Thank you for the amazing 8 years here at A Baked Creation, we can't thank you enough for the memories! But we've decided to move over to a new site - Sincerely, Syl. Please join us there for future posts on all the things you loved here!


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Baking Cakes in Kigali

August 2009, I tweeted (here and here) little snippets from Baking Cakes in Kigali by Gaile Parkin. I had ordered a copy from work (perks of working in book publishing) and read the book during my commute. Well, you know what? I liked it and wanted to share it with you - so good thing the paperback version came out last summer!

It's been awhile now, but I'm pretty sure Baking Cakes in Kigali was one of my first "food books." (Since then, I've been on the look out for more - so stay tuned for those reviews.) Baking Cakes in Kigali is a combination of stories, all placed together by Angel Tungaraza. She is the professional baker in Kigali, Rwanda. As customers' place their cake orders, we hear about the joys and troubles in their lives. We get to follow along each event as they unfold because Angel also has a knack for problem solving.

Parkin illuminates the setting of Rwanda and successfully shows Angel's sweet personality with reappearing phrases and expressions. I enjoyed the interactions and the chipper attitude between Angel and everyone she grew attached to. While her baking doesn't overpower the book, there's just enough to satisfy you, as the focus is really about each character's tale. So don't expect recipes or descriptions of cakes being decorated in every chapter. However, you do get to read about each cake consultation and Angel's cake decorating ideas - which are far from being monochromatic.

The story that stood out the most to me was about little Safiya. I found her situation to be the most worrisome and was pleasantly surprised on how things turned out. I think Angel was also relieved to learn about the secret solution! I won't spoil it for you here, but I can say that it became a reminder that these practices still happen in different parts of the world. All in all, a good read consisting of different customs and humour.

Now, for a giveaway! Please take a look at the two covers:

Left: Hardcover, Right: Paperback

I'm simply being curious, which cover do you like better? Let me know, I'm giving away three copies of the paperback version.

I personally can't pick! I like both of the covers, I love the photograph for the hardcover and the placement of the text. The paperback version has the whimsical cake illustrations that I would spot if I was browsing in a bookstore. Overall, I am glad they kept the typeface and colours for both of the cover designs!

Giveaway contest regulations and conditions:
  1. The Baking Cakes in Kigali giveaway contest is open on Tuesday, March 29, 2011 until Tuesday, April 5, 2011. Entries submitted after 12 midnight EST on Tuesday, April 5, 2011 will not be considered.
  2. To enter, leave a comment below telling me which cover you prefer: the hardcover or paperback edition? Please leave a way for me to contact you (via e-mail or twitter).
  3. A winner will be randomly chosen and announced on A Baked Creation.
  4. This contest is available to residents of Canada and the U.S.A. only! However, if you have friends and family with a Canadian or American mailing address, feel free to enter.
  5. There will be three winners. Winners will be chosen in a random draw. The winners will each receive an paperback copy of Baking Cakes in Kigali. Best of luck!
Disclaimer: I got copies of Baking Cakes in Kigali through an employee program at work. The three giveaway copies were given to me and I was under no obligation to review the book. No incentives were used to produce a positive review of this book or to host a giveaway.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Tender Pancakes

Do you know that feeling when you re-discover how good something is, and then you binge? I think I'm at the point where I can't stop making pancakes for breakfast. Since last week, I have made pancakes three times. Three!

Well, who can blame me? My usual morning routine consists of waking up at 6:30am and rushing to catch a bus, my breakfast consists of cold cereal, a piece of toast, or half a bagel. Not exactly Mmmm worthy.

So when I found a quick and easy pancake recipe, I just couldn't stop. I wanted a nice hot breakfast with fruits and maple syrup!

Tender Pancakes
Recipe adapted from Gale Gand's Brunch!
(Makes about eight to ten 3- to 4-inch wide pancakes)

1 cup of all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon of sugar
3/8 teaspoon of salt
1 1/2 tablespoons of baking powder
1 large egg
1 cup of milk
2 tablespoons of canola oil
unsalted butter, for cooking
1/3 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips (optional but highly recommended)
  1. In a bowl, combine the flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder.
  2. In a separate bowl, beat the egg with a fork and then mix in the milk and oil.
  3. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and combine. It doesn't have to be smooth, lumps are actually encouraged! If you want, add the chocolate chips into the batter.
  4. Use a ladle, spoon, or transfer the batter to a pitcher for easy pouring.
  5. Heat your griddle/pan over medium heat. Melt 1 teaspoon of butter on it.
  6. Pour 2 to 3 tablespoons of the batter. Watch for bubbles that rise to the top of the pancake. This is generally the time to flip! You can also take a peek with your spatula to see if the other side is golden brown.
  7. Flip your pancake and when it is golden brown, it is ready to be served!
Those are the instructions from the cookbook, but I found doing a one bowl method to work just as well. I added all the ingredients at once and then gave it a good stir and it was ready to go!

