Cinnamon streusel coffee cake

I love coffee cake. Especially Starbucks’ coffee cake. I found this recipe and tried it out, and it’s delicious. I screwed it up and did it backwards but it still turned out marvelous!

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Time required: 1 hour

Yields: uh, it’s hard to tell cause it’s round, a fair amount?

Total cost if you have none of the ingredients: $62

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Kitchen implements I used:

  • Nemo the Kitchen Aid
  • two 9″ round pans
  • tin foil

INGREDIENTS:

Streusel topping:

  • ⅔ C granulated white sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • ¾ C flour
  • ½ TBSP ground cinnamon
  • 4 TBSP unsalted butter, melted

Filling:

  • 1 C dark brown sugar
  • 1½ TBSP ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder

Cake:

  • ¾ C butter, softened
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1½ C granulated white sugar
  • ⅓ C golden brown sugar
  • 2½ tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp coffee extract
  • 3 eggs
  • ¾ C plain Greek yogurt
  • 1¼ C milk
  • 3¾ C flour

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 176°C or 350°F. Line pan with foil and grease it.

2. Make topping; in a bowl combine sugar, salt, flour, and cinnamon. Add melted butter, stir and set aside.

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3. Make filling; in a bowl combine brown sugar, cinnamon, and cocoa powder, and set aside.

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WTF. Okay, next time check if your brown sugar has solidified. Toss a piece of bread in and hope for the best. We’ll come back to this later.

4. Make the cake; this is where I screwed up. You’re suppose to cream everything except the flour and eggs together. I put all the dry ingredients plus flour together first. Ooops. Then add the eggs one at a time.

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5. In a separate bowl, whisk together the yogurt and milk till well combined, don’t worry if it’s lumpy.

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6. Add half the flour (hah) to butter mixture, half the milk, repeat. Beat til just combined. Get a face shot of milk when the mixer goes crazy.

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7. Spread half the batter into the pans. Shake it to even it out.

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8. Sprinkle the filling on top.

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9. Add the rest of the batter.

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10. Sprinkle on the streusel topping.

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11. Use a butter knife and swirl it through, don’t worry about being even.

12. Bake 55 min if using 2 rounds (or 55-60 if a 9 x 13).
When it’s done, if you lightly press on the top it will spring back up.

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13. Leave in pan, place on wire rack for 20 min to cool before slicing.

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Verdict: This was great. I didn’t realize how much sugar was in coffee cake. Also surprised by the high cost of ingredients. You could omit the coffee extract but I wanted to try it. I’d use more of that next time, and I’d check the brown sugar first and soften it ahead of time. Chipping out brown sugar like you’ve got a pickaxe is lame.

Playlist:

Corey Hart – Sunglasses at Night

Pumpkin muffins – round 2

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After being slightly underwhelmed by my first attempt at making pumpkin muffins, I went back to the drawing board.  I made some changes to the ingredient proportions and baking time:

  • 2½ C of flour (instead of 1½ C)
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom (didn’t have this last time)
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves
  • ¼ tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • ¼ tsp all spice
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 C packed golden brown sugar (instead of dark brown sugar)
  • pods from half of a vanilla bean, split and scraped
  • 2 TBSP vegetable oil
  • 1 C of pure pumpkin (instead of 2 C)
  • a sprinkle of turbinado sugar

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The batter was really dry. I was a bit worried they wouldn’t settle into the muffin cups but I think they look cute.

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These were baked 18 minutes (the original ones were in for 25). In retrospect 18 minutes was not quite enough, I’ll try 20 next time.

They were cooled in the pan 1 minute before being transferred to the rack.

Now this is the fun part. Use a cupcake corer (thank you M!) and stuff them with cream cheese frosting.

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Woah this thing works way better than a knife.

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And voila!

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Verdict: Hmm. I liked this much more than round 1. Boyfriend-Unit loved them. I think there is still room for improvement however, so next time I’ll up the pumpkin ratio a bit, and decrease the cardamom.

