baking · Uncategorized

Cinnamon Rolls

When I was thirteen years old I started working in a coffee shop/bakery. During the summer I used to go in early on Tuesday mornings because that was cinnamon roll day. We would pre-make pans of cinnamon buns to freeze and they would be pulled out every night to rise and baked fresh every morning. It was heavenly. I haven’t worked there since I was seventeen, and probably haven’t made a batch since, but I craved the process of making them. Not eating them, just making. It’s really relaxing and makes me feel like a good little home-maker.

I did run into a couple issues. 1. My one package of yeast was old, not expired, just not as fresh. I ended up making a new dough because after a couple hours it still wasn’t rising and I was getting impatient. 2. My cinnamon was probably from when I first moved in so it took a lot of spice to really taste that flavour.

This a really easy recipe and is so easy to put a different twist on it and make different fillings and toppings. For this batch I just used the standard cinnamon and brown sugar with cream cheese frosting. But there are so many options! Orange and cranberry filling with white sugar instead of brown with lemon zest in the cream cheese frosting, to die for! Another favorite of mine is adding chopped, toasted pecans in the middle. Yummy!

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INGREDIENTS
Dough
  • 2½ tsp. active dry yeast
  • ½ cup warm water
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¾ cup warm  milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 7 Tbsp. butter, divided
  • 5½ – 6 cups flour
Filling
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • 1½ cups packed light brown sugar
  • 2½ Tbsp. cinnamon
  • 1½ tsp. cornstarch
Icing
  • 4 oz. light cream cheese, softened
  • ¼ cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup icing (confectioners) sugar
  • ½ Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  1. In a bowl of a standup mixer, fitted with a dough hook pour water and sugar in, sprinkle yeast over top and stir. Let stand for 5-10 min. until the mixture becomes foamy. If it doesn’t get really foamy in that time, your yeast is too old.
  2. Meanwhile melt 6 Tbsp. of butter in a microwave safe bowl, set aside to cool.
  3. When the yeast mixture is ready add the milk, eggs and 6 Tbsp. melted butter. Mix on low adding in 4 cups of flour, one cup at a time. Now add in remaining flour slowly until the dough becomes a ball. Knead on medium high for 5 min. The dough should be tacky but not sticky.
  4. Lightly dust a work surface and take dough out and knead a few times by hand.
  5. Add the last Tbsp. of butter to a large bowl and microwave. Place dough into bowl and then turn over to coat with the butter. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and drape over a towel. Set bowl in a warm spot in the kitchen and let dough rise until doubled, about 60-90 min.
  6. While the dough is rising mix together the brown sugar, cinnamon and cornstarch for the filling and set aside.
  7. When the dough is ready turn it onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead the dough a few times and then roll it out into an 18″x24″ wide rectangle. Spread on the ½ cup softened butter. Leave a 1″ border around the edge.
  8. Sprinkle the dough with the brown sugar mixture and press in with a rolling pin. Now take the top long end and roll towards yourself. Run a bead of water on the last 1″ of dough to seal. Cut the dough in half and then each half in halves, you will now have 4 pieces. Cut each of the four pieces into thirds. You will have 12 rolls now.
  9. Grease two 8×11″ pans and 6 place rolls swirl side up into each pan. Place end pieces upside down. Again, loosely cover with plastic wrap and drape with a kitchen towel. Let stand in a warm spot in the kitchen and let rise until doubled aobut 60-90 min.
  10. Preheat oven to 350F. Bake for 20 min. or until golden brown and cooked through. Rotate pans halfway.
  11. While the rolls are baking make the icing. In a clean bowl of a standup mixer add in the butter and cream cheese and beat until light and fluffy. Add the rest of the ingredients and continue to beat for another 3-5 min. Set aside.
  12. When the rolls are baked let cool for 5 min. then spread on ½ the icing. Let cool further and spread on the additional icing.
baking · Cake Decorating · Uncategorized

HapBEE Birthday

Just a quick little post here. Starting to get back into custom cakes and whipped this sweet treat up. I used my regular white cake recipe but substituted the white sugar with honey and added lemon zest and extract to the buttercream. It made for a harmonious blend of flavour.

