Sunday, August 30, 2015

Daring Bakers August 2015 Challenge: Gluten-Free Seed and Nut Loaf

For the August challenge, Susan from The Kiwi Cook dared us to make Seed & Nut Loaf – a super-healthy and gluten-free alternative to standard wheat-based bread. Apart from the previous Daring Cooks challenge, I have next to no experience with gluten-free cooking, so it was a new and educational experience for me. The ingredient list meant a trip to the city, although I suspect that one or two of the local bulk and health food stores might have carried them too.
There's a lot of waiting time with this recipe, and the reviews I read mentioned that the waiting time is what 'sets' the loaf so it isn't so very crumbly, so I decided to stick to the recipe.

First, I lined a loaf pan with parchment paper and sprayed it with canola oil.

I assembled the wet and dry ingredients separately. In the first bowl:
  • 1 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup flax seeds
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • 1-1/2 cups gluten-free rolled oats
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • 4 tbsp psyllium seed husks
  • 1 tsp fine grain sea salt
And then the wet ingredients. May I just say, coconut oil makes a slodge of soggy look beautiful!
  • 1 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 3 tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 1-1/2 cups water
I went easy on the water, thinking I could add more later if the mixture were too dry.
I was glad of that when it came time to mix the wet and dry ingredients together, as the mixture was very wet. I patted it into the loaf pan, covered it with plastic wrap, and let it sit on the counter for 2 hours. I've been into Masterchef Australia lately, so that gave me time to a watch a couple episodes.
Towards the end of the 2 hours, I preheated the oven to 350F, took the plastic wrap off, and popped it into the oven. This is a twice-baked loaf, so after 20 minutes I took it out, inverted the bread onto a wire rack, and baked it for another 30-40 minutes.
I was worried that the whole thing would disintegrate on the rack, but - thankfully - it held! I had to go digging for this wire rack, since my most-accessible ones are coated and I wasn't sure they would enjoy the oven's heat.
It's a small but nice thing: there's no need to turn it out again. You just yoink the loaf from the oven and wait. And wait.
And wait.
That second bake toasted the loaf and that wonderful nutty aroma wisped out of the oven, making me want to dig in immediately! But according to the recipe, waiting until it cools completely helps prevent disintigration, so that's what I did.
I might try to spread this mixture on a cookie sheet next time, since the ingredients remind me a bit of granola bars. The crust had good crunch to it, and the centre was soft, almost too soft for me. I think my original mixture could've used a quarter cup less water. I'm also not entirely sold on the flavour. A few spices might've changed it up for the better. However, I think it's really meant to be used like bread, in which case, adding flavour via toppings makes the non-distinctive flavour a plus. 

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Daring Cooks' August 2015 Challenge: Raw, Whole, Healthy 'Cheese'cakes

For the August challenge Susan from The Kiwi Cook dared us to make healthy and wholesome raw ‘cheesecakes’ with no cream cheese in sight! Anyone who's familiar with my baking knows that butter, cheese, creamcheese, and sugar are no stranger to me, so I never would've picked this recipe to try without prodding!

 This is my first challenge, and of course I'm late with it. The recipe contained enough new ingredients that I had to wait until I could get up to the city and spend some time at my favourite bulk food store to be able to complete it.

Thankfully, the ingredients seemed to be the only challenging thing about this recipe! The method and technique were simple enough. There's no baking involved either (raw ingredients!) so it didn't heat up the apartment, which is an added bonus in August.

Although Susan provided a number of alternatives, I stuck with her featured recipe, a raspberry and vanilla 'cheese'cake. I was actually a bit nervous, but this morning I decided 5 days late was enough and it was time to take the plunge!

The recipe below (provided by Susan, the challenger) was inspired by this recipe from My New Roots.

Mise en place, always the mise en place! With a few new (to me) ingredients, I took a little extra care in assembling them.

  • 1/2 cup raw almonds (with skin or blanched)
  • 1/2 cup flaked or shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup soft pitted Medjool dates
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract (I used my own homemade vanilla)
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil, melted
1) Process all base ingredients (except for coconut oil) in food processor until desired texture is achieved. (In this case, desired texture means something that will still be crunchy/chunky but also holds together nicely.) Add melted coconut oil bit by bit if mixture needs help holding together.

2) Press into base of muffin pan holes. (I lined mine with cupcake papers and pressed approximately 1-1/2 to 2 tbsp of the base mixture into each compartment.)

3) Set aside.

  • 1-1/2 cups raw cashews, soaked overnight in water
  • juice of 1 lemon (2 tbsp)
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract (again, I used my own)
  • 1 tsp savoury yeast flakes (optional; this is meant to impart a cheesy flavour)
  • 1/3 cup raw coconut oil, melted
  • 1/3 cup (or to taste) maple syrup, raw honey, or agave nectar (I used local raspberry honey.)
  • up to 6 tbsp water
  • 1 cup fresh raspberries (or thawed if using frozen)

1) Clean food processor. You don't want chunky bits in your creamy filling!

2) Warm coconut oil until melted. If using solid honey, honey can be melted together with coconut oil.

3) Place all filling ingredients except for raspberries in food processor and process. Texture should be thick and creamy.

4) Using about 2/3 of the mixture, top individual bases with filling. Smooth with back of spoon. (I used a small ice-cream scoop to keep the amounts relatively equal.) If quite runny, pop into freezer to firm up before adding raspberry layer. (I used the freezer and found some old perogies in the process of making space...)

