Friday, November 22, 2013

Cranberry and Pear Eggnog Cake

I have to say that I am loving the colder weather. Though there has not been any snow, it is clear winter is knocking on the door. I love winter more as I get older. It is the time of the year that 
life slows down a bit. I think we all like to spend more time in our homes on cold winter days.
For some of us the cold weather drives us into the kitchen to create foods that will make our 
house smell heavenly. This newest recipe will do exactly that. It is a perfect cake for all needs. Pretty enough to serve to guests and addicting enough to eat ALL day. Seriously. The smell from the nutmeg as it bakes is like a warm hug from your Gramma. I kid you not! And we all could use a hug like that on cold bitter days, don't you agree? 

Cranberry and Pear Eggnog Cake

Preheat oven 350
Grease and line the bottom of a 8 x 3 or 9 x 2 cake pan


1 1/2 cups of flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp nutmeg ( fresh grated if possible )
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup unsalted butter melted
1/2 cup eggnog
3 tbsp rum
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup of frozen or fresh cranberries
1 cup of frozen or fresh pears (chopped into chunks)
3/4 cup walnut halves or pieces


Stir together in small bowl the flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg, set aside.
In a medium bowl combine eggs and sugar. Beat until light and fluffy.
Stir in rum and vanilla.
Mix together the melted butter and eggnog
To the egg and sugar mixture add the dry ingredients and eggnog/ butter in
batches starting and ending with the dry ingredients. Beating well after
each addition. 
Fold in the cranberries and pears carefully.
Spoon batter into prepared pan.
Sprinkle top of batter with walnuts pushing down gently into batter.
Bake for 45 to 60 minutes or until done.
Remove from oven and cool for 15 minutes.
Turn out of pan and cool completely.
Once cooled, drizzle icing over top.
Store in an airtight container.


3/4 cup icing sugar
2 tbsp eggnog or cream
1 tsp vanilla

Stir together until blended. 
Adding more icing sugar if needed.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Bourbon Spice Cake with Caramel Chocolate Frosting

Another day well spent. I love the weekends, even if it means cramming them full just
to have that amazing feeling come Monday that I have actually completed tasks.
Not that I had many, but the few I had were time consuming. 

I am doing my best to slow down my weekends because before I know it, the month of 
December will be upon me and I will have to strap a jet pack on my back just to get through 
each day. So for now I will enjoy the quiet and slow paced days creating new recipes.

Creating a recipe takes hours. I never gave it much thought. I just enjoyed looking at the
finished product and deciding if the recipe seemed not overly daunting when I was flipping
through mountains of food magazine and cookbooks. But now that I am wanting to create
my own original recipes I look at those food references very differently.

I learnt so very little from Culinary School compared to what I have managed to pick up
just by immersing myself in my little kitchen and not being afraid to experiment.
They say there is a science to baking..... no doubt. Yet I feel a person has to 
love the craft to get beyond the science. So today's cake is using basic knowledge of cake 
ingredients but adding an extra ingredient to create a delicious end result.

Bourbon Spice Cake with Caramel Chocolate Frosting

**At least one day before making cake, combine these in a container 
with a lid at room temperature.

8 oz dried prunes
3 oz bourbon

Preheat oven to 325
Grease and line bottom of a 8 inch x 3 inch cake pan

1/2 cup of soft unsalted butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 eggs ( room temperature )
1 tsp vanilla
1 oz bourbon
1/4 cup strong coffee
8 oz of bourbon soaked prunes
1 1/2 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp nutmeg

In a food processor combine butter and sugars. Blend well. 
Add eggs and blend until light and airy.
Add vanilla, bourbon, coffee and prunes.
Process until prunes are well chopped.

In a medium bowl sift the remaining dry ingredients.
Pour the wet ingredients over the dry and mix well.
Spoon batter into prepared pan, smoothing top.
Bake in oven for 45 to 65 minutes
Careful not to over cook.
Remove from oven and cool for 15 minutes.
Turn out of pan and cool completely.

Caramel Chocolate Frosting

2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/4 cup dulce de leche
1/2 cup heavy cream
4 ox bittersweet chocolate ( chopped )
2 Tbsp bourbon

In a small sauce pan combine butter, dulce de leche and cream.
Cook over medium heat to a simmer and butter is melted.
Place chopped chocolate in a small bowl and pour hot cream mixture
over top. 
Stir gently until combined, let cool.
Stir in bourbon.
Place in refrigerator until thickened.
Mixture should thicken to frosting consistency.
Spread over cooled cake.
Decorate with chocolate shaving or cocoa powder. 

