Baking - General, Ingredient Insights

Blueberry Bonanza!

I recently went blueberry picking with my family at Blueberry Acres, and while the kids ate their weight in berries, the adults picked and boxed the same amount. Needless to say we now have a large stock of blueberries in our freezer, and I have been using them in many different ways. I didn’t really want to pick just one thing to profile for this post, because there are so many delicious blueberry things to make.

When I was thinking about this post, it reminded me of the movie Forrest Gump, when Bubba was telling Forrest all the different ways you could prepare shrimp. I kept thinking ‘blueberry pancakes, blueberry scones, blueberry grunt, blueberry sauce, blueberry crisp…’

So instead of highlighting one item, here is a sampling of all the blueberry delights I’ve been making. We did have some blueberry pancakes for breakfast one morning, and because we have so many berries, I didn’t even bother measuring them when I added them in, so every pancake had a good amount of blueberries (sometimes by the time you get to the last pancake you’ve scooped them all out, but not this time!) I made a blueberry cake to take to work one day, again, adding way more berries than the recipe had called for. I made a blueberry cobbler for dessert one night. And just this past weekend I made a batch of blueberry jam, in the style of the raspberry jam I made a while ago that uses apples for the pectin.

I also have some blueberries measured out and ready for a batch of Blueberry Bonanza! (That is, in fact, the name of the recipe). I am very excited about this; it takes 12 cups of blueberries! You cook the berries, then strain them through cheesecloth to extract the juice, and use the juice to make blueberry syrup. What a waste of blueberries, you might say. Not so! The remaining pulp and skins of the berries get used to make blueberry butter. Oh it’s going to be a yummy winter with all these berry preserves!

On a final note, a little tip about freezing your berries that I learned from my canning book. Obviously you want to clean your berries before you freeze them, because you won’t be able to clean them once they’ve thawed. Instead of washing them under water and trying to dry them for easier freezing, pour some out onto a towel, fold the towel overtop, and gently push back and forth on top of the towel; kind of rolling the berries around between the towel layers, thereby wiping off any residue that may be on the berries. I found this a lot easier to do than washing and drying them, and they don’t freeze in clumps like they would if they had some water left on them.

Baking - Desserts, Decorating

Homemade Birthday Cake on the Road

While on vacation we celebrated our daughter’s second birthday. It gets a bit trickier to bake when travelling, because I don’t have access to all my recipes, equipment and on-hand decorating ingredients. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be done.

We were staying with family, which means I had a kitchen to use (an important factor), so I looked up a simple cake recipe in one of their cookbooks, went to the store to get a couple ingredients, and set to work. I made a sour cream cake, using yogurt instead of sour cream because they already had it on hand. I couldn’t find their electric mixer, so did all the beating by hand with a whisk. The batter seemed quite thick, so I thought it would be a very dense cake, but it actually came out quite light, which made me happy. And I made a simple buttercream frosting, and tried to colour it with blueberry juice, but because I didn’t make much juice it wasn’t very noticeable. However, the taste of the buttercream was fine all on its own.

I didn’t want to go overboard with the design, seeing as I didn’t have a lot of tools or time. Our daughter loves animals, and particularly likes looking for fish in water. I baked the cake in a rectangle pan, and cut out the shape of a fish once it had cooled. Then it was just a matter of spreading on the frosting, and adding a few berries to finish the design.

As a baker, I don’t like having to buy something pre-made for someone who means so much. I was glad to be able to make a cake for her birthday. It may not have been elaborate, but it sure was delicious. Sometimes simple can be surprisingly sensational!