The baking

Month: December, 2012


I’ve been holding onto a few pie pictures.

And, now, I’m going to post said pie pictures.

It’s time for pie pictures, times four.

Here’s a chocolate pudding pie I made last winter:


The filling was a modified version of a PPK recipe. I used more cocoa and chocolate chips – and a bit more cornstarch – than the PPK recipe called for. And I used water instead of soy milk. I also made my own regular pastry crust from scratch, instead of using the cookie crumb crust that the recipe suggested. I added the fish and berry gummies while the pie filling was cooling, just for fun.

Here’s a pecan pie – with maple syrup – from Canadian Thanksgiving weekend this year:


The pecan pie was my second go at another PPK recipe.

And here’s the first pecan pie -from early December last year – that I made with the PPK pecan pie recipe:


Both times I made the pecan pie, I made my own pastry crust from scratch and added a bit more pecans and a bit more cornstarch than the recipe called for. I cut the decoration on the edge of the pastry on one of the pies out of extra rolled pastry dough, using a regular chef’s  knife.

The recipe for this apple pie was all my doing – though someone else did help with making the pie:


I made a double batch – for a double crust – of regular pie pastry and cut the star decorations with a chef’s knife from extra rolled-out pastry dough.

I used about 5 medium-size peeled, cored, and chopped apples. Use whatever kind of apples you like best, but I believe I used Cortland or Spartan apples for this particular pie. Leftover filling can be put into another pie or baked into an apple crisp.

Once the apples were peeled and chopped, I mixed them in a bowl until they were fully covered by a mixture of:

-1/4 cup melted margarine

-1/2 cup brown sugar

-pinch of salt

-about 3 tablespoons of flour

-cinnamon and/or cloves and/or nutmeg to your taste. I used all three and put about 1 tablespoon cinnamon, 1 teaspoon nutmeg, and 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves.

-1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh ginger. This is optional, I decided to add it at the last minute – and it worked.

Transfer the apple filling to the pastry crust – put in enough filling that the filling was about half an inch higher than the edge of he pie pan – cover with the top crust, and bake at 374 for about 30 to 45 minutes. Remove the pie when the pastry starts to form bubbles in it around the middle of the pie and/or the edges of the pastry start to brown. Cool on a wire rack.


Salted caramel pretzel bark with chocolate and lime


So, I had never made bark – of any kind – before and I’m rather pleased with the results.

I got the idea to make bark from a picture and recipe I saw online. The original recipe was similar to what I ended up doing, but I decided to modify it slightly. I used:

-1 cup of margarine – I used Earth Balance, but any margarine should probably work

-1 1/4 cup brown sugar – the recipe called for light brown sugar: I used dark

-1 tablespoon vanilla – this was my addition. I figured the recipe could use some vanilla. I think it was a good call.

-about 4 cups, total, of pretzels – I’m somewhat estimating on the amount here. I bought a bunch of assorted pretzels at a bulk store and, for this recipe, used enough pretzels to cover the surface of a cookie tray.

-salt – I used coarse Celtic sea salt, but any coarse or interesting salt would also work. Regular table salt would probably work as well.

-lime zest – this was my addition, the original recipe didn’t call for it. I used about one tablespoon of lime zest, total. And I grated it fresh right before using it in the recipe. I used a regular lime that I washed with dish soap and thoroughly rinsed. And then I grated it with the small-grind part of a cheese grater.

-chocolate chips – about two cups, total, but you can use more or less if you’d like.

I set the oven to preheat to 400 degrees and then spread the pretzels out on a foil-lined cookie sheet:


Then, in a small pot, I started on the caramel. I melted the margarine over medium-high heat and then added the sugar, the vanilla, and the lime zest.  The mixture looked like this:


Watch the caramel mixture carefully. Keep stirring – with a whisk or silicone spatula – until bubbles start to form in the mixture along the sides of the pot. Lower heat, stir for about a minute or so more, and, then, carefully pour the sugar mixture over the cookie sheet of pretzels.

