Spiced Pear Cake

Friday, December 30, 2016

The reduced fruit bin never ceases to draw out my creativity. I saw a large bag of unwanted and overripe pears and thought I could whip up a tasty creation. I wanted to use a large quantity of pears with minimal effort. This recipe used 4 cups of pears and really didn't take that long to prepare.
The result was a wonderfully spicy, fruit-filled cake!

Spiced Pear Cake adapted from Allrecipes

4 cups peeled, cored and chopped pears
1 1/2 cups white sugar
3 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground cinnamon
4 egg whites
2/3 cup canola oil

In a bowl peel, core and chop the pears into small cubes. Add the sugar, stir and let stand for one hour.

Preheat oven to 325°C and spray a 10- inch bundt pan with non-stick spray. 

Whip the egg whites for one minute and add the oil. Stir to combine.
Sift together the flour, salt, baking soda, nutmeg and cinnamon in another bowl and add to the egg whites. Add in the pear sugar mixture and combine. Spoon batter into the greased bundt pan and level. 

Bake for 60 -70 minutes or when a toothpick comes out clean. Let stand on a wire cake for 20 minutes and invert cake to cool. 

Christmas Fruit Cake

Friday, December 9, 2016

Fruitcakes can be traced back to the Middle Ages when recipes began to include pomegranate seeds and pine nuts. Crusaders carried cakes made of barley mash mixed with honey, fruit and spices to sustain them during long journeys. 

With the introduction of dried fruits arriving from the Mediterranean in the 1400s, fruitcakes increased in popularity in Europe. While in America, it was the introduction of sugar from American colonies that began the preservation of fruit starting a new wave of fruit-filled cakes. 

Here is a light fruit cake recipe that can be enjoyed the day of! The dried fruit is quite variable, I chose currants, sultanas and glace cherries.

Buttermilk Fruit Cake adapted from Joy of Baking
Printable Recipe

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 salt
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
2 cups dried fruit (raisins, currants, dried apricots or glace cherries)
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup unsalted butter (melted and cooled)
3/4 cup lightly packed brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350° C. Grease a 9 x 5 x 3 inch loaf pan.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, salt, soda and spices. Add in the dried fruits and stir to coat. Set aside.

In another large bowl, combine the buttermilk, cooled butter, vanilla and brown sugar. Add the wet mixture to the dry and stir to combine. Pour batter in the loaf pan and level. Bake for 50 - 60 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. If the top is getting too dark, cover with foil.

Applesauce Bundt Cake

Thursday, December 1, 2016

This applesauce cake is a wonderfully moist cake that would be a delicious addition to your festive soireƩ! Or that winter hike you've been meaning to do.

Although ring-shaped cakes have been around for centuries, it wasn't until cookware manufacture, Nordic Ware, coined the phrase "bundt" in the 1950s. Since then, numerous designs of bundt pans have been invented, enhancing a simple cake to something quite whimsical.  

Applesauce Bundt Cake adapted from Martha Stewart

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 cup unsalted butter (at room temperature)
2 cups packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
2 large eggs
2 cups applesauce

Preheat oven to 350°C. 
Sift together the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Set aside. In another bowl, whisk together butter, sugar and honey until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time. On low speed, slowly add the flour mixture. Add in the applesauce and combine. Transfer batter to a greased bundt cake. 
Bake for 50 - 60 minutes. 

Remove from oven and let cool completely. Invert from pan onto rack and dust with icing sugar.

Halloween Sugar Cookies

Saturday, October 29, 2016

These easy, rolled sugar cookies are simply spooktacular to serve at your Halloween party.  If you happen to have any vampires attend your party, I'm sure they will love these cookies as they have a hint of vein-illa flavour in them!

I use this sugar cookie recipe for many celebrations throughout the year. I find it rolls very well and can be kept in the fridge or freezer for days without cracking.
Sugar Cookies adapted from Allrecipes

1 1/2 cups softened butter
2 cups white sugar
4 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract (optional)
5 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
Halloween Cookie Cutters

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time. Add vanilla and almond. In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and combine. Halve dough. Wrap each half in plastic wrap and refrigerator for at least 1 hour or overnight. 

Preheat oven to 400° C.
Remove from dough from refrigerator and allow to soften (about 30 minutes). Roll out on a floured surface to 1/2 inch thickness. Cut out shapes and place onto baking tray. Bake for 7-9 minutes. Cool completely and then ice. 

