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Not a perfect roll because it was baked slightly too long, however it was delicious.  I started with Paula Deen’s blackberry jelly roll recipe and changes it to suit the flavors I wanted.  Instead of vanilla extract I used my Heilala Ground Vanilla
bean paste and I added about a quarter cup of milk steeped with chai.  The goal was to make a chai jelly roll but the chai wasn’t pronounced enough, so I’ll name it after the most expensive ingredient in the cake, the vanilla bean.

Otherwise this is a very light sponge cake filled with a frosting that is half buttercream, half whipped ganache.

A few chocolate dipped strawberries can’t hurt either.  I used a scant teaspoon of coconut oil in 4 oz. 60% cocoa squares melted in the microwave in 30-second intervals.  Stir to cool the melted chocolate then dip the berries.  I chilled them in the freezer for a few minutes.

Now, I will go drink my chai with this slice of birthday cake, good nite!

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What smells like roasted corn?

Umm, nothing dear!

It was a spur of the moment quick bread.  I didn’t note the size of pan required for the recipe, and I modified the original to include sour cream and a little olive oil since the last egg in the fridge mysteriously disappeared.  The roasted scent was from the globs of dough burning on the bottom of the oven.  More was on the way from the seething undersized loaf pan on the top rack.  A cookie sheet on the lower rack was pushed in as I grabbed the closest utensil to scrape the rapidly hardening expulsions.  My heart sunk, was the whole thing ruined?

I left the darn thing in the oven to finish baking, hoping my late night dessert would survive.  Every door and window was open in an attempt to evacuate the billows of smoke coming from the oven floor.   With all the commotion in the kitchen I was surprised no one came out to investigate!

Happily, the loaf finished baking.  It’s not the prettiest lemon poppy seed cake/loaf but it could be one of the tastiest.

 

I shared the first slice with Hubby.  And saved the rest for breakfast.

Lemon Poppy Seed Loaf

Adapted from The Great Holiday Baking Book by Beatrice Ojakangas

This original recipe was a cranberry nut quick bread.  I changed the flavour using lemon zest, juice, and poppy seeds.

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 4 lemons, zested and juiced
  • 2/3 cup sour cream
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 4 Tbsp poppy seeds

Mix the dry and wet ingredients separately, adding the poppy seeds to the wet bowl.  Make a well in the flour mixture and add the wet ingredients.  Mix by hand until the flour disappears and the batter is evenly moist.  It will look dry and clumpy, that’s OK!

Spoon the batter into two 5 x 4 inch loaf pans or into muffin tins.  Be sure that the pans or tins are half full or your oven will end up like mine.

Bake at 350ºF for about 50 – 60 minutes.

You might want a cookie sheet under that.  You can thank me later.

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Wild Fire (812 South Austin Avenue  Georgetown, TX 78626  (512) 869-3473) was the only place I could find open after 6pm while wandering around downtown Georgetown.  I was taking a page from my blog friend, The Edmonton Tourist, to be a tourist in my neck of the woods.  All I could do was window shop and take note of any stores that look interesting for future visits during business hours.

Lucky for me, Wild Fire had a nice assortment of desserts including Black Forest Cake!  I bought a slice with a cup of coffee.  Who in their right mind gets coffee when it’s screaming hot outside?  Well, I thought it was a bit early for Chardonnay.

I had to hold myself back from devouring this luscious chocolate mouse layer cake.  I was expecting more kirsch flavor but the extra cherries on the side made up for that.

Relax and enjoy duck quesadillas, bison, or just dessert like me, while Frank Sinatra woos you via the constant stream of music overhead.  A quaint atmosphere in old downtown Georgetown, I had the feeling there are quite a few regulars (probably lawyers and retired folks) who meet here.  I had a very friendly waiter who let me snag a table in the window.  He said it was a slow night and they typically serve the 80+ crowds, I seemed to be a part of a freak wave of youthful patrons.

The lovely elderly woman who left while I was in the middle of picking away at the chocolate cake said to me “Are you going straight to the gym after that?”  I was flattered, really, because I’ve neglected to go to the gym for years.  I smiled brightly and replied “No, I pick up my kids after this.”  She agreed. “That’s a workout in itself!”

