Monthly Archives: March 2015

Memories of Meals Past: A Pink Cake & How to Make Your Own Food Colouring

A fancy-pants cake for the DH!

A fancy-pants cake for the DH!

‘Twas the DH’s birthday this past weekend, so I made him a cake. I asked him what kind of cake he would like; strawberry, he said! So a strawberry cake I made. It was a three-layer cake, and had strawberry-buttercream icing between the three layers, and as the crumb coat, and then the outside was frosted with vanilla buttercream. Doesn’t it sound good?

I worked on it for FIVE (5) hours! Including dish-washing time. I was so proud of that cake! I brought it out with pride to show the DH. His reaction? Verbatim: “It’s PINK!” I looked at it. It WAS pink! But…isn’t that what strawberry cakes should be? They can’t exactly be bright strawberry red, right? He actually really appreciated the cake, and I think the best gift I gave him this birthday was his PINK cake, as he’s been teasing me mercilessly about it. I don’t really see the issue, as I don’t believe in stereotyping genders with particular colours, but coming from a South American culture where pink is NOT considered an appropriate colour for males, the DH is just more aware of it. Whatevs. It tasted delish!

Pillowy soft buttercream! *licks beaters*

Pillowy soft buttercream! *licks beaters*

I was trying for an ombre effect, so I mixed up three different batches of vanilla buttercream and tinted them with some homemade food colouring. I’m not big on food colouring in general, and red food colouring is apparently one of the worst ones, in terms of health. So I made my own! Here’s how!

All-Natural Red Food Colouring

  • 1 beet
  • 1/2 c. water
  • 1 tbsp. vinegar

Prick the beet with a fork and stick it in a mug. Pop it in the microwave on the potato setting. Halfway through, check on the beet — is it sizzling and spitting dark red juice? Excellent! Add the water and pop it back into the microwave until the beet is cooked through. (You *may* have a few spatters. It depends on the size of the cup.) Stab the beet with the fork until it’s practically in pieces; you really want to get all the beet juice out. (Are there easier ways? Sure, but I don’t have a juicer. That would work too, though!) Once all the beet juice is out (mixed with that water, of course), you can let it cool and add the vinegar it. The vinegar sort of sets it, especially if you’re going to be baking with it. And ta-dah! All-natural red food colouring! Honestly, isn’t some beet juice better than a bottle of preservatives?  

Pro Tip: If you’re baking with this colouring, the batter should be slightly acidic (for example, it should use baking powder, not just baking soda). This is part of the reason why I add vinegar. And USE LOTS OF THE COLOURING! It will bake up WAYYYYYY paler than the colour of the batter. I cannot emphasize this enough.

Look, ma, no spills!

Look, ma, no spills!

Oh, and my latest tip for icing without messy spills? Use a clip to tie off the top! Seriously easy!

Happy baking, and happy birthday to the DH!

Next Post: Those ham crepes I’ve been promising? They’re a-gonna show up.

BCM: Lemon-Glazed Madeleines and Changing Things Up

They turned out pretty well, I think!

They turned out pretty well, I think!

Usually when I make a recipe for my bake-a-long group, I tell myself after the fact that I should have halved it, because the recipe always makes more than the DH and I should really eat by ourselves. However, for today’s recipe from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking Chez Moi, I actually quadrupled the amounts! Instead of only making 12, I shall made 48. Why? I’m going to send them into the office with the DH, although I expect perhaps only 45 or so shall actually make it out the door. I mean really, two madeleines for me, and one for the DH, I think that’s fair, right?

The ingredient quantities weren’t the only things I changed up. Dorie had said to rub the sugar with lemon zest, but of course, I forgot to get lemons, and the clementines I was planning on using as a substitute had disappeared into the fruit salad that the DH packed for his lunch. So I left out the lemon zest. Instead of Lemon Madeleines, I’m making Lemon-Glazed Madeleines, because I do have lemon juice in the fridge.

And then as per usual when making these recipes, I realized I was low on one  key ingredient. In this case, it was baking powder. But I know that you can make your own baking powder from cream of tartar and baking soda, so that’s what I did. It’s a two to one ratio, so I mixed 2 tbsp. of cream of tartar and one tbsp. of baking soda, and then used the appropriate amount in the recipe (x 4, of course!)

By the way, when multiplying this recipe by 4, the amounts really start to add up. Two cups of butter, eight eggs…that’s some rich batter, yo!

The recipe itself is really quick and easy, but there’s a lot of chilling time needed. Time to chill the batter and time to chill the batter IN the madeleine tray. I guess that’s a good thing; it means I have time to do the dishes! Or I could just cut down on the chilling time. The chilling makes the “bosse” (the ‘hump’) on the madeleines bigger, and that’s the fashion. Not sure why, as I don’t think it adds to the aesthetics, but maybe it makes it fluffier? If you know, let me know in the comments!

I had read on the bake-a-long group website, that it was best to underfill the mould slightly, so that when the batter baked, it didn’t overflow the pan and ruin the line of the cookie. So that’s what I did!

Once baked, I covered them in the glaze and popped them back in the oven to melt and sort of ‘set’ the glaze.

My humps, my humps, my lovely little, bosse! (with apologies to the Black-Eyed Peas).

My humps, my humps, my lovely little bumps…er, bosse! (with apologies to the Black-Eyed Peas).

