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!


Monday, February 27, 2012

Crumb Cake with Greek Yogurt

Last month, we were approached by Liberté and asked if we had tried Greek yogurt before. We hadn't (crazy, we know). So we decided to partner up. The deal was, they would send us coupons (because how do you ship seven different-flavoured yogurts and ensure that they arrive safely and chilled?), we would visit our local supermarkets, redeem the coupons, eat the yogurts, and come up with a recipe.
We will admit, we were nervous at first. But we asked for your help and you gave us wonderful ideas and suggestions. Thank you.
So we made smoothies, a panna cotta, and then this amazing crumb cake. Yes, the cake pictured below.
Just look at the height of the crumble!
I love the gradient colours of the cake's outer crust. An anytime cake. Please click here to visit the Liberté blog to see our Crumb Cake recipe!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Crispy Chocolate Tarts

Yesterday, I was laying in bed and thinking about tarts. When will I start making tart shells? Are tart shells hard to make? What if I used something else for the shell? Something like... rice krispies!

Using the same recipe from the peanut butter crispy bars, I woke up, had a bowl of cereal, and got to work. 

Make the base of the tart in your pans first. When that is all even on the bottom, start building the sides. Press and mold the rice krispies with your hands and then put them in the fridge to firm up - about an hour.
You could fill the rice krispies tarts with any filling of your choice, I went for a peanut butter and chocolate layer. Just the one! Pour it in the shell and let it set in the fridge for another hour.

Without any doubt, this was one very sweet tart, we might try a citrus filling next time. =P

Monday, February 20, 2012

Two Sides and a Dessert

Howard and I tried some more recipes from Home Cooking with Jean-Georges: My Favorite Simple Recipes, which we're happy to see is a cookbook finalist under the recently announced IACP Awards in Chefs and Restaurants.
In the photo above is the buttered asparagus with lemon and Parmesan. So simple and tasty!

Buttered Asparagus with Lemon and Parmesan
Recipe from Home Cooking with Jean-Georges: My Favorite Simple Recipes
(Serves 4)

Kosher salt
16 spears of asparagus, trimmed and peeled
1/2 tablespoon of unsalted butter
Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1 lemon
Freshly ground black pepper
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add a pinch of salt.
  2. Add the asparagus and cook until bright green, about 3-4 minutes.
  3. Drain will and transfer to a serving plate.
  4. Rub butter all over the asparagus until melted.
  5. Using a Microplane, grate cheese to cover the asparagus.
  6. Using the same grater, zest a quarter of the lemon over the cheese.
  7. Grind black pepper over the zest and serve immediately.
Honestly, butter and asparagus would taste great together, but the layer of cheese and lemon zest helped clear this dish a lot faster.
Herbed Baby Potatoes
Recipe from Home Cooking with Jean-Georges: My Favorite Simple Recipes
(Serves 4)

1 pound of baby potatoes (about 16)
2 sprigs of fresh thyme
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
1 large garlic clove
Kosher salt
  1. Put the potatoes in a medium saucepan and add water to cover.
  2. Add the thyme, rosemary, and garlic. Bring the water to a boil.
  3. Add a generous pinch of salt and cook until a knife easily slices the potatoes. About 15 minutes.
  4. Drain the water and discard the herbs and garlic.
  5. Cut the potatoes in half to serve.
The aromas of the herbs were really infused into the potatoes, these make another great side. And your kitchen will smell great too!
For dessert, we'll have to give you full disclosure. We partnered with Liberté to try their line of Greek yogurts. So we picked up a vanilla flavoured one to make panna cotta - for the first time! Luckily, we found a recipe online from a fellow Torontonian blogger!

Yogurt Panna Cotta
Recipe from Cooking Closet
(Serves 4-6)

1 envelope of unflavoured gelatin (2 1/4 teaspoons)
3 tablespoons of water
1 cup of heavy cream
1/3 cup of sugar
1 vanilla bean
1 (500 gram) container of Greek yogurt
  1. In a bowl, let the gelatin and water sit for about 5 minutes.
  2. Split open the vanilla bean and scrape the seeds out. 
  3. In a saucepan over medium-high heat, let the heavy cream, sugar, vanilla seeds, and the split vanilla bean simmer.
  4. When the sugar has melted, remove it from the heat and take out the vanilla bean. Mix in the gelatin.
  5. Whisk in the Greek yogurt until smooth and then pour it into glass cups or ramekins.
  6. Let it chill in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours before serving.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Vanilla Bean Cupcakes with Strawberry Frosting

It's almost Valentine's Day! Do you have any plans for tomorrow? I'm going to work... so the highlights will probably be my lunch date with friends and my dinner date with Howard.

