Archive for Baking and Sweet Endings

English Treacle Tart

Who knew? Whenever I would hear or read about this tart I would get all shivery thinking it would be unbearably sweet! One day, not long after returning from a trip to London, England, throwing caution to the wind, I decided to try & make one. It’s lovely! Nice & lemony & not overly sweet! The lattice top looks so beautiful & shiny & bakery shop like!

Pastry Ingredients:

9 oz. unbleached flour
4 ½ oz. cold butter, cut into cubes + extra for greasing pan
Approx. 3 Tbsp. ice water

Filling Ingredients:

14 oz. Lyle’s golden syrup
5 ½ oz. fine, freshly made white breadcrumbs + extra in case filling is too loose
2 lemons, zest & juice (1 – 2 Tbsp. rind & 4 – 6 Tbsp. juice)
Egg wash: 1 egg, beaten with 1 tsp. cold water

Make The Pastry:

Measure the flour into the bowl of a food processor; add the cold butter & process, using on/off turns until it resembles fine breadcrumbs; add the ice water while the machine is running, just until the dough begins to clump. Add a bit more ice water if necessary. Remove from the processor; form into a fall then flatten into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap and chill for approximately 20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400 F.

Put a heavy baking tray in the oven to heat up. Grease a deep 7” fluted loose-bottomed fluted flan tin with butter or spray with non-stick cooking spray. Remove about 6oz. of the pastry from the main ball & set aside for the lattice top. Roll the rest of the pastry out thinly on a lightly floured work surface & line the prepared flan tin with the pastry, pressing into the sides. . Prick the base & sides all over with a fork to stop the pastry rising up during baking. Place in the fridge. Place the reserved pastry for the lattice top on a piece of baking parchment & roll out thinly to approximately 8 ½”. Brush the pastry with egg wash & set aside to chill in the fridge (the parchment makes it easier to move the pastry around). Do not cut into strips at this time. Do not egg wash the strips once they are on the tart as it will drip into the treacle filling.

Make The Filling:

Heat the syrup gently in a large pan but do not boil. Once melted, add the breadcrumbs, lemon juice & lemon zest to the syrup. You can add less lemon if you would prefer a less citrus taste but I think the lemon sets off the filling beautifully & takes away an overly sweet taste. If the mixture looks too runny, add a few more breadcrumbs. It will not be a stiff mixture. Cool the mixture before pouring into the pastry lined tin & level the surface if necessary.

Place a baking tray in the hot oven.

Remove the reserved pastry from the fridge & cut into ½” long strips. Make sure they are all longer than the edges of the tart tin. Now brush egg wash on the edges only of the pastry shell & begin to make the woven lattice by laying a few strips one way on top of the tart, leaving the strips hanging over the edge of the tin. Folding back every other strip to the middle of the tart, begin laying down strips of pastry, under & over to create the lattice pattern. Once the lattice is in place, use the tin edge to cut off the excess strips by pressing down with your hands, creating a neat finish. Lattice does take a bit of time but the result looks wonderful. My Mom never made a rhubarb pie without a lattice top!

Place your treacle tart onto the pre-heated baking tray in the oven and bake for about 10 minutes until the pastry has started to colour; reduce the heat to 350 F. If at this stage the lattice seems to be getting too dark brown, lay a  piece of tin foil over the tart. Bake for a further 25 – 30 minutes until the pastry is golden brown & the filling is set. Remove the tart from the oven & leave on a baking rack to firm up. Serve warm or cold. I really like this served room temperature with clotted cream or a mixture of sour cream & whipped cream beaten together until it holds it shape but is not stiff.

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A Really Good Coffee Cake

I just made this coffee cake again, it’s my go to recipe. The sour cream gives the cake a nice crumb. Can hardly wait to make a cup of coffee and have a slice. It freezes very well too!

DSC_2614 nx2Cinnamon-Nut Topping (recipe below)

2 ¼ cups sifted flour
2 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. each baking soda & salt
¾ cup butter (6 oz.) butter, room temperature
1 ¼ cups sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup sour cream, room temperature

Cinnamon-Nut Topping

½ cup chopped nuts (walnuts, pecans or hazelnuts)
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 Tbsp. brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Spray a 9” tube pan with cooking spray. Or if you prefer, butter & flour the pan. Set aside.

