Sparkling Grapefruit Pound Cake

By:  Julie

Serves:  1 5×9 pound cake

Time:  1 hr 20 min

If you have been toying with making a desert I’ve posted but can’t commit, I’d start with this.  Just make it. I promise, you won’t be sorry.  It’s moist, and sweet, and completely delicious.  I almost ate all of the batter raw, it was that good.

Today I had to hit the local Foodland for some ingredients for lasagna.  While I was was waiting in line at the checkout I perused the shelving at the end of the isle and found this:

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Grapefruit Italian Soda.  It was on-sale, unsurprisingly.  I can’t imagine there is a huge market in Dresden for Grapefruit Italian Soda. I had been toying with the idea of making a pound cake but somehow it seemed boring.  This, my friends, is not boring.  Its tangy and sweet and beautiful.  It was easy to prep and did I mention that we completely demolished the cake between 4 people?  There is a tiny portion left which I have hidden because I love all the people in my house and I would hate to have to maim one of them if they ate the last piece.

Pound cake gets it’s name because originally it had a pound of each sugar, flour, eggs, and butter.  I have seen this made.  It is a bad idea.  Martha Stewart even says so.  Martha herself makes pound cake with no leavening and depends completely on the beating of an enormous amount of eggs to create lift.  I don’t want to have a heart attack so the butter is cut back, as well as the eggs.  This recipe has a teensy bit of baking powder for lift because it only has 3 eggs. The base came from a Taste Of Home magazine and I tore it out intending to make it years ago… I’d say oops except I’m pretty sure fate was waiting for this soda to go on sale.

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You Will Need

  • 3/4 cup butter, room temp
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup plus 5-6tsp sparkling grapefruit Italian soda
  • 1 1/2 cups icing sugar

Prepare The Batter

Preheat the oven to 350F.  Line a 5×9 baking pan with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray.  Cream the butter and the sugar on high until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating between each addition.  You are adding air at this stage so don’t rush it.

In a separate bowl whisk the flour, salt, and baking powder.  Add about a third and mix.  Add a third of the soda, then mix.  Keep adding both the dry ingredients and the soda in thirds until the batter is well beaten.  It will be a beautiful yellow and be slightly foamy.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan and place in the center of oven.  Bake for 50-60 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with just a few crumbs attached.

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Allow to cool in pan for 10 min and then move to cooling rack.  Allow cake to cool completely before glazing.

For The Glaze

Combine icing sugar with 5 tsp of soda.  You want it to be fairly thick.  Just barely pour-able.  Pour it over top and allow it to drip over the sides.

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If you can wait long enough, allow the glaze to harden and serve.

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Pumpkin Tarts

By Julie

Time: 40 min

Serves: 15 tarts

It’s that time of year when all things pumpkin come out.  Admittedly, I think it’s going  a little overboard lately.  Tim Hortons started peddling their pumpkin wares in August this year and the pumpkin spice crazy is getting a little bit over-done.  I do like some traditional pumpkin pie, but I also love the versatility of tarts.  I like how they are small, personal portions and how pretty they are with their rustic dough.  You can make your dough prettier by using a cutter and folding it and forming it properly with a rounded spoon, but I like the folded look with the uneven edges.  It shouts, “hey!  I’m homemade”.  Don’t make your pastry too thin however, the filling is heavy and they need some sturdy support.  The goal is to roll them just shy of a quarter-inch.  My favourite part of pumpkin pie is the warm spices.  I like it spicy.

You Will Need:

  • One tart pastry recipe – you will have enough filling for 15 tarts or so.  I used the pastry from Maple Raisin Butter Tarts.  This is my universal tart dough.
  • 1 cup brown sugar.  I used dark but light is fine
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp cloves
  • 2 eggs slightly beaten
  • 14oz of pureed pumpkin.  Canned is fine
  • 1/2 cup of evaporated milk
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream

The cream is important.  You want the filling to stiffen on baking so it holds up in the tart shells

Prep

Grease your muffin tins, I used a full 12 plus a 6 to use up all of this filling.  I ended up with 15 tarts.  Preheat oven 450F.

