Monday, August 15, 2016

Maude and Dave's wedding - the cake

The wedding cake had to be a carrot cake. I made one for Johanna's wedding. (Judy had decorated it last time with cream cheese which wanted to melt, so we needed another solution this time. So Judy decorated part of this cake shown below, with regular decorator icing, and I iced the rest of the cakes with cream cheese icing).

Before I went to Toronto, I made two cakes in Ottawa. This was for the main cake Judy could put together for the decorated cake--that wouldn't have cream cheese icing on it.

Then we went to Toronto a week before the wedding, so I could make four more cakes to feed all the guests. Plus two additional cakes for my two daughters. That's a lot of cake.

Judy made one cake smaller for the top layer, and used the other cake for the next layer, and created a third large false layer (at least that's what I think she told me). And she actually transported the finished cake in the trunk of her car. Now that's gutsy.

Here is the cake, together with the cradle for it put together by her husband Kerry. Beautiful.

The recipe is based on the Looney Spoon ladies carrot cake recipe. Here is the (modified) recipe:

Carrot cake

Dry ingredients
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

Combine above ingredients into a medium bowl

Wet ingredients
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup drained crushed pineapple
3 eggs
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla
3 cups grated carrots

Combine above ingredients in large bowl

Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and combine

I think the only thing I actually changed in the recipe, was that I didn't put in the applesauce called for, since I found the batter too wet and it took too long to bake. (I know this from when I made Johanna and Mike's cake.)

Each recipe was put into a 9 inch diameter round pan, about 4 inches high. Because the batter was so thick it took about 90 minutes to bake at about 300-325, lower than the usual 350 because you don't want the edges to burn.

Cream Cheese icing
1 1/2 packages of full fat brick light cream cheese (yea I know I never use full fat cream cheese but this was a wedding after all)
1/2 cup butter (ditto comments above)
2 tsp vanilla
1 kg icing sugar (should be about 8 cups of icing sugar)
a teaspoon or two of milk, if icing is too thick

Beat icing with an electric mixer and add milk if necessary to make icing spreadable.

This icing recipe makes enough for two cakes to generously ice top and sides of cakes. My cake doesn't look as gorgeous as Judy's cake. But I hear it tasted pretty good. I was too stuffed from the yummy dinner to have a piece though.

And that's the story of the cake.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Buttermilk scones

This started out as a recipe from Ireland. But the original recipe had 9 oz of milk and that was way too little. I had to add another half of a cup of milk last time. So this time I used a total of 2 1/4 cups of buttermilk.

I used to never buy buttermilk, and would always just sour milk with vinegar instead. But I have to say that I now think that buttermilk makes better scones, and of course brown bread.

Many scone recipes tell you to brush milk over the scones. I never do. But I'm thinking it might help them brown better.

15 scones

4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup butter, melted
2 1/4 cups buttermilk
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).

In a large mixing bowl, mix together flour, baking powder and salt and sugar. Stir in raisins.

Add butter and buttermilk. Stir with a fork until a soft dough is formed.

Drop by large spoonfuls onto greased baking sheet.

Bake at 425 degrees F for 10 to 15 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Mine took about 16 minutes, and it made 15 biscuits.

Very good.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Crack squares

These squares are so good. And super easy to make. And no baking required. Not exactly low in fat though. But it's good fat, and Harvard Medical School actually says that peanut fat is up there with olive oil. Who knew?

1 package butterscotch chipits (300 grams)
4 cups miniature marshmallows
1 cup peanut butter
6 cups Rice Krispies

Put butterscotch chipits and peanut butter in a large bowl. Microwave on medium heat for about 30 seconds at a time, stirring after each 30 seconds, until melted and combined together.

Stir in Rice Krispies and marshmallows. Work quickly as it will start to congeal.

Press into a greased 13 X 9 pan. Let cool and cut into squares.

The last time I made them I thought I'd melt the marshmallows in with the peanut butter and chipits. Not a good idea. The squares became very brittle. Still tasted fantastic, but I didn't like the texture of them.

Pic below was with the melted marshmallows (as opposed to the unmelted marshmallows) which I won't do again.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Crunchy bread (Irish brown bread)

When we were in Ireland we bought Irish brown bread. Jimmy and Mauren LOVED it. So I set out to make my own Irish Brown bread. They called it "Crunchy Bread".

Most recipes I found want you to use Irish wholemeal flour which I learned, is coarser than Canadian flour. I did track this flour down and it is apparently sold at the Scottish and Irish store here in Ottawa. I haven't gotten any yet since I still have Canadian Whole Wheat flour that I need to use up.

I also had to go through a whole conversion process with the recipes since the Irish weigh their ingredients, Canadians measure their ingredients.

Two weeks ago I made a loaf, but never took pictures of it. I did document the recipe though (see below).

Today I made another recipe that I found, and made a few changes, recipe also below.

The first recipe kneads the bread, the second recipe does not knead the bread.

Then I remembered I had actually taken a picture of the label and its ingredients. I now notice that there is no sugar and no fat in the real Irish brown bread. My recipe today had a bit of both. There are a lot of variations on the Internet of course.

Irish brown bread (first recipe)

2 1/4 cups whole-wheat flour
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1/2 cup large oats
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon fine salt
2 cups well-shaken buttermilk
4 tablespoons unsalted butter melted

Heat the oven to 400°F

Grease loaf pan.

Place both flours, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl combine. Add buttermilk and melted butter and mix with your hands until almost all of the flour is moistened and the dough holds together, about 1 minute.

