Saturday, February 25, 2012

Pineapple Upside-Down Pancakes

I am a bit obsessed with breakfast and brunch. It's my favourite meal of the day - any day. And, if my family allowed me, there would be pancakes for dinner more often!
When I saw this recipe in the current issue (March 2012) of Bon Apetit I knew I had to try it out. I mean, Pineapple Upside Down Pancakes....just screams YUM! I like Pineapple Upside Down Cake too, so pancakes and caramelised pineapple combined in one dish - what could go wrong?
The recipe worked pretty well, the only thing I had to do was to make more syrup - there wasn't enough for me. I also topped my warm pancakes with ice cream. Delish!

Pineapple Upside-Down Pancakes
Makes 8 - 4" pancakes
adapted only so slightly from Bon Apetit Magazine, March 2012 edition

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 large pineapple, peeled and cut into eight 1/4" rounds (you might not use the whole pineapple), cored - use a round cookie cutter to cut out the core in the middle
3/4 cup dark rum
1/4 cup packed brown sugar

1 cup flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking sode
3/4 teaspoon salt;
1 cup buttermilk
1 large egg
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
non-stick vegetable spray

To prepare pineapple: Melt butter with cinnamon in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Cook until butter begins to brown, about 2 minutes. Add pineapple slices and cook until light golden brown, 4-5 minutes per side. Add rum and brown sugar. Cook over medium heat until juices are thick and syrupy. Transfer pineapple to a plate; let cool. Reserve syrup.

To make pancakes: Whisk first 4 ingredients in a large bowl. Add buttermilk and next 3 ingredients and mix until smooth. Heat non-stick pan over medium heat and coat lightly with non-stick spray. Working in batches, pour 1/4 cup measures into pan. Top each pancake with a pineapple slice and cook until golden brown underneath and bubbles form on top. Flip and cook pancake is golden brown. The BA recipe says to finish cooking the pancakes in the oven on a wire rack, but I found by cooking the pancake fromt he beginning with the pineapple ring on top, and over a medium heat, I could cook the pancakes all the way through in the pan, However, if you find your pancakes are not fully cooked in the middle - place them on a wire rack over a baking sheet, and finish cooking them at 325F for about 5 minutes.
Rewarm the pineapple syrup, divide pancakes among plates and drizzle (or drench, like me) with pineapple syrup.
Pure heaven if topped with ice cream :)


Thursday, February 23, 2012

Honey Joys!

This recipe is a definite throwback to my childhood. This is a treat that was made, in my family, for bake sales and maybe the odd thing at school where you had to bring a treat to share. I love these, and to proove it I ate four as soon as they were cool enough.
Yes, I know I am crazy - that's a lot of sugar, but they are just so delicious. Make them and you will see what I mean, I bet you won't be able to stop at one!
The original recipes says it makes 24 - yikes, 24, and I doubled the recipe, so I shold have got 48.....instead I made 12 super-sized honey joys. I do feel better saying I ate only 4 (instead of 16). 

Honey Joys
Recipe says it makes 24, but really, I used 2 1/2" cupcake liners and it made 7 super piled-high.
Taken exactly from here at (and doubled)

180g butter
2/3 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons honey
8 cups corn flakes

Preheat oven to 300F and line a 12-cup muffin pan with cupcake papers.
Melt butter, sugar and honey together in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat about 3 minutes until mixture is frothy.
Pour oven cornflakes in a bowl and mix well. Working quickly, spoon generaously into cupcake papers. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.


Monday, February 20, 2012

Royal Raspberry Tea Cake

How could I resist a name like that? What I was really after was kind of a tea-cakey thing, but with fresh raspberries. I wanted a square that was more like a cake, and this is what I found. I baked one recipe in two long and skinny loaf pans (Bakers Secret pan measures 10" x 3"), which turned out perfectly. I just split the batter and the raspberries between the two, and once it was baked, I split the glaze. Super simple, super easy and super delicious. When you need something sweet really quickly, this is it!

