiked and simple sweetened. And I had some leftover chocolaty  already grated, as well. So this is how I assembled the trifle:
The extra cake cut into cubes and placed in a medium-sized glass bowl.
Drizzled with the cherry juice to moisten. (Kirsch may also be used for an extra boost of liquor, but I wanted to use up the rest of the cherry juice).
Both cherry fillings dolloped over.
Whipped cream spread on top with a few rosettes. I spread the spiked cream on half of the trifle, and kept the other half alcohol-free.
Grated chocolate sprinkled on top.
If you have some leftover whole cherries, the can be used to decorate as well. 

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Mini Black Forest Cake - American

Here is the American version of the miniature Black Forest cake I made for Oktoberfest. It's really a smaller version of the one I made last year (see Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte), with some modifications. This cake is very similar to yesterday's cake, with a few changes. Because this is American-style, it does not have a shortbread base spread with jam, and does not have any liquor. It also uses sweet cherries instead of sour, and the juice of the cherries to moisten the cake. Other than that, it is pretty much the same, but here is the step-by-step procedure. 

Cake layer moistened with cherry juice, then spread with sweet cherry filling.
Cake layer moistened with cherry juice, then spread with sweetened whipped cream.
Cake layer moistened with cherry juice, then spread with more cream.
Whipped cream stars piped on top and around the cake.
Cherries and grated chocolate to decorate. 

Saturday, October 05, 2013

Mini Black Forest Cake - German

I know, I talk about Black Forest cakes a lot. You have to admit they are pretty good, and very nice to look at. Besides, it is Oktoberfest time, and Black Forest cake is a traditional German cake. I was asked to make a Black Forest cake for an Oktoberfest fundraiser, just like last year (see Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte ). I couldn't really decide whether I wanted to do a traditional German version, a modern American version, or a version with the best of both worlds. So I finally decided to make two miniature black forest cakes, one German-style and one American-style. This is the German style, and tomorrow I will share the American style. I did make a few slight changes from the traditional German-style I made a few weeks ago (see Original Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte ). 

This version uses a moister, fluffier chocolate cake recipe, not really a sponge cake but a heavier cake that holds the cake well and absorbs some nice cherry flavor. I also used a slightly different shortbread recipe, as I needed to make a smaller shortbread round, though this one is still thicker. I used the same cherry filling, but I boiled it longer to make it softer. I also moistened each cake layer with a little kirsch liquor, for some more flavor and to keep it moist. I didn't bother using cream stiffener in the cream, as I didn't find it made a huge difference and was an extra expense. Other than that, it is basically the same, just a smaller version, but I'll go over the process anyway.
Shortbread base spread with cherry jam.
Cake layer moistened with kirsch, then spread with sour cherry filling.
Cake layer moistened with kirsch, then spread with spiked, sweetened whipped cream.
Cake layer moistened with kirsch, then spread with more cream.
Whipped cream stars piped on top and around the cake.
Cherries and grated chocolate to decorate. 

Friday, October 04, 2013

Half-and-Half Cake

This is the undecorated cake from yesterday's post. It isn't actually one cake, but two halves of eight inch round cakes, a chocolate and a vanilla. This way you can please (mostly) everyone. Marble cake has a similar idea, however with marble you get chocolate and vanilla in every piece, so if someone hates chocolate (or vanilla) they still don't get a piece they like. You could make one cake that is half chocolate and half vanilla. Just make it like a marble cake (or make a separate chocolate and a vanilla batter), but instead of swirling the batters together, use a spoon or a piping bag to pipe each batter in only half the pan. This way, there may still be two pieces at the borders with some of each flavor, unless you put a small strip of foil between the batters. 
The different borders around the cake represent creativity, a repeated term throughout this unit, as many believe creativity is being discouraged by our education system today. I used the colors blue, yellow, and red because they are the primary colors, which I think fit well with the theme of education. My cake is divided into two – half of it is chocolate and half of it is vanilla. This contrast could represent many things throughout this unit, including the stark differences in opinions, differences between education in the past and today, differences between being book smart and street smart, and differences between how we learn and how others learn. 