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I bought a used copy of the cookbook written by Erin McKenna, owner of Babycakes in New York City.  It’s aptly named Babycakes:Vegan, (Mostly) Gluten-Free, and (Mostly) Sugar-Free Recipes from New York’s Most Talked-About BakeryThere were several pages dog-eared by the previous owner, I wonder if they tried all the recipes they marked for later.  There are plenty of beautiful glossy photos to drool over as you decide which recipe to try first.

My first attempt was the Lemon Poppyseed Tea Cake (shown above), and I broke Erin’s first rule: I didn’t follow all of the directions.  And the cream cheese frosting/glaze was made with xylitol (a sugar alcohol) instead of leaving the cake bare.  The cake was very moist, with a good amount of sweetness to counter the tart lemon zest and juice.  If I didn’t tell you it was gluten and sugar-free you wouldn’t have noticed.  That’s what Erin McKenna strives to achieve in each recipe in her book and at her bakery.  Her shop is on my to-see list if I ever get to visit NYC!

The second recipe was an adaptation of the Cherry Cobbler.  The filling was rhubarb and Granny Smith apple instead of cherries.  I was planning to make a pie but this seemed like it would work with the spelt flour lattice topping.  I didn’t have evaporated cane juice and used brown sugar instead.  I should have baked this a little longer as the underside of the crust became soaked with the juices of the fruit and turned into a sticky mush.  Best to bake and serve immediately, as with any pie or crumble.  I liked the flavor of the spelt topping though, it had a light nutty flavor and reminded me of oatmeal.  Paired with the cinnamon-apple-rhubarb filling this could be eaten for breakfast or dessert, heck anytime!

Next up: Chocolate Cake!  I made the same rookie mistake of baking this fella a little longer than I should have.  As soon as the middle is set you should take it out of the oven.  The original recipe calls for a crumb topping to be added half way through baking.  Instead I left the cake alone and added roasted cherries that I washed, seeded and quartered.  That’s a great thing I learned from this cook book: roast your fruit to amplify their natural flavors so less sweetener is required.  Then I made a vanilla cream sauce to top it all off.  This is my version of a black forest cake.  A splash of Kirsch over the cake would have made it closer to the real thing, but it was tasty nonetheless.

Last on my first round of tests were the Double Chocolate Chip Cookies.  Oh the chocolate!  I used Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa powder and Ghirardelli 60% cocoa chocolate chips for this recipe.  A couple of notes: regular sugar was used instead of evaporated sugar cane in the same measurement called for, I added 1/4 cup rice flour and a little more Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free all-purpose flour to absorb the oil.  They still came out on the oily side but I guess they will stay moist longer that way, I’m not a fan of greasy cookies though.  The cookies are tender (I didn’t over bake them, yay!) and very delicate with a brownie-like texture in the middle.  With a bit of engineering, these will be perfect doppelgängers to gluten-laden cookies.

My overall conclusions about gluten-free/vegan/sugar-free baking from this book are these; use lower temperatures and the least amount of time possible, buy the best ingredients possible on your budget (and shop around, Sprouts puts GF baking stuff on sale %25 off, try on-line at Amazon.com or BobsRedMill.com) and most importantly READ the recipes first.  With entrepreneurs like Erin blazing the trails of alternative baking and better access to the squirrely ingredients necessary for vegan baking, it’s easy to make the switch.  Whether you cannot tolerate gluten anymore, want to cut down on refined white sugar, or for the animal lover in you – this is a great book to help you on your journey!

*

This review was solely out of my own curiosity and wanting to share my thoughts on the book.   Recipes were respectfully omitted to honor the copyrights of the author.

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My neighbour was over for a visit while I was baking this Key Lime Cake I saw on Food Network recently.  The adults liked it better than any of our kids!  Making cream cheese frosting is quick and easy (plus it’s all natural and tastes so much better than the canned stuff).

