"if you wish to be glamorous, become a cake baker" -The Joy of Cooking

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays!!!!!!

Hope everyone had a beautiful time with family and friends :)

As much as I love baking and posting my creations. I can't look at another block of butter or cookie cutter for a little while.  NEED a baking break!!  At least for a few days ;)

Friday, December 21, 2012

Walnut Cookies

This recipe is kinda time consuming and finicky..it comes from a 2011 issue of Martha Stewart's Holiday Cookies. Enough said right, it's Martha territory here.  I'm kinda in a love/hate relationship with MS.  She's a baking queen and everything she makes is perfect...bitch! But LOOK at these cookies!! For me, nothing gets more festive than that cookie. Although they didn't turn out as pretty as the picture in the magazine, I really think they look great and will make a nice addition to all our christmas cookies this year.

  Cookies from the magazine.  So pretty!!  It is suggested that you use a walnut springerle mold to form the cookies. Thanks MS. 

I've never seen a springerle mold and don't know where I could buy them.  I found these tiny metal ones at Golda's Kitchen 
As mentioned above, they were very finicky and time consuming, but I think the finished product was worth it.

Here is the finished cookie. I love them!
Here is the recipe if you would like to give them a try.

Walnut Cookies

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ginger
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
3 oz cream cheese
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg yolk
1 tbsp walnut liqueur, such as Nocello

  • Have all ingredients at room temp
  • whisk to combine all the dry ingredients into a bowl
  • In a separate bowl, beat butter, cream cheese, and both sugars on med speed until fluffy, 3 to 4 mins
  • beat in egg yolk and liqueur, then add flour mixture at low speed, beating until just combined
  • shape dough into a disk and chill for 1 hr
  • Using a pastry brush, generously dust a walnut mold with icing sugar.  Cut a piece of dough about the size of the mold.  Press dough light working from the centre and then gently coax the dough out and place on parchment lined baking sheet
  • Chill the shaped cookies for 1 hr
  • Preheat oven to 325 and bake for 25-30mins.
  • Let cool completely on wire rack
  • Spread about a teaspoon size amount of filling on flat side of one cookie, then sandwich with the flat side of another to make a whole walnut
Chocolate-Walnut Filling

6 tbsp unsalted butter
1 cup icing sugar
1/2 cup walnuts toasted and finely chopped
pinch of salt
5 oz chopped semi sweet chocolate melted

  • beat butter and sugar with mixer on med speed until pale and fluffy 3-4mins
  • beat in walnuts and salt until combined
  • beat in melted chocolate until well combined
  • use immediately 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Gingerbread Quick Bread

Look how adorable this cake pan is!! I can't even! 

I so love it.  It is made by Nordic Ware and it is available at Williams-Sonoma

I made the recipe for Gingerbread Quick Bread found on the back of the cardboard cover

Here is the recipe:

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground all spice
1/4 tsp salt
6 Tbs (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
2/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 eggs
3/4 cup molasses
3/4 cup milk

Have all your ingredients at room temperature.

Preheat oven to 350.  Grease and flour the Pan.  ( I used Pam for baking spray)

Sift all the dry ingredients into a bowl and set aside.

Beat the butter until creamy and then add the brown sugar and beat until pale and creamy about 2mins.
Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until incorporated, about 1 min.  Scrape down the sides of bowl often (and bottom too!).  Then beat in the molasses.

Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the milk.  Make sure you begin and end with the flour.  Beat until just combined.  Do NOT over mix!

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and tap the pan on the countertop to release any air bubbles.
Bake for 50-60mins

Serves 8-10

Of course, make the cake in any ol' pan you got and adjust baking time accordingly

Monday, December 17, 2012

Traditional Shortbread

I titled this post traditional shortbread, not because I believe that this is the most traditional recipe, I'm not quite sure that it is, but it definitely is traditional in the sense that it is a christmas tradition in my house to bake these shortbread every year.  Christmas is all about traditions and revisiting those traditions year after year.  I remember always having these at christmas.  My mom would make them using the same five green plastic cutters every year: a star, angel, christmas tree, santa and a camel.  She would also decorate them simply with rainbow nonpareils and store them in the same beautiful 12 days of Christmas tin.  They were so special and such a treat and a cookie that I will always bake this time of year.  It just wouldn't be Christmas without them and a recipe that I genuinely enjoy doing.

Here is the recipe that we use. I hope you will bake some and make it a tradition in your home.

Hello Butter! You will need 1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature.  I did not use all the butter pictured here for one batch.  

1/2 cup icing sugar (sift if lumpy).  Usually I find I don't have to when I use a new bag just opened. Also, Redpath is a great brand and I find never has those crusty hard lumps.

2 cups all purpose flour, sifted. 

1tsp vanilla.  Vanilla bean paste or vanilla beans scraped from the pod would also be wonderful

This dough is so quick and simple to pull together.  Cream the butter and slowly add all of the icing sugar and mix until smooth and well combined.

NEXT: Add the sifted flour to the butter and sugar mixture a little at a time, vanilla and 1/2tsp salt

mix well (do not over mix!!) just until the everything has come together

Let the shortbread dough rest for 1hr in the fridge.  Take it out and let it soften a little until ready to roll.  Then lightly flour your surface and roll out your dough anywhere from 1/4 to 1/2" thick.  I like my cookies on the thicker side.  I lay out all the cutters I want to use beside the dough and place a small pile of flour to dip the cutters in before I cut them out of the dough.

Use any festive, christmassy, holiday cutter you like.  I have some that are really old from when I was little and some really special ones my aunt used to use.  Most are from Wilton or Williams-Sonoma.  After placing them on the baking sheet I refrigerated them for about 10mins before putting them in a 350 oven to bake for about 7-10mins, depending on the size of your cookies.  Larger cookies will take longer as smaller ones will take less time.  You don't want to see any browning happening so check your cookies often.   