Playlist: Katatonia – Into the White

Patty’s pumpkin cream cheese muffins – round 1

I decided to reverse-engineer a pumpkin cream cheese muffin after the underwhelming experience of buying one from StarBucks. This is my first attempt at making pumpkin muffins, and I made them the morning after seeing Nine Inch Nails live, which really has nothing to do with making muffins, but there you go. The muffins were edible, but have room for improvement. Trent Reznor, I am happy to report, does not require any improvement.

(Update Oct 19: round 2 is much better)

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I was surprised to see that the ingredient cost of this made this the most expensive thing I have ever baked, even steeper than the the Bailey’s chocolate cheesecake. Yikes.

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Time required: 1 hour

Yields: 14

Total cost if you have none of the ingredients: $79 if iced, $54 if plain

Cost per muffin: $5.64 if iced, $3.85 if plain

Kitchen implements I used:

  • Nemo the KitchenAid
  • muffin tin + large liners

Muffin ingredients:

  • 1½ C flour
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp fine sea salt
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves
  • ¼ tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • ¼ tsp all spice
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 C packed brown sugar
  • pods from half of a vanilla bean, split and scraped
  • 2 TBSP vegetable oil
  • 2 C of pure pumpkin
  • a sprinkle of turbinado sugar

Frosting ingredients:

  • 1 block of cream cheese, softened
  • 4 TBSP butter, softened
  • 1 TBSP milk
  • 1 TBSP lemon juice
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 4 C icing sugar

Instructions:

1. Pre-heat oven to 350°F / 176°C and put muffin liners into pan.

2. Combine in a bowl: flour and spices.

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3. In mixer; cream the eggs and sugar until smooth.

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4. Mix in canned pumpkin, vegetable oil, and vanilla bean pods. (Reserve the shell for something else).

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5. Gradually add flour mixture to wet, and don’t overbeat.

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6. Spoon into tray, and dust with turbinado sugar.

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7. Bake 25 min. (Checked at 20 and but still too springy.)

8. Cool in pan 5 min before transferring to rack.

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9. Make the icing by combining everything in one bowl. This is precise science, people.

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10. Use a knife to score a circle around the muffin tops and press the knife down, then lift up, and pry out the top. You will have a little muffin cone lid. Slice off the bottom part until you have a thin top remaining. Now stuff that bad boy with cream cheese and replace the top.

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Verdict: They were good, but the muffin texture really changed overnight, they seem overly moist today. I tried one without icing, and the pumpkin was a bit too strong. Then again cream cheese icing is also a very strong flavour, so… hard to say. I sent my friend home with one but forgot to ice it. Oops. Overall I was pleased with how it turned out, and I think for round 2 I’ll add a few more spices, and cut back on the pumpkin and see how that goes.

Playlist: Nine Inch Nails – Terrible Lie

Patty’s apple strudel explosion

If a pastry explodes in the oven, does it make a sound? More importantly, does it still taste good?

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I researched how to make traditional strudel pastry but it sounds like a nightmare so, not today. I trawled the entire grocery store looking for phyllo pastry and discovered it’s kept near the frozen berries. This is my first strudel and I’m pleased with the results, however next time I’ll add raisins and reduce the lemon juice.

Shout-out to Boyfriend for being my camera man.

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Time required: 1.5 hours

Yields: 6 pieces

Total cost if you have none of the ingredients: $24

Cost per piece: $4

Kitchen implements I used:

  • large baking sheet
  • parchment paper

Ingredients:

  • 3 apples
  • 3 TBSP golden brown sugar
  • 2 TBSP water
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ⅛ tsp ground nutmeg
  • 2 TBSP powdered corn starch
  • ¼ C lemon juice
  • 4 sheets of phyllo pastry
  • 2 TBSP melted butter
  • 3 tsp finely ground bread crumbs

Instructions:

1. Pre-heat oven to 350°F / 176°C. Line baking sheet with parchment paper and dust with flour.

2. Peel, core, and mince the apples. Toss them in a sauce pan with the water, brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Bring to a simmer and cook on Med-Low for 10 min, stirring often.

