Compiègne Cake

Compiègne cakeCompiègne Cake was created by Antonin Carême, in honour of the marriage of Napoleon and Marie-Louise of Austria in 1810. It wedding took place in the city of Compiègne, hence the name given to the cake. At her dinner, Queen Victoria served small sized versions of this cake, what we today would call cupcakes. I found a recipe from the era, which gives the base recipe for the dough, and then offered several variations, adding different candied fruits, etc. to the dough and as decoration. The recipe below uses fresh pineapple and candied fruit (though maraschino cherries would work just as well). This cake will serve 8-10 people. I hope you enjoy!

Compiegne CakeIngredients:

Dough:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 ½ tablespoons sugar
3 small eggs
3 egg yolks
2 ½ teaspoons fresh yeast
4 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons cream
⅔ cup softened butter

Syrup:
2 cups water
1 cup sugar
⅓ cup rum*
1 tablespoon of instant coffee (vanilla flavoured preferable)
1 orange, juiced, or ⅓ cup of juice
1 lemon, juiced, or 2-3 tablespoons of juice

Garnish:
1 pineapple
½ cup brown sugar
½ to 1 cup candied fruit or maraschino cherries

* Click here to see the list of kosher alcohols.

Directions:

Remove the butter from the refrigerator at least 2 hours before starting the cake. Cut into cubes and leave it at room temperature.

In a bowl (or food processor), combine the flour, sugar and yeast. Add the eggs, yolks and cream. Mix slowly until you have formed a smooth dough. Add the softened butter and mix being careful not to overmix the dough. It will be quite liquid and elastic.

Pour the batter into a Bundt pan or Kouglof mould if you have one, and let rise 1 hour in a warm place, such as next to the oven while it is roasting the pineapple. The dough will rise over this time.

To prepare the garnish, heat the oven to 350 degrees, and slice the pineapple into thin rounds, and then cut them in half to make a half moon shape. Lay the slices on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and scatter the brown sugar on top. Roast the pineapple until it’s cooked through and slightly dried and caramelized.

After the hour of rising, bake the cake in the 350 degree oven for 35 minutes, or until when you knock on the cake it sounds slightly hollow.

Meanwhile, to make the syrup, mix the sugar and water together in a saucepan, and bring it to a boil. Remove it from the heat and add the juices of the orange and lemon, the coffee and the rum. Mix to combine.

Remove the cake from the oven and let it completely cool before unmoulding. This cake will be served crown shape up, so you may have to trim the base of the cake so that it will remain level on your serving platter.

Warm the syrup slightly and pour it over the cake. You might find it easier to pour a little syrup back in the cake pan, then put the cake back in the pan, and gently pour the remaining syrup over the cake. Let stand a few minutes to absorb the syrup, and then remove the cake from the pan again, and let it sit on a cooling rack to drain any excess syrup.

Place the cake on serving plate and make shallow slices around the cake in order to insert the roasted pineapple. Decorate with candied fruit alternating around the cake and piled up in the centre hole.

Note: To make this cake pareve or non-dairy, replace the butter with margarine and the cream with non-dairy creamer.

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Sweet Lavender Scones

Lavendar SconesI never thought that I’d actually make my own scones at home (my baby sister is the baker of the family), but I found this recipe to be quite easy to pull off. If you can’t find lavender buds (they’re in the spice section of the more higher-end grocery stores), you can substitute with another flavour profile, maybe up the lemon? Or add some almond bits and some almond extract for a nutty scone? The possibilities are really endless. I do recommend the lavender though, it add a nice floral note, and you can always use the leftover buds to make lavender cookies, lavender sugar, lavender sachets…. You get the idea 🙂 This recipe will make 16 tea sized scones.

Ingredients:

3 cups all-purpose flour plus more for dusting
¾ cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon dried lavender buds
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
¾ cup (1½ sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into ¼ inch cubes
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk*
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest*
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons sanding or granulated sugar
1½ cups store-bought lemon curd (for serving)

* Click here for tips on zesting and how to make buttermilk.

Directions:

Arrange racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and then preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, lavender buds, salt and baking soda. Add the chilled butter in cubes, and rub it through the dry ingredients with your fingers until the mixture resembles coarse meal.

In a small bowl, whisk together 1 cup of the buttermilk, the lemon zest and the vanilla. Slowly add the wet ingredients to dry ingredients, and mix until a shaggy dough forms.

