Gingerbread House

A short while ago I was asked to help out in my Aunt's grade 1 classroom to help the students make gingerbread houses. We had a fun time mixing icing and sticking on candies. My Aunt showed them a picture of the gingerbread house I made for the GBC contest in first year and the kids were all in awe asking me, "how do you do that?"; I replied with the truth, "with patience and practice!" Before I left the class that day I told them I would send a picture of the gingerbread house I made this year. It might not be as fancy as the contest gingerbread house but I had fun making it. So here are the pictures just for them!
Enjoy!


Chocolate butter cookies

Yesterday I found myself intoxicated by the wonderful smell of butter, sugar, and vanilla creaming in my mixer. There really is nothing like it! That was the beginning of the delicious chocolate butter cookies. These are a great Christmas cookie because they are easy to make and can pair with many different garnishes. They are buttery and not overly sweet, perfect with a coffee or tea break in the morning or entertaining guests in the evening. ENJOY!



Chocolate butter cookies

250g unsalted butter, softened
100g sugar
100g icing sugar
3g vanilla

250g All-purpose flour
50g dutch processed cocoa
3g baking powder
pinch of salt

Desired garnishes such as glacé cherries, nuts, chocolate disks, marzipan, crushed candy cane, etc...

1. Cream butter, sugars, and vanilla until light and fluffy, scraping down occasionally
2. Sift together dry ingredients
3. Add dry ingredients to butter sugar mixture, blending well
4. With a piping bag fitted with an 809 (or large round) tip, pipe into 1.5 inch circles, 1 inch apart
5. top with desired garnish
6. Bake in a preheated oven at 300f for 16 minutes
7. cool and enjoy!

Banana Buttermilk Muffins

MMMMMMMMM Muffins! Today, to my delight, my mother asked me to make some banana muffins to use up some buttermilk and frozen bananas we had. I flipped through a baking book and found a few recipes, none of which were quite what I needed, so in my true form I decided to do freestyle muffin making (freestyle is often what I love to do but the results are not always what I desire!). I thought of what I wanted to put in the muffins and went from there, adapting the measurements and temperature from the recipe book. I also used my own mixing method because I used oil instead of butter. The result was great! The muffins baked well, were tasty, and best of all were tunnel free! woooo! So because I was so happy with them I did a little muffin photo shoot and wrote out the recipe to use again (and to share with you).

p.s. I thought I would let you know that I made these muffins in my newest addition to the apron collection; multi-coloured owl print.....with pockets! I LOVE IT! (pictures below recipe)




Banana Buttermilk Muffins

Makes 24 muffins

3 large eggs
225g brown sugar
170g honey
100g canola oil

5g vanilla
1 1/2 C. buttermilk

450g All-purpose flour
20g wheat bran
8g baking powder
8g baking soda
3g salt
3g cinnamon

3 bananas (I used thawed frozen bananas), mashed

(optional) topping of choice eg. streusel, nuts, seeds, coarse sugar, etc...


Line two twelve cup muffin tins with liners and spray top with nonstick spray.
Preheat oven to 375f

In an electric mixer with the paddle attachment combine eggs, brown sugar, honey, and oil. Mix on medium speed for 8 min. While it's mixing, combine buttermilk and vanilla. Sift together flour, wheat bran, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. With the mixer running, add 1/3 buttermilk/vanilla. Stop mixer and add 1/3 dry ingredients, mix on low until just combined. Scrape down and give one or two stirs of batter with a spatula. Repeat with second 1/3 and final 1/3. Fold in mashed bananas with spatula. Fill muffin cups just below the top with batter, sprinkle with topping if desired. Bake 16 minutes (rotating after 8 min if necessary). Let cool and ENJOY!

Apron

My 21st Birthday!

