Tuesday, May 31, 2011

... another scorching summer.

Alright, so I know it's been too long since I posted about my last baking adventure, but let's just say this year turned out a little too hectic. BUT I haven't stopped baking. Yay! Some of the things I've baked: buttermilk scones with cheese and herbs, scones with raisins, double-chocolate layer cake with mocha-mascarpone frosting (or mouth-watering mascarpone cake as my family has dubbed it), apple pies, one very sloppy boston cream pie (utter fail.), strawberry tarts (a la Zoe at http://zoemakescakes.com... people, she is brilliant.) etc.

More baking to follow... summer 2011! Be prepaaaaredddddd...

Yours Truly,
The Baker's Apprentice.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Tablespoons, teaspoons... same thing!

Well, I believe Wednesday's may officially be the best baking day. Mainly because the expert baker Lauren from NeedleWork+Seedlings agreed to bake with me today! Oh, and what a fabulous day it was. Lauren not only turned up with delicious Italian beer (what is up with my beer+frosting lunches?) but with the most heavenly cupcake recipe. The malibu and coconut Cupcake Recipe #30 which turned out PERFECTLY. Lauren and I decided we needed to give the cookie monster cupcakes another shot... so we trotted off to the grocery store down the road. Lauren forgot we needed to bake cookies as well so she suggested "we just pick up some from here". I swear, the world around me turned dark, and the words rolled off her tongue in slow motion. So to my ears, it came out as "PPPIIIIIICCCKKK UPPPP SOOMMMEE FROMMMM HERRRE"... to which I replied with an EPIC bolly-wood-style"NOOOOOOooOoOOOOoOOOO" . True story. The whole aisle went silent, the world stopped moving and Lauren just blinked at me. Alright, my epic NOOOOO might have been an over-reaction but no. This blog is about baking from scratch. So, after clearing up that little misunderstanding, we ran home and got started. And I've realized the secret to Lauren's awesome baking skills - she sticks to the book. She wouldn't let me experiment (except with deco, which I aced... obviously.) but the funniest point was when I was left in charge of the cookie batter and I said "good! there was exactly 1.5 tablespoons of vanilla essence left!" and she just dropped her jaw and stared at me with an exasperated "but we only needed 1.5 teaspoons!". Alright, so tbsps, tsps... same concave substance-holding things. But fortunately, it was just a slip of the tongue, although Lauren's reaction was priceless. All in all, she had the brilliant idea of dyeing coconut shreds blue and miraculously found white chocolate buttons. That girl is brilliant.

Anyway, the cookie monster cupcakes speak for themselves!

PS: It also helps that I now have a friend, who upon trying them, has sworn to do anything for me just for more cupcakes. Muahahaha, my evil plan to take over the world. One person at a time.

Yours truly,
The Baker's Apprentice.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Peanut-butter BLASTERS!




- words from a famed critic
(a.k.a. a neighborhood friend)

Well, the kitchen quite literally is a war-zone but I wouldn't have it any other way! Today's baking project happened to be inspired by mingmakescupcakes' filled cupcakes (before clicking the link, caution!: make sure you've a tissue nearby for those droolicious cupcakes!): chocolate, chocolate cupcakes filled with peanut butter creme and frosted with white chocolate cream cheese. Mmmmmmmmmmmmm.

Anyway, I followed this cupcake recipe from Hello Baker! (teeheehee, I suppose that's me now!) but didn't have toffee or cream, so I basically winged the filling and frosting and went by my tastes. Well, first things off, I very very carefully double-checked the recipe and double-checked my baking powder and my baking soda because you know, beginner bakers (which is hardly me, of course) always mix up the rules. "Oh ho ho", went I, "I shall neverr be caught on such treeck" (with a french accent apparently) and I proceeded to measure out the required amounts... only to realize that I was so careful to check 1/4tsp vs. 1/2tsp on the website and to check that I was using the right ingredients that I forgot to check which teaspoon of my multi-tsp set I was using. Yeah, that's right... just don't ask me how or why I had doubled my baking powder but I figured (after much googling of "too much baking powder help") I would just double the other ingredients. And I'm so glad I did! The mix was oddly thick and only filled 9 of my giant cupcake liners so I ended up using all the batter. Also, I didn't have any bitter sweet chocolate chips (at least, I didn't think I did) so I just added more cocoa. And my goodness did these cupcakes turn out deliciously! They were quite dense though, more like brownies... but sooooo nom-ilicious!

And I definitely got to put my experimental cooking skills to the test... YAY! For the filling, I used about 4 tablespoons or peanut butter, creamed with 1/2cups of butter and powdered sugar until I got the consistency I was happy with. For the frosting, I used about 1/2cup cream cheese, some leftover butter, more powdered sugar and about 1/2 cup of melted white chocolate.

Mmmmmm... these are definitely cupcakes I will try again and ones I'd recommend to anyone. I mean, if I can cook 'em, you sure can. They didn't come out too sweet or too dry but perfect (although my cone cutting and filling needs practice)! Well, knowing my track record, I totally can't be judged for my victory dancing around the kitchen. So w00000ts!

