Spring into Summa, Summa Time

May finally brought great weather and the month June was no different! I’ve been enjoying this great weather by dragging my pup running with me. While it is great having a little running buddy, training him to run alongside me without pulling me has been a headache. He loves to chase squirrels and bikers and stops dead in his tracks when he sees another dog. I’m hoping this will eventually get better. Wish me luck!20180621_110455

Now for the crazy amounts of baking I have been doing! My best friend sent me a picture that inspired me to start a little chocolate chip cookie project. I am testing out the same choc chip cookie recipe with slight variations to the ingredients/methods. So far I have baked the original recipe (I am using my famous choc chip cookie recipe),  I swapped the melted butter for browned butter, and finally swapped the granulated for brown sugar.
My favourite thus far has been the browned butter version, however they were a bit dry. Next time I whip these up, I will measure the butter post-browning and top it off with water to add some moisture.

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Next up, Mother’s Day: this year I made ice cream sandwiches. A few members of the famjam have an intolerance to dairy and gluten. So I baked up two types of cookies and made two ice creams. First up, gluten free chocolate chip cookies. The recipe can be found here: https://www.bettycrocker.com/recipes/gluten-free-chocolate-chip-cookies/513ffc09-ccbf-4856-9097-c6434194fa2e, Next, the dairy free ice cream found here: https://glutenfreeonashoestring.com/gluten-free-dairy-free-easy-ice-cream/
, Aaaaaaand then (said in the voice from Dude Where’s My Car), from my favourite ever, (the Vanilla Bean Baking Book) I baked up Sarah’s chocolate sugar cookies and made her coffee ice cream. Seriously GO GET THIS BOOK. If you need more convincing give her a follow on instagram. #notsponsoredjustalittlecrazy

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My best friends own a daycare and asked me to bake a cake for the graduation! I was a little nervous because I’ve never baked a larger cake before and my piping skills are not the greatest. Before I said yes, I baked a test cake and it turned out perfectly! My trusted taste tester told me she might have preferred it over bakery cakes. I promise I won’t let my head get too big.

I was super nervous come the big bake day. The day started off a little chaotic and by the end of it, I ran to the grocery store 3 times. I also zested a good chunk of my thumb off (don’t worry everything was tossed and cleaned before I continued), and the dog was pissed off that I wasn’t paying enough attention to him. By the time I got to the piping I was so nervous my hands were shaking. Despite all of that, the cake turned out beautifully! I was also nervous for the transportation of the cake, so I drove and the hubs held it. 😉

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My bestie and trusted taste tester turned another year older and I decided to bake up one of her faves, cinnamon buns! Of course I found the recipe in the Vanilla Bean Baking Book. Have I mentioned how much I love this book & Sarah Kieffer?

Another bestie got a little bit older and for the special occasion I whipped up a strawberry cheesecake pie. I think I may prefer this over normal cheesecake. My one misstep here was the swirl. I forgot to swirl in the strawberry sauce pre-baking, so you can only imagine my panic when 10 minutes in, I reread the recipe and realized my mistake. I was so disappointed it didn’t look as pretty as it could have. I really should listen to my own advice of reading a recipe completely through before baking. Maybe one day I will learn. Follow the link for the recipe: https://www.bakefromscratch.com/strawberry-swirl-cheesecake-pie/

Next up: Father’s Day! I try to bake something different for every occasion. June 17th was no different. Enter the cinnamon roll apple pie. I haven’t baked a pie in a while and was really in the mood to do so. So when I came across this recipe on the Bake From Scratch website, I was excited. https://www.bakefromscratch.com/cinnamon-roll-apple-pie/
My only wish for this pie was that I had baked it a little longer, and that I had not baked it in advance and thrown it in the freezer. The apples, once thawed, became quite watery leaving the bottom of the crust a bit mushy. There were no complaints from anyone else though. 🙂

That’s about it for now. I will let you in on a new little project I began in next month’s post, so stay tuned!

