Saturday, December 31, 2011

Cranberry Cinnamon-Nut Bread

The newest edition of the Better Homes and Gardens new CookBook (15th) found its way under my tree this year, and to mark the occassion, I made the Cinnamon nut Bread from page 123 with the Cranberry variation. It was so awesome, I gained 2 pounds yesterday!
Doesn't it look fabulous?  It tasted fabulous too!
Tonight I will be making Olliebollen - a drop-donut type thing that is a Dutch tradition to ring in the new year. Come back tomorrow to see it!
Happy New Years Eve!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Choco-Cherry Supreme Cookies

One day closer to Christmas, and I made cookies for a cookie-exchange party today. They were fabulous!

Here is how you can make your own - and in time for Christmas too!

Choco-Cherry Supreme Cookies Recipe
1/3 cup softened butter
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
2/3 cup flour
1/2 cup cocoa                         
2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup candied cherries
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder  
1/2 tsp. salt                             

Cream butter and sugars together. Beat in the milk, egg and vanilla. Add the other ingredients and stir together until well combined. Drop tablespoon of dough on greased (or parchment lined) cookie sheet. Flatten slightly. If desired, top with a half cherry. Bake for 10 minutes at 375 degrees F. Yield: 30 cookies.


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Stained Glass Gingerbread Church

Hello once again! Today I want to share with you my newest creation - a stained glass church made from gingerbread!

You can see the "stained glass" effect better when I was assembling the pieces:

To do this effect (thanks to Megan at Kids First for explaining this to me), just crush hard candy (I had yellow, orange, green and red hard candies in a bag and used my meat tenderizer), place the gingerbread piece on tinfoil, cut out the shape to be stained and fill the space with the crushed candy. Bake as normal for the gingerbread and carefully peel off the tinfoil when the piece is perfectly cold.

Note: Through trial and error, I found it is much easier to transfer the gingerbread piece to a baking sheet BEFORE adding the crushed candy!

Here's what the pieces looked like before they were assembled:

Make sure you use enough candy. My crushed candy looked level with the thickness of the gingerbread, but it seeped a little around the edges and now appears less than half the thickness of the gingerbread.

This is the recipe I have used for years to make lots of gingerbread houses. I don't usually eat much of the gingerbread on my houses since it hardens a lot, but you can certainly make lovely gingerbread men with it too. If you store them with a slice of bread, they will soften/stay soft and be lovely.

Gingerbread Recipe

1 cup butter
1 cup light brown sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 Tbsp. ginger
1 cup molasses
2 beaten eggs
6 cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/4 tsp. baking soda

Beat all wet ingredients together. Stir in everything else. This will be extremely stiff dough. I wouldn't be able to make these without my KitchenAid mixer! Cool the dough if it is sticky. When cool, roll out 1/8 - 1/4" thick, cut shapes. Leave space between cookies on ungreased pan. Bake at 350 degrees F for 11-13 minutes. If the edges are turning brown, they are done! If you want softer cookies, bake less. If you want to make walls for a house, bake longer until the edges are brown.

This recipe made my church and 15 3"- tall gingerbread men. The church is 5.5" wide x 8.5" long. The long walls are 6" high and the roof sections are 4" x 10". The peaked walls are 8.5" high at the peak, 6" high at the side and 5.5" wide.

To cut out the "cathedral" windows, I used a small round cookie cutter for the top and a knife to extend it down all the way. I should have made my door taller, so my gingerbread men would fit in! Oops.

To cement the pieces together, I used Royal Icing. I've talked about it before, but searching for things on this blog is proving to be a pain, so here's that recipe again:

Royal Icing Recipe
1 egg white
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp. lemon juice
1 1/2 - 1 3/4 cups icing sugar
Mix all ingredients together and use immediately or cover closely and refrigerate. This icing hardens quickly.
To assemble the pieces, fill a piping bag (fitted with a medium round tip) with icing (use the full 1 3/4 cups icing sugar to make really stiff icing) and pipe along the edges that will touch the display surface and the next piece you wish to attach. If the icing is stiff enough, two pieces should hold together without assistance. (Refer back to my second photo above. I piped the white icing along the roofline and laid the roof piece on top and it stayed exactly where I put it!)
I've been making gingerbread creations since I was in grade school and I have made one every year since! It is now a tradition I've been passing on to my children. They will decorate it with candy tomorrow! This is our creation from last year:
Have a great week getting ready for Christmas!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Rhubarb Apple Pie with Molasses

Have you ever heard of pie with Molasses in it? I hadn't. Until my husband re-stocked our molasses from Costco. It came as a two-pack, with a recipe book! Imagine! A recipe book suited me just fine. We were impressed to see a recipe for a rhubarb-apple pie and had to try it.

