Archive for October, 2010


Have a happy Halloween

Since we always have pancakes on Sunday mornings, I knew I had to make something a little different since it was Halloween. My little girl has been talking about today for weeks now and I knew these would be right up her alley. The batter is on the thin side so that you can make the faces. After making the batter a portion is mixed with cocoa powder to draw the faces. I put mine in a plastic squeeze bottle but you can use a pastry bag or a Ziploc bag with the tip of a corner cut off.


1 C all-purpose flour
1 1/4 C whole wheat flour
2 Tbls ground flax-seed
3 Tbls dark brown sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 3/4 C milk
2 eggs
1/2 C pumpkin puree (do NOT use pumpkin pie filling)
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 tsp cocoa powder

Sift together the dry ingredients (except the cocoa powder) in a mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, mix together the wet ingredients. Pour over the dry ingredients and blend together. Take out 1/2 C of the batter and mix with the 3 tsp cocoa powder. Place the chocolate batter in squeeze bottle or disposable pastry bag.
Heat your pan over medium heat. Lightly grease it with either butter or PAM. With the pan off the heat, squeeze a jack-o-lantern face into the middle of the pan. Then take a ladle full of the pumpkin batter and gently pour it over the face. Place back on the heat and let that side cook until bubbles form on the surface. Flip the pancake over and cook 1 more minute on the other side. You can keep them warm on a low oven (200F) until all of them are made, or do like us and eat them as they are made.


1 C pure maple syrup
1 C pumpkin puree
2 tsp cinnamon

Whisk everything together and heat  in a saucepan over medium low heat until thoroughly heated.

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Candy Corn Cookies

I have been baking off some of these cookies almost everyday for the last week. This is a great recipe since you can bake them all at once or keep just cut off a few slices and keep the rest of the dough in the fridge or freezer. They take a little bit of time to assemble but once the dough is made  and assembled they bake off really fast.

You will need a loaf pan for this. The one I used is 4×8 inches. Line it with a piece of parchment paper or waxed paper, letting at least 2 inches hang over the sides. This yields around 10 dozen cookies, but it all depends on how big/small you cut them.

4 1/2 C sifted all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 C unsalted butter, softened
2 C granulated sugar
1/4 C light brown sugar
3 eggs
2 Tbsp milk, plus 2 tsp
1 Vanilla bean, scraped (optional, but worth it)
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 Tbsp cocoa powder (or a mixture of cocoa and black cocoa)
zest of one orange
a few drops of orange food color

Sift the flour with the baking soda and salt. Set aside.
Cream the butter until light, gradually adding the sugars and creaming until fluffy. Beat in the eggs, the 2 Tbsp milk, the seeds (if using) and the vanilla. Slowly work in the flour until you have a smooth dough.
Divide the dough into 3 pieces.
Take the first piece and wrap it in plastic wrap, Place in the fridge for at least one hour.
Take the second piece and beat in the cocoa powder(s) and the remaining 2 tsp milk. Wrap it in plastic wrap and place in the fridge for at least one hour.
Take the third piece and add the grated orange zest. Work in a few drops of orange coloring until you find the shade you desire. Wrap it in plastic wrap and place in the fridge for at least one hour
Take the 3 chilled pieces and unwrap them. Taking the vanilla piece, roll it out into a rectangle, to fit your loaf pan. Press it into the lined loaf pan using your fingers to make sure it is in all the corners and trying to get it as even as possible.
Next take your chocolate flavored dough roll it out as described above. Place it on top of the vanilla dough and once again, use your fingers to press it into the corners and to try to get it as even as possibleRepeat with the orange tinted dough.
Place back in the fridge for 1 hour.

Pre-heat the oven to 400 F

Using the parchment (or waxed) paper to help you, invert the cookie dough out of the loaf pan.
Cut the dough into 1/4″ slices and then take each slices and cut on an angle to make 5 candy corn cookies. If you want bigger candy corns, cut into 4 pieces.

You will have a tiny bit of scrap dough from each end. Mix these all together at the end for a crazy cookie for yourself.
Place the cookies 1 inch apart from each other on a lined baking sheet and bake for 7-8 minutes. Watch carefully.
Let cool on a wire rack.

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This months Baker’s Challenge was hosted by Lori of Butter Me Up. Since I missed last months Baker’s Challenge I had no intention of  missing another month.Every month brings an unexpected treat, and this month is no different – Doughnuts. Now, I must say, I have never made doughnuts before. They seemed like too much trouble, but, living in a world where so much food is filled with preservatives and artificial flavors, don’t we deserve to take the time and treat ourselves? And as it turns out ,they are really quite easy to make, it just  takes a little patience.

