Archive for June, 2009

Multigrain Bread with Cherry-Bourbon Butter and Maple Canada Day Cupcakes



Before the cupcakes, we ate bread for dinner tonight and last. Aviv’s organic, handmade bread, thankfully. I had no plan in mind and was running out the door when the heavens parted and an angel in bike shorts stepped out of a modest hatchback bearing a multigrain loaf, wrapped in a paper bag with a small jar of cherry bourbon butter. We ate most of it, some with the butter and some with sausage, lentil & barley soup I had in a thawed yogurt container in the fridge.

For those of you who haven’t heard about Aviv, every Monday he bakes dozens of organic artisan loaves (on Fridays he sends out a mass email letting everyone know what kind it’s going to be, and you can say yes or no) and then gets on his bike (or when he’s really overloaded, in his car) and delivers them around the core, selling them for $6 apiece (including delivery) and the proceeds go to support a school in Malawi. He has already met his goal of $2500 raised, but everyone loves his bread so much he’s still going. You can join Aviv’s email list here. OR you can find him now at the Hillhurst-Sunnyside Farmers’ Market on Wednesdays from 3:30-7:30!

And then it was time to make cupcakes for the big Canada Day bash tomorrow. (Not at our house – thankfully we don’t have to clean. Yet.) But what kind would be appropriate for such a holiday? A maple cake with maple icing came immediately to mind. And also? Maple anything is Mike’s favourite.

I pulled my Canadian Living Baking Book off the shelf, thinking they must have a recipe for maple cake, and they did – a Maple Crunch Layer Cake which modified itself nicely into a couple dozen cupcakes. I have a hard time using a cup of butter in a recipe though, so I cut the fat in half, and used half butter and half canola oil. They were lovely and perfect, with a tender, buttery crumb.

I still have a hard time making maple baking taste sufficiently mapley though; except for that Maple Pouding “Chomeur”, which was like a delicious ticking time bomb of sugar, butter and cream. Maybe next time I’ll use brown sugar instead of white to give them a boost.

Maple Cupcakes with Maple Frosting

I imagine this would make a pretty delicious vanilla-honey cake too; just substitute good vanilla extract for the maple, and honey for the maple syrup, reducing it a bit as honey is more intensely sweet than maple. Roger’s Golden Syrup would be delicious too. For a regular sized cake, bake the batter in two 9″ round pans that have been sprayed with nonstick spray for about half an hour, until springy to the touch.

1/4 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup canola oil
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp. maple extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 cup buttermilk or plain yogurt, thinned with milk
3/4 cup maple syrup

Preheat oven to 375F. In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar for a few minutes, until fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition; beat in the maple extract.

In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In another, stir together the buttermilk and maple syrup. Add the flour in three additions, alternating with the buttermilk in two, beating on low speed just until blended after each addition.

Divide the batter among about 24 paper-lined muffin tins and bake for 20 minutes, until springy to the touch.

Maple Frosting

I tried this ratio and it worked, but you could cut the butter by half if you’re trying to reduce your fat intake. You may need to add a little extra maple syrup or even a couple teaspoons of vanilla. Essentially you adjust the proportions of each ingredient until you have a soft, spreadable frosting.

1/2 cup butter, softened
2 cups icing sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup

In a medium bowl, beat the butter with half the icing sugar until creamy. Add the remaining icing sugar and maple syrup and beat until well blended and smooth, adding a little extra sugar or syrup as needed to achieve a spreadable consistency. Makes enough for 2 dozen cupcakes.

One Year Ago: We went to Swiss Chalet.


June 30 2009 | cake | 23 Comments »

Waffled French Toast



I don’t ever use the abbreviated expletive OMG, but for the past hour my brain seems to be stuck on it. Really, nothing else applies.

OMG: it’s John Cusack’s birthday. And apparently he’s just right out there in Vancouver, scouting out locations for something or other, which makes me doubly regret our move back to Calgary. Although the distance is probably keeping me from becoming a stalker, or doing something stupid like bake him a cake and then scour the city in an attempt to deliver it, ultimately giving up and eating it myself on some street corner or beach before walking home, dejected.

That doesn’t sound too bad, actually. I’d love to be in Vancouver right now, eating cake.

Regarding dinner, there really wasn’t one tonight. We were fed very well this afternoon at K & J’s place (sangria, cheese platter, beggar’s purses filled with goat cheese and caviar, steak on the barbecue, roasted veg, Caesar salad, and fruit-marshmallow kabobs with FIVE KINDS of Ben & Jerry’s for dessert – was it perhaps my birthday?), and in an attempt to be a conscientious lunch guest I did not bring along my camera and document everything they prepared. But I did take a few snaps of our quickie breakfast this morning – stale bread dipped in egg, milk and vanilla and then cooked in the waffle iron; French toast and waffles all in one, without having to beat egg whites to make waffle batter. As usual I tossed a handful of blueberries into the maple syrup as it warmed in a small pot on the stove, so that the berries popped and turned the syrup a deep indigo. Who wants to pour cold syrup, straight from the fridge, onto warm pancakes, waffles or French toast anyway?

And if I had woken up beside John this morning, he would have had waffled French toast for breakfast. And Mike would have totally understood.

One Year Ago: Danish Braid with Berries, then one with Goat Cheese and Spiced Fig Caramel

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June 28 2009 | breakfast | 30 Comments »

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