Archive for the ‘fruit’ Category




Where does the time go? All of a sudden, I look up at the  calendar and realize that it is the end of the month already. Arghh… What was the Bakers Challenge?? Lamingtons – sounds great. Make them in hurry, three varieties. Taste great. I now realize that it is past the 27th and it takes me hours to post something. I just don’t have the motivation to stay up until midnight blogging. I guess I am skipping another month….  Am I the only one who feels like a loser for doing this?

Okay, so what about the Bread Baking Babes? Maybe I will give this a shot and be on time. Cathy, from Bread Experience was the babe of the month. A quick look at the recipe and I see that a poolish is needed. It takes 14 + hours, but I really want to try this recipe. Oh well, I guess being on time is not my thing. I could have done it if I stayed up until midnight, but no, I chose to pop my final dough into the fridge overnight before shaping and baking this morning. More flavor, right? Right!

All kidding aside, this is a fantastic bread and so worth the time and effort. I wouldn’t say that this is a beginner’s bread, since it is a very wet dough (I think that Cathy  said 90% hydration), but I wouldn’t be scared of giving it a go either. All that moisture creates a light, chewy bread with lots of air pockets. there is no kneading, just folds at 45 minute intervals. I love prunes (or should I say “dried plums”) so I upped the quantity, but another dried fruit would work fine. Or olives. Or roasted garlic.

(later on…)BBBuddy Badge May 15

So now that the bread is baked and has cooled (perfect time to take my daughter to dance class), all I can say is “Delicious”!, but I better hurry since one loaf is already gone and another is half eaten. Even my daughter loved it. Except I told her it was plums in the bread (Why do prunes get such a bad rap?)

So, all I can say is Bake On!


Flaxseed and Prune Ciabatta-Style Loaves



(I improvised here and did 85 grams 100% hydration starter, 85 grams flour, 85 grams water, and a tiny pinch of yeast.  It sat for 10 hours before moving forward)

  • 125 grams / ~ 1 cup bread flour or all-purpose flourDSC_0557
  • 125 grams / 1/2 cup water
  • pinch of instant yeast

Mix all ingredients until well incorporated with D.D.T. of 70°F.
Allow to ferment 12 – 14 hours at room temperature (65 -70°F)





Flaxseed soaker:

This makes the seeds more easier to digest. You will notice that the mixture gets very gelatinous, which is normal.

  • 48 grams/ 1/4 cup + 1 T flax seeds
  • 72 grams / 1/3 cup water

Mix all ingredients until well incorporated, cover and set aside.
Let it sit for at least one hour.


Final Dough:

  • 300 grams / ~ 2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour or bread flour
  • 50 grams / ~ 1/3 cup coarsely  whole wheat flour
  • 25 grams / 1/4 cup coarsely  whole rye flour
  • 278 grams / ~ 1 1/4 cups water
  • 10 grams / 1 3/4 teaspoons salt
  • 84 grams / ~1/2 cup prunes (I used 140 g)
  • 2 grams / ~3/4 teaspoon instant yeast (I used 1/4 tsp)

Mixing: Hand Mix

  1. Mix together all the ingredients except the flax seeds, and plums.
  2. Once everything is thoroughly incorporated, mix in flax soaker and dried plums.
  3. Transfer the dough into an oiled container.

Dough Temperature: 76-78°FDSC_0565

First Fermentation: a total of 3 hours with 3 folds

  • 45 minutes at room temperature; fold
  • 45 minutes at room temperature; fold
  • 45 minutes at room temperature; fold

At this point I covered the dough bowl and placed it in the fridge overnight for a nice slow rise

Divide: Dough is not scaled. It is divided by measurement (i.e. eyeballing the dough).

Place loaves on a floured couche, proofing board or a baking sheet lined with parchment.

Rest : 20 minutes at room temperature

Preheat Oven: to 475°F with a baking stone on the bottom rack and a steam pan or iron skillet on the top rack of the oven.

Transfer loaves to baking stone: Carefully transfer the loaves from the baker’s couche (or proofing board) to the preheated baking stone.

If you proof the loaves on parchment, which is what I did, just transfer the loaves (parchment and all) to the baking stone and remove the paper partway through the bake cycle.

Quickly add several ice cubes to the steam pan (I just added a cup of water), spritz the loaves with water (oops, I forgot that) and immediately turn the oven down to 450 degrees F.

Bake: 15 minutes, then rotate the loaves for even baking and bake an additional 10 – 15 minutes or until done. They should be a rich, dark color. I turned my oven off, cracked the door ajar, and let them sit for another 10 minutes.

Let cool completely.


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Well, I’m late for posting the Bakers Challenge. Again.  I love to volunteer at my daughters school and the past few weeks have been quite hectic with end of school field trips and activities. Please forgive me.

