SHE TAMED THE WOLF WITH CAKE . . . Apple, Cinnamon and Cardamon Cake

A wind like wolves prowling across the fields. Growling at windows and doors. Snarling down the fireplace chimney. The kind of rainy, dark, dismal day that cried out for a kitchen perfumed with the fragrance of exotic spices. A cake! A cake to be consumed still warm from the oven. A cake with a bold presence. A cake to keep the wolf from the door.

When I lived in Amsterdam I shopped daily at the Albert Cupt Street Market. And every day I would stop at a near by cafe to enjoy coffee with a slice of Apple Cinnamon Cardamon Cake, and watch boats travelling the canals. I’ve adapted this recipe from Luthra Vedika’s cookbook “52 Weeks, 52 Sweets”. It’s a delightfully easy cake to make. The streusel topping is crunchy, rich and flavoured with cinnamon and cardamon. You hand -mix the cake batter in one bowl. Fold in a generous amount of chopped apples and top it with the streusel

This cake is divine warm from the oven. It’s tricky. It can be done if you let the cake cool for a few minutes then run a knife around the edges to loosen it, unmold it from the pan and slide it on to a plate. Or let your cake come to room temperature for serving. Be brave – it’s your call. You’ll serve a cake that will keep the wolves from the door.

MRS.BUTTERFINGERS has the printable recipe. Bon Appetit dear friends.

KATE’S CINNAMON COFFEE CAKE – Elegantly simplicity.


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.





Used book stores and thrift shops can be a treasure house for old recipe books.    Recently I found an enormous book of “1,000 delicious kitchen-tested recipes”,  THE JOY OF CUISINE.  The book was dated 1983 and it was a delightful blast- from- the- past.

I appreciated the many budget-minded recipes in this book.   Rising food costs are making all of us dollar conscious.  This recipe for MOLASSES CRINKLES requires no expensive ingredients.  If you are a regular baker you’ll have everything required in the recipe in your pantry.

The combination of ginger, cinnamon, cloves and freshly ground black pepper (my addition) is positively addictive.   Baking these cookies will fill you kitchen with the most delicious of baking fragrances – spices.  Click on MOLASSES CRINKLES and you’ll have these little sweethearts coming out of the oven before you have your tea made.

HUMMINGBIRD CAKE – It will have you humming with happiness.


The other day I was searching my cookbook library and came across a Vogue cookbook from the nineteen eighties. Leafing through the pages I spotted the title of this cake.  HUMMINGBIRD CAKE.  How intriguing.  Apparently this cake originated in the deep South and was extremely popular at barbeques and other fine affairs.

The method of making the cake is easy.  Just two bowls.  One for the dry ingredients and one for the wet.  No mixer required.  You can even make the icing in a food processor.  The ingredients are  ones found in most pantry’s.

So – why the wonderful exotic name?   I served it to fellow food maven, Dellis.  Two forkfuls and all I heard was “hmmmm”.  No further explanation required.  This is a fabulous cake.  The combination of cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger gives it a rather Christmasy flavour.  I think it would be the perfect ending for your holiday meal.  It’s quick to make. It will keep several days in your refrigerator so you can eliminate any last-minute preparations.  I absolute guarantee you this is a reputation making cake.  Just click on HUMMINGBIRD CAKE and sing “jingle bells”.  Before you’ve finished your song your cake will be in the oven.  Well – practically!

SPICY PUMPKIN PIE …. so good you’ll want to make it year ’round!


Our family spent Thanksgiving with my brother and his amazing wife.    My contribution to the feast was sweet potato mousse and pumpkin pie.  Pumpkin pie is the favorite dessert of our two nephews so I really wanted to pull out all the stops.

This is the best pumpkin pie I’ve ever made.   AND THE EASIEST!!  Sweetened condensed milk  creates a delicate yet rich,  creamy texture.    An intriguing combination of spices is perfectly matched to the pumpkin flavour.    The filling is easy peasy to make.  You can use a gingersnap crust or your favorite pie crust.  The secret to the perfect pumpkin pie (which is a custard) is to ALWAYS blind-bake your pastry.  You’ll eliminate soggy crusts.

For a nine-inch pie

1 (15 oz) can pumpkin ( not pumpkin pie filling)

1 (14 oz ) can sweetened condensed milk

2 large eggs

2 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp freshly grated ground nutmeg (If you have never used whole nutmeg now is the time.  You’ll never go back to the pale, imitation powdered nutmeg)

1/2 tsp allspice

1/2 tsp sea salt

reheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a medium bowl whisk your eggs, now whisk in the sweetened condensed milk, the pumpkin , spices and salt until smooth.  Pour into your baked crust.    Bake for 40 minutes or so until a knife inserted 1 inch from crust comes out clean.  Cool.  Garnish as desired.  I like to pipe whipped cream onto the pie filling.  A generous scoop of vanilla ice cream would be deliciously gilding the lily.