I am writing my blog today with a very joy-filled heart. Not only did I have a great birthday weekend but right now I am enjoying a vanilla ice cream cone covered with caramel corn! Why I haven't done this before is unknown, it's great!
Last friday I celebrated my 21st birthday and the common question around that day is, "Who is going to make your birthday cake?". The answer...ME! I love making my own cake and this year was quite an exciting one. Recently my reading time has been filled with a blog about the best pastry in Paris (click here) which I found a few weeks ago. The awesome flavour combinations and unique assemblage of pastries inspired me to make my own. Starting off with the desire to make a mousse cake surrounded with macaron shells, I chose to do a white chocolate-cranberry-lemon mousse with lemon macarons. For the sponge in the mousse cake I decided to try gingerbread flavour and layered it with lemon curd. I also made bubble sugar to decorate the top. The overall creation was stimulating for both the eyes and the palate and I was very excited because the recipes for the mousse and sponge were my own.
To accompany the mousse cake I made a croquembouche of profiteroles filled with chocolate pastry cream and decorated with fondant flowers and a marzipan birthday ribbon, a banana custard tart with rum glaze, and mint cake bites. I had a wonderful time creating the desserts and was so happy the birthday guests liked the final results. ENJOY


White chocolate Cranberry Lemon Mousse cake



Croquembouche


Banana tart


Mint cake bites

Christmas cookies

Christmas is right around the corner and thats means spending time with friends, family, and loved ones. Evening parties, afternoon tea with the girls, and children's play dates all become more special with festive treats. I was playing with ideas and made some little bite sized cookies perfect for these occasions: vanilla orange cookies with strawberry jam filling. ENJOY!



4th Birthday

Multicolour with stars. That was the request of my little cousin for his fourth birthday cake. We had looked at Lightning McQueen, dinosaurs, Diego, etc... but his favourite was a cake with stars on it and he wanted it to be multicoloured. (I discovered this week that he really does love multicolours. I was helping to look after him and his sister and we did a lot of colouring, all of which was multicoloured.) The flavour he wanted was vanilla cake with vanilla filling and I did a vanilla buttercream with fondant stars for the decoration. I thought that putting stars all over the cake would be a bit boring so I decided to put opposite coloured balls of fondant on top of the ring of stars to give a stronger contrast. I was happy with the overall look but felt it was still missing something. After a few hum's and ahh's I did some designs on the stars around the edge and put 4's on the balls of fondant on top. Then it looked good. ENJOY!

Saturday Morning Croissants

Butter, butter, and MORE BUTTER! mmmm. That is why home-made croissants are so good. This morning I made some buttery melt-in-your-mouth croissants which were so tasty I had to control myself before I fainted from butter overload, which really wouldn't be a bad reason to faint. The baking croissants filled my nose with the smell of butter, my mind of Paris (although I was reading a Paris pastry blog while the croissant were baking, so maybe it was partially due to that), and my mouth with a dancing tongue in anticipation of the treat soon to come.

There were three varieties: the unadorned butter croissant, cheese filled, and chocolate filled. I hope you can ENJOY the pictures without drooling in your lap from thinking of their buttery goodness.


Pre-baked cheese croissant


Baked croissant


Partially consumed chocolate croissant

Gluten-free Snowflakes

This week I decided to dapple into the gluten-free market. One of my favourite christmas cookies are shortbread. YUM! They are not only delicious but have a good shelf life and are quite versatile in shape and decoration. They also are a cookie that does not require gluten formation therefore making it an easy adapter for gluten-free versions. I decided to make some snowflakes out of the dough I made since it is approaching the snowy season and I wanted to do some decorating.

I started out by looking at my regular shortbread recipe and exchanged the wheat flour for a mixture of gluten free flours. Before determining the amount of each gluten-free flour I tasted each (not my favourite part of recipe testing, but it is key), making notes on their individual texture and flavour. I decided on white rice flour as the main replacer with the addition of coconut flour and yellow corn flour. I mixed and rolled the dough in the usual way but discovered that the cookies browned much faster than those made with wheat flour therefore shortening the bake time. The finished result was pleasant but I think it may need a few more tweaks.

Here is the recipe I came up with, feel free to try them out and let me know what you think:

40g icing sugar
30g cornstarch
45g rice flour
30g coconut flour
15g yellow corn flour
100g unsalted butter

Blend all ingredients except butter until mixed. Cut in butter with a pastry blender until a moist dough forms. Roll out on a gluten-free floured surface and cut into favourite shapes. Place on a parchment lined cookie sheet and bake in a 290f pre-heated oven for 11 min. Cool and decorate with chocolate or royal icing.