I used up a package of my frozen rhubarb and the last of the wild apples we picked a while ago. So far, so good. It baked up really nice. It looked lovely. I enjoyed it and I think the family did too. Every plate was empty. I did find that it tasted a lot like molasses, and not much like apple or rhubarb. I also went skimpy on the shortening in my crust today, so it came out tough. Since supper, my burps taste like molasses! If I make it again, I will be more careful with the crust and I will go easier on the molasses. I did like the taste of butter in the filling. It was "easy as pie" to make and if you love molasses, go for it! Here is the recipe:

Rhubarb Apple Pie Recipe
2 cups diced rhubarb
2 cups diced apples
3/4 cup sugar
3 Tbsp. flour
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 cup fancy Molasses
1 1/2 Tbsp. butter
Pastry for 1 2-crust, 9"pie

Prepare pastry lined pie plate. Mix rhubarb and apples together and pour into pie plates. Mix dry ingredients and pour over fruit. Drizzle molasses over the pie and dot with butter. Cover with pastry and cook at 400 degrees F for 20 minutes, and 375 degrees F for 40 minutes.


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Fall Cranberry Pumpkin Muffins

I was out of muffins and had those jack-o-lanterns still looking at me and the last of the cranberries I picked at Thanksgiving were finally ripe so I figured I'd try something new to me: Cranberry Pumpkin Muffins. They turned out beautiful! Somebody had 3 and it wasn't me!

Well, I looked up recipes on line. I modified them a little and came up with this:

Fall Cranberry Pumpkin Muffin Recipe

1 cup white flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
dash cloves
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup melted butter
1 egg
1 cup pumpkin puree (canned or fresh)
1 cup chopped fresh cranberries
1 soft apple, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line 18 muffin cups with papers or grease them.
In a small bowl, combine sugar and chopped cranberries and apple. Set aside.
In another bowl, combine flours, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt. Make a well in the center.
In a third bowl, combine the butter, egg and pumpkin. Pour into the dry ingredients. Mix until almost combined. Fold in the berries & apple. Mix until all the flour is incorporated. Spoon batter into muffin tins to 3/4 full. Sprinkle lightly with a little sugar to get the glazed look. Bake for 18-22 minutes or until muffin tops spring back when pressed lightly with a finger.

Happy Fall!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Boo! Halloween Cupcakes

Here they are, my cute Halloween Cupcakes. Decorated with the left-over buttercream and Royal icing from the beginner cake decorating class.

The white ghosts and the orange flowers are the Royal Icing, piped onto parchment paper and left to dry overnight. Once dry, they can be picked up and placed on, or stuck into, the buttercream icing. I should note that the ghosts softened and toppled over in about 2 hours, due to the grease in the buttercream icing changing their consistency. The other icing is buttercream piped with a star tip. Simple. Cute. The cupcakes didn't need the flowers but I had them left over and they were pretty so I stuck them on. I thought the ghosts were adorable! Hope you do too. To make the eyes and mouths, you pipe around where they will be first and then fill in the rest. It was a lot of fun.

Here is the recipe for
Buttercream Icing
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup shortening
 2 cups sifted icing sugar
 1 Tbsp. milk, cream or water
 1/2 tsp vanilla

Cream together shortening and butter until very smooth. Beat in one cup of the icing sugar. Add the vanilla and milk and beat until smooth. Beat in the remaining icing sugar. You may add additional icing sugar if the icing is too thin or more milk if you would like it thinner.
Happy Halloween a little early!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Cake from my "Beginner Cake Decorating" course

I just finished giving the course "Beginner Cake Decorating" to 4 lovely ladies. It ran Tuesday evenings from 7-9 at the local junior school for 3 weeks. This is the cake I made to demonstrate the star tip, the drop flower tip, the leaf tip, the writing tip and the techniques to torte and cover a cake in buttercream icing.

The orange flowers around the sides of the cake were made with Royal Icing. Everything else was buttercream icing. It was a chocolate cake.

Tomorrow I will show you what cute thing I made with the leftover icing!
On the final night of the course, there were only 2 students that showed up. Here is the cake made by the first one:

And here is the cake made by the other lady:

I'm proud of my students. I think they did a great job. Like this cake says, Happy Day.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving Pumpkin Pie

Happy Thanksgiving to all my Canadian viewers! To you others: happy harvest-time!