This  month’s challenge was hosted by Shelley of C Mom Cook. She asked everyone to make cinnamon buns, or one its many variations. And there are tons. I think cinnamon rolls was one of the first breads that I ever made and   there is something so comforting about rich, warm bread filled with sugary goodness and covered in more sugary goodness. If you have never tried making these (or some version of them), please don’t hesitate to try. It’s  really quite simple.

The basic concept of a cinnamon roll is yeasted dough rolled out into a rectangular shape, then brushed with a good dose of butter. A cinnamon sugar mixture is then sprinkled over this and then the dough is rolled up and sliced. the slices are place, cut side up, in a pan to  rise and then baked.

What is the difference between a “cinnamon” bun and a “sticky” bun? The first is drizzled with either a cream cheese or confectioners sugar glaze when still warm from the oven while a sticky bun has a butter/sugar mixture in the bottom of the pan that sliced dough gets placed into for their final rise. basically the extra sugary goodness goes in either before baking or after. In mine I did a little of both!

A variety of doughs can be used. An enriched dough is most common. All that means is that the dough has some butter and eggs in it. Sourdough is ultra tasty. Brioche dough is crazy wonderful for this (lots  of added butter and eggs in the dough). Hell, let all thoughts of calories go out the window and use puff pastry. While this is more like a cronut it still counts as a cinnamon bun to me (and my thighs).  Don’t let the thought of making bread dough frighten you. It is one of the most rewarding things you can do in the kitchen. That being said , I have at times used plain old white bread dough bought from the freezer section at the market and made sticky buns with delicious results. Seriously, all paths lead to the same end. Deliciousness.

I baked a few versions this month. First I went with one with a filling of cinnamon, candied orange peel and walnuts. I know my friend Kathy is cringing right now at the thought of candied orange peel but I love it.  Later in the month I made little mini cinnamon buns for the volunteer appreciation night at the grade school. For these I just made a half batch of dough and rolled a skinnier rectangle so that when I rolled it up it only rolled 1 1/2 turns and then I cut 1/3 inch slices. I hope that makes sense. These were good and went quickly due to their manageable size. Nobody wants to be at a school gathering trying to eat a mammoth sized pastry in front of strangers. That is something better left for home.


For my final version I went with a rhubarb and custard filled sticky bun. My rhubarb plant outside is gigantic and I need reasons to use it. I used Bird’s custard after reading in a food history book about how Birds came about. It turns out that during WWII families in England were rationed one (yes, 1) egg per week so the manufacturers came up with a product that required no eggs and very little sugar, which was rationed as well. Since I keep a can in the closet for when the urge to make Nanaimo bars strike, this seemed perfect. Well, actually, I used the last of my eggs to make the dough and didn’t feel like going out to get some more….

The best part about making cinnamon/sticky buns? other than eating them, is that you can prepare them the day before and slip the pan of unrisen slices in the fridge until morning. You just wake up, turn your oven on, and let the cold rolls warm up a bit on the counter while your oven heats up. I find that even 15 minutes at room temperature is enough before popping them into the oven.

Please make sure to visit Shelley’s site to see her tasty versions. BAKE ON!


3 ¼ to 3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 tbsp sugar
2 ¼ tsp instant yeast (if using active dry yeast make sure to proof it first)
½ tsp salt
1 cup of  milk, heated to just around 100F  (I used 2%)
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature


Stir three cups of the flour, sugar, yeast, and salt in a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook or in a large mixing bowl.

Add the milk, eggs ,vanilla  and butter to the dry ingredients and continue mixing until the dough comes together.  If necessary, add the remaining flour, a little at a time, until the dough is smooth and not sticky to the sides of the bowl. Continue to knead for about 5 minutes.

Place the dough into a lightly greased bowl and cover with cling wrap or a tea towel until it has doubled in bulk. This should take about hour. If it is very hot in your house this might be shorter or if your house is cool it could take a little longer.

Meanwhile, prepare the filling.


Take 4-5 stalks of fresh rhubarb and cut them into 1/4 – 1/3 inch slices. Add  1/2 cup sugar (or more to taste) . Mix this together and let it macerate until ready to use.DSC_1193


1 1/2 Tablespoons (22 ml) Bird’s custard powder
1 1/2 Tablespoons (22ml) granulated sugar
1 cup  (250ml) milk
1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped out (save the pod for your sugar or salt jar) or 1 teaspoon rum


In a small saucepan, mix together the custard powder and the sugar. Over medium high heat, whisk in the milk until well blended. If using the seeds of a vanilla bean, add it now. Bring to a full boil, whisking frequently. Take off the heat. If using rum, add now. Place the hot custard into a bowl and place a piece if cling wrap directly onto the surface to prevent a “skin” forming. Cool in the fridge while the dough is rising.


Get your pan ready:

In a 12 hole muffin tin, place 1/2 teaspoon each of butter and brown sugar. Place in a warm oven for a few minutes to slightly melt the two.

Set aside .

