Get Baked In the kitchen

November big cook

This is actually only about the apple cake…

So Toby likes to cook – and often likes to make a big pot of something. And it’s been a while since we’ve had people over so I thought we’d have people over for a late thanksgiving feast. Except Indian foods. ‘Cause that’s something Toby is particularly good at. So I’m not sure why we tied it into thanksgiving – because even US thanksgiving is next weekend. Oh maybe that’s when we were going to do it but then some people couldn’t make that date…anyway. Back to the story. That isn’t actually about the big cook part.

Toby made 3 different meat curries: butter chicken, beef curry, and a meatball curry. And then three veg: my absolute favourite saag paneer, daal and a mushroom curry.

My iPhone skills are not nearly good enough to take pictures of curries that look good so you’ll just have to take my word for it (and our guests’ word for the mushroom curry being amazing; no way was I going to eat it!).

One friend brought samosas, another brought homemade naan (sooooo good). Indian sweets came with another friend and another brought a lemon panettone. And another brought a batch of home-made Manhattans *swoon*

So… what was I gonna do? Toby originally asked for pavlova (his favourite) and a chocolate layer cake. So that’s what I was going to do. Until a couple of days before the dinner when we pulled out this binder full of his mom’s recipes from a while ago. Some obviously from when he was a kid because they include such gems as (for a different recipe):

…I like to use apricot jam because it is not sweet, Toby likes raspberry jam because it is sweet.

At least he was a normal kid!

There are also a few curry recipes in there, including one I remember from the very first time I ate at the house in Ancaster: egg curry. Toby says it’s a very British thing.

Anyway, I was flipping through and asked about “apple cake.” Toby immediately went misty-eyed and asked that I make it instead of the chocolate cake. (Note that the pavlova was likely never in danger of being superseded).

So – it’s a lovely, super straightforward recipe. And I have my amazing mother-in-law’s permission to include it.

Too many apples; and also used cinnamon sugar from The Spice Trader from last year’s advent calendar.

Ingredients and instructions:

Butter (or otherwise grease well) a 9″ spring form pan.

Oven at 350*

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs

Cream the butter well. Then add sugar and eggs and mix until smooth.

  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder

Add the flour and baking powder and mix again until smooth.

ORIGINAL NOTE: Pour mixture into pan, it is quite thick

MY NOTE: The batter will be really thick. Really. There is no pouring here. Scoop it out of the bowl and into the pan; make it even though don’t press down too much.

  • 3-4 large tart apples – peel, core, slice into eighths. Press into the dough round side up.

MY NOTE: The original says in a circular pattern so I started on the outside and then filled in the spaces with smaller pieces. I should have taken more pictures!

  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp sugar

Mix and sprinkle over the apples

Bake for 1 hour

  • 3 oz butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs

Mix well together; pour over the cake and then bake at 325* for 1/2 hour more.

This is what it looked like out of the oven.

Toby got an advance taste:

You can kinda see the layer of the base then it gets a bit smooshed where the apple is and then the top bit

I was worried it was a bit dry. Because I followed the recipe to the letter. Which I actually do know I should NOT do for times etc because every oven is different and runs hotter or colder or whatever. So I worried. Because that is what I do.

I was thinking about what I could do and my brain immediately went to salted-caramel. Please tell me it’s not just me lol

And then of course, Joy of Cooking to the rescue and I attempted to make salted caramel sauce for the first time.

Joy of Cooking cover compilation from Joy of Cooking

The recipe itself was pretty simple and straightforward but I really think a lot of cookbooks would be a lot more helpful if they included a little more help along the lines of, for example here, “err on the side of pulling it off the heat a little early because once it’s too late, well, it’s just rubbish.”

It looks lovely – especially in my vintage glass jar. And it smelled divine. And tasted ever so slightly burnt. Sigh. But also ๐Ÿ™‚

So a big lesson re-learned: Timing really is everything sometimes; the key is to know when it matters.

And also your friends will probably eat whatever you make because they know you did your best and even “slightly not exactly right” baked goods taste great when made at home with good intentions.