CINNAMON COFFEE CAKE … quick, easy and soo delicious

I have been making this coffee cake  for over fifty years.   I found the recipe in a Robin Hood Flour recipe book tucked into a bag of their flour.  Everything I baked from that little booklet was delicious.   The book is a little used and abused but it is still my “go to” recipe book when I want to do some old-fashioned baking.

This recipe goes together very quickly.  I’ve made it so often I can have this  in the oven in 9-10 minutes.


For the topping

3 tb butter melted

l 1/4 cup brown sugar

1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

l cup of any kind of nuts (if desired)

For the cake:

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

5 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp sat

1 1/ 3 cup sugar

2/3 cup butter

2 eggs

2 cups whole milk

1 ts. vanilla

(whipped cream if so desired)

Preheat  oven to 375F.  Grease thoroughly a 9 x12 in baking pan or  12 inch spring form pan.

Topping:  Melt the butter, stir i the brow sugar and cinnamon.  Set aside.

Measure flour without sifting into large mixing bowl;  add baking powder, salt and sugar and whisk to blend.

Cut in the butter with pastry blender.

Make a hollow and add eggs, milk and vanilla.  Break the egg yolk and stir milk and egg together in the hollow, then combine with dry ingredients, mix just until moistened.

Turn into pan and sprinkle with brown sugar-cinnamon mixture

Bake in moderate oven for 45 to 60 minutes.  Coffee cake baked in the 9 x 12 pan will bake faster.

Serve warm with whipped cream if desired.

ZUCCHINI LOAF … a light, tender quick bread.

Every morning I check my vegetable garden.  Every morning I am rewarded with zucchini.  I  lift the large leaves to find these green treasures. I like to pick zucchini when they are very small and tender.    I wanted to make zucchini loaf, but  to take it up a notch.   I salted the zucchini to draw out the moisture.    The results –  a spectacularly light loaf, and well worth this extra step.

ZUCCHINI LOAF  (makes 2 loaves)

3  zucchinis grated (about 4 cups)

1 1/4 tsp salt

2 1/4 cups sifted unbleached all-purpose flour

2 tsp baking soda

1 tbs ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

2 eggs

1 1/3 cups white sugar

l cup vegetable oil

2 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts

1 cup golden raisins

Soak raisins in warm water for 30 minutes.  Drain thoroughly in a colander or strainer;  set aside.

Clean the zucchini and trim the ends. Do not peel.  Shred with a medium sized shredder.  You should have about 4 cups when finished.  Sprinkle the zucchini with l tsp of salt and place in a large bowl. Mix it with your hands to evenly distribute the salt.  Place a heavy plate on top of the zucchini and weigh down with food cans.   Allow it to sit for 20 minutes to purge itself of liquid.  Empty the zucchini into a colander and squeeze to release the juices.  Dump the grated zucchini onto a tea towel that has been folded in half, roll up and give it another good squeeze to remove even more liquid.  Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175degrees C).  Grease and flour two 8 x 4 inch loaf pans and set aside.

Set aside 2 tbsp of the flour.  Sift together the remaining flour, soda , spices and remaining 1/4 tsp of salt.  Don’t be tempted to omit this step.  The sifting makes for a lighter loaf.

Beat eggs on medium speed(using the  whisk) for about 5 minutes.  Add the sugar, a little at a time and beat for a good 45 minutes.  The mixture should be light in color and thick.  While beating, slowly pour in the oil.

Change to your K blade.  Add the vanilla to the eggs and then add the zucchini.  Add  the dry ingredients, a little at a time and mix just until the dry ingredients are mixed in.  Do not over mix.

Combine the remaining 2 tbs flour, nuts and drained raisins in a small bowl, mix  together to coat.  Fold into the batter.  Pour into the prepared pans.

Bake at 350 degrees f (175 c) for about l hour or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Remove to a rack to cool for ten minutes.  Remove from pans and cool on a rack completely.

Dust with a little powdered sugar if desired.    Make yourself a cup of Earl Gray Tea and enjoy.   You deserve it.