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface, and then knead until a cohesive dough forms, about 2-3 minutes. Gently shape the dough into a 10×6″ rectangle. Halve dough lengthwise. Cut each half crosswise into 4 squares. Cut each square diagonally in half into 2 triangles. Divide the triangles between the two baking sheets. Brush each triangle with the remaining buttermilk and sprinkle with sanding sugar.

Bake until scones are golden and a tester inserted into the centre comes out clean, 13–15 minutes. Transfer the scones to wire racks to cool.

Serve warm or at room temperature with lemon curd.

Lag B’Omer Carob Cake

Carob CakeThis Carob cake is very apropos for Lag B’Omer, but can be served any day of the year! It is especially good for those that want the flavour of a chocolate cake, without the chocolate. This cake will serve 9.

Ingredients:

½ cup margarine
⅔ cup honey
2 eggs
1 banana, mashed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¾ cup water
1 cup all-purpose flour
⅓ cup carob powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped nuts (optional)
icing sugar (to garnish)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees . Grease and flour an 8 inch square pan. Sift together the flour, carob powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together the margarine and honey until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the banana and vanilla. Beat in the flour mixture alternately with the water. Stir in chopped nuts (if using). Pour batter into prepared pan.

Bake in the preheated oven for 40 to 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool, then dust with icing sugar to decorate.

Chicken & Sausage Gumbo

Chicken & Sausage GumboSure, you may have heard of Gumbo, but do you know where it got it’s name from? Well, we can’t be 100% sure, but we do know that the dish we know as Gumbo originated in southern Louisiana from the Creole people during the 18th century. It typically consists primarily of a strongly flavoured stock, okra, meat or shellfish, a thickener, and seasoning vegetables, which can include celery, bell peppers and onions. Gumbo is often categorized by the type of thickener used: the African vegetable okra, the Choctaw spice filé powder (dried and ground sassafras leaves), or roux, the French base made of flour and fat. The dish likely derived its name from either the Bantu (Native African) word for okra (ki ngombo) or the Choctaw (Native American) word for filé (kombo). The dish is the official cuisine of the state of Louisiana. The recipe below actually uses all 3 types of thickeners, though the filé powder is optional (more for taste rather than a thickener). In my mind, 3 is better than 1! This recipe will serve about 6 people.

Ingredients:

⅓ cup and 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
¼ cup and 2 teaspoons oil or fat rendered from cooking sausage*
2 stalks celery, diced
1 small/medium onion, diced
1 small/medium green bell pepper, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
6 ounces sausage, sliced
1 pound chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch cubes
4 ¾ cups stock (chicken, beef or vegetable)
1 ¼ teaspoons white sugar
salt to taste
2 ½ teaspoons hot pepper sauce, or to taste
¼ teaspoon Cajun seasoning blend, or to taste
1 ½ bay leaves
¼ teaspoon dried thyme leaves
½ of a 398ml can crushed tomatoes (about 200ml)
¾ cup tomato sauce
¾ teaspoon gumbo filé powder
2 ½ teaspoons oil or sausage drippings
1 cup frozen cut okra, thawed
2 ½ teaspoons vinegar

* Cook’s Note: This recipe calls for the use of sausage; you can use any type you like, though if using a raw one, I suggest either completely removing it from the casing and cooking it up like ground meat, or cooking it whole with the casing still on, then slicing it up thick and adding it to the pot later. Just be careful when stirring the dish later that if you’ve cut up the sausage that it doesn’t crumble and break up too much! Remember, save the drippings from cooking the sausage, and use it in place of oil in this recipe. It adds so much more flavour than regular cooking oil!

Directions:

Make a roux by whisking the flour and ¼ cup plus 2 teaspoons oil/sausage drippings together in a large, heavy saucepan over medium-low heat to form a smooth mixture. Cook the roux, whisking constantly, until it turns a rich mahogany brown colour. This can take 20 to 30 minutes; watch heat carefully and whisk constantly or roux will burn. Remove from heat; continue whisking until mixture stops cooking.

Stir the vegetables into the roux, and mix in the sausage and chicken breasts. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium-low heat, and cook until vegetables are tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from heat, and set aside.