These cute little bumble bees are just rolled fondant, black pearls and florists wire.

The honeycomb wrap is melted chocolate spread onto bubble wrap! I had to do it twice because I let it harden too much and couldn’t wrap it around the cake! And the second time I did it, my measuring was way off and I made it too short. A few buttercream roses covered up my mistake with no one the wiser! ….until now of course.

 

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baking · Blog · Uncategorized

No-Bake Cookie Dough Cheesecake

I spent the weekend renovating my big green bathroom. Mike was there to help me and we taped, prepped and painted the walls a luxurious grey and redid the ceiling. Everything is white and grey and glorious! There is still lots of cleanup left to do but I will get to that throughout the week. It’s nice having everything pulled out so I can go through it and get rid of all those bottles that have half a pump left in them or products that I ended up not really enjoying. And of course little bits and bobs end up there that shouldn’t like jewelry and hair pins and ties. It got a fresh look and has a new spa-like ambiance.

When we took a break in between coats, he wanted to watch Gold Rush and I wanted to pound down a cheesecake. I remember he mentioned once that he doesn’t like cheesecake because it is too rich, and I have to agree. A real rich cheesecake I can’t get through an entire piece, it is delicious, but too much.

However, no-bake cheesecakes are much different. You still get that heavenly, creamy taste that you want, but you could in fact eat the whole thing in one sitting, and that’s what we want.

Normally, I would do the traditional graham cracker crust, but I was also craving cookie dough.

Crust
– 4 tbsp butter
– ¼ cup sugar
– ¼ cup chocolate chips
– ½ tsp vanilla
– ¼ tsp baking powder

Whip that all together and spread it in the bottom of your pan, I used a nice 8×8” square pan. Bake at 350°C for 10-12 minutes. This makes the very bottom solid and the middle still ooey-gooey.

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Filling
– 2 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
– 1/3 cup sugar
– 2 teaspoons lemon juice
– 2 cups heavy whipping cream

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Topping
– ¼ cup melted milk chocolate chips
– ¼ cup melted white chocolate chips

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In a large bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar and lemon juice until smooth. Gradually add cream; beat until stiff peaks form. Transfer to prepared crust. Drizzle the melted chocolate on top. Refrigerate, covered, for a couple hours.
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It was a perfect, light and airy dessert that I also had for breakfast the next day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

baking · Cake Decorating · Uncategorized

Kitty Queen Cake

When it comes to birthdays I always prefer a home-made cake to a bought one. Doesn’t it just make you feel that much more special when someone you love took the time to make you a special treat on your big day? One of my grandma’s, for every one of her grandchildren’s birthdays, makes and angel food cake with a brown sugar caramel frosting. Super yummy. And I always remember those opposed to when I would get a cake from the grocery store. I am the official cake maker for our family events. For every birthday I get to test my skill, try new things and make a fabulous cake. So to be honest, I haven’t made a cake for anyone outside of my family, which means, I’m not getting the practice that I should. But if I keep cake around, I eat it all myself…in one night.

This one in particular, again doesn’t have pictures of the process really because I was being watched the whole time by my granny and that makes me pretty uncomfortable. This is for my niece’s 8th birthday. They live out on a farm and she loves her little kitties.

This is a 2-tiered, 4-layered cake vanilla cake with a cookie dough filling, I’ll share the recipe below. The great thing, and also the worst, about the cookie dough filling is that it is super easy to make, especially when you had a long day and just need a little bowl of cookie dough to make everything right with the world.

The “Kitty Queen” is made out of Wilton rolled white fondant. I saw a picture of these little fondant cats and I was trying to recreate it as they looked adorable with their little round bodies, but I really didn’t care for it after I had done it. So I popped the head off and made a new body using the same technique as the Shaggy Dog Fondant Topper tutorial.