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3. Combine corn starch and lemon juice, whisk until smooth, then add to cooked apple mixture and simmer for 1 more minute before removing from heat.

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We do not want juicy strudel.

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4. Place one piece of phyllo on the baking tray. Brush with butter, and sprinkle one teaspoon of breadcrumbs. Don’t stress about making this even, doesn’t really matter.

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Do this two more times, then add fourth and final layer (do not add butter or crumbs to top layer).

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5. Spoon the filling down one side vertically, leaving room at the edges.

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Give camera man 2 thumbs up.

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6. Use the parchment paper to support the pastry as you lift it, you’re trying to tuck it over and under the apple filling, and then carefully roll it over like so. Once you’ve got the first turn, peel the parchment paper back towards you.

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Keep turning it, and between turns try to smooth it with your hands to an even shape.

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This was a little nerve-wracking, worried about tearing it.

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Roll it up 3-4 times until it’s at the edge.

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7. Brush butter inside the open edge then flip it so the seam is on the bottom. Tuck the ends in.

8. Dust with a cinnamon sugar mix.

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9. Bake 20-25 min until golden brown.

10. Cool on rack at least 5 min before serving. Mein gott! What is this?

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Verdict:

You want to get judged harshly? Tell people in advance you are using phyllo instead of making the pastry yourself. 

Response from best friend: “0_0 That is really shocking.”

This was fairly simple to make. Aside from the explosion, it turned out great. I may have had a tantrum when I saw that, but I cut it in thirds first, and got 4 nicely sliced pieces, and 2 messy pieces. Cutting through the strudel after it’s baked it harder than I anticipated.

Playlist: Eric Carmen – Hungry Eyes

Ninjabread men

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CHUCK NORRIS! These ninjas are cut out for action!

My friend M (actually I have two friends named M, but this one is the boy) gave me a very cool gift last year and I have been waiting for December to use it. It’s a set of 3 ninja cookie cutters. M has a penchant for gifting me with ninja-related presents and the cookie cutters were just SO AWESOME.

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Ingredients:

  •  ⅔ C shortening
  • ½ C brown sugar, packed
  • 2 TSP ginger, ground
  • 1 TSP cinnamon
  • ¼ TSP cloves, ground
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 egg
  • ¾ C molasses
  • 3 C flour
  • 1 TSP baking soda
  • ½ TSP baking powder

Instructions:

1. Moving like the wind, pre-heat your oven to 190°C / 375°F.

2. Quietly cream together the shortening, sugar, spices, and salt.

3. Beat in egg, to death. Add molasses and blend into the night.

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4. Sift together flour, baking soda, and baking powder. Add dry mixture to the wet with deadly accuracy. Cream together as if your life depends on it.

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5. Roll the dough to ⅛ thickness, as even and smooth as the deadliest katana. Your hands move like a whisper, cutting the dark shapes into the dough.

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6. Release the ninjas. Transfer them to a baking sheet that has been greased with lightning or lined with parchment paper.

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7. Bake 6-7 min. Cool on rack. (Here is Boyfriend taking them out of the oven for me.)

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Oh noes! The ninjas are burnt. Let’s try another round.

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8. Frost with traditional ninja accessories. (I used my basic butter cream and divided the bowl of frosting in thirds. One part I left plain, and the other two I added highly concentrated no-taste black and no-taste red pigment. To achieve a darker black, I added cocoa to that bowl because it’s a lot easier to get black frosting if you start with chocolate frosting.)

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I didn’t use the red dye yet, I’m going to let it sit overnight to darken. Stay tuned for more ninjas later this weekend.

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Go ninja go!

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Verdict:

Making these was a lot of fun. The first few ninjabread that I rolled did not turn out so well. As I was transferring them to the cookie sheet, I squished them. They ended up misshapen and burnt.

For the second batch I got Boyfriend Unit to hold a piece of parchment paper tightly against the cookie pan, and I  plopped the dough right on to that, and rolled it out, cut the shapes, and then just peeled the excess away so the ninjas did not have to be moved. It worked much better.