There are two main types of doughnuts, yeast and cake.  Obviously yeast doughnuts take longer to make but produce a lighter, fluffier result though cake doughnuts are just as tasty. Seriously, is there anything about a doughnut not to like? If anything, I never eat them because I cannot stop at just one! My choice for this challenge is Paczki (pronounced punch-key). It a fruit filled doughnut. In Poland they are made for Fat Thursday, the Thursday before Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of Lent. In the States, they are made the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, known as Fat Tuesday, or Mardi Gras. Traditionally, this was a way to use up perishable items (eggs/cream/butter) right before Lent. Don’t you just love the story behind food? I don’t know about you, but I find it so interesting to know what I am eating.

This recipe comes from A Baker’s Odessey by Greg Patent. It is made with a sponge, then enriched with egg yolks, sugar, sour cream and a bit of brandy, which helps retard the gluten development slightly. The filling must be thick enough to hold its shape. The book recommends Krakus Multifruit Powidla, but after going to a Polish deli, a Hungarian deli, and a German deli, I could not find it so I am using a plum butter (powidla sliwkowe) in half of the recipe and some thick homemade cherry preserves in the other half.

“These are best eaten within a few hours of being made”. Well, I guess they will be dessert as opposed to breakfast, unless I get up at 3am. I hear you can freeze doughnuts and reheat them with success. We’ll see….
Okay- here is an update since writing that. I have made a ton of doughnuts in the past 2 weeks and yes, I have frozen all of the leftovers and just thawed them on the counter for about an hour. They tasted great and the texture was still light and airy. So, bake away my friends….



1 C (8oz) whole milk
1 1/2 C (6.61 oz, 187.5 g)unbleached all purpose flour
1 1/2 Tablespoons  instant yeast (or 2 Tbls active dry yeast)
1 large egg, at room temperature

Scald the milk in a heavy saucepan oer medium heat (or carefully in a microwave). Remove from the heat and let the milk cool until it is between 120-130F.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, yeast, milk and egg to make a thick batter. Bang any remaining batter off the whisk, scrape down the sides of the bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise at room temp until it is very bubbly and has more than doubled in volume and collapsed back on itself, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

The sponge, eggs, zest,folding, and filling


6 Tbls (3 oz, 85 g) unsalted butter
1/2 C granulated sugar
8 large egg yolks
finely grated zest of 1 large orange
3 Tbls brandy or rum (I am using Calvados, a french apple brandy)
1/2 C sour cream
1 tsp salt
3 1/4 C unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more as needed

About 1/4 c to 1/2 c thick fruit preserves
Vegetable oil for deep-frying
confectioners sugar for dusting

Put the butter and sugar into your mixing bowl, attach the flat beater, and beat on low-speed, then medium speed until it is light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Scrape the bowl and the beater. Beat in the egg yolks, 2 at a time, beating for about 1 minute in between each addition. Beat in the orange zest. Add the sponge, brandy, sour cream, and salt and beat on low-speed until smooth. Beat in 2 cups flour, then increase the speed to medium and beat for 3 minutes. Scrape the bowl and the beater, and switch to the dough hook. Add 1 cup more flour and knead it in on low-speed, then increase the speed to medium and knead for 3 more minutes. The dough will be soft, sticky, and wet.
Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 c flour on your work surface and scrape the dough onto it. Knead the dough until all the flour has been incorporated. The dough should feel fairly soft and be a bit tacky. If it is too sticky, knead in up to 1/4 c more flour- but just a little at a time- the softer the dough, the lighter the doughnut.
Lightly oil or spray a bowl and place the dough in the bowl, turning it to coat all sides. Cover tightly and let it rest at room temp until doubled in size (about an hour). Mine took almost 1 1/2 hours since it is cool in my house.
Turn the dough out onto a unfloured work surface and pat it into a rectangle about 15 x 12 inches (I just did mine by eye).Fold it in thirds, like a business letter, then pat it gently to extend it the long way to about 15 inches (mine was already that since I did it by eye- I guess my eyes aren’t so good). Fold it again in thirds to make a package (remember making puff pastry?) Place it back in the bowl, seam side down and let rise at room temp until doubled, about 1 hour.
To shape the Paczki, line 2 large baking sheets with parchment and lightly sift a small amount of flour over them.Roll the dough out on a unfloured surface to a thickness of about 1/2 inch. With a sharp 2 3/4 or 3 inch cutter, stamp out circles of dough. Gather any scraps and set them aside, covered with a kitchen towel.
Make a shallow depression in the center with your finger and put in 1/2 to 1 tsp of the jam in the depression. Pick up the circle of dough and pull the edges up and around the filling, pinching them together firmly to seal in the filling. Place them seam side down on the prepared baking sheets. Reroll any scraps and make some more as above. Cover loosely with a kitchen towel and let rise for about 45 minutes. They will be puffy and almost doubled in size.

