Cinnamon Roll Pinwheel

Yield: about 6 dozen cookies
Recipe: 106/200
“Back to Baking”, pp. 29

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     During the holidays I made another recipe to go with the banana walnut bread: cinnamon pinwheel cookies. Although the recipe seemed simple enough and did not require uncommon ingredients, it was a complete disaster. Now I’m not sure if it’s because I have never done cookies with a filling that need to be rolled like that before, but it was a big fiasco. As I prepared the dough, it was not coming together at all. It was much too dry. I had to add some whipping cream to make sure that it would form a ball. Then, the instruction for the filling was not as clear as I was expecting. Although the recipe says to divide the dough into two balls, then take one ball of dough and roll it out to the specified dimensions, the quantity of the ingredients for the filling seems to be halved. The recipes says to mix all the ingredients of the filling together and spread it out on the rolled dough. However, at this point we have only rolled out one. So either the prepared filling mixture has to be divided amongst the two rolled doughs, or the filling recipe needs to be doubled. When put in the oven, the cookies more than doubled in size and the filling was oozing out everywhere. It seems that I didn’t roll the filled dough tight enough.

       I am assuming that the fact that I added whipping cream to make the dough come together made it too loose and that is why it expanded so much in the oven, because it was not the right consistency. But I really don’t see how I could have done otherwise.  Also, if there was too much filling in between the layers of dough it is possible that did not help maintain the structure of the cookies. The cookies still taste good, but they are crunchy and not very pretty. I will definitely have to try this recipe again!

Ingredients for cookie dough:

  • 2 cups + 4 teaspoons all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup + 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cool but not cold, cut in pieces
  • 2 tablespoons whipping cream

Ingredients for filling:

  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

Directions:

  1. In a food processor, pulse together the flour, sugar and salt to combine. Note: alternatively, electric beaters could be used.
  2. Add the butter and pulse or blend until the dough is a rough, crumble texture.
  3. Add the whipping cream and pulse or blend until the dough comes together.
  4. Divide the dough into 2 pieces, wrap them in plastic wrap and set aside while preparing the filling. Note: do not refrigerate the dough.
  5. For the filling, stir all the ingredients together in a small bowl.
  6. On a lightly floured surface, roll out one piece of the dough into an 8 by 12-inch rectangle. Spread the filling evenly over the entire surface of the dough. Roll up the cookie dough in the style of cinnamon rolls, starting at the longer side. Repeat with the second piece of dough. Wrap each roll of filled dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours.
  7. Preheat the oven to 350°F and line two baking trays with parchment paper.
  8. Unwrap and slice the cookie rolls into ¼ inch (6 mm) slices, and lay the cookies 1 inch apart on the baking trays,
  9. Bake the cookies for 12-15 minutes, until they barely start to turn golden. Cool the cookies completely on the trays before removing.

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Valerie

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Banana Walnut Bread

Yield: one 9×5 inch loaf (about 12-16 slices)
Recipe: 105/200
“Back to Baking”, pp. 276

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     With a lot of time suddenly freed up after being done teaching a lab course, I took the opportunity during the weekend to bake a couple of things. It had been a while! Since I had some very ripe bananas in my fridge that needed to be used, I started with this vegan banana and walnut bread. It was simple to make, but the first time that I tasted it I wasn’t too impressed. I found it a bit too salty and not sweet enough. I thought that it was perhaps because my bananas were beyond saving (I’m telling you, they were very old and I think they may have started to ferment) and for this reason were not as sweet as normal ripe bananas. However, the second and third time I tried the bread I grew to like it. The banana flavour is not as strong as what I am used to, but you can definitely still taste the bananas. What surprised me most is the texture of this bread. Since there are no eggs, butter or dairy milk, I was not expecting such a fluffy texture. You could never tell that this recipe is egg-free and dairy-free! If you are looking for a yummy banana bread that does not require eggs or dairy, definitely give this a try! Word to the wise, I strongly advise you to use ripe bananas that have black spots on the skin, that is when they will be the sweetest.