Royal Icing
4 cups sifted icing sugar
7-9 tbsp warm water
3 tablespoons meringue powder

In a large bowl, mix (with a stand or handheld mixer) the icing sugar, water and meringue powder on low speed. Once combined, increase the speed and mix until stiff peaks have formed. If your mixture is too dry, add more water until the proper piping consistency is achieved. Once stiff, transfer to piping bags fitted with the tips of your choice. I used a variety of Wilton tips.

Ginger Molasses Cookies

Tuesday, October 25, 2016


Although ginger cookies are often thought of a Christmastime favourite in North America, countries around the world have been enjoying this spicy cookie year-round for centuries. Greece, China and England favoured a crisper ginger cookie, while the English colonists in North America created a softer version. The cookies I made were the softer version and have a wonderful strong, spicy flavour.

Ginger Molasses Cookies adapted from Barefoot Contessa

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup molasses
1 egg

Preheat over to 350° C. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, soda, spices and salt.
In another bowl, beat together the brown sugar, oil and molasses for about 5 minutes. Add the egg and beat. With the mixer on low, add the dry ingredients. Once combined, scoop 1 inch balls and place on lined baking tray. Press the cookies down and sprinkle with granulated sugar. Bake for 13-15 minutes.

I used freshly grated nutmeg in this recipe. Such a great aroma from this small seed.


Spiced Pumpkin Cookies

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Tis the season of the pumpkin! I was given a beautiful 'winter luxury' variety of pie pumpkin and after roasting it, I ended up with a large amount of delicious puree. After making 3 pumpkin pies, I thought I would try some cookies! These cookies are quite cake-like with a soft interior, but full of warm flavour. Great without the frosting as well!

Spiced Pumpkin Cookies adapted from Laura in the Kitchen

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 tsp vanilla

Cream Cheese Frosting
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup icing sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees C. 

In a bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and spices. Set aside
In another bowl, cream together the softened butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Best to use a stand mixer or hand mixer for this step. Add in the egg, pumpkin puree and vanilla. 
Add in the dry ingredients and mix until fully incorporated. 

On a baking tray lined with parchment, scoop out dough and form small balls with your hands. These cookies spread a bit so leave a few inches between each. Flatten tops slightly with your fingers. Place in the oven and bake for 12-16 minutes. 

Cool completely and ice with cream cheese frosting. Once frosted, store in the refrigerator. If you don't frost them, I leave these cookies out for a day on a rack to harden a bit. If you put them in an airtight container the same day they get too soft.

Chocolate Banana Cake

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Bananas seem to be the running theme this week! With my freezers (3 of them!) laden with summer fruits, I needed to make space for the fall squashes that are becoming available. As bananas are available all year, I usually use up those bags first. This is an easy one bowl cake that stays moist for 3-4 days. I like to bake mine in a cake pan rather then a loaf pan as I find it bakes more evenly.

chocolate banana bread

Chocolate Banana Cake adapted from Smitten Kitchen

1 cup of mashed bananas (3 medium sized bananas)
1/2 cup melted butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 cup chocolate chips (semi or bittersweet)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and line a 9-inch cake pan.

In a large bowl, mash bananas and then add melted butter, sugar, egg and vanilla. Stir together.
Place a mesh strainer over the bowl and sift the salt, cinnamon, flour and cocoa powder into the bowl. Stir to combine. Add in the chocolate chips and combine. Pour batter into the greased cake pan and bake for 15-20 minutes.

I served mine with nectarines and found the flavours of the chocolate and banana combined with the nectarines was delightful!

Banana Bread

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

banana bread

Let's just say that this winter I believe I will be making numerous banana based dishes as I can't seem to resist overripe bananas at 49 cents per pound. I have been buying many pounds of these lovely overripe bananas and cutting and bagging them in my freezer. This banana bread has a bold banana flavour and stays moist for days.

Banana Bread adapted from Smitten Kitchen

3-4 ripe bananas
1/3 cup melted butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
Pinch of salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup walnuts (optional)
1/2 cup chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and line a loaf pan. In a large bowl, mash the bananas and add the melted butter. Then add the sugar, egg, vanilla and spices and mix. Add in the baking soda and salt and combine. Lastly, add in the flour and add, if using, the walnuts and chocolate chips. Stir just to combine. Pour batter into the loaf pan and bake for 45-55 minutes. If the top if getting too dark, make a foil tent over the loaf. Once a toothpick inserted comes out clean, it's ready! Let cool in the loaf pan for 30 minutes and then continue to cool on a wire rack.