Get Baked In the kitchen

Apple turnovers

30 September 2021

Toby and I talk about food sometimes and one of the things we’ve concluded is that most cultures have some similarities regarding food. Almost everyone has a “meat on a stick” for example. We live near Greektown in Toronto so there’s always souvlaki around; there’s also Turkish kofta, Ukranian patychky, Thai satay, Japanese yakitori, Peruvian antichuchos, Spanish pinchos morunos, American corn dogs ๐Ÿ˜‰, okay, you get my point. And now I’m hungry.

Almost everyone also has a “hand pie.” They run the gamut from hearty empanadas to sweet crostatas; from fish pastels to pop tarts; from spanakopita to pastizzi and, of course, Cornish pasties.

Turnovers are another hand pie and our best friend went apple picking with his kids and sent Toby home with some apples. I also had some puff pastry in the freezer and well, apple turnovers it is! Joy of Cooking apple turnovers to be precise.

Picture of mason jar of salt; plastic tubs of sugar and flour; a lemon, an egg, a cinnamon jar, a pile of apples and tenderflake frozen puff pastry
This will be apple turnovers

Not sure why we have the puff pastry but as it is so not worth making from scratch it’s a good thing we do!

Next comes rolling out the puff pastry. I should have taken more pictures of what it looks like out of the box. The box in the photo above comes with two bricks inside. Once you roll out one of the bricks it looks like the picture below:

Rolled out dough

Cut that into four quarters and then fill:

Pile apple filling in the middle. You’ll put too much. It’s okay. Just do it.
Fold over; wash with egg; cut slits on the top; press edges together with a fork

Ta dah! Out of the oven and cooling a little before delivering to friends. Because if you’re going to make four apple turnovers you may as well make a dozen and deliver some to other people…

Get Baked

Chocolate Fudge – variations on a theme

So early July I decided to try the Joy of Cooking chocolate fudge to bring to friends as a treat. But also as an experiment. Why an experiment? Because I used milk chocolate. The recipe calls for bitter-sweet or semi-sweet chocolate.

and now a lesson…

Types of chocolate: There are actually all sorts of different types of chocolate depending on the amount of cocoa in there. In Canada (where I am) we basically have four different types:

Milk: (all are at least) 15% cocoa butter, 12% milk solids, 3.39% milk fat, 2.5% fat-free cocoa solids, 25% cocoa solids

Sweet: 18% cocoa butter, 12% milk solids, no required milk fat, 12% fat-free cocoa solids, 31% cocoa solids

Bittersweet/Semisweet/Dark – we lump all these together: 18% cocoa butter, 5% milk solids, no required milk fat, 14% fat-free cocoa solids, 35% cocoa solids

White: 20% cocoa butter, 13% milk solids, 3.5% milk fat, (no cocoa solids)

Canada has some laws about this – of course we do – including the fact that in Canada you cannot use cocoa butter substitutes. In other words, you cannot have vegetable fats or oils in our “chocolate” (which is allowed in the US). Also – and this I didn’t know – “chocolate” in Canada cannot have artificial sweeteners at all! If it does – that’s why in Canada it would be called “candy” instead of “chocolate”.

back to the fudge…

So milk chocolate has more milk fat and milk solids than bittersweet/semisweet chocolate. And the Joy of Cooking recipe calls for bittersweet/semisweet. So what’s the worst that could happen?

Creamy sugar? Or really sweet cream?

There are a bunch of steps missing but basically next I added the milk chocolate, brought it to a boil and waited until it hit about 240* F. Then I cooled it down to 110* F. Then you are supposed to stir until it loses its shine and becomes stiffer.

This is after 10 minutes of stirring – still shiny. Still pretty liquidy:

This is after 15 minutes. Still pretty shiny but definitely seeing trails in the chocolate:

After 20 minutes of stirring I gave up and put it in the pan.

Using a hot knife, I was able to at least cut it.

But obviously very hard to keep its shape:

The kids all enjoyed it – and the adults too to be fair – but it’s chocolate and edible so I didn’t really think anyone was gonna refuse it. But still.

This week I figured I’d try again, with the nice dark chocolate my mother picked up for me.

Remember: dark, bittersweet, semi-sweet, all have the same basic requirements.