Bring the stock to a boil in a large Dutch oven or soup pot. Whisk the roux mixture into the boiling stock. Reduce heat to a simmer, and mix in the sugar, salt, hot pepper sauce, Cajun seasoning, bay leaves, thyme, stewed tomatoes, and tomato sauce. Simmer the soup over low heat for 1 hour; mix in 2 teaspoons of filé gumbo powder at the 45-minute mark.

Meanwhile, heat 2 ½ teaspoons of oil or sausage drippings in a skillet, and cook the okra with vinegar over medium heat for 15 minutes; remove okra with slotted spoon, and stir into the simmering gumbo. Continue to simmer until flavors have blended, 45 more minutes. Just before serving, stir in 2 more teaspoons of filé gumbo powder. Serve over hot rice.

Guatemalan Coffee Brownies with Walnuts

Coffee BrowniesCoffee and chocolate are definitely a no brainer! I mean, just think about Caffé Mochas! The rich, slightly acidic coffee plays well with the sweet hit of cocoa and sugar. For brownies, a full-bodied coffee from Indonesia or Guatemala would pair beautifully with dark chocolate brownies. These brownies call on cocoa, walnuts and ginger, used as a garnish to compliment a full flavoured Guatemalan coffee bean, like an Antigua Coffee would work great! This recipe will make 15 brownies.

Ingredients:

Nonstick vegetable oil spray
2 cups sugar
1 cup minus 1 tablespoon (2 sticks minus 1 tablespoon) unsalted butter
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3 tablespoons finely ground Antigua coffee beans
½ teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1 ¼ cups all purpose flour
¾ cup walnut pieces
1 cup bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips
¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon freshly brewed Antigua coffee
30 thin strips crystallized ginger

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray 13x9x2-inch metal pan with nonstick spray. Combine sugar, butter, cocoa, ground coffee, and salt in large metal bowl. Place bowl over saucepan of simmering water and whisk until butter melts and ingredients are blended (texture will be grainy). Remove bowl from over water; cool mixture to lukewarm if necessary. Whisk in eggs and vanilla. Sift flour over and fold in. Mix in walnuts.

Spread batter in prepared pan. Bake brownies until tester inserted into centre comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Cool brownies in pan.

Place chocolate chips in small bowl. Bring brewed coffee to simmer in small saucepan; pour over chips and stir until melted and smooth. Let ganache stand until cool and beginning to thicken, about 1 hour; spread evenly over brownies. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover; let stand at room temperature.) Cut brownies into 15 squares. Top each with 2 ginger strips.

Twisted Chocolate Babka – Шоколад Бабка

Chocolate BabkaThis recipe will make 2 loaf-sized chocolate babkas

Ingredients:

Dough:
4 ¼ cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
½ cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons instant yeast
Grated zest of half an orange
3 large eggs
½ cup water (warm, between 100 to 110 degrees Fahrenheit) and 1 to 2 tablespoons extra, if needed
¾ teaspoon salt
⅔ cup unsalted butter or margarine at room temperature
oil, for greasing

Filling:
4 ½ ounces dark chocolate (or approximately ¾ cup chocolate chips)
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter or margarine, cold is fine
Scant ½ cup powdered sugar
⅓ cup cocoa powder
¼ teaspoon cinnamon

Syrup:
⅓ cup water
⅓ cup plus 2 teaspoons granulated sugar

Make the dough:

In a small bowl mix together the warm water and the yeast, with about 1 teaspoon of the sugar. Let this stand aside and foam up. This should happen within 10 minutes.

Combine the flour, remaining sugar and zest in the bottom of the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix on low to combine. Add the foamy yeast water, and the eggs (one at a time), while the mixer is on low with the dough hook. Keep the machine mixing, increasing the speed as the ingredients come together to form a dough.

It’s okay if the dough is on the dry side, but if it doesn’t come together at all, add extra water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough forms a mass. With the mixer on low, add the salt, then the butter, a spoonful at a time, mixing until it’s incorporated into the dough. Then, mix on medium speed for 10 minutes until dough is completely smooth; you’ll need to scrape the bowl down a few times. I usually found that after 10 minutes, the dough began to pull away from the sides of the bowl. If it doesn’t, you can add 1 tablespoon extra flour to help this along.