Regardless if it were Valentine's Day or not, why not make something sweet and pink?

Vanilla Bean Cupcakes
(Makes about 20-22 cupcakes)

1 stick of unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups of granulated sugar
Seeds from one vanilla bean
4 large egg whites
1/4 cups of milk
2 1/4 cups of cake flour
1 tablespoon of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of salt
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
  1. Preheat the oven to 175°C (350°F) and have your liners ready in the cupcake tray.
  2. Using a stand-mixer, cream the butter, sugar, and vanilla bean seeds together.
  3. Meanwhile, use a hand-mixer to whisk the egg whites until soft peaks are formed. Slowly add in the milk. It will be light and frothy. Pour 1/3 of this mixture with the butter mixture along with the vanilla extract and mix until incorporate.
  4. Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together. Pour 1/3 into the butter mixture and incorporate. 
  5. Alternate between adding the egg/milk and flour/baking powder/salt into the butter/sugar/vanilla bean mixture until they are all incorporated.
  6. Use an ice cream scoop to evenly distribute the batter into the cupcake liners.
  7. Bake for 20-22 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.
  8. Let the cupcakes cool before frosting.
Strawberry Frosting
(Makes enough for 22 cupcakes)

1 1/2 sticks of unsalted butter
3 1/2 cups of confectioners' sugar
3 tablespoons of puréed and strained strawberries
  1. Using a mixer, cream the butter and sugar until smooth. About 4-5 minutes.
  2. If you're using fresh strawberries, cut off the stem and the leaves. Give the strawberries a wash and pat them dry with a paper tower. 
  3. Purée the strawberries and strain them through a sieve to separate the seeds. If you look at the photo above, we made about 1 cup, but you only need 3 tablespoons - otherwise the frosting's consistency will be too runny.
  4. Add the seedless purée and mix until incorporated.
  5. Fill your piping bag or use a metal spatula to frost your cooled cupcakes.
The strawberry frosting doesn't have a strong strawberry flavour, but it is there. We couldn't add anymore strawberry purée because the frosting would have been too runny. I think the solution is to use really ripe strawberries (so plan ahead) or to maybe boil it down so that some of the water content evaporates?

And if you want the frosting to have a stronger pink colour, you'll have to add some food colouring to it. We kept the pale pink since we didn't want to add any other chemicals to it. Seriously, strawberry frosting is a tough one to figure out. Do bakeries use strawberry extract to get a stronger flavour?
Overall, the strawberry frosting works with these light and airy vanilla cupcakes. The cupcakes are really soft and fluffy! Adding vanilla beans make it taste so much better, but I'll probably use less sugar next time.

Woof! I couldn't resist.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Mille Crêpes Cake

Happy birthday to my sweetheart, Howard! As some of you know, he was born on Groundhog Day and that his favourite cake is the mille crêpes cake from Lady M. To celebrate, I wanted to make him the same cake, but of course there isn't an official Lady M recipe. Luckily, the internet has many speculations on how the cake is made.

The one I followed is from the New York Times. In the article, the author uses the crêpe recipe from Joy of Cooking and the vanilla pastry cream from Desserts by Pierre Hermé and added whipped cream.

Mille Crêpes Cake
(Makes about 1 eight-inch cake)

For the crêpe batter:
6 tablespoons butter
3 cups milk
6 eggs
1 1/2 cups flour
7 tablespoons sugar
A pinch salt

For the vanilla pastry cream:
2 cups milk
1 vanilla bean, halved and scraped
6 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch, sifted
3 1/2 tablespoons butter