 

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Oh heyy May…

I began to write the post for February and then decided in April to mash up the posts for February & March. Then I lost track of time and headed over to Japan for two weeks and it is now May. Where all that time went, I’m not sure. The last few months have been a bit of a blur. Pre-Japan, the hubs and I were crazy busy and barely took a minute to catch our breaths. And then I did this crazy thing and quit my job to follow my dreams (work in the humanitarian field in some sort of capacity). I have been trying to find my footing and get into a routine since returning from Japan, however I am still not quite there yet.

Throughout the months of February & March I did quite a lot of baking. Much to the hubs’ dismay, this involved quite a few late nights. As in we lacked so much sleep we were both hit with really bad colds. First up, it was a good friend’s birthday, so I decided to bake her some of my famous (self-proclaimed) chocolate chip cookies and the browniest of cookies (new favourite recipe alert). Here is the link for the brownie cookies: https://smittenkitchen.com/2015/12/the-browniest-cookies/

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Next project: the hubs and I took a little trip downtown despite all of the roads closures. We first headed to Fous Desserts to pick up some brownie feuilletées. This is a cross between a croissant and a brownie. For lunch we walked a few blocks over to Boulangerie Guillaume to pick up a couple of sandos for lunch. This place is bread heaven. It smells incredible and it is hard not to be impressed with all of the beautifully crafted breads. I would highly suggest paying them a visit for all of your bread needs.

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Normally after the taste testing portion, I search the internet far and wide for what I hope is the best recipe. However this time around, no recipe was to be found. So I entered a challenge I was very unsure I would be ready for. I decided to make two batches of croissants dough, one according to the recipe, and the second with some of the flour swapped out for cocoa powder. This worried me since the gluten in the flour is necessary to help develop the croissant dough. Adding the butter creates flaky, airy layers of deliciousness that croissants are famous for. My original plan was to bake a thin layer of brownie to place in the middle of my hybrid croissants. Fast forward to me mindlessly rolling out the dough only to realize that I had forgotten the brownie portion of this hybrid pastry. Rest assured that my Julie/Julia panic moment only lasted a couple of minutes when I remembered that I had some left over brownie cookies sitting in the freezer. Onto Plan B, cut up said cookies and use those instead. My worry with this, was that a fully baked cookie would become super dry once baked again in the middle of the croissant.

The final product isn’t perfect but I am excited to test these out again with a few tweaks:

1) Actually bake a thin (under baked) layer of brownie

2) Not rush my croissant making process… this really should never be rushed

3) Use slightly less cocoa powder

4) Cut the chocolate croissant smaller

Moving right along, my birthday is in March and I have recently taken to baking my own birthday cake. This year it took me a while to figure out what I wanted to bake. I was scrolling through the Bake from Scratch website and came across some St Patrick’s Day inspired desserts. Where low and behold, I found a matcha battenberg cake recipe. It was perfect for a couple of reasons, 1) my birthday is March 18th, bring on green everything, and 2) it included matcha, with our trip to the matcha motherland upcoming, I thought it would be the perfect excuse to bake using matcha. Here is the link to the cake: https://www.bakefromscratch.com/matcha-battenberg-cake/

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The result was amazing! I am thrilled with how it turned out. And the chocoholic sister even declared “this is actually good”.

Lastly, I baked my dearest little brother a birthday cake/Easter dessert. Since we were leaving for Japan the day after his birthday, I figured that Easter was the perfect opportunity to bake him a cake. He recently discovered that gluten hates him, making my life a little more difficult. After all, what are brothers for? Am I right? I also made the mistake of baking macarons for him previously, which led him to discover that he loves them. For some reason or other, macarons are the hardest thing for me to perfect/bake properly. It frustrates me so much that I decided to bake him a macaron cake. I am happy to say that it wasn’t a complete disaster 🙂 I got the recipe for the macaron cake shells from the Duchess Bake Shop cookbook. Things that could have gone better: my piping abilities, there were some hollow parts on top of the shell, I should have used less buttercream, I should have made the shell a purpleish colour to go nicely with the blackberries, I need to get an oven thermometer. Other than that the cake was a success 🙂

As for April, I did absolutely no baking. I did however do a lot of pastry tasting while in Japan. In the 60s France & Japan did a culinary swap of sorts and as a result, there is a lot of French influence culinary wise in Japan. This meant that I had to try and limit how many bakeries I could visit. What is extra exciting is that I finally got to taste the famous cronut! Dominique Ansel (the genius behind the cronut) has a few bakeries around the world and Tokyo just so happens to be one of them.

