Daring Baker’s Challenge: Julia Child’s French Bread


Some readers might remember my super wonderful Xmas gift which freed me from the confines of a toaster oven. Well, since then I’ve not only been making muffins by more than the 1/2 dozen, I’ve finally done what I’ve been meaning to do for ages and that’s to join the Daring Bakers.

Having to wait out those fantastic looking meringue pies from last month, I was delighted at this month’s announcement: Classic, Julia Child French Bread.

Nothing fancy, no additions. I honestly just wanted to bake it and bask in it’s golden crisp glory. Basic and beautiful like newborn babies, Natalie Portman without make-up or the last of a summer’s day when the sun sinks into a lake in the Northhumberland Highlands. Four simple ingredients which together, have nourished billions. Yeasty, chewy and crisp, with a crust that can leave a scar if not treated with the respect it deserves.

I’ve made bread before, but this being my first go at a Daring Baker’s challenge, I certainly took it very seriously. I in no way wanted to botch or bastardize the instructions handed down by The Julia Child, and it was so worth it.
I mixed and waited and timed and pinched. I stretched, weighed down, flipped and scored, but most of all, I took my time, the bread’s time and it was so, so worth it.

Sometimes simple is perfect.

You can get the detailed instructions from one of this month’s leaders, i like to cook.

Really, go bake some now….

Rosemary Walnut Kalamata Olive Miniature Madeleines


After a few email and requests to bake another batch, I wanted to jot down this easy recipe for a super savoury quick bread.

I’d served these up with the Creamless Potato Leek Soup a little while back but I’m sure that they’d also be great as a muffin with a salad. The flavour combination goes really well with one another and isn’t overpowering. These easily complement a simpler fare, heightening it to something a little more special. But then again, don’t most baked goods?

Very light, tender and flavourful… plus a bit addictive, especially in their petite portion sizes.


Continue reading Rosemary Walnut Kalamata Olive Miniature Madeleines

Cinnamon Rolls



It’s a crazy thing that I’m about to admit to. For Christmas, I got a new stove. No, it wasn’t a Garland or one of those hot little Bertazzoni numbers, just four burners and a functional oven. Finally.

It’s embarrassingly amazing how used to baking in a toaster sized convection oven I’d become. In fact many of these photographed recipes were made from that bitty thing. The last stove worked, however the oven did not and the burners needed a little Laura Ingles styled lovin’ with a match and some rapid waving. It’s taken me a few days to stop reaching for a match and just turn a knob to light it.
This technology continues to amaze me.

It’s pretty natural for me to be quite in love with such a new toy. Any good kitchen gal loves a new oven, right? I’d been yearning for large loaves of fresh bread and batches of cookies baked more than six at a time. …And the thought of waking up in the morning with the smell of fresh cinnamon rolls all puffed and ready, just waiting to be baked in a real sized oven? Heaven.
Ahhhh. My house has never smelled better.
Needless to say, you might have to look forward to more baked items from me this winter.
Continue reading Cinnamon Rolls

Maple Pumpkin Quick Bread


One of the best things about living in Canada in the fall, other than the fabulous hauls from the farmers market, is that other reason why we appreciate the almighty maple tree.
The nectar of nature, maple syrup is truly a spring gift, however delicious, a simple autumn walk can be just as spectacular. The colourful displays the scarlet and rusted orange maple leaves screaming their last vibrant shrieks before plunging to their deaths is always enough to get my heart racing back to life.

When I recently took part in a detox diet, I realized my longing of food. No, I didn’t crave fatty snack food or sugar, per se, it was the bread. Neglected of fruit, sugars and wheat among (many) other things, it was the bread I craved.

Always a creative person, by mid-diet, I was determined to solve my dilemma.
Only restricted by wheat, gluten and yeast, I set out to find any alternative.
Scanning the aisles of the health food store, I found various root and bean flours which met my specific diet requirements. Knowing that some of these new flours would lend an undesired new flavour twist to my creation, I found the most mild; brown rice, cranberry bean, arrowroot and soy flours then set off to work.

Inspired by a dense, sticky snack bread sent to me from my Blogging By Mail partner, Arden. Her Kruidkoek was spiced, but not too sweet, perfect for something like, say, pumpkin.

Next having to go sugar-free, I knew I wouldn’t get the sticky, sweetness of that super Dutch snack, but it didn’t matter. I wasn’t looking for cake, I wanted my bread back. Something to clean my plates and dip in my soup. Something just to finally eat and feel satisfied again. The maple syrup was perfect in this regard. Not the same sweetness as sugar and just a hint of smokiness – perfect.

What I ended up with made me feel like I was cheating, isn’t that terrible? Great on it’s own and with the Roasted Vegetable Soup, I finally I felt like this diet was really working for me. I had my bread, I felt whole again.
Continue reading Maple Pumpkin Quick Bread

Everyone’s Favourite Banana Cake


In honor of Mother’s Day it’s all about all things sweet.

… and not to mention comforting. With banana cake here’s certainly both.

Call it banana bread or call it cake, I don’t know any mom who hasn’t cut out a slice after the need has arisen to use up some over ripened bananas.

So perfect for a Mother’s Day luncheon, especially if your Mother in Law happens to be vegan, as is mine.

There is certainly no reason to deprive any woman on her big day!

As most moms will tell you this is the best way of using up those bananas. In our house we’re pretty particular over the colour yellow so once bananas are streaked with brown they’re destined for the freezer where they keep wonderfully until something delicious is ready for them.

Happy Mother’s Day to all!

EGGLESS BANANA CAKE

3 Ripe Bananas
1/4 Cup Vegetable Oil
1/2 Cup Brown Sugar, packed
1 teaspoon Salt
Replacer equal to one egg (+ water to package direction)
1 teaspoon Vanilla
1 1/2 Cup Soft Whole Wheat Flour
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 Cup Semi-Sweet Chocolate Pieces
1/2 Cup Broken, Toasted Pecans (optional)

Method

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.

In a large mixer, cream the bananas with the oil, sugar and vanilla.

Prepare the egg replacer as to the package directions and add it and the salt to the banana mixture.

Once well combined, add the baking powder and soda, followed by the flour, adding it in batches.

Stir in chocolate pieces and nuts, if using.

Oil and dust a 8″ round pan with flour. Pour in the batter and bake on the centre rack for about 40 -45 minutes.

Check bounce at the centre of the cake or insert and remove a toothpick. The cake is moist but it should come out fairly clean.

Allow to cool slightly and dust with confectioners sugar.

This recipe will also make a great loaf (55 – 65 minutes), 12 muffins(18-20 minutes) or 24 mini muffins (about 13 – 15 minutes).