April showers bring May cupcakes with flowers!
Signs of spring are in the air and the trees and plants in the neighbourhood are starting to flower and the world needs a good dose of pretty!! I'm pretty sure these cupcakes were designed to be "Mother's Day" appropriate... but not for my mama. She would 100% go for chocolate or coffee over roses and pink... but these are still fun to make. Also I've never used rosewater before so that was something new and fun. The cupcakes are not overly rose-y flavoured... and to be honest I wish they had more raspberry-rose flavour to them! They are pretty mild. But very nice. I even added a little bit more rosewater than the recipe requires... Which I would recommend BUT IF YOU DO... flavour with caution! As you don't want cupcakes that taste like soap. We're going for floral-garden vibes... not grandma's powder room.
Finished off with a dusting of rose petals because they are one of my new favourite garnishes!
Not only does it make the cupcakes look pretty, but it lightly perfumes them with a pleasant floral-y scent. Super girly... but sometimes that is just fun, okay?!
Raspberry Rose Cupcakes
Recipe from Food Network Magazine
TIS THE SEASON!!! The BBQ SEASON! And I couldn't be more excited... because I am now the proud owner of the littlest, cutest camping bbq. Little Red. The Baby-Q. My shiny new toy!
Let the grilling begin!
And what better time to get the party started than the kick-off of the May long weekend. It just feels right, you know? Also, I've had some burgers taking up valuable space in my freezer for quite some time now, but I've been holding off cooking them until I could get my hands on a BBQ... Because that is the truly the best and perhaps only way I want to cook burgers. Thanks to my awesome brother, he made this gal's grill-dreams come true!
I was originally going to BBQ-sit his "big-boy" real BBQ... however it turns out he doesn't require those services anymore and wants his BBQ for himself. Which is entirely fair and understandable. However I was left thinking... "But how will I survive the summer sans-grill?"
When I grow up I know I will buy a Big-Girl BBQ... but in the meantime he came up with a brilliant compromise to suit my urgent and immediate needs by gifting me a brand new tiny red camping BBQ that he had no use for! He even dropped it off at my house, with propane to boot! (I thanked him with some Sidewalk Citizen pizza dough). What a guy. I love my bro. And I love my new BBQ! HAPPY DAYS!
Naturally I had to make my own burger buns... which I sprinkled with the last little bit of my homemade "Everything" spice blend. But you could sprinkle these buns with just about anything your heart desires or your pantry inspires... herbs, spices, seeds, etc.
I also whipped up some of my new favourite ingredient/condiment that I want to put on everything: Pickled red onions!!! They are the bees knees I tell ya! And soooo easy to make. A great use for the rather large half of a red onion that was begging to be utilized in my fridge... A jar of jewel toned magic I tell you!
recipe slightly adapted from Noel Richardson
makes 6 buns
Pickled Red onions
recipe slightly adapted from Michael Smith
Cupcakes for April!! Of course April, the month of easter, gets a carrot-cake-themed cupcake to celebrate this lovely month. April this year has been unlike any other month the world has ever seen due to COVID-19. We can't have all the big easter family gatherings in quite the same way we are used to. But I sure as heck can make a dozen cupcakes at home and deliver them to my family the next day. My ma and pa loved them... Ma's favourite kind of cake is a carrot cake.
I'm partial to this recipe because the cake part contains toasted walnuts and candied ginger folded into the batter! SOLD. The topping is a candied carrot ribbon and a candied walnut. Which is just fun and cute. Rather than a dramatic swirl of frosting, we're keeping it simple with a smooth and elegant blob. I like it. She's a keeper.
Recipe from Food Network Magazine
I made these little tea-time-treats to celebrate the last day of Passover this year... now full confession I am not even a little bit Jewish, I do not normally celebrate passover. But I simply love celebrating and any excuse to bake and try a new recipe. And so, voila, thanks to owning a Nigella Lawson cookbook that has an entire chapter dedicated to Passover, I present these tiny flourless pretties. They are soft and sweet and spongey and happen to be gluten free... not that I even intended to make them for that reason either, more for the fact that I have some ground almonds kicking around that need to be loved. I JUST LIKE BAKING OKAY.
So... here is a Passover-friendly-gluten-free dessert coming from a gal who is decidedly not Jewish and unassailably loves flour. Whoopsies! They are here because they are dainty and tasty and certainly pretty little things.
Flourless Apple-Almond Tea Cakes
Recipe slightly adapted from Nigella Lawson
Happy Good Friday everyone! It sure is a Good Friday indeed. Why? Because we have a lovely recipe for Hot Cross Buns!!! I sure am not religious, however I love celebrating anything and everything, and ESPECIALLY anything that is themed around food... And so, Hot Cross Buns. I've made them once at home before and they didn't quite turn out. They tasted good, but they didn't rise and were little bread pucks. Unlike THESE BEAUTIES which are soft and fluffy and exactly what I dream of a hot cross bun to be.