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This shows that taking a day to think about it and changing something you thought you were finished already isn’t always such a bad thing.

I made a giant flower for the middle and then what seemed like a million little flowers. I just rolled the fondant and used my smallest Wilton flower cutter and punched out a bunch in different colors. Then I took small, white sugar balls and placed on in the middle of each flower. They were then dispersed over the entire cake.

I like to make the cakes the day or two before, wrap and freeze them and then that is one last thing to worry about the night before the cake is due.

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 Ingredients:
for the cake:
2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
for the filling:
3/4 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
3/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons milk
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups mini chocolate chips

Directions:
for the cake:
Preheat the oven to 350ºF.  Grease and flour your cake pans.

In a large mixer bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour, cocoa, soda, powder & salt until combined.

Add in the eggs, milk, oil & vanilla and mix well, on medium speed for about 2 minutes.

Pour evenly into the two pans and bake for 30-35 minutes, until the cake is set and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool the cakes in the pans for 5-10 minutes and then flip out onto a wire rack to cool completely before filling and frosting.

for the filling:
In a mixer bowl, cream together the butter and sugars until smooth.  Mix in the milk and vanilla until smooth.  Mix in the flour until just well combined and then stir in the chocolate chips. See? Super easy and safe to eat.

for the frosting:
I just used a simple buttercream frosting, I don’t actually use a recipe for this I just throw butter, sugar, milk and vanilla together until it tastes delicious.

 

baking · Blog · Uncategorized

Quick and Easy Cinnamon Rolls

What is a special treat that makes you feel warm and cozy on a chilly day? Well, a warm cinnamon bun of course! When I was in high school I worked in a little coffee shop and one of my jobs was to make the cinnamon buns. I would have to go in early Saturday morning to make the dough and let it rise so that I could roll it all out and make 15 pans of buns and freeze them. It was great because all you would have to do is take out a pan at the end of the day and let them rise over night. But what if you want a cinnamon bun like, right now? This rolls back to my small amount of patience thing. I was having a cup of tea thinking that a gooey cinnamon bun would be just perfect.  These are great and you can make them in 45 minutes. We are going to cheat and do a quick rise dough.  I added to the recipe just because it’s what I like and I highly suggest you try it out too. I added orange zest and craisins, mmm perfection.

The dough is made completely from scratch and rises super-fast thanks to this oven proofing method. You basically make the dough and let it rest for just 5 minutes then roll and cut the cinnamon rolls and let them rise in a warm pre-heated 200 Fahrenheit degree oven. They will rise in just 20 minutes and are then ready for baking. You then turn on the oven to 375F and bake for 15 minutes and that’s pretty much it!

The result is soft and fluffy cinnamon rolls that are out of this world. Top with an easy glaze and enjoy these warm rolls right out of the oven!

 

Ingredients

  • 2 and ¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 package instant yeast (1 packet = 2 and ¼ teaspoons)
  • ½ cup water
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 large egg
  • Filling:
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 2 Tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • Zest from one large orange
  • ¼ cup craisins
  • Glaze:
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2-3 Tablespoons milk

Instructions

  1. To Make dough:In a large bowl, mix the flour, the sugar, salt, and yeast together until evenly dispersed. Set aside. In a small microwavable bowl, heat the water, milk, and butter together in the microwave until the butter is melted. Stir the butter mixture into the flour mixture. Add the egg and knead with hand or with stand mixer for 3-4 minutes or until the dough is no longer sticky. Place in a lightly greased bowl and let rest for 5 minutes.PhotoEditor-1476893031810.jpgphotoeditor-1476893061961
  2. Preheat the ovento 200 degrees and turn off after 10 minutes or just before placing rolls in oven.
  3. To Make Filling:After the dough has rested for 5 minutes, roll it out in a 15×9 inch rectangle. Mix together the butter, brown sugar and cinnamon and spread over the dough. In a small bowl, combine the orange zest and craisins and sprinkle on top of the brown sugar spread. Roll up the dough tightly and cut into 9 (large) even piece. Place in a lightly greased 9-inch or square pan (or cut into 12 small pieces and place in a 9×13 pan) and lightly cover with aluminum foil or plastic wrap. photoeditor-1476893110850
  4. TURN OFFthe oven and place the cinnamon buns in the oven to rise for 20 minutes. Keep the buns in the oven (REMOVE THE FOIL OR PLASTIC) and turn on the oven to 375F. Bake the cinnamon rolls for 15 minutes or until golden. Remove from oven and top with glaze.
  5. To make glaze:Mix the powdered sugar, vanilla and 2 Tablespoons milk together until smooth and lump free. Drizzle over warm rolls.photoeditor-1476893183898

