Archive for July, 2010

Aahhhh, my favorite time of the month is here yet again. At the beginning of every month I log onto the Bakers Challenge to see what’s in store for me. Okay… I have plenty of time to prepare, think about my twist that I will put on it, maybe even plan a dinner party around it so I have plenty of people to eat it. All right, good to go. Well, in a organized, normal person’s life. So here I am, 10pm on the night of the 26th, once again scrambling to finish on time. The funny thing is, is that I have been baking quite a bit! (Just the wrong things)

This months challenge was hosted by Sunita at  Sunita’s world- life and food. It is a recipe adapted from adapted from the Swiss swirl ice cream cake from the Taste of Home website. Slices of Swiss roll are used to line a bowl and then filled with vanilla ice-cream, hot fudge ice cream topping and chocolate ice cream. The recipe does not require a lot of hands on time, but definitely requires a lot of cooling and freezing time between layers. “You do not need an ice cream maker for this recipe. But if you will be using one, make sure you churn the ice cream according to the manufacturer’s instructions after mixing the ingredients”. Boy, was I happy when I read this line. Being in New York right now, and my ice cream maker is 3,000 miles away, I panicked when I first saw what we were supposed to be making. This was my first time making milk based ice cream without a mixer. I went to David Lebovitz’ awesome site and did some research on this. It was actually really easy. Beware of the calories in this one. A whole lotta  heavy cream went into this puppy. Since the whole concept of making ice cream is beating the ice crystals while they are forming to make a smooth and creamy concoction, you need a lot of fat in it when doing it by hand. I followed his recipe for the chocolate ice cream, making my mine an espresso chip. I followed  Sunita’s recipe for the vanilla, using dark brown sugar and a touch of almond extract (OMG, so good). I went with a coffee, frappicino-ish kind of flavor for this. What’s better than in iced coffee in the summer? If I make this again, I am going to try to do a red velvet swiss roll with a cream cheese ice cream. This was my original pick but my mom likes coffee a whole lot….

ESPRESSO CHIP- BROWN SUGAR VANILLA SWISS ROLL ICE CREAM CAKE (inspired by the recipe of the same name from the Taste of Home website)

The Swiss rolls- You will need two 9 x 11 jelly roll pans. I did not have this, but I have a 11 x 17  pan. I just cut the cake in half before rolling

Preparation time- 10 minutes
Baking time- 10-12 minutes
Rolling and cooling time- at least 30 minutes
Filling-5-8 minutes
Filling and rolling- 5-10 minutes


6 medium sized eggs
1 C / 225 gms caster sugar /8 oz+ extra for rolling
6 tblsp / 45gms/ a pinch over 1.5 oz of all purpose (plain) flour + 5 tblsp/40gm /a pinch under 1.5 oz of natural unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted together
2 tblsp /30ml / 1 fl oz of boiling water
a little oil for brushing the pans (I use PAM and parchment)

For the filling-

2C / 500 mls/ 16 fl oz of whipping cream
1 vanilla pod, cut into small pieces of about ½ cm (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
5 tblsp / 70gms/2.5oz of caster sugar


Pre heat the oven at 200 deg C /400 deg F approximately. Brush the baking pans ( 11 inches by 9 inches ) with a little oil and line with greaseproof baking paper. If you have just one pan, bake one cake and then let the pan cool completely before using it for the next cake.

In a large mixing bowl,using your balloon whisk,  add the eggs and sugar and beat till very thick; when the beater is lifted, it should leave a trail on the surface for at least 10 seconds.Add the flour mixture, in three batches and fold in gently with a spatula. Fold in the water

Divide the mixture among the two baking pans and spread it out evenly, into the corners of the pans. Place a pan in the centre of the pre heated oven and bake for about 10-12 minutes or till the centre is springy to the touch. Spread a clean, slightly dampened kitchen towel on the counter and sprinkle a little caster sugar over it. Turn the cake on to the towel and peel away the baking paper. Trim any crisp edges.
Repeat the same for the next cake as well.

Grind together the vanilla pieces and sugar in a food processor till nicely mixed together. If you are using vanilla extract, just grind the sugar on its own and then add the sugar and extract to the cream. In a large bowl, add the cream and vanilla-sugar mixture and beat till very thick. Divide the cream mixture between the completely cooled cakes.
Open the rolls and spread the cream mixture, making sure it does not go right to the edges (a border of ½ an inch should be fine).
Roll the cakes up again, this time without the towel. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge till needed, seam side down
Divide the cream mixture between the completely cooled cakes. Open the rolls and spread the cream mixture, making sure it does not go right to the edges (a border of ½ an inch should be fine).


