Tag Archives: baking

sourdough and snow

I’m missing out on a great winter workshop this week. It’s a sourdough course at the King Arthur Flour Baking School in Norwich, VT. And there’s a snowstorm. Nobody is going to go hungry.

I just want to grab a coffee and keep drooling over all these shots.

CJR

 

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bakeries

Before we learned to cook, we baked. We’d bake for our brothers who could gobble up a pan of brownies before the pan cooled. And endless batches of chocolate chip cookies placed in alternating rows of 3s and 2s to maximize space on the baking sheet.

Then we dreamed, like so many others, about having our own bakery/coffee shop. But wise folks have reminded us over the years about the delusional allure of rising at the crack of dawn every day to make the same muffin recipe. So….we are good and loyal patrons to many bakeries. Here are a list of some of the ones we love:

Guelph – Polestar Hearth Bread and The Bakery

Worcester Birch Tree Bread, On the Rise and Crust

BostonTatte

New York City The City Bakery and Levain

CJR

bake it up for the holidays

We don’t think you can ever share too many holiday baking recipes. So here’s our post from one year ago. Grab the butter, a glass of nog and get in the kitchen!

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Something chocolate, something with ginger, something rich and buttery and something with fruit. That’s my rule of thumb for holiday baking!

Apricot squares fit the last category, but wait – they are also rich and buttery…oh well, it’s the holidays and I only make them once a year, or maybe twice. They are displayed on a beautiful plate made by my ceramics teacher Kristen Kieffer.

Nanaimo Bars hit the spot for chocolate and sweet. I only make these in December. I have a love/hate relationship with Nanaimo bars – I can’t wait to taste them and then I don’t want to see them again for a year! If you have ever eaten them, you will know what I mean!

Ginger cookies are a great complement to all the butter and chocolate. I like to add chopped up candied ginger to the recipe just to be sure they have a good bite!

Preheat oven to 350 F. Cream together 3/4 cup butter, 1 cup brown sugar, 1/4 cup molasses and 1 egg. Sift together 2 1/4 cups flour, 2 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp salt (if you use unsalted butter), 1 Tbsp ginger, 1Tbsp cinnamon and 1/2 tsp cloves.

Add dry ingredients to butter mixture. Make small balls or use a cookie scoop and then coat in granulated sugar. Bake for about 10 minutes. Cookies should be flat with a ‘crackle” top.

Happy Baking!

HAR

 

butter tarts, again!

The last time we posted about butter tarts, we had a lot less readers. So in fairness to those of you who haven’t been following us from the beginning, we are re-posting our butter tart recipe! We just celebrated Canadian Thanksgiving and I made 4 dozen tarts to bring to our family potluck so butter tarts are on my mind. Here is the post from 12/2/2015.

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Butter tarts make me happy. Maybe it’s because they aren’t readily available in the US that I have elevated them to a magical, anti-depressant art form. Or maybe it’s just because they taste so good. And I am not the only one that feels this way about butter tarts. In the 1999 song Steal My Sunshine the opening dialogue suggests that the way to cheer up Marc’s glum mood is with butter tarts!

They are Canada’s quintessential dessert. A domestic staple, definitely not an export. You only know about them if you have a Canadian friend.

I have to explain them to people in the US as a pecan tart without the pecans. But they are so much more than that.

There is an ongoing debate about what constitutes the best butter tart:

  • corn syrup or maple syrup? (maple syrup always)
  • raisins or no raisins? (raisins)
  • runny or firm? (runny!)

Let us know where you fall on the butter tart personality test! And tell us your favourite place to buy them. If you are in southern Ontario, check out the Butter Tart Trail, a series of bakeries that feature butter tarts.

And finally, if you want to make them at home, I have included the recipe from the Laura Secord Canadian Cookbook—you are on your own for the pastry!

