Sweet Leaf

Finding Beauty through Baking ~by Susan Baxter-Peace

Pancake Day! February 11, 2013

Tomorrow is Shrove Tuesday; also known as Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday), or as I know it, Pancake Tuesday. In Christian tradition it is the last day before Lent, which is the season of reflection leading up to Easter. Not growing up in a Catholic tradition, I don’t remember as much significance being placed on giving something up for Lent, but I do remember Pancake Tuesday. I eventually learned that Shrove Tuesday was the day to use up all the rich foods in your house – such as milk, eggs and sugar – in preparation for living more simply throughout Lent. And one of the easiest ways to use up milk, eggs, and sugar is to make pancakes!

In honour of this occasion, I decided to find a pancake recipe that would truly reflect the richness of the day. I have a great bread cookbook that has many pancake recipes, and I found one with this description: “These cakes share the luxury of a full cup of sour cream and four eggs. They are outstanding!” So really, I felt an obligation to try this rich recipe, to make sure it was worthy of sharing with you here for your own Pancake Day. And it is most definitely worthy. I hope you will enjoy them!

Sour-Cream Pancakes

Sift together and set aside:

  • 1 c unbleached all-purpose flour (I used 1/2 c all-pupose and 1/2 c whole wheat)
  • ¼ c sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt

In a large bowl, beat:

  • 4 eggs

Blend into beaten eggs:

  • 1 c sour cream
  • ¼ c milk

Add dry ingredients to the sour-cream mixture, stirring only until dry ingredients are moistened. Batter will be lumpy; it is all right. Bake on a lightly greased preheated griddle at 375F, turning only once. Serve warm with butter and cinnamon sugar. Makes 12 4-inch pancakes.

We had ours with bananas, homemade strawberry sauce, and ginger syrup. Yum!

 

Christmas Cookie Decorating December 24, 2012

Christmas can be such a busy time of year, but it should also be a lot of fun! This year I thought it would be great to have a cookie decorating party with all of our family that are close by.

I made a variety of gingerbread cookies – people, wreathes, trees, moose, trucks, holly leaves – to appeal to the variety of ages that would be present. I made royal icing for those that wanted to have their decorations stick on tight, and buttercream for those who might prefer something easier on their teeth! I had an array of sprinkles, coloured sugars and edible sparkles for decorating, and the rest was up to everyone’s imaginations.

It was a wonderful way to spend some holiday time together, and to remember that Christmas is about being with those you love, and not about what might be under the tree. I hope you will all sense the Love that makes Christmas so special!

 

Peppermint Pinwheels December 10, 2012

Our church recently had a bake sale, and suggested that Christmas themed goods are usually a hit. I thought I would make a variation of my old favourite candy cane cookies. Candy cane cookies to me are kind of a combination of ice box and sugar cookies; not quite crispy like ice box often get, but similar in terms of letting the dough chill.

But candy cane cookies are a pain to make. Rolling out thin strands of dough and trying to twist them together without breaking them usually results in me getting very frustrated, because they keep breaking. I thought it might be easier this time to roll our the different colours of dough, stack the sheets, roll them up like a jelly roll, and slice the cookies once chilled. It worked really well.

I was worried the spirals might not hold together well, since I had floured each sheet of dough when rolling them out. But once they were baked they held together just fine. I might, in future, lightly brush the sheets with water to help them stick together a little better, but other than that I wouldn’t change a thing.

They are so eye-catching, and have a subtle peppermint flavour. They definitely make a festive and cheerful addition to any Christmas event. I’m not going to copy the recipe out here this time, but you can find it in the Better homes and Gardens ‘New Cook Book,’ which has a red checkered picnic blanket cover on it. Happy Holiday Baking!

 

Chocolate Festival Delights April 23, 2012

I love trying and sharing recipes, but I also want to use this space to write about experiences. A couple months ago I went to a local chocolate festival with my family. There were several local artisans, chefs and caterers who created chocolate sensations, and vied for the people’s choice award. We paid a $10 entrance fee and got to have a free sample from each participant (most were very generous in their samples) and then we could vote on which was our favourite. It wasn’t an easy task, and we had quite a sugar rush by the end!

A couple samples didn’t go over well with me. There was a tiramisu with passion fruit sauce, which sounds good, but I found the cake had a metallic and oily taste to it and was not very enjoyable. Another flop was the brownie with pretzel embedded in it, topped with strawberry cheesecake and caramel sauce. I understand what the chef was trying to do by using contrasting flavours and textures, but there was just too much happening with it, and it was also messy to eat. (more…)

 

 
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