My very first fondant cake!

1 Mar

Well ladies & gentlemen, I no longer am a fondant virgin, or gumpaste virgin for that matter.  So if you haven’t figured it out I have never before made a cake with fondant. Being the baker in the family, I was asked to make a lady bug themed cake for my nieces first birthday that will serve 50 people.  I knew that I had to make something that would hold well and thought fondant would be the natural choice.  I didn’t want to go into this blindly, so this past weekend I had a test run.

I admit that I’m not a fan of fondant, sure it looks pretty but the taste is nothing to write home about.  I contemplated buying ready-made fondant but thought how hard can it be to make.  Turn out; not so hard after all.  For this cake I made a marshmallow fondant from a recipe that I found on-line. People, it took me literary less than 20 minutes.  So I urge you, if you buy ready-made fondant give this recipe a try (recipe to follow). So Friday night I made the fondant and let it rest in the fridge.

Saturday I tackled gumpaste.  As you can see there are no lady bugs on my cake, those I have made before using marzipan.  Flowers on the other hand was totally new to me.  I purchased two molds at Michael’s, a daisy mold and a regular 5 pedal mold.  I used ready-made Wilton gumpaste.  The first few flowers I made were pretty unimaginative.  Then I started playing around with textures and using the tools and got a little better with practice.

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Lemon Olive Oil Cake

26 Feb

I don’t know what it is about winter, but I love making summery desserts.  Maybe it’s the fresh flavours that remind me of things to come.  Momentarily, I am transported into the future as I bite into a slice of lemon cake.  Just for a moment it’s a breezy summer evening then in a flash I realize that breeze is actually the a gush of winter wind that I feel as my husband opens the front door.

Have I mentioned how much I dislike winter, no? But I’m pretty sure that I have hinted at it.  I get the winter blues, no amount of vitamin D will ever cure the winter blues.  As you also may have noticed I don’t do much blogging in the winter. It gets so dark quickly that I can’t take a decent picture that is blog worthy. But every once in a while I come back to my blog and tell myself to snap out of it and to post something new.

So here it is, my Lemon Olive Oil Cake.  It’s one of those recipes that I had wanted to try for a while.  This cake is definitely a keeper.  It comes together quickly and the result is a moist, tangy cake with a hint of olive oil.  The moistness comes from a simple lemon flavoured syrup. I was a little worried that it would be über greasy and the olive oil would monopolize the overall taste.  I was wrong on both accounts.  It’s topped with a lemon glaze which I thought it could do without, but my husband begs to differ.  The recipe actually didn’t call for the glaze, but I wanted to dress it up. Continue reading

Brownies

26 Sep

Let’s face it, there’s nothing like taking a bite into a home-made brownie. The guilty indulgence after the first bite, it’s so good that it’s almost sinful.  You finish the first brownie and deep down you know that you really shouldn’t have a second piece, but you reach for another anyway making a promise to yourself that tomorrow you will run an extra mile (but of course you don’t, who are we kidding?).

Brownies, like the Chocolate Chip Cookie is a staple in North American households.  It never disappoints, only comforts.  It’s versatile batter, you can add nuts, peanutbutter, cream cheese or like I did, dulce de leche.  Why not make something that is tooth achingly good event better?

I had a small container of dulce de leche in the fridge that I didn’t know what to do with and a craving for brownies, put them together and you have one kick-ass brownie.  Want to make this brownie even more kick-ass, accompany it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.  I prefer downing my brownie with a cold class of milk.

For the brownies I used my go to recipe.  In fact, it’s the only recipe I have ever used, the Fry’s Cocoa recipe found on the back of the can.

 

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The Chocolate Chip Cookie

19 Sep

 

Well I think I have finally found my favourite Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe.  This cookie is everything a Chocolate Chip Cookie should be; moist, chocolaty, melt in your mouth goodness.  The best part, this cookie is so dunkable.  Yes people, dunkability is very high on my list of what makes a good cookie.

I can’t begin tell you how many recipes I’ve tried, and yes, I have tried the infamous Neiman Marcus $250.00 cookie recipe as well.  You’ll notice I’ve never blogged about any of these cookies, because frankly they were not blog worthy until now. When I set out to make this particular Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe I didn’t take any pictures of the process, I really wasn’t holding out much hope.  But I was wrong, with a little tweaking of the temperature this was the best cookie out there.