Coat a large bowl with oil (or scrape the dough out onto a counter and oil this one) and place dough inside, cover with plastic place in a warm area to rise, about 2-3 hours. Once the dough has doubled (or close to it), stick it in the fridge to cool. This will help with the rolling out of the dough in the next segment.

Make filling:

In a small pot on med-low heat, melt the butter and chocolate together until smooth. Stir in powdered sugar, cocoa and cinnamon; mixture should form a spreadable paste. Remove from the heat and set it aside.

Assemble loaves:

Coat two 9-by-4-inch loaf pans with oil or butter, and line the bottom of each with a rectangle of parchment paper. Take half of dough from fridge (leave the other half chilled). Roll out on a well-floured counter to about a 10-inch width (the side closest to you) and as long in length (away from you) as you can when rolling it thin, likely 10 to 12 inches.

Spread half of chocolate mixture evenly over the dough, leaving a ½ -inch border all around. Brush the end farthest away from you with water. Roll the dough up with the filling into a long, tight cigar. Seal the dampened end onto the log. I found that transferring the log to a lightly floured baking tray in the freezer for 10 to 15 minutes made it much, much easier to cut cleanly in half. Repeat with second dough.

Trim last ½ -inch off each end of log. Gently cut the log in half lengthwise and lay them next to each other on the counter, cut sides up. Pinch the top ends gently together. Lift one side over the next, forming a twist and trying to keep the cut sides facing out (because they’re pretty). Don’t worry if this step makes a mess, just transfer the twist as best as you can into the prepared loaf pan. In one batch, mine was long enough to “S” inside the pan and I nested the trimmed ends of the log in the openings. Even if you don’t (and choose to bake them separately in a little pan, as I did in other batches), the dough will fill in any gaps by the time it’s done rising and baking, so don’t worry.

Cover with a damp tea towel and leave to rise another 1 to 1 ½ hours at room temperature. Repeat process with second loaf.

Bake and finish cakes:

Heat oven to 375°F. Remove towels, place each loaf on the middle rack of your oven. Bake for 30 minutes, but there’s no harm in checking for doneness at 25 minutes. A skewer inserted into an under baked babka will feel stretchy/rubbery inside and may come back with dough on it. When fully baked, you’ll feel almost no resistance. If you babka needs more time, put it back, 5 minutes at a time then re-test. If it browns too quickly, you can cover it with foil.

While babkas are baking, make syrup:

Bring sugar and water to a simmer until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and set aside to cool somewhat. As soon as the babkas leave the oven, brush the syrup all over each. It will seem like too much, but will taste just right — glossy and moist. Let cool about halfway in pan, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool the rest of the way before eating.

Beef Stroganoff with Egg Noodles – Бефстроганов с яичной лапшой

Beef StroganoffIngredients:

1 cup red or white wine
2 pounds beef chuck roast
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
½ cup margarine (or 1 stick)
1 medium cooking onion, sliced thin
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup all-purpose flour or cornstarch
2 ⅔ cups beef broth
1 teaspoon prepared mustard
1 cup sliced mushrooms, canned or fresh
⅓ cup non-dairy sour cream
⅓ non-dairy cream cheese
salt to taste
ground black pepper to taste
1 package egg noodles (to serve)

Directions:

Remove any fat and gristle from the roast and cut into strips ½ inch thick by 2 inches long. Put the meat in a large bowl or container and season with ½ teaspoon of both salt and pepper, tossing to coat. Add about 1 cup of wine and let sit in the fridge for 1 to 2 hours to marinate.

In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter and brown the beef strips quickly, then remove them strips to a plate. Add the onions to the pan and cook slowly for 3 to 5 minutes, then remove from the pan and add them to the plate with the beef strips.

In a small bowl mix together the flour/starch with a little bit of broth to help it dissolve. Add the mixture to pan which now only contains the juices of the meat and onions, and mix around to bring up any bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Pour in beef broth and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Lower the heat and stir in mustard. Return the beef and onions to the pan, along with mushrooms, then cover and simmer for 1 hour or until the meat is tender.

Boil noodles according to the package directions. Drain once cooked, and set aside until beef is ready.
In a small bowl, mix together the cream cheese and the sour cream. Five minutes before serving, mix in the cheese mixture. Heat briefly then salt and pepper to taste. Serve over a bed of wide egg noodles.

