Maple Raisin Scones

Breads, Muffins and Scones

Yield: 8 large scones
Recipe: 117/200
“Back to Baking”, pp. 260

20191208_222246

    The main reason why I decided to do these scones was because I had almond milk in my fridge, a rare event, and thought it was the perfect opportunity use it for a recipe. I must admit that I had serious doubts about how good this recipe would be. Not because I don’t like scones, I love scones, but I thought the texture of the raisins would be very strange in a fluffy crunchy scone. I am a texture person, after all. I was wrong! This dessert took no time at all to make and was delicious! The raisins actually provided a nice texture to the scones and added some sweetness without being overwhelming. Delicious! Who would’ve thought to put raisins in scones?! Anna Olson, that’s who. Great idea. I cannot recommend these scones enough. Easy, tasty, not too sweet and dairy- and egg-free!

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup + 1 tablespoon almond or soy milk
  • ½ cup + 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • ½ cup raisins

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a baking tray with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger and salt.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the ¾ cup of almond or soy milk, ½ cup of maple syrup and vegetable oil.
  4. Make a well in the centre of the flour and pour in the mixed liquids. Stir the mixture with a spatula until it becomes too hard to do, then turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface, add the raisins on top of the dough and knead it until it just comes together.
  5. Shape the dough into a disc of about 8 inches in diameter and cut into 8 wedges. Place the scones onto the prepared baking tray, leaving two inches between them.
  6. Stir together the remaining tablespoon of almond or soy milk and maple syrup, and use to brush the tops of the scones.
  7. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the tops of the scones are golden brown. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Valerie

Blueberry Coconut Custard Mini Tarts

Pies and Tarts

Yield: about 18 mini tarts
Recipe: 108/200
“Back to Baking”, pp. 278

20180424_000525

     My boyfriend and I made these tarts for a friend’s birthday at work. He really likes coconut so we thought that this would be the perfect time to try a new recipe. Unfortunately, everything went wrong with this recipe. The crust was not working at all for us. When we mixed together all the ingredients, the crust was not crumbly at all and was just a dry mess. It would not stick together at all, so we had to improvise and add some (a lot!) honey and vegetable oil until the mixture would at least stick together a little bit. Pressing the graham crust into the mini muffin tins took much longer than expected, but that was not the least of our worries. The coconut filling also did not work out as expected. Although we followed everything exactly, the mixture was very liquid, similar to heavy cream. We simmered it for a longer period of time to try to get it to thicken and we let it cool down in the fridge for many more hours, but it barely thickened at the end. Sadly, these mini tarts looked very cute but did not taste good at all. The crust tasted strange and the filling did not taste like coconut much. We were very disappointed that this recipe didn’t work for us and I cannot think of anything that we may have done wrong! To be repeated.

Ingredients:

  • 1 recipe Key Lime Pie crust
  • 1 can (398 mL) coconut milk
  • 1 vanilla bean or 1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 24-cup mini muffin tin.
  2. Prepare the graham crust and press it into the bottom and sides of the muffin cups. Bake for 10 minutes, then cool to room temperature.
  3. Pour the coconut milk into a saucepot and scrape in the seeds of the vanilla bean (or stir in the vanilla bean paste).
  4. In a bowel, whisk together the sugar and cornstarch. Whisk into the coconut milk, then turn the heat to medium and whisk until the mixture comes to a simmer and thickens, about 6 minutes.
  5. Scrape the custard into a bowl, cover the surface of the custard with plastic wrap and allo to cool completely to room temperature.
  6. One cooled, spoon the coconut filling into the mini tart shells and top each with 3 blueberries. Chill for at least 2 hours in the muffin tin before taking them out to serve.

Valerie

Cinnamon Roll Pinwheel

Cookies, Bars and Biscotti

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

DSC_1082

     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.