No recipe is perfect, I find this especially true with recipes on Food Network.  Look at the comments before you try something.  This cake had too much oil, or the recipe writer/baker was heavy on the flour.  Everyone said to use less oil, I followed their lead and the cake wasn’t too oily or too dry.  Get the original recipe from the link then use my suggestions>

Key Lime Cake Recipe

My notes:

  • Use only 1 cup of vegetable oil
  • Add lime zest from about 6 key limes to the batter
  • Replace the orange juice with 1/4 cup lime juice + 1/2 cup So Good light coconut milk
  • Reduce the glaze in half (1/4 cup lime juice + 1/4 cup confectioners sugar)
  • Cut the baked cake in half and stack them together with about a cup of frosting between the layers.  Continue frosting as usual.

The frosting was made with Ideal sugar-free confectioner’s sugar (16 oz.), 8 oz cream cheese, 1/2 cup butter, vanilla and lime juice (just enough to make a smooth frosting).

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The early summer days have yielded figs galore.  I’m lucky enough to have received two different types of figs from family and friends this week.  What am I to do with so many figs?

Fig Cake

Adapted from Open-Faced Plum Cake, Martha Stewart

  • 1/2 cup butter, at room temperature, divided
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 14 large black figs, halved
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 400ºF.  Grease two round cake pans (8-inch or 9-inch diameter) and set aside.

Cream 6 tablespoons of the butter with 3/4 cup sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer.  Beat in the egg and then the milk.  The mixture may look a little curdled, it will be fine.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt in a separate bowl.  Add this mixture to the wet ingredients.  Gradually increase the mixing speed to make a smooth batter.

Divide the batter between the two greased pans and smooth it out to cover the bottom of the pans.  Lay the fig halves on top of the batter in a pretty pattern.

Mix the 2 tablespoons of sugar with the cinnamon in a small bowl.  Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar over the figs and cake batter.  Dot the fig halves with the remaining butter.

Bake until the edges are golden and the cake has puffed around the figs.  Serve warm with coffee or tea.

The kids loved this cake and polished off their first slice before I had a chance to eat mine!  They both had a second piece before we headed to the park to enjoy a brief reprise from the 100 degree weather.

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Lemon Layer Cake

I found this photo of a lemon cake I made a long time ago.  It might have been a crazy craving at the time, I don’t recall a special occasion for this cake’s purpose in life.  I suppose its sole purpose was to amuse my bouche.

I’ll have to find what recipe was used for the cake.  I’m sure it was a moist cake spiked with lemon juice and zest.  I made a lemon glaze and a lemon frosting.  Lemon³.

Our wedding cake was lemon, maybe that’s what I was after, a recreation of our wedding cake?  Who knows!

 

 

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I’ll keep trying.  What do you think so far?

* Update * YouTube link doesn’t show in the comments: click here

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I just finished reading The Help by Kathryn Stockett.

It was a great read.  I cried.  I giggled to myself.  I felt the fear of the characters and my heart pounded.  I took away a sense of accomplishment, not just your regular obstacles, this was mountainous for the ladies involved.  I can see why a movie sprouted off these pages.

This is coming from someone who just started reading for pleasure at the tender age of 28.  I used to read in school, where I had a library to peruse novels and pluck a gem from the shelves.  There is no library in my house, but it’s growing.  There are more cookbooks than fiction at the moment, however this might be the status for the foreseeable future.

The Help has three distinct voices.  Stockett did a beautiful job of weaving the stories together, overlapping ever so slightly to provide the reader fluidity of the story.  Don’t worry, all those loose ends are tied up at some point, that was part of the reason I wanted to chew through the chapters.  Even though the story takes place in what seems the distant past,  segregation, racism, and lack of air conditioning; I connected with events here and there, enough to stay engaged in the Mississippi tale.

I don’t want to give away the plot, but I wanted to make one of Minny’s famous desserts.  To celebrate finishing this novel and watching the DVD, I baked a cake of Southern inspiration.

After I watched the movie and have to say I liked the book better!  I suppose if the full story in the book made it on to the screen, it would be a four hour ordeal.  The movie keeps the attention on the threesome secretly gathering to write the book.  Hilly (Bryce Dallas Howard) remained the clear opponent and I loved Octavia Spencer as Minny.