June 28, 2014



Roll out your dough onto a lightly floured surface. Make a rectangle roughly 12 x 9 inches. Feel free to eyeball this. Spread a layer of cooled custard over the dough leaving about 1/2 inch border all the way around.

Lightly drain your rhubarb, reserving the pink liquid for your glaze (optional)

Sprinkle the rhubarb over the entire surface . With the wide end facing you, start rolling up your dough, jelly roll style. Pinch the seam together and slice into Twelve 1 1/2 inch slices. Place cut side up into each muffin cup.

Cover with cling wrap and place in the fridge overnight until morning.

When you are ready to bake, take the cold pan out of the fridge and place on the counter. Remove the cling wrap. Heat your oven to 350F. After about 15 minutes, pop the sticky buns into your oven and bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown.

May 28 2014

If you are baking the same day: after placing the sliced rolls into your muffin tin, cover them with either plastic wrap or a tea towel and let them rise again for another hour before baking at 350F for 25 minutes.

If you don’t have a muffin tin, place them into a rectangle or round cake pan with a little space around them to expand.

Optional glaze:(since my daughter was having a friend sleepover this was not optional in out house)

Take 1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar and mix with 2 tablespoons of the reserved pink rhubarb syrup. If it is too thick, add a tiny bit more until you get a consistency of thick cream. When the sticky buns come out of the oven, take them out of the pan and drizzle the pink icing of each of them.


This easy dough recipe is from Anna Olsen.




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Tres Leches


Since I had baked this earlier in the month, I have no excuse for not posting this on the 27th, other than I just forgot! What a dingbat I can be. The host for the September bakers challenge  is Inma from la Galletika, and she chose Pastel de Tres Leches, a cake that is very popular in Central and South America ( and here!) . My friend Heidi and her husband love this cake, with her version being only a single layer which I think makes it much easier for all of the liquid to get soaked up since you can leave it in the pan. Her husband enjoyed this two layer version as well. I hope you do too… Bake On!

Pastel de Tres Leches

vanilla sponge cake
5 large eggs (separated)
½ cup (120 ml) (4 oz) (125 gm) sugar
2 teaspoons (10 ml) of vanilla extract
1 cup (240 ml) (5 oz) (140gm) all-purpose  flour (sifted)

For three milks syrup
1 can (14 oz) (400 gm) sweetened condensed milk
1 can (12 oz) (340 gm) evaporated milk ( I used coconut milk)
1 cup (240 ml) heavy cream (about 35% fat) or 1 cup of half & half or 1 cup milk
1 cinnamon stick (I deleted this)
2 teaspoons (10 ml) rum (or other flavoring) (I used Amaretto)

Topping and filling
2 cups (500 ml) of whipping cream (about 30% fat)
½ cup (120 ml) (4 oz) (125 gm) sugar
Canned or fresh fruit (to fill and decorate the cake) (I used fresh nectarines)


Directions For the Sponge Cake:
Preheat oven to moderate 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4. Prepare a square 9”x9” (23cmx23 cm) pan or 9” (23 cm) round cake pan
Separate the egg whites from the yolks. Beat the egg whites on medium speed, 3 – 5 minutes.When soft peaks form slowly add the sugar in small batches. and whip until stiff peaks form about 5 minutes. Set aside.DSC_3403

In a medium bowl beat egg yolks at medium-high speed for about 5 to 6 minutes, or until the egg yolks become pale colored, creamy and puffy. Stir in vanilla.
Pour the egg yolks over the egg whites, gently fold until just combined trying not to lose any volume from the mixture.
Fold in the flour little by little in the form of rain (OMG, isn’t that lovely!). Mix until just combined (over-beating will result in a denser, flatter cake).
Pour the batter into the prepared 9”x9” (23cmx23 cm) square cake pan or 9” (23 cm) round cake pan.Bake in the preheated moderate oven for 25 minutes or until the toothpick comes out clean
Let it cool completely.
Split the cake in half, flip the top of the cake and place it on a base. Poke using a fork holes all over the cake to better absorb the three milk soaking liquid.

Three milks syrup
1.In a saucepan add the sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, heavy cream and cinnamon stick, bring to a boil, reduce the heat and continue boiling for 5 minutes. Remove it and let it cool.
2.Once it is cool, add the rum or any other flavoring you are using
3.Gradually brush all the milk soaking liquid into all sides of the cake (including the cut surfaces) until all absorbed. Best to rest the cake in the fridge overnight to complete the soaking process.
1.Whip the cream, when soft peaks form add the sugar little by little, continue whipping until stiff peaks form about 2 mins.


1.Layer some whipped cream on the bottom layer and cover with canned or fresh fruit and decorate the top layer with whipped cream and the fresh or canned fruit.


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Or is it a finger in every pie? I’m not sure and who cares because these hand pies are outrageously delicious!

