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

 

 

 

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KATE’S CINNAMON COFFEE CAKE – Elegantly simplicity.



CINNAMON COFFEE CAKE

Away way back in time coffee cake was a simple treat.    It was an uncomplicated cake.  The ingredients were always at hand.  It went together quickly .  The delicious aroma of the baking cake filled your kitchen.  It was warm and welcoming  hospitality on a plate.   One made coffee cake to be enjoyed with coffee or tea and dear friends   It was elegant simplicity.  

Then we add sour cream and blueberries, buttermilk and cranberries, rhubarb and apples.  Coffee cake became a production.  It lingered long in the oven and frequently longer cooling .   It was definitely not something you whipped up on the spur of the moment.This recipe for CINNAMON COFFEE CAKE  goes back to the late Fifties.  It is a doodle to whip up.  Presents beautifully.  And tastes decadently divine.    I have probably made it over seven hundred times  and last week I made it for my  friend Kate.   It was received with so much enthusiasm and appreciation  I renamed it  KATE’S COFFEE CAKE.    Kate is a remarkable woman in a demanding profession.  She was  ships bridge officer on luxury cruise ships for years and now continues her relationship with marine transportation at  SeaSpan here on the west coast.     This recipe is perfect for Kate.   She loves baking but has little time to shop for exotic ingredients  or spend hours in the kitchen.

The recipe came with a bag of Robin Hood Flour and it is simplicity personified.  Flour sugar salt and baking powder mixed with butter.  An egg whipped into milk.  A quick and gentle stir and into the pan and  a little brown sugar butter and cinnamon sprinkled over the top.   This sweet little coffee cake goes together quickly so be sure to turn your oven on before you start your recipe.  The recipe awaits you in MRS.BUTTERFINGERS.

 



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.

HUMMINGBIRD CAKE . . . hums to a new tune.

This cinnamon scented layer cake.    This  dense cake of banana and pineapple.  This spice cake with sumptuous cream cheese icing.  This Humming Bird cake with retro origins has become the favorite of all cake recipes on MRS. BUTTERFINGERS.

It’s a joy to make.      It doesn’t require a stand mixer.    Just two mixing bowls, some very ripe bananas, pineapple and the usual suspects when making a cake.   I’ve made  some changes to the recipe.   The most important one is the pineapple.  I’ve replaced the crushed pineapple with chopped pineapple tidbits.  The quality of the pineapple pieces is superior to crushed pineapple.   Now when you nibble your way through a gorgeous slice of Hummingbird  cake you encounter brilliant bursts of pineapple flavour.

Tuck this recipe for HUMMINGBIRD CAKE into your apron pocket.  It’s the perfect cake for the cottage.  It’s large enough for big family gatherings.  And best of all its wonderful goodness  stays fresh for the several days.

MRS.BUTTERFINGERS has the new, improved and slightly changed recipe.

 

OLD FASHIONED CHRISTMAS CHERRY ALMOND CAKE . . . It’s not too late to whip up this alternative to fruit cake.

The most loved and used  of all my many baking cookbooks is tattered, torn, mended and scribbled.   It has perhaps twenty pages.    More than fifty years ago it came free with a bag of Robin Hood Flour.  It contains the recipe for Wicked Wonderful White Bread and my stand by cinnamon coffee cake.  Every recipe is tried and trued and absolutely delicious in a wonderful old-fashioned way.    The recipes don’t call for exotic ingredients or special equipment.  They are stress free baking recipes perfect for almost any occasion.

I adore anything  baked with cherries, especially at Christmas time.  This recipe for Cherry Almond Cake is from the small Robin Hood Cookbook.  It is literally bursting with big, bright cherries.  It makes a generous cake.  Wonderfully generous.  You can cut,  slice and slice and nibble away to your hearts content.  It is a splendid cake for entertaining.  Large enough for second or even third slices.  What could be more perfect. You’ll find this  recipe on my food blog MRS. BUTTERFINGERS.

EASY AS PIE! I promise you. This is a no-fail perfect pastry recipe.

It is every baker’s dream.  The ability to whip up the perfect pie with a crust so  light and flaky and  delicious you chase the last crumbs around your dessert plate.    There’s more than a baker’s dozen way of making pie crust.     They all require a certain level of skill and more than a modicum of knowledge of the various types of pastry required for specific pie fillings.

Here is “the little black dress” of pie crusts.  It is suitable for almost every filling.  It is superb for savory pies and fruit pies.   Single crust pies like lemon meringue.   Chicken pot pie or steak and kidney pie.  Hand pies and tarts.  And best of all follow the recipe faithfully and you should be rewarded with perfect pie crust!

This is the secret to perfect pie crust every time.  The flour, butter, shortening, and water most all be VERY cold.  Let the dough rest in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes or longer before rolling.  And  finally,  don’t stretch the dough when you’re placing it into the pan.

One of the most popular fruit pie to make is apple.  The secret to eliminating the  gap between the apple filling and the baked pie crust is to toss your sliced apples with sugar and let it macerate while your pie crust rests.  Then add the thickener, spices and butter before putting your pie together.

You can prepare the dough ahead.  Form it into two balls, wrap well, and refrigerate for up to 4 days or freeze for up to 3 months.  Defrost  in the refrigerator.

Dear friends. Skip over to MRSBUTTERFIELD’S kitchen for the recipe.

 

 

SALTED CARAMEL SAUCE . . . a decadent holiday food gift

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Sometimes when one is bombarded daily with food recipes one forgets the one that transcends all others.    This  splendid sauce is the perfect food gift.  It is  decadently deliciously down-right lip-smacking, please can I have some more.  Portion it into small jars(it is very very rich).  It makes a memorable hotess gift.

It is the attention to detail.  The little extra that pushes something over the top.  That take it from very good to extraordinary.    And when that extraordinary itself is truly magnificent you have pure gold.

During our restaurant years every evening I made a gorgeous caramel sauce.   We would pour it liberally  over our house-made ice cream.  The recipe was time consuming and demanding.  So I started  the hunt for a caramel sauce that one could whip up quickly and without too much stress.

Making caramel sauce is rather like the fairy tale Brothers Grim Rumpelstiltskin.  You turn water and sugar into a deep burnished rich golden colour.  And you do not have to give up your first-born child to do it.

This caramel recipe has just the right balance of caramelized sugar to butter and cream.  The recipe is easy.  You put water and sugar into a pan.  Watch it turn a deep golden brown.  Whisk in butter.  The aroma smells like McIntosh Toffee.    Add a little cream.  Cool.  Taste.  Sprinkle in  flakes of  fleur de sel  and faster than you can say Rumpelstiltskin you have the most decadent salted caramel sauce.

Pour it over ice cream or a slice of cake.  Add a generous dollop of whipped cream and you have a dessert worthy of a four star restaurant.  The very best part of this recipe for caramel sauce.  It refrigerates beautifully.  I must admit I occasionally remove the chilled sauce, dip a spoon into its silky goodness and swoon over this stealthy treat.  The sauce will keep two weeks refrigerated.  Unbelievable but this has kept more than the specified two weeks when I hid it behind the mustard  and totally forgot about it.  It was still good almost a month later.

SALTED CARAMEL SAUCE  – is pure gold!