Hippie Cake Slice

In honour of Earth Day, this week Baked Sunday Mornings has gone vegan! I’m not mad at it. One of my besties from work is vegan, and I’ve experimented making her a few egg-free and butter-free treats over the years.

Instead of butter, this cake swaps in olive oil, and also has the curious addition of 1 tbsp of balsamic vinegar. It smells super strong in the batter, but the flavour is muted in the baked cake. This is a super easy batter to mix up, only needing a whisk to incorporate everything. I needed to bake my cake almost 10 minutes longer than the recipe stated, and let it cool on the counter overnight.

Hippie Cake

This morning I mixed up the almond butter frosting in the food processor. I wasn’t willing to buy a container of vegan spread/butter, so I just subbed in about 2 tbsp of coconut oil, and I also needed a few extra tablespoons of almond milk to get the icing to a spreadable/pourable consistency. I took the Baked Boys’ advice and chilled the cake for a while before slicing.

Vegan Chocolate Cake

This cake is sooooo good. I was surprised by how much I liked it! Mine was dense and very hydrated, and I loved the almond butter frosting; a nice switch up from peanut butter.

You can find the recipe here!

More Baked Sunday Mornings here!

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Brown Sugar Cupcakes

I feel like we’re entering prime wedding shower season, so I wanted to finally document the treats I made for my friend Nicole’s wedding shower ONE YEAR AGO (better late than never). I had so much fun making ALL THE SQUARES for Nicole & Geoff’s Engagement Party, and it’s truly my joy in life to put together a kick ass treat table. Here’s what I made for the shower:

  • 1 dozen Vanilla Cupcakes (recipe from The Joy the Baker Cookbook) with My Favourite Buttercream (cute pink cupcake holders from Golda’s Kitchen)

Shower Cupcakes

  • 1 dozen Brown Sugar Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Buttercream (recipe below)
  • 2 dozen Maple Bourbon Butter Tarts, Nicole & Geoff are huge maple syrup fans, so I knew I had to incorporate it somewhere! (pastry recipe from The Messy Baker Cookbook)

Maple Bourbon Butter Tarts

Lemon Squares

N&G Cookies

  • There were also scones from Nicole’s favourite bakery, jam and cream + a full lunch spread

I did as much as I could in advance (cupcake bottoms, salted caramel sauce, tarts, squares, cookie dough) and filled my freezer, and then all I had to do the night before the party was frost the cupcakes. The sugar cookies of course are a multi-day process, so I worked on those a little bit each day (piping, flooding, detail, packaging) during the week leading up to the party. Overall I was happy with the way everything turned out, except the butter tarts were a little too runny, but I may have added a bit too much bourbon. The crowd favourite was definitely the Brown Sugar Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Buttercream. I tried to frost them similar to the way Sprinkles does (You Tube video here), and added a generous sprinkling of flaky sea salt on the top.

Nicole & Geoff are now coming up on their one-year anniversary and are expecting a baby in July! Time to brainstorm baby shower treats!

Brown Sugar Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Buttercream

Source: Homemade Decadence by Joy the Baker

Ingredients

Cupcakes

3 cups flour

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, melted

2 cups brown sugar

2 eggs + 1 egg yolk

2 tsp vanilla

1 1/2 cups buttermilk

Icing

1/2 batch My Favourite Buttercream, substituting the 1/2 cup whipping cream with 1/2 cup My Favourite Salted Caramel

+ flaky sea salt for sprinkling

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350° and line a cupcake tin with liners.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  3. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and brown sugar, then mix in the eggs one at a time, followed by the egg yolk. Mix in the vanilla.
  4. Add the dry ingredients in three additions, alternating with the buttermilk, ending with dry ingredients. Mix each time until just incorporated.
  5. Scoop batter into cupcake liners and bake for 20-25 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the cupcake comes out clean.
  6. Frost with icing and sprinkle with flaky sea salt to finish.

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March on Planet Byn {2016}

by byn on March 31, 2016

in Monthly Recaps

Egg Cookies

There was so much fun baking to do this month with St. Patrick’s Day and Easter falling within a week or so of each other. It was a busy time in and out of the kitchen, and here’s what went down:

  • I surprised my friend Carole at The Depanneur, where she was hosting a drop in dinner. This is such a fun feature that The Dep puts on, where Toronto cooks can take over for the night and showcase their skills. Tasty G and I popped in and ate Carole’s delicious Beef Kofte wraps. She also had a trio of Mediterranean dips and cardamom rice pudding for dessert, but as we had to go to Cafeteria for drinks and snacks while waiting for space to free up at The Dep, we didn’t have room for either. Awesome job Mama Shack! I can’t wait for the next one, and I’m dying to be your sous chef for the night!
  • I’m a total novice when it comes to the concept of all-you-can-eat sushi. Everyone knows I don’t do raw fish, so I’m never invited to these escapades. However, my friend Alexis’ daughter chose August 8 for her big 5th birthday lunch, so I got to experience this for the first time. It was kind of funny to watch the pros do their ordering, and work their way through their set ritual of courses. I kind of just tried a bit of everything and tried to keep up (still didn’t eat any sashimi though).
  • Kristine threw a baby shower for her sister and I baked all the treats for it! I’m going to do a separate post on this, but everything turned out amazing and I was so happy!
  • After stalking XO Bisous on Instagram since they opened, I finally dropped in to check it out. I had a choux pastry ball filled with a milk chocolate pastry cream and it was hands-down the best treat I have eaten thus far this year.
  • Medium ashamed to admit I went back to Cactus Club for lunch with my fave girl gang from work and god help me, we tried this butternut squash and prawn ravioli and it was delicious.
  • I closed out the month with another visit to Barrio Coreano! This time I tried the Bulgogi Shrimp El Diablo and Braised Short Rib tacos and another Chicken Kampungki taco which was my favourite from last time.

Other non-foodie things I was obsessed with this month:

  • Finished reading the 6th and 7th Harry Potter books, and watched Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows Part I & II for the first time since seeing them in the theatre in 2010 & 2011. So amazing. I’m now fully prepped and ready for the script of Harry Potter & the Cursed Child coming this summer.
  • I started watching Suits on Netflix after basically everyone in my life has expressed to me how much they love it (Kristine, Lydia, Sarah). It’s true, I love it too.
  • I entered a March Madness pool for the first time in years and it was super fun to follow along for the first two weekends, although there’s no way I’m going to win. UNC was my pick to win and they’re the only Final Four team I picked correctly, so we’ll see what happens!

Flashback!

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Easter Cake

This cake was on the front of Canadian Living last year and I was OBSESSED with it, but I was going to be in Florida for Easter, so I didn’t get a chance to make it. I was so excited (#bakingnerd) to finally tackle it this weekend!

Inspired by an Instagram from Bake Shoppe, the inside was three layers of marble cake with Nutella frosting. The outside was My Favourite Buttercream, tinted turquoise. I was very nervous about the speckling, but it turned out so perfectly, and here’s how I did it:

Speckled Easter Cake

  • First I covered my counter and wall with parchment paper for easy clean up, anticipating that the speckling would splatter everywhere (I practiced on some cookies earlier in the week, so I knew what was coming)
  • I placed the cake (after chilling for 30 minutes after applying the final coat of icing) on a turntable on top of the parchment
  • For the speckling mixture, I whisked together 1 tbsp of vanilla extract with 1 tsp cocoa until no lumps remained and the mixture was really smooth
  • I dipped a small, clean paintbrush (that I use for baking projects, not paint, natch) in the cocoa mixture, and tapped it a few times on the side of the bowl so the excess dripped off. This was important because I wanted small, fine speckles and not big blobs or blotches
  • I held a wooden spoon in my left hand, the paint brush in my right hand, and tapped the paint brush against the wooden spoon, aiming at the cake (I practiced this technique earlier on the cookies, so I knew this would work)
  • I slowly rotated the cake, repeating the speckles until I was happy with the way it looked and the amount of speckles

Nests

For the little nests on top, I placed the little groups of Mini Eggs on the cake and pressed gently to get them to stick. I crumbled up two Cadbury Flake bars (you can find them at Bulk Barn in the section with the all British chocolate and treats) and scattered them gently around the eggs to look like little nests.

I was just so, so happy with the way this cake turned out!!! It looked so beautiful and tasted amazing.

Nutella Inside

Recipes:

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Brown Sugar Maple Whoopie Pies

Happy Easter! For the second time recently, we’re posting a holiday recipe on the actual holiday! Well, the rest of the group is, but I’m going rogue. They’re making a Mega Easter Pie (“a meat and cheese utopia” as it’s dubbed in the book), but I’m not really into it. Check out their posts here.

Instead I made these whoopie pies that the group made back in December. They’re cakey cookies sandwiched together with a marshmallow filling spiked with maple extract.  My fellow bakers mentioned that the cookies spread quite a bit, so I chilled my batter overnight instead, and they stayed nice and puffy after baking.

I brought these to Easter dinner at my brother’s house, but they were kind of overshadowed by the cake I brought which I’ll post about later this week. I liked these, but to be honest I don’t think I would make them again.

You can find the recipe here!

More Baked Sunday Mornings here!

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Chorizo Chili

Ever so slowly, we’re creeping our way toward Spring over here. I’ve downgraded from my DEFCON 1 parka to a lighter coat, and have shoved my winter boots to the back of the closet. I still wanted to get a couple more cold weather dishes in, so I busted out this chili last weekend.