The host for the June Daring Bakers Challenge is Rachael from Pizzarossa and she asked everyone to roll out the crust and bake some pie. I urge you all to go visit her site for some wonderful pie ideas. The crack pie (from Milk Bar fame) is really a winner, but it should be called fat pie since that is what happens when you can’t stop yourself from eating it. |I really love baking pie and had a lot of grand ideas of all the pies I would make this month. Except that life got in the way. I was baking croissants like crazy for a school function and have been baking a lot of vegan food for a close friend. I then developed a nasty sinus infection which was accompanied by a headache that wouldn’t stop. And the flood (and state of emergency). So I had to let a few things slide. Like Pie. I think I will make a plan to bake a pie once a week this summer. There are a lot of recipes out there to try , and to invent.  In particular, I own a book called “Farm Journal’s complete pie book” published in 1965 which contains 700 pie recipes that I would love to tackle. Maybe not all 700 but a few at least…. So on the pie (s) I did bake.  Luscious Saskatoon berry hand pies. DSC_2733

Never heard of a Saskatoon berry? Neither did I until I moved to western Canada. They are similar to a blueberry but with a little huckleberry flavor thrown in. Not too sweet and very fleshy too (where a blueberry is more squishy). I love them because when you cook them they still hold their individual shape instead of popping and turning into one big mass. I had to empty out my freezer last week and found some hand picked Saskatoon berries (courtesy of my friend Heidi) from last fall. Oh, the excitement. If you are lucky enough to find frozen Saskatoon berries at the market, buy them!  Fresh or frozen blueberries would work just as great. You know what? ANY fruit would work great in this recipe.

Okay, so what’s the big deal about pie anyway? Well, it’s all in the crust. Which is why so many people are afraid to make it. A bad crust is well, bad, but a great crust is heaven. My advice? try a few different recipes until you find the one that you are comfortable with and then make it a bunch of times. All of sudden pie dough is really simple to make and to handle. The best tip of all? Have everything cold. It makes the whole process so much easier. Now, there are MANY dough recipes out there. Really flaky pie crust is achieved using lard or shortening while a rich pate brisee is made using all butter. A good medium is using half shortening and half butter. Whatever you are using cut it up into small pieces and place in the freezer for about 30 minutes first. Remember, cold. I personally like to use ice cold vodka instead of water in my dough. I believe it makes a better crust (along with a little vinegar). Pie dough comes in all shapes and sizes though; crushed cookies mixed with butter, oil based dough, cheese based, coconut, chocolate, meringue, pretzel crumbs, crushed cereal…. you get the idea. Any special equipment? While a food processor makes the entire process take just about 1 minute, a pastry cutter works great too. Two butter knives work just as well, it just takes a little while longer to cut the fat into the flour. Pie dough also freezes quite nicely, so when you make some it’s not a bad idea to prepare some extra and wrap well to place in the freezer for a later use.  I remember my mom always taking the scraps of pie dough and smearing them with butter and cinnamon sugar to bake off in the oven as a treat for us kids. Memories… like the corners of my mind….

This particular pie dough is made with flour,  butter, sour cream and a touch of baking powder. No liquid. The “letter folding” technique when you roll out the dough also makes such a tender, high and flaky pastry. It really is divine. Bake On!!

Pastry Dough

  • 2 cups (8.8 oz/ 241 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup (16 tablespoons/8 oz /227 g) cold unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup(4 oz/ 113 g) cold sour cream


  • 2 Cups (8 oz/227g) Saskatoon berries, fresh or frozen (or blueberries/blackberry/raspberry)
  • 1/4 Cup (1 3/4 oz/50g ) granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon instant tapioca (or cornstarch or instant clear- gel)
  • 3 teaspoons lemon juice

* 1 egg (beaten) and some sanding sugar for the topping . This step is optional but the egg wash gives the pastry a lovely golden color when baked. The sprinkling of sugar is purely decorative but a nice touch.


Make the pastry dough:

Whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder. Add the butter, working it  to make a coarse mixture. Leave most of the butter in large, pea-sized pieces. If using a processor use the pulse button to cut the butter in (The somewhat large pieces of cold butter will create steam when it goes in the oven which makes for a flaky pastry).DSC_2717 Stir in the sour cream. The dough will be crumbly. Don’t panic. . Turn it out onto a floured work surface, and bring it together with a few quick kneads.

Roll it into an 8″ x 10″ rectangle. Dust both sides of the dough with flour, and starting with a shorter end, fold it in three like a business letter. Flip the dough over, give it a 90° turn on your work surface, and roll it again into an 8″ x 10″ rectangle. Fold it in three again.

Wrap the dough, and chill for at least 30 minutes before using.



Make the filling:

Place all the ingredients in a small pan set over medium heat. Cook until the mixture starts to thicken, about 5 minutes. Pour into a clean bowl and let cool to room temperature.


