As the foodie in my family and circle of friends, over the years I have received a good amount of useful, useless, awesome and/or strange kitchen gadgets for Christmas. And while I always appreciate a gift and the fact that someone thought of me when they saw those silicon pot holders or these teeny tiny tongs or this decorative cheese knife or that Slap Chop (OK, so maybe the Slap Chop ended up at the thrift store…), there’s only so much room in my kitchen. In my case, the kitchen gadgetry gifts are combined with being “the one who likes cats”, which explains how I came to own not one but TWO cat-shaped ceramic creamers. ;)
The November Daring Baker’s challenge took us for a ride! Luisa from Rise of the Sourdough Preacher challenged us to make Paris-Brest, a beautiful pastry celebrating the Paris-Brest bicycle race.
My favourite Daring Bakers challenges are the ones where I get to pretend to be a fancy-pants pastry chef, so despite being several days late with this post, I was actually pretty excited about this month’s challenge: a very French pastry called the Paris-Brest. This pastry, which is a ring of choux pastry filled with praline crème mousseline, commemorates the famous bicycle race between Paris and Brest, and its circular shape is supposed to represent a wheel. Apparently it was created because the riders needed a high calorie snack to refuel them after their 1,200 kilometer race – the early 20th century equivalent of a PowerBar! ;)
Now that fall is here, ’tis the season for everything pumpkin-pie-flavoured – but I have a confession to make: I don’t actually like pumpkin pie all that much. I make it every year for Thanksgiving because tradition, yo, but it’s probably my least favourite kind of pie. I’d much rather eat cheesecake, so this year for Thanksgiving (which in Canada was back in October), we ate both. I made this maple-flavoured beauty and topped it with thin slices of maple-cinnamon roasted apples. It was a big hit at our family dinner, and judging by how quickly the leftovers were eaten versus how long the remaining pumpkin pie languished in the fridge, it was the clear winner of that dessert battle.
The October Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to us by Korena of Korena in the Kitchen. She took us to Austria and introduced us to the wonders of the Sachertorte. This month I was thrilled to be hosting a Daring Bakers’ Challenge for the second time. My favorite challenges are the ones where I get to bake a cake and/or pretend to be a pastry chef, so for this month’s challenge I chose a recipe for a classic European-style chocolate cake: the Austrian Sachertorte. Continue reading
Almost a year ago exactly, David Lebovitz posted a recipe for whole wheat croissants on his blog. I have been meaning to make them ever since, and I finally found an excuse to do it for this month’s Sourdough Surprises project. I haven’t baked with the group for a few months and my poor, poor starter has definitely been suffering because of it: when I pulled it out of the fridge at the beginning of the month, knowing that I’d need to revive it after not feeding it for a very long time, the top had actually turned grey. My heart sank because I thought I’d killed for real, but upon closer inspection it smelled fine and I was able to scrape off the grey layer (which was just discolouration and not anything more sinister). A few aggressive discards and feeds later, it was back to its happy, bubbling self. Moral of the story: despite appearances, a well-established sourdough starter is actually really really hard to kill!
Thanksgiving here in Canada has come and gone, and with it came time with family and lots and lots of food. After the success of last year’s de-boned, rolled, and stuffed turkey, I knew wanted to try something equally – if not more – amazing. Enter the turchetta: a rolled turkey breast prepared in the style of porchetta, which is a roasted pork loin of infinite deliciousness. I’ve got to say, the turkey version is also pretty infinitely delicious, and less work than removing all the bones from a turkey! Continue reading
Several weeks ago we were invited to Nate’s aunt’s house for a “bun throw”, which, as it turns out, has nothing to do with actually throwing buns – it’s more of a family brunch. Nevertheless, I figured buns were appropriate, so I made cinnamon buns. But not just regular cinnamon buns: I added blackberries.
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!