Baking

Lancashire Maple-Oat Parkin Cake for a Late Summer Evening

lancashire maple-oat parkin cake

 

With the days getting cooler, especially the evenings, I start thinking more about baking. This Lancashire Maple-Oat  Parkin Cake is a fantastic late summer bake with it’s ginger, treacle and maple syrup flavours.

A few weeks ago, my Scottish cousin, Anne, sent me a lovely little vintage Trex Cookery cookbook. She knows that I love cooking and baking and spotted this booklet in a vintage shop. The first recipe that I spotted was the Lancashire Parkin and knew straight away that would be the first recipe to try. Lancashire Parkin checked all the boxes for me for a lovely bake: oats, syrup, ginger and demerara sugar.  She also sent me a beautiful cake tin with a lovely photo of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex to store my cake in.

Lancashire Parkin is a Northern England Version of gingerbread. It is a sticky, moisty lightly spiced cake. It originated in Yorkshire, but is also popular in Lancashire, which is just to the west. No one seems to know where the name Parkin comes from.

Parkin cake is traditionally eaten in England on Bonfire Night, November 5th. Bonfire Night celebrates the epic failure of Guy Fawkes, a Yorkshire man, who tried to blow up the Houses of Parliament in 1605.

lancashire maple-oat parkin cake

Parkin Cake is a moist chewy cake due to the addition of oats. This cake also always contains sweeteners such as molasses,  black treacle or golden syrup, and light or dark brown sugar. I added maple syrup to my Lancashire Maple-Oat Parkin Cake, to reflect my Canadian roots.

Don’t be tempted by the divine aromas of the cake after it has come out of the oven. After it is cold, wrap it up and store it for 3 days. You will be happy you did!

Enjoy!

Lancashire Maple-Oat Parkin Cake for an Autumn Evening

Print Recipe
Serves: 12-16 Cooking Time: 40-60 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 225 grams flour
  • 225 brown sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 22 grams medium oats
  • 1 tablespoon powdered ginger
  • 225 grams melted butter
  • 225 grams golden syrup
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup

Instructions

1

Preheat oven to 325 degrees fahrenheit. Prepare 9 inch by 12 inch baking tray with parchment paper.

2

Melt the liquid ingredients together (butter, golden syrup and maple syrup). Let cool to room temperature, about ten minutes.

3

Mix the milk and eggs together and whisk until the eggs are incorporated into the milk.

4

Mix the dry ingredients together.

5

Add melted mixture and egg mixture to dry ingredients. Stir until all the ingredients are mixed together well.

6

Pour into baking dish.

7

Bake for about 60-90 minutes. It should be a nice golden colour on top when done. And a cake tester should come out clean.

8

Let cool in the pan for about 1-2 hours, until cool. Then turn out onto a cake rack until cold.

9

Once cold, wrap in plastic wrap or place in a plastic container and store for about 3 days.

10

Slice and enjoy!

 

Baking

Japanese Matcha White Chocolate Cake for a Summer Picnic

matcha and white chocolate cake with green tea

Awhile ago I bought some matcha powder from The World of Teas here in Ottawa. There were so many things that I wanted to make with it, smoothies, ice cream, lattes and this cake. My son bought me this amazing cookbook for Christmas two years ago: Tokyo Cult Recipes by Maori Murota and inside was an easy recipe for Matcha Cake.

ingredients for matcha and white chocolate cake

Matcha powder, for those of you who don’t know,  is made from finely ground green tea. There are many varieties of matcha powder to buy, depending on whether you want to cook with it, or drink it. I used Culinary Matcha Powder, which is excellent for baking cakes and cookies, as well as using in smoothies and Matcha Lattes. It’s also a bit cheaper than some of the other matcha powders available purely for drinking.

Have you ever baked with matcha powder before? Well, this was my first time and all I can say is, Wow! Matcha powder is so fun to bake with! It’s like a little pinch of magic. In it’s packaging, it is dry, dusty and green….

matcha and white chocolate cake

…but once you add butter, sugar, flour etc. the flavour and aroma of the green tea really pops! And when the cake is baking in the oven, the aroma is just delicious.

I also love the effervescent shade of green. If you love green tea, then you will really enjoy this bake-up. This Japanese Matcha White Chocolate Cake is the perfect summery bake. The soothing sweet white chocolate is the perfect match for earthy and grassy notes of green tea. It’s just what you need for a summertime bake.

matcha and chocolate cake with green tea
Besides the great aroma and taste of this cake, I also just love that I can bake a green cake and you will too,

Japanese Matcha White Chocolate Cake for a Summer Picnic

Print Recipe
Serves: 12 Cooking Time: 40-60 minutes

Ingredients

  • 3 eggs
  • 150 grams butter, softened
  • 150 grams sugar
  • 100 grams all-purpose flour
  • 50 grams spelt flour
  • 1 tablespoon matcha powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 70 grams white chocolate chips

Instructions

1

Preheat oven to 325 degrees fahrenheit.

2

Line a loaf pan with parchment paper. Or alternately, coat loaf pan with some softened butter, and then sprinkle flour on top. Shake out excess.

3

Beat the butter and sugar for about 5 minutes until very very pale and very fluffy.

4

Add in the eggs, one at a time. Beat the mixture in between each egg addition.

5

Sift the flour, baking powder and matcha powder.

6

Mix the dry ingredients into the butter sugar mixture either on very low on your mixer or with a wooden spoon or spatula.

7

Stir in the white chocolate chips.

8

Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan.

9

Bake in the oven for 40-60 minutes.