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Education Cake

This is a cake I made for a visual representation based on themes of education. The big round is composed of half a chocolate cake and half a vanilla cake (more on this tomorrow). The smaller cake is simply four extra pieces of cake put together. The cakes are iced in vanilla buttercream, and piped with blue, yellow, and red buttercream. I used a triple border on the big round - a yellow shell, a blue line, and a red squiggly. I did a yellow ruffle and blue line border on the smaller pieces, with a yellow shell on top. The smaller pieces compose my title "Hierarchy of Education & Multiple Intelligences . The round cake is a pyramid outlined in yellow stars with school subjects written inside, with symbols piped around the pyramid. This cake represents a few views on the education system today, which are explained by the following: 

The main focus of the cake is the pyramid in the center, which represents the Hierarchy of Education. People are being educated out of their creativity, and apparently there is a hierarchy of subjects in school, with math, sciences, and languages being at the top, and liberal arts and arts at the bottom. There is a hierarchy within the art subjects as well, with music being at the top and dance being at the bottom. Although each section becomes larger moving down the pyramid, each section moving downwards is subdivided into more categories, such as the bottom of the pyramid, which is subdivided into three types of arts, although there exist many more as well. Likewise, liberal arts may be subdivided into categories including literature, religious studies, philosophy, and more.  Therefore, the arts do not represent a larger proportion of the pyramid and do not demonstrate more importance than mathematics. However, it may be interpreted that although arts are looked upon as being less important, in reality they contain more significance and are more prominent in life than mathematics.

            The second major theme reflected in my cake is the theory of multiple intelligences, proposed by Howard Gardner. According to Gardner, there are eight main different learning styles, and each individual learns in different ways. Everyone may exhibit characteristics from all, some, or one way of learning. These types of learning include: verbal or linguistic, logical or mathematical, visual or spatial, bodily or kinesthetic, musical or rhythmic, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and naturalist. The symbols around the pyramid represent the different ways of learning (clockwise): a paintbrush for artistic qualities, a foot for bodily, a flower for naturalist, mathematical operation symbols for mathematical, a book for linguistic, people for interpersonal, eyes for visual, a happy face for intrapersonal, a heart for intrapersonal, a music note for musical, numbers for mathematical, a flower for naturalist, a checkmark for logical, and letters for verbal. 

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Microwave Poached Egg

I have discovered a great trick! I regularly enjoy a hard-boiled egg for breakfast. But sometimes I am in the mood for an egg in the morning, and I have forgotten to cook one the night before. I have previously cracked an egg into a bowl and microwaved it, but it kind of makes some weird popping noises in the microwave and makes the bowl really difficult to clean. Then I recently realized I could "poach" an egg in the microwave. It's really quick, easy, tasty, and not as messy. And it really seems like a poached egg. After cooking, simple serve the egg on whatever bread you would like and add your favorite toppings, seasonings, and garnishes. 

To poach: Place three tablespoons of water in a small bowl. Crack an egg into the water, and pierce both the yolk and the white a few times. Cover the bowl with waxed paper and microwave on HIGH (100%) power for 90 seconds. That's it!

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Four Grain Batter Bread

Four Grain Batter Bread
3 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 Tablespoons granulated (white) sugar
2 packages instant yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups warm milk
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup wheat germ
1/2 cup natural wheat bran
1/2 cup ground flaxseed

Grease or line two 9x5 inch loaf pans. 
In a large bowl, mix together the first five dry ingredients. Add the milk and water and beat at medium speed for three minutes. Stir the remaining ingredients together and add gradually to the mixture. Do not knead. Spoon batter into prepared pans. Allow to rise for about an hour. Bake at 400F for 25 minutes. 
This is another quick, no-knead, whole grain batter bread. It isn't the best one I have made, but it certainly isn't bad. Mixing with an electric mixer helps work the dough without having to knead it. A dough hook is the best option for this, if you have one.