Stained Glass Window Cookies

Stained Glass CookiesThese are cookies which have open spaces which are filled with crushed hard candy. When baked, the candy melts and gives the appearance of “stained glass”. You may find that you don’t need to break up the candy first, but if you do, you might find that it melts more evenly. This recipe will make about 3 dozen cookies.

Ingredients:

⅔ cup butter or margarine
1 ¼ cups white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons milk/soy milk/almond milk
40 fruit flavoured hard candies

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, and line two cookies sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Stir in vanilla and eggs. In another bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt; add to egg mixture alternately with milk.

On a floured surface, roll the dough ¼ inch thick. Using a cookie cutter (shape of your own preference), cut out the cookies. Then taking a smaller cookie cutter than your first, cut out the centres of your newly made cookies, so that you now have a “window” for your candy to fill.

Keeping the colours separate, place candy in plastic bags and crush with a meat mallet. Using a teaspoon, gently scoop some crushed candies inside the “window frames” that you have made. Don’t put too much candy in, as the “window” will be too thick and make eating difficult. You can mix up the colours of the candies in each window if you like for a tie-dyed effect.

Bake for 6-8 minutes, or until candy is just melted. Cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes, until candy is hard. Carefully lift cookies off baking sheet with spatula.

Pinwheel Cookies

Pinwheel CookiesI had an adoptive grandmother (my uncle’s wife’s mother) that used to make an AMAZING pinwheel cookie. Unfortunately, she has passed on, and this is not her recipe. I’m afraid I don’t have access to that bit of family lore. This recipe is close though! What she did differently, that I suggest is before layering the two doughs together, she lightly dusted the bottom layer of dough with a little cocoa powder and sugar. This adds a little hit of chocolate and sweetness to each bite. I also suggest slightly dampening the bottom of the top layer of dough before placing it on top of the bottom layer. This will help the two stick together better. This recipe will make about 4 dozen cookies.

Ingredients:

2 ⅔ cups all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon baking powder
⅛ teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon salt
¾ cup and 2 tablespoons and 1 teaspoon butter or margarine
⅔ cup packed brown sugar
¼ cup and 3 tablespoons white sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ounce unsweetened baking chocolate

Directions:

Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together into a bowl. Re-sift again into another bowl.

Beat the butter with the brown and white sugars in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla until smooth. Gradually stir in the flour mixture until evenly blended. Gather the dough into a ball, and divide into two equal parts.

Melt the unsweetened baking chocolate in a pan over low heat or in the microwave. Cool slightly, and mix the chocolate into one half of the dough until well blended.

Roll out the brown dough to ¼ inch thickness. Roll out the white dough to ¼ inch thickness, and place on top of the brown dough. Beginning on one edge, roll the doughs to make a log so the two colours spiral inside each other. Wrap the log in waxed paper, then in a cotton towel, and refrigerate at least 2 hours, but overnight is best.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease 2 baking sheets. Unwrap the dough log, and place on a clean, lightly floured surface. Slice the log into rounds ⅛ inch thick, and place on prepared baking sheets.

Bake in preheated oven until set, 5 to 6 minutes. Watch carefully to prevent edges from browning. Remove from oven, and cool on racks.

“Pizza” Cookie

pizza cookie

This is a great idea to use at a get together instead of a cake. For those that like, you can also top this “pizza” with cut up fresh fruit instead of candy if you like. This “pizza” will serve 12-16, depending how you slice it.

Ingredients:

½ cup packed brown sugar
¼ cup white sugar
½ cup butter/margarine, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup sweetened whipped cream or non-dairy whipped topping
¼ cup chopped walnuts/or other nut of choice
¼ cup flaked coconut (optional)
½ cup candy-coated chocolate pieces or other candy of choice

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer, cream together the brown sugar, white sugar, and butter until smooth. Mix in egg and vanilla.

In a small bowl, combine the flour and baking soda and then stir it into the batter. Note, the dough will be stiff! Don’t worry about it; just mix it as best you can. You do not want a runny batter for this recipe. Mix in the mini chocolate chips.

Dampen your fingertips with bit of water or a touch of oil, and spread or pat dough onto an un-greased 12 inch pizza pan or cookie sheet. Bake for 15 minutes in the preheated oven, or until golden brown; let cool.

Just before serving, spread cookie with whipped cream. Sprinkle with nuts, coconut and chocolate candies. Cut into wedges. Refrigerate any remaining pizza cookie.