10

Remove from oven when cake tester comes out clean.

11

Let cool in tin for about 10 minutes. Then remove and let cool on a rack.

12

Slice into approximately 12 slices.

 

 

Baking

Focaccia Bread with Sea Salt and Black Pepper

Focaccia Bread with sea salt and black pepper on a plate with butter and knife and drink

The first time that I had focaccia bread was at a little sandwich shop in downtown Toronto. It was so delicious:  chewy, warm, fragrant with olive oil drizzled on top and crunchy with salt and rosemary.

Years later Ifinally learned to bake it myself, after I had bought Antonio Carlucci’s Italian Feast cookbook.The back cover of his cookbook shows four variations of focaccia bread, each one as delectable ss the next.

I don’t know why I waited so long to bake sme, as Focaccia bread is very simple to make. It only has one rise so there is minimal kneading, and it is baked flat  on a cookie tray – so no shaping! And in the summertime, we bake ours on a pizza stone on the barbeque, so you don’t even need to turn on the oven.

Focaccia Bread with sea salt and black pepper on a plate with butter knife and drink

Focaccia bread is delicious eaten plain at dinnertime, or you can use it for sandwiches.  You can also make killer breakfast sandwiches with a simple omelette nestled inbetween two soft warm slices of focaccia.

This bread is delicious at room temperature, but I love it when it’s soft and warm. To warm the focaccia, simply wrap some slices in tin foil and put in the oven on low for about ten minutes, or inside the barbeque for 3-5 minutes.

Focaccia is an excellent starter bread for beginners. This bread bakes up very fast and when baked on the barbecue has a lovely smokiness to it. Baking bread on the barbecue means you can bake anytime of the year.  And the crust is simply amazing; crunchy, hot, smoky. Yum!

Focaccia makes great picnic food. It pairs well with sliced meats, cheese, tomatoes, roasted red peppers and other pickled vegetables. And makes fantastic picnic food.

Sometimes on a hot summer night, we’ll just pack up all our picnic foods and lay them out in the backyard. A picnic in your backyard: nothing could be simpler.

Focaccia Bread with Sea Salt and Black Pepper

Print Recipe
Serves: 4 Cooking Time: 15 - 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • For the Dough
  • 500 g (1 1/4 lb) strong white plain flour
  • 15 grams fresh yeast or 7 grams dry
  • 300 ml lukewarm water
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 10 g sea salt
  • For the Topping
  • 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • coarse sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper (or chopped onions rosemary or other herbs)

Instructions

1

Preheat oven to 475 deg F (with pizza stone) or preheat BBQ with pizza stone

2

Dissolve the yeast in 1/2 cup warm water. Once yeast has bubbled up, add to flour along with the rest of the water, oil and salt. Mix everything together and knead for about 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and springy. You can do this in your kitchen mixer with the dough hook.

3

Put the dough in a bowl that has been slightly oiled with olive oil. Place a damp cloth over top and leave it for one hour until double in size.

4

Knead the dough again after an hour to knock out any bubbles. Flatten the dough until it is an oval shape and about 1" thick. To create indentations, press your knuckles into the dough several times, keeping the indentations about 1 inch apart. Spread about half the olive oil over the dough. Sprinkle on the toppings. Leave to rise again for about 30 minutes, then pop in the hot oven or BBQ for about 15 minutes until the base sounds hollow when tapped, or when the bottom and top are a nice golden colour.

Adapted from Antonio Carlucci’s cookbook, Italian Feasts.

Baking

Egyptian Basbousa Cake Recipe

egyptian basbousa cake on plate

Many years ago, my best friend Bonnie and I took off from Canada for a year long travel adventure. We had planned and saved for our trip for many years; we cut out travel stories from the newspaper and collected travel tips from friends. Bonnie and I were only 19 years old but we were ready for a big adventure.

It was a beautiful spring day when we landed in London, England.  We spent a few weeks in that lovely old city before continuing our travels through the United Kingdom, Europe and into northern Africa as well.

Europe is a fascinating place to travel at any age, but when you’re 19, it’s magical. We enjoyed all the art museums, comfortable, punctual trains, and the beautiful old buildings but my favourite part was the food:  Austrian coffee, italian pizza and gelato in little cups, french croissants, greek baklava and egyptian falafels: all were breathtaking.

Over the course of twelve months, we sampled many delicious dishes and sweets. And my cooking at home is still influenced by that trip so many years ago. This year, while happily remembering our travels, I made one of our favourites sweets from our trip: Egyptian Basbousa Cake. We sampled many slices of Basbousa Cake while we travelled from Cairo to Luxor and to Hurghada on the Red Sea.

Basbousa Cake is a very popular dessert in the middle east. Many countries in this region make their own variation: Revani from Northern Greece, Ravani from Southern Greece and Hareesa from Jordan, the Maghreb and Alexandria. The names may be different, but the cakes are very similar.

egyptian basbousa cake with a bowl of semolina, a lemon and a jar of honey on a wooden table

Egyptian Basbousa Cake is super easy to make as it only requires a few basic pantry ingredients.  It is traditionally made  with semolina and has a surprising wheaty aroma and taste. I have also made it with cream of wheat cereal, and while it has a coarser texture, I still really like it.

Basbousa is luxuriously sweet, with a cold lemon-scented sugar/honey syrup poured over the hot-from-the-oven cake. This technique also makes the cake super moist.  Because it is a very moist cake, it doesn’t slice as neatly as other cakes, but is so so delicious. A traditional finishing touch to the cake is to place whole almonds in the centre of each slice.

egyptian basbousa cake in a tin

This cake will keep for serveral days. It is excellent with tea or coffee. It would also be an excellent addition to an afternoon picnic on the beach. If you want to ramp this cake up a notch, served it with a dollop thick whipped cream.