Caramel Cake

Caramel Cake

I have to confess, I needed Minny’s terse eye on me while I made this cake.  I missed the part where you only need 1/4 cup of the caramel syrup and poured all of it in the batter.  I was wondering why the batter was soupy.  Something didn’t feel right but it never occurred to me to check the recipe for the eighth time.  Turned out okay, sort of like a sponge cake that ate the entire five-pound bag of sugar in the pantry.  For the first time in my life I’ve made a cake that is too sweet for my taste.  I’m sure the actual (and flawless) cake Martha made with Dr. Angelou would not cause one to fall into a sugar-high coma.  The frosting with brown butter overpowers the caramel in the cake itself.  It would be fine without nearly burning the butter, plus it added another 30 minutes to this cake assembly because the hot brown butter had to cool down first.

caramel cake

Oh boy! Sweet Caramel Cake!

The kids might like it though!

Find the recipe here

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I saw this Pumpkin Roll on A Recipe A Day’s blog and saved it to bake when I had some pumpkin available.  Well after baking the inaugural autumn pumpkin pie, I had half a can of spiced pumpkin puree leftover.  What to do?  This was more than I needed to try Nancy’s recipe.

The original recipe calls for plain pumpkin and calls out the spices to add to the batter.  I’ve shortcut this by using pie pumpkin puree and added a little extra pumpkin pie spice.  For the filling, I used a ready made vanilla icing (for some reason I have four containers of this stuff in my pantry!) foregoing the cream cheese and hopefully a few calories from fat (see the note below!).  The result was a delicate rolled cake with a good amount of sweet filling to hold it all together.  If you prefer less sweetness, visit the original recipe post for the cream cheese filling.

Ready To Serve Creamy Vanilla Frosting  (Duncan Hines)Calories: 280   Total Fat: 10g

Per serving:  28 calories and 1 gram of fat

Cream Cheese (Philadelphia)  –  8oz:

Calories: 800   Total Fat: 72g

Confectioners’  Sugar  – 1 cup:

Calories: 389  Total Fat: 0.1g

Butter – 6tbsp:

Calories: 600 Total Fat: 66g

—————————————–

Total Calories of the filling: 1789

Total Fat of the filling: 138.1g

Per serving 179 calories and 13.8 grams of fat

I think the type of pumpkin used makes no difference in the end, there was a soft spicy note to the cake.  If you have an abundance of pumpkins in your garden, roast them up yourself and use that instead of canned pumpkin, I love fresh pumpkin in pies so this should be equally delicious.

*

Pumpkin Roll

Adapted from A Recipe a Day

pumpkin roll

* Note * I suggest baking and assembling the night before you intend to serve this roll, keep it wrapped in plastic wrap once assembled.  This will help it hold shape and sort of remoisturize.

  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar (to sprinkle on towel ~ use more if needed)
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup pumpkin pie filling
  • 1/2 can of Duncan Hines Classic Vanilla Frosting or similar

Preheat oven to 375°.

Butter a 15 x 10″ jelly-roll pan then line with parchment paper. Butter and flour the paper. On a flat surface sprinkle a thin, cotton kitchen towel with powdered sugar and set aside.

Mix the dry ingredients in small bowl.  Beat eggs and sugar in large mixer bowl until thick. Beat in the pumpkin pie filling. Stir in the flour mixture. Spread evenly into prepared pan.

Bake for 13 to 15 minutes or until top of cake springs back when touched, do not over bake. (If using a dark-colored pan, begin checking at 11 minutes.) Immediately loosen and carefully turn cake on to the towel sprinkled with powdered sugar. Carefully peel off the paper. Roll up the cake and towel together, starting with narrow end. Cool on a wire rack.

Once cooled, unroll the cake and towel carefully.  Spread the cake with the vanilla frosting and roll it back up without the towel this time.  Wrap the cake in plastic wrap to help it keep its shape.

Calorie and fat information was taken from http://www.livestrong.com/thedailyplate/

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