So here are the ingredients this time:

Picture of the ingredients in their containers.

The creamy sugar step was the same but this time I remembered to take more photos so here is the chocolate added.

melted chocolate in a pot

And then the chocolate heating while I (not so patiently) took its temperature every so often:

melted chocolate in a pot with a hand on the right side of the image holding a thin metal rod into the centre of the bubbling chocolate.
Me using Toby’s instant read thermometer ๐Ÿ™‚ Not why I bought it for him but it works really well!

Then it cooled in the sink (by putting the entire pot in the sink with cold water) and once it was cool enough I started stirring again:

melted chocolate in a pot

Oh look – just five minutes later and it already looks very different:

melted chocolate in a pot

And only 2 more minutes till it was getting less shiny and definitely stiffer:

melted chocolate in a pot again
Dark chocolate fudge in a light coloured metal pan with parchment paper having out the top.

Five minutes in the damn pan and it was already more set than the milk chocolate fudge ever was in its entire existence!

Dark chocolate fudge, cut into three square pieces with more fudge in the fore- and background.

Fudge that holds it’s shape!

Smiling grey haired female presenting person holding a chocolate covered wooden spoon
Diversions Get Baked

I remember red…

When I was younger no trip to, or through, London England was complete without a trip to Fortnum & Mason. There wasn’t a lot there we could afford I would imagine BUT they still, in the 1980s at least, sold red food colouring made from cochineal. And my mom loved it and prized it above all others. I wonder if they still make it?

from the fortnum & mason website

This all came back after I stumbled across this article from the BBC: The insect that painted Europe red. Yep, a cochineal is a bug and an acid in the female is used to make a dye. Originally it was used to colour fabrics, and then paints, and eventually a “natural” food colouring. Natural yes; but still a bug!

Diversions Get Baked Health

5 days of being deliberate

I mentioned earlier that I wanted to try and be more deliberate, or at least not so rudderless.

  • Iโ€™ll stop and think before I eat or drink anything.
  • Iโ€™ll focus on work at work and on home at home

I’ve been good with the big picture stuff this week: I may not always have eaten ‘well’ but when I did it was a conscious decision and not just mindless eating. And I’ve been far more productive at work this week, although it is a bit stressful right now.

  • Buy new LED lightbulbs and replace all the old outdoor light bulbs with the new LED ones; โœ…
  • Sendย a note to someone;
  • Oneย load of laundry โ€“ this is a never-ending chore but sometimes it gets away from me so Iโ€™m keeping it on the list for now; โœ…
  • Practice piano every day;
  • Wednesday or Thursday I want to do some baking for work as a treat for a co-worker who is going on leave; โœ…
  • Wednesday โ€“ take Q swimming! โœ…

pool hair

  • Thursday โ€“ after-work drinks with co-workers. I am almost never able to go thanks to a busy family schedule so I am not bailing out on the one that I can get to!
  • Also a bigger goal is to declutter so โ€“ post at least 2 items for sale on facebook or kijiji (or both). Does anyone ever do well selling stuff on ebay anymore?

Mortgage renewals and leaving the baking for my co-worker to the last minute meant I couldn’t go out for after-work drinks on Thursday, so that’s a bit sad.

Kugelhopf (will be another post about this soon)

And while I did get the new LED light bulbs, I haven’t yet replaced them all. I got rid of a giant bin of duplo and some knickknacks I’ve had since highschool – think about that for a second. I’ve had those things for roughly 25 years years. Why am I holding on to things for 25 years!?!

And yea, practising just hasn’t seemed to happen this week. I really gotta get on that!

What’s gonna happen on the weekend?

I think I can stop writing out the big picture goals until either (a) they change or (b) I’ve started to ignore them.

More practical / everyday things:

  • send a note to someone
  • replace the light bulbs & figure out how to properly dispose of the old ones
  • clean 2 random things
  • pick Robin up from the airport
  • spend time with family on Sunday ๐Ÿ™‚ this is a little out of the ordinary as we all get together at my grandmother’s house for mother’s day. It’s not a holiday our little family of three make a big deal out of but my mom loves it and her family like the tradition of getting together.

tulips at Osgoode Hall in Toronto