EASY ONE BOWL WONDER CAKE . . . WALNUT BUTTER CAKE WITH MAPLE BUTTER FROSTING

Simple and extremely quick to make!

This gloriously simple cake can be made with the usual pantry items,  a good sized bowl and a whisk – if that is your desire.    Or you can whip it up with  hand held electric beaters or a stand mixer.  The results are a tender, butter-rich, nutty cake.  Top it with a generous swipe of frosting and you’ve just swanned your way to creating a delectable, delicious, no stress cake.

I volunteer at our hospital thrift shop in the village of Ladner, British Columbia. It’s a busy operation and our morning tea break is appreciated.    I call it The Fellowship of cookies , cake bakers and avid readers of books.  The table is always graced with volunteers home baked goodies.  The  discussions are frequently about food in general and baking in great detail.  Recipes are shared and stored in a three ring binder.   This very personal cook book is kept in the tea room for anyone looking for baking inspiration.

The women I work with are mostly retired.  They donate a great deal of time and energy to their volunteer work.  They love to bake but appreciate recipes that that don’t require a lot of prep time.  Some prefer recipes that are not too complicated or require too many ingredients.  And, they don’t want to spend a lot of time shopping for ingredients that are difficult to find. 

An easy one bowl cake recipe means less time is spent mixing the ingredients and less time in clean up.   Make this recipe once and it will be yours forever.  The chopped walnuts are toasted in the butter then added to the eggs, sugar and sour cream and vanilla and whisked  until well combined. You add the flour, baking powder and soda and whisk to combine and pour into your cake pan.  You can add optional flavours such as instant espresso powder or cardamon. I also bakes beautifully in a loaf pan or double the recipe and bake in a  Bundt pan.

 MRS.BUTTERFINGERS has the printable recipes for these cakes.  Bon Appetit dear friends.

THE COMPATIBILITY OF CAKES . . . an easy to make MOCHA CHOCOLATE CAKE

This is a cake recipe that is compatibility with the baker. I have two sisters. My older sister is 91 years old. She is a fabulous baker but she find the time it requires very tiring. My younger sister’s health is not the best and she also finds it difficult to indulge in her love of baking. They both enjoy a slice of cake or a cookie with their afternoon cup of tea. Store bought cookies or cake simply do not make the cut. I have made it my mandate to adept some recipes that will allow them continue to enjoy baking. Recipes that are considerate and compatible for my sisters.

This cake recipe has a delicious chocolate flavour and a whisper of coffee in the Mocha glaze. One can assemble and measure out the ingredients the day before. This takes about ten minutes or so. Then next day, in the morning when you are not tired you mix the cake and pour it into the pan. Another ten minutes. When the cake is cool mix the glaze and give it a quick stir and pour it over the cake. That’s it. You’re done You are not standing for long periods of time and one can rest in between each process.

As for clean up. Before one starts the mixing process a sink full of hot soapy water allows you to clean as you go. It is all about doing a bit at a time.

The ingredients of this cake are ones normally found in ones pantry or refrigerator. My sisters order their groceries on line so I have considered accessibility to ingredients in this cake. They don’t enjoy cake mixes or store bought baking. This is a recipe is quick and easy to make and has a rich, soul satisfying chocolate flavour. A treat with tea or anytime a treat is called for.

Recipes such as this one would also be helpful for those who have little time to spend in the kitchen, but would love to have a home made cake. It would be an excellent cake for children to bake with a little adult help. Pop into MRS.BUTTERFINGERS kitchen for the printable recipe. Bon Appetit dear friends.

CHERRY STREUSEL . . . THE DESSERT THAT SINGS OF SUMMER

This is a sublime riff on a fruit crumble.  An almond flavoured rich cookie base.  Juicy, dark cherries.  Then a streusel topping whispering the same cookie taste.  A cake that is not a cake but a crumble.  A decadent dessert that sings of summer.

Once you’ve pitted the cherries the cake goes together in just ten minutes.   If you don’t have a cherry pitter it is easy to remove pits with a chop-stick or the pointed end of a decorating pastry tip.  Hold the cherry between two fingers and position it on a cutting board.    Push the chop stick or pastry tip through the centre of the stem.

