Tag Archives: baking

Daring Bakers: Beautiful Bread

27 Feb

Beauty surrounded the Daring Bakers this month as our host, Sawsan, of chef in disguise, challenged us to make beautiful, filled breads. Who knew breads could look as great as they taste?

This month’s posting date snuck right up on me so I’ll keep this brief! I was delighted with my friend Sawsan’s challenge this month to make beautiful twisty bread in the style of the very talented bread artist Valentina Zurkan. I’ve made sticky buns similar to this before filled with lemon and rosemary, so I opted for a savoury pizza bread version and a slightly more complicated shape this time.

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Fudgy Cocoa-Quinoa Brownies

25 Feb

If I told you that some of the best brownies I’ve ever made were gluten-free and didn’t actually contain any chocolate, would you believe me? (I wouldn’t lie about something like this, I promise.)

Let me explain. A few weeks ago, I came across Alice Medrich’s Cocoa Brownies on Food52, which are made with a hefty dose of cocoa powder rather than chocolate – helpful because if there is chocolate in the house, I usually eat it before I can bake with it, whereas cocoa powder is much less pleasant to eat straight. Then I saw Christina’s red wine cupcake version of that dynamite quinoa chocolate cake (seriously, if you haven’t made it yet, what are you waiting for?), and I started wondering if you could make brownies with quinoa, being that it makes such a rad chocolate cake. I turned to the Google machine and found that yes, it’s been done, but that all the recipes very closely resemble the quinoa chocolate cake rather than a true brownie, and while the quinoa chocolate cake is an awesome cake in its own right, it’s not a brownie. So I set off to experiment with Alice’s cocoa brownie recipe and some cooked quinoa to come up with my own formula.

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Sourdough Sticky Lemon Pull-Apart Loaf

20 Feb

Fair warning: February is turning into a carb-heavy month around here. I personally have no problem with this – when it’s this cold and disgusting outside, I want all the comfort food I can get, and this winter I’m putting those calories to good use with some good ol’ strength training as per this idea. I guess you could say my personal fitness philosophy at the moment is eat the bread, lift the weights. For me, they balance each other out. Although when you’re baking a lemon-scented pull-apart loaf with cream cheese drizzle that’s made with sourdough to boot, the bread might have the upper-hand…

None of this is to say that all I eat is bread and carby baked goods. OK, I eat my fair share, as evidenced here, but the rest of my diet is mostly from scratch (just like the baking) and includes a good balance of leafy greens, fruit, veg, and protein – just so we’re clear about why I don’t weigh 300 pounds. ;)

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Baklava Sticky Buns

17 Feb

I often get a craving for baklava, but very rarely does it actually get satisfied. Unless you are in the vicinity of a decent Greek restaurant or willing to make it yourself, good baklava is hard to come by. Honestly, I think the last time I had some was when I made it with homemade phyllo (which was a project-and-a-half, let me tell you!) so it is long overdue. I made these sticky buns to serve along with the Montreal bagels I made for brunch last month, and as I couldn’t get baklava out of my head, I made them according to that flavour profile: a finely chopped nut filling of almonds, walnuts, and pistachios, and a sticky honey goo flavoured with cinnamon, cloves, and orange zest. These sticky buns might be missing the crunchy phyllo element, but they really do taste like baklava!

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Baking Therapy {Maple Pecan Butter Tarts}

10 Feb

maple pecan butter tartsWhile we don’t get the snow-covered winters that most people picture when they think “Canadian winter”, on Vancouver Island we do get an awful lot of rain. It’s cold, wet, grey, and DARK from November through to March or April (and then we usually get a repeat in June, or June-uary as we like to call it). I know that complaining about the weather is hardly what you came to read about on a food blog, but my point is that last weekend I got caught in one of those depressing downward spirals of adult worries pertaining to jobs and money, and the dark, depressing winter day outside wasn’t making it any better. So I did what I had to: I made butter tarts with maple syrup and pecans, because almost nothing makes me feel better than baking something does (except maybe for eating whatever I’ve just baked).

