Monday, October 11, 2010

Pumpkin Roll

Several years ago I was visiting my friend, Lynette, in Washington, D.C. and she made an amazing pumpkin roll for dessert. I remember her saying it wasn't that hard to do, but I was seriously impressed by the look of it and I loved the taste of it. It's taken me all these years to finally remember to try making one, but an ad and recipe for this Libby's pumpkin roll got me cooking, and boy am I glad. I loved it so much I made it for dessert for the past two Sundays. It really isn't hard to make, and it tastes soooo good. How do you like that? It looks good, tastes good, and isn't difficult. Sort of like a good looking, sweet, low-maintenance boyfriend. Only in my case I married that boyfriend, but you really shouldn't try to marry this pumpkin roll. Just eat it. Much less messy. So if you've been searching for something delicious and fall-alicious to bake, try this out. You won't be sorry.

Pumpkin Roll:
1/4 cup powdered sugar (to sprinkle on dish towel)
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup canned pumpkin
1 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)

1 pkg. (8 oz.) cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
6 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Powdered sugar (optional for decoration)

For Cake: Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease 15x10-inch jelly-roll pan; line with wax paper. Grease and flour paper. Sprinkle a thin, cotton kitchen towel with powdered sugar.
Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and salt in small bowl. Beat eggs and granulated sugar in large mixer bowl until thick. Beat in pumpkin. Stir in flour mixture. Spread evenly into prepared pan. Sprinkle with nuts (I left the nuts out).
Bake for 13 to 15 minutes or until top of cake springs back when touched. (If using a dark-colored pan, begin checking for doneness at 11 minutes.) Immediately loosen and turn cake onto prepared towel.

Carefully peel off paper (I used a butter knife to gently ease it off in the sticky spots).

Roll up cake and towel together, starting with narrow end. Cool on wire rack.

For filling: Beat cream cheese, 1 cup powdered sugar, butter, and vanilla extract in small mixer bowl until smooth. Carefully unroll cake.
Spread cream cheese mixture over cake. Reroll cake. I did this by gently using my hand to start it rolling and then lifting the towel to help it roll onto itself as shown in the following pictures:

Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least one hour. Sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving, if desired.
Baking tip: Be sure to put enough powdered sugar on the towel when rolling up the cake so it will not stick.

Friday, October 8, 2010

I'm Not Dead. I Think I'll Go for a Walk.

Ah, dear readers. Bless you if there are any of you still left after my embarrassingly long absence. Having a baby and ooing and awing over him has taken up most of my free time lately, but I am dipping my proverbial toe back in to the blogging pool and am about ready to take the plunge again. So, to kick things off, here is a peach pie. You see, fall has arrived here in my neck of the woods and with it a fierce craving for pie on my part. And peaches--oh heavenly peaches--are just about to disappear, so before they are completely gone I decided to turn a few into this baby:

Forgive the fluorescent lighting in this pictures and my slightly skiddy-wompus crust, but I was going more for taste than for beauty with this one. I was watching old episodes of Pushing Daisies the other day and was intrigued with the idea of a peach pie with a brown sugar crust and thought I'd play around. I added a tablespoon of brown sugar to my regular pie crust which made it a bit sweeter, but not quite as noticeably brown-sugary as I was hoping. Any tips on making a delectable brown sugar crust, friends? As for the filling, I like the one in my good old 1950s version of the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook which I will list below.

Now for an invitation. I know there are at least a few of you out there that read this blog, and I know more than a few of you have a great pie recipe in your book, so hows about sharing them? I am loving pie in a big way right now and would love to try out some new recipes, so if you wouldn't mind sharing them, please comment and post your recipe. And if we don't get very many, no worries, I'll just start working my way through my relatives' recipes which is where I usually go when I don't know what to cook. But I really would love to hear what pies you readers like to make, so comment away.

Peach Pie

3/4 cup sugar
2 to 3 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon or nutmeg (I used cinnamon)
5 cups sliced, peeled fresh peaches
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 recipe pie crust

Combine sugar, flour, and cinnamon. Add to peaches; mix lightly. Spread in 9-inch pastry lined piepan. Dot with butter. Adjust lattice top crust; flute edges. Bake in hot oven (400 degrees F) 45 to 50 minutes.