Royal Raspberry Cake
makes 2 

2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/3 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 egg, room temperature
1 cup milk, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3-1/2 cups fresh raspberries

1-1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
4 tablespoons cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a bowl, whisk together the first three ingredients; set aside. In a bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg, milk and vanilla. Add dry ingredients alternately with milk mixture, beating well after each addition. Spread into a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish (this is where I split mine into 2 pans, each measuring 10" x 3" at the base). Sprinkle berries over top.

Bake at 350° for 30-35 minutes or until center of cake springs back when lightly touched. Cool 5 minutes. Combine glaze ingredients; spread over cake, leaving berries exposed. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream if desired.


Friday, February 17, 2012

Basic White Bread

This is the bread I make all the time. When I was on maternity leave in 2008, I decided that I would start to bake all our own bread. It worked fine until the twins arrived, and then I was just too tired to do anything extra, except look after the twins, the toddler and myself - so we bought bread.
Now that the twins are sleeping through the night (from 9pm - 6am-ish) I have my energy back, and have started making it again.
In my last post for Vegetable Herb Bread, I said there was nothing like the smell of freshly baking bread wafting through the house, and it's true. There is no smell I love more - it even tops the smell of freshly baked chocolate anything.
This recipe for white bread is a recipe I have adapted from King Arthur Flour. They have wonderful recipes and I am lucky to own two of their cookbooks. There is also a fabulous selection of baking recipes on their website, so if ever you are lacking for ideas, check out their site. You can buy baking ingredients online too - specialty baking products, flour blends, and many things exclusive to King Arthur Flour.

Basic White Bread
adapted from a recipe by King Arthur Flour (from the book The All-Purpose Baking Cookbook)
makes 1 loaf

3 cups flour
1 & 3/4 teaspoons instant yeast
1 & 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 & 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup canola oil
1/3 cup potato flakes (instant mashed potato)
1/2 cup milk, warmed
1/2 cup, plus 2 tablespoons warm water

Combine all ingredients in the bowl of stand mixer fitted with dough hook. Mix slowly to combine, then increase speed to #3 and knead for 8 minutes, until dough is smooth. You may need to add a little more water - the dough should be soft and a little tacky (not enough to stick to the sides of the bowl, but enough to stay in a lump).
After 8 minutes, transfer dough to a lightly greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Leave in a warm place until risen (not necessarily doubled), about 1 hour.
Transfer the dough to a lightly greased work surface and shape it into an 8" log. Transfer the log to a lightly greased 8.5" x 4.5" loaf pan, cover the pan with plastic wrap and let the bread rise for another hour.
Preheat oven to 350F.
Uncover the pan and bake the bread for 35-40 minutes, tenting it with aluminum foil for the final 10-15 minutes if it appears to be browning too quickly.
Remove the bread from the oven, take it out of the pan, and place on a wire rack to col completely. After 15 minutes, brush it with butter, if desired. This will give it a soft crust.

PS - told you I like the butter spread on thick!


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Slow Cooker Lasagna

Did you ever think you could make a tasty lasagna in a slow cooker? No, neither did I. It turns out you can. My good friend, Maggie, makes this all the time, and after begging her for the recipe, she finally relented and passed it on.
The original recipe is a Kraft Canada recipe, and you can find it here. I made a couple of alterations, just to boost flavour, and I will admit, if you follow the Kraft recipe, you will end up with way over cooked noodles. It's very tasty, I just prefer my noodles more on the al dente side. I don't know that you will ever be able to get your noodles al dente in the slow cooker, but we can keep trying.
My one year-old twins love this lasagna, most likely because it is soft and tasty, and from the middle there are no crunchy parts. 
My slow cooker is huge, so I doubled the original recipe - we do have oodles of lasagna leftover, but it freezes perfectly well, for meals down the road. 