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Daring Bakers: Schichttorte

27 Jan

The January 2014 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Francijn of “Koken in de Brouwerij“. She challenged us all to bake layered cakes in the tradition of Baumkuchen (tree cake) and Schichttorte (layered cake).

When I first read Francijn’s challenge, I thought I had no idea what I was getting in to. I’d never heard of Baumkuchen – a traditional German cake baked in layers on a rotating spit in front of a grill, whose final spiraling layers resemble the cross-sectional growth rings of a tree [see how it's done] – but when I got to the Shichttorte – a layer cake made by baking very thin layers of batter one by one on top each other – I realized that I had in fact bookmarked a similar recipe in a cookbook for probably close to fifteen years ago! I thought the recipe was just an extremely complicated way to bake a cake, which is why I had never attempted to make it before – I had no idea it was a legitimate traditional method, and I was excited to finally give it a try.

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Montreal-Style Bagels

22 Jan

Montreal bagels in a basket

In the summer we started a little brunch tradition with friends, but in recent months have let it slide a bit. Now that another set of our friends have recently moved into the neighbourhood, January seemed the perfect opportunity to resurrect our brunch dates and put into action the homemade bagels I’ve have in my head ever since seeing this picture of a brunch starring the New York bagel. Only because I’m Canadian, my bagels would be of the Montreal variety, which, of course, meant looking up a million recipes in order to begin the agonizing process of picking the best one. I eventually came across a recipe on The Fresh Loaf posted by an alumnus of Vancouver Island University’s culinary arts program, who claimed that the formula was from the famed St Viateur Bagel bakery in Montreal, whose bagels are supposed to be the real deal.

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Bread for a New Year

8 Jan

The Canadian Food Experience Project began June 7, 2013. As we share our collective stories through our regional food experiences, we hope to bring global clarity to our Canadian culinary identity. Visit Valerie’s blog, A Canadian Foodie, on the 15th for a round-up of this month’s posts.

This month on the Canadian Food Experience Project, Valerie has asked us to make a “Canadian Resolution”. I’m not a big resolution maker or goal setter (this article outlines my preferred method of forward momentum), but a little food-related one can’t hurt, right? So, my Canadian resolution for the year is to bake bread with Canadian grains, milled at home in my WonderMill grain mill when possible. This list of Canadian heritage wheat varieties is kind of astonishing – I had no idea there were that many varieties, and that’s only the wheat! I’m excited to see what’s out there, who’s growing what and where, and most of all, how it tastes. Bonus: one of the great local food discoveries I’ve made in the Cowichan Valley is True Grain Bread, a bakery that not only bakes gorgeous bread but also sells locally grown Vancouver Island wheat, both in grain form and as house-milled flour.

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Pear Ginger Muffins with Hazelnuts and Milk Chocolate

4 Jan

Happy New Year!

For my first post of 2014, I bring you muffins. Muffins fit in with all those well-intentioned New Year’s resolutions about eating better and being frugal – these muffins in particular came about from the need to use up three very tired-looking pears, which were made into an extremely delicious pear ginger sauce to put in the muffin batter. However, underneath their nubbly, virtuous-looking brown exterior, they contain a little bit of sin: chunks of hazelnut milk chocolate, a large bar of which I “won” in a present exchange game over the holidays. Truth be told, these muffins are more sinful than not – a muffin like this is basically just a rustic cupcake – but now that the Christmas tree is put away and it’s back to reality (ie: work), they helped ease the sting a little.

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Christmas Cookies 2013: The Round-Up

29 Dec

As promised, I’m back with cookies. Or more accurately, pictures of cookies, links to recipes, and more promises. I have recipe posts in the works for two of the following goodies, so stay tuned and bookmark this post as inspiration for next Christmas!

Christmas cookie sweatshop

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