A week or two ago I was given a fresh pumpkin for making pie. When I got home on Friday at lunch time, there was a turkey roasting in our oven (my husband was decidedly ambitious) so I simply had to make pumpkin pie!

I found a recipe in the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook that had everyone coming back for seconds. Maybe it was how I prepared the fresh pumpkin, or maybe it was the extra sugar I added to the whipping cream I slathered on the top of the pie, or maybe it was that the pie was still slightly warm out of the oven, but it was really good. Children were having seconds! I was surprised.

To prepare the pumpkin for filling, I made up my own method:
  1. cut the top off the pumpkin
  2. scoop out the seeds and the strings
  3. using a very sharp large knife, slice off the rind all around the pumpkin and from around the stem
  4. cut out the stem and the bottom "core"
  5.  slice the peeled pumpkin into wedges
  6. chop into inch cubes
  7. boil in an inch or two of water until pieces are easily pierced with a fork (think potatoes ready for mashing)
  8. drain off excess water
  9. mash or puree with a blender. (My small pumpkin yielded 6 cups of pumpkin pulp.)

Pumpkin Pie Recipe

1 pastry crust for a single crust pie
1 15-ounce can pumpkin or 2 cups fresh pulp as outlined above
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
2 eggs, slightly beaten
3/4 cup milk

1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees F (when pumpkin is ready). Prepare and roll out Pastry for a single pie crust. Line a 9-inch pie plate with the pastry circle and trim. Crimp edges as desired.

2. For filling, in a bowl combine pumpkin, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. Add eggs; beat lightly with a fork until combined. Gradually add milk. Stir just until combined.

3. Place the pastry-lined pie plate on the oven rack. Carefully pour the filling into pastry shell. To prevent over-browning, cover edge of pie with foil. Bake for 25 minutes. Remove foil. Bake about 25 minutes more or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack. Cover and chill within 2 hours.

To this, I added:
1 cup whipping cream

4. When pie has cooled as much as time allows, whip the whipping cream until stiff peaks form. Continue whipping while slowly adding 2 Tbsp sugar. Cover the pie in whipped cream or, for a fancier touch, pipe in a piping bag.

Cut, serve and enjoy!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Sweet Home Alabanana (Bread)

I had three ripe bananas today and wanted to try something new, so I looked up banana bread in my "Eat, Shrink and Be Merry" cookbook by the Podleski sisters. My husband had mentioned that they made a good looking banana bread on their show the other night.

I went to page 160 and gave it a try. The recipe makes two small loaves. They said to cut into 8, but I cut mine into 12. Looked good to me.

I really enjoyed the loaf, and so did my ladies group this morning, and my parents, who surprised me with a lunch-time visit, and I think my husband and children were left looking for more. I do wish I had mini chocolate chips, however, since there were fewer chips when you use regular ones and each bite didn't necessarily get a chip. I also added raisins - I could easily have added more! All in all, very good banana bread.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Zucchini Muffins

When you have a big, lovely zucchini staring you in the face and you don't know what to do with it, make muffins! These are sweet, moist muffins that go over well with the family. I pictured them yesterday among my back to school baking items.

1 Dozen Zucchini Muffins
1 1/3 cups finely grated zucchini (peel and all)
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup applesauce
2/3 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla

1 cup white flour
2/3 cup whole wheat flour
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt (or less)
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/3 cup chocolate chips or nuts or raisins (optional)

Combine the first 6 wet ingredients. In another bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Mix the dry ingredients in with the wet. Stir together just until combined. Scoop into greased or papered muffin tins.

Bake at 375 degrees for 18-20 minutes. They should spring back up when touched lightly on top.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Welcome Back to School Supper!