The ninjas tasted pretty nice. I’ve never made gingerbreads before, they are tricky to work with. I have new respect for my sister J’s skills.

Playlist: Placebo – Running Up That Hill

Cola molasses cookies

It’s only my favourite thing in the world.

 

I love Coke. I like the way the curved glass bottle fits my hand, I like how frost rimes the neck of the bottle, and my ears perk up when I hear a bottle being opened. I love how Coke tastes, and the way it fizzes going down. I also love molasses cookies and wondered if the two flavours were complimentary. I’ve wanted to try this for awhile.

Efforts to secure Coca-Cola extract failed, so I ordered some of LorAnn’s Cola flavouring and added it to molasses cookies. Afraid to use too much extract, I added 5 drops to a basic molasses recipe, and voila.

So how did it taste?

 

It was weird. You could smell the cola, but when you bit into the cookie, it was very faint. It almost tasted like the cookies had cola hot spots, some bites had a wallop of flavour, and some you couldn’t taste it at all. (Perhaps I under-mixed the batter?)

I wasn’t overly sold on the cookie recipe I started with, so I’m going to tinker around with it.

 

Cinnamon rolls (with assistance from the defender of the universe)

I’ve never made bread without using my breadmaker, and I’ve never made cinnamon rolls at all. However!  Faint heart never won fair dessert, so I thought I’d give it a try today.

This recipe is from Betty Crocker Baking Basics – recipes and tips to bake with confidence, which is available on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca. This is definitely a recipe you need to read through a few times before attempting.

Time required: 4 hours

Yields: 15 rolls

Total cost if you have none of the ingredients: $38.

Cost per roll: $2.54

Kitchen implements I used:

  • KitchenAid mixer
  • small sauce pan
  • candy thermometer
  • 9″ x 13″ pan
  • rolling pin

Dough ingredients:

  • 3½ C to 4C of all-purpose white flour (divided)
  • ⅓ C granulated white sugar
  • 1 TSP salt
  • 4½ TSP fast-acting yeast
  • 1 C milk
  • ¼ C unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 egg
  • cooking spray

Filling ingredients:

  • ½ C granulated white sugar
  • 2 TSP ground cinnamon
  • ¼ C unsalted butter, softened

Glaze ingredients:

  • 1 C icing sugar
  • 1 TBSP butter, softened
  • ½ TSP vanilla
  • 1 to 2 TSP milk

Dough instructions:

1. Make the dough in the bowl for your mixer, combine: 2 C flour, sugar, salt, and yeast. (Measure out another 2 C of flour and set it aside.) Blend ingredients well with wooden spoon. It took not quite two of those little packets to get enough yeast.

 

 

2. Heat milk in a sauce pan on medium until temperature reads between 49°C and 54°C (120°F to 130°F).

3. Add warm milk, egg, and butter to dry ingredients.

4. Beat on low for 1 min, stopping to stir down sides 3 times. Everything should be moistened now.

Beat on medium for 1 min, scrape sides 2 times.

5. Now add the reserved flour, half a cup at a time, and gently beat it in with the wooden spoon. (This was about the time I remembered my KitchenAid has a bread hook, but oh well.)

According to the book, you just stir in the flour as you add it, but my dough was not absorbing the extra flour, the lump of dough kept moving around the bowl but none of the flour got sucked in. Bread dough is kind of weird, I’ve never seen it before. It’s… almost gunky at first, then it gets ropey. Hard to describe.

Anyway I stuck it back in the mixer for a minute and beat the hell out of it. Suggest you uh… find your own path to making bread. Don’t follow my path which is fraught with peril. From the bowl of flour I reserved from the original measuring, I used all but about ½ C.

6. Knead the dough on a floured surface for 5 minutes.. (What does that even mean?) I decided to put wax paper on a collapsing table, thunk the dough down, and punch the shit out of it. Why? Because I have a teeny tiny amount of counter space and it’s currently all covered in stuff I was too lazy to remove prior to starting this endeavor. In hindsight this may have not been the best idea, but the timer dinged and my 5 minutes were up. Thank God.

