Lemon pudding cake and frozen pineapple mousse were my Grandma’s staple desserts; this version uses buttermilk and has a more souffle-like texture than many versions that are made with boiling water poured overtop. Adapted from Bon Appétit, January 2005.

Wow, 2 days and it seems like I haven’t been here for weeks. HOW did it get to be July? I wouldn’t believe it if the calendar didn’t say it was so. To give a quick rundown of those 48 undocumented hours: I spent most of July 1st shopping and cooking for a barbecue for 60 that happened last night on a beautiful farm out toward Airdrie, with about a 6 hour chunk of the afternoon spent a) at my sister’s new house eating Dilly Bars and b) a backyard Canada Day party potluck, to which I brought maple cupcakes and forgot my camera. W was in little boy heaven; 19 kids in the rec room with air hockey, video games and rock band wii. Mike was in big boy heaven across in the field playing soccer for 3 hours. I ditched them at about 7 to go home and get some work done, and had to go back in my PJs to drag themContinue reading

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This rhubarb… it just won’t stop. My own patch is becoming more impressive than I expected, but the stalks are still small and spindly (my theory is that it’s because I coddle and water it, and rhubarb thrives on neglect), but when I sigh with envy over friends’ enormous red plants with umbrella-sized leaves, I remember that the thin stalks are perfect for chopping and stirring into scones, muffins and cakes that resemble the surface of the moon. And lemon bars! Which everyone I know adores, and are made even better, if you can imagine it, with a scattering of pink rhubarb over the base before you add the filling. Double tartness! I make these with cranberries and coconut at Christmas, and it’s one of our favourite things.

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This is what happens when I come home with leftover whipping cream in a can… I need to come up with a use for it to prevent myself from spraying it all directly into my mouth. Also: I have a container of the most brilliant raspberry-rhubarb compote in the fridge, which I love to eat cold with yogurt and granola, but lets face it – a crunchy-edged biscuit and whipped cream makes even better use of it. If dessert was a sandwich, this might be it. Somehow, someone somewhere decided that shortcakes were the ultimate vehicle for strawberries… so much so that someone else invented those little yellow sweet sponges to sell alongside the berries in grocery stores during the summer. And yes, strawberry shortcake is a good thing… such a good thing that they named a cartoon character after it. But honestly, any juicy seasonal fruit does just as well – you need it to be juicy so that the shortcakes can absorb someContinue reading

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Currently bedside: Nigel Slater’s latest, The Christmas Chronicles. He’s one of my all-time favourite food writers, and Christmas is my favourite time of year, and the two are packaged together perfectly. (Here’s a taste from the Guardian.) I love how much he loves the “crackle” of winter, just like I do, how he finds the cold brisk and invigorating. He makes me want to get up early and write by candlelight, then build a fire and slice crisp apples into a pot and simmer them with warm spices, a clementine and some brandy while a pork belly roasts in the oven. He perfectly encapsulates why I love these short, cold, cozy days, particularly in early winter – and even (especially?) the grey ones. Who better to refer to when seeking out a new fruitcake? Over the years, I’ve short-sightedly been thinking of fruitcake in black and white, or light and dark, always drawn toward the dark, sticky fruitcake of my childhood – specifically the oneContinue reading

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Hey, hi. I figured you, like me, might need some chocolate zucchini cake to help get you through the week. The moist, not-too-sweet kind you just stir up in a bowl and bake in a pan and nibble from when you need it – a cake you could get away with having a chunk of with your coffee in the morning, for filling up lunchbags and the after-school gap. And here’s some good news: if you also have far too many zucchini in your kitchen, you can grate a bunch, as if you were going to make brownies or muffins or a loaf or this cake, and just freeze it in ziplock bags, pushed flat to get the air out and so that they barely take up any space, to use in the aforementioned baked goods at a later date.

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This lunar rhubarb cake is a thing – do you know of it? It has made the rounds of Canadian kitchens for decades and generations, far before the internet and Pinterest made it easier to share, back when great aunts and neighbours scribbled down the formula for that cake they always make that’s so good. Everyone seems to remember this. It’s called lunar cake because its surface resembles the pocked surface of the moon, only in this case it becomes irregular and uneven because of the fruit and buttery brown sugar that sinks into the top. (Any fruit will work here – I love these recipes that you can use no matter what’s in season. I already can’t wait for plums.) I’d heard of it but never made one, thinking it was the same sort of fruit-topped cake I’d made dozens of versions of, but when it popped up in the new cookbook by Lindsay Anderson and Dana VanVeller, whose lives I would quickly adoptContinue reading

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When I was a kid, maybe 9, I had a cupcake company. (I know, I was way ahead of myself.) I took out a $20 loan from my mom, bought ingredients and labeled them, and made the One Egg Cake out of The Joy of Cooking, and turned the batter into cupcakes to sell to neighbours on our street. After my loan was paid back, I think I made $7. (Most of the profits were eaten up.) I still have a soft spot (OK, many) for homemade cupcakes with straight-up buttercream frosting, applied in no particularly fancy order, just spread on with a knife. I think of the one-egg cake often, but have never revisited it – until late this afternoon, when I really really just needed some cake. And a short distraction from the computer. I stood and stared at the mixer beating butter, sugar, eggs, flour, milk – this is as basic a formula as they get – then poured the batter intoContinue reading

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Ever wonder what would happen if dense gingerbread and dark fruitcake got together? This. It was called coffee fruitcake in a 2005 issue of Gourmet, but doesn’t taste like coffee – you could swap orange juice, or grape juice, which is what my mom used when she made fruitcake decades ago. Or anything, really – but the coffee really does intensify the deep, slightly bitter gingerbread, which contrasts well with the loads of dried currants and raisins. You could, of course, stir in some other dried fruit – I was tempted to add slivered dried apricots, figs and cherries, and may next time, but it is tempting to stick with the ease of just raisins.

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