I love the flavor of this one, but be warned--the filling is a bit runny. I'll have to play around with different thickeners. I'm thinking some peach-flavored gelatin or cornstarch, but I'll welcome any other ideas.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Daring Bakers' Challenge: Tiramisu from Scratch

The February 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen and Deeba of Passionate About Baking. They chose Tiramisu as the challenge for the month. Their challenge recipe is based on recipes from The Washington Post, Cordon Bleu at Home and Baking Obsession.

I have to admit, my relationship with this challenge was sort of complicated. No offense to Aparna or Deeba, but I kind of had a love/hate thing going on with this whole thing. For starters, I wasn't super excited when I read that it was the challenge this month because the tiramisu I'd tasted before (using Postum) just wasn't my very favorite, but I was willing to give it a try. I read through the ingredients and saw that it used espresso (which I kind of figured it would), but also Marsala (I can't have coffee or alcohol for religious reasons) and that they recommended just substituting more espresso for the Marsala if you didn't want to use alcohol. Yeah. Thanks for that. Then I had the idea of using raspberry syrup to replace the espresso and Marsala and started to get excited. Then I read through the directions and saw that this could take 2-3 days start to finish because you had to make your own mascarpone which had to sit overnight and chill. As did the pastry cream. And the zabaglione. And the assembled tiramisu. And we were baking our own lady fingers. Oh, brother.

I knew things were going to be frustrating when after an hour of trying to get my cream to the desired temperature to make mascarpone cheese (it was only supposed to take 15 minutes) I gave up and just added the lemon juice to try to get it to curdle. If I were the swearing type, I would probably have let a few fly during this part of the challenge. I was actually very impressed that the mixture at the end which just seemed like really thin custard was able to set up into a cream cheesy consistency as promised. I was also very glad that it tasted better than other mascarpone cheese that I have encountered in the past. This just tasted pleasantly like slightly tangy cream.

As for the pastry cream and the zabaglione, they were delicious and the lemon zest really went well with the raspberry flavor. And when you mixed them together with whipped cream and the mascarpone--oh, landy. That was the "love" part of the love/hate relationship I had with this dessert. I could have eaten that creamy concoction by the spoonful.

The lady fingers were one of the "hate" parts. I was also sorely tempted to swear because of them. They made a horrible mess of my kitchen, which might have something to do with the fact that my two-year-old was "helping," and they didn't bake up as big or as fluffy as I think they were supposed to. But what they hey, they worked well enough in the finished dessert. They were just kind of creepy, anorexic, skeletal lady fingers instead of nice plump pretty ones.

Looking back on the whole thing, it was a good challenge and my family all loved the finished product. It challenged me, which was nice, I just kind of had a bad attitude about the fact that it took three days to make and used almost every pot, pan, and cookie sheet in the house. And I wanted to swear. Several times. Way more than ten times. All I could think about as I made it was that it had better darn well be worth it in the end, and I think it was. I'm just probably never going to make it again.

If you have three days to kill and want to make this dessert (you glutton for punishment, you), you can find the recipe here. To make my non-alcoholic, caffeine free version, just use raspberry syrup wherever it calls for Marsala or espresso and put three drops of red food coloring into the zabaglione to make it look pretty. Here is my recipe for the raspberry syrup:

3 cups raspberries (I used frozen ones I got from my sister-in-law's garden this summer. Mmm.)
1/2 c. sugar
1 tsp. lemon juice

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat slightly and allow the mixture to simmer until the berries start to break down, helping the process along my mashing them slightly with a spoon. Go ahead and think of whatever is bugging you at the moment while you squish them. It will make it more fun. When you've had enough mashing and simmering, remove from heat and strain through a fine mesh sieve to remove the seeds. Allow to cool to room temperature. I diluted some of the resulting syrup with water for the Marsala substitution because I didn't want it to be too strong, but if I were to do it again I would probably just leave it full strength and I'll bet it would be delicious.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Daring Bakers' Challenge: Graham Wafers and Nanaimo Bars

The January 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Lauren of Celiac Teen. Lauren chose Gluten-Free Graham Wafers and Nanaimo Bars as the challenge for the month. The sources she based her recipe on are 101 Cookbooks and

Wow, can you believe it friends? I'm actually posting this challenge on time, something I haven't done since oh, maybe June? Anyway, here it is and I thought this was a pretty good challenge. It wasn't very hard which was nice since we're still getting settled after our crazy December move, and I had never made homemade graham crackers before, something that I've been meaning to try.