7. Spray a bowl with cooking spray, plop the dough in the bowl, and turn it so it gets covered in the cooking spray (I’m not clear why you do this, but that’s what the book said to do).

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap (whether to cover loosely, or tightly, is a bone of contention). Leave the bowl alone for 1.5 hours in a draft-free area. I grabbed Voltron to show scale.

8. Behold! The mighty process of fermentation. (That’s what the yeast does to make the bread rise, adding the water re-activates the yeast to produce carbon dioxide, which rises.)

Unwrap the dough and press one finger into it. If the indentation remains in the dough it’s ready. I got so excited about punching the dough I forgot to do this step.

My dough hath risen, am feeling confident, half the battle is won.

Onto the filling!

Filling instructions:

9. Spray the 9″ x 13″ pan with cooking spray.

10. In a small bowl combine white sugar and cinnamon. Set aside.

11. Punch the dough to deflate the gas. (Apparently you aren’t supposed to go Chuck Norris on it, just one or two love taps is enough? Boring!)

12. Flour the counter top or wherever you intend to flatten the dough, and use your hands to spread it out.

13. Roll it into a 10″ x 15″ rectangle.

14. Spread the softened butter over surface, and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar mix.

 

15. Starting with the long side, roll the dough up like a jelly roll.

Try to get an evenly shaped roll of dough. Best of luck with that part.

16. Use a serrated knife to cut into 15 pieces. Or 13, or whatever.

17. Place the pieces into the greased pan.

Cover with plastic wrap again, and leave for 30 min to rise again.

Now it’s time to bake those bad boys.

Baking the rolls:

Pre-heat oven to 176°C / 350°F, and use centre rack.

Take the plastic wrap off the tray of rolls, and bake them for 30 minutes.

18. Remove rolls from the pan immediately and transfer to wire rack. Let cool 5 minutes.

 

Now all that’s left is to make the glaze and you are done. Finally!

Glaze instructions:

19. Combine icing sugar, butter, vanilla, and milk. Stir until smooth and drizzle over warm rolls.

Sit back and enjoy the results of what feels like an entire day’s work.

Verdict: God, this took forever. I think they are a little bit over done, but Boyfriend thinks they are perfect. I’d take 5 minutes off the baking time when I make them again. They tasted great.

Playlist: Song of the Hero  – The Legend of Zelda, Symphony of the Goddesses

Jareth’s deep-dish streusel peach pie

In celebration of Labyrinth Day yesterday I made this last night:

Why do I celebrate Labyrinth Day? In the hopes that one bite will transport me to a place guy like this:

Goblin King! Be still my heart.

This recipe comes from KitchenAid 3 cookbooks in 1 which is available on Amazon.com  I bought the book for this recipe in particular actually, have been waiting for months for June 13 to roll round so I could try this out.

Time required: 2 hours

Yields: 9 pieces

Cost per slice: $4

Total cost if you have none of the ingredients: $36

Kitchen implements I used:

  • pastry blender
  • baking pan: 8″ x 8″
  • wax paper
  • rolling pin
  • mesh strainer

Ingredients:

  • 2 large cans of peaches, drained (save ¾ C of syrup)
  • ⅓ C granulated white sugar + 1 TBSP saved for later
  • 1 TBSP powdered corn starch
  • ½ TSP vanilla
  • ½ C packed brown sugar
  • 2 C flour, divided into 1½C and ½C
  • ⅓ C quick oats
  • ¼ C butter (half a stick)
  • ½ TSP ground cinammon
  • ½ TSP salt
  • ½ C white shortening
  • 4 TBSP cold water

Instructions:

1. Pre-heat oven to 176°C / 350°F. Drain peaches and save the syrup.

2. In a sauce pan on low, heat white sugar (all except the 1 TBSP) and corn starch.

When it melts, stir in ¾ C of the peach syrup, adding it gradually.

Keep mixture on low for 10 min, it should thicken. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Set aside.

3. Combine in a bowl: brown sugar, ½ C flour, oats, and cinnamon. Stir in melted butter and you’ll have a crumbly topping. Set aside.

