The building where I work has a really nice high performance gym, and I’m lucky to have a flexible-enough work schedule so that I can work out there three mornings a week. However, along with warm-up, cool-down, showering, and making myself look presentably professional for work, this only leaves about twenty to thirty minutes for actual exercise, so to get the most bang for my buck I usually end up doing some combination of lifting moderately heavy things at a high intensity (aka “lifting weights faster“). As a result, I guess I look like I’m working pretty hard, because I often get asked what I’m training for. My stock answer is, “I’m training for life”, but more accurately it should probably be something along the lines of, “I have a tendency to bake and eat a lot of cake and I need some way to balance it out if I’m going to fit into my jeans.” Because there is no way I’m *not* going to bake and eat a chocolate cake as delicious as this one:
Lynette’s birthday in August meant another tea party for us. We headed to the Butchart Gardens, which is well-known for its spectacular flowers and less well-known for its afternoon tea, which is really quite excellent. Not only do you get a lovely afternoon tea experience, you also get to browse around the Gardens and quite literally smell the roses.
Ensaimadas, a coiled Spanish pastry of enriched yeasted dough, were the second half of August’s Daring Bakers Challenge, and I’m happy to share that these blackberry and cream cheese filled babies are probably the best thing I’ve made in a long time. Thank you Swathi for this recipe!
The August Daring Bakers’ Challenge took us for a spin! Swathi of Zesty South Indian Kitchen taught us to make rolled pastries inspired by Kürtőskalács, a traditional Hungarian wedding pastry. These tasty yeasted delights gave us lots to celebrate!
Once again, the Daring Bakers have introduced me to a pastry I probably never would have come across myself, and given me a history lesson in the progress. Kürtőskalács or “chimney cakes” are a traditional yeasted pastry from Szeklerland, which is an ethnic Hungarian enclave in the Transylvanian region of present day Romania. The pastry is now common in many Hungarian-speaking regions as well as the Czech Republic.
Blackberry season – my very favourite season – is here, and with it comes the urge to bake pies. This one in particular came about as the result of a very successful trip to the local blackberry patch – aka, a ditch just up the road from us – plus the discovery of a few apples in the fruit bowl that were getting soft and some local strawberries and blueberries in the fridge.
While my friend Lynette was living in China for six months, she made me promise that we would go out for tea as soon as was humanly possible when she came home at the of June. Conveniently this was right around the time of my birthday, so we made a date for a birthday tea party. Our usual spot is The White Heather Tea Room, but in the interest of being a thorough food blogger and adding another review to my tea parties category, we decided to visit Victoria’s iconic Empress Hotel for their famed afternoon tea (the same afternoon tea that serves these scones). It had been years since either of us had been there, and I think the last time we’d been there together was Lynette’s eighteenth birthday – over a decade ago! (Gah!) Even so, this was not a decision we made lightly, because in July at the height of tourist season is also when the price goes up. WAY up. But more on that later.
(At this point, I’d like to apologize for the photos – I forgot my real camera so these were all taken with my ancient iPhone. Also, there were so many people around that I was acutely aware of being “one of those foodie types who takes pictures of all her food instead of just eating it”, so I snapped these quickly from where I was sitting (directly in front of a bright window) and as a result they’re kind of glare-y from the head-on brightness.)
(Wait. I should just pretend I put a filter on them to make them look that way on purpose. Yeah, that’s it. #nofilter #mycamerajustsucks) Continue reading
And so, finally, here is the wedding cake I made for my friends Sam and Whittney. This is the second wedding cake I’ve made now, and somehow both of them have required me to transport all of the necessary components and equipment via ferry and cooler to Vancouver and assemble them in someone else’s kitchen in the middle of the summer heat. It just adds to the challenge, right? ;)
For the July Daring Baker’s Challenge, Ruth from The Crafts of Mommyhood challenged us to bake a cake. But not just any cake; she asked us to add in a special surprise for our eyes as well as our taste buds!
It was my birthday at the beginning of July (thirty one! how the hell did that happen?!) so, as per my favorite birthday tradition, I made myself a cake. Coincidentally, the Daring Bakers challenge this month was to make a cake with a surprise on the inside, so I made this cake, which looks like nothing special at first…
I’m going to be perfectly honest here: I don’t really get what all the fuss is about with red velvet cake. In fact, most of the time, I tend to agree with the guy who said, “it’s chocolate and red food dye, f*ck that, it’s dumb” (read that entire post – it’s hilarious!). I think that most people who say they like red velvet cake really mean that they like cream cheese frosting, and for that I can’t blame them – but the “red velvet” part just seems like a gimmick. I know it is seen as a classic in the southern USA, but the recipe for the brightly-coloured, dye-laden cake was actually developed as a crafty way for a food dye company to boost sales post-World War II. Plus, I find that the flavour of red velvet cake, which is basically a buttermilk cake made with a tiny amount of cocoa powder, doesn’t taste all that unique or special in the first place and is easily overwhelmed by cream cheese frosting. So when Whittney and Sam requested it for their wedding, I knew I’d have to do my homework to find a red velvet cake with flavour.
Last weekend our friends Sam and Whittney tied the knot (for those who are trying to follow along here, Sam is my friend Lynette’s brother. He is also Nate’s good friend, which is how Nate and I met). We were fairly involved in the wedding – Nate was the best man and I made the wedding cake (more to come on that, I promise!) – which for me included Whittney’s stagette weekend. Whittney and Sam live just up the road from us in Shawnigan Lake in a house with lots of extra bedrooms, so the stagette was basically a big girls’ sleep-over at their house with lots of drinking and eating (Sam spent the weekend at my house with Nate).