Where did I get the recipe you ask? I came across it quite by accident.  The other night I was making streusel cupcakes and it called for golden-yellow sugar (no pictures of that cupcake either, it was way too dark to take a decent picture).  As I was measuring out the sugar I noticed the recipe in the back and thought to give it a try.  I tried it the next night.  I was not impressed with the first batch that came out of the oven, they looked too overdone and the chocolate chips we barely visible.  I lowered the oven temperature and kept a close eye on the next batch.  I was happy with how the second batch turned out, but the true test was in the taste and oh yes the “dunkability” factor.  Once they cooled I poured myself a glass of cold milk and I took a dunk, and then a taste and then another dunk and taste and without even realizing it I had dunked and “tasted” four cookies. I was in love; my journey for the perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe ended that night.  Now I would like to share it with you my friends.  Even if you do have a go to Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe, I beg you try this one…just once, that’s all it will take.

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Where did Summer Go?

9 Sep

     

Wasaga Beach Sunset

    

OK, so I may have misled you people.  I promised to me back to blogging and well, I did not live up to my promise.  So here I am sitting at my desk at work at 7:15AM in the morning, with a little time to spare before my workday starts at 7:30AM and I was thinking about my little blog and serious lack of recent (can you say, “understatement”?) entries.  I should not have committed to updating in my last post.  What I should have done was just take post that I was taking the summer off. Which I did kind of, I mean I did work but I did spend a lot less time in the kitchen.  The reason…pretty simple actually…it was so bloody hot this summer and the thought of turning on that oven was just as appealing as watching paint dry.  We live in a very old house so we only have two window AC units, therefore, the house it still relatively warm.  I mean it was so hot that I actually went to sleep downstairs on the couch to get some relief.  But now the weather is changing the mornings are cool and frankly there is no excuse for me anymore.  I’m actually looking forward to getting back in the kitchen with my camera, during the summer I have collected like a zillion recipes and bought a few (read half a dozen) new cookbooks.  I find I always do a lot of baking in the fall and winter which is great except for the fact that when I do my baking after work it tends to be dark out already, so I’m limited in how much natural light I can shoot in.   

 Well enough about me.  I hope you all had a great summer.  I personally love the heat and with a proper AC unit I could probably live in warm climate all year-long.  If you’re still around I thank you and I will get back to blogging soon.   

 In the meantime let me share with you some pics from my summer!  

   

 

Sun setting in Varadero

   

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Back from Hiatus

15 Apr

Flower in Battery Park

Folks, you may have noticed that I have been MIA for quite a while.  For this I apologize.  I have missed you and I have missed my beloved blog.  It has been a crazy last couple of months.  When I last updated it was to ring in the New Year and now spring has already sprung.

Charlie girl

Charlie Girl

I hate to give excuses, but holy cow, puppies are a lot of work.  Before Charlie in my spare time I used to bake and enjoy it.  Now in my spare time it’s all about Charlie, walking, playing, park, and the cleaning….oh my God the cleaning.  I’m no neat freak (ok maybe just a little) but I was not prepared for the amount of shedding Charlie has been going through with the change in season.  I think that my vacuum is on its last legs and I’m pretty sure I have single handily been keeping Swiffer in business.  Gone are the days of unwinding after work by whipping up a chocolate Bundt, man I miss those days.  But don’t get me wrong, Charlie is a joy.  She is very lovable and is growing by the day.  We estimate that she is about 5 months and a bit and she’s already a whopping 45 pounds.  Although I have night terrors that she will outweigh me in no time.

Work has also been pretty hectic and I have been putting in some extra time.  That leaves for a very tired Anna.  Hubby and I decided to take some time out from our busy schedules and take a mini-vacation.  Sure a beach would have been nice, but we only had a few days to play with so we decided on New York City.  We both love the City and wanted to go back together, so over the Easter weekend we packed our bags and flew to the Big Apple!