5) Add raspberries to remaining filling. Blend on high until smooth. Add to each cake. (I didn't really care for the colour of the first layer, but wow! Raspberry can make anything beautiful!)

6) Freeze for at least 2 hours until cakes are solid. To serve, remove from freezer at least 30 minutes before serving.
A note or two:
  • I used honey as my sweetener. When I tasted the filling mixture, the honey flavour was rather overpowering, but once the cakes had set, it wasn't as pronounced.
  • My food processor is rather large for this recipe, so it was hard to get the filling to an absolutely creamy texture. It ended up being a bit grainy, but not enough to be off-putting, and once again, freezing helped smooth things out.
  • Raspberries. Raspberries are good.
  • Using the cupcake papers was a good idea. It made popping them out of the silicone stress-free.
  • I was also concerned that there would be an overwhelming coconut flavour. That subsided once the whole thing was assembled.
  • The base was rather crumbly even though I added the coconut oil. I think that was because I should have processed it a bit longer.
  • I would actually make this again! It was tasty and pleasantly sweet. 

Friday, June 29, 2012


(Sorry about the picture quality. Now that Picnik is gone, I'm not sure how to tweak my photos)

Well, this is a Fraisier! Much easier than I thought it would be, with 4 components (plus strawberries) and light and airy and not too sweet!

The recipes and instructions for assembly came from this book, and it took one morning (maybe 2 hours?) to complete, although I had made the marzipan the night before.

I ended up baking the sponge in one sheet pan and then piecing the bottom together with bits left over after I had but out a circle for the top. I used kirsch in the syrup and in the creme mousseline, but I couldn't taste it in the final product. Finally, I probably should've reserved a bit more of the mousseline for the top layer after adding the chopped strawberries.

Definitely want to make this one again!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Rose Cake

Ombre and roses...does it get more girly?

This cake was made with a vanilla cake recipe (to which I added varying amounts of pink Americolor gels) and a buttercream recipe that I'm pretty sure I got from Sweetapolita's website. (Sorry, I just can't seem to find the exact link right now.) I filled it with vanilla pudding and flavoured the buttercream lightly with LorAnn's Raspberry Flavor.

The roses were far, far simpler to make than I thought they'd be. A search on Pinterest yielded iambaker's tutorial, but for some reason the website was down. (I've heard she's looking for a new host.) Luckily, I found this tutorial on YouTube.

Some notes:
  • the recipe makes 3-8" cakes pretty much perfectly
  • adding burgundy deepens the pink
  • adding peach makes it more 'rosy' looking
  • make a double recipe of buttercream (i.e. with 2 cups butter, 8 cups icing sugar, 8 tbsp whipping cream, and 3 tsp vanilla)...even then, this cake has a 3"-square bald spot! (Just don't use quite as much on the sides when doing the first coat.)

Saturday, August 6, 2011

For the last day of school

I baked a gazillion cookies and cupcakes. (Thanks, Lois, for helping me decorate the cupcakes!) The theme was summer, so there were watermelon and beachball cookies, and cupcakes decorated to look like the beach, or with a flag in them. The idea was to sell them to raise money for the music program. I thought to sell by donation, but I think that maybe scared people off. I'd like to try this again...baking is fun!

(Note to self: donut boxes from Village Bakery are cheap and great for transporting large numbers of undecorated cupcakes!)

Sunday, March 27, 2011


I bought this cookie cutter many many months ago and figured, with spring break giving me the extra time and all, now was the time to break it out! I iced outlined all the cookies with a light brown royal icing using the Wilton round tip #4. My biggest challenge right now is icing consistency, and I think I either should have used a smaller tip and/or a slightly thicker icing. Something to think about for next time. I mixed two more colours, kelly green with a touch of black to dirty it up, and grey (which came out looking a little pale-purply). I tried to make sure these ones were fairly runny. I used the plastic bottles to create random shapes. The icing was runny enough that the different colours smoothed over nicely. I'm hoping these cookies will be going to Chris, and since he doesn't have a huge sweet tooth (unlike myself), I figured he might take them to SAE (I can't remember what the letters stand for, but basically, he's designing an RC plane with a bunch of aerospace engineers for competition). I'm assuming they could use a little fuel. When I took the previous picture, I noticed little bumps on the otherwise smooth icing. At first I thought I hadn't mixed it up properly, but then I remembered reading about air bubbles...sure enough, when I poked them with a toothpick, they released and the icing smoothed over. The problem is, the bubbles continued to rise even when the icing had started to crust, creating bumps in the finish. I'm not sure if this is a sign of over-mixing, making the icing too thick, or...? I guess I'll have to experiment with this one. The finished product:

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


So I got into a bunch of cookie decorating blogs, and this is the result! (Sweetopia is one of them...I've got her bookmarked now.) I had a lot of fun, didn't have to buy (too many) new tools, and made a few discoveries along the way.

In case you're wondering why I chose poisonous mushrooms as a motif, they feature prominently in German kids' books' drawings, along with adorable hedgehogs and gnomes. Plus, I figured it was a simple way to start.

Notes to self:

  • Wilton's Christmas Red makes a sickly pink colour. (Thank goodness for Picnik's photo editing capabilities!)
  • I could have thinned the flow icing a wee bit more.
  • If you shake a cookie hard enough, icing will fly off (instead of settling in nicely)

P.S. Annelore, this one's for you! :)