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ cups mashed ripe bananas (about 3 medium bananas)
  • ⅓ cup packed light brown sugar
  • ⅓ cup vegetable oil
  • ⅓ cup almond or soy milk
  • 1 ⅔ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup walnut pieces

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the mashed bananas, brown sugar, vegetable oil and almond or soy milk.
  3. In a separate bowl, sift and whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  4. Add the dry mixture to the banana mixture and stir until evenly blended.
  5. Stir in the walnut pieces and mix well.
  6. Scrape the batter into the loaf pan and cook for 45-50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the bread comes out clean. Cool the loaf in the pan for 20 minutes, then turn it out to cool completely.

Valerie

Pecan-Topped Applesauce Coffee Cake

Yield: one 9-inch coffee cake
Recipe: 104/200
“Back to Baking”, pp. 215

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     I have always loved Fall since I can remember. The beautiful leaves changing colours, the cooler weather, the sweaters, comforting soups and hot chocolates. But most of all, I love the apple season, especially apple-picking. For a record this year we went apple-picking three times! We probably picked a total of 50 pounds of apples, so needless to say I had plenty of apples to choose from to make a nice apple recipe. I thought that this apple and pecan cake recipe looked perfect to use some nice apples that were going soft. Although the apple flavour was more subtle than I was expecting, the coffee cake was good and very moist. The topping was a nice combination of sweet and crunchy. Definitely I nice cake to have with coffee, tea or hot chocolate!

Ingredients for cake:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 ½ cups unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 ½ cups packed light brown sugar
  • ½ cup oil
  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground allspice
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves

Ingredients for topping:

  • ½ cup packed dark brown sugar
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter, melted
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup chopped pecan pieces
  • 1 peeled apple, coarsely grated

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9-inch springform pan.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs just to blend.
  3. Whisk in the applesauce, brown sugar and oil until smooth.
  4. In a separate bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, allspice and cloves. Stir this into the applesauce mixture until evenly combined.
  5. Scrape the batter into the springform pan and prepare the topping.
  6. To prepare the topping, stir together the brown sugar, butter and cinnamon, then stir in the pecans and the grated apple. Spread this over the cake batter.
  7. Bake for 60-70 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean. Cool the cake to room temperature, then remove the cake from the pan before serving.

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Note:

  • If you wish you can easily make the unsweetened applesauce yourself instead of buying it. To do so, simply place in a pot 3 pound of peeled, sliced and cored apples, ½ cup of water and ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon. Set to medium heat, cover and cook for 15-20 minutes, until the apples are soft. Use a potato masher or immersion blender to puree the apples. Let cool and voilà! Homemade unsweetened applesauce. Recipe from Life Made Simple.

 

Valerie

European Lemon Cheesecake

Yield: one 9-inch cheesecake
Recipe: 103/200
“Back to Baking”, pp. 162

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    For the second cake that I had to (I don’t like baking at all, I was almost tortured!) make for my boyfriend since I lost a bet, he requested this European lemon cheesecake because, quite simply, he loves lemon and cheesecake, so the combination could only be delicious. The theory proved to be true! This cake was simple to make and although I genuinely had my reservations about this cheesecake due to the use of pressed cottage cheese (note: cottage cheese has always caused some slight disgust to me), it was excellent. Perhaps slightly too lemony for my taste, yet still highly enjoyable. The texture is perfect and similar to that of the classic cheesecake, but feels a bit fluffier and lighter. Essentially, this cheesecake eats itself and you don’t feel to guilty about doing it! Lemon lovers are sure to love this dessert.

   Even though it was not expected for this European cheesecake, I did encounter the typical cheesecake problem of having a big crack develop in the middle. Since I did run a palette knife around the cake after taking it out of the oven and I let it cool completely before chilling it, the only other reason that I think may have caused the crack is that I may have over-whipped the egg whites. It may have been more of a stiff peak than a medium peak, which would have caused the eggs to deflate when the cake was cooling down. So be careful while whipping your eggs, but this is really the only sensitive step of the recipe. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 1 package (8 oz/250 g) pressed cottage cheese, 10% milk fat
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 eggs at room temperature, separated
  • ½ teaspoon cream of tartar

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9-inch springform and coat it with sugar, making sure to tap out the excess.
  2. Using a food processor or a hand mixer, blend the cottage cheese with ½ cup of the sugar.
  3. Add the flour, cornstarch, lemon zest, lemon juice and vanilla extract. Blend well.
  4. Beat in the egg yolks.
  5. In a stand mixer or in a clean bowl using a hand mixer, whip the egg whites with the cream of tartar until frothy, then pour in the remaining ¼ cup of sugar, continuing to whip the whites until they hold a medium peak (the whites should curl just slightly when the beaters are lifted).
  6. Fold the whites into the cheese mixture in two additions, then spread the cheesecake evenly in the prepared pan.
  7. Bake the cheesecake for 10 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 325°F and bake for about 25 minutes more, until the top just begins to colour. Let the cheesecake cool completely to room temperature, then chill for at least 2 hours before slicing.

Notes from Anna:

  • To prevent a gaping crack to form in the middle of your cheesecake, the speed at which the egg whites are whipped is crucial. Whipped eggs will soufflé in the oven, but when the cheesecake starts cooling, those souffléd eggs will fall, thus creating a crack, even hours after the cheesecake is out of the oven. Make sure not to whip the egg whites too much.
  • Another tip to prevent cracks in the cheesecake is to run a palette knife around the inside edge of the springform pan, which allows to separate the cake from the pan. This way, if and when the cheesecake contracts, it will pull away from the sides of the pan, making it less likely to crack in the middle.

Valerie

Raspberry Pecan Tart

Yield: one 9-inch tart
Recipe: 102/200
“Back to Baking”, pp. 116

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     After several months of not posting any new recipes from Anna’s cookbook, I decided that it was time to remedy this! I “owed” my boyfriend two cakes due to two lost bets, and as per his request I made this delicious-looking raspberry and pecan tart, two of his favourite foods. I was happy to finally have a recipe to do and a dessert to make, and it was no trouble at all to do. I am typically not a fantastic dough maker, but since I had already made the nut-crust tart shell required for this recipe, I new what to improve (add a bit more water to obtain the right texture! This is temperature- and kitchen-dependent!)  and got it perfectly right I think. The shell was easy to slice and bite through yet did not crumble to pieces. The tart itself was very good. The filling is slightly gooey with a nice crunch provided by the pecans, and the sweet burst of juice and flavour from the raspberries was very pleasant.  I was not expecting it, but the coconut was the perfect combination in this tart, providing both a good bite and some sweetness. We devoured it in a matter of days. Strongly recommended for an uncomplicated light dessert.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Nut-Crust Tart Shell recipe, baked and cooled
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cups roughly chopped pecans
  • 1 cup sweetened, shredded coconut
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup fresh raspberries

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Place the pan containing the baked crust onto a baking tray until it cools down to room temperature.
  2. In a bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, eggs, egg yolk and vanilla extract until blended.
  3. Stir in the pecans, coconut, flour, baking powder and salt. Mix well to combine.
  4. Gently fold in the raspberries.
  5. Pour the mixture into the cooled crust and bake on the tray for about 45-50 minutes, until evenly browned and set. Cool the tart to room temperature in the pan before removing the outer ring of the pan to slice. The tart can be served at room temperature or chilled.

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Valerie

Lemon Meringue Cupcakes

Yield: 16 cupcakes
Recipe: 101/200
“Back to Baking”, pp. 136

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     The holiday period is an excellent time to have company over, and indeed within two days we were having two different groups of friends over. I thought I would make some nice lemon cupcakes for the occasion, as there were several lemon dessert lovers amongst the guests. These cupcakes have a little something special since they are topped with a meringue that is hiding a delicious lemon curd filling. This recipe was straightforward and incredibly tasty. There was no subtleness in the lemon flavour! It was all there and these little cupcakes were a hit amongst the parties. I think that the unexpected lemon curd filling makes them even better, like a little surprise of sorts! Definitely a successful recipe that I would repeat time and time again.

Ingredients for cupcakes:

  • 1/2  cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1  1/4 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 egg, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups cake and pastry flour*
  • 2  1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 5 to 6 tablespoons lemon curd or lemon marmalade

Ingredients for meringue:

  • 4 egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1/2  teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 2/3 cup sugar

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F and line 16 muffin cups with large paper liners.
  2. Using a hand or stand mixer, cream together the butter, sugar and lemon zest until smooth.
  3. Beat in the egg and vanilla extract. Mix well.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the pastry flour, baking powder and salt.
  5. In a small bowl, whisk together the buttermilk and lemon juice.
  6. Add the flour and buttermilk mixtures to the butter mixture in three separate additions, starting and ending with the flour mixture. Blend well after each addition.
  7. Spoon the batter into the paper liners and bake the cupcakes for 20-25 minutes, until the tops of the cupcakes spring back when gently pressed. Note: the batter will be quite thick. Cool the cupcakes in the tins for 10 minutes, then remove them from the tins to cool completely.
  8. For the topping, preheat the oven to 375°F and place the cooled cupcakes on a baking tray. Spoon about a teaspoon of lemon curd or marmalade on top of each cupcake, keeping the filling as close to the centre as possible.
  9. Using a hand or stand mixer, whip the egg whites with the cream of tartar until foamy, then slowly add the sugar while whipping. Whip the egg whites on high speed until they hold a stiff peak.
  10. Spoon the meringue into a piping bag and pipe swirls on top of each cupcake, making sure to completely cover the lemon curd or marmalade. Bake the cupcakes for 6-8 minutes, until the meringue browns slightly, and cool to room temperature.

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Notes from Anna:

  • To make room for even more lemon curdcor marmalade, you can spoon a little cake out of the centre of the cooled cupcakes.

Valerie

Maple Gingerbread Cutout Cookies

Yield: about 5 dozen cookies
Recipe: 100/200
“Back to Baking”, pp. 48                                                                                                                                  
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I have actually (and surprisingly!) never made gingerbread cookies, so I thought that there would be no better dessert to bring at work for the last day before the holidays than these cute gingerbread cookies. The recipe was easy to follow and I took pleasure in rolling out the dough and cutting out cute shapes to make the cookies – I had gingerbread man, tree and snowman cookie cutters. I had never used royal icing to frost any cookies or cakes, and I thoroughly enjoyed decorating the cookies with icing and sugar pieces. Decorating anything, whether it be cakes, cupcakes and now cookies, has always been my favourite part of making dessert! At first try I found that these cookies were mild and did not taste a lot like maple or even ginger, but after the second and third cookies I realized that these are simply a milder-tasting version of the traditional molasses gingerbread cookies but still taste good. These cute gingerbread cookies would please anyone during this merry time of the year. Happy holidays and happy baking!

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 2  1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions:

  1. Using a stand or hand mixer, beat the butter with the brown sugar and maple syrup until light and fluffy.
  2. Beat in the egg, ginger and lemon zest. Mix well.
  3. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, allspice, cinnamon, baking soda and salt. Whisk to combine.
  4. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture in three separate additions while mixing at low speed. Separate the dough in three balls and wrap them in plastic wrap to form three discs. Chill until firm, about 2 hours. Note: The dough will be very soft.
  5. Preheat oven to 350°F and line two baking trays with parchment paper.
  6. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the first piece of cookie dough to 1/8 inch thick and cut with a cookie cutter of any desired shape. Arrange the cookies on the prepared baking trays, leaving a gap of ½ inch between them. Repeat rolling and cutting the remaining two discs. Leftover scraps from cutting out the cookies can be wrapped up and chilled in the fridge for another 10 minutes before being rerolled.
  7. Bake the cookies for 12-14 minutes, until lightly browned. Cool the cookies on the trays before transferring them to an airtight container. The cookies can be decorated with icing or simply dusted with icing sugar, as desired.

Notes from Anna:

  • The maple adds some sweetness to the cookies, which are milder than traditional molasses gingerbread cookies.

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Valerie