Even though we were encouraged to make the graham crackers gluten-free, I just didn't have the budget to go out and buy three types of flour that I will probably never use again, so I just used regular old wheat flour which was also allowed. The graham cracker recipe was very forgiving. I fudged some things by not freezing my butter, using light brown sugar instead of dark, and 1% milk instead of whole, and it all turned out fine. That's my kind of recipe.

The Nanaimo bars were pretty good--I especially liked the bottom layer. Mmmm. I wasn't crazy about the middle layer which reminded me of cheap birthday cake frosting, but I am toying with the idea of making these again with either a lighter, more custardy middle layer or a cream cheesy layer. Cheap birthday cake likeness aside, this was a fun challenge and a nice introduction to a popular Canadian treat just in time for the Olympics.

The recipe:
For Gluten-Free Graham Wafers
1 cup (138 g) (4.9 ounces) Sweet rice flour (also known as glutinous rice flour)
3/4 cup (100 g) (3.5 ounces) Tapioca Starch/Flour
1/2 cup (65 g) (2.3 ounces) Sorghum Flour
(*I just used 2 1/4 c. regular flour)
1 cup (200 g) (7.1 ounces) Dark Brown Sugar, Lightly packed (*I used light since that's what I had)
1 teaspoon (5 mL) Baking soda
3/4 teaspoon (4 mL ) Salt
7 tablespoons (100 g) (3 ½ ounces) Unsalted Butter, cut into 1-inch cubes and frozen (*I didn't want to bother with freezing the butter, so I just cut it up right out of the fridge and it was fine.)
1/3 cup (80 mL) Honey, Mild-flavoured such as clover.
5 tablespoons (75 mL) Whole Milk (*I used 1% since that's what I had)
2 tablespoons (30 mL) Pure Vanilla Extract

1. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, combine the flours, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt. Pulse on low to incorporate. Add the butter and pulse on and off, until the mixture is the consistency of a coarse meal. If making by hand, combine aforementioned dry ingredients with a whisk, then cut in butter until you have a coarse meal. No chunks of butter should be visible.
2. In a small bowl or liquid measuring cup, whisk together the honey, milk and vanilla. Add to the flour mixture until the dough barely comes together. It will be very soft and sticky.
3. Turn the dough onto a surface well-floured with sweet rice flour and pat the dough into a rectangle about 1 inch thick. Wrap in plastic and chill until firm, about 2 hours, or overnight.
4. Divide the dough in half and return one half to the refrigerator. Sift an even layer of sweet rice flour onto the work surface and roll the dough into a long rectangle, about 1/8 inch thick. The dough will be quite sticky, so flour as necessary. Cut into 4 by 4 inch squares. Gather the scraps together and set aside. Place wafers on one or two parchment-lined baking sheets. Chill until firm, about 30 to 45 minutes. Repeat with the second batch of dough.
5. Adjust the rack to the upper and lower positions and preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius).
6. Gather the scraps together into a ball, chill until firm, and reroll. Dust the surface with more sweet rice flour and roll out the dough to get a couple more wafers.
7. Prick the wafers with toothpick or fork, not all the way through, in two or more rows.
8. Bake for 25 minutes, until browned and slightly firm to the touch, rotating sheets halfway through to ensure even baking. Might take less, and the starting location of each sheet may determine its required time. The ones that started on the bottom browned faster.
9. When cooled completely, place enough wafers in food processor to make 1 ¼ cups (300 mL) of crumbs. Another way to do this is to place in a large ziplock bag, force all air out and smash with a rolling pin until wafers are crumbs.

Nanaimo Bars

For Nanaimo Bars — Bottom Layer
1/2 cup (115 g) (4 ounces) Unsalted Butter
1/4 cup (50 g) (1.8 ounces) Granulated Sugar
5 tablespoons (75 mL) Unsweetened Cocoa
1 Large Egg, Beaten
1 1/4 cups (300 mL) (160 g) (5.6 ounces) Gluten Free Graham Wafer Crumbs (See previous recipe)
1/2 cup (55 g) (1.9 ounces) Almonds (Any type, Finely chopped)
1 cup (130 g) (4.5 ounces) Coconut (Shredded, sweetened or unsweetened)

For Nanaimo Bars — Middle Layer
1/2 cup (115 g) (4 ounces) Unsalted Butter
2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons (40 mL) Heavy Cream
2 tablespoons (30 mL) Vanilla Custard Powder (Such as Bird’s. Vanilla pudding mix may be substituted.)
2 cups (254 g) (8.9 ounces) Icing Sugar