The crumble is a combination of ground almonds, flour and butter.  A quick whirl in your food processor.  Press half the mixture into a cake base with a removable base.  Sprinkle with cherries.  Then top with the remaining streusel and pop in the oven.   This is the perfect summer cake for a picnic.   Just transport the cake in its tin.

Dust this sweetheart of a cherry crumble with a little icing sugar. Or indulge with a spoon of clotted cream or a generous drift of whipped cream. The cherry season is a brief so do indulge in this delicious fresh cherry dessert.

The recipe is to be found awaiting you on MRS.BUTTERFINGERS.

T

THE POLITE CLASSIC PEANUT BUTTER CRISPY COOKIES

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When someone lists their favourite cookies this cookie is almost always on their list.  It is a classic and I collect classics.  I call it a polite peanut butter cookie.   It is at once crisp and chewy.   There’s a whisper of a crunch and then a murmuring of sweet, closely followed by an exclamation of salt.  This polite cookie does not have an aggressive peanut butter flavour.  Your know the kind of cookie.  The peanut butter cookie that clings to and overpowers your taste buds.  This peanut butter cookie can be kept simple.  Or, you can adorn it with chocolate.  A little cocoa powder and a sprinkle of finely chopped of  your-very-best chocolate and you have a winner.  Then you sign your cookie creations with the traditional  classic crisscrosses.

When you’re whipping up this cookie creation refrain from using all-natural peanut butter.  As with most peanut butter recipes you won’t get the texture you want with this type of peanut butter. 

This is a generous recipe.  If you allow a level tablespoonful of dough for each cookie the recipe will give you four to five dozen cookies.  Wrapped well or in a cookie jar(graciously separating the layers with parchment paper) they will keep for about five days at room temperature.  You can freeze these cookies.  They’re good for about two months.

This recipe is from the fabulous book BAKING FROM MY HOME TO YOURS by Dorie Greenspan.   The recipe awaits you in the kitchen of    MRS.BUTTERFINGERS.





BESOTTED WITH BLUEBERRY CRUMB CAKE

My love affair with blueberries began with wild blueberries. They are a tiny berry with an intense, deep flavour. They grow wild in Northern Saskatchewan where I grew up. Wild blueberries are a low bush and one uses a large tooth comb designed to harvest them. It is a slow process and I am sure I ate more than I picked. But the rewards were shelves of glistening jewel like preserving jars of blueberries.

Across our road there is a blueberry farm. Acres and acres of blueberries growing in precise, military style rows. Harvest time and an enormous “science fiction style” machine marches up and down tenderly harvesting the fruit. The eagerly anticipated first berries of the season we traditionally eat with a little creme fraiche.

I am quite taken with this particular BLUEBERRY CRUMB CAKE. It has a fine crumb. It is a jumble of berries and has a struesel type crumb that is divine. Don’t be tempted to add more walnuts in the topping – scarcity makes them even more delightful. You can replace this recipe with almost any kind of berry (except strawberry). Slices or cubes of soft fruits such as peeled peaches or nectarines, apricots or plums can also be used in place of blueberries.

The recipe awaits you in the kitchen of MRS.BUTTERFINGERS

OLD FASHIONED MEYER LEMON NUT BREAD . . . hold summer in your hand.

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When you harvest fresh fruit from a Meyer lemon tree in the dark of winter you hold summer in your hand.   The fragrance of the blossoms.  The glossy leaves shining in the gray light.  Your fingers caressing the finely textured skin.  Then the heavenly taste of the juice –  at once sweet and sour.

You can do many wonderful things with these delicate lemons, but I was  yearning for something classic,  simple,  old fashioned.

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I have a cookbook that is a particular favorite.  I have been baking out of it for more than forty years.  A World Of Baking by Dolores Casella has provided me with dozens of quick and yeast bread recipes.  The ingredients are readily available.   The instructions are always brief.  It is expected you already know the basics of baking.

Meyer Lemon Nut Bread  has a fine crumb.  It’s rich tasting,  studded with walnuts and finished with lemon syrup.   When Meyer lemons are not available regular lemons are more than acceptable..  Be lavish with your lemon rind.  This old fashion recipe calls for just a teaspoon but I scrape every bit of rind from the lemons into the batter.