Preheat the oven to 425°F; place a rack on the middle shelf. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Take the dough our of the fridge and let it sit at room temperature for 10 minutes so it is easier to handle. Roll the dough into a 14″ x 14″ square.  Cut out sixteen 3 1/2″ squares.DSC_2729

 Divide the filling among eight of the squares, using about a heaping tablespoon for each. Brush some of the beaten egg along the edges of each filled square. Cut a little vent into the each of the remaining eight squares so that steam can escape while baking. Top each filled square with a vented square, and press firmly  along the edges with the tines of a fork  to seal.  Transfer the pies to a parchment lined baking sheet. Place into the refrigerator for 15 minutes before baking.  Brush the top of each pie with the remaining beaten egg, and sprinkle with sparkling sugar.


 Bake the pies for 18 to 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Let cool for at least 20 minutes before serving or you will scald the roof of your mouth. Enjoy!



This amazing recipe is from King Arthur Flour. Can I tell you how much I would love to work in their test kitchen….

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So I’m looking through a baking book the other day trying to find inspiration that will satisfy my need to bake something. I came across Lemon Brioche Doughnuts and thought “Perfect!”, but then suddenly remembered that I hadn’t checked yet  to see what was up for March from  the  Bread Baking Babes. Well. after finding out that  Lien was the host I was more than thrilled to see that she chose “Gateau a la creme” which is yummy brioche with a lemon custard filling. Talk about perfect timing. I was looking forward to making brioche since there hadn’t been any made since Christmas time. Buttery brioche baked in small pannetone papers are perfect gifts for people since they freeze beautifully and you can pull out one at a time without being tempted to eat an entire loaf of bread by yourself. Now it is March and it seems like a perfect time for brioche and this gateau is luscious and would be perfect for a Spring brunch (now all we need here in Calgary is Spring (as I look out at the snow on my lawn)).BBBuddies march 2013

After reading Lien’s recipe I was a little concerned about the small amount of eggs and butter (for brioche that is) but then when I started looking through my baking books I realized that there seems to be many variations on the quantity of these items.  One book uses 4 1/4 Cups of flour to 3 eggs, while another uses 4 1/2 Cups of flour and 6 eggs. Some recipes call for all  ingredients to be very cold, others for room temperature. Normally, I follow Peter Reinhardt’s recipe but now I think that in my near future a brioche bake-off is called for. The recipe Lien used has a relatively short kneading time, while it was my thought pattern that brioche (as well as panettone and stollen) needed a long kneading to fully develop the gluten structure so you get the “windowpane” effect. What was also interesting was that this version only called for the dough to chill in the fridge for about an hour and then you are ready to work with it, usually it chills overnight. Ahhh, the very perplexing world of enriched doughs….DSC_2421

In the end, I used Ciril Hitz’ version, and only because I wanted to put some dough into the freezer for later in the week (those doughnuts, remember?). His version actually has fewer eggs than the Raymond Blanc recipe – again, the mystery of it all – but it is so lovely to work with and to eat. A few people commented that Raymond’s recipe was a little dry so I went with this version to be on the safe side. It has a long chilling period, 6 hours in the freezer then 12 in the refrigerator, but it is really easy to make and patience is the only thing needed. Oh, and a standing mixer with a dough hook. At least for me. I was more than impressed to read that some of the BBB’s were kneading this by hand (I would never want to be cornered by one of them in a dark alley – arms of steel!), but in my opinion this is one of those doughs that a standing mixer is crucial. My Kitchenaid is over 20 years old and still works like a dream!

The filling is super simple to put together. It calls for 6 egg yolks (this is a good time to think about making macarons since you will have all those whites leftover), lemon juice, a little sugar and creme fraiche. Easy except I didn’t have any creme fraiche nor any heavy cream to make any, so I made mine with marscapone cheese. Yes, this is over the top indulgence, but boy did it work nicely. I only had 5 eggs left since I needed one for the egg wash so that would have to do (and it worked out fine). I found there was a little too much filling for the two small (about 7 inches around) brioche I made and I also filled one up too high which in turn made a burnt mess in my oven.

The seal of approval!

The seal of approval!

Would I recommend this? Yes. Was it easy? with a mixer, Yes.  Was is delicious? Totally, without being too sweet. (maybe I’ll have another piece right now just to make sure…) Bake On!

Please go to Liens post for the original recipe.

Gateau a la Creme

Brioche dough

yields four 7-inch gateau’s (or freeze half of the dough for up to 2 weeks for another use)

4 1/4 Cups (530g) All-purpose flourDSC_2401
1/4 Cup (50g) granulated sugar
4 tsp (14g) instant yeast (I used SAF Gold)
1 1/2 tsp (8g) salt
zest of 1 meyer lemon (use a regular lemon if you don’t have a meyer)
3/4 C (7 oz) whole milk
14 Tablespoons (200g) unsalted butter
1 whole egg
2 egg yolks

Egg wash (1 yolk,as needed – I double washed so I used almost the whole thing)
swedish pearl sugar (decoration, as needed- optional)

Crème filling

5 egg yolks
1/4 Cup + 2 teaspoons (60g) granulated sugar
1 meyer lemon, juice and zest (I also threw in the juice leftover from the zested lemon needed for the dough)
200 G marscapone cheese

Make sure that the milk, eggs, and butter are cold.