2 and ½ C / 625 ml / 20 fl oz of whipping cream
1 vanilla bean, scraped of it’s seeds (use the leftover bean to scent your sugar bowl),or 1 tsp/ 5 ml/ .15 fl oz vanilla extract
½ C / 115gms/ 4 oz of dark brown sugar
1/2 tsp almond extract

Whisk all of the ingredients together

Pour into a freezer friendly container and freeze till firm around the edges. Remove from the freezer about every 45 minutes and  beat till smooth and return to the freezer. Do this 4-5 times and then set completely.

ESPRESSO STRACCIATELLA  (adapted from David Lebovitz)
You can easily make Stracciatella ice cream with Italian-style chocolate chips:
Drizzle pure melted dark or milk chocolate (about 5 ounces, 140 g) over the almost-frozen mixture, then stir, breaking up the ribbons of chocolate as they start to freeze, to create little ‘chips’.

1 cup milk
A pinch of salt
3/4 cups sugar
1 vanilla bean
5 egg yolks
2 cup heavy cream
2 Tbsp instant espresso powder (such as Medaglia D’oro)
1 Tbsp cocoa powder
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1. Heat the milk, salt, and sugar in a saucepan. Split the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape the seeds into the milk with the tip of a paring knife. Add the bean pod to the milk.
2. Stir together the egg yolks in a bowl and gradually add some of the warmed milk, stirring constantly as you pour. Pour the warmed yolks back into the saucepan.
3. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom with a heat-resistant spatula until the custard thickens enough to coat the spatula. Strain the custard into the heavy cream. Rinse the vanilla bean and put it back into the custard and cream to continue steeping. Chill thoroughly, then remove the vanilla bean and freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturers instructions OR pour the mixer into a stainless steel pan (I used a 9 x 13) and stir every 45 minutes as described above in the vanilla ice cream recipe. After about 2 hours, I drizzled melted bittersweet chocolate (about 3 oz) over the top, let it harden for about 1 minute, then stirred it all in to make the crackle.

1/2 Cup toasted, chopped almonds (optional) for in between the layers


1 C / 230gms/ 8 oz of caster sugar
3 tblsp / 24gms/1.5 oz of natural unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tblsp /15gms/ 1 oz of cornstarch
1 and ½ C /355ml /12 fl oz of water
1 Tbsp instant espresso powder
2 oz Bitterweet chocolate
2 Tbsp dark rum (optional)
1 tblsp /14gms/ 1 oz butter
1 tsp/5 ml / .15 fl oz vanilla extract

In a small saucepan, over medium hight heat,put in everything except the vanilla, butter, and rum (if using). Stir constantly, until it boils and thickens – about 2 minutes. Take off the heat, whisk in the butter,vanilla and rum. Let cool completely.



Cut the Swiss rolls into 20 equal slices ( approximately 2 cms each ).
Cover the bottom and sides of the bowl in which you are going to set the dessert with cling film/plastic wrap
Arrange two slices at the bottom of the pan, with their seam sides facing each other. Arrange the Swiss roll slices up the bowl, with the seam sides facing away from the bottom, to cover the sides of the bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and freeze till the slices are firm (at least 30 minutes).
Soften the vanilla ice cream. Take the bowl out of the freezer, remove the cling film cover and add the ice cream on top of the cake slices. Spread it out to cover the bottom and sides of the bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and freeze till firm ( at least 1 hour)
Spread the toasted almonds all over the vanilla layer, gently pressing them into the sides so they stick. Add the fudge sauce over this, cover and freeze until firm (at least 1 hour or more).Soften the chocolate ice cream and spread it over the fudge sauce. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze for at least 4-5 hours till completely set .
Remove the plastic cover, and place the serving plate on top of the bowl. Turn it upside down and remove the bowl and the plastic lining. If the bowl does not come away easily, wipe the outsides of the bowl with a kitchen towel dampened with hot water. The bowl will come away easily.
Keep the cake out of the freezer for at least 10 minutes before slicing, depending on how hot your region is. Slice with a sharp knife, dipped in hot water.

mmmm... ice cream

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Bacon Biscuits

The latest recipe from “A World of Baking” is a simple biscuit but some of the best I have made in years (such a delightful book).  A great Sunday morning treat.  Remember to work them very, very lightly.


2 C sifted all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 C unsalted butter
2 large eggs
about 1/2 C milk
1/2 C crisp pieces of cooked bacon

Preheat the oven to 425 F

Sift flour, powder,and salt. Cut in the butter with a fork. Add the eggs and enough milk to made a dough that holds together and can be kneaded. Add the bacon. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter and knead very, very lightly- no more than 10 times. Pat the dough out to a thickness of about 1/2 inch. Cut into rounds (1,2, or 3 inch – whatever strikes your fancy). Bake on an unbuttered baking sheet for 12-15 minutes.


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Sour Cream Fruit Pie

Serve this well chilled on a hot summer day. It is smooth and luscious, and somewhat resembles cheesecake. This recipes comes from “A World of Baking” by Dolores Casella. As I discussed in my last post, this is my new favorite old cookbook and while I am here in NY helping my mom recover from her Achilles tendon I am going to try to make as many of the recipes as I can (while trying not to melt in the heat wave that is occurring …  with no air conditioning…).