Buttermilk Blueberry Cake

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

After so much blueberry picking this summer I have tested out a number of new recipes featuring blueberries. This simple buttermilk cake has been a wonderful addition to my afternoon tea and cake ritual.

Blueberry Buttermilk Cake adapted from the Smitten Kitchen
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 stick (56 grams) unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup and 1 tablespoon white sugar, divided
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp grated lemon zest
1 large egg
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 cup fresh blueberries

Preheat oven to 400 degree F. Grease a 9-inch round cake pan.

In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Around 5-7 minutes of beating.  Add in the vanilla, lemon zest and egg. 

On a low speed, alternate between the flour and buttermilk in 3 batches. Starting and ending with flour. Beat until just combined. Pour the batter into the greased pan and spread evenly. 
Distribute blueberries evenly over the batter and sprinkle with remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar.

This cake bakes quite quickly so I shortened my baking time to 15 to 20 minutes. 

Keeps well in the fridge or at room temperature for 2-3 days. 

Plum Cake

Sunday, July 31, 2016

A friend gave me a rather large bag of delicious golden plums from her laden tree. Instead of going my usual route and make plum jam, I opted for a simple plum cake. I believe I made correct decision as this is a delicious and flavourful summer cake.

Adapted from the Smitten Kitchen

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
5 tbsp unsalted butter at room temperature
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/3 vegetable oil
Zest of 1 orange
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
8 plums ( I used golden plums, but you can use red or purple plums), halved and pitted

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Butter a 8-inch square baking pan. 

In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Set aside.

In another bowl, beat the butter until lightened in colour and creamy (about 3 minutes). Add in the sugar and beat for another 3 minutes. With the mixer on slow, add in the eggs one at a time. Beat for one minute after each egg goes in. Add in the oil, zest and vanilla and beat. Next, add the dry ingredients until just combined. 

Transfer the batter to the baking pan and evenly spread the mixture. Arrange the plums cut side up.

I found the baking time quite variable. The Smitten Kitchen baked hers for 30 minutes, but mine was done in 15 minutes. 

Let cool in the pan and then run a knife around the edges and invert on a plate. Make sure to place the cake with the plums facing upward. 

This cake keeps well at room temperature for 2-3 days wrapped in clingfilm. 

Blueberry Streusel Bars

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

After my delicious blueberry pancakes from last week, I decided to make another blueberry based dessert. These blueberry bars with a hint of lemon are simply wonderful! They are quite easy to make and last well in the fridge! I brought these bars to a potluck and they certainly didn't last long.

Blueberry Bars adapted from the Smitten Kitchen

1 cup white sugar
1 tsp baking powder
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup unsalted butter (8 ounces)
1 egg
1/4 tsp salt
Zest and juice of one lemon
4 cups fresh blueberries
1/2 white sugar
4 tsp cornstarch

Grease a 9 x 13 inch pan. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

In a bowl, combine 1 cup of sugar, baking powder, flour, salt and lemon zest. Using a pastry cutter, blend in the butter and combine until the mixture is crumbly. Add in the egg and combine. Press half of the dough mixture in the prepared pan.

In another bowl, combine the blueberries, lemon juice, 1/2 cup sugar and cornstarch. Sprinkle this berry mixture evenly over the crust. Crumble the remaining dough over the blueberries.

Bake for 45-55 minutes until the top is a light, golden brown and the blueberries are bubbling. Cool completely and cut into squares.

Fluffy Blueberry Pancakes

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

fluffy blueberry pancakes

Blueberry season is upon us! As picking is one of my favourite summertime activities, I carved out some time on the weekend and stopped by Weller's Blueberry Farm in Fort Langley. A beautiful 10 acre farm located next to the Fort Winery. It was my first visit there and I was impressed with the quality of the berries (no-spray) and price ($1lb)! Hopefully I can make a second trip out! 
I also purchased some honeycomb while at the farm. What a rare treat!

With so many lovely berries in the house, I decided to make fluffy blueberry pancakes. Although I have made many pancakes over the years, I believe this recipe is the most delicious! The whipping of the egg whites is the key!