Place all of the ingredients, except the butter,into the bowl of your standing mixer. Mix at low-speed until it all comes together, form a solid mass, and cleans the sides of the bowl (about 5 minutes). While this is mixing, pound your butter with a rolling-pin to make it pliable. You are not warming up the butter, just making it easier to blend. Break it up into 4 or 5 pieces.  Alternately, you can cut the cold butter up into tiny cubes.DSC_2403

Increase the speed on your mixer to medium and start adding the butter, slowly and in stages (4 0r 5). Make sure that all of the butter is fully mixed in before adding the next batch of butter. Continue to mix until all of the butter is fully incorporated into the dough and you get a good gluten structure. This will take 10 to 20 minutes. You want to be able to stretch the dough thin enough to see through (the “windowpane”) without tearing the dough. Form the dough into a ball, wrap with plastic wrap and place in the freezer for at least 6 hours, or up to 2 weeks. I cut my dough in half so I would have 2 pieces – I used one and the other is still in the freezer.

The day before baking remove the dough from the freezer and transfer to the refrigerator for 12 hours.

When ready to bake remove the dough from the fridge and let it sit out for 20-30 minutes at room temperature. Cut the dough in half..Take half of the brioche dough and bring it together with the palms of your hands to form a ball, then place it on a parchment lined baking tray and flatten it slightly. Starting from the middle of the dough, gently press the dough flat and spread it out to form a circle to approx 7 inches  in diameter, but leave about a 1 inch gap from the edge as this will create the rim of the tart. DSC_2404

Be careful not to stretch the dough and try to keep the base even in thickness. Use the second half of the dough for another gateau. I made the error on one of mine by making the rim too thin and then pouring in too much filling which of course made a mess in the oven….


Cover these with greased plastic and a kitchen towel and let rest for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, pre-heat your oven to 350F

For the crème filling, mix the egg yolks, sugar, lemon zest and juice together in a mixing bowl and gradually mix in the marscapone cheese. Set aside  until ready to fill.


When you are ready to bake, brush the rims of your bread with the egg wash and sprinkle with the pearl sugar , if using. Pour some of the creme mixture into the middle about 1/3 way up. Pour the rest in (about 3/4 way up) when you have it in the oven so you don’t spill it all over when transferring it. Bake for 25 minutes or until golden and the filling is set. Cool completely, or serve slightly warm. Enjoy!


The Bread Baking Babes

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While I have not been writing on my blog, I have been accumulating large amounts of zucchini from my community garden plot. We  never tried this before and all I can say is , this is the plant to grow for people who want to do as little as possible in the garden and get amazing results. I might not be inspired to write about something, but I am always inspired to bake something.

This picture does not include the 5 other ones I have already baked bread with, or the countless smaller ones which got sliced and grilled on the BBQ, or diced and tossed with pasta, or baked into whoopie pies…..

This recipe is so simple and yet so tasty. It’s a nice change from the lightly spiced zucchini bread that we are all familiar with in one way or another.  The addition of cocoa powder takes this to a whole other level. That’s if you like chocolate.Which I do. This makes two loaves so you can be generous and give one to a friend, or freeze it for up to 3 months for a later date. If you know someone who shies away from veggies, just don’t tell them – they will never know!

Now, I hate sounding like a chocolate snob, but when using cocoa powder as your sole chocolate, it really is important to use the best cocoa powder that you get afford.  I personally like Cocoa Barry Extra Brute with a little black cocoa mixed in, but I also like the Rodelle gourmet cocoa powder (sold at Costco), Freys, and Hersheys Dark. With all that being said, use whatever you like or have on hand. If you only have a generic brand of cocoa powder then add a cup of mini chocolate chips to boost the chocolate flavor. Or add them even if you use the best cocoa powder….. I also add a little orange oil to my  batter since I love the flavor of orange. If you don’t own this, just skip it. Or add 2 Tablespoons of orange juice concentrate instead. What I’m trying to say is that you can always improvise. Don’t let little things stop you from baking something. Don’t have oranges? Okay, leave it out and fill your pans 1/3 the way with the chocolate batter. Scatter 1/2 cup frozen raspberries tossed with 2 tablespoons sugar over the top. Put the remaining batter in the pans. Scatter another 1/2 cup of berries of the tops. That’s 1 cup berries total per loaf. Easy right? Let your imagination flow and work with what you have in your kitchen. Bake on!