* Stay tuned for the next test batch of these cookies

ENJOY!


Caramel Apple Macarons and Curry Macarons

YUM!!! All I can say after eating these macarons is YUM! I am constantly coming up with new ideas (especially macaron flavours) so I used my free time this week to make some into realities. The first I made were Caramel Apple Macarons; apple cider shells with caramel filling. I came up with this idea while thinking of fall flavours and I often like to form one dessert into another. Caramel apples were what I thought of and then came the 'How do I make them?'. I thought of different ideas such as a caramel shell with apple butter filling as well as an apple shell with caramel filling, this time I chose the latter. To make the shell flavoured like apple I was going to use sour apple drink crystals but while at The Bulk Barn I noticed the hot apple cider crystals and got those instead (hoping for a more 'natural' apple flavour). The result was great! The macaron shells not only grew feet while baking (for those who don't know, the 'feet' of macaron shells are the little ruffly part at the bottom that form while baking) but also tasted yummy and with a harvest-apple flavour. The caramel was a bit tricky since I wanted it to be firm enough not to run but also soft enough to sandwich between the macarons. I decided to heat it a bit for a good slightly-flowing consistancy which looked promising until I checked them later on and they had slid around a bit. Next time I will do an apple butter buttercream dam so the caramel can't flow out. I also had a slight disaster right before I was going to fill them with the caramel; I dropped the container of shells! I was so scared to open the lid and find all of my work gone to crumbles but I managed to save enough to make about 12 macarons, whew! The recipes for both the shells and caramel are at the bottom of this post.




Since I was on a macaron roll I decided to try another crazy flavour idea (and I also wanted to use up the caramel I had made)
so I tried curry and the main flavour. I am only posting pictures of these because I like them so much I can't yet part with the recipe. I will guarantee that it will be posted in the future. I also want to give a shout out to my friend Susan who has given me numerous tips on how to photograph food (this is why my pictures for this post look good). She also has a great blog with really nice pictures you should check out here: Visions of Sweetness





Caramel Apple Macarons

Shells:

63g ground almonds
75g icing sugar
45g instant hot apple cider drink crystals
50g liquid egg whites at room temperature
2 drops lemon juice
desired gel colour (I used red and brown)

2 bowls
1 whisk (or electric mixer)
1 spatula
2 parchment lined baking sheets (or use silicon mats if you prefer)
12'' decorator bag
round tip (I used Ateco 805)

Step 1: weight out and have ready all ingredients and tools

Step 2: in a food processor blend the ground almonds and icing sugar until very fine, about 30 sec.

Step 3: in a med sized bowl, whip the egg whites and lemon juice until foamy. While continually whipping (I did this by hand but I think an electric mixer would do fine) slowly add in the hot apple cider crystals and food colour (if desired) continue whipping to stiff peaks.

Step 4: add the almond and icing sugar mix to your whipped egg whited and apple cider mix and gently fold together, ensuring all is combined. The consistency is key so be careful not to over mix but also make sure it is runny enough that it will slightly flow once piped.

Step 5: fill the piping bag with the paste and pipe onto the parchment lined trays, approx 36 shells, and leave to dry for 45 min or until a crust has formed on the top.

Step 6: preheat a convection oven to 300f and bake shells for 13 min rotating halfway through. Let cool and then fill.


Caramel

151g sugar
40 g whipping cream warmed
50 g unsalted butter at room temperature
pinch of salt
2 drops lemon juice
2 drops vanilla

whisk
small pot
heat proof spatula

Step 1: weigh out all ingredients and have utensils ready.

Step 2: dry caramelize the sugar to a deep golden brown, remove from heat and slowly add the warm cream, whisking continually.

Step 3: add in the salt, lemon juice, vanilla, and butter and whisk vigorously for 1 min. Cool.


*use your favourite buttercream to make a dam around the inside of each macaron to prevent to caramel from running.

ENJOY!