    Enjoy!

 

 

baking · Blog · Uncategorized

French Macarons for the Beginner

Have you ever had French macarons before? They will change your world. I have only had them one time and it was very special. I had flown to Calgary on a Friday night to drive up to the mountains for my cousins wedding the next morning and then was flying back home late Sunday night. I spent my 23rd birthday in Calgary with my Granny and my brother and they both made a point of giving me a special day. My granny and I went shopping in the morning and went around to a bunch of quilting stores, (yeah I’m an old lady at heart I’m alright with it) While we were out, my brother who is a huge, almost burly looking guy, went out and bought me a box of French macarons from the best place in Calgary, Ollia. Being the most delicate place that I could ever imagine, I couldn’t believe that my brother even knew about it. Picturing him pulling up in his motorcycle and going in to have a lady put on a pair of white gloves to carefully pick out the macarons that he selected, was the best gift ever. We hardly ever see each other anymore as we both moved 5 hours away from home in opposite directions, but he went out of his way to make me feel special.

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When I got home I began looking up macaron recipes. They sounded so delicate and finicky to make that I procrastinated even trying for a long time. That was silly of me because it is seriously not that bad, after I made them I kicked myself for not trying them sooner.

I don’t have pictures of the process, in all honesty I didn’t think that my first crack at them would be a success. But I will share the recipe I used and tell you the troubles I had, what I would do differently and any tricks that I figured out.

This is the recipe that I followed.

Adapted from I Love Macarons by Hisako Ogita

Basic French Macarons

INGREDIENTS

2/3 cup almond meal or ground almonds
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
3 large egg whites, room temperature and preferably aged up to 3 days
5 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 280ºF, and position 2 racks in the lower section of the oven. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. If you have time, draw 1-inch circles on the back of each sheet, spacing the circles at least 1/2-inch apart.
  2. Sift the almond meal-powdered sugar mixture twice through a mesh sieve.
  3. Place egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer (or use a hand mixer), and begin to beat on medium-high. When the eggs are frothy, gradually add granulated sugar 1 tablespoon at a time until fully incorporated. Continue to beat the egg white mixture until glossy and stiff peaks form when you lift the beaters. Gently stir in the vanilla extract. Be careful to not overbeat the meringue
  4. Add half of the sifted almond mixture, and gently fold it into the meringue using a flexible silicone spatula. Lift from the bottom, up around the sides, and toward the middle, being careful to not over agitate the meringue and lose too much air. Once the almond mixture is predominantly incorporated, add the second half and repeat the folding motion.
  5. When the almond mixture is just incorporated, you will need to transform the batter into the appropriate texture. Using the flat of the spatula, “punch” down into the center of the batter, then scrape more batter from the sides to the center, and punch again. You will need to repeat this 10-15 times (or more, depending on your arm strength and the beginning texture of your batter) until the batter slowly and continuously drips back into the bowl when you scoop it up with the spatula. Think of the consistency of molten lava. For the best results, punch the batter a few times, check the consistency, then punch a few more times, etc. Do not make the batter too runny or the macarons won’t rise as they should, and you could end up with oil stains on the surface.
  6. Pour batter into a pastry bag fitted with a 0.4-inch tip. In a pinch, you can also use a gallon-size Ziploc bag: just snip a teeny bit from one of the bottom corners. Twist and clip the top of the bag to avoid overflow. On your prepared baking sheets, pipe out 1-inch rounds in the circles you drew (remember to draw the circles on the back side of your parchment to avoid ink or pencil stains on your macarons!).
  7. Holding the baking sheet in both hands, rap each baking sheet firmly on the counter two or three times. This smooths out the tops and helps form the “pied” or frilly foot on the bottoms of the macarons. Allow the piped macarons to dry, uncovered, for at least 15 minutes. The macarons should form a very thin, smooth crust where, if you tap it lightly with your finger, the batter will not stick to your finger. If after 15 minutes, the batter is still sticky, let it dry longer. This may take up to an hour on humid days.
  8. Place both baking sheets in the oven and bake for 15-18 minutes. After the first 2 minutes, open the oven to allow any excess humidity to escape. Halfway through, swap oven racks and rotate the sheets for even baking. The macarons are done when they are baked all the way through and the shells are just hard. Take care to not underbake (insides will still be mushy) or overbake (tops will begin to brown). Remove them from the oven, and cool on baking sheet placed on a wire rack.
  9. When fully cooled, assemble the macarons with your choice of filling. The assembled macarons can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week.