I have yet to figure out what to bake for May so stay tuned!

January: #NewYearNewMe

January, what a month. I think we experienced every type of winter weather possible and then some. It is only mid February and I am ready for winter to be over. One of the perks of living in Canada I guess.

Anywayyysss, January also brings the birthday of my dear older sister Samantha. This year was the big 3-0. I decided she needed a fancy cake. Of course it has to be chocolate. If any dessert or sweet isn’t chocolate, she likely won’t eat it. Combine this with my need to glaze something, anything, I went for the Duke! The Duke is a dense, rich chocolate cake with multiple layers of goodness. The layers include chocolate cake (obviously), salted caramel and whipped chocolate ganache, finished with a chocolate mirror glaze. I don’t know if “the Duke” is an actual thing, or something the Duchess Bake Shop came up with. Either way, if you love chocolate cake, you need this cake in your life. The recipe can be found in the Duchess Bake Shop cookbook. This very same weekend I baked a delicious chocolate cheesecake for a good friend with a big heart. Unfortunately I forgot to take a picture of it. Sorry gang.
(Sorry about the awkward pictures… I got lazy and didn’t use a piping tip so the whipped chocolate ganache  decorations look like poop.)
Onto the challenge! This month I went for the chocolate babka! The hubs and I hit up Hof Kelsten. If you haven’t been, you need to go. This place is unreal. We were there around lunchtime so we picked up a couple of sandos, and of course they were delicious (the hubs wasn’t a huge fan of his chicken salad sando, as it had too many unknown spices for his liking). Their babka is absolutely delicious. I think the hubs was surprised with how good it was. He was expecting something dry and drab, but it’s the opposite. I knew after tasting their babka that I was in trouble.
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Enter Smitten Kitchen, a fave blog of mine. After reading a few blogs and different recipes, I decided to go with Deb’s: https://smittenkitchen.com/2014/10/better-chocolate-babka/
And guess what? It turned out really well!
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A couple of notes: She mentions that the original recipe called for lemon zest, but she prefers orange zest. I went with orange and the orange citrus flavour gives the overall taste a nice freshness. While I haven’t tested it with lemon zest, I would highly suggest going with orange.
If you’re baking in the winter, it might be a bit colder in your house. This means that you will most likely have to let the dough rise a little longer than an hour and a half. Or you can turn the heat up in your house.
I also opted out of the optional cinnamon and honestly didn’t miss it.
The Smitten Kitchen blog also inspired me to make pretzels for a Super Bowl party the hubs and I were going to. Here is the recipe I used: https://smittenkitchen.com/2009/02/soft-pretzels-refreshed/
They turned out really well 🙂 I am super pleased with these. I may have let them rise a bit too much though. I blame that on too much multi tasking in the kitchen.
Stay tuned for next month! I decided to give myself a new little challenge on top of the monthly one. I blame Ariane for this 🙂

One Year of Baking Bliss

Time seems to be flying by. I can’t believe it has been one year since my first blog post! I honestly didn’t know when I began blogging, if I would keep it up for a full year. But here we are! And what a year of baking it has been.

Here are some of the things I took away from my first year of blogging (notice how I said first year 😉 ):

1) With all of the challenges and recipe searching I have done, I have come to accept that some recipes will be a disaster. And that doing a bit of research and recipe comparison is a game changer. It has helped me to avoid more failures than I experienced.

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2) I have also broadened my pastry chef/chef recipe search. As in when I’m looking for a recipe there are certain chefs I have come to trust. A friend shared some of her faves with me as well.

3) Dedicated TV time (the little TV we manage to watch lately) to more culinary greatness and discovered an obsession with the food network. As mentioned before I’m obsessed with the Great British Bake Off and the Canadian version. A friend recently told me about Zumbo’s Just Desserts (binged the hell out of that) And a new fave Iron Chef Showdown

4) I am an extremely messy baker. (The hubs takes more issue with this than I do). I may have gotten some flour on the dog once or twice…

5) Gluten free baking is a tough cookie to crack.