Egyptian Basbousa Cake

Egyptian Basboussa Cake

Print Recipe
Serves: 16 Cooking Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups semolina (you can also use cream of wheat cereal)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 cup of yogurt
  • syrup
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

Instructions

1

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2

Grease a baking pan 9 X 9 inches.

3

Whip the butter and sugar until well blended and a pale yellow colour.

4

Add the eggs one at a time.

5

In a separate bowl, mix the semolina and baking powder and soda.

6

Add dry mixture and yogurt to butter/sugar mix, alternating between the dry mix and the yogurt.

7

Pour into greased pan.

8

Bake in oven for 30 minutes, or until cake tester comes out clean and the cake is slightly golden on top.

9

While the cake is baking, you can make the syrup. Combine all of the ingredients in a small pot. Bring to a boil, stirring lots to help dissolve the sugar. Simmer for about 10 minutes. Then pour the syrup into a heat resistant bowl or very large measuring cup. Place the bowl in cold water to cool down the syrup. You could also place the container with the syrup in the freezer until the cake comes out of the oven.

10

Once the cake has come out of the oven, pour the syrup over the hot cake, until it is all soaked up. You may not need all of it, but you will be surprised how much it soaks up. Let the cake cool in the pan until cold.

recipe is slightly adapted from Tess Mallos The Complete Middle East Cookbook

Baking

Pirozhki Meat Stuffed Buns Recipe

5 pirohzki buns

I absolutely love pirozhki buns! Pirozhki buns are bread dough stuffed with a variety of savoury fillings. They are popular in Russia and the Ukraine. This Pirohzki recipe is filled with seasoned ground beef and cheddar cheese. You can also make  vegetarian pirohzki filled with cabbage, mushrooms, onions or chopped hard boiled egg.

two pirohzki buns

A few years ago, my parent’s neighbour mentioned how he loved to make homemade buns stuffed with meat and cheese. He would freeze them and then pack them up for lunch on a workday. I had never heard of that idea but loved it right away.

Last week, I baked up some meat filled buns for my husband’s lunch and he couldn’t have been happier. After he polished off my first batch, he said, “When are you making more?”.

pirozhki bun

The dough for these pirohzki is made with sour cream. I love the tart and creamy flavour it imparts. You could also use regular bread dough without sour cream. Or pastry dough or puff pastry if you want something flaky.  Personally, I love that fresh bread taste, as opposed to pastry.

The seasoned ground beef and cubes of cheddar cheese wrapped inside the rich bread dough tastes amazing! Almost like a hamburger without the toppings – but better! My pirozhki were about six inches long, which is great for a packed lunch. You can also make them smaller if you wanted to serve them with soup.

As I researched  pirohzki I discovered many similar buns from around the world. Greece makes a deep fried version called pirouskia.  In Iran, pirashki is sweet and filled with custard. Estonia makes pirukad which has a meat and chopped hard boiled egg filling. In Finland, karelian pastries (open-faced egg tarts) are very popular and eaten for breakfast. And in Japan they fill their savoury buns with curry. They all sound amazing to me!

I hope you enjoy these as much as we have. If you experiment with a different filling – let me know. There are so many variations to try. Pirozhki are so versatile!

pirozhki meat filled buns

Pirozhki Meat Stuffed Buns Recipe

Print Recipe
Serves: 16 Cooking Time: 15-20

Ingredients

  • Dough
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour (480 grams)
  • 1/2 cup sour cream (113)
  • 1/4 cup softened butter (57)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • tsp salt
  • 2 1/2 tsp active yeast (or 1 package)
  • Filling
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 1/2 tbsp chili powder
  • 250 grams ground beef
  • 170 grams cubed cheddar cheese
  • 1 large egg mixed with 1 tbsp water to spread on dough

Instructions

1

Dough: Proof yeast in water for 5 minutes. Add flour, salt, sugar, sour cream, soft butter and eggs to mixing bowl. Using dough hook, mix until all ingredients are thoroughly incorporated.

2

Rub olive oil in a separate medium sized bowl and place dough in bowl. Let dough sit for about 90 minutes, until puffed up. It does not need to be double in bulk.

3

For Filling: heat oil in pan, add onion and garlic cloves. Saute until onions are soft and garlic is fragrant. Add chilli powder, salt and pepper and mix in. Add ground beef and cook until no longer pink.

4

Place beef mixture in a bowl and let cool until room temperature. Then stir in cheese. You can make this filling ahead of time and store it in the fridge until ready to use.

5

Divide the dough into 16 equal sized pieces. This is easiest if you have a scale. Each piece of dough should weight about 2 oz or 55-57 grams each. If you do not have a scale, just try to make sure each bun is close to the same size. (A tip to get similar sized dough balls: flatten dough slightly, and then divide dough in half, then divide each half in half so that you have four equal sized pieces of dough. Divide each piece in half again, and now you'll have 8 pieces. Divide each of the 8 pieces in half to get 16.)

6

Shape each piece of dough into a nice ball shape. Place on a parchment lined baking tray, cover with a clean tea towel and let rest for 15 minutes.

7

Flatten each piece of dough into a 5 inch oval shape. Brush the surface with the egg wash. Scoop up about 2 tablespoons of filling and place it in the centre. Pull the dough over the filling and seal the opposite edges.

8

Place on baking sheet and let it rest for one hour, until slightly puffy.