Prepare sufficient pastry to line 15 medium-sized muffin cups. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Pour boiling water over 1/2 cup raisins. Let stand 5 minutes and drain. Stir together 1/4 cup soft butter and 1/2 cup lightly packed brown sugar. Blend in 1 cup maple syrup, 2 slightly beaten eggs, 1 tsp vanilla and 1 tsp lemon juice. Stir in drained raisins. Fill pastry-lined muffin cups 1/2 full. DO NOT OVER FILL if you want runny tarts! Bake at 375 F for 15-20 minutes, or until pastry is golden.

meddling with muffin recipes

For years, I’ve made the same muffin. When I find a recipe that works, and I like, I tend to stick with it. I also tend to adapt it just a little, with what I usually have on hand. Customizing it for my kitchen, I guess.

Anne Lindsay’s Oat Bran Banana Raisin Muffins from her 2003 New Lighthearted Cookbook  had been my go to. Of course, I renamed them blueberry, bran and banana muffins. I substituted wheat bran for the oat bran, blueberries for the raisins, and kept the banana part. I wrote about them here.

Recently, I flipped to the next page in the well-worn book to the Oatmeal-Carrot Muffins. They’ve become a new favourite to bake and freeze for mid-week breakfasts.

In large bowl, pour 1 cup buttermilk (or yogurt) over 1 cup oats. Stir to mix, cover for 10 minutes.

Mix together 1 cup grated carrot, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1/4 cup canola oil, 1 egg and rind of one orange. Stir into oat mixture.

In separate bowl, stir together 1 cup flour (white, whole wheat or combo), 1/4 cup white sugar, 2 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp baking soda, 1 tsp salt and 3/4 cup raisins.

Stir into carrot/oat mixture until just moist. Fill large muffins tins. Bake for 20-25 minutes at 400 F.

CJR

traditional tea biscuits

The power of suggestion is pretty strong at my workplace…when it comes to food. A colleague was telling me about making biscuits recently, and how fast her young son put back 6 or 8 of the flaky goodness.

It got me thinking. And reminiscing. About tea biscuits.

It’s been years since I made them. But a James Beard cookbook (autographed to my mother) seemed a good place to start.

I actually couldn’t find a recipe listed as “tea” biscuit in any of my cookbooks. So under the B for “biscuits” it was. The recipe in the 1961 James Beard Cookbook kept things pretty simple when it came to naming recipes. After the basic biscuit recipe, you could choose the further descriptions for square, round, rich, fluffy, parsley, cheese, pungent or marmalade biscuits.

I kept it simple with the round variety.

Basic Biscuit Dough

2 cups flour – 5 tsp baking powder – 1 tsp salt – 2 tsp sugar – 5 T fat (about 1/3 cup butter) – 3/4 cup milk

Sift dry ingredients together. Cut in the butter (I roll it in the flour and grate it into the mixture with a cheese grater). Work with fingers until mixture is evenly crumbly. Stir in just enough milk to make it a smooth, soft dough, not to sticky to be handled. Turn dough onto lightly floured board and knead gently for 1 minute. Roll to about 1/2 inch thick, cut in rounds and place on buttered baking sheet. Bake for 12-15 minutes at 450F, until lightly browned.

tea biscuits

Eat them all while they are still warm. Cheddar and apple butter, maple butter or just butter.

CJR

 

 

 

depression cake

When supplies were hard to come by during the Great Depression, folks got creative with their cooking and baking. This cake has also been called War Cake and is notable for the ingredients it omits…namely eggs, butter and milk, since those were scarce or too expensive during the depression. Shortening was substituted for butter, water was substituted for milk, and baking powder was substituted for eggs.

The recipe I made was a little more generous with ingredients than the original but keeps to the spirit of the cake. It is described as “an old time favorite – heavy, moist and spicy.” (Sounds like a sleazy novel!)

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Here’s the recipe:

Preheat the oven to 350F

In a large saucepan, simmer together for 10 minutes: 2 cups sugar, 2 cups strong coffee, 1/2 cup butter, 2 cups raisins and 1 apple peeled and grated.

Let the mixture cool for 10 minutes.

Blend together 2 cups flour, 1 tsp baking soda, 2 tsps baking powder, 1 tablespoon cinnamon, and 1 tsp each of allspice, cloves & nutmeg and stir into the cooled mixture in the saucepan.

Pour batter into a well-greased 13 x 9″ pan and bake for 25-30 minutes.

HAR