6) Someone asked me recently what my go to baked good is, what people demand I bring to potlucks, etc. Turns out I don’t have one because I am constantly trying to find new things to bake/challenge myself with. Or chocolate chip cookies a la Christina Tosi. I have tried to bake others but these are hands down my fave and will probably be go to forever.

7) Our Trip to Paris earlier in the year has ruined me. All I want to bake is French pastries. I even had what a friend refers to as “food regret”, upon boarding the flight home.

8) I *think* I have mastered the macaron. I have an itch to bake them weekly to test this theory.

9) Taking baking classes, while they scared me, was one of the best gifts I’ve ever received.

10) There is such a thing as baking too much. (The hubs will agree). As in when it’s Tuesday night, a week before Christmas and the last batch of cookies comes out of the oven at 10:45 pm but you have to let them cool and get up for work in the morning…

If you are still with me here is December’s challenge! Panettone. I was actually challenged by my father. I decided I needed the best non-imported panettone Montreal could offer. Enter Arte & Farina. It took me a frustratingly long time to find this gem. While the storefront may be small, the panettone is the best I’ve ever had.

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Now to find a recipe. I opted out of the 3 day process and went with the more reasonable 3 hours. Here is said recipe: https://www.ricardocuisine.com/recettes/7779-panettone-le-meilleur

I only managed to find it online in French. I used the English version found in the December issue of the Ricardo magazine.

Overall the recipe worked out super well. However I was left with a dense, dry panettone. I blame the part in the recipe where they say to let rise until just over the paper mold. However it should read: let rise until about 3-4 inches over the mold. Oh well, next time, because I have been given the go ahead to make it every year by the pickiest panettone connoisseur, the father.

Besides the panettone I baked a little too much for the holidays. And I thought I cut back this year…

Here is the list:

Christmas bread (gluten free version as well)

Macarons (vanilla & raspberry)

GF shortbread cookies

Nutella stuffed chocolate chip cookies

Rugelach (nutella & pistacio, & raspberry jam & pecans)

Chocolate/coffee cookies

Gingerbread house

Doughnuts

Chocolate tart

Eclairs

Chocolate chip cookies

Sugar Cookies

Chocolate, maple caramel cups

I think that’s it. Keep in mind this is what I baked throughout the month of December for different events. Needless to say I went overboard and took almost a month off from baking.

That is all for now. Stay tuned to see where I head to for January’s challenge 🙂

November: Winter is Coming.

I am just going to put it out there, I lied. Last month I led you to believe that I was going to drag the hubs to a bakery outside of downtown Montreal. But then I decided to shake things up this month. I recently discovered the Great British Bake Off (GBBO) and fell in love with it. Like binge watched fell in love with it. For those of you that haven’t seen it, they complete three challenges in one episode. First up the Signature Bake. Here bakers are tested on their tried and tested recipes. Next up the Technical Bake. The bakers are all given the same recipe (usually with huge chunks of information missing) and ingredients and are told what they need to bake. Last up the Showstopper Bake. They are told what they have to bake but with free reign on flavour, presentation, etc. Here is where they really get to show off their skills.