** I know prunes are not a well liked ingredient, but trust me
you will not even notice them if they are processed well. But they
are key to giving this cake moisture and hold all the Bourbon goodness.:)

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Meyer Lemon Meringue Cake

Well here I am back again with another lemon recipe. Apparently I can stay true to my words
especially if it involves cake. This recipe took a few days to put together. Not because it is 
labor intensive but life seems to always set me off course. I am coming to terms with the fact that
blogging and baking is not a race. I do not have a final destination with this creative outlet.
I am just going to "be" for now and enjoy the journey. Lots of deep breaths are needed these days 
so I will just inhale and breathe out slowly all my creative wants and needs while tip toeing through
my crazy unpredictable life. Thank goodness for good cake. 

Meyer Lemon Meringue Cake

Lemon Curd: makes about 250 ml ( best to make one day ahead )

3 egg yolks
zest of 1 lemon
1/3 cup lemon juice ( regular lemon )
1/2 cup sugar
6 tbsp unsalted butter 

In a small saucepan mix together the egg yolks, lemon zest, lemon juice
and sugar. Set over medium heat and stir constantly with whisk.
Simmer gently while stirring until mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon.
Remove from heat and add butter one  piece at a time until all incorporated.
Pour through a sieve into a small bowl. Let cool. 
Cover with plastic wrap and chill until firm and ready to use.

Cake Recipe: makes 2 eight inch rounds

Preheat oven to 350
Grease and paper line the bottom of cake pans

2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup oil
1 cup buttermilk
2 Meyer lemons ( or 2 small lemons )

Cut lemons in quarters. Place them in a food processor. Pulse until fine pulp. 
Add sugar and blend. Add eggs, blend until thick and pale in colour.
Slowly add oil, buttermilk and vanilla. Blend thoroughly.
Add the dry ingredients and pulse until well mixed.
Pour into prepared pans.
Bake for 20 minutes or until done.
Remove from oven and cool completely.

Meringue Frosting

3/4 cup sugar
3 large egg whites
2 tbsp cold water
1 tbsp light corn syrup
1 tsp vanilla

Add first 4 ingredients to a mixer bowl. 
Place bowl over simmering water.
Whisk until sugar is dissolved and reaches a temperature of 150 degrees.
Remove from simmering water and place in mixer stand. 
Beat until soft floppy peaks. Add vanilla.
Beat again until stiff glossy peaks. May take about 7 to 10 minutes.
Refrigerate right away until ready to assemble cake.


Place one cake layer on cake plate. Spread generously with lemon curd.
Place second layer on top. Making sure curd does not spill out over sides.
Spread Meringue icing all over layered cake. It is not important to spread 
evenly. Try to lift meringue upwards while spreading.

Now for the fun part. Blow torch time!
Using a kitchen torch, run flame all over meringue toasting the icing
as dark as you like or just the tips.
Refrigerate right away. Serve same day.

If you are ambitious, make small meringue cookies as I have done 
and decorate the top. Either way the cake will taste wonderful.

This is a great recipe for Meringue Cookies

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Gluten Free Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins


It has been what seems like forever since I last posted. Forever is extreme but it has been a long time for sure. Life seemed to have had a domino effect of events in that time. Some good but mostly not. Blogging for some is a way to share details of their daily life. For me, that is not the case. I do however want to continue creating recipes and sharing those. I will eventually be starting a new blog and I am excited about that! But in the meantime I hope that I will still peak interest in this one :) 

I am lucky to have access to a Meyer lemon tree and am happy to put them to good use.
Meyer lemons are super good to bake and cook with. They seem to have a milder zest and to me at least, a slight smoky taste. Since I have an abundance of them, fair warning that there will be a more than a few lemon recipes being posted here :) It is a good thing I love lemon.

Gluten Free lemon Poppy Seed Muffins  ( makes 8 to 12 )

Preheat oven to 350
Line muffin pan

2 cups GF Flour
1 tsp xanthan gum
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
4 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup water
juice and zest from 2 small lemons **( of course use regular lemons if that is what you have)
2 Tbsp poppy seeds


1 cup icing sugar
lemon juice
1/2 tsp vanilla


Sift and stir together all dry ingredients in a small bowl. Set aside.
In a large bowl whisk eggs until foamy. Add sugar and whisk again until light.
Add oil, sour cream and water. 
Stir in lemon juice and zest.
Mix in dry ingredients until combined.
Stir in poppy seeds.

Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full.
Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until done**
Cool in pan for 10 minutes then remove to cooling rack.
Cool completely before glazing.

In a small bowl combine icing sugar, vanilla and just enough lemon juice to make
a not too thin glaze. Pour over muffins a little at a time.***
Let set.
Store in airtight container.

** Every one's oven cooks differently for a variety of reasons so best to bake on the lower
cooking time.

*** When baking Gluten Free the finished products is more delicate than standard
flour recipes. I find it best to use a lighter approach when glazing or icing.