A JELLY ROLL TO THE RESCUE

 

 

If there ever was a time we needed comfort food it is today.     Something sweet to sooth the soul and have you smiling with delight.  A jelly roll to the rescue.    What a delightful idea.  Bake a cake.   Spread jam on it and roll it up.  Easy, peasy.   The ingredients  are all there in your kitchen – eggs, sugar, flour, flavouring and jam.

A classic sponge cake is not difficult to make.  Simply carefully follow the instructions. The eggs must be a room temperature, or a little warmer, and then beaten with sugar for at least ten minutes, or until thickened, tripled in bulk and full of air. It requires no leavening other than the air that is beaten into the eggs.  Carefully fold in the flour being careful not to disturb the air bubbles too much.  Then spread into the prepared pan

Don’t over bake your cake.  It will not roll easily and will crack. Depending on your oven bake for 18 to 20 minutes.  ( I hesitate to suggest the 20 minutes  but your oven may be on the cool side.)

While your cake is baking sprinkle a clean dish towel with sugar.  As soon as you take it out of the oven lay the long edge of your pan on the towel  and turn out your cake.

Lift the pan off the cake.

Trim the edges of your cake and then peel off the paper.  Trimming the cake makes it easier to roll.

While the cake is still warm starting with the short end roll the cake  and lay it with the edge seam side down.  Let it cool thoroughly before unrolling and filling.  If you are apprehensive about rolling the cake use the towel to help you.   When the cake is cool carefully unroll the cake and towel.

Use any desired filling.  Jam, jelly, lemon curd, whipped cream.  Just be sure it spreads easily.  If the jam or jelly is a little thick heat it gently before spreading it on the cake.  Using a small strainer dust the cake with lots of icing sugar.  You can also frost the cake with your favourite frosting.

This recipe calls for superfine granulated sugar and pastry or cake flour.  If you don’t have these in your pantry it is easy to make them.  For superfine sugar put at least one and a half cups of granulated sugar into your food processor and process for a few seconds.  Not too long or you’ll end up with sugar powder.   Measure your sugar after you have processed it.   You can always find a use for extra  super fine sugar.

For pastry or cake flour do this.  Take one cup of flour and remove two tablespoons of flour.  Add two tablespoons of corn starch (corn flour) to the cup. I put two cups of this mixture through a sifter five  to six times.    From this take the required amount of flour for your recipe.    Set aside the extra cake flour for future use.

The happy little jelly roll recipe awaits you in MRS.BUTTERFINGERS kitchen.

Bon Appetit dear friends.  Take care.  Stay safe.

 

 

 

 

RHUBARB UP-SIDE DOWN BROWN SUGAR CAKE . . . an easy to make spring dessert

 

This unprepossessing plant.    This new darling of avant-garde young chefs.  This wonderful rhubarb is the spectacular  upside-down topping on the most delicious of brown sugar cakes.

It is perfection on its own as a snacking cake or one could lavish it with whipped cream or crème fraíche.   Add a few very ripe strawberries and it would be a spectacular finish to a meal.

This is an easy recipe to put together.  You don’t use a stand mixer – just your favourite balloon whisk.    The cake stays moist and delectable for up to three days.  Simply keep it covered at room temperature.

This recipe calls for fresh rhubarb but you can also use frozen rhubarb.  Just be sure to allow time for your frozen rhubarb to defrost and drain (gently pressing on the stalks to help remove the moisture.

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April can be the cruellest of months but it gives us this tart-sweet vegetable that morphs into the most addictive of desserts.    It has been a wet spring this year and the rhubarb in my garden has responded with juicy red stalks and enormous umbrella sized leaves.    RHUBARB UPSIDE-DOWN BROWN SUGAR CAKE – bake it today.   The recipe awaits you in MRS.BUTTERFINGERS kitchen.    Bon Appetit dear friends.

(This recipe is from  Dorie Greenspan’s inspiring cookbook Baking Chez Moi.)