I mention GBBO because I decided to bake one of the desserts from their Signature bake, a Pavlova! A pavlova is a meringue based dessert topped with whipped cream and fruit. The outside should be crisp with a soft gooey inside (similar to a marshmallow). I decided it would be fitting to use Mary Berry’s pavlova recipe (she is a judge on the show).
Here is the recipe I used: https://thegreatbritishbakeoff.co.uk/marys-christmas-pavlova. I have zero complaints 🙂 except for the whipped cream, I added more icing sugar because the end result tasted like cream. Maybe it’s supposed to taste like this, but I’m not a good judge since I dislike whipped cream.
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I decided to bake the pavlova for my mom’s birthday. She just discovered that her and gluten don’t get along, seeing as a pavlova has zero gluten in it, it was a no brainer.
I’m a little sad I’m late to the GBBO game, but excited there is a new Canadian version 🙂 If it’s around long enough, maybe one day you’ll see my mug on TV having a Julie-esque meltdown. Which brings me to question how the eff the contestants manage to stay so calm and curse word free…
Most importantly is that I made a delicious pavlova! Guys I was impressed with myself.
Lessons learned:
1) 12 eggs is my egg waste cut off. As in it took 4 tries (including carton egg whites) to properly whip up my egg whites into stiff peaks. I was told by a pastry chef that carton egg whites are garbage for baking yet wanted to give it a go anyway… don’t do it. Round 2, Fight. I crack all the eggs, separate the yolk, get them whipping up, start playing with the dog, over whip the eggs. Fack. I decide to give it another go. Round 3, crack all the eggs, get to the last one and break the yolk into my egg whites. Bring on a Julie-esque meltdown. The hubs tells me I should try 1 more time. Round 4, SUCCESS!
So I guess the lesson learned here is to pay attention to what you are doing and don’t get distracted by your cute af dog.
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2) Don’t leave baked goods to cool so close to the edge of the counter and then go to a different room in the house with an unsupervised dog on the loose. He will eat your beautiful pumpkin scones with maple frosting courtesy of “the Vanilla Bean Baking Book”. I love Sarah Kieffer.
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I was also busy this month baking a ton of cupcakes, 72 to be exact. I baked 3 different flavours, vanilla, spice cake and red velvet, along with 3 different flavoured icings, vanilla buttercream, coffee buttercream and cream cheese buttercream! It was all for a friend’s baby shower. I am pretty proud of the way they all turned out. 🙂
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(The lighting in this picture sucks… it was midnight)
Please feel free to send me your fave gluten free baked good recipes, or tricks to making existing recipes gluten free! For real, do it! Or any baking book suggestions (no I am not getting tired of the Vanilla Bean Baking Book, just looking to try new things).
It’s back to the usual challenge next month! I’ve already found a bakery that looks very promising 🙂

October: Beantown Sticky Buns!

Wait it’s already mid November?! The panic is real. I have so little time to accomplish all of my Christmas baking goals. My list is kind of ridiculous and the hubs thinks I’m insane. Wish me luck! On to October’s challenge. Warning: we opted out of going apple picking and therefore can’t share our best basic apple picking insta worthy pics with you. #shotsfired

So this month was a bit of a disaster in terms of finding the time to bake. We visited Patisserie Rhubarbe to taste test some goods and find some inspiration. We tried their delicious lemon tart and I believe a date dacquoise (but I forgot to take note of exactly what it was…). 

(As you can see the lemon tart didn’t travel so well)

What did I end up baking you ask? Neither of the delights from Rhubarbe… I wasn’t really feeling inspired and couldn’t get the sticky buns we had in Boston out of my head. Beantown Sticky Buns it is! So I took the hubs to Boston over thanksgiving weekend for his 30th birthday. I organized a little craft brewery tour on the way down, making stops in Vermont, New Hampshire and one just outside of Boston. Not to be outdone with my impressive brewery selection, you know I had to look up all of the best bakeries, and believe me when I say my list was nothing to balk at. While I loved the sticky buns from Flour Bakery. It was Tatte Bakery that stole the show for me. From the impressive display cases to the decor, not to mention that we went o the location outside of the Harvard University Campus… I was in love. 
Fast forward to Sunday and I was really in the mood for warm cinnamon-y goodness. The hubs asked “Didn’t you make cinnamon buns last month?” If you are wondering the same, the answer is no. I baked a cross between a croissant and a brioche, leaving cinnamon buns up for grabs. 
I followed the section for the topping from this recipe and the actual sweet dough recipe from none other than the Vanilla Bean Baking Book! Obvs. 
The process of making the dough went well. The recipe does suggest to let the dough rest in the fridge overnight for optimal handling. However after meal prepping during dough proofing, I had no room in the fridge for this step. 
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Lessons to take away: 
1) There is such a thing as over proofing. It’s hard to tell by the picture but they more than doubled in size and were huge prior to going into the oven. I blame the quiche that was in the oven that forced the last proof to go on a little too long (like 40 minutes too long). By the time they came out of the oven they were huge. And to my discovery later, the buns in the middle were a little under baked. 
 2) Forcing someone (the hubs) to eat a sticky bun at 11pm on a Sunday might not result in the best feedback.
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Overall success! The dough is delicious! The topping is good as well, but upon further reflection might not be my fave. I think icing is the way to go.
Stay tuned for November’s post, when the construction and traffic force the hubs and I to venture elsewhere!