9

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F, about 10-15 minutes before the end of the rise. Brush the egg wash over the buns.

10

Bake the buns for 15-20 minutes, until they are a nice golden brown. Don't worry if some of the seams come undone. Remove from oven and place on wire rack for about 15 minutes before eating.

11

Any leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator when thoroughly cooled. You can eat these hot or at room temperature.

12

Pirozhki can also be frozen for up to one month. Defrost in the refrigerator overnight.

Adapted slightly from King Arthur Flour Stuffed Buns

 

Baking

Lemon-Elderflower Savarin Cake

lemon elderflower savarin cake

With the big Royal Wedding coming up, it’s hard to ignore the ongoings of the Royal Family. Especially when you have a British Mum.

My Mum always had something to say about the Royal Family when we were growing up. I can remember her commenting on many big royal events: the death of the Queen Mum, the retirement of the Royal Britannia, anything to do with Wallis Simpson or King Edward VIII (My Mum told she she cried and cried when King Edward VIII abdicated the throne in 1936)  or trips around the world by Queen Elizabeth. My Mum was the expert on all things royal in our house!

So, it’s no surprise that I have inherited my mum’s interest in this fascinating family. I will be watching the ceremony this Saturday and wishing my Mum was around to watch it with me.  I will certainly enjoy the music, admire the Bride’s dress and try and spot the most unusual fascinator, but,  like most foodies, it’s the cake that I’m particularly interested in. I’ve seen some photos of Royal Wedding Cakes in the past and they are utterly stunning.

I read in the news a few weeks ago, that the bride had chosen a lemon elderflower cake as their wedding cake. So, to celebrate this auspicious occasion, I wanted to bake a cake with those same flavours. But I didn’t want an after dinner cake, per se: layered and smothered in buttercream frosting. I wanted a cake that Canadians could nibble on alongside tea or coffee while they watch the wedding. There will be much to ooh and aah over such as, the bride’s gown, Queen Elizabeth’s outfit as well as the gorgeous music,

I chose a Savarin cake, because cakes soaked in a sweet syrup after baking are some of my favorites. This cake pairs exceptionally well with fresh fruit and a dairy topping which is so perfect for mid-morning noshing.

lemon elderflower savarin cake

Savarin Cake is interesting because it is made with yeast and not with baking powder or baking soda.

 

lemon elderflower savarin cake

The batter is left to rise first in the mixing bowl and then transferred into the cake pan where it is left to rise 3/4 of the way up the pan.

 

Lemon Elderflower Savarin Cake

The batter is baked in a greased bundt or savarin cake pan in a medium hot oven for about 30 minutes, until a light golden brown.

lemon elderflower savarin cake
When the pan has cooled down a little, turn the cake out onto a cake rack, with a plate underneath. Pour the sugar syrup over the cake.

 

lemon elderflower savarin cake

I filled my Lemon-Elderflower Savarin Cake with whipped yogurt and cream topped with  fresh blueberries and strawberries. It’s delicious anytime of day!

While Savarin cake is not British, it does have an interesting history behind it. FOllow the  links at the end of this post for more informatiin about this delicious cake.

The Royal Wedding will take place on May 19th at t St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle. Click on the link below to read up on this very interesting relic.

Enjoy the event! I’m sure it’s going to be fun!

If you enjoy reading about food history, here is some interesting information on Savarin Cakes.

history of savarin cakes

More on Savarins and Babas

Brillat-Savarin

St. George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle

Lemon Elderflower Savarin Cake with Fresh Fruit and Maple Whipped Yogurt and Cream Topping

Print Recipe
Serves: 16 Cooking Time: 35

Ingredients

  • For the cake:
  • 350 grams white flour
  • 50 grams sugar
  • 10 grams active yeast
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 6 eggs
  • 180 grams butter, very soft, in large cubes
  • zest of one lemon
  • for the syrup
  • 300 grams sugar
  • 150 ml water
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 100 ml St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur
  • for the topping
  • 1 cup greek yogurt
  • 3/4 cup whipping cream
  • 3 tablespoons of maple syrup (can also use honey, agave syrup or treacle)
  • fresh fruit

Instructions

1

Proof the yeast in 2 tbsp water.

2

Mix the flour and sugar together.

3

Mix the eggs, then add the lemon juice. Add in the yeast.

4

Add this egg mixture into the flour and sugar and mix until combined.

5

Add in the softened cubes of butter, one piece at a time, until the butter is fully incorporated.

6

Add the lemon zest and stir until incorporated.

7

Cover bowl with cling wrap and let sit for one hour to rise.

8

Grease bundt or savarin pan.

9

Spoon batter into pan. Let sit for 45-60 minutes until risen 3/4 of the way up the pan.

10

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

11

Place pan in oven and bake for 25-35 minutes until a light golden brown.

12

When pan has cooled slightly, turn cake upside down. Pour 3/4 of the sugar syrup into the empty cake pan, then place baked cake back into syrup filled pan. Leave for 3-4 minutes.

13

Carefully, turn cake out of cake pan onto wire rack and place on top of a plate. Leave cake to cool completely, letting syrup drip through onto the plate.

14

When the cake has cooled completely, place it on the plate to soak up any remaining syrup.

15

For the Topping: In a mixer bowl, add 1 cup of greek yogurt, 3/4 cup of whipping cream, 3 tablespoons of maple syrup. Turn mixer to medium high and whip until desired consistency is formed.

16

Fill centre of cake with topping and pile fresh fruit on top.