As a kid, my family would buy hot cross buns from our grocery store. And they were fine. But I never liked them... I'm pretty sure I was turned off by the weird rainbow coloured candied peel... I deemed them very much "old-lady" food.
But here's the thing... I've grown older and wiser now and realized that minus the weird dried fruit, hot cross buns are just like a glorified fancy cinnamon-raisin bread... which I LOVE! And so... as a big girl who can make and bake her own decisions (and also because the grocery store had none...) I eliminated the candied peel and just used raisins instead :)
These are not totally traditional in another sense... classic hot cross buns have a cross on them that is put on before the buns are baked. This cross is made with what is called "crossing paste" which varies by recipe but often contains milk, flour, eggs, butter and sugar...
These guys are a little more simple, as their crosses are just made out of a simple icing sugar glaze and piped on top after the buns have been baked and are completely cooled.
Simple, soft, slightly sweet... indeed these buns are quite a treat ;)
Here's to all Friday's being Good! Happy Baking.
Almost Classic Hot Cross BUns
Recipe slightly adapted from Canadian Living
The world feels very serious and very scary right now so it's more important than ever to remember the value in being FUN and being SILLY and being SWEET. Presenting: The wonky-whimsical-rainbow-loaf-cake! It hits all of those buttons.
Ya'll are probably definitely thinking, but how did you get it shaped like a rainbow!? Well I have been fortunate enough to inherit many a random vintage baking supply from various family members and friends. I'm always so stoked when people want to give me their old or vintage baking supplies... a lot of the time they have something that they inherited and they have no idea what it should be used for! I love the fun challenge in figuring out what it was for, but also how I can use it, and maybe even use it in a different or creative way. I have a thing for strange shaped cake pans and so I am proud to be the owner of a ridged, u-shaped loaf pan. After a recent and unrelated google image search I have also seen this shape of pan being used as a mould for jell-o! So perhaps that is what it's original purpose is! But I love using it to bake loaf cakes in... especially because it's got those little ridges which make excellent markings for where to slice :)
Of course, if you don't have a rainbow shaped pan, you can and should still bake this sweet little cake! Because not only does it look fun, it tastes lovely. It's a slightly but not overly sweet lemony-vanilla loaf that makes a great little snacking cake. You could layer the colours into a regular loaf pan, or into muffin tins, or make a cake... you get the idea just use whatever pan you fancy! And if rainbow is a few too many colours, just pick a few of your favourite colours and gently swirl them in the pan to make a whimsical marbled cake. The main point here is to get baking and have FUN.
recipe adapted from Food Network Magazine
Every cake deserves a glamour shot...
The world is very unfamiliar at the moment and at times can feel a bit dark. Dark times call for a dark cake... at the same time, something to bring us comfort in place of uncertainty.
I experiment and like to try new recipes quite a lot but every so often I make something that is just so good that I crave making it again. Either because it is seasonal, fun to make, or other beg me to do so. For this particular cake, it just patiently yearns to be made for a true St Patrick's day celebration, it's fun to make because you need BEER for it (also you don't use the full can so you're pretty much encouraged to drink whilst baking), and in this case it was me who was begging myself to make one... And sometimes one must follow their heart. Especially if it involves chocolate cake. And beer. And nobody was going to complain about it.
This cake was made this year during the initial brink of a literal pandemic in which shelves in grocery stores had been more or less wiped clean. I made a special effort to get out of my house and collect THE LAST* pathetic tiny carton of 6 eggs (who only buys 6 eggs at a time normally?!) and THE LAST tiny tub of sour cream. It was worth it.
*I lied, there was one other tiny carton of 6 eggs, but a good half of them were broken. What a strange time it is out there. Good thing we can make cake to comfort us.
My roommates particularly liked this one too... it's a wonderful snacking cake to just leave on a cake stand in your kitchen with a small knife sitting next to it, so that one may saw off a nibble here or there anytime of day or night.
Chocolate Guinness Cake
Recipe from Nigella Lawson
For the cream cheese glaze, all I did was take some cream cheese frosting that I had stashed in my freezer. I melted it down with a splash of cream and a splash of Bailey's irish cream liqueur. If you need a recipe for cream cheese frosting... Martha Stewart is always my go-to gal.
However, I will also include the frosting recipe that Nigella suggests for her cake... the only reason I didn't use this one is because as mentioned above I already had some very suitable frosting. And better to waist it than waste it, ya know?
Isn't it just the best when old classics get re-imagined into a different form? It's like when you hear a really good cover song by a band that makes you hear a familiar song in a whole new way! Presenting Sticky-Toffee-Pudding in the form of cookies!! Now one of my favourite sit-down restaurant style desserts is portable. We have a winner folks.