Makes two loaves

4 eggs
2  1/4 Cups granulated  sugar
1/2 Cup light brown sugar
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil  vegetable oil
3/4 cup dark cocoa powder
3 cups flour (750 mL) flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
3 cups zucchini , finely grated
Zest of 2 oranges
1/2 Teaspoon orange oil (optional)

1/4 cup candied orange peel, divided  (optional, but really nice)

Raspberry loaf

Pre-heat oven to 350 F. Lightly grease and flour two loaf pans and set aside.
Beat eggs well, then add in sugar, 1/2 cup at a time. Add oil, then cocoa to the eggs and sugar.
In a separate bowl, combine dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add into egg mixture. Mix in zucchini ,orange zest. and orange oil (if using)
Pour into two pans and sprinkle each loaf with some candied orange peel.  Bake for 1 hour 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Remove from oven and let cool on racks before removing from pans. Thoroughly enjoy!

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The September Baker’s Challenge is hosted by Patri from Asi Son Las Cosas. She has challenged her fellow bakers with a recipe for Empanada Gallega, which is a two crusted pie (usually savory), from Galicia, the northern region of Spain.

“My grandparents lived in a country house that my great-grandfather built a hundred years ago. It is in the northwest of Spain, right on top of Portugal, in the region called Galicia. Back in the 70s, the kitchen was the place of gathering, talking, reading… and there was always something cooking on the iron stove, be it a pot of caldo (a hearty soup), or a stew, or a cake in the oven. When I think back to those days, I can smell the sweetness of burnt wood or coal, the almost “chocolate” scent that rose up to your nostrils when you opened the door, the warmth of the air when coming in from a cool, windy and wet August morning…”

How wonderful is that memory????

As usual, I am typing this up the night the post date, but I actually started a round of these in the beginning of the month. Patri, provided a few recipe options for the dough and some savory fillings but  I immediately started thinking about how to turn this into a dessert. I still had a freezer-full of cherries that I picked last month, my raspberry bush out back is having a bumper crop this summer (what a nice surprise to come home to!) and I saw some lovely fresh figs at the farmers market. Mmmm…. Okay, this was going to be fun. With such beautiful fruit, the fillings could be simple and still shine. Time to turn the large savory pie into individual hand pies!

The dough for these were made using a recipe  “La Empanada Gallega”

3½ cups (500 gm) all-purpose (plain) or bread flour
3 Tablespoons granulated sugar
1 cup (240 ml) warm water
½ cup less 1 tablespoon (100 ml) of liquid fat (oil, margarine, lard)
1 satchel (1 tablespoon) (15 gm) dry yeast
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (6 gm) salt

Sift the flour into a bowl, make a well in the middle and add all the ingredients Mix with a wooden spoon until all the ingredients have been incorporated. Turn dough onto your counter and knead for 10  minutes or place in a standing mixing with the dough hook attachment and knead for 10 minutes.

Make a ball and allow to rise covered with a cloth for about half an hour before using.

Cherry and Frangipane Filling

Frangipane is just an almond cream filling. It is fantastic used as a base for tarts or for pastry filling.

1/2 cup chopped almonds ( or almond meal if you have it)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 egg
3 tablespoons butter, softened
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

In your food processor, place the almonds, sugar, and flour. Process until finely ground. Then add the rest of the ingredients and process until you have a smooth paste. Transfer to a small bowl, cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Balsamic Strawberries with Fresh Fig

2 cups fresh strawberries, roughly diced
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 vanilla bean, optional
2 or 3 fresh figs

Place the balsamic vinegar into a small saucepan. Scrape out the seeds from the vanilla and add, if using. Bring to a boil and reduce until half. This makes the vinegar sweet and syrupy. Cool and then toss with the strawberries. (This alone is amazing and even better spooned over vanilla ice cream)

Let macerate for 1 hour.

Raspberry and Sweetened Cream Cheese

3 oz cream cheese, softened to room temperature
3 Tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 Vanilla bean
2 Tablespoons heavy cream
2 Cups fresh raspberries (one pint will probably be just fine if you make just a few of each)

Whip together the cream cheese, vanilla,and sugar. Slowly add the cream until smooth.


Roll the dough out quite thin so they don’t end up tot thick. I used a round pastry shell for my cutter. It is 4 inch across. If you are using the frangipane of cream cheese filling, add 1 full tablespoon of filling in the middle of your dough. Spread slightly. Top with 2 to 3 tablespoons of fruit. For the strawberry fig filling just lay 3 slices of juicy fig across the middle and top with the luscious balsamic berries.

Bring the top half of the dough over the filling ans line up with the bottom edge. Using you fingers, bring the two edges together, pinching the dough together.You can use a fork to press a design around the edges if you like.

Brush with an egg, lightly beaten, before placing into a 350F oven for 30 minutes or until golden brown.

All right. No, I mean that they were just all right. Don’t get me wrong, we ate them and enjoyed them.  The fillings were great ,I just think that I would prefer a tender, flaky crust for instead. But, I wasn’t giving up on this challenge. Onto a savory filling.