 

SINFULLY SENSATIONAL DELICIOUSLY DECADENT WARM CHOCOLATE CAKE

This is the epitome of decadent desserts.  Deeply dark, warm chocolate cake served right out of the oven.  Warm chocolate cake is a dessert with an edgy  reputation for being a difficult production.  Many  recipes have you making the cake,  baking the cake, then serving the cake.   It is all too last minute.    Stressful for the hostess in the kitchen preparing the cake while dinner guests wait for dessert.

This is a straight forward recipe.  It requires a few ingredients.  The very best chocolate, butter, eggs, sugar and flour.  The secret to this gorgeous dessert is to MAKE IT AHEAD OF TIME.    One refrigerates the cakes for 24 hours before you bake them.

You bake the chocolate cakes for twelve to thirteen minutes.  The centres of the cake will feel soft and not quite fully set when you touch the centres.  The edges will be firmer.  This is the magic moment to pull your spectacular desserts out of the oven

You can serve these little darlings with a tiny sprinkle of fleur de sel (or flaky sea salt).     A generous scoop of cherry custard ice cream and you have a deconstructed Black Forest Cake.    When I want the dessert to be very very French I pour liberal lashings of my salted caramel sauce over the cake.

The recipe for WARM CHOCOLATE CAKE awaits you in MRS.BUTTERFINGERS.

( Cake baking photographs courtesy W. Lloyd )

 

 

CHRISTMAS FRUIT CAKE . . . make it, bake it, enjoy it – the same day!

All is not lost if you didn’t have time for the ritual baking of Christmas cakes back in October.  This gorgeous fruitcake can be baked and savoured the same day.  Its  wonderful, spicy fragrance fills your home with an aroma this is pure Christmas.  It slices beautifully and the beguiling perfume of allspice, cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg is perfection itself.

Last December I baked  this rich fruit cake  in a loaf tin.    This year I adjusted the recipe slightly and baked it as a traditional Christmas cake.     You have lee way as to the size of cake tin you use – any spring form pan between eight and ten inches.  Using a cake tin allows the cake to bake more evenly eliminating over-baked edges.   You simply adjust the  oven baking time.

The ingredients are  guidelines.  The recipe calls for candied mixed peel, cherries and dried apricots.  You could  use dried figs or dates.  Pecans, slivered almonds could replace the chopped walnuts.  The brandy decanter is empty –  substitute sherry or perhaps an exotic liqueur.  The recipe is so forgiving.

There is so much pressure surrounding the holiday season.  We need to be calm and take a step back.  Enjoy our family.  Glory in the season.  This fruitcake is more than the sum total of its parts.  Its very simplicity gives one a chance to take a breath and enjoy preparing  food for those we love.

The recipe for this simply wonderful bake it today Christmas cake awaits you on

MRSBUTTERFINGERS.

 

Mexican Chocolate Cookies . . . Daringly delicious

At this time of year visions of sugar plums and baking cookies drift through one’s mind.  Would anyone notice if I don’t bake short bread cookies this year?  Do I really want to make three kinds of biscotti for the cookie exchange party?   If you desire to bake something completely different.  A recipe that is decidedly off the beaten path.  This cookie recipe will have you singing Jingle Bells all the way to your kitchen.

If I was to rate  MEXICAN CHOCOLATE COOKIES I would give it the highest rating.  Definitely a 10!The unusual combination of bittersweet chocolate mellows the heat of black and red pepper and creates a cookie with a flavour that is out of this world.  The cookie is both crisp and chewy.   For a final ying and yang flavour your sprinkle a little Malden salt over the little darlings.  If the salt seems a little daring dust your cookies with a little powdered sugar.  Or both.  The recipe awaits you in MRS.BUTTERFINGERS kitchen.

I love this comment from a discerning cookie consumer.    She would have me flying through the night delivering these rather outrageously wonderful creations.

“Dear Mrs. Butterfingers,

You made it sound impossible to live without tasting a few from your Mexican Chocolate delights. That being the case, I feel it only fair that you consider filling your linen lined basket with these yin and yang specialties,  flying throughout the night, while stopping to enter  the  homes of others through open windows, key holes, balconies, or whatever suits for I am loathe to think of such a delivery occurring differently in our fantasy land.  Let it be your magical mystery tour.