Music cakes

Last week I had an order from a friends brother for two cakes and some chocolate croissants. The baking was for his choir group so I decided to incorporate music notes and symbols into the decoration of the cakes. The flourless chocolate cake was made with two types of Lindt chocolate and covered in a chocolate ganache glaze. The Raspberry cream cake was a vanilla-orange butter cake filled with rich vanilla pastry cream and fresh raspberries covered with vanilla meringue buttercream and topped with more fresh raspberries. The chocolate croissants were an all butter dough filled with bittersweet Lindt chocolate and dusted with icing sugar. ENJOY!



Baby Alex Gets Baptized

Little baby Alex was baptized this past sunday and to celebrate the wonderful occasion I was asked to make a cake. His mom requested that it be three tiers in white and blue fondant with a dove. This is the design that I came up with: base tier with blue polka dots, second tier with blue writing (peace, hope, love, kindness, joy, etc...), top tier with a dove and then a 'God bless Alex' banner to finish it off. The cake was vanilla with mixed berry jam filling and vanilla buttercream.

p.s. the banner is hard to see due to a light glare.

ENJOY!

Fishing lure cake

My boyfriend celebrated his birthday last week and to celebrate the special day I wanted to make a special cake. A few moths ago I was looking in a cake book and saw a fishing basket cake which I thought I was going to do, but as it was the day before I needed the cake I didn't have time to make all of the pieces and decorations. I came up with something simpler but still was quite fun: a fishing lure. I covered the cake (chocolate) with buttercream and then fondant. I then added details with a large popsicle stick, shimmer powder, edible dusts, and tinfoil. ENJOY!

Macarons

I am finally home after a month of traveling in Europe. Paris was one on the stops and the pastry there was awesome! The croissants were rich, buttery, and melted in your mouth. I tried 10 flavours of french macaron and the best by far was a milk chocolate passion fruit macaron from Pierre Herme. The shell was crisp on the exterior and smooth with just a hint of chewiness inside. The filling was a velvety smooth ganache, full of chocolate flavour that perfectly complemented the tang of the passion fruit. I think I could have enjoyed 50 of these little delights if my pocket had been able to afford it.

After all the sampling and pastry discovery I decided that when I got home I was going to make macarons of my own (I couldn't wait to be in the kitchen again baking). Thanksgiving was just around the corner so I decided to make them for our family festivities. Inspired by harvest flavours I came up with pumpkin spice macarons. By the end of thanksgiving evening the 30 or so I had made were all gone and people were looking for more. Success! ENJOY!

Month Off

I will be taking a month off from baking. I you would like to order anything I will be starting again on October 8th.

Thank you,
Emily

London Calling

In only a few days my little sister (now 19!) will be starting a big adventure. She will soon be off to London, England to attend fashion school for a year.

Being the sister that I am, I threw her a goodbye party complete with a theme: Canadian. The idea behind the 'Canadian' theme was to show my sister how much she will miss Canada and that she must return when school is done (the probability of her falling in love with a British guy, due to his accent and charm, and wanting to stay in England is 1000000:1). Decor for the party was maple leaf balloons, Canada flag, "Goodbye Hilary" poster, etc... guests were also asked to dress up in a "Canadian" outfit such as a hockey jersey, lumber jack outfit, and so on. Some of the costumes were amazing, mine being one of the funniest with a Canada rain poncho and red and white curly afro wig and Canada flag tattoos on my cheeks. BUT of course the best part of the the theme was the food: maple cheese cake pops, nanaimo bars, butter tarts, peameal bacon sandwiches, ketchup chips (yes these are Canadian), poutine, and chocolate loonies and toonies.

Last but not least was the cake (although not Canadian themed). Being into fashion, my sister does quit a bit of sewing and for the better part of the year our dining room (not to mention other unexpected places) has been taken over by her material, pins, needles, patterns, machine, etc...I thought that a sewing basket cake would reflect her well. The look of the basket was done in buttercream while the top decorations were done in fondant. There are pins, needles, thread, a zipper, material, ribbon, measuring tape, measurements, and buttons all completed with a needle point "GOODBYE HILARY". The cake was lemon (a recipe of my own, using a different mixing technique, which will soon be blogged about once it has been perfected) with a blueberry filling. ENJOY!