Let the cookies cool for 5mins before placing them on a wire rack to cool completely.  To make the messages I stamped I used Message 'n' a Cookie cutters available at Williams-Sonoma.

Once completely cooled store them in a tin or air tight container and keep them in a cool place. Mine our in the 12 days of christmas tin, as you'll always find them at christmas

Merry Cookies!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


These make me happy

I bought these last christmas at Pier One Imports. It was love at first sight. Although honestly they are not useful or practical in any way I still think they are the cutest

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Vanilla Buttermilk Cake for Connie

This past weekend was my mother's birthday.  She wanted a vanilla cake and presented me with a recipe she googled that she wanted me to bake. The recipe is a Vanilla buttermilk cake adapted from Sky High: Irresistible Triple Layer Cakes by Alicia Huntsmen & Peter Wynne.

The cake called for 8oz butter, room temperature

4 whole large eggs + 2 egg yolks, 2 tsp vanilla and 1 1/4 cup buttermilk

For the dry ingredients: 3 cups cake flour, 2 cups sugar, 4 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp salt

You need to preheat your oven to 350 and butter and flour or spray pans with baking spray.  I used three 8" round cake pans.
Place the eggs and the yolks in a medium bowl (or in a large measuring cup like I have pictured above) add in the vanilla and 1/4 cup of the buttermilk.  Whisk well and set aside.

Next, combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in the bowl of a mixer, whisk to blend.  Add the remaining 1 cup of buttermilk and the butter to the dry ingredients and with the mixer on low speed, blend together.  Raise the speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy (about 2mins)

Add the egg mixture in three additions, scrapping down the sides of the bowl after each addition.  Don't forget to scrape the bottom of the bowl as well! Don't over mix! Divide the batter among the pans and bake for 28-32mins or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean and when you gently poke the top of the cake it springs back nicely.   

Let the layers cool in the pan for about 10mins then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely before filling and frosting.

The vanilla buttercream I made for this cake is 1 lb of butter at room temperature, 1kg of icing sugar, 2tsp vanilla and about 2 tbsp of milk or water.  First add the butter to the mixer and cream until nice and smooth.  On slow speed, add the icing sugar about a cup at a time letting the sugar completely absorb into the butter before adding more.  Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl frequently.  Once all your sugar has been added, add your liquid and once thats blended in turn up the speed to high and let it beat until nice and fluffy.  You may need to add more liquid, depending on the consistency that you want.

Here is the finished cake.
Happy Birthday Mom!!!!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Festive Vanilla Cupcakes

Here are some cupcakes I made using the decorations I recently  posted about. I think they look really cute and fun for christmas time.  They are vanilla cupcakes with vanilla buttercream.  Stay tuned for the cake recipe which I will post about soon. 

Happy baking :) 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

My new KitchenAid Mixer....that I won!!!! :) :)

I always loved the baby pink colour of this stand mixer.  Just looking at it makes me smile.  I won this mixer from a contest I entered on the super fabulous blog www.sweetopia.net
You got to check out her site...it has amazing beautifully decorated cookies, recipes, decorating ideas,  and frequent chances to win amazing prizes like this beauty here.

It's so pretty :)
I still can't believe I won it.
It makes me so happy

Friday, November 23, 2012

Fondant Decorations

Here are some christmas fondant decorations I made today.  I kneaded in some gum paste so that they will dry a little harder than if I just used fondant.
These will be used for some christmas cupcakes i'm planning to make soon.  I think they will look really cute and festive.
All of the mini cutters I used here are from BulkBarn.  The Wilton Food Writer I found at Home Outfitters.

So cute :)

I really love how the gingerbread men look.  I used sugar pearls for the buttons and brushed on a little lustre dust to give them some sparkle

For the snowman I used a Wilton Food Writer to colour the hat black and dot on some coal buttons.

Now I'll let them dry until hard and pack them away to use later.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Its beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

Can you guess what I baked today? :)

 Last christmas Marian from the fabulous site www.sweetopia.net made the most beautiful, whimsical, lovely gingerbread houses I had ever seen.  I just admired them and loved them but didn't actually get the courage to make one.  I just thought it would be too hard.

This year, as I was sitting in class, I couldn't keep my mind on anything else but baking one of those gingerbread houses.   This was gonna be the year and it had to be totally from scratch.  I just became obsessed and so I had to do it.  I went and bought all the ingredients and spent a small fortune on candy to decorate.  I baked and decorated all day.  I am so happy that I did.  It wasn't as hard as I thought it would be and if you visit Marian's site, she has incredible tutorials and videos and recipes all about making them.  I also got the template from her site as well.  Thanks Marian!! You are such a baking queen!  Here are the results of today's labour (yes it took me all day).

Here is the template for the house that I printed from sweetopia.net

I made one batch of Wilton's recipe for grandma's gingerbread.  This made enough dough for two houses.  If you want this recipe go to wilton.com 

Ready for the oven

Letting my house pieces cool.  

Finally time for the best part: decorating!  I really love the little sugar christmas lights

Buying the candy was so fun...however in all my excitement and enthusiasm for the job I spent a small fortune on sugary house materials :S

Mixing up the royal icing.  Recipe also found on sweetopia.net

Walls UP! it was recommended to let the house at this stage dry overnight (about 12hrs) but I was too impatient and went ahead with putting on the roof, chimney and decorations.  However, next time I think I would wait and let the house dry before moving on to the next step

I hope that you find time to make one and if you don't already know what sweetopia.net is you must visit her site.  It sugar/baking/decorating bliss.