 

I bought my almond flour from Costco but it wasn’t quite ground down to a fine powder. I mixed the almond flower and powdered sugar together and threw it in my Magic Bullet to grind it down. Now I learned that I should have taken more time and done it in smaller batches because I did still end up with larger chunks of almond and not as smooth of a macaroon top as I thought I should have.

I am an impatient person and was not planning 3 days ago to make macarons. So I found a tip that said you can age eggs by heating them up. I separated my egg whites into a bowl and microwaved them for about 20 seconds. The tip I was following said up to 30 seconds but I know my microwave zaps things pretty quick so I kept it at 20. It seemed to work well.

My last tip on the making of the macarons is that I used a silicone macaron baking mat, totally not necessary. I am not a fan of the silicone bakeware and this just made me kind of angry because everything sticks to the dang stuff. Next time, I am just going to draw out the little circles. Much easier in the long run. It does look like a good idea, but cleaning it is just not worh it.

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Some of the ‘feet’ turned out perfect and some were lop sided and some fell apart and broke when I picked them up. Like these, this is a google image but it’s bang on to my massacre of macarons.

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Adapted from I Love Macarons by Hisako Ogita

Basic Macaron Buttercream Filling

INGREDIENTS

7 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 egg yolks
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3 1/2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS

  1. Cut butter into pieces, and mash with a spatula until the consistency resembles mayonnaise.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk the egg yolks, then add the granulated sugar, and whisk until the mixture lightens to an off-white and you can no longer see the granules of sugar. Add the milk, and whisk to combine.
  3. Pour the egg mixture into a small saucepan, and heat over low heat, whisking frequently to ensure that the mixture does not curdle or scorch. Cook until the mixture becomes thick and custardy, like pudding.
  4. Pour the egg mixture back into its bowl, and whisk constantly until it returns to room temperature. Whisk in the butter in three batches, add the vanilla, and stir until smooth and all ingredients are fully combined. Pipe or spread onto one macaron half and sandwich between the other.

I have no complaints with this buttercream. I like it because it doesn’t call for icing sugar. I don’t know what it is but I do not like the taste of it.

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Store them in an airtight container and keep them in the fridge. The key to eating the macaron so that it is at its tastiest, is to let it sit out at room temperature for a few minutes before sinking your teeth into them. I have no self control so waiting that extra minute is extremely difficult, but very much worth it.

If this is you first attempt at making macarons, I hope they turn out well. They are not that tricky to make. I know the precise directions can turn you off of trying it but trust me, it really isn’t that bad. I made lemon filled macarons, what are you going to make? Here’s a little flavour chart to help you decide, happy baking!

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