For Nanaimo Bars — Top Layer
4 ounces (115 g) Semi-sweet chocolate
2 tablespoons (28 g) (1 ounce) Unsalted Butter

1. For bottom Layer: Melt unsalted butter, sugar and cocoa in top of a double boiler. Add egg and stir to cook and thicken. Remove from heat. Stir in crumbs, nuts and coconut. Press firmly into an ungreased 8 by 8 inch pan.
2. For Middle Layer: Cream butter, cream, custard powder, and icing sugar together well. Beat until light in colour. Spread over bottom layer.
3. For Top Layer: Melt chocolate and unsalted butter over low heat. Cool. Once cool, pour over middle layer and chill.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Daring Bakers' Challenge: Gingerbread Houses

The December 2009 Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to you by Anna of Very Small Anna and Y of Lemonpi. They chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ everywhere to bake and assemble a gingerbread house from scratch. They chose recipes from Good Housekeeping and from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book as the challenge recipes.

Hello, my blog-world friends. I am sorry I've been gone for so long. Some of the blame goes to the fact that I'm just plain lazy, but I do have two other reasons for neglecting this blog that are a little better:

1. My family and I just moved. During finals week. The week before Christmas. Consequently, cooking and baking exciting things weren't really high on my priority list.

2. I am pregnant with my second child and morning sickness has taken it's toll. Sadly, there were some days that I just couldn't even look at a cookbook or think about food blogs. And the idea of making the cannoli that was last month's Daring Bakers' challenge turned my stomach and I just couldn't do it. But I'm into my second trimester now and feeling much better, so I felt it was finally time to get back into things.

The challenge this month was so fun and festive. I love gingerbread houses, and I was excited to try to make an entirely edible one--usually I just cheat and hot glue my houses together. We were given a choice of two recipes we could use. I chose the Scandinavian one to pay homage to my Swedish roots, and I must say, they weren't kidding when they warned that the recipe was made more for sturdiness than for taste. This gingerbread made my house smell wonderful but tasted like spiced modeling clay. It was very durable, though. Even though some daring bakers complained that the dough was dry and I did have to add a couple of extra tablespoons of water and still had some cracking around the edges as I rolled it out, I liked working with this dough. It held it's shape well as I transported it to cookie sheets, and the baked pieces were nice and sturdy.

For my template, I used one I found here at I would have liked to decorate it more, but I was already late posting this and my two year old was eating the candy almost as fast as I could put it on. Anyway, enjoy, and happy New Year!

Scandinavian Gingerbread (Pepparkakstuga)
from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book by Beatrice Ojakangas

1 cup butter, room temperature [226g]
1 cup brown sugar, well packed [220g]
2 tablespoons cinnamon
4 teaspoons ground ginger
3 teaspoons ground cloves
2 teaspoons baking soda
½ cup boiling water
5 cups all-purpose flour [875g]

1. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until blended. Add the cinnamon, ginger and cloves. Mix the baking soda with the boiling water and add to the dough along with the flour. Mix to make a stiff dough. If necessary add more water, a tablespoon at a time. Chill 2 hours or overnight.

2. Cut patterns for the house, making patterns for the roof, front walls, gabled walls, chimney and door out of cardboard.

3. Roll the dough out on a large, ungreased baking sheet and place the patterns on the dough. Mark off the various pieces with a knife, but leave the pieces in place.

4. [I rolled out the dough on a floured bench, roughly 1/8 inch thick (which allows for fact that the dough puffs a little when baked), cut required shapes and transferred these to the baking sheet. Any scraps I saved and rerolled at the end.]

5. Preheat the oven to 375'F (190'C). Bake for 12 to 15 minutes until the cookie dough feels firm. After baking, again place the pattern on top of the gingerbread and trim the shapes, cutting the edges with a straight-edged knife. Leave to cool on the baking sheet.

Royal Icing:

1 large egg white
3 cups (330g) powdered sugar
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon almond extract

Beat all ingredients until smooth, adding the powdered sugar gradually to get the desired consistency. Pipe on pieces and allow to dry before assembling. If you aren't using it all at once you can keep it in a small bowl, loosely covered with a damp towel for a few hours until ready to use. You may have to beat it slightly to get it an even consistency if the top sets up a bit. Piped on the house, this will set up hard over time.

P.S. The original recipe called for making a simple syrup to "glue" the house together, but I just used the royal icing and it was fine.