4. Combine in a bowl: remaining 1½ C flour, 1 TBSP sugar, and salt. Cut in shortening.

5. Add water one tablespoon at a time and mix with fork.

6. Roll out crust until it measures 10″ square. I rolled it out between two layers of wax paper.

7. Trim away excess and press crust into pan. Peel off wax paper.

Tah-dah!

8. Drop peaches onto crust, add warm syrup, add topping.

9. Bake 45 min. Cool on wire rack.

The book says to serve warm. I tried one piece last night warm, and one piece this morning. I liked it better the next day.

Verdict: I liked this. I imagine with fresh peaches it would be extra good, but after what happened on Labyrinth Day 2011 I couldn’t be bothered. My big plan was to post this last night at the 13th hour (1am), but I got sleepy. I intended to send Boyfriend into work with some but I was enjoying a pleasant dream about Jareth and I didn’t get up in time. Goblin King, you can peach me away anytime.

Playlist: Labyrinth soundtrack

Pumpkin roll

“Pumpkiny goodness.”

(That’s what Boyfriend came up with when I said I didn’t know how to introduce this post.)

This recipe comes from Nestlé’s Chocolate 3 Books In 1 which is available from Amazon.com.

Time required: 2.5 hours

Yields: 10 slices

Cost per slice: $4.43

Total cost if you have none of the ingredients: $44.34

Special kitchen implements I used:

  • baking pan: 15″ x 10″
  • sifter
  • wax paper and plastic wrap

Roll ingredients:

  • ¾ C flour
  • ½ TSP baking powder
  • ½ TSP baking soda
  • ½ TSP ground cinnamon
  • ½ TSP ground cloves
  • ¼ TSP salt
  • 3 eggs, room temp
  • 1 C white sugar
  • ⅔ C pure pumpkin

Frosting ingredients:

  • 8 oz block of cream cheese, room temp
  • 1 C icing sugar, sifted
  • 6 TBSP butter, room temp
  • 1 TSP vanilla extract

Instructions:

1. Pre-heat oven to 190.5°C / 375°F.  Prepare baking pan by greasing it, then line with wax paper, then grease and flour the paper. Then place a large piece of wax paper down on a flat surface and dust it with icing sugar for later.

2. Combine: flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and salt.

3. In a mixer, beat eggs and sugar until it thickens.  Add pumpkin.

4. Stir flour mixture into wet, adding about one third at a time.

5. Pour into prepared pan and spread evenly.  Bake 13 min, when it’s done if you press lightly on the top with a spoon it should bounce back up.

6. Invert pan onto flat piece of wax paper.  Carefully peel the paper off the back (the bottom) of the cake.

7. Start at the end closest to you, and using the piece of wax paper on the bottom, gently roll the cake up onto itself, and place on wire rack to cool.

8. Meanwhile, make frosting by combining all ingredients in mixer and beat til smooth.

9. Unroll the cake, and remove the wax paper.  Spread frosting across it, and roll back up. Good luck with this part.

10. Cover in plastic wrap and chill for at least one hour.

To prevent roll from spreading out, creatively ram it into a pan and put other items in the pan to hold it against the side.

11. Slice and serve!

Verdict:

“I don’t know how to classify this post.”

“How about delicious?”

“You liked it that much eh?”

This turned out really well. I’d recommend less frosting, the amount you get from the recipe is really too much, it was oozing everywhere.  A thin layer of frosting would be fine.

Playlist: enjoying the silence!

Candy cane crème brûlée

My affection for custard is well-documented. I made this on Sunday, for no particular reason aside from the fact that I just wanted some. It’s still winter (faux-spring if you live in Toronto) which means it is still candy cane season and adding crushed candy canes to my crème brûlée seemed like a good idea.

Good to know before you start:

If this is your first time making crème brûlée, fear not! I have covered this before. Read my earlier posts about my first time making it, and my pumpkin flavoured variety to see the technique in action. You’ll need to make a water bath, and a kitchen torch.