I used thinly sliced fresh nectarines in mine but I am sure any fruit you choose would work just fine. The original recipe calls for a can of fruit cocktail but since it is summer and there is such a bounty of fresh fruit, why would you? It also calls for it to be baked in a pie shell but I baked mine in a springform pan so it would have a slightly more tart appearance.
Preheat your oven to 350 F



9 inch graham cracker pie shell, baked in a 350 F oven for 5-7 minutes (See below)
2 C Sour cream
2 tsp cornstarch
2 large eggs
1/2 C + 2 Tbsp sugar
1 can fruit cocktail,well-drained,  or 1 1/2 C sliced fresh fruit

Combine the sour cream and cornstarch and mix until smooth. Add the eggs and sugar and blend thoroughly. Layer the fresh fruit in a spiral pattern onto the prebaked crust and pour the sour cream mixture over this, OR, stir the drained fruit cocktail into the sour cream mixture and pour into the shell. Bake for 35 minutes. Cool  completely and then chill thoroughly in the refrigerator.


1 C graham cracker crumbs
3 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp honey
3 Tbsp melted butter

Combine the crumbs and brown sugar together in a bowl and blend well. Stir  in the honey and melted butter until thoroughly blended. Press into a pie pan or springform pan with your fingers.

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Vanilla Wafer Cake

Last month, while I was at home in Calgary, I went to the annual Herald Book Sale to try to satisfy my never-ending hunger for cookbooks. I love finding old books, especially ones from the 30’s and 40’s- they are such a delight to read! Wether it’s the “helpful hints for the ever-changing  “modern woman” or the historical map of how our food menus have evolved over the years, it’s always a joy to read them. Now, that being said, the book I am going to talk about is not so old. It was published in 1968 (which is not so old to me at least) and is called ” A World of Baking” by Dolores Casella. I’m not sure what even caught my eye since the outer paper wrapping is long gone and is now just a plain brown hardcover. Oh, but how happy I am that I picked it up. I have read almost the entire book and have been dying to give these recipes a try. I think we tend to push older recipes aside in our quest to change,improve, and invent new recipes- but let us not forget other recipes in the progress. Anyway, as mentioned in my previous post, I am now in New York taking care of my mom while she recovers from a torn achilles tendon so I brought the book with my to try some of these recipes and pass them on to you, since I believe this book is out of print. A few days before leaving Calgary I made one of the coffee cake recipes and it got great reviews at my cake decorating meeting- quite a few people asked for the recipe (I will post at a later date, I promise!) It seems that every time I come to NY in the summer they are in the middle of a record heat wave. It has been so blazing hot and humid that I have barely even turned the stove on, other than to make oatmeal for my mom, so I am already behind in my baking. I did bake a cake for 4th of the July (on July 8th!!!) but it has been too busy for my to write about it so I am moving on for now.

Still patriotic

Even right now, I am typing in darkness as my little one is sleeping on the floor beside me, but the cake is in the oven so I am taking advantage of the time (and the air conditioning in the bedroom- there is none in the kitchen). I will wait until the morning to take some photos…
Anyway, enough of my rambling and onto the cake. I thought this was such an interesting recipe and since it is the first one in the book, I figured I would start there. The cake uses no flour, per se, but crushed vanilla wafers instead (sometimes called Nilla Wafers).

'Nilla Wafers

It sounds like such a lovely teatime cake, doesn’t it? No icing needed, maybe just a dusting of powdered sugar. You must butter and flour the pan(s) or butter and place a piece of parchment in the or it will stick!!
You can use a 10 inch tube or bundt pan OR two 9 inch round cake pans.
Pre-heat your oven to 325 F

1/2 lb (8 oz) unsalted butter, softened
2 C granulated sugar
6 large eggs
3 C vanilla wafer crumbs (a 12 oz box) (I just ran the cookies through the food processor)
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 C milk
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp lemon zest
1 C flaked coconut (I used 1/2 unsweetened mixed with sweetened)
1 C finely chopped nuts ( I used ground almonds)

Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in the eggs 1 or 2 at a time, scraping down the sides, until smooth and fluffy.Combine the wafer crumbs and the baking powder and stir to blend. Beat it into the butter mixture, alternating with the milk, vanilla and lemon rind. Start and end with the dry ingredients. Fold in the coconut and the chopped nuts. Turn into the pan and bake for 1 hour, 15 minutes (Mine was done after only 1 hour so check early),30 to 40 minutes if using the round pans. Cool on a rack for at least 15 minutes before turning out. If you have made the layers, put them together with some whipped cream.

Verdict:  A great cake!  Super moist with a slight lemony tang. Perfect for having friends over with a cup of tea or coffee

You won't be dissapointed

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