Combine the nuts, cinnamon & brown sugar & set aside.

Sift flour & measure flour; sift again with baking powder, baking soda & salt. Cream butter & sugar well in an electric stand mixer or with a hand held electric mixer. The mixture will be light & fluffy & not grainy. This can take up to 5 minutes or more, depending on the softness of the butter. Add the eggs & vanilla, beating until light & fluffy. Add flour mixture in three portions alternating with the sour cream, combining after each addition. Put 1/3rd of the Cinnamon-Nut mixture in the baking pan. Spread half the batter on top. Using a dessert spoon, make a shallow well in the batter. Top with the remaining Cinnamon-Nut topping; spread the remaining batter over the cinnamon-nut topping. Bake the cake for 40 – 50 minutes. Test with a wooden skewer to see if it is baked. The skewer should come out clean & there should be no batter on the skewer. Remove cake from the oven & cool on a baking rack for 20 minutes. Loosen around edge of pan & tube; invert onto a baking rack. Let cool. Can be served warm or at room temperature.

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Cranberry White Chocolate Cake

This cake just screams Christmas season; chocolate, cranberries and orange. Perfect with a cup of coffee! And…you can make it ahead and tuck into the freezer.

DSC_5956 nx2Makes a 9” Tube or Bundt Cake

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
4 eggs
3 Tbsp. orange juice
1 Tbsp. grated orange rind (a micro-plane is an excellent tool for this)
2 cups unbleached flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 ½ cups cranberries, fresh or frozen
6 oz. good quality white chocolate, chopped into ¼” pieces

Glaze:

3 oz. good quality white chocolate
2 Tbsp. orange juice

Make The Cake:

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease & flour the cake pan (or use non-stick cooking spray).

Beat the butter & sugars on medium-low speed, with an electric mixer until fluffy; beat in the eggs, orange juice & rind. Beat in the flour & baking powder. Fold in the cranberries & chopped chocolate. Place the batter into the prepared pan & bake for 60 – 70 minutes, or until a wooden skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Cool in the pan for about 15 minutes then turn onto a cooling rack. Cool to room temperature.

Make The Glaze:

Melt the white chocolate & orange juice over low heat or in a microwave on medium for approximately 1 ½ minutes. Whisk until smooth; allow the glaze to cool for 5 minutes or so, then drizzle over the cake.

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Dates Stuffed With Mascarpone And Walnuts

Makes 8 Servings

I am so fortunate to have neighbours who like to try things I make. I made these dates a couple of years ago when we got together for dinner over the Christmas holidays. WE LOVED THEM! I now make these special treats every December!  How can you go wront with mascarpone anyway?

12 or more shelled whole walnuts
½ cup mascarpone cheese
½ cup ricotta cheese, (I recommend Scardillo Italian Style Genuina, it is lovely, creamy & not grainy)
6 Tbsp. berry sugar
2 Tbsp. good brandy or grappa
24 Medjool dates

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Place the shelled walnuts onto a baking sheet & toast 8 -10 minutes. Cool.

 

Combine the mascarpone & ricotta cheese in a medium sized bowl with the sugar & brandy or grappa, using a hand-held mixer.

Divide each walnut in half along its seam.

Slit the dates vertically down one side with a sharp knife, without cutting through the other side. Remove the pit. Fill each date with a teaspoon or so of the mascarpone mixture (you can use a piping bag, it seems a little easier). Add a walnut half to each date & gently close them up a little. Refrigerate for about an hour before serving.

Buon appettito!

 

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Spiced Red Wine Poached Pears

Saturday mornings in late October and November means a trip to Nat Bailey Farmer’s Market in search of seasonal fruits and vegetables. The colours are awesome! With the backdrop of the Coast Mountains on occasion receiving a snowfall, it’s simply gorgeous!  I have always poached pears in white wine, but decided to change things up by poaching them in red wine.  The results…delicious on their own or with ice-cream or a dollop of mascarpone or clotted cream! I used Red Sensation pears but Bosc would work equally well and I used a Sangiovese red wine. Use a decent drinkable red for the best results.  The recipe can easily be divided in half for 4 servings…but the cold leftover pears are fantastic!

dsc_5814-nx2Makes 8 Servings

8 pears, Bosc are a good choice
Juice of 1 lemon
¼ cup sugar
½ cup honey
1 ½ cups red wine
1 vanilla bean or ½ tsp. vanilla extract
2 whole cloves
3 – 4 black peppercorns

Peel the pears, cut in half lengthwise, remove the cores (I recommend using a melon baller, works great), and trim any bits at the blossom end. You can keep the stems on if you like. Split the vanilla bean lengthwise & scrape out the seeds & place the pod & seeds into the pot along with the lemon juice, sugar, honey, red wine, cloves & peppercorns.

Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat; add the pears, lower the heat to simmer, cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove lid, carefully turn the pears over, replace the lid, continue to simmer for approximately 5 more minutes or until the pears are just tender. Remove the pears to a shallow glass dish; bring the liquid to a boil, reduce the heat to medium & simmer until slightly syrupy. Pour the mixture over the pears & cool. When room temperature, cover & chill for a minimum of 4 hours or until the next day. Serve 2 pear halves per person with some of the red wine syrup spooned over top.

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Halloween Nanaimo Bars

Ok, who doesn’t like Nanaimo Bars???

I store them in the fridge or freezer so they are nice and cold.  They just seem better that way, at least as far as I’m concerned!  Here’s a discovery I made:  they don’t freeze solid!  Midnight cravings are calling! The middle layer is both orange flavoured and lightly tinted orange, perfect for this time of the year or any time really!  Nanaimo Bars are good keepers so long as you can keep away from them!

Makes A 9” Square Pan

Bottom Layer:

½ cup butterDSC_5460 nx2
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 ¾ cups graham wafer crumbs
½ cup finely chopped nuts, (walnuts or pecans)
½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1 tsp. finely grated orange rind

Middle Layer:

½ cup butter, softened
2 Tbsp. custard powder (such as Bird’s)
2 Tbsp. frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
1 tsp. finely grated orange rind
2 cups icing sugar
(opt.) orange food colouring

Top Layer:

4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 Tbsp. butter

White Chocolate “Spider Web” Drizzle:

2 oz. white chocolate
1 1/2 tsp. vegetable oil

 

In a heavy saucepan, melt together butter, cocoa & sugar over medium heat, stirring occasionally; stir in egg & cook, stirring for 2 minutes or until thickened. Mix in crumbs, nuts, coconut & orange rind; press into an ungreased 9” square cake pan. Refrigerate until very cold 30 – 60 minutes.

For the middle layer, beat butter, custard powder, orange juice concentrate & rind in a bowl. Gradually beat in icing sugar & colouring (if using). Spread over base; refrigerate until well set, about 1 hour.

For the top layer, melt the chocolate & butter in a small saucepan over low heat; let cool slightly & pour over middle layer , tilting pan this way & that to get full coverage. Chill until set, about 30 minutes.

Place the white chocolate & oil in a small pot & melt or melt in the microwave on level 3.  Using a fork, drizzle the melted white chocolate off the tines of the fork, moving back & forth across the top of the hardened dark chocolate layer.

To cut into bars, let the top layer get to room temperature before cutting or the chocolate will break apart & your Nanaimo bars won’t look beautiful. Also use a thin blade sharp knife to make the job easier.

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Pumpkin Gingerbread Cake

An easy to make cake that is moist, light and full of the fall spices we all love so much! In my books, if it’s made with buttermilk then I’m sold!

DSC_5515 nx2Makes A 9” Square Pan

1 ½ cups granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 cup tinned pumpkin or homemade puree**
½ each vegetable oil & buttermilk
1 ¾ cups unbleached flour (you could substitute some wholewheat flour)
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground ginger
½ tsp. each salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ground cloves & allspice
¼ tsp. baking powder

Icing sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Either spray a 9” square cake pan with non-stick cooking spray or grease & flour the pan.

In a large bowl, beat together the sugar, eggs, pumpkin, oil & buttermilk with a whisk, until smooth. Stir together flour, baking soda, salt, spices & baking powder; sprinkle over the pumpkin mixture & stir until blended.

Pour batter into the prepared pan & place in the oven for approximately 35 minutes or until the cake springs back when lightly touched. Let cool in the pan on a rack. Using a small sieve, dust top of cake lightly with the icing sugar.

To make homemade pumpkin puree, click Making Pumpkin Puree.

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Cranberry Pumpkin Walnut Bread

This excellent quick bread is a winner in my books! If you wish, you can spread with a little butter. I kind of like it as it comes, but that’s me!