I wonder what one leaves to treat the the cookie faerie…….  I expect you would be drawn to bits of french ephemera, exotic spices , rich fabrics and books of poetry. If I knew you were taking flight, samples of each could be  found in a basket that awaits return to you. Enter as you will but I shall be waiting, even if in the arms of Morpheus for I know the faerie often enters under the cover of night”

 

 

IT’S ALL ABOUT THE ICING ON THE CARROT CAKE . . . a cake for celebrating birthdays!

This is not your usual carrot cake recipe.   This is a carrot cake made sublimely rich with butter replacing the oil.   The results are a fine, firm crumb that holds and slices beautifully (so necessary in a layer cake). The cake is not complicated.  If you wish you can stir it  up in one bowl without using your mixer.     Refrigerated, the cake holds well so you can  enjoy nibbling cake over a couple of days (if it lasts that long).

And then there’s the frosting.  It is outrageously wonderful.  Rich, creamy, buttery and exquisitely flavoured and enriched with cream cheese.  It is the light as air volume that takes this cake creation over the top.   There is absolutely no doubt.  The frosting is sublime.  It’s uncomplicated and foolproof.  You simply beat the cream cheese, butter and icing sugar until is fluffy and smooth.  Lavish the frosting  between the layers and on the top of the cake.  Don’t frost the side of the cake.

This is my special occasion cake.  The cake I make for family birthdays.    This summer my younger sister celebrated her 80th Birthday.  I baked the cake in my kitchen, then drove  two days to our home town in Northern Saskatchewan.  The cake kept perfectly in our travelling Koolatron (refrigerator).     This cake cut beautifully into twelve servings.   I like to gild the lily so we served the cake with a generous scoop of ice cream.

MRS.BUTTERFINGERS has this scrumptious recipe CARROT CAKE WITH CREAM CHEESE ICING.  Bon Appetit.

 

 

 

 

THE PROCRASTINATORS FRUITCAKE LOAF . . . make it, bake it and enjoy it the same day.

Procrastinating fruitcake lovers  do not despair.  All is not lost if you didn’t have time for the ritual baking of Christmas cakes back in October.   This quick FRUITCAKE LOAF can be whipped up in the morning and enjoyed with afternoon coffee the same day.    It’s wonderful, spicy fragrance fills your home with an aroma that is pure Christmas.   It slices beautifully and the beguiling perfume of allspice, cloves and nutmeg is perfection itself.

The ingredients are simply guidelines.  The recipe calls for candied mixed peel and dried fruit.  Your pantry has dried figs and lemon and orange peel.  Use what you have.  Pecans, slivered almonds and chopped pistachios replace chopped walnuts.   It will all taste like Christmas.  The brandy decanter is empty then substitute sherry or perhaps an exotic liqueur.  The recipe is so forgiving.

There is so much frantic pressure surrounding the Christmas season.   We need to be calm and take a step back.  Enjoy our family.  Glory in the season.  This fruitcake loaf is more than the sum total of its parts.  Its very simplicity gives one a chance to take a breath and enjoy the simple act of preparing food for those we love.

The recipe for QUICK FRUITCAKE LOAF awaits you in MRSBUTTERFINGERS kitchen.

Merry Christmas dear friends.   XXX Virginia

 

 

 

STORY TELLING CHRISTMAS GIFT TAGS

THE BEAUTIFUL EYE

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When I wrap my Christmas gifts I l make the tags truly personal.  Sometimes it is a hint regarding the contents.  Or suggestions for clever uses for the gift.   The best ones require the recipient to guess the contents with the clues you’ve written on the tag.    Commercial gifts barely give you room to write “to and from plus names”.  Where is the fun in that?

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My solution is shipping tags.  You can buy small bundles at craft stores or a lovely big container of them from an office supply store.

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Now the fun begins.  Leave them plain or give them a vintage look with a damp tea bag.  I have a lovely big stamp that looked like a letter written in French.   I used it for the background.   You could use snowflakes, floral or leaf designs or simply leave them plain.  Add cut-outs from old Christmas cards or magazines.  Spread a little white glue in appropriate places and sprinkle it with sparkle powder.  Now write away to your little heart’s content.