I hardly ever post savory recipes. I love to cook just as much as baking and am constantly thinking of menus in my head, but I am a “little bit of this, little bit of that” cook so please bear with me in quantities. I will say that this was delicious and we enjoyed it even more the next day. It started with a layer of carmelized onions followed by a thick layer of cheddar cheese polenta. I finished it off with sautéed carrots, zucchini (from the garden), and peppers. This was a very tasty dinner served with a side salad.

Grandmas recipe for dough

5-1/3 cups (1280 ml) (750 gm) bread flour
2 cups  (480 ml) of lukewarm water (about 85°F/30ºC), approximately
1 satchel (1 tablespoon) (15 gm) dry yeast or  (1 oz) (30 gm) fresh yeast
2 teaspoons (10 ml) (11 gm) salt
4 tablespoons (60 ml) oil (you can use oil from the pan where you have cooked the filling)
1 large egg, for egg wash

Sift the flour into a big bowl and add the yeast. Make a well in the middle. In a small bowl, mix the water and the salt.Now, using your fingers or a wooden spoon, start adding the water and mixing it with the flour-yeast mixture. Keep on working with your fingers or spoon until you have added enough water and all the flour has been incorporated and you have a messy ball of dough.On a clean counter top, knead the dough by  hand or use a standing mixer with the dough hook attachment  for approximately 10 minutes.Clean and oil the big bowl you used for mixing and place the kneaded dough in it. Cover it with a napkin or piece of linen and keep it in a warm, draught-free place for approximately 40 to 50 minutes.

Carmelized Onions (my way)

1 Large sweet onion, sliced
1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
1 Tablespoon salt
3 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
Place the onion, salt and olive oil in a small saucepan over medium low heat.Cook, stirring frequently for 10 minutes. Turn the heat to low, add the sugar and continue to cook another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the vinegar, stir again, and  cook for another final 10 minutes. Cool completely.

Cheddar Cheese Polenta

2 cups (16 oz)  water
3 Tablespoons butter
1 Cup yellow cornmeal
2 cups (16 oz)  milk , divided (I use skim)
200 g sharp cheddar cheese, grated
pinch salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3/4 teaspoon cumin

Place 2 cups water, 1 cup milk and the butter in a medium sauceopan and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, stir together the  remaining cup of milk and the cornmeal. Gradually stir this into the boiling liquid, reduce the heat to low, and cook, stirring constantly until the cornmeal is thick and creamy, about 15 minutes. Sprinkle with the salt, cumin, black pepper and cheddar cheese. Stir until the cheese is fully melted into the polenta. Set aside to cool.

Sautéed Summer Vegetables

This is what I had on hand. Please use the vegetables you like; this also goes for the seasoning

1 large zucchini, chopped, equalling about 2 cups
1 Cup chopped carrots
1 red pepper, chopped
1 purple or green pepper chopped
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon smoked Serrano chili powder
1/2 teaspoon chipotle chili flakes
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons olive oil

Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the carrots, salt, cumin, chili powder and chipotle flakes; cook for 5 minutes. Add the peppers and cook for another 5 minutes. Add the zucchini and cook for 2-3 minutes, you still want the zucchini to be crisp since it will continue to cook in the oven. Set aside to cool.


Preheat the oven to 350 F

Once risen, turn the dough back into a floured counter and cut it in half. Cover one half with the napkin to prevent drying.Spread the other half of the dough using a rolling-pin. You can use a piece of wax paper over the counter, it will make it easier to move the dough around. Depending on the shape of your oven pan or cookie sheet, you will make a rectangle or a round.Now, the thinness of the dough will depend on your choice of filling and how much bread you like in every bite.  For your first time (like me), make it about 3mm thin (about 1/10th of an inch) and then adjust from that in the next ones you make.

Lightly flour your pan or tray.

Cover the base and sides with the dough. Using the rolling pin or a knife, cut the extra dough.

Place the filling, making sure it is cold and that all the base is covered. Using a hot filling will make the bottom layer of the empanadas become soggy. Be careful to avoid adding too much oil from the filling, try to make it as “dry” as possible

Take the other half of the dough and spread it out to the same or less thinness of the base.  Take into account that this “top” dough needs to be smaller around than the bottom, as it only needs to cover the filling. roll out the second piece of dough and transfer to cover the top.Trim away excess dough.Using your fingers, join bottom and top dough, when you have gone all the way around, start pinching top and bottom together with your thumb and index finger and turning them half way in, that way you end up with a rope-like border. As a picture is worth a thousand words, please watch this video to see how it is done: http://youtu.be/CNpB7HkTdDk

When you are finished, make a 1 inch hole in the middle of the top layer. This will help hot air exit the empanada while it’s baking without breaking the cover.In a small bowl, beat an egg and add a tbsp of cold water. With the pastry brush, paint the top of the empanada with the egg wash.Place the empanada in the oven and bake for about 45 minutes. Check that the bottom part is done. Enjoy!

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