Wake Me Up When September Ends

As predicted September was a busy one. However before diving head first into this month’s challenge I should mention the notable birthdays, first up the hubs! He decided he wanted to host a super soft birthday. For those wondering wth that might be, Google: Letterkenny super soft birthday. We had everything from a candy bar to loot bags and I baked a Froot Loop cake.

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I found the idea to bake a Froot Loop cake from this blog: https://livforcake.com/froot-loops-cake/
However after having baked the cake, I wasn’t thrilled (even though I didn’t taste it), so I panicked and busted out my trusty the Vanilla Bean Baking Book by Sarah Kieffer and baked another cake. Something I definitely didn’t need to be doing, but I’m crazy. Instead of incorporating the cereal milk into the batter (as the blog suggests), I simply brushed each layer of cake with it. The cream cheese buttercream icing can also be found in the Vanilla Bean Baking Book. Seriously go buy it.
Next up: Father. He demanded I bake him a golden yellow cake with chocolate icing…so that’s what I baked. Pretty boring, he asks for the same cake every year. But it’s his birthday. Once again the cake and icing recipe can be found in the Vanilla Bean Baking Book. I love this book so much I’m considering baking the chocolate chip cookies even though I have found the perfect recipe and refuse to use any other recipe.
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Onto this month’s challenge! The hubs and I were downtown and on our way home stopped off at Patrice Patissier! Side note: we try to cram in as much as possible to make the trip downtown worth it, seeing as construction has completely taken over and driving there can be a disaster. I have been waiting impatiently to pay this place a visit; I’ve heard nothing but great things about it. At first I was super disappointed with my picks. Here’s why: 1) I went in not knowing what I would choose, secretly hoping for a canelé, however they were already sold out. 2) Patrice Demers bakes the prettiest tarts and cakes. Yet somehow I ended up picking a brioche feuilletée and a maple financier. In the end they were both so delicious that I couldn’t decide which I liked better and baked both. 
First up the maple buckwheat financier. In the middle of prepping all of my ingredients (haha I don’t prep my ingredients, that should read in the middle of dumping my dry ingredients into a mixing bowl) I discovered that I ran out of buckwheat flour. A quick search on the line told me that spelt flour is a good substitute. Crisis/trip to the grocery store averted. Financiers are super simple to make, everyone should be baking them. End result = I nailed this first part of the challenge. Recipe is Patrice Demers’ own: http://nuvomagazine.com/palate/maple-and-buckwheat-financier-cake-with-pears
For the purpose of the replication challenge I omitted the pears.
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Up next brioche feuillettée! This is a cross between a croissant and a brioche. For this I used the amazing French pastry chef Philippe Conticini’s recipe (the genius behind Pâtisserie des Rêves, one of my faves in Paris): 

http://www.likeastrawberrymilk.com/2015/04/brioches-feuilletees/

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I opted to put brown sugar and cinnamon instead of pearl sugar on the inside, simply because I couldn’t find pearl sugar and I wasn’t about to go crazy looking for it. A couple of notes, I didn’t roll it up tight enough so I baked them in a couple of different loaf pans. There might also be a bit too much yeast in them. When I tried to weigh the yeast, my scale wasn’t recognizing that I was putting anything on it, so I just put whatever amount I thought would work. 
Another success!!!! I may or may not have danced around the kitchen and living room when they came out of the oven looking like beauties. My taste testers have confirmed that these were delicious. I’m pretty sure that the word perfect was used to describe them. 
 
I’m pretty pumped to say that this challenge was an all around success! 😀 

Much ado about août

Did anyone catch August? It came and went in the blink of an eye. This month was a crazy busy one. The hubs and I haven’t slowed down this summer and are reaching a point of exhaustion where we’re either comedians or irritated with the other’s shenanigans. I unfortunately cannot say that September will be any less hectic so I will really have to find the time to taste test some treats and bake away.