My children and husband went back to school and teaching this week, so I made a supper for our family and a neighbor family to "Welcome Back School"! For fun, my preschooler and I designed some place setting cards using cardstock, looseleaf and broad black and red markers. I set the table with an apple as the centrepiece.
Everyone was pleased they each got an A+. The menu was as follows:

Back to School Supper Menu
Crudites, crackers and cheese
Red Wine

Sweet and Sour Meatballs on a bed of Rice
Green Beans
Fresh Green Salad

Coffee and Tea

The Meatballs were from a recipe my mother gave me:

1 pound ground beef
1 egg
1/2 cup bread crumbs
2 Tbsp minced onion
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp Worchestershire sauce
1/8 tsp pepper

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Combine all ingredients.
3. Form into 36 meatballs. (I like to press the mixture directly onto my baking sheet, 1 inch thick, and about 6 x 6 inches square. Then I use a knife and cut the mixture into half, then each half into thirds and using the length of a long knife, slide the columns of meat apart far enough to separate. Then turn the pan 1/4 turn and cut each log into 6 meatballs. Yes, they're square, but trust me, nobody will notice or care!)
4. Bake 5 minutes in preheated oven.
5. Flip each meatball over and Bake 5 minutes more.
6. Now you can bake them a little longer in the oven, or transfer them to a simmering pan of your favorite sauce.

Sweet and Sour Sauce
1/2 cup pineapple syrup (or apple juice)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup ketchup
can of pineapple chunks (optional)

Whisk together all ingredients and heat until simmering.

This is what my "Back to School Baking" looked like yesterday:

I made two batches of bread, a lemon meringue pie, an apple pie and zucchini muffins (I'll talk about them tomorrow).  The rolls were still in the oven at this point. The rolls were made using the recipe in my bread book - Celery Seed Rolls/Buns on page 509. I had made them once in the past, where I said they made yummy buns. I wanted dinner rolls to go with the meal, so I tried them again. This time, I did not put any celery seeds on them. They needed an extra hour to ferment beyond the normal two risings, so they were not quick to make, but they did turn out very nicely and were just right for a dinner roll - light and fluffy and good to sop up a bit of sweet and sour sauce! The recipe says they make two dozen rolls or 12 buns, but I formed them into 32 small rolls. (16 in each 9 x 9" pan). That way, they baked into each other and had to be pulled apart, leaving nice, soft sides.

To finish off the meal, I presented my "A+ Apple Pie" to all the students and teachers around my table and everyone enjoyed a piece!

Happy Back to School everyone!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Hockey Jersey Cake

For all you hockey lovers out there, this is a cake for you! I made it for my Canadiens-lover, who turned eight.

It was easier than I thought it would be. I cut a 9x13" cake into pieces. (Well, actually I did that twice, to make a 2 layer cake.)

The body of the shirt is a rectangle roughly 8x9" and the sleeves are what's left over, cut diagonally through the middle and attached to the sides of the shirt. I angled the top of the shirt to be the shoulders and used a small scrap cut off when I levelled the cake to make the neckline. I stuck it all together and crumb coated it with chocolate fudge icing.  Then I covered it in a single large piece of red fondant. I used my ribbon cutter to cut stripes in blue and white and laid them on.

I figured out this technique of rolling the stripes onto my rolling pin, which allowed me to lay them out on the shirt without them stretching like crazy. The rolling pin really helped the process go smoothly.
I used a knife to cut the number and letters. I even "stitched" some of the seams for the shirt with a small knife. It was lots of fun to make!

I had Adam's actual hockey jersey to go by. I was surprised how similar in size the cake turned out. My husband wants the same cake for his birthday!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Lemon filled cupcakes

I don't know if there is a right way to "fill" a cupcake, and I didn't look it up. I just tried something and it worked! Here is what I did:

1. Bake the cupcakes (I made 18 with a white cake recipe). Let them cool.

2. Cut the top off each cupcake, with a knife down into each cake so that you're cutting out some of the centre of the cupcake.

 What gets cut out will be a pointy piece.

3. Cut the pointy part off the "lid", making it flat and giving room to fill the cupcake.

4. Fill the cupcake. I used lemon curd.

5. Put the "lid" back on the cupcake.

6. Decorate the top of the cupcake. I sealed the edges with buttercream icing. Then I just piped the top in a swirl pattern. 

7. And here it is: the delicious, lemon filled, buttercream-iced cupcake.

Lemon Curd  (From Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook 14th Edition p 292)
1 cup sugar
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
3 tsp. finely shredded lemon peel (make it really finely shredded)
6 Tbsp lemon juice
6 Tbsp water
6 egg yolks, beaten
1/2 cup butter

1. In a saucepan, stir together sugar and cornstarch. Stir in lemon peel, lemon juice, and water. Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened and bubbly.

2. Stir half of the lemon mixture into the egg yolks. Return egg mixture to the saucepan. Cook, stirring constantly, over medium heat until mixture comes to a gentle boil. Cook and stir for 2 minutes more. Remove from heat. Add butter; stir until melted. Remove from heat. Cover surface with plastic wrap. Chill one hour.