Time required: 2 days

Yields: 6 portions

Cost per serving: $4.59

Total cost if you have none of the ingredients: $27.59

Special kitchen implements I used:

  • mesh strainer
  • 6 ramequins
  • baking pan: 9″ x 13″
  • a dish towel you don’t mind getting wet
  • fire-proof surface (ie: marble slab or glass cutting board)
  • awesome kitchen torch™

Ingredients:

  • 2C heavy cream, room temperature
  • 5 egg yolks, room temperature
  • ⅓ C granulated white sugar
  • half of one vanilla bean, split & scraped
  • ⅛ TSP fine sea salt  (normally I use table salt but I was out)
  • ⅛ TSP ground cinnamon
  • 1-2 TSP demerara sugar per portion (do not add until serving)
  • 1 crushed candy cane

Instructions:

1. Pre-heat oven to 325°F / 162°C, using centre rack.  Fill kettle with water and simmer for later.

2. In a heavy-bottomed sauce pan, add cream, cinnamon, and vanilla bean (pods and shell). Heat on LOW until scalded then remove from heat.  When scalded, the bubbles have just started to form and break the surface.  (It’s normal for a skim to form.)

splitting like mad!!

Watched pots never boil and all, but the instant you turn your back it’ll burn. Not that I burn anything, by the way. Just observing.

3. In a medium bowl, mix sugar and salt together.

4. Separate the yolks from the egg whites, and gently whisk yolks into sugar mixture until just combined.

5. Pour the hot cream through a strainer as you temper it into the egg mixture; add about a third of the cream, gently stirring between each pour. (Doing this slowly prevents the egg from scrambling.)

6. To prepare for the water bath, fold a dish towel until it sits evenly in the bottom of a 9″x13″ pan, and place your ramequins atop the towel. This will prevent the cups from slipping.

7. Use a spoon to scrape the bottom of bowl, where all the vanilla bean has sunk, and make sure each ramequin has a fair amount of the bean; then pour the liquid into the ramequins.

8. Place pan in oven, and create your water bath by carefully filling the pan with hot water from the kettle, until the water reaches at least halfway up the sides of the ramequins.

9. Bake for 35-40 minutes until the edges of the custard are set. Test for doneness by shaking, the centre should wobble like Jell-o. If the whole surface shakes give it 3-5 more minutes. If nothing shakes it’s overdone.

10. Remove from oven, and carefully remove ramequins from pan. Set them on a rack to cool for at least one hour.

11. Cover each ramequin with plastic wrap, and chill overnight.

12. Remove from fridge 30 minutes before you want to eat them.  After 20 minutes, remove the plastic wrap, and use a folded piece of paper towel to gently blot the surface to remove any condesation.

13. Add the topping, sprinkling the demerara sugar on top, tilting and tapping each ramequin to cover the entire surface, and then repeat with the crushed candy cane.

14. Place the ramequin on a fireproof surface  and torch that sucker, using a low flame held 1-2 inches from the surface. Start in the middle and slowly go in clockwise circle to the edges. Oooh, pretty!

15. Return to fridge for 10 minutes, then eat.

Verdict: Father forgive me. It had been 90 days since my last crème brûlée and I was helpless to resist the siren song of the heavy cream in the fridge. I succumbed.

Christ, I’m glad I did. I love this stuff. It’s delicious.

This was good. Objectively speaking, you couldn’t really taste the candy canes. Boyfriend says he couldn’t taste them at all, but I distinctly remember tasting candy cane in two bites. (The cane I used was from last year, maybe it went stale?)

I had planned to add a drop of peppermint oil but decided against it, not wanting to overwhelm the cinnamon, which had a gentle hint of flavour.

Heavy cream and vanilla beans are expensive, but if you wait until the cream goes on sale and get the beans in bulk, making crème brûlée does not cost you much. Buying it in a restaurant can start at $8.00 for one tiny bowl, so when you think about it, making it at home is the fiscally responsible thing to do. Canadians are in record levels of debt, so… you’re welcome!

Playlist: Barenaked Ladies – Call and Answer