Don't forget to add fresh fruit and maple syrup! Have a lovely weekend everyone.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Neil's Pancakes

When Pancake Month (February) and Pancake Tuesday (March 8th, 2011) went by, I saw lots of pancakes posts and I developed a serious craving for some. Especially ones with chocolate chips.

So this morning, my brother and I made some following Neil's recipe from the Clinton St. Baking Company Cookbook.

My brother was responsible for separating the egg yolks from the egg whites. Let's just say that I gave him an A- for his work. He ended up using one more egg than what the recipe asked for because he accidentally dropped one. That's okay, I did a tweak by using less butter.

The egg whites needed to be whipped to "medium" peaks and folded into the batter.

I added semi-sweet chocolate chips when the batter was in the pan. (Some of my family members didn't want the addition.)

My brother was really good at flipping the pancakes! I am quite impressed with his skills after a few years living at residence. He was even comparing our batter to the one his roommate makes!

These pancakes are very light, fluffy, and very filling. Two per person was the maximum anyone in my household could eat. The recipe estimates about 18-20 three-inch pancakes. We made 15 four-five inch pancakes and ate only eight! It wasn't that we didn't want to eat them!

Which brings to mind a childhood story... when I was in kindergarten, I made the mistake of telling my Dad that I could eat pancakes everyday. Being the crafty one he is, my Dad made me pancakes for breakfast - every single day.

I think I lasted about two weeks before I had to tell him to stop. No more pancakes for breakfast! I don't think I touched a pancake until I started University. Thanks Dad for your lovely life lessons.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Reese Minis Giveaway Winner

Hello there! I'm here to announce the winner of the Reese Minis Giveaway. When I was tweeting about this contest, a few of you responded to the question on twitter. So I counted those as entries too (being nice). However, random.org came up with the number 18, so the winner is...

Amanda! Congratulations, you will be receiving some yummy Reese Minis soon (check your inbox for an e-mail from us).

May we suggest these peanut butter chocolate cupcakes? =)

We also recommend the ones that Naomi from Bakers Royale made (looks exactly like what you're looking for), Jessica from How Sweet It Is made, or the ones Michelle from Brown Eyed Baker made. Decisions, decisions!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Chocolate Peanut Butter and Banana Bars

Something neat arrived in an intermodal container this week. (Yes, I had to look up "intermodal container" in order to know what to call them. Learned something new!) The container was marked as private with a Max Gross of 32.500 kgs (71.650 lbs). I don't think I can lift that...

It told me to reveal, so I carefully tugged at the Velcro strip and pulled out Reese Minis!

Tumble out little Minis! Warning: these are dangerous to have around because they are miniature versions of the Peanut Butter Cups and are unwrapped. You'll eat four or five and think nothing of it, but soon the whole bag is devoured!

I was sharing the cool packaging on twitter when Sarah from What Smells So Good? tweeted this:

Done! We're making those! (Click on the image above to see the recipe.) When I told Howard what we were making, he said, "what? We have to bake with it?" Yes. It became a challenge to NOT eat them as they are.

See me covering the black bottom here with more banana batter:

Then scoring out 16 bars with Reese Minis in the center:

Hey, what smells so good?

These bars! Only 2 Reese Minis high, hehee!

Before I ate every last crumb, I noticed this one:

Still showing the black bottom and top layer. =)

So readers, if you were given some Reese Minis, what would you make? Enter our Reese Minis Giveaway:
  1. Please tell us what you would do with Reese Minis? Do you prefer them as they are? Or do you want to dress up a dessert or baked good? Maybe something savory? Leave your creative responses in the comments below.
  2. Don't forget to leave me an e-mail address!
  3. The Reese Minis Giveaway is open on March 5th 2011 until March 10th 2011. So you have plenty of time to enter! Comments submitted after 12 midnight EST on March 10th will not be considered.
  4. The giveaway is only open to those with a Canadian mailing address, sorry folks!
  5. A lucky winner will be randomly drawn.
  6. The winner will be announced on March 11th on our blog.
Disclaimer: Thank you to Brittany from M Booth & Associates and those at Hershey's Canada for sending us a sample of Reese Minis and for providing the giveaway.