Lightly flour a clean work surface and turn out the dough. Knead until it forms a fairly smooth ball with no visible pockets of flour, about 1 minute. Place in the prepared pan, using a sharp knife, slice an “X” across the top, edge to edge and about 1/2 inch deep.

You are supposed to bake until the internal temperature registers 190°F to 200°F on an instant-read thermometer, about 35 to 40 minutes. My bread never got to that temperature. It only got to 177°F, and it was still a bit dry. I cooked mine for about 50 minutes. Maybe 45 minutes would be better?

Let cool on a wire rack and cool completely before slicing, about 2 hours.

Irish brown bread (second recipe)

2 1/4 cups whole-wheat flour
1/4 cup wheat germ
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup large oats
1 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon fine salt
14 oz well-shaken buttermilk
1 egg
2 tablespoons butter
2 tbsp molasses

Heat the oven to 400°F

Grease loaf pan.

Place both flours, baking soda, oats, and salt in a large bowl combine. Cut butter up into mixture until like breadcrumbs.

Mix buttermilk, egg and molasses together into a measuring cup. Add wet to dry ingredients and stir until just blended.

Place in the prepared pan, using a sharp knife, slice a line across the top, edge to edge and about 1/2 inch deep.

Agian you are supposed to bake until the internal temperature registers 190°F to 200°F on an instant-read thermometer and about 35 to 40 minutes. Again my recipe never got to that temperature and I only got it to 172°F on this loaf. When I tested with a tooth pick it was done.

Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely before slicing, about 2 hours. I cooked it for about 55 minutes. Again, I should cook a bit less, maybe 50 minutes.

I will forget about the internal temperature test as it doesn't seem to work, or else my thermometer is stupid. Next time I will just depend on the tooth pick method and insert it until it comes out clean.

People who post recipes on the internet always have all these beautiful multiple shots of their recipes. I just plunk my goods on my stove or counter top and take a picture. I don't know, but I think it makes them look more real? I just may never win the most beautiful staged recipe picture though. How sad.

And yes it is good.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Rhubarb coffee cake with rolled oats crumble topping

Made this in Ireland with raisins and apples. Today I made it again, but with rhubarb. I made a double recipe. Here is the recipe below as a single recipe with my changes.

Mix in large bowl
1/3 cup melted margarine
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs (did put them in this time)
1 cup plain yogurt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Mix in medium bowl
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 cups peeled, chopped rhubarb

Crumble Topping
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons melted margarine

Add dry ingredients to wet and fold in. Sprinkle crumble topping on top of batter.

Took about 38 minutes this time without the convection oven. Use a toothpick to test when done.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Brownies - Irish adaptation

I made these when we were in Ireland. The flour I had was self-raising. Self raising flour has baking powder and salt added to it. So I didn't add the baking powder and salt to the recipe.

Such different flours in Ireland. Whole wheat flours are also different. Some recipes call for coarse ground whole meal flour as they call it. You can't get the coarse ground in Canada.

I had difficulty getting the right temperature, and figuring out when the recipe was done. Never mind that the temperature was registered in Celsius. 350 f is about 176 c, good grief.

The oven we had was a convection oven, and didn't seem to have a bottom element. I had a hard time understanding the different settings on the dial. Deciphering the little pictures was fun. And the Google didn't help. I should have taken pics of the dials but didn't think to.

The brownies seemed to be a bit softer inside than I would normally want. But they turned out great especially since there was so much fiddling to do to make them.


1/4 cup butter, softened
1 1/4 cups sugar (I think I used 1 cup of sugar)
2 large eggs (The stores don't seem to refrigerate the eggs in Ireland. Weird)
1 tsp. vanilla (I didn't use as I didn't have any)
1 tsp. instant  coffee, dissolved in 1 tsp. water
1 cup all-purpose flour (I used self raising as that was what I had)
1/2 cup cocoa
1/4 tsp. baking powder (I didn't use)
1/4 tsp. salt (I didn't use)


Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a large bowl, mix together butter and sugar until well combined. Add eggs, vanilla and coffee and stir until well blended and smooth.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Add to the egg mixture and stir by hand just until combined.

Spoon the batter into an 8X8 greased aluminum pan. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until puffed but still soft to the touch. Do not over bake Cool in the pan on a wire rack.

Makes 16 brownies.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Mom's bran muffins

My mother used to make these muffins when we were young. They were the best.

I still make them all the time, and every time I do they seem to be a bit different.

The recipe below makes about 24 muffins (actually I made 23, and probably could have made 22 as they weren't that big). You could halve the recipe if you only want 12 muffins.

Today when I made them, I wanted to use up some crumbs from some finished bran flakes, and from some mini wheat cereals. Otherwise the crumbs would just go into the garbage. Who wants to eat cereal crumbs with milk? It would just get mushy and mushy makes me want to gag.

So I just poured the crumbs into a measuring cup and I had 1 3/4 cups of the crumbs. I substituted those crumbs for the equivalent amount of bran in the recipe. Mom would be proud. She never wasted anything.

Mix together in medium bowl
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
3 1/2 cups high-fibre bran cereal
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cups raisins (Or not if your name is Johanna or Jennifer. Maybe substitute walnuts?)

Mix together in large bowl
1/2 cup canola oil
3/4 cup molasses
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups buttermilk (I usually just sour milk with vinegar but today I actually had buttermilk)

Fold dry ingredients into wet ingredients just until mixed.

Spoon into 24 paper lined muffin pans.

Bake for about 15 to 20 minutes until toothpick inserted comes out clean.