Move the cookie sheet to the preheated oven. Here’s a view of the cookie sheet:


After five to seven minutes, remove the cookie sheet from the oven and let it cool on an even, heat-safe, surface. I used a wire rack. Here’s the cookie sheet of caramel and pretzels, fresh out of the oven:


And another view:


While the pretzel and caramel mixture was still hot, I sprinkled an even layer of chocolate chips over the cookie sheet. I left the chocolate chips to melt – the heat from the caramel and pretzels should take care of this – for several minutes and then spread them around with a spatula. Then, I sprinkled the chocolate with Celtic sea salt:

ImageI moved the cookie sheet to the fridge to cool and let the chocolate solidify. Cooling took about an hour, but you can leave the cookie sheet in for longer if you’d like.

Once the bark has cooled and the chocolate has solidified, carefully lift the bark from the foil on the cookie sheet, break into pieces, and enjoy.

I found that the lime zest worked well with the chocolate and caramel. But I also think that candy cane, marshmallows – added at the same time as the chocolate chips – various spices, dried fruit, or pretty much anything you’d like, would work as well.

Margarita cupcakes


Last night, I  made a batch of the Mucho margarita cupcakes from the book Vegan cupcakes take over the world by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero.

The final product is pictured above.

I’d made this particular recipe before and had thoroughly enjoyed it. Especially because there is lime, salt, and tequila involved in both the batter and the icing.

The cupcakes were baked in a mini muffin pan inside mini paper liners.

The icing is, in my opinion, actually the best part of this recipe. I made it a bit more to my taste by adding a bit more more salt – I used regular table salt and some Celtic sea salt – and tequila than what the recipe called for.

Once they were baked, cooled, iced, the cupcakes were quickly flipped upside down to be coated with coarse grind decorative sugar. For the sugar, I hit up the bulk food store and mixed several colours of decorative sugar together in a bag. The cupcakes were dipped directly into the bag.

And this is the tray of cupcakes, in the oven, almost ready to come out:


More on the book – Vegan cupcakes take over the world – I used for the recipe can be found here. You can find the book online, but you can also find it at many major bookstores.  The book has 75 different cupcake recipes: I highly recommend it.

All you need is ribbon

I decided to donate a batch of cookies to be sold at a charity bake sale.

This is what the final product – baked, cooled, and decorated with curly ribbon – looked like:


I used pretty much the same salted peanut butter cookie recipe as the one I created a few posts ago.

This is what the cookies looked like fresh out of the oven, pre-ribbon:


The ribbon I used was from a spool of cheap curling ribbon – carefully run the edge of a scissor blade against a piece of ribbon to curl it – that I got at a dollar store.  I cut a bunch of pieces, tied a piece to each of the cookie sticks, and, then, curled the ribbon.

I liked that the ribbon made for a nice, holiday-ish touch, without being too busy and without a lot of decoration or sprinkles or other things that could have fallen off or made a mess while the cookies were being handled.

I also did a bit of decoration on the sticks themselves:


More cookie pops


Early Saturday evening, I made a second batch of cookies on a stick.

I took the cookies to a holiday party later that night: they disappeared pretty fast.

I used the same procedure as I did for the first batch of cookie pops that I made.

But I created and used a different dough recipe.

The cookies were salted chocolate-chocolate chip. With sprinkles.

I used:

-3/4 cup canola oil

-1 1/2 cups sugar – I used regular, fine grind, white sugar

-2 tablespoons cocoa powder

-1 teaspoon salt

-3 tablespoons cold coffee – liquid vanilla or another flavour extract would work, too

-2 tablespoons cornstarch

-1 teaspoon baking soda

-2 cups flour

-1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

Mix the ingredients in a bowl in the order listed. When it comes time to add the flour, add about half of the flour, then mix. Then, add the baking powder along with the rest of the flour and mix again until all of the ingredients are well-mixed.

If you want to use sprinkles, form the dough into balls slightly smaller than a ping pong ball, and roll or press the dough into sprinkles. I rolled the dough balls right into the bags of sprinkles that I was using. But you could also pour some sprinkles into a small bowl or plate and use that.