17

Enjoy!

recipe adapted slightly from Paul Hollywood’s Savarin Cake

dairy topping adapted slightly from Serious Eats

Baking

Bakewell Tart

I found a recipe card for Bakewell Tart in my Mum’s recipe box the other day: short crust pastry, raspberry jam, frangipane, icing!!! ‘Yum’, I thought. I just had to bake one!

Bakewell Tart is not very popular outside of Britain. Bakewell Tarts originate from the small village of Bakewell, Derbyshire. It is made from short crust pastry covered with a layer of jam (usually raspberry) and filled with frangipane and then iced on top. The tart can be spread with a layer of icing or just a drizzle, depending on how sweet you would like your tart.

 

short crust pastry
Roll the short crust pastry to a thickness of 4 mm. This is the thickness of a British one pound coin or two Canadian $2 coins.

short crust pastry

Place the pastry in a fluted pan and then place in the refrigerator to keep it cold before baking.

short crust pastry

Bake the pastry in the oven with pie weights or beans. Remove the weights and then bake for about five minutes by itself.

bakewell tart recipe

But wait! I thought. This recipe box contained all of our family’s favourite recipes that Mum baked over and over again. I don’t remember my Mum ever making Bakewell Tart.

I’m sure my Mum must have had a Bakewell Tart at some point during her youth. Perhaps during a summer outing with her family? And she probably made it once or twice for my Dad in Canada.

Where ever my Mum got the recipe and why will forever remain a secret. I’m sure that when she was writing out the recipe, it brought back many happy memories.  But that will always remain a mystery.

bakewell tart

Spread the cooled short crust pastry with raspberry jam, fill with frangipane and then bake in the oven until set and golden.

bakewell tart with flowersDecorate with icing when the tart is cold.

bouquet of flowers

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom! Love you!

Bakewell Tart

Print Recipe
Serves: 10 Cooking Time: 1 hour

Ingredients

  • for the jam
  • 250 grams raspberries (frozen or fresh)
  • 22 g sugar
  • juice from 1/2 a lemon
  • for the sweet shortcrust pastry
  • 225 g plain flour
  • finely grated zest of 1/2 a lemon
  • 150 g butter, diced and cold
  • 25 g icing sugar
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • For the filling
  • 150 g butter, soft
  • 150 g sugar
  • 150 g ground almonds
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • for the icing
  • 300 grams icing sugar
  • 3 tbsps water
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • food colouring gel

Instructions

1

Jam: Add raspberries, sugar and lemon juice to a pot. Bring to a boil and then let simmer for about 12 minutes until thickened.

2

Place in refrigerator to firm up.

3

Pastry: Add the flour to a medium sized bowl, add the diced cold butter and rub together with your fingertips until it resembles find breadcrumbs. Add in the icing sugar. Mix the egg and ice cold water together and add to bowl. Mix until a soft dough is formed.

4

Lightly sprinkle your table with a bit of flour. Roll out the dough to a thickness of just under 4 mm (one pound coin or 2 Canadian $2 coins). Place the rolled dough into a fluted tin. Trim dough, but let it still overhang a bit as it will shrink somewhat.

5

Chill for about 30 minutes.

6

Preheat oven to 390 degrees F.

7

Before you put the pastry in the oven, place some non-stick parchment paper over top of the pastry, fill tin with pie weights and bake for 15 minutes. Then, remove the beans and cook by itself for 5 minutes to dry out the bottom.

8

Remove from oven and let cool.

9

Once the pastry has cooled, spread it with four tablespoons of the jam.

10

reduce the oven temperature to 355 degrees F.

11

To make the frangipane, cream the butter and sugar together until nice and fluffy and pale. Add the egg, ground almonds and almond extract. Mix together until everything is incorporated. Spoon or pipe the mixture on top of the jam smoothing the top.

12

Place the tin back in the oven on a tray and bake for 25-35 minutes. The frangipane should be a golden brown. Also, a cake skewer when inserted into the middle of the cake, should come out clean.

13

Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely in the tin.

14

To remove the cake tin, place the tin on top of something tall and narrow, like a tupperware container. Remove the sides of the tin and then place the Bakewell Tart on a cake platter.

15

To decorate: Mix together the icing sugar, water and almond extract. Place about 3 tbsp of this icing in a separate bowl and add a few drops of food colouring. Spoon the white icing all over the top of the tart. Pipe several lines of coloured icing across the tart. Drag a toothpick or cocktail stick through the lines to create a feathered look.

slightly adapted from Mary Berry’s Bakewell Tart  from The Great British Bake-Off.

Baking

Tomato Soup Cake

tomato soup cake with coffee mug

A favourite snacking cake when I was growing up was Tomato Soup Cake. My mom would make it for lunches or for an after-school snack.  She got the recipe from my paternal grandmother, after her and my Dad were married so she could bake it for him. Tomato Soup Cake has been around a long time and was a family favourite back when my Dad was growing up on the farm in the 1920’s and 1930’s.

We always loved this cake and never once questioned the name of it. It didn’t taste or smell like tomatoes but was a beautiful rose colour with a spicy aroma. Once, while having lunch at school (which I seldom did), my friends asked what kind of cake I was eating. “Tomato Soup Cake”, I answered. Ooooh! was their negative response. I was in grade 7 and had never imagined that as a response to this delicious cake. But that never deterred me from loving this cake. My friends didn’t know what they were missing. My Mum’s Tomato Soup Cake was rose-hued, warm with spices and sweet with plump raisins. With four always-hungry children in the family and a husband who grew up snacking on this cake on the family farm, my Mum’s baking never lasted long.