The Baker's Apprentice.

PS. Here's a little love from The Rural Alberta Advantage...

Sunday, September 12, 2010


Well, after spending a long rainy weekend at the cottage with the family, I decided to stay on for a few days on my own. It continue to dribble-drabble outside but gosh, was it beautiful. Being in a vacation cottage baking mood with nothing but ready-made bran muffin mix, I decide to skin and chop up some apples (apparently, I'm allergic to apple skins!) and add some nutmeg and cinnamon to the Quaker's Low-Fat Bran Mix that was yelling to me from the kitchen cabinet. The muffins turned out yum (as all mixes do!) but what was more impressive was the weather on the morning after. After a very hectic couple of summer months, the cottage was a perfect way to unwind between baking, Petit Nicolas, Bananagrams (!) and a serious jam sess with a friend... aaaaaaaah, simply a dive into bliss.

Yours truly,
The Baker's Apprentice.

PS. I couldn't stop humming this Louie beaut... but I blame that on my friend, Talia.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Fait Accompli.

Aaaah Sunday was a fabulous day. A good friend Tessa came across and we literally spent almost 6 hours cooking. But oh my, what a massive cook-up it was! First, for lunch, we had a absolutely divine Thai coconut rice and lime coriander shrimp lunch which we pulled from a Reader's Digest's 'Weekend Meals'. Ooooooh it was soooo divine. But using this yummy cupcake recipe, we decided we wanted to make... wait for it.... wwwwaaait forrr itttttt.... cookie monster cupcakes! Last summer, I tried these awesome, delicious, silly-looking cookie monster cupcakes and ever since, I've been so excited to make them! This, however, calls for the immense task of making the perfect cupcakes and cookies, which we all know is a tremendously stressful for my psyche. The cupcakes turned out beautifully for a recipe that didn't ask for butter but it did fall a little low. So Tessa ingeniously cut the paper down, cut the cupcake a bit, shoved in the cookie. Put on some frosting (keeping me away from it was difficult) with some white chocolate eyes and a drop of chocolate syrup and voila! cookie monstaaaa! Alright, so we didn't realize Canada doesn't have white chocolate Buttons so we had to melt down some bits in a double-boiler. And me, being all experimental, tried adding milk to the melted chocolate but anyway, such a disaster. They look so crazy, these cupcakes, but HEY. For a first time, I think we did quite brilliantly! :) Tessa, you're a doll. And to Matt and Sarah for their encouraging "ooooooh, is that what they are?"... you guys are precious. Until next time, mes cheries....

The Baker's Apprentice.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Frosting and Beer... sublime.

Although I've disappeared for a while, as my oven needed repairing, I must say... today has been brilliant. It's simply pouring buckets outside but the house smells of banana muffins. Last night, an old friend came over to cook dinner while I slaved over red velvet cupcakes. Following this highly rated recipe, I rolled up my sleeves and threw myself into mixing, sifting, blending and scooping - literally. Matthew witnessed my disastrous cooking style. Most of my sifted sugar ended up on the counter instead of the bowl, my hands have turned a dangerous shade of red, and Matthew is surprised I can cook by myself after giving him lots of instructions on how he can help stir clockwise and not anticlockwise, while he was managing four pots on the stove. I'm hardly demanding, that is all. Oh, and those cupcakes turned out beautifully, much to my surprise. Using someone's advice, I spooned the oddly-thick batter into 10 cupcake liners. I had to refrigerate the frosting overnight because it didn't thicken after a few hours. Matt's loud groans from biting into a sloppily-frosted cupcake certainly indicate that I've to make these again.

In the meantime, I woke up this morning craving banana muffins. With a description that read "easy for kids to make", one would think I could tackle it. It's a simple enough recipe, and they turned out beautifully... except for the fact I misread the amount of sugar. They look gorgeous but taste rather bland even though I added a spot of nutmeg, cinnamon and vanilla essence to the batter. So, using the left-over frosting from my cupcakes, I grated a whole lemon and voila! superb. Banana and lemon are a match made in heaven.

As is my frosting-and-beer lunch.

The Baker's Apprentice.

Friday, August 6, 2010

The Resurrection.

It seems try three did the trick. Having such a disastrous day with those burnt cookies, I decided that I shouldn't be so discouraged so easily. So after crawling home from work on Friday and feeling too exhausted to drag myself out dancing, I decided to bury my head in baking, and quite literally in that. As per usu, flour in my hair, smoking oven, bits of butter on the floor... you know, the works. But they turned out fabulously! Last time, the pans probably got too hot and burnt the bottom of the cookies so lining the sheets was key. I believe the oven smoked because I used wax paper instead of parchment. Apparently, wax paper should be used for cupcakes and the like, where the batter covers most of the paper, hence why it started to burn in the oven.

Also, my oven just hates me.

Anyway, the biscuits turned out deliciously, although slightly on the crisp side. So, HOORAY! for not giving up and surviving!

The Baker's Apprentice.