Manhattan

Manhattan

Thankfully the weather was gorgeous and we did tons of walking.  I kid you not we walked everywhere. Our hotel was by Time Square which was perfect and close to Juniors which was even better.  I’m not a fan of cheesecake, but there’s something about Juniors cheesecake that I cannot resist.

Juniors...mmm cheescake

Mmmm, Juniors

Central Park was absolutely amazing.  We’re pretty big Beatles fans so we had to make our way to Strawberry Fields and the Imagine memorial.  Well guess who I saw strolling by on the way there, none other than Yoko Ono!!  I couldn’t believe it!  Of course I had my camera handy and snapped a few shots, while trying to be so casual about it.

Yep, that's Yoko Ono

Yep, that's Yoko Ono

Me by Imagine memorial

Me at the John Lennon memorial

I would love to say that I shopped, but really the prices there are unreal even with the Canadian dollar being at par.  Nevertheless, it was a great getaway and I’m sure we will go back one day. I’m posting a few pictures of our trip for you to enjoy and for me to reminisce.

Central Park Pond

Central Park Pond

Central Park

View in Central Park

But enough is enough; I have to get back to my kitchen.  I swear I could hear my KitchenAid calling for me.  So friends, I make this promise to you I will be back.  I simply cannot live without my oven and flour and moreover I cannot live without you.  So forgive me and in the words of  Tony Micelli, “stick around”.

Central Park

I’m back, with Pie!

3 Jan

Happy New Year fellow bloggers and readers!!

Wow, it feels like forever since I have updated my blog.  Well in the blogging world I guess it has been forever.  As you can tell from my last post I have been pretty busy lately with Charlie.  It’s almost been three weeks that we got her and she’s growing at an incredible rate, so much so I’m a little concerned that she’ll most probably outgrow me..lol. She’s been adapting very well to our home and sleeping throughout the entire night, God bless her.

The house training in getting better as well, of course being a puppy she’s had a few accidents but she is definitely getting better at letting us know when she has to go.  This morning for example I went to take out the trash and when I came back inside there she was waiting for me at the front door not moving, her sign that she has to go.  I would think that in about two weeks or so she should be house trained, or at least I’m hoping she will be.  Am I going on a little too long about Charlie, this is a baking blog after all?  Ok, just one more quick update.  She’s already learned to sit, give her paw, high five, sit pretty and crawl, all for a treat of course. Oh, and I’m slipping in a picture for you all to see.

I found that it has been pretty difficult to spend much time in the kitchen the last couple of weeks.  That’s not to say that I haven’t been baking, I have.  I just haven’t been baking and taking pictures is all. I did make a point of taking out my camera a few days back when I made a Lemon Meringue Pie. I know what you’re thinking, “A lemon meringue pie in the winter, really?”.  Yes, really.  Aside from it being a request from my husband I was craving something tangy yet sweet, I wanted to bring a little summer to our pallets. 

I felt the need to make something that had nothing to do with the holidays or old man winter, and what could be more perfect than lemon meringue pie?  And I don’t mean lemon meringue pie from a box with a graham cracker crust.  I’m talking the real thing; a flakey butter crust filled with a tangy lemon filling and topped off with a luscious cloud of sweet meringue.

The pie crust is my tried and true recipe that can be found in my Apple Pie post, just half the recipe ingredients for a 1 9-inch pie crust.  Or you can make the double batch and freeze 1 crust for later use which is always handy. The lemon filling and meringue is a recipe that from a wonderful book called Baking by James Peterson.

This is one of the first filling recipes that I have used that didn’t call for any corn starch or flour to act as a thickening agent.  The thickening agent here my dear friends is patience, you’ll need lots of it as you stand over your stove as you’re trying to convince yourself with every passing minute that the custard is getting thicker. You many even want to chant (in your head of course), “you’re getting thicker, you’re getting thicker” and before your arm has a chance to completely go numb the custard finally thickens!

I know the boxed lemon meringue and using a premade crust is way quicker than making a pie from scratch, but I tell you all the difference is in the taste.  I would not lie to you and make you spend indefinitely amount of time in the kitchen if I really didn’t believe it.  Make it; it’s worth the extra effort.  And make it in the winter; your taste buds will thank you.

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