For the assembly, this was adapted from the original article:
Vegetable oil
2 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoon sugar or more
  1. Make the crêpe batter and the pastry cream the day before. 
  2. Crêpe batter: In a small pan, cook the butter until brown. Set it aside. In a small pot, heat the milk until it starts steaming and then set it aside to cool for 10 minutes. On medium-low speed with your mixer, beat together the eggs, flour, sugar, and salt. Slowly add the hot milk and browned butter to the mixture. Pour the batter into a container, cover and refrigerate overnight.
  3. Pastry cream: Flatten the vanilla bean and slice it open with a sharp knife. Peel the bean open and scrape the seeds out with the knife. In a small pot, bring the milk with the vanilla bean with scrapings to a boil, set it aside to cool for 10 minutes; remove bean. Fill a large bowl with cold water (or ice). In a medium sized pan or small pot, whisk the egg yolks, sugar, and cornstarch together. Gradually whisk in the hot milk. Place the pan over high heat and bring it to a boil, whisking vigorously for 1 to 2 minutes. Set the bowl in the ice bath or cold water and stir until the temperature reaches 140°F (60°C) on an instant-read thermometer. Stir in the butter. Cool, cover, and refrigerate.
  4. The next day, bring the batter and pastry cream to room temperature. Place a nonstick 8-inch pan over medium heat. Swab the surface with the oil, then add about 2-3 tablespoons of batter and swirl to cover the surface. Cook until the bottom just begins to brown, about 1 minute, then carefully lift an edge and flip the crêpe. Cook on the other side for no longer than 5-10 seconds. Carefully flip the crêpe onto a baking sheet lined with parchment. Repeat until you have 20 perfect crêpes.
  5. Use a mixer to whip the heavy cream with the sugar - it won't hold strong peaks. Fold it into the pastry cream.
  6. To assemble, lay a crêpe on a plate. Pipe or use an icing spatula to completely cover the crêpe with a thin layer of pastry cream (about 1/4 cup). Cover the pastry cream layer with a crêpe and repeat to make a stack of 20, with the best-looking crepe on top. Chill for at least 2 hours. Set it out for 30 minutes in room temperature before serving.
  7. If you have a kitchen torch, sprinkle the top crepe with granulated sugar and caramelize with the torch.
I know it wasn't necessary, but I went out to get a kitchen torch anyways. They weren't too expensive, I was bracing myself to spend around $30 for one and was surprised to find it on sale for $13 at the Bay! The torch isn't filled, so we made a trip to Canadian Tire to find butane fuel, $5.

I made the crêpes batter and pastry cream the night before. The next morning, I stood in front of the stove for hours to cook those crêpes. Then I stood for another hour at the table icing each layer. I even sprinkled the top layer with sugar. Then along comes Howard to perform the fun part. Caramelizing! 

At least I got to take the photos.

I'm kidding, it was great seeing him have so much fun with the torch. And the torch was worth it. That top crunchy layer is the best. I mean, the cake is amazing as a whole, but if it were just layers of crunchy crêpes, that would be awesome too!

We are highly recommending that you try making this cake. Sure, the edges will be ruffled (Howard picked out our black ruffled cake stand to go with this cake) and not as neatly stacked as Lady M's, but the cake itself is tasty and the texture is delicious!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Lemon Drizzle Loaf Cake

Well friends, it looks like we're already into February of 2012. I'm not going to go into a long description of how fast time is flying, but let me just say, damn! that was fast!

We are already looking forward to the next winter break. Or even a three-day weekend. I'm tired!

I hear that citrus is a great pick-me-up, so I made a lemon loaf on the weekend. This is probably the first time I've taken out the loaf pan for this blog! New year, new baked good shapes?
Lemon Drizzle Loaf Cake
Adapted from The Primrose Bakery Book
(Makes about 1 x 900g loaf cake, 8-10 slices)

155 grams of sifted all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder
155 grams of granulated sugar
20 grams of cornstarch
155 grams of unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 large eggs
Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
  1. Preheat the oven to 180 C. Grease your 1 x 900g loaf pan and line with parchment paper.
  2. Sift the flour, baking powder, sugar, and cornstarch together.
  3. Add in the butter, eggs, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Mix until evenly blended.
  4. Pour the batter into the loaf pan, smooth the top with a spatula.
  5. Bake in the centre of the oven for about 35-40 minutes, until golden brown and a cake tester inserted into the centre of the loaf comes out clean. Let the loaf cool.
  6. Make an icing drizzle. The book suggests 160g of granulated sugar and the juice of 2 lemons. I used icing sugar, vanilla extract, and water.
  7. Pour the drizzle over the loaf and allow it to set.

There were a few changes to the original recipe. The Primrose Bakery is in England and naturally their cookbook would have a few differences. You'll note that the measurements were all given in grams, which I actually liked. In my opinion, it helps give a more accurate recipe.

Back to the alterations I made. I didn't use self-raising flour, simply because I didn't have any and I figured the baking powder would help. In the end