Also... this recipe has a super secret weapon! And it's weird. Which is what attracted me to try it other than the fact that sticky-toffee-cookies sounded delicious. What (I'm assuming) adds to the texture of these sort of cakey sort of chewy cookies is... wait for it... Lentil Puree!!! What the heck? I promise you truly don't taste it at all in the actual cookie. And you get a bonus hit of protein in your sweet snack. Happy days!
**The next time I make these though, I'd like to experiment further... the lentil puree reminds me so much of the texture of pumpkin puree... and I feel like pumpkin and sticky toffee would make excellent friends... so next time I'm thinking I'll play match maker and swap the lentil puree for pumpkin and see where that takes us. Stay tuned.
Sticky Toffee Cookies
Recipe from the wonderful SweetSugarBean also known as Renée Kohlman
First begin by making the Lentil Puree. Here's how to go about that:
A bit of a mouthful to say... but these cookies are definitely something you want your mouth full of. OH GOSH that was weird and I know it, I'm sorry #notsorry but please do make these cookies because they are soft and chewy, sweet and salty and there is something for everyone in them!!
Kids will like them because they are chocolate chip cookies and all kids like chocolate chip cookies (if they don't take extreme caution, because they will likely grow up to be psychopaths... these are the ones to watch out for) Also toffee bits!! Fun!!!
Adults will like them because there is a bit of coffee in the dough itself, which balances the sweetness of everything else.
Sophisticates will enjoy these because there is browned butter and Maldon sea salt flakes on top. Prime combination of my abilities and knowledge as an adult, with my inner desires to remain a kid who just wants to bake cookies.
These were real winners in my book... would make again.
I used homemade toffee bits in these bad boys, but you can easily buy them at a store. I learned this past fall just how easy it is to make homemade toffee bits! So perhaps one day in future I will write about that. Until then... COOKIE TIME!
Recipe slightly adapted from "The Baker in Me" by Daphna Rabinovitch
*Yields about 2 dozen cookies (this is the original recipe, halved)
** I thouroughly imagine that you could easily use just all purpose flour instead of the blend... I just happened to have some cake/pastry flour kicking around and so I thought I would use it. But a fun trick to know is that you can make your own cake/pastry flour at home in a pinch if you have regular flour and cornstarch. Take one cup of all-purpose flour minus one tablespoon... mix it in a bowl with 1 tbsp of cornstarch. Give it a sift, or at the very least a good whisk. BOOM, now you have 1 cup of homemade cake and pastry flour.
***You can absolutely use all regular butter in this recipe, just use 4 ounces (or 1/2 cup). The browned butter just adds extra flav that I love. Make sure when using browned butter for baking that you brown the sh*t out of your butter, like almost burnt (but not actually burnt) butter. Otherwise you won't taste it amidst all the sugar.
Ah it's Pancake Tuesday! What a wonderful holiday, I simply cannot let it go by without celebrating it. This year, I wanted to try something different so I scoured my recipe books and found so so many pancake recipes. One stuck out to me, not only because it sounded incredibly different from regular pancakes, but also because it required a few weirdo ingredients that somehow I had on hand?? Including 1/2 cup of canned pumpkin of which I had almost that EXACT amount just chilling (heh heh) in my freezer waiting to be made into something... So I like to think the universe chose these pancakes for me to make.
I got up early, went for a swim, picked up some milk on my way home from the pool. Made some coffee, and got to work making these pancakes. The best part is that one of my roommates was working from home today, so I had a brunch buddy to help me eat up! My other roomie will be home later, and there are plenty of leftovers for her... which I think she will enjoy because A) she loves pancakes and B) she is trying to eat more gluten-free things.
I am not bothered one bit by gluten but I sure love experimenting with different flours...
This recipe calls for "whole-grain medium grind cornmeal". This is important to note that not all cornmeal is created equal! Just like whole grain flour, you can buy whole grain cornmeal. This means that it includes the entire grain: bran, germ and endosperm. (Regular white flour and cornmeal only contain the endosperm.) I'm sure you could make these with regular cornmeal, but the whole grain stuff is sure nice and adds more flavour. It requires a bit more searching in the grocery store, but I found it with all the "Bob's Red Mill" brand flours and grains, often in the health-food section if your grocery store has one. Good old bob, he's done it again. This is also where you will find brown rice flour and quinoa flour, if you don't already have those in your house like this weirdo...
**If you buy strange flours like these and don't use them super often, I recommend storing them in the freezer! This way they will last a long time and not go rancid, which is indeed something you must be concerned about especially with these high-protein flours. Right now in my freezer I have:
brown rice flour, white rice flour, quinoa flour, buckwheat flour, whole wheat flour, pastry flour, rye flour, almond flour...
Yup, I told you I like to experiment!
Gluten Free Pumpkin Cornmeal Pancakes
Recipe barely adapted from The Vegetarians Complete Quinoa Cookbook
Tiny Tea Party
It's about celebrating the tiny things.
© 2015 Larissa Costella
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(All images and content are my own unless otherwise noted)