Tomato Soup Cake is a fantastic snacking cake and one that you will definitely want to add to your baking repertoire. Perfect for a ‘Retro Party” but also modern in flavour, colour and scent, this delicious cake checks off all the boxes for something easy, quick and yummy to bake up either for afternoon tea with friends, to pop into someone’s lunch kit, or an after dinner dessert. This rose-coloured moist cake, aromatic with cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves and dotted with plump raisins is just so good. You can serve it with cream cheese icing, but my Mom just served it up plain, or sprinkled with icing sugar. It’s so moist, sweet and heavenly-scented with spices that you really don’t need extra icing. But you could add it if you prefer the extra creamy sweetness.

When I got married, a friend of my mom’s gave me a cake pan, a wooden spoon and her recipe for Tomato Soup Cake. I thought that was the sweetest gift! Now I bake Tomato Soup Cake for my own kids. Everyone in our family loves it.

slice of tomato soup cake

Enjoy!

Tomato Soup Cake

Print Recipe
Serves: 16 Cooking Time: 55 minutes

Ingredients

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp grated nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 3/4 c. shortening
  • 1 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 10-ounce can condensed tomato soup
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 cup raisins

Instructions

1

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2

Mix together the flour, baking powder and spices.

3

Cream the butter, sugar and eggs until fluffy.

4

Mix soup, water and baking soda.

5

Let this mixture sit for a few minutes, then stir into butter/egg/sugar mixture.

6

Stir in dry ingredients and raisins.

7

Spoon batter into a greased 13 X 9 inch pan.

8

Bake 55 minutes or until golden brown.

More reading about Tomato Soup Cake

The History behind Campbell’s Tomato Soup Cake

A Good Little Read from The Kitchn about Tomato Soup Cake

Baking

Easter Simnel Mini Cakes Recipe

simnel cakes on a plate

Easter Sunday dinner is fun to plan because it’s easy to try something new without upsetting anyone. Unlike Christmas when so many traditional favourites are necessary, Easter doesn’t have the same expectations, especially when it comes to dessert. I can’t think of any dessert that our family has at Easter every year.

While our family doesn’t have a traditional dessert at Easter, I love searching through my cookbooks for a recipe that is customary somewhere else. British cookbooks are a great place to start in finding a recipe full of history and tradition.

One cake that is beautiful to look at, delicious to eat and fascinating to read up on is Simnel Cake. The word simnel comes from the latin word, “simila” which means fine wheaten flour. Simnel cakes were traditionally made for Mothering Sunday, which has been celebrated in England, on the 4th Sunday of Lent, for atleast 400 years. Traditionally it was a day when families who lived in small villages would go to their “Mother Church”, a larger church in a neighbouring town, instead of going to their local church. Servant girls who worked far away would travel home on this day to visit their families, and would always bring a gift to their mothers.

simnel cakes on a plate

Simnel cakes were popular gifts as they were excellent traveling cakes: dense with dried fruit and sturdy with a marzipan filling and top they were not as delicate as today’s frosted layer cakes. Simnel cakes also tested a daughter’s cooking skills. If the cake was well made it would still be delicious a few weeks later at Easter when Lent was finished. Simnel cakes are recognizable by the 11 marzipan balls on the top to symbolize the 11 apostles (Judas was excluded).

Eventually, Mothering Sunday became less religious and more of a day to give thanks to one’s mother. The 4th Sunday of Lent is now celebrated in England as Mother’s Day and Simnel Cakes have become a popular dessert at Easter.

simnel cakes on a plate

simnel cakes on a plate

I decided to make Simnel Mini Cakes instead of one large cake. They bake up super fast, are easy to serve and if you have any leftovers are fantastic for a lunch box treat. These cakes are dense with ground almonds and studded with dried fruit. The centre of each mini cake has a disc of marzipan that adds to the elegance of these cakes.

Simnel cakes are traditionally decorated with marzipan on top, but I found that a dusting of icing sugar was the perfect as these cakes are sweet, dense and rich just on their own. If you find them too plain for easter, you could put a drizzle of icing on the top with sprinkles or candied flowers. Or you could tie some coloured ribbon around the middle. However you serve them, your dinner guests will love them.

simnel cakes on a plate

simnel cakes on a plate

Happy Easter everyone!

 

Simnel Mini Cakes

Print Recipe
Serves: 14-16 Cooking Time: 30-40

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 4 eggs, room temperature
  • 2 cups flour
  • ½ cup ground almonds
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ pound dried cranberries
  • ¼ pound candied ginger, chopped fine
  • ¼ pound dried apricots, chopped fine
  • 1/3 cup of light flavoured liqueur, such as elderflower, amaretto, grand marnier etc.
  • 2 ounces mixed peel
  • zest from one lemon
  • 1 pack marzipan, 227 grams
  • decorations: candied flowers, thin icing, sprinkles, or ribbon

Instructions

1

Soak dried fruit and lemon peel for 1 hour in liqueur.

2

Line muffin tin with parchment paper or paper cups.

3

Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.

4

Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time.

5

In another bowl, mix together flour, baking powder and ground almonds.

6

Add flour mixture to butter and sugar mixture. Stir until well mixed. Add dried fruit and stir until all the fruit is incorporated.

7

Slice marzipan into discs.

8

Pour half of cake batter into prepared spring form pan. Place marzipan disc in the centre, leaving a ½ inch border around the edges.

9

Spoon the rest of the cake mixture into tins. Only fill about 3/4 full.