Fluffy Blueberry Pancakes adapted from Jamie Oliver

Makes approximately 8 large pancakes

6 large eggs
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 heaped teaspoons baking powder
1 1/4 milk
1 pinch of salt
1/2 cup blueberries

Separate the egg whites and yolks and place in separate bowls. Whip the egg whites and salt until stiff peaks form. In another bowl, add the sifted flour to the egg yolks and mix well. Then add the baking powder and milk and combine. Fold in the whipped egg yolks to the flour mixture. Once combined, ladle mixture in a oiled frying pan (on low heat) and add the blueberries on top. After the bubbles have popped on the surface, flip the pancakes. Once golden brown, transfer to a plate and enjoy! I topped mine with fresh honeycomb!

fluffy blueberry pancakes

Gluten Free Chocolate Decadence Cake

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

This decadent flourless chocolate cake yields a fudgy texture with a crisp top.

Gluten Free Chocolate Decadence Cake adapted from Joy of Cooking

1 pound bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, roughly chopped
10 tbsp unsalted butter
5 large egg yolks
5 large egg whites
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1 tbsp sugar

Preheat oven to 325 F. Grease an 8 x 12 inch round pan and line with parchment paper.

In a heatproof bowl, combine the chocolate and butter and set bowl over a large pot of simmering water. Stir until melted. Remove from the heat and whisk in egg yolks. Set aside.

In another large bowl, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Gradually add in the sugar and beat until peaks are stiff, but not dry. Fold in one-quarter of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture and then add the remaining whites.

Scoop the batter into the prepared pan and place pan in a shallow baking dish. Fill baking dish with boiling water. Enough to reach halfway up the cake pan. Bake for exactly 30 minutes and cool.
Refrigerate overnight. Serve with whipped cream and berries!

Pound Cake With Strawberry Chia Seed Jam

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Strawberry season came early this year! I stopped into Driediger Farms this week and purchased a flat of strawberries. After packaging up a many bags for the freezer, I saved a few berries to make some easy jam. I seem to have inherited my Grandfather's love of a heaping portion of jam as I seem to go through a couple of jars per week! With the jam completed, I turned to the next problem in my fridge. Far too many eggs! I need to use up over 70 eggs in the next week. After searching for recipes that used large amounts of eggs, I found this pound cake from the Joy of Cooking that I had been meaning to test for sometime. The result was a rich almond pound cake that paired perfectly with my strawberry chia seed jam. 

pound cake with strawberry chia seed jam

Pound Cake adapted from Joy of Cooking
2 cups sifted cake flour
5 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 tsp orange zest
1/2 pound unsalted butter
1 1/3 cups sugar
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease and flour an 8" square baking dish. 

Sift the flour and set aside. In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, vanilla and almond extract. 
In a large bowl, beat the butter until creamy (about 1 minute), add the sugar and salt and beat on high for 5 minutes until light in colour and texture. Add in the egg mixture one spoonful at a time and beat until light and fluffy (3-4 minutes). Next, on low speed add in the flour in 3 parts. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and spoon mixture into baking dish. 

Bake for 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes. A toothpick should come out clean. Cool and spread with strawberry chia jam (see recipe below for jam). Enjoy!

pound cake with strawberry chia seed jam

Strawberry Chia Seed Jam (Low Sugar)
2.5 cups of fresh strawberries (halved and hulled)
4 tbsp white grape juice
3 tbsp chia seeds
3 - 4 tbsp maple syrup

Place the cut strawberries into a saucepan with the grape juice. With a potato masher, mash the strawberries and grape juice. Bring this mixture to a boil and then lower to a simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and add the chia seeds and maple syrup. The chia seeds will thicken the jam once cooled.

Ladle into a small jam jar and secure with a lid. Once the jar is cool, place in the fridge. The jam lasts up to 7 days. 

Buttermilk Layer Cake With Lemon Curd

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

The pop of yellow atop this cake is reflective of the brightening of the weather and the arrival of spring!

This buttermilk layer cake is light and moist due to the addition of the buttermilk which softens the gluten in the flour.

Buttermilk Layer Cake with Lemon Curd adapted from Joy of Cooking

2 1/3 cups sifted cake flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
12 tbsp unsalted butter
1 1/3 cups sugar
1 cup buttermilk

Lemon Curd Recipe

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease two 9-inch cake pans and set aside.
In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
In a small bowl, beat until creamy, the butter and sugar. Add in the the eggs and vanilla. Combine.
Add in the flour mixture in 3 parts, alternating with, in 2 parts the buttermilk.
Divide the batter between the pans and bake until a toothpick comes out clean, 25 - 30 minutes.

Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes and slide a knife around the cake invert onto a tray.
Place one cake onto your cake platter and spread half of the lemon curd over the first layer. Add the top layer and spread the remaining mixture. Enjoy!

How To Make Lilacs Last

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

My small lilac tree I planted a few years ago is starting to bloom this week! I was hesitant to cut any flowers to enjoy inside as they usually wilt within a day.

After a bit of research I have found a few tips that I've used to make my lilacs last longer inside. My lilacs are going on day 4 and still look perky!

Tip #1 - If buying lilacs from the store, make a fresh cut before placing in the vase
Tip #2 - If cutting from your garden, try and cut lilacs in the early morning or late at night
Tip #3 - Remove any excess leaves around the stem of the lilacs
Tip #4 - With your pruning shears or scissors, pound the bottom of the stem a few times until the white flesh is exposed. (See photo below). The water won't be able travel up to the lilac otherwise.
Tip #5 - Fill a vase with water between 110 degree F and 120 degrees F and place lilacs in vase

Lime Curd Tart

Saturday, March 19, 2016

A refreshing, yet indulgent lime tart! Pre-baking this tart ensures a crisp bottom every time.

Lime Curd Tart adapted from Barefoot Contessa

Tart Shell:
3/4 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
1/2 white sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
4 tbsp cold water
pinch of salt

In a bowl, mix together with an electric mixer the butter and sugar until combined. Add in the vanilla. In another bowl, sift together the flour, sugar and salt. Add in the butter and sugar mixture. If the dough doesn't come together, add the cold water. Tip dough on a floured surface and roll out large enough to fit a 9 inch tart pan. Transfer dough to the tart pan and ensure the finished edge is flat. Chill until dough is firm, about 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter one side of a piece of aluminum foil. Place buttered side down onto the pastry and fill with baking beans or rice. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and beans and prick the pastry with a fork. Bake for another 20 - 25 minutes or until lightly golden brown. 

Lime Curd
4 limes
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 pound butter at room temperature
4 extra- large eggs at room temperature
1/8 tsp salt

While the dough is chilling, zest all 4 limes. Juice the limes to make 1/2 cup of juice and set aside. In a food processor, add in the sugar and zest and blitz until the zest is finely minced. In another bowl, blend together the butter and sugar and zest mixture. One at a time add in the eggs until combined. Blend in the lime juice and salt. Don't worry if the mixture is curdled at this point.

Pour the mixture in a saucepan and cook over low heat. If heat is too high your eggs will scramble. Stir constantly until thickened. This should take about 10 minutes. Once thickened, remove from heat and set aside.

Once the pastry shell is cooled, fill the tart with the warm curd and let set at room temperature for 2-3 hours. Once set, serve immediately or refrigerate.

lime curd tart

Irish Soda Bread

Monday, March 14, 2016

This simple soda bread is a year-round staple at my house, not just at St.Patricks Day.

Be sure to make a cross on your bread to 'let the devil out'!

Irish Soda Bread adapted from Allrecipes

4 cups all purpose flour
4 tbsp white sugar
1 tsp baking soda (I used Bob's Redmill)
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 butter, softened
1 1/4 cup buttermilk
1 egg
4 tbsp buttermilk
4 tbsp butter

Whisk flour, sugar, soda and salt together in a bowl. Add in butter and using pastry cutter or hands, blend until the size of peas. Make a deep well in the center and add the buttermilk and egg. Stir together with a fork. If you find the dough is not coming together add a touch more buttermilk. Using your hands, bring the dough together in the bowl and tip on a floured surface. Do not knead the dough, but rather fold over twice and then form a large circle. Cut a cross all the way through the bread. This will allow the bread to be fully cooked. Place bread on a baking sheet and brush with buttermilk and melted butter.

Bake at 375 F for 35-45 minutes until it is a rich, golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean. Best eaten within 2-3 days.

Welsh Cakes

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

March 1st marks St. David's Day, a celebratory day honouring the death of the patron saint of Wales. Saint David, a Welsh bishop during the 6th century, was known to perform miracles. The most notable taking place when he was preaching to a crowd in the village in Llanddewi Brefi. As he performed his sermon the ground beneath his feet rose up and formed a small hill. 

Although perhaps many could not relate to a Saint bearing any relevance in today's society, St. David spoke a famous phrase during his final sermon "do ye the little things in life." A phrase I find still pertinent today.