The result? My first impression is that they’re like little cakes! Buttery, and eggy, and…cake-like. Nice, and I can see why Proust enjoyed them, but not absolutely knock-your-socks-off amazing. That, I would say, is the purview of the grapefruit creameaux from the last recipe! Still, they’re a lovely little treat, and rather nice for a coffee break. I hope the DH’s coworkers enjoy them too!

Next Post: My Oma’s Crepes, with ham. Because we still have ham. So much ham. Did I mention I’m a vegetarian?

Memories of Meals Past: Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Icing. And Fibre.

Moist and nutty. Ohhhh sooo good!

Moist and nutty. Ohhhh sooo good!

Continuing along with my throwback Thursday series, Memories of Meals Past, here is today’s contribution:

Last week was my mother’s birthday, so I baked her a cake. She’s not really one for your typical extra-fluffy-sugary-sweet-icing birthday cake, so I made her a carrot cake. My parents had come over to our end of the city to go on an outing with us, but at the last minute, I asked the DH to ask them to come up to our condo, saying that I wasn’t feeling well. They walked in the door and I popped out with candle-covered cake, along with my older sister who was in on the fun. My mum was surprised! And even ate two pieces of the cake, which is quite the compliment. Mission accomplished!

I had used a Canadian Living Carrot Cake recipe, but realized at the last minute that I didn’t have my usual can of pineapple slices in the cupboard. So I left them out. And then when I grated a couple of carrots, I had more than the required amount, by a full cup, so I tossed that in. Because fibre! I also used both pecans AND walnuts, as opposed to just the pecans that the recipe asked for.

How did it turn out, with all those substitutions? Deliciously! And the proof is in the pudding: when my family left after the birthday celebration, there was half a cake in the fridge.  When I woke up the next morning, there was an empty platter.

Me: What happened to the cake?

DH: What cake?

Me: The cake that was on this platter!

DH, innocently: There was cake?

*I will admit to eating a slice (or three) the previous night!*

At any rate, this was a great recipe, and I highly recommend it!

Recipe Rating: 5 whisks! (out of 5) <– new feature! Do you like it? Let me know in the comments!

Next Post: Ham and Parmesan Crepes, because this ham, like the never-ending-song, does not end. It just goes on and on my friend.


Vegetarian (or not) Meat Hand Pies with a Vodka Crust

Warm from the oven with a flaky, buttery crust!

Warm from the oven with a flaky, buttery crust!

So. These meat pies are soooo good! Hot out of the oven, with a meaty, saucy filling, in a flaky, golden crust, or straight out of the fridge for a quick snack or lunch, they’re tasty both ways!

The recipe makes 6 hand meat pies, or 1 full pie. If you make a standard pie as opposed to the hand-held ones, you’ll use all the meat filling, but if you make the hand pies, you’ll only use half the filling.  With any leftover filling, stick the rest in the freezer for the next batch of pies! Or make twice the pie crust and end up with a dozen of these tasty hand pies! They freeze well, so you can stick them in the freezer for lunches, quick dinners, or those midnight snack cravings.

What I love about them is that you can switch them up easily. Got frozen veggies in the freezer? Add them in! Last night’s leftovers? Add them too!

Muffin pan mania! Fill with gravylicious filling of your choice.

Muffin pan mania! Fill with gravylicious filling of your choice.

Are you wondering why there’s vodka in the crust? Well, I explored that more in my Pie Crust Odyssey, but basically it’s because it holds the dough together but will evaporate when baked, making the crust extra flaky.

I’m kind of cheating with this recipe, because I’ve posted about it before (although I used TVP then, so…maybe not cheating?), but the meat pies are just so good that I couldn’t resist sharing them again! This is some seriously good pie.

Meat Hand Pie with Vodka Crust

  • 1 pie dough recipe (here’s my vodka crust recipe)
  • 1 package meat (I used Yves’ Veggie Ground Round)
  • 1 package (or homemade) gravy

Make the gravy and mix with the meat. Set aside. Take the pie dough and cut (or tear) into 6 pieces. Roll out each piece and use a large mug to cut out a circle. Take that circle and roll it out slightly. Push into an ungreased muffin pan, and fill 2/3rds with the meat mixture. Take the scraps from that 1/6th of pie dough, and smoosh into a circle.  Press that circle of dough onto the meat-filled dough into the muffin pan, crimping the edges of the base and top together (it doesn’t have to be perfect). Cut a slit into the top. Bake in a 450 degree oven until the tops are golden brown. Let cool slightly before removing from pan. Enjoy hot or cold!

Parcel 'em up and hand 'em out! Or hoard. (They're just so tasty!)

Parcel ’em up and hand ’em out! Or hoard. (They’re just so tasty!)

I took one to work the next day and a colleague as well as the office cat were interested in them. I did not share — that cat also has IBS issues (it’s like we’re twins! *grin*) and is on a strict diet. So I had to eat the meat pie myself. With salad. Because that’s what’s for lunch.

The office cat was intrigued when I brought one to work for lunch. However, I declined to share.

The office cat was intrigued when I brought one to work for lunch. However, I declined to share.

Next Post: Ham and Parmesan Crepes and my Grandmother’s Cooking.

Linking up at Meal Plan Monday!