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Every year I enjoy having a different gift wrapping theme.   I’ve draped the base of the tree with rich dark green velvet.  The gifts are wrapped with simple brown wrapping paper (very brown paper packages wrapped up with string), then tied with green velvet ribbon.  It’s all very simple and very “home made”.  For me it is all about taking some of the commercial aspect out of the season and making your gifts very, very personal.

Unlike many gift wrapping paper (tissue paper, metallic paper) is completely recyclable.   I even recycle the velvet ribbon .  Rolled around cardboard tubes it’s tucked away to use throughout the year.  I grew up with mantra “waste not want not”.  The word recycle did not exist, but one simply didn’t just throw out something that could be put to  use.

Now I’m off to nibble on short-bread cookies and sip some smoky Earl Gray tea.   Enjoy!

CHRISTMAS ESSENCE … how to give your home the fragrance of Christmas

The days before Christmas should be long and lingering.  Days to enjoy.   One needs to treasure the simple things.    In an unhurried manner.  No frantic trips to crowded malls.  I start my Christmas  in November.     Creating Christmas cards.   Gathering wrapping paper and ribbons.  Unpacking the boxes of Christmas ornaments and decorations – all in a leisurely manner.

This is the time to enjoy treasured memories.  I still have the Santa my son made in kindergarten forty-five years ago.  Battered and faded it always graces our tree front and centre.      The polar bear cookie jar appears on my kitchen counter.  His name is lorek Byrnison, from the book The Golden Compass.       This is how you slow down in the days before December 25th.

To give our home the perfume of Christmas preparations I  simmer an all natural Christmas essence on the stove.  You’ ll love the fresh, crisp, spicy fragrance, and you probably have everything to create it right in your kitchen.

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Chop the peel of a large orange and a large lemon.    Into a medium sized saucepan put the peel, plus 2 sticks of cinnamon broken, 12 whole cloves and 4 bay leaves.  Add 4 cups of water and bring to the boil.  Immediately reduce heat to a very slow simmer.  A word of caution, don’t let it simmer dry.  Just keep adding more water.

PURE ALCHEMY! MAKE YOUR OWN PURE VANILLA EXTRACT

A vicious cyclone hit Madagascar in March 2017. Cyclone Enawo brought bakers to their knees .  Vanilla  prices sky-rocked.  Merchants held their supply of vanilla under lock and key.  Vanilla beans were trading higher than silver.   Desperate bakers rediscovered alternatives. Lemon juice and zest.  Pure almond extract.  Rose water.  But nothing could replace the flavour of pure vanilla.

It is possible to make your own pure vanilla extract.  It’s very simple and you may discover you prefer your own bottled vanilla.  It is alchemy this creation of vanilla extract.    There is something wonderful , almost mystical, bottling your own vanilla.

All that is required is a glass bottle or jar.  Vanilla Beans and vodka (70 proof 35% alcohol).  Use one bean for every two ounces of alcohol (bourbon, rum, brandy or vodka).  One can find vanilla beans reasonably priced on line.

I used 1 1/2 cups (12 oz .375 ml) vodka and 6 beans.  Split the pods  leaving a small bit at one end still attached.

Tuck the beans in a clean jar or bottle.  If they are too long you can cut them to fit.   Pour the vodka over the beans making sure the beans are submerged.  Shake the bottle once or twice a week.  At 8 weeks(and up to 3-6 months)  you can start sampling for flavour.   It is your palate that will decide when your vanilla is ready.     After using all your vanilla extract you can replace the bottle with more vodka.  The same pods will continue to flavour the vodka for about a year.

Don’t discard your vodka soaked vanilla pods.  Pop them into your sugar container.  They give your sugar a delicate vanilla fragrance and seem to last for ever.

Store your precious personally made vanilla extract at room temperature and out of direct sunshine.

Small bottles of your own vanilla extract would make the “bees knees” gifts.  Search dollar stores and thrift shops for unusual containers.  Use corks to safely seal the bottles.

Bon Appetit and happy baking, dear friends.