Slow Cooker Lasagna
adapted from a recipe by Kraft Foods
1 tablespoon canola oil
1lb lean ground beef
1lb mild Italian sausage, casings removed
2 jars prepared pasta sauce (650ml ea)
2 containers ricotta cheese (400g ea)
400g shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
 2 eggs
2 teaspoons dried parsley
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
12 lasagna noodles, uncooked
Heat oil in a large saucepan, add beef and sausage meat and brown. Stir in pasta sauce. Mix well.
Combine ricotta, half mozzarella, half Parmesan cheese, eggs, parsley, salt & pepper in a large bowl. Mix well
Scoop 2 cups meat sauce onto bottom of slow cooker. Top with 4 lasagna noodles, breaking to fit slow cooker insert. Top noodles with 1/3 cheese mixture and 1/3 meat sauce. Repeat two more times. 
Cover with lid.
Cook on low heat for 3 1/2 hours or until liquid is absorbed. Sprinkle top with remaining cheese. Let stand, covered for another 10 minutes, or until melted. Serve hot.  


Saturday, February 11, 2012

Winter Birthday Cake

I had the honour of baking a 4" four-layer cake for a one year old today. The theme was Winter and the colours were white and purple. How cute is that? My twins turn one year old in about 10 days and I think I might do something just as fun. Please let me remember to take plenty of photos. My three-year old's birthdays have so far gone un-documented, as I am always too busy running around doing a million other things. This is the year it stops and I begin to record milestones.
My dad even gave us a video camera when our son was born, have I ever used it, nope! I much prefer my still camera and I really really really hate seeing myself, or hearing my own voice on a video. I just don't think I look or sound like that :)
I also made co-ordinating cupcakes in vanilla and chocolate with the same purple and white butter cream and white chocolate snowflakes. Fingers crossed the party girl loved it!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Nanaimo Bars

Are they really BC's best known dessert? Who knows? I have to admit that before today, and before half the pan was eaten, I didn't particularly like Nanaimo bars. I guess I had only eaten mass-produced, previously-frozen varieties, and I couldn't understand the hype around them.
Today though, I finally understand the love. These are good. These are so good I have eaten half the pan and now feel a bit ill. Here's the wierd thing - I want more. I want another square. I will probably go to the refrigerator, cut one in half to eat right now, and then in 5 minutes, go back and sneak the other half.
I even cut some squares to take to our neighbour, who gave me the coconut to make these squares, but the cut Nanaimo bars haven't even made it off the counter - and I cut them hours ago. I am reluctant to part with them.
Make these this morning, and I promise you, there won't be any left for tomorrow. Oh my goodness, these are good.
Slight changes that I made were to use an 8"x 8" pan, which I sprayed with PAM and then lined with a foil sling. I don't like cutting in the pan as I don't like scratches inside the pan, but the perfectionist in me also likes perfectly cut squares, and I find it easier to do that if I remove the entire batch from the pan and cut the squares on a big board. I also added a little cream to the chocolate topping, the original is too hard to cut through nicely, and if you leave it to warm up slightly, the middle layer gets too soft and squishes out.
Whichever way you make them, always make them (it's a no-bake recipe too) and you will eat every last one of them!  

Nanaimo Bars
adapted only slightly from here at the Joy of Baking
makes one 8x8 pan (16-20 squares, depending on how you cut)

Bottom Layer:
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup white sugar
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups (200g) graham cracker crumbs (I had crackers, so gave them a whiz in my food processor)
1 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Middle Layer:
1/4 cup butter, at room temperature
3 tablespoons whipping cream (I ended up using 6 tablespoons to get a spreadable consistency)
2 tablespoons vanilla custard powder (Bird's)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups icing sugar

Top Layer:
4oz semi sweet chocolate
1 tablespoon whipping cream
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Spray and 8x8 square pan with cooking spray and line with a foil sling.

Bottom Layer: In a saucepan over low heat, melt the butter. Remove from heat and stir in the sugar and cocoa powder and then gradually whisk in beaten egg. Return the saucepan to low heat and cook, stirring constantly until the mixture thickens (1-2 minutes). Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla, graham cracker crumbs, coconut and chopped nuts. Press the mixture evenly onto the bottom of the prepared pan. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm (about an hour).