Makes 1 Loaf

Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray a 9 x 5 x 3” loaf pan with non stick cooking spray. Line the bottom & 2 long sides with waxed paper.

DSC_5496 nx22 cups unbleached flour
2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp. baking powder
¾ tsp. salt
½ tsp. baking soda
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, room temperature (1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp. or 3 oz.)
1 cup + 1 Tbsp. sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup tinned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling), or homemade pumpkin puree**
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2/3 cup buttermilk
½ cup dried sweetened cranberries
½ cup coarsely chopped walnuts

Whisk flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder, salt & baking soda in a medium bowl to blend. With an electric mixer, beat butter in a large bowl until fluffy. Gradually add 1 cup sugar, beating until blended. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time until blended. Beat in pumpkin, then vanilla. Beat in dry ingredients alternatively with the buttermilk in 2 additions each. Fold in cranberries & nuts. Transfer batter to a pan. Sprinkle with 1 Tbsp. sugar.

Bake bread on the middle rack until tester inserted into the centre comes out clean, about 1 hour 10 minutes. Cool bread in pan on a rack 15 minutes. Cut around bread at short ends to loosen from pan. Turn bread out onto rack; peel off waxed paper. Cool bread completely.

To make homemade pumpkin puree, click Making Pumpkin Puree.

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Zucchini Parmesan Bread

It’s nearing the end of summer…and with that comes the ultimate question, what the heck am I going to do with all this zucchini?  Well, here’s a quick bread that would be delicious with a salad or soup or toasted up for breakfast.

DSC_5657 nx2Makes 1 Loaf

3 cups unbleached flour, you can use a little wholewheat flour instead of all unbleached flour
1 cup shredded zucchini
1/3 cup sugar
3 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
(I used 2 of Parmesan & 1 of Pecorino Romano)
5 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1/3 cup melted unsalted butter
1 cup buttermilk
2 large eggs
2 Tbsp. grated onion or minced onion

Make the Bread:

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Either grease, or spray with non-stick cooking spray a 9 x 5 x 3” loaf pan.

Stir together the flour, zucchini, sugar, cheese, baking powder, baking soda & salt in a large bowl. Whisk the eggs together in a medium bowl, then add the buttermilk, butter & onion & whisk until smooth. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients just until mixed (mixture may seem dry, that’s OK). Spread in the prepared pan & place in the oven for 55 – 60 minutes, checking to see if it’s done by inserting a wooden skewer into the centre of the loaf, after 45 minutes, the skewer needs to come out clean; continue baking until done.  Remove from the oven, place on a cooling rack for 10 minutes then turn the loaf out onto the rack & allow to cool.

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Blueberry Cake Topped With Almonds

The local blueberries are in! Have I been busy or what, making all sorts of wonderful things with them. This is an easy cake to put together, is really, really good and could be served for dessert, with afternoon coffee or tea, or as a guilty pleasure, for breakfast. Enjoy! You can use frozen blueberries but the fresh ones are so plump and juicy! A bonus is that this cake freezes very well.

DSC_3265 nx2Makes a 9” Cake

2 cups unbleached flour
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
2 eggs, room temperature
½ cup homogenized milk
1/3 cup melted butter
1 tsp. grated lemon rind (a microplane is a great tool for this)
1 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
10 – 11 oz. unsweetened blueberries, divided

Topping: 2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
¼ cup sliced almonds

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Either grease, or spray with baking spray a 9” cake pan (square or round).

Place flour, 1 cup sugar, baking powder & salt in a large mixing bowl & whisk together; add the eggs, milk, melted & slightly cooled butter, lemon rind & juice. Blend at low speed until all ingredients are moistened, then beat at medium speed for 2 minutes. Using a spatula, fold in 1 cup of the blueberries; spread evenly in the greased cake pan, leveling with an offset spatula or spoon. Scatter the remaining berries on top; then sprinkle with 2 Tbsp. sugar; then scatter the almonds all over the top. Bake for 55 – 65 minutes, checking after 45 minutes, or until cake tester inserted in the centre comes out clean. Cool on a rack. Serve warm or room temperature.

If you have not used a microplane, it’s a fabulous grater available at cooking shops. We take ours with us when we go on vacation! I have one for citrus & one for Parmesan. Great tool!

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