10

Place pan in oven and bake for 30-40 minutes until done. Knife will still be slightly sticky after it is inserted. The top of the mini cakes will be a nice golden brown.

11

Let the mini cakes cool for ten minutes in pan. Then place cake on a rack and let it cool completely.

12

You can decorate the mini cakes with candied flowers, a drizzle of thin lemon icing (icing sugar + lemon juice) and/or some coloured ribbon.

13

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

Baking

Traditional Currant Welsh Cakes

traditional currant welsh cakes

Traditionally, Welsh Cakes are chock full of currants and sprinkled with white cane sugar. I recently posted a recipe for Chocolate and Ginger Welsh Cakes.  But I wanted to post this recipe for the Traditional version, in case anyone wants to try it the way they have always been made in Wales.

Enjoy!

Traditional Welsh Cakes with Currants

Print Recipe
Serves: 12-18 Cooking Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 250 grams unbleached white flour
  • 120 grams butter, cold and diced
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 70 grams currants
  • 55 grams sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1-2 tbsp milk
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon

Instructions

1

Stir together the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, spices

2

Add the butter and rub into the flour mixture until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs

3

Stir in sugar and currants.

4

Mix in the egg.

5

Add milk until a nice soft dough is formed.

6

Roll out on a tabletop sprinkled with flour.

7

Cut out welsh cakes with any round shape approximately 7.5 to 8 cm in diameter. I used a drinking glass.

8

Heat a skillet on the stovetop on medium heat. Add a very tiny amount of butter.

9

Place a few welsh cakes in pan, with some space surrounding each one. Do not overfill skillet. You need room to flip them over.

10

When the underside is a nice golden colour, flip over and cook the other side.

11

Remove from skillet when both sides are done.

12

Let cool on a baking rack.

13

Sprinkle with sugar. You can do this either in the pan while the second side is cooking, or while they are on the baking rack. Either will work fine

14

Serve warm or room temperature.

Notes

If you want to freeze some welsh cakes for later, you can either freeze some cooked welsh cakes in a ziplock bag. Or you can cut them out and freeze the uncooked cakes. To do this, cut out the welsh cakes, place them on parchment paper on a tray and freeze until firm. Then place them in a ziplock bag or plastic container, layered with parchment paper in between. To cook, simply defrost the cakes and then cook following the instructions above.

Baking

Chocolate and Ginger Welsh Cakes Recipe

traditional welsh cakes

I absolutely love Welsh Cakes: their delicate taste and subtle sweetness. They are the perfect treat to have with tea or coffee.

The first time I ever had them was many years ago during my first visit to Wales with my friend Bonnie during our year long adventure. We visited Bonnie’s Aunts, The Bettys (they were both named Betty) who lived in a small village near Swansea on a hilly street (though maybe that’s a given in Wales….I remember all of the streets being hilly) lined with row houses – each one a different colour.

The Bettys put out a proper tea for us everyday around 4 pm. A table laden with cheese and crackers, cakes, bread and butter, fruit and devonshire cream, tea and of course, welsh cakes. I had never had welsh cakes before, but during our stay, I just couldn’t get enough of them.

chocolate and ginger welsh cakes

Welsh cakes are a cross between a scone and a cookie but cooked like a pancake in a hot skillet on top of the stove and are divine. They are slightly crisp on the outside but tender and crumbly inside. Welsh Cakes are made with flour, baking powder, sugar, butter, egg, milk. The traditional cakes are loaded with currants and sprinkled with sugar and are subtly sweet and delicate.

chocolate and ginger welsh cakes

Welsh cakes (or pice ar y maen – cakes on the stone, in welsh) are so fast to whip up. They take, at the most, an hour from start to finish. They are fantastic for the beginner baker as they are so simple to make. And they have ‘homemade’ written all over them, as I can’t imagine too many bakeshops spending time cooking these up on a stovetop individually.

They taste best the day they are made or the day after. If you don’t think you will eat them all up within the first 24 hours, you could cut some out and freeze them uncooked until you are ready to cook some more.

chocolate and ginger welsh cakes

I always make Traditional Welsh Cakes with currants and white sugar sprinkled on top, but this time I tried a new variation with dark chocolate and chopped crystallized ginger with demerara sugar sprinkled over the cakes when they were still warm. Eaten warm from the skillet, the dark chocolate inside is slightly molten and the ginger is soft and lightly scented. My family loved both.

traditional welsh cakes

Welsh cakes were originally baked for miners to carry in their pockets down into the mines. A hearty snack and a taste of home while they were working in the cold, dark mines down below. Try popping one into a loved ones lunch to brighten their day.

chocolate and ginger welsh cakes

Here are a few variations that are made around Wales as well as in other places.

Jam Split: Popular in South Wales, the cakes are split open and spread with jam inside.

Apple Dragon: Add some grated apple to the mixture to make your cakes more moist.

The Newport Lovely: These are made by the men of Newport for their girlfriends as a wedding gift or engagement gift.

Mynydd Cymreig (Welsh Mountain): These are made in North Wales with two times the amount of baking powder in them, for loftier cakes.

The Kiwi Cake: Welsh cakes have been made in New Zealand for many years, they just call them Kiwi Cakes.

If you try a different variation, let me know. Enjoy!

Chocolate and Ginger Welsh Cakes

Print Recipe
Serves: 15-18 Cooking Time: 10-12 minutes

Ingredients

  • 250 grams white unbleached flour
  • 120 grams butter, cold, diced
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 55 grams white sugar
  • 45 grams cyrstallized ginger, chopped fine
  • 25 grams dark chocolate chips
  • 1 egg
  • 1-2 tbsp strong coffee
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla powder
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 1/4 tsp cardamom

Instructions

1

Stir together the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, spices

2

Add the butter and rub into the flour mixture until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs

3

Stir in sugar and ginger and chocolate chips.