Five years ago I wrote about the first chili recipe I ever made, and that’s still the one I make every Fall. I mixed it up a little this time and used one of Carole‘s chili recipes, which includes a bottle of beer and a couple of links of chorizo. I used Mill Street Organic, but you can use whatever you have, and Carole says a dark beer is really nice in this. For the chorizo I went to Whole Foods, because you can just buy exactly what you need at the butcher counter.

To go along with the beer theme, I made this cheesy beer bread from Koko Likes. It’s not a yeast bread, but uses baking powder and the fizziness from the beer to rise. I was all over this meal; as always, leftovers are amazing on top of oven-roasted potato wedges for homemade chili fries!

Chorizo Chili

Source: The Yum Yum Factor

Ingredients

1 tbsp olive oil

1 large onion, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, grated with a microplane

1lb ground beef

2 links chorizo sausage, removed from casing

5 tbsp chili powder

2 tbsp cumin

3 cups crushed tomatoes

1 can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed

1 bottle (341 mL) beer

1 cup chicken stock

1 tsp salt (+ more to taste)

+ grated cheddar, sour cream, hot sauce, green onions for topping

Directions

  1. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large dutch oven or saucepan. Add the onion and garlic and cook until softened, 2-3 minutes.
  2. Add the ground beef and sausage, breaking up with a spoon. Cook until browned through. Add the chili powder and cumin and stir until combined.
  3. Add the tomatoes, beans, beer and stock and stir again. Let it come to a simmer, then turn heat to low and cover partially. Simmer for about an hour, stirring occasionally.
  4. Add 1 tsp of salt, stir and taste. I think I added a dash or two more.

Cheese Beer Bread

Source: Koko Likes

Ingredients

2 1/2 cups flour

3 tbsp sugar

4 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper

4 oz cheddar, grated

1 1/4 cups beer (I used Mill Street Organic)

4 tbsp (1/2 stick) butter, melted

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375° and spray a loaf pan with non-stick spray.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and pepper. Add the cheddar and toss with your hands to mix it in.
  3. Pour in the beer and melted butter, and stir gently with a spatula until evenly mixed, being careful not to overmix.
  4. Add batter to pan, and bake for 40-45 minutes until golden brown on top. Let cool for 10 minutes in pan, then turn out onto a cooling rack.

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Drunk Bundt Inside

St. Patrick’s Day is coming up this Thursday, so this week’s Baked Sunday Morning assignment was a DRUNK BUNDT cake, and I am here for it.  There’s almost a full can of Guinness in the cake and both whiskey and Bailey’s in the glaze. Woof.

I have to say, I am against most of the baking projects that correspond with St. Patrick’s Day. If you want to know what I’m talking about, just type in “St. Patrick’s Day treats” into the search bar on Pinterest. A horrifying number of disgusting posts will pop up, with various desserts either dyed a shocking shade of green, incorporating Lucky Charms cereal, or both. There are also a ton of chocolate/mint treats, which I will never understand, because that flavour combination has zero to do with St. Patrick’s Day, with the exception of being green.

Drunk Bundt Slice

Back to this cake. There’s a similar one in the Planet Byn archives, but this one is better. It’s super hydrated because of all the beer (I used a Vanilla Porter from Mill Street) and it’s not actually that sweet. The glaze is next level, because it’s actually a cream cheese/Bailey’s combo (I left out the whiskey). I tested one piece and will bring the rest to work on Thursday. My co-workers won’t know what hit them!

Drunk Bundt

You can find the recipe here!

More Baked Sunday Mornings here!

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February on Planet Byn {2016}

by byn on February 29, 2016

in Monthly Recaps

Birthday Doughnuts

Without a doubt, this was the easiest February in recent history. Normally this is my most dreaded month of the year, but with only one -30 day, and no big dumps of snow, I sailed through with my mental health in tact! Had some fun along the way too:

  • The month kicked off with a big 40th birthday celebration weekend for The Brunette Baker! We started with doughnuts from Glory Hole (pictured above), had manis at Her Majesty’s Pleasure, an amazing dinner at Valdez, and capped it off with brunch at Origin (complete with Mark McEwan sighting) the next morning. Happy Birthday Jenny!
  • I went to a birthday dinner for my friend Jen at Barrio Coreano, a Mexican/Korean fusion spot which is part of the Playa Cabana group of restaurants. We had a fixed menu, and got to try their guac, kalbi beef ribs and a bunch of their tacos. My fave was the the chicken kampungki taco, which was fried chicken, chipotle-sesame gochujang salsa and wasabi aoili. Churros and tres leches cake for dessert! This is a winner. Need to go back to try everything else.
  • The Tasty Gardener had some media passes for Winter Brewfest so I went with her and a few other friends to check it out. This is just like the Toronto Festival of Beer (which I haven’t been to in like 10 years), so you buy little tokens/tickets and go around to various stalls where you can try samples from different breweries. I’m not really a huge beer drinker, but I tried a few on recommendations from Heather. My favourite was this sour mango beer, which sounds weird but I think would be excellent on my balcony on a hot summer night. Of course I can’t remember which brewery it was from, so I lose points for that.
  • I brought a big container of Chocolate Caramel Crack for a co-worker’s goodbye party and everyone freaked out.
  • The Oscars went down yesterday and my awards show squad came over to watch and eat. We snacked on this Doritos popcorn while watching the red carpet, and then dove into a re-creation of my Christmas meal, as requested by Nicole: beef stew in red wine, white cheddar mashed potatoes, a green salad, and S’mores Pavlova for dessert. I like the idea of this pavlova in theory, but I want to re-make it with some adjustments and see if I can improve it even more.

Other non-foodie things I was obsessed with this month:

  • One word: FORMATION. I’m now living each day with the hope that I’m going to wake up to a new Beyonce album.
  • Still working my way through Harry Potters this month, and just started the 6th book, which is my favourite (Horcruxes!).
  • 100% obsessed with Ashley Graham right now. It only took Sports Illustrated 52 years to put a normal sized woman on their swimsuit issue cover, but better late than never I suppose. Of course I’ve now looked through her entire Instagram history, watched her Ted Talk on body positivity and just love everything she stands for. What a babe, inside and out.

Flashback!

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White Chocolate Pistachio Cheesecake

In any office I’ve ever worked in, people go bonkers for free food. And not just delicious treats that I bring in; we’re talking leftover sandwiches from a lunch meeting, huge chunks of honeydew melon (you know that’s always the one section leftover from a fruit tray) or pizza ordered in for a team celebration. You should see the carnage when gift baskets start coming in over the holidays.

So you know it’s a bad sign when you bring in something that goes untouched. Sadly, that was the case when I brought this Pistachio White Chocolate Cheesecake to work about two years ago when we were recipe testing for Baked Occasions. A few people tried it, but it was unanimously decided that it was the least favourite recipe of the bunch. I had to agree.

Cheesecake Cracks

From what I remember, I didn’t think it was sweet enough, and it just wasn’t that cute. My cheesecake ended up with cracks on the top, so I just covered the whole thing with chopped pistachios to cover it up. I’m curious to see what my fellow bakers thought of this, make sure you check out there posts to read about their experiences.

You can find the recipe here!

More Baked Sunday Mornings here!

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Buffalo Chicken Nachos

by byn on February 26, 2016

in Chicken & Turkey

Buffalo Chicken Nachos

I fully realize no one needs a recipe for nachos, so I present this as more of an idea and reminder to my future self that these were delicious. While I love basic nachos with cheese and salsa/sour cream/guac for dipping, I wanted something a little different to snack on for NBA All-Star Weekend a few weeks ago.

My teenage/early 20s self was 100% obsessed with Vince Carter and the Raptors, and I think there’s still a VHS tape in my parents basement with his iconic dunk contest from 2000 taped on it. I’m definitely more of a casual fan now, but I still try to go to at least one Raptors game a year and I always watch the playoffs.

So even though it was my 16-year-old self’s dream that All-Star Weekend would be in Toronto, my 36-year-old self definitely couldn’t afford tickets a couple weeks ago when that particular circus came to town. I was happy to sit on my couch, watch the dunk contest, eat these nachos and watch Vince’s old dunks on You Tube.

Buffalo Chicken Nachos

Source: Inspired by Host the Toast, ranch drizzle from Half-Baked Harvest

Ingredients

Tortilla chips

1 large or 2 small chicken breasts, cooked and shredded (I cooked mine in the slowcooker) and tossed with 2 tbsp Frank’s Red Hot + 2 tbsp melted butter

Shredded cheddar

Diced green onions

Chopped Cilantro

Greek Yogurt Ranch for drizzling (whisk together ½ cup plain greek yogurt with 2 tbsp buttermilk, ¼ tsp each dried dill, garlic powder, onion powder and a pinch of salt and pepper)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400° and spread out tortilla chips in a single layer on a big baking sheet.
  2. Top with buffalo chicken and shredded cheddar, and bake about 10-15 minutes until bubbly.
  3. Sprinkle green onions and cilantro on top and drizzle with ranch sauce (I added my ranch sauce to a squeeze bottle but you can obviously just use a spoon).
  4. Eat with more Frank’s and ranch sauce on the side.

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