There were a couple of notable birthdays this month, the first Melinda’s (girlfriend of the baby bro). She has quite the sweet tooth and dougnuts are her absolute fave. This gave me the perfect excuse to finally make a trip to DoughNats and sample their delicious doughnuts. I highly recommend checking them out. They offer a wide variety of flavours along with some baked and vegan options, everyone wins!
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Side note we celebrated Melinda’s birthday at Café Bazin in Westmount. You should defs check it out. Antonio Park and Bertrand Bazin are the geniuses behind this delicious café. Need I say more? Fun fact, while we were dining the Montreal Gazette’s own food critic Lesley Chesterman was spotted chowing down on some grub. (I then may or may not have stalked her instagram page to see what she ate and thought…)
Moving right along to this month’s challenge, DOUGHNUTS! I honestly never thought I would try my hand at doughnuts, especially the fried variety after burning my eyes making cannolis. Luckily for me, Samantha owns a deep fryer. This along with the hubs operating the fryer made doughnut making a more pleasant burn free experience. This is the recipe I used: http://www.bakersroyale.com/homemade-jelly-doughnut-recipe/
I modified the amount of yeast used from 2 tablespoons to 2 teaspoons. The amount seemed excessive to me and I was in no mood to find out the hard way if it was too much. So I did a little bit of research and was super happy with my decision.
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As you can see in the picture my doughnuts aren’t perfect but I am determined to get them right. I unfortunately rolled the dough out too thin and had to ball it up and roll it out again. This resulting in unwanted folds hence the almost cronut/doughnut hybrid they turned out to be. Despite this, I was told that the doughnuts were the right chewiness mixed with a great tasting dough. Overall I am pleased with how they turned out.
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The second birthday I want to highlight is Melissa’s! Partly because she’s a dope human being and partly because I baked her a bad ass cake. For MasterChef fans out there, you know when the judges slice into a cake and they ask the contestant “what am I going to find when I slice into this thing? It better be an even layer of icing.” Well folks when I cut into this beauty of a cake, each slice had an even layer of icing in the middle. Christina Tosi would be proud. Even the drip turned out way better than I thought possible. Overall Great Success! Guess what fam jam? I’m back on birthday cakes so get ready 🙂 

June & July: better late than never

So I when I began this blog, I never thought that I would miss a month no matter how busy I am/was. Well looks like it has happened. Not that I forgot, I just ran out of time.

 

Last month I attended my first baking class at none other than Christian Faure’s pastry school. I took one of the serious amateur classes they offer. The month of June’s class was all about bread! Something I’ve kept my distance from because it looks way too complicated. I am here to tell you that bread is super easy to make! It just takes a lot of time and a little bit of patience. The master himself came up to chat with us and gave us some great tips and tricks on the bread making process. He spent about an hour talking about everything from bread and flour to opening a patisserie in Montreal versus Paris. Overall it was a great experience and I can’t wait to go back and learn more.
This month (July) I returned to Maison Christian Faure for my second class, eclairs! I was super excited about this class because I have attempted choux pastry before and it has gone both ways (see the post on paris-brest). I tried reading on the line to see what I was doing wrong but could never perfect it. I am happy to say that I am confident in my choux pastry skills now! Get ready famjam, eclairs coming your way.
We were taught how to make choux pastry and a couple of different flavoured pastry creams, along with a few decorating tips. I love my experiences at Maison Christian Faure and highly recommend them if you are interested in either learning how to bake or fine tuning your skills. #notasponsoredpost
I am determined to work on my piping skills because it is something that I have noticed that I struggle with. I’ve also noticed that I’m quite messy in the kitchen… post eclair making my apron looked as if I had dumped the melted chocolate on myself. Oh and I’ve also realized that I can crack multiple eggs without washing my hands in between each one.
For the month of July I decided to return to Sweet Lee’s Rustic Bakery in Verdun. Sweet Lee’s is also conveniently located a couple of blocks away from our butcher (yes we have a butcher) so we killed two birds with one stone!
The bakery itself is nothing to write home about and the girl behind the counter definitely did not appreciate how indecisive I was. This is one of the first challenges I walked in blind, not knowing what I was going to bake. Eventually I decided on lava cakes. Now I know this isn’t a crazy dessert that takes crazy amounts of baking skills… and you’re probably wondering why I have never baked this little ramekin filled chocolatey goodness sooner… for that I do not have an answer. What I will tell you is that I managed to over bake this “easy” dessert. Still tasty nonetheless. I actually preferred mine over Sweet Lee’s. While I love me some chocolate, I am very picky. I’m not a huge fan of overly rich chocolate desserts and their lava cakes are exactly that. The ones I baked had a more subtle chocolate taste.
Sorry folks, once again I am unable to share the recipe as it comes from my super awesome book “The Vanilla Bean Baking Book” by Sarah Kieffer. You should just get it, it’s fantastic. Every single recipe that I bake from this book has turned out great.
Alright time for a few #lessonslearned: 1) I really do love to bake, it calms me (even if it stresses me out sometimes), 2) Baking when you aren’t in a rush should be the only way to bake, 3) After taking a couple of baking classes and seeing the inside workings of a bakery, I have a new found respect for bakers/pastry chefs.
Until next time folks! And yes, there will be an August challenge.