We noted that when you freeze the lemon curd, it tastes like lemon sherbet! It was fantastic! I used this recipe in the first place to use up the egg yolks I got from the white cake recipe that I had used previously. It was genious how well the lemon curd worked as a filling for the white cake.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Happy Canada Day!

Sorry, I'm a little late, but Happy Canada Day! I celebrated with a big bash and this awesome cake!
I actually made it to celebrate my mom and dad's 40th wedding anniversary. It was a labour of love. Each rose took about an hour to make. The three cakes took about 4 hours to bake. Then the buttercream, fondant and decorations took about 8 hours to do! The small cake was a white cake with a lemon curd filling. The medium cake was a carrot cake with a cream cheese icing filling and the large cake was chocolate with chocolate fudge filling. They were all so good. Only 5 pieces of cake were left at the end of the day. We shared it among the 43 of us.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Bluebarb Pie

Hello everyone,
Tonight the rhubarb called to me once again and then my loving husband brought home fresh blueberries. I was left with no choice - I had to make bluebarb pie. It turned out fantastic. You can judge how it looked:

I roughly followed the recipe for fresh berry pie in the Joy of Cooking, I made my pie filling from:

Bluebarb Pie Filling
2 cups blueberries
2 cups rhubarb, chopped small
1/4 cup flour
1 Tbsp lemon juice
2/3 to 1 cup sugar (I used 2/3 cup but found I should have used the full cup for the perfect pie.)

And I used my favorite pie crust that never fails me. It was a good day for pie and ice cream. Yummy.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Congratulations all Graduates!

Young and old, there's lots of graduations this time of year. My 5 year old just graduated from pre-school. I made a cake. This was for his class and their families to share at the ceremony tonight.
It was a 12" square white cake and the hat was a 6" round chocolate cake. Both were two layers, filled with buttercream. The top of the hat was a piece of fondant/gum paste that I made a while ago. So was the "scroll".

Here are the cakes after I crumb-coated each of them in buttercream and covered the square one in my Marshmallow Fondant. You can see the red fondant partly rolled in the background. I draped it over the round cake to become the grad cap.

I also used the "Congratulations" word I made from fondant at the same time as the top of the cap. I made them from Play Doh alphabet cutters. Play Doh tools are very handy with fondant. I had some mini M&M's, so I randomly sprinkled the top of the cake with them, to make it more playful - it was for a group of 4 and 5 year olds, after all! I finished it off with a trim of painstakenly placed M&M's around the bottom. I tried placing a few of them in a row around the base of the cap, but they didn't look right so I left it as is. That was fun! The pre-school owner asked me if I could make the one for next year and I agreed. What will I charge?
Congratulations all Graduates!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Father's Day cake!

Today, I think I found what I was looking for - a beautiful looking, easy to bake, yummy tasting white or yellow cake. This one is called Buttermilk White Cake. It comes from an old copy of the "Better Homes and Gardens" magazine - February 2008, page 158. I did a repeat of last Friday and made a 6" round cake and (this time) 12 cupcakes.

The cupcakes stuck to the silicone wrappers a bit, but the cake came out easily from the pan which had been greased and floured. Then I split the cake in two.

I made my favorite chocolate fudge icing and filled it. While that was setting up and cooling a little more, I whipped up some buttercream and gave a quick swirl to the tops of the cupcakes. Then we tried them! Moist and delicious, soft, delicate and flavourful.

Now, for the cake, I wanted something simple that said "Father's Day", at least symbolically. Even though my dad only wears ties on Sundays, I chose to make him a tie. A little green fondant and gumpaste cut in a tie shape and another piece cut in a semi-circle and wrapped around the top of the tie was all it took to make the tie part. The collar was just rolled gum paste cut into the right quadrilateral shapes. (A 2" by 6" rectangle was my starting point. Cut it in half, but actually cut out a triangle where the top of the tie will fit. Then trim the bottoms of the collar pieces on a slight angle up away from the middle area.) Lay the collar pieces over the tie and drape them down the back of the cake, trimming off anything that overlaps onto the cake platter.

Then I stuck "#1" on it. Not too original, but cute enough.

Happy Father's Day Weekend everyone!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Rhubarb Crisp

My sister had some rhubarb she was willing to share so I put a bunch in the freezer and then made a rhubarb crisp with the rest to share with her at lunch. It was wonderful! Especially since we ate it warm with vanilla frozen yogurt. Yummy.
I put it in this oblong pan, since it was 2-quarts, as called for in the recipe. I think a smaller, deeper dish would have been better, because the topping would have been thicker. Still, it was fantastic like this and disappeared completely once the children got home from school.