With threads of Welsh heritage dappled through my family tree, I thought I would celebrate St. David's Day by making my Grandma's famous Welsh Cakes. 

welsh cakes

Welsh Cakes
5 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 cup currants
 3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp nutmeg
1 1/2 cups shortening
1/4 cup milk
3 eggs

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, nutmeg and salt. Add in the shortening and blend until the consistency of bread crumbs. Add the eggs and milk and mix until just combined. Bring dough together with hands and split into 2 balls. Transfer one ball to a floured surface and roll out. Cut  desired shapes and place in oil-free pan or electric griddle. Pan should be on low to medium heat or griddle at 300 degrees F. Cook each side for 2-3 minutes until the middle is flaky. 

Valentine's Day Heart Tea Bags

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Here's a tea-riffic way to show your valentine some love.

Simply remove the label from a tea bag and cut out a heart shape from the template below. Once cut, tape or glue the heart to the string and voila!
Heart Template

valentines day heart tea bags

Matcha Tea Cookies

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Although today Matcha tea is associated with Japanese culture, it first originated in China, where green tea leaves were roasted and then dococted into hot water. The result was the fine powder known as Matcha tea.
Its popularity grew in Japan when Eisai, a Japanese monk, brought green tea back from China in 1191 and began preparing this unique tea. Today, Matcha tea continues to be an integral part of tea rituals at Zen monasteries in Japan.

Matcha Green Tea Cookies adapted from Ben Mims

2 cups of all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp cardamon
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup canola oil
2 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract
2 tbsp matcha tea powder

In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, cardamon, sugar. In another bowl, whisk together the oil, eggs, vanilla and almond extract. In a small bowl, whisk together the Matcha powder and 2 tablespoons of warm water. Whisk until fully combined and add to the wet ingredients. Add the other wet ingredients to the dry and mix until just combined.

Scoop 1-inch balls onto a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until just golden brown around the edges.
Let cool completely on a rack and enjoy!

Whiskey And Honey Cake

Sunday, January 24, 2016

whiskey and honey cake

This bundt cake is quintessentially Scottish with the addition of whiskey and honey. I'll be serving this cake at my Burns Dinner heaped with whiskey infused whipping cream.

I found the batter too runny therefore I added a 1/4 cup of spelt flour. 

Honey and Whiskey Cake adapted from Smitten Kitchen

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup spelt flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 salt
4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 ground allspice
1 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup honey
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 eggs at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup strong black tea (warm)
1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 whiskey
1/2 sliced almonds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 10-inch bundt or tube pan.

In a bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves and allspice.
Add the oil, honey, sugars, eggs, vanilla, orange juice and whiskey. Mix thoroughly together.

If the batter doesn't seem thick enough then add a touch more flour. Spoon batter into bundt pan and sprinkle almonds over top. Place on cookie sheet in the oven. I added foil on top during the last 20 minutes of baking as to not burn the crust. Bake between 60 - 75 minutes or until a wooden skewer comes out clean at the center of the cake.

Cool completely in the pan. Run a sharp knife around the outside and inside rim of the bundt pan and gently tip out. Place a plate on the bottom of the cake and flip over. Top with whipped cream.


Saturday, January 23, 2016

A few years ago I entered into a shortbread contest. The cookies I submitted were chalky and dry and far from blue-ribbon shortbread, but with Robbie Burn's Day just days away I thought I would try again. I was looking for buttery, rich cookies that would erase my memory of the dry crumble I nervously entered into the contest. My post-contest apprehension at making shortbread again was relieved with this recipe. It is exactly the shortbread I wished I had entered years ago.

Shortbread Cookies adapted from Barefoot Contessa

3/4 pound unsalted butter
1 cup sugar (plus extra for sprinkling)
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups flour
1/4 salt

Preheat over the 350 degrees F. 
In a large bowl, mix together the butter and sugar with an electric whisk until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and mix to combine.
In a separate bowl, combine the flour and salt and slowly add to the butter and sugar mixture. Mix on low until dough comes together. 
Remove dough and tip onto a lightly flour surface. Flatten into a disk shape and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill for 30 minutes. 

Roll out the dough 1/2 thick and cut out. I used various circular cutters. If you find the dough is cracking then wait until the dough has warmed up a touch. Place on cookie sheet and poke a few holes with a fork and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 20 - 25 minutes until slightly golden brown. 

This dough freezes exceptionally well. Up to one month wrapped in plastic wrap and inside an air-tight container.