It’s gonna be May

It’s been a little while since my last post, but with good reason. The hubs and I were on vacation in the land of beautiful pastries, Paris! We ate our way through the city. Understandably so, the food is damn delicious and we walked on average 28 000 steps a day. Our breakfasts were super “healthy”, which consisted of fresh viennoiseries and fresh pressed juice from one of my favourite bakeries in Paris, Eric Kayser. For lunch we usually found a bakery and bought some fresh sandwiches to enjoy at a park nearby.

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On our craziest museum packed day, we ended up at a bakery near the Musée de l’Armée. Coincidentally, crews were setting up the course for the upcoming Formula E. One crew was in front of us in this tiny bakery attempting to order food, I’ve never seen someone so relieved to see a “Quebecois” before. We then took our lunch to a nearby park and quite possibly made an appearance on some sort of outdoor flora TV show/documentary shoving food into our mouths.

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One of the pastries I was dying to taste in Paris was the beloved macaron. When I tell you the hubs didn’t know what hit him when I pulled out my extensive list of bakeries and he saw how many of them involved macarons…let me just say he didn’t quite know what to say. I was most excited to get my hands on some of Pierre Hermé’s master pieces. So this next bit is hard to admit…his macarons weren’t my favourite. While the flavours are exotic and don’t get me wrong, extremely delicious, Carette’s macarons were out of this world.  I even managed to convince the hubs we needed to try McDonald’s macarons (not too bad).

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Before heading to Paris, I knew exactly which pastry I wanted to taste test for my next challenge and from where. May’s challenge is the Paris Brest! The hubs tried to convince me to insert a boob joke here… For those who may not know, a Paris Brest is a choux pastry in the form of a wheel with a praline cream in the middle. It was created in 1910 by Louis Durand to commemorate the Paris-Brest-Paris bike race. According to the internet the best Paris Brest in Paris can be found at Pâtisserie des Rêves (highly recommended). One of their bakeries was located a quick 10 minute walk from our hotel. Their Paris Brest had the right amount of crunch on top of the choux pastry and the praline/hazelnut cream was delicious with a little extra praline hidden inside the cream.

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Here is the next hard part to admit, I failed again. 😦 While some may say that taste is everything, I was really hoping to create something as beautiful as the Paris Brest we ate from Pâtisserie des Rêves. Unfortunately that is not what happened. I had quite a hard time finding the perfect recipe. My only regret from our trip is not buying the cook book from Pâtisserie des Rêves. To my surprise I found the bakery’s recipe online here: http://perleensucre.com/paris-brest-version-philippe-conticini/

I had to google a few of the ingredients because in Quebec they name things differently than they do in France (and it is embarrassing to admit that it took me way too long to figure out what praliné de chocolat is).

For the choux pastry, I used the recipe found in Dominique Ansel’s book. I wanted to make sure I nailed the choux and to fully understand what I was doing. This in the end didn’t matter because my choux pastry is what failed me. After doing a bit of research, I might not have baked it long enough causing it to deflate. Other than a deflated wheel of choux pastry, my Paris Brest was delicious! One choux turned out so I separated it from the wheel and assembled it. I nailed the crunch on top and the cream. Overall I declare this challenge a semi success because I didn’t have a meltdown over it. 🙂

Thanks for reading!