You know it’s going to be good when you and Dr B have to sit down and map out the plan for your dad’s birthday dessert. As a born and raised Canadian boy he loves his fruit pies. He and his siblings are big believers in the saying “An apple pie without cheese is like a kiss without a squeeze.” As a child I could never understand the appeal but over the years I have become a little more adventurous with my food combinations so was willing to give it a chance. The sweet and savoury combination is always a good idea.
Poached pears are such a beautiful way to enjoy fruit for dessert. Poaching them turns a crisp, juicy fruit into creamy, smooth spoonfuls of heaven. Seriously!
Hot cross buns are one of the best tasting things about Easter! I love the fluffy, spicy fruit filled rolls. Last year Dr B accidentally added 3 cups of milk instead of 300 mL of milk so we ended up making the most giant batch of hot cross buns. We were eating them breakfast, lunch, dinner and everything thing in between. Toasted with butter, room temperature and even french toasted 🙂
This year as I began talking about my excitement to make hot cross buns but my current craving for cinnamon rolls an idea was born. Dr B being the practical scientist pointed out the obvious, that I should just make both at the same time. And so here we are, about to eat these….
I love pastry. Growing up my mum always made her own pastry for pies (as did my aunts and Nano) so I have been thoroughly spoiled with amazing home made rough flaky pastry over the years. When I was first learning to bake on my own the ultimate goal was to be able to achieve a pastry that was at least somewhere close to the quality of mums. As it turned out pastry really wasn’t my thing. It would get to warm, to wet, to crumbly, to sticky, the list goes one. Basically anything that could go wrong would. I couldn’t roll it out into one piece (even though mum insists Nano never bothered and was always happy to do patch jobs on her pies) and I would just end up frustrated. The worst part was if mum helped, even by doing one quick mix with the fork when adding the water, the pastry would be perfect. She seriously had the magic touch but I was determined to get this right on my own.
I honestly don’t remember anything magical about the first time I succeeded with pastry but I would say that I probably was calm, not putting pressure on myself and was working with cold ingredients. You see pastry isn’t really that hard as long as you keep whatever fat you are using cold and don’t put your hands into the mixture. It doesn’t matter if you use a pastry cutter, a knife or a food processor to mix the fat into the flour as long as you just remember to keep it cool (and no hands, seriously can’t say that enough). Also don’t fret if the pastry seems a little crumbly after adding the liquid (which also needs to be really cold, it till still hold together well and the resting period in the fridge helps to more evenly distribute the moisture throughout the pasty.
It’s always great having friends who keep an eye out for new and interesting recipes to try out. One of my good baking buddies sent me a link to these Gingerbread Doughnut Muffins after seeing the Baked Chocolate Peppermint Doughnuts I posted about the other week. She thought they would be good to try in the doughnut pan and she thought right!
I ended up having to modify the original recipe (mostly due to lack of ingredients and I didn’t feel like going shopping) but they ended up having a wonderful gingerbread flavour and a great texture.
Since my reintroduction to scone baking I have been thinking of all the different kinds that could be made. After making cheese scones it seemed only fair to go for a sweet scone alternative. I love berries and almost always have a bag of frozen blueberries or raspberries in the freezer so that made it an easy choice (it’s a really economical way to go and they work just as well as fresh berries in almost all baking applications). What goes well with blueberries? Cinnamon!
I love it when a baking idea just falls into your lap. I work at an after school care and my boss was getting rid of some over ripe bananas and asked if I would be able to use them in baking. I am always a fan of banana bread and banana muffins so I was quite happy to rescue them from being thrown away. However two bananas wasn’t going to be quite enough on their own, I always like to double the amount of banana called for in banana bread and muffins so I had to think of something to add to the mix. Enter the apple (or in this case apples).
Everyone has their favourite baked good. My extra little brother Toby loves cinnamon rolls. He has lived really far away for most of his life so whenever we are in the same city I like to bake these for him. We learned the hard way last time that these cinnamon rolls are popular with everyone in my family home. I made a batch and delivered them to him and they didn’t all get eaten that evening, he decided he would save a few for the morning but by the time he had woken up they were all gone. This time, using his recent birthday as an excuse, I packed eight cinnamon rolls away in a box just for him and the rest quickly disappeared while we had tea and coffee after dinner.
The original cinnamon roll recipe is one that my mom made for us when we were growing up. I have spend the last few years changing her recipe and putting my own spin on things. The addition of browned butter has been one of my favourite alterations, it gives that deeper nutty flavour to these rolls and is obviously more exciting than the original margarine called for in the recipe. I also substituted all the white sugar with brown sugar to give a more caramelised flavour. I have also discovered over the years that it is quite good to add some flavour into the dough, I now add cinnamon and the seeds of one vanilla bean to the dough.
Sometimes flavour combinations sound a little out there, sweet and salty being one of my favourite examples. However another great combination is sweet and spicy. Chilli and chocolate go together so well, creamy dark chocolate with a slight kick at the end of every bite. As with anything spiced feel free to add less of the flavours you are unsure of when you start out, the next time you make it you can alter the amount again. I almost always add twice as much cinnamon and ginger as a recipe calls for…not so much of a scientist following exact recipes (Dr B would prefer it if I just changed one variable each time I play with a recipe, he is the good scientist in the family).