Caranberry orange cornmeal muffins

For the last little while I have been yearning to make muffins in orange rinds. I remember doing this once in girl guides as a child. We cooked ours over a fire when we were camping (which I would have done with these but didn't want to light a fire just to bake 3 muffins). I really wanted to have cornmeal as the main flavour and texture in the muffin because it is so yummy and also healthy. The orange flavour paired very nicely with the hearty flavour of the cornmeal and the dried cranberries were like sweet and flavourful jewels of surprise. Baking in the orange rinds gave the muffins excellent flavour as well as moistness. Due to the lack of heat conducted from the peel the muffins didn't brown on the bottom so they were best scooped out of the rind with a spoon. YUM. ENJOY!

A little man's birthday cake

This is a cake that I recently made for a friend's son who turned 8 on his birthday. He loves Star Wars, fishing (there are fish around the side of the cake) and now his dad has got him into dirt biking. Since these were things I knew he enjoyed I wanted to incorporate them all into his birthday cake to make it extra special. I knew the type of dirt bike they owned from a picture I had seen and what Star Wars fan doesn't like R2D2? These items along with a few fish were made out of fondant to decorate the chocolate cake with vanilla buttercream. Enjoy!

Wedding Cupcakes

Over the past few years cupcakes have become a very popular choice for weddings instead of a full cake. The last two wedding orders I had show that this trend is true, the brides both wanted cupcakes.

The first wedding had owls as a theme, so I thought it would be cute to have a owl on each cupcake. I bought an owl stamp off of etsy.com (a great website for handmade gifts!) and used it on round circles of gumpaste. Each cupcake had a swirl of vanilla buttercream, silver pearls, and the owl stamped gumpaste circle. I also made a cake for the bride and groom to cut which was decorated like a nest with two fondant owls sitting inside. (I only have a picture of the top cake)

The second round of cupcakes were done in five different flavours with five different designs. The bride showed me some designs she liked, told me the colours she wanted, and I put together similar designs with my own personal touch. These cupcakes had fondant on top and were decorated with royal icing and fondant.

ENJOY!


Petit Fours


I have been wanting to make petit fours for such a long time! The last (and only other) time I made them was in class over a year ago at GBC. They were really cute and really tasty. Finally I had an excuse to make some (as a gift for someone) so I jumped at the chance. The ones that I made were an adaptation from the GBC ones as I used raspberry jam instead of apricot and did 2 layers of sponge instead of 3. ENJOY!

Caramel Chocolate Chip Coconut Macaroon - Gluten free

A friend of mine just recently celebrated her 19th birthday and I wanted to make some treats to give her for this special occasion. These macaroons were inspired by the new scooper I bought a few weeks ago and had not yet given much use to. They were also partially inspired by the dulce de leche macaroons made at Bake: Dessert Co. where I did my externship.

I decided to make a caramel sauce and add in coconut, egg whites, cornsyrup, and chocolate chips. Then I let the mixture rest for an hour. I scooped them with my new scooper and baked in a 400f oven for 10 minutes. Enjoy!

My collection

Being a baker I have received many aprons over the years as gifts for my birthday, Christmas, etc... At one point I thought, "Wow I really don't need any more aprons!" but then I realized that they can be my collection. A lot of people collect things like stamps or shoes or item with roosters on them (my mom), so aprons are now mine! I love each of my aprons and I thought I would share my collection so far. Here they are:


Easter apron from Nanny (my grandma)


Red Williams Sonoma apron from Hilary (my sister)


White tea apron from Ann (friend)




Cupcake apron and oven mitt set from Hilary (sister)


Purple Guatamalan apron (brought all the way from Guatamala) from Leah (friend)



Reversible apron from Nanny (my grandma)


Green Christmas tree apron from Nanny (my grandma)


HOHOHO Christmas apron Nanny (my grandma)


Snowman apron from Aunt Beverly and Uncle Dave, Sewn by Aunt Roseanne


Vintage half apron from Julia (friend)


Yellow half apron made by and from Noni (my grandma)


Pink oven mitts from Jesse (friend)

ENJOY!