Middle Layer: With a hand mixer beat the butter until smooth and creamy. Add the remaining ingredients and beat until the mixture is smooth. If the mixture is too thick to spread, add a little more cream. Spread the filling over the bottom layer, cover and refrigerate until firm (about 30 minutes).

Top Layer: Chop the chocolate into small pieces. Then, in a heatproof bowl, over a saucepan of simmering water, melt the chocolate, cream and butter. Spread the melted chocolate evenly over the filling and refrigerate for about 10 minutes or just until chocolate has set. Using a sharp knife, cut into squares.


Sunday, February 5, 2012

Nutella Orange Cake

Happy World Nutella Day! It's one of my favourite days of the year, and this year I decided to create a recipe that uses Nutella, rather than just eat it straight from the jar (OK, I still ate some, but just a little bit. Well, maybe more than a llittle bit).
I tried to make a wholewheat Nutella swirl bread - that was my original idea, but there must be too much water in an ingredient in Nutella that turned to steam in the oven, and my swirl bread swirled, it just didn't stick together. I could literally unwind the bread. In the heat too, something happens to Nutella. It looks like it splits, the solids cook and the liquids soak into the bread. Tasted good, looked horrible. 
Then I remembered a candy called Jaffas that I grew up with in Australia, and they are chocolate balls coated with a candy orange coating. Very delicious, and I thought that would make an excellent combination in a cake. 
I switched up a lemon bread quite a bit to make it an orange loaf, and then marbled Nutella through the middle. Then topped it with a quick fresh orange glaze - the result is so delicious, the cake is moist and orangey with a hint of chocolate. Perfect for that afternoon cup of coffee.

Nutella Orange Cake
Makes one loaf (10" x 3", or 9" x 5")

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
zest from 1 & 1/2 oranges
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup milk
2 eggs
1 & 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 & 1/2 cups flour
1/3 cup Nutella
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1/2 cup icing sugar

Preheat oven to 350F and grease pan.
In a large bowl, combine the sugar, oil, orange zest and juice. Beat well until thoroughly combined. Add the sour cream, milk and eggs and mix well. Stir in the dry ingredients and mix well, scraping sides. 
Pour half the batter into prepared pan, spoon over the Nutella and then top with remaining cake batter. Using a skewer, swirl the layers so the Nutella marbles through the cake. 
Bake 50-60 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. 
Remove the cake from the oven and place on a rack.
To make glaze: combine juice and icing sugar in a small bowl. Drizzle over top of warm cake. 
Allow cake to cool before slicing. 


Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Carrot Lentil Soup

I was looking for a great hearty soup to make to keep me warm today - and it turns out I had all the ingredients in my fridge and pantry for this one. It's also great as it doubles as baby food for my twins. The soup is not spicy, it's smooth but thick, and it's packed full of red lentils and other goodness.
I found this recipe on the Canadian Living website last week, while I was looking for a bread recipe, and it just sounded so good.
I love to eat soup, actually, if ever there was only soup left, I would be happy. I should make it more often, it's so easy, generally everything just gets thrown into a pot and left to simmer. Occasionally, there are a few more steps. I often disappoint myself when I give in and buy soup from the grocery store - it's never flavourful enough, or it's overly salty, or there is just something lacking. I will be honest, my favourite canned soup is Baxter's, and I love their Lentil and Smoky Bacon Soup. My kids love it too. In an emergency, when I am too tired or too busy to cook, I will generally reach for a can of Baxters soup for lunch.

Carrot Lentil Soup
adapted from a recipe here at Canadian Living

1 tablespoon canola oil
3 carrots, peeled & sliced
1 onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoons minced ginger
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
8 cups chicken stock
3/4 cup red lentils
2 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander
1/2 cup sour cream

Heat oil in large saucepan, add carrots, onion. garlic, ginger, cumin, salt & pepper. Cook gently until onions are softened and just beginning to brown. Add stock with red lentils and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 40 minutes, or until carrots are soft. Puree, either in blender or use an immersion blender, then stir through coriander and sour cream. If soup is too think, add additional stock or water. Serve hot.