Olive bread

I saw some olive bread when I stopped to get groceries this morning. And I started thinking about how much I like olive bread and that I hadn’t had any in a while.

I considered buying a loaf of the grocery store olive bread.

But, then, instead of olive bread, I bought a can of green olives, a can of black olives, and some dried rosemary.

I decided to make my own olive bread. And this is the final product:


It was delicious. It smelled fabulous while it was baking. And I’m thinking I should experiment with bread more often.

I used a breadmaker to bake this bread. But you could also use a bowl to mix and knead the dough in and bake it in the oven. If you use the bowl method, you may want to try the basic bread-making instructions that I linked to in this post.

I started with the ingredients for basic 2-pound loaf of white bread, and baked the bread using the breadmaker’s basic bread cycle.

I used:

-1 1/2 cups water

-2 tablespoons sugar

-2 tablespoons canola oil

-1 teaspoon salt

-4 cups all-purpose flour

-2 1/4 teaspoons yeast – I used regular, not quick-rise or bread machine, bread yeast.

I added the ingredients to the breadmaker and started the cycle.

My breadmaker makes a beep after several minutes of kneading to indicate it’s time to add any extra ingredients that you want to add. I added:

-1 cup of mixed black and green olives

-1 clove of garlic, finely chopped

-2 teaspoons dried rosemary

For the olives, I used equal parts of green olives and black olives.


The black olives I bought were already chopped, but the green olives weren’t, so I chopped them with a knife.


This is an action shot of the dough kneading in the breadmaker a few moments after I added in the olives, garlic, and rosemary:


When the machine was done kneading, I sprinkled a bit of Celtic sea salt on top of the dough.

And now I want to do more work with bread.

Cookie pops

How about a cookie: on a stick?


I got the idea while talking about cake pops with a coworker last week. Short story: my takeaway from the conversation was “I’m going to make cookie pops.”

Later that day, I picked up a package of wooden coffee stir sticks at a dollar store.


The actual baking happened yesterday morning. I decided to improvise a salted peanut butter cookie dough. As I’m blogging now, I kept a pen and notepad nearby and wrote down what I put into the dough:

-1/2 cup peanut butter – I prefer to use the just-peanuts kind of peanut butter, but another kind would work. I used smooth, but chunky would work too.

-1/3 cup canola oil

-1 teaspoon salt

-2 tablespoons water

-1 tablespoon liquid vanilla extract

-2 tablespoons cornstarch

-1 1/2 cups sugar

-1 teaspoon baking soda

-2 cups flour

-1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Mix the ingredients in the bowl in the order that they’re listed. I used a regular spoon to mix. When it comes time to add the flour, add about half of it, then add the baking powder, then mix, then add the rest of the flour. Stir until all of the dough looks like it’s well-blended. If the dough is too dry or crumbly, add a tiny bit of water and stir again.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and get to shaping the cookies.


Break off pieces of the dough and roll them into balls that are slightly smaller than a ping pong ball. Stick one of the sticks into the centre of each ball of dough. Push the stick almost all the way through the dough so that you can just feel it on the other side.

Arrange the pieces on a cookie sheet, being careful to space leave enough space between various pieces of dough and the sticks.

Bake at 375 degrees for about 10 to 12 minutes or until the edges of the cookies start to look slightly golden brown. When the cookies look done, remove the cookie sheet from the oven. Let the cookies cool on the cookie sheet for a few minutes before carefully transferring them – with a lifter or spatula – to a wire rack.


Melt some chocolate chips or chocolate wafers in a double boiler or microwave. I used dark chocolate wafers and melted them in a shallow bowl in the microwave. Melting took about 5 minutes on medium heat. I stopped the microwave to check on the wafers a few times. And I used a bamboo kebab skewer to stir the chocolate.


I lined a separate cookie sheet with tin foil.

Then I dipped parts of each cookie pop into the chocolate and transferred them to the foil-lined cookie sheet to cool. As the chocolate-dipped cookies were cooling, I decorated them. You can put the decorations right onto the chocolate while it’s still melted.

As it’s December – and holiday candy and sprinkles were easy to find – I went with a bit of a holiday theme overall.