It was so good, you're sure to want the recipe, so here it is, from the Better Homes and Gardens COOK BOOK 12th Edition, page 246.

Rhubarb Crisp
5 cups sliced rhubarb, fresh or frozen (if frozen, thaw but do not drain)
3/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup all purpose (I used whole wheat) flour
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup chopped nuts or coconut (I didn't have either and I didn't miss them)

1. For filling: place rhubarb in a 2-quart square baking dish. Stir in the granulated sugar and the flour.
2. For topping: in a medium bowl, combine the oats, brown sugar, flour and nutmeg and cinnamon. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in the nuts (or not). Sprinkle topping over fruit.
3. Bake in a 375degree oven for 30 to 35 minutes (40 minutes for thawed fruit) or until fruit is tender and topping is golden. If desired, serve warm with ice cream. (Yes, definately with ice cream!!!)


Monday, June 13, 2011

Hana Banana-Nut Loaf p. 422

Bananas were on sale by the box here recently, so the ones we got last weekend are now at the "use me or freeze me" stage. So, I cracked open the Bread Bible and found this recipe. I didn't have macadamia nuts so I used pecans instead. The loaf was wonderful. It was packed with nuts and banana. It seemed greasy coming out of the pan - to the point that butter dripped off the waxed paper that was lining the pan. Once cooled, it did not seem greasy at all and it was lovely. The loaf was soft and smooth, other than the delicious crunch of the nuts. I chose not to use the coconut in the recipe that was listed as optional.

I baked this one on the regular "bake" setting on my convection oven, so the top of the loaf is even, not flopped over like so many loaves I've made in the convection oven! I baked it exactly 1 hour at 350, as the recipe said and it was perfect! Very good recipe. I'll be sure to make it again! I must be more patient when blending my sugar and butter - they need to be very well blended or else you get blobs of butter that will not incorporate into the batter. I'll do better next time!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Yellow Cake with Marshmallow Fondant

Thank you to those of you who have commented to me personally about my blog - you have inspired me to keep at it and keep baking. I was starting to wonder if I still had any audience! Since I do, today I tried a new Yellow Cake recipe. I am starting to try recipes to make a wonderful cake for my parent's anniversary cake.

I tried the Yellow Cake recipe out of the Better Homes and Gardens Cook Book 11th edition page 131. I made it into a tall, 6" round cake with 11 cupcakes. (It was designed to be two 8 or 9 inch round pans or a 9 x 13 inch pan). It baked up nicely and tasted fine, but it was not super wonderful or anything. It was not light and fluffy like a boxed cake mix would be. I looked at other recipes and some used cake flour and some used more eggs, so I will keep looking for the perfect cake.

Here are the cupcakes with buttercream icing and a half strawberry on top! An hour later the strawberries showed their juices, so if you're going to do this and want the cupcakes to remain dry, put the berries on at the last minute.

Now for the cake, and its fondant covering: remember that a while ago in Bulk Barn Buys, I made a batch of Marshmallow Fondant (MMF for short)? Well, I used today's trial cake to test it out. First, I covered the cake in a thin layer of buttercream and then I warmed a fist-sized blob of my MMF in my hand. (It was stored in the fridge). I rolled it on my fondant rolling mat and placed it on the cake, just like the store bought fondant. It did not tear and it molded up easily and evenly around the cake.

When I took a closer look, it wasn't as perfect as the store bought fondant - it had very small cracks over most of the cake. You had to look closely though.

Maybe you can see it in this photo. I think if I had kneaded the fondant more or added a little more shortening, the cracks may have disappeared. Either way, I like the taste of this stuff, whereas I throw out store-bought fondant on the pieces of cake I eat. I'll try kneading it more next time. You can see that it also colors nicely. The blue is also MMF. The pink hearts are not. They are left-overs from Valentine's day.

I used my new 6" round by 3" deep cake pan. This cake was probably as thick as my usual two-layer cake, but I baked it in one pan and cut it in two using my cake levelling tool.  I have the cheap cake levelling tool - the one with the wire. I found I had to start the cut with a knife because I didn't want to break the wire to get it to "cut" into the cake's crust. Maybe with a thinner cake that didn't bake quite so long, the crust would not be so thick and it would work better. I'll keep you posted!