You’ll find the recipe in MRS. BUTTERFINGERS kitchen.

CHRISTMAS 1944 AND OUR FATHER’S MINCE TARTS

Christmas 1944   – The three sisters brave the cold .  The youngest, Heather is wearing a snow suit.  I am standing Mona’s right.  We are all wearing real fur trimmed parka style headgear

It is the childhood memories of Christmas that evoke the strongest feelings. 1944 and the rationing of almost everything meant making do, making over and often going without.  But Christmas was still bright and wonderful and our Christmas stockings were always filled with mysterious wonderful things.

In early November we  began the school day practising  songs for the annual Carol Festival.  This long anticipated event  was held in one of the cities beautiful old churches.  All the schools in the city performed.    The Carol Festival marked the beginning of the celebrations of Christmas.

It was bitterly cold the first week of December.  My Mother and my sisters bundled up for the mile walk  to the church.  There were no bus service after 6:00 p.m.  Our Dad wasn’t able to drive us in the family car.  Gas was rationed.    We dressed for the cold.

Two layers of hand-knit mittens.

Heavy hand-knit woollen scarves cross-crossed across our faces.

Our eye lashes rimmed with frost and when we spoke it was as if we were filling the air with puffs of smoke.

So much excitement, so much anticipation we never felt the cold.

We sang our way on the walk home.   The sky was clear.     Stars so  brilliant we felt we could reach up to heaven and grab them like a handful of diamonds.

Northern Lights  were flashing, glowing  and dancing across the Northern  sky..  Magnificent emerald greens, yellows, pink, magenta and occasionally sapphire  blue  sweeping back and forth.  We stopped and shouted.  We clapped our hands.  We truly believed the lights responded to the sounds we made.

Home at last.  The wood stove crackled.  The kitchen was filled with the sublime spicy aroma of mince tarts.   Our father  taking them  out of the oven.  How absolutely  glorious to walk into our warm house,  and eat the pies hot from the oven.

Dad’s  mince tarts were so delicate and  flaky they melted in your mouth.  His secret – he always used    lard to make the pastry.      We sisters still use our  Father’s recipe.  It’s pretty simple (or at least we pastry makers feel that way).  But if you follow the directions, and cheat a little (roll the pastry between wax paper, chill the flour) you can pull these beauties out of the oven and wow your family and friends.    Every home should have mince tarts baking in the oven at this time of year.

FATHER’S MINCE TARTS   …   makes around 30 morsels of delight

Pastry:

2 cups all-purpose flour chilled

2/3 tsp salt

2/3 cup chilled lard cut into small pieces

5-6 tbsp cold water

l egg yolk beaten with a little water.

Before you start making the pastry put the flour and salt mixture into the  freezer for 30 minutes or so.   Chill a cup of water at the same time. Cut the lard  into the flour mixture with a pastry blender,  or if you’re using your food processor use the pulse button to process just until it looks like large flakes of oatmeal.

Add the water gradually, a tablespoon at a time tossing the mixture lightly with a fork.  If you are using the food processor add the water and process JUST until mixed.  It should be loose in the  bowl.

Turn your pastry out onto your board and form into a ball.  Flatten the ball and wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for a good 15 minutes or more.  This allows the pastry to relax.  And everyone knows pastry should be relaxed.

Divide the pastry in to two portions.

Roll out one portion 1/8 inch thick.  Cut into circles about  1 3/4 in diameter.  This will be your base.  Cut the second half into circles about 2 1/2 inches across.  These will be your tops.

Moisten the edges of your base and put a small amount   of mincemeat on each circle.  Top with the larger circles.  Press the edges to seal.   Brush with egg wash and bake around 20 minutes or until golden brown.  Enjoy!

Chefs note:

We made our own mincemeat at our restaurant  Roxy’s Bistro.  We used a traditional recipe using suet and a good dollop of brandy.   Taste your purchased mincemeat.  You will probably need to add some additional flavour.  Add a little freshly grated nutmeg, a sprinkle of powdered cloves, a good amount of cinnamon, some allspice and a little lemon or orange juice.  And if you have some brandy.

Happy tree trimming.

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.

 

 

 

 

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.