SWEET POTATO MOUSSE … a recipe for Andrew



There is a young man in our family with the soul of a poet, the eye of an artist and the dark, handsome look of a young Lord Byron.  What makes him truly outstanding he shows his heart when he cooks.  Love of cooking comes from the heart.

Last night a phone call asking me for my sweet potato mousse recipe, and why wasn’t it on my blog.  He and his partner were entertaining very dear friends and wanted to cook something very special.  He was cooking from the heart.  Now I will share this recipe with you.  Do make it soon.

Sweet Potato Mousse – serves 4

4 medium large sweet potatoes      4 tablespoons butter,      salt and freshly ground black pepper, 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, two eggs.

Roast your sweet potatoes.  When cooked remove the skins while still warm.  In your standing mixer with whip add the potatoes, butter and seasonings and whip well.  When the potatoes are cool enough add the two eggs and whip well.  Pour the mixture into a three-four inch casserole dish.  Bake at 350 degrees until lightly brown on top.  Don’t over bake.  Remember the potatoes are already cooked and you are now cooking the egg mixture so think delicate thoughts.


BASIC SWEET DOUGH (yield: 4-5 dozen rolls depending on size etc)

1 cup milk

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 tsp salt

3/4 cup cold water

1/4 cup butter, margarine, lard or vegetable shortening at room temperature

1/2 cup luke warm water

2 tsp  granulated sugar

2 packages  fast-rising dry yeast

2 eggs room temperature well beaten

Around 7 cups of flour  (start with a less amount than add more if necessary)

In a medium sized saucepan bring milk just to the boil.  Stir in 1/2 cup sugar, the salt,   and the soft shortening.  When the shortening has dissolved add the 3/4 cup cold water.  Cool to lukewarm.

Measure the 1/2 cup lukewarm water into a small warm bowl; stir in the 2 tsp sugar, sprinkle with the yeast and let stand for around 10 minutes then stir until well blended.

In the bowl of your stand mixer Stir in the lukewarm milk mixture, well-beaten eggs and 3 1/2 cups of the flour, measured without sifting.  Beat until smooth and elastic.

Work in sufficient additional flour to make a soft SLACK dough (about 3-4 cups).  You can always work  more flour into the dough as you knead it.

Turn the dough out on to your counter and knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes.  The dough should feel silky soft and warm to your touch.

Put the dough into a lightly oiled large warm bowl.  Lightly oil the top and cover with plastic wrap.

Let rise in a warm place (75 to 85F) free from draft, until double in bulk – about 1 1/2 hours.  Punch down dough.  Turn out onto a lightly greased board or table.

Cut into 4 equal pieces with greased, sharp knife. Round up each piece, cover and let rest 15 minutes.

Shape the dough into rolls or cinnamon buns.

Let rise until double in bulk ( around 1 1/2 to 2 hours) then bake in a preheated oven at 375 degrees F for about 20 minutes.  Turn out on a wire rack to cool.


Make your sticky syrup by putting 1/4 cup water, 1 1/2 cups brown sugar and 4 tbsp butter in a small sauce pan.  Bring to the boil and reduce heat and simmer for about 8-10 minutes until thick and syrupy.  Set aside.


Grease an 8 x 8 x 2 inch pan

Roll 1/4 of the sweet dough recipe into rectangle 9″ by 12″.  Brush lightly with melted butter.  Pour the sticky syrup over the bottom of the pan.   If desired sprinkle the bottom of the pan with chopped walnuts.

Combine 1/3 cup brown sugar and 1 tsp cinnamon.  Sprinkle evenly over dough

Roll up as for jelly roll sealing edge.  Cut into 16 pieces.

Place rolls in pan, covered with lightly oiled waxed paper and a dry teatowel and let rise in warm place  until double in bulk (11/2 to 2 hours)

Bake in a reheated oven of 375 F. for about 20 minutes.  Turn out on wire rack to cool.

Chef’s notes:

I’ve had several inquiries about how many cinnamon buns does this recipe make.  First of all it depends on how thick you cut the rolls.  I generally cut my one and a half inches thick as the buns will double in size.  For this recipe I used a 8 x 8 inch pan, a 9 by 16 inch pan, and then I had two large pieces left over so I put them into the miniature brioche pans.   If after you’ve cut your buns and filled your pans and you still have dough left over you can put them into muffin tins.     You may end up just having to use three or four sections, so  remember to add a little water to each of the muffin tin sections you don’t use.

Dear Friends, if you are not a regular baker of yeast products remember not to add all the flour at once.  For this recipe start with five cups and then add more as needed.  A slack dough makes a more delicate tender bun.  And don’t we all want perfect buns.