Plum filling

Meanwhile, pour 3 inches of oil into a large heavy pot and attach a deep fry thermometer to the side of the pot(if you have one- I don’t). Heat the oil oer medium heat until it reaches 365-370 F. Line two large baking sheets with several layers of paper towels. Since I don’t have a deep fry thermometer I just use a cube of bread to test the temp. If it browns in about 60 seconds then it’s ready. If your oil is too hot, it will brown the outside too quickly and not cook the inside, but, if it’s not hot enough it will make your doughnuts greasy. So, in other words, keep on eye on your oil temperature.
To fry your Paczki, slip them one at a time into the oil, adding only 3 or 4 paczki at a time. Cook for about 90 seconds then flip them over and cook for about another 90 seconds, or they are a beautiful mahogany brown. Left them out of the oil with a slotted spoon and place on the paper towels. Repeat until all of the paczki are cooked. While they are still hot, strain some confectioners sugar oer them. They are best served within a few hours, but you can freeze any leftovers with good results.

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Owl Cookies

Things are in full gear here for Halloween. We have 3 parties this week to attend so I am busy baking spooky treats for the kiddies. Here is a very cute cookie to add to your Halloween repertoire.  I wish I could tell you where it originated but it’s just a page from a magazine that I had stuck in one of my cookbooks.  It yields about 3 dozen cookies.


1 C packed light brown sugar
3/4 C unsalted butter, softened
1 tsp pure vanilla
1 egg
2 1/4 C all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 oz bittersweet or unsweetened chocolate, melted
1 tsp cocoa powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
approx 1/3 C semisweet chocolate chips (for eyes)
approx 2/3 whole cashews (for beaks)

Cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the egg and vanilla until well blended. On low-speed, beat in the flour, baking powder and salt. Place 1 cup of dough into a small bowl and stir in the melted chocolate, cocoa powder  and the baking soda until well blended.
Lay down a 12 inch piece of plastic wrap. Roll out half of the light dough to form a 10×4 inch strip. Shape half of the chocolate dough into a log, 10 inches long; place onto the strip of light dough. Using the plastic wrap to assist you, wrap the sides of the light dough around the chocolate log. Wrap in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for about 1 hour for easier handling. Repeat with the other half of the dough.

Heat the oven to 350 F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

Cut the dough into 1/4 slices. Pinch the corner of each slice to form an ear. Places two slices next to each other, sides touching, to look like owl faces. Place a chocolate chip in the center of each slice for eyes. Press a whole cashew in the center of the two slices for the beak.

Bake 8-10 minutes or until the edges are a light, golden brown. Immediately remove from cookie sheet to a cooling rack. Cool completely, about 15 minutes, before serving.

P.S. for high altitude (which I am) increase the flour by a 1/4 cup

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Lemon Coconut Cake

gumpaste flowers
Well, looking at the date of my last post you would think that I haven’t been baking much in the past month. If that was only the case! Truth be told, I have just been too busy to find the time to sit down and write. Since coming back home to Calgary 2 weeks ago, it feels like time is spinning out of control. Canadian Thanksgiving is already next week and I still have a menu to plan,my mother in law is arriving on  Monday, and we are going to Yellowstone National Park for a few days. Ahhh… tis’ the life.

While I have cherry-almond scones baking in the oven, I thought I would give the recipe for a delicious lemon coconut cake. I made it this past week for a friend of mine who was throwing a party for 125+ guests in honor of her mother’s birthday. I made a large sheet cake plus a 14 inch round cake for this but here is the scaled down version. The centerpiece is a floral arrangement made out of gumpaste.

This recipe is from The Well Decorated Cake by Toba Garrett. If you decide you want to multiply this recipe, please remember to use a kitchen scale to weigh your ingredients so you get accurate results.

This makes two 8-inch or one 10-inch cake pan, 3 inches deep.


1 C (8 oz, 230 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 C (1lb,  454 g) granulated sugar
1/3 C (80 ml) or 2.6 oz (75 g) lemon curd (I used homemade but you could certainly use store-bought)
2 Tbsp (1 fl oz, 30 ml) fresh lemon juice
zest of 3 lemons
3 C (330 g) cake flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 C (8 oz, 230 g) shredded coconut (I used equal parts desiccated and sweetened)
5 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1 C (8 fl oz, 240 ml) milk

Preheat your oven to 350 F. Spray the cake pans with vegetable spray and line with parchment paper.

Cream together the butter, sugar, zest, lemon juice, and lemon curd for 5 minutes. Stop and scrape the bowl. Cream for an additional minute.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Mix in the coconut. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk and vanilla.
Alternately add the flour mixture and the egg mixture to the batter in three turns. Mix until the batter is smooth. Pour into the prepared pans.
Bake for 45 for 8-inch pans, or 60-70 minutes for a 10-inch pan (or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean).
This cake lasts up to 3 weeks in the fridge or it freezes beautifully.

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