Make The Filling

Mix the brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves together in a large bowl.  I used a mixer but it is not necessary.  Add eggs and mix until incorporated.  Mix in pumpkin, then add milk and cream.

Bake

Fill the tart shells 3/4 full.  Use an egg-wash if you like shiny pastry.  Bake at 400 for 15 min then reduce to 350 for 20-25 min.  Your tarts should be set and nicely browned.  Jiggle the pan to make sure the center is set.  It should be stiff.  Let cool completely in tart shells before removing.  Serve the same day.  These will keep for a few days in the fridge but once you go there the pastry will soften some but still be delicious.  Top with a generous portion of whipped cream because it’s delicious and why wouldn’t you?  This recipe also works just fine in a 9 inch pie shell.

Creme Brûlée

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By Corinne

Creme brûlée used to be my go to going out dessert. It seemed like somehow it was really difficult to make, and since I’m not generally one for desserts, it took me several years to give it a go.

Then it became my favourite entertaining dessert (well, until I started making homemade icecream). I love that you can prep it the day before and then just add your sugar and brûlée it up before serving.  And despite a reputation for being finicky, it’s actually very simple. Only a few times have I not had it turn out and I’ve made this MANY times! Once when I tried substituting some half and half for some of the whipping cream (it didn’t set properly and was a bit runny) and another time when my eggs got a bit scrambled- it was still delicious, just not quite perfect 🙂 Despite the fairly detailed instructions, these are actually quite quick to make, and are pretty forgiving.

Time: 10 minutes prep, 20 min bake, 4-24 hours chill

Serves: 4-6 depending on the size of your ramekins

Oven:350F

You Will Need: 

  • 2 cups whipping cream
  • 4 egg yolks
  • scant 1/4 cup sugar + more for topping
  • 1 vanilla bean, or 2 tsp vanilla

Separate yolks from whites and set aside. Whisk 1/4 cup sugar with the egg yolks. Put the 2 cups of whipping cream into a heavy bottomed pot and set on medium low. You do NOT want your cream to boil. Split your vanilla bean, scrapping out all the seeds. You now have two choices, you can save your bean and add it to a few cups of sugar to make some vanilla sugar, you can add it to the beans in your jar of homemade vanilla extract – which one day I will get around to making, or to be super decadent, and creme brûlée is about decadence, you can add it to the pot of cream.

When the cream is steaming, add a tbsp or two at a time to the measuring cup that is holding the eggs and sugar. Whisk as you add it. Keep doing this until you have about a cup of egg and cream mixture in your measuring cup and then pour back into the pan, whisking constantly. The point of this is to ‘temper’ your eggs and to keep them from turning into scrambled eggs when you add them to the hot cream. Keep on medium low, whisking for another 2-3 min then remove from heat.

Divide mixture between ramekins. Place ramekins on a rimmed baking sheet, or another dish you can pour some hot water into- again, this will depend on the size/shape of your ramekins.  Fill the dish with water until it is halfway up the ramekin. Place (carefully!) in preheated oven. Mine are always done in exactly 20 min, but if you’re using deep ramekins it will take considerably longer. They are done when they have set but still ‘jiggle’. To test for doneness give the pan a gentle nudge. If they are done it won’t look like liquid sloshing around, but will still have some ‘jiggle’.

Cool for 4-24 hours UNCOVERED in the fridge. I find if you cover them before they are completely cooled you get condensation on the surface, and then when you try to add the sugar to brûlée them, the sugar just kind of melts into them but it’s hard to get that nice hard crack topping.

For the brûlée part, sprinkle 1/2 – 1 tbsp of sugar over each, and using a kitchen torch brûlée them up! I usually put mine back in the fridge for ~10 min to cool things down so you get a nice crack when you tap your spoon on your sugar crust. You can also do this step in the oven under broil- but you have to REALLY watch them- it will seem like nothing is happening and then they are done. Or burnt. So be very careful if you’re doing them this way. You must watch!