4

Mix in the egg.

5

Add coffee until a nice soft dough is formed.

6

Roll out on a tabletop sprinkled with flour.

7

Cut out welsh cakes with any round shape approximately 7.5 to 8 cm in diameter. I used a drinking glass.

8

Heat a skillet on the stovetop on medium heat. Add a very tiny amount of butter.

9

Place a few welsh cakes in pan, with some space surrounding each one. Do not overfill skillet. You need room to flip them over.

10

When the underside is a nice golden colour, flip over and cook the other side.

11

Remove from skillet when both sides are done.

12

Let cool on a baking rack.

13

Sprinkle with demerara sugar. You can do this either in the pan while the second side is cooking, or while they are on the baking rack. Either will work fine

14

Serve warm or room temperature.

Notes

If you want to freeze some welsh cakes for later, you can either freeze some cooked welsh cakes in a ziplock bag. Or you can cut them out and freeze the uncooked cakes. To do this, cut out the welsh cakes, place them on parchment paper on a tray and freeze until firm. Then place them in a ziplock bag or plastic container, layered with parchment paper in between. To cook, simply defrost the cakes and then cook following the instructions above.

Baking

Irish Oat Soda Bread Recipe

irish soda bread
Irish Oat Soda bread is an amazing bread to make. You can make it so fast. It’s great for beginners or even experienced bakers who want some fresh baked bread on the table in under an hour. The first time I made soda bread I couldn’t believe how quick it was ready.

Irish Oat Soda bread can be made quickly because it is leavened with baking soda, not with yeast like most breads. When mixed with an acidic ingredient, in this case the buttermilk, the combination of the baking soda and acid produces carbon dioxide after it is exposed to heat.

When baking with baking soda, it is important to measure accurately. Too much baking soda and your batter will rise too much and then collapse. Also, using too much baking soda, or baking without an acidic ingredient such as buttermilk, yogurt, brown sugar, molasses, chocolate and cocoa will make your baked goods taste soapy. This happens because the baking soda doesn’t have anything to react with  and will break down to produce sodium carbonate which is very alkaline and makes your baking taste soapy.  Too little baking soda will produce a flat and dense product. So, measure accurately and always double check that there is an acidic ingredient in the recipe to react with the baking soda.

soda bread with honey pot and butter

Cutting an X or cross across the top of the bread allows the center of the loaf to cook properly as it’s such a thick loaf and rises and bakes ratherly quickly.

I love the dense earthy aroma of the wheat and oats and the smooth and tangy flavour of the buttermilk. Since soda bread is made from very basic ingredients: flour, baking soda, soured milk (or buttermilk) it’s easy to whip up on the spur of the moment. In this recipe I’ve added butter, but some recipes leave that out. You can also add raisins or caraway seed, but traditionally, it is just those three basic ingredients.

Originally, soda bread was made regularly in Irish farming households.  Unlike families in England, who would buy their bread from local bakeries, many Irish families lived in isolated farmhouses, far from any shops, so everyone had to do their own baking.  The introduction of baking soda around 1840 provided poor Irish families with a means to make delicious bread as often as they wanted and for a very low cost.  Homes in Ireland did not have ovens, only open hearths. So the bread was cooked on griddles over aromatic turf fires. The bread would be tender and dense with a nice thick crust and was eaten every night for dinner.

soda bread with honey

Soda bread is made all over Ireland but each region makes it differently.  In the north, it is flattened into a disk,  cut into 4 equal sized wedges and then cooked on a griddle. These are also called Soda Farls. The word, farl, comes from the scottish word, fardell, meaning  a fourth. In the south, it is shaped into a thick round disk and the top is scored deeply with a large X or a cross.

Here are some Soda Bread Secrets as recommended by Colman Andrews in The Country Cooking of Ireland.

  • Use irish flour if possible as it’s a soft flour. if you don’t have access to any, (like me), use pastry flour that is stone ground, organic and fresh.
  • Sift your flour, or atleast make sure there are not any lumps.
  • Use cold buttermilk, not warm as you would with yeasted breads. Warm milk will activate the baking soda too early and prevent it from rising in the oven.
  • Use a very light kneading if you must – but not kneading at all is the best.
  • It is better to overbake your Irish Soda Bread than underbake it. Just don’t burn your bread!
  • Soda bread is best eaten within 24 hours or so.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

 

soda bread with honey pot and butter

Irish Soda Bread with Oats

Print Recipe
Serves: 8 Cooking Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups unbleached white pastry flour
  • 1 1/4 cups unbleached whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 cup whole oats
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 stick cold butter, cut into small cubes
  • 1 1/3 cup buttermilk, cold and cut into small cubes

Instructions

1

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

2

Mix together all of the dry ingredients. Stir to combine thoroughly.

3

Add the butter and cut it into the dry ingredients with a pastry cutter. You can also use your hands to quickly mix the butter into the flour, until the butter is pea sized and coated with flour.

4

Add the cold buttermilk. Mix quickly.

5

Sprinkle your table with some flour. Place the soft sticky dough on the flour and quickly shape into a loaf about 6 inches across.

6

Cut an X on the surface of the dough. No more than 1/2 an inch.

7

Bake on parchment paper on a baking tray for 20-25 minutes.

8

Let cool slightly on a baking rack.

adapted slightly from The Gourmet Cookbook