DSC_1080

Valerie

Banana Walnut Bread

Breads, Muffins and Scones

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

DSC_1061

     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

Frosted Vanilla Cupcakes

Cakes and Cupcakes

Yield: 24 cupcakes
Recipe: 90/200
“Back to Baking”, pp. 280

dsc_8125

     It has been 9 months that I have not posted on my blog! Scandalous! I guess time just flew past me without me noticing. I have been so busy with my work and with one particular lovely and long-lasting blissful event that I forgot to take time to myself to bake. Well I never stopped baking per se and of course never forgot about this blog, but I have been baking a lot less than usual in these past months and not often from the cookbook when I was. I plan on stopping this 9-month hiatus immediately and getting back to it. Only 112 recipes to go!

    I volunteered to make baked good for a bake sale at work to support the Terry Fox Foundation and came upon this recipe in my never-forgotten book. I always hesitated to do this recipe because 1) it requires almond or soy milk, which I never have, but most importantly, margarine is used in the frosting and I never trusted that. However, for once I actually had almond milk in my fridge so I thought that it was time to let go of my doubts and give this recipe a try. The cupcakes came out much better than I thought. They were not hard to make and baked very well. I only realized when I was done mixing the batter that I hadn’t used any eggs at all! It was such a strange feeling to me since I don’t think I ever made egg-free cupcakes. I was pleasantly surprised when I opened my oven to find golden tops that had risen. The frosting, in contrast, was quite a different story. I followed the recipe exactly, but it turned into a big mess. I had a gut feeling that 1/2 cup of milk was way to much for the amount of icing sugar required since normally only 3-4 tablespoons are used, but I went along with it and regretted it instantly. The frosting was very liquid, so much so that I wouldn’t even have been able to spread it (I tried). I ended up having to add a ton of icing sugar, hard to say since I was doing it by feel but anywhere from 3-4 additional cups, to make the frosting the right consistency to be able to pipe nicely. Since I added so much, it was very sweet, but still edible. In hindsight, I should have listened to my gut feeling and added the milk little by little, starting with 3-4 tablespoons. It is better to add milk than to have to add that much more icing sugar. The only reason that I can think of that could have altered the consistency of the frosting is that I had left the margarine out on the counter for maybe 30 minutes, but it had not softened that much. I don’t expect that it would have had that much of an impact. Nonetheless, the cupcakes tasted fine but I did not find that they had a lot of flavor to them, even with all the sugar. Another point to note is that because these cupcakes are egg-free and dairy-free, the texture was very different from your traditional cupcake recipe and the cupcake was all stuck in the muffin liner and was very difficult to remove. I would suggest baking these in silicone muffin liners if you have them to facilitate their removal, after which you can place the cupcakes in cute paper muffin liners if you wish.

Ingredients for cupcakes:

  • 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 ¾ cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ cups almond or soy milk
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Ingredients for frosting:

  • 1 cup dairy-free margarine
  • 7 cups icing sugar, sifted
  • ½ cup almond or soy milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two muffin trays with medium paper liners.
  2. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk the almond or soy milk with the oil, lemon juice and vanilla extract.
  4. Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture and pour in the liquids. Whisk vigorously until well blended. Note: The batter will not be very thick.
  5. Pour the batter into the paper-lined muffin tins, filling the cups two-thirds of the way full. Bake for about 25 minutes, until a tester inserted in the centre of a cupcake comes out clean. Let the cupcakes cool in the muffin tin, then transfer them to a rack to cool completely before frosting.
  6. To prepare the frosting, beat together with a hand or stand mixer the margarine with half of the icing sugar. Mix until blended, then beat in the almond or soy milk and the vanilla extract. Add the remaining icing sugar and beat until the frosting is smooth and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Pipe or spread the frosting onto the cupcakes and store at room temperature.

Notes from Anna:

  • This recipe requires more sugar than your normal cupcake or cake recipe. This is because apart from adding sweetness, the sugar is essential to provide moistness since this recipe is  egg-free. With less sugar, the cupcakes would be dry and crumbly.

Suggestions to improve recipe:

  • Use silicone muffin liners when baking these egg-free and dairy-free cupcakes.
  • When making the frosting, do not add the whole 1/2 cup of milk at once. Start little by little, 3-4 tablespoons at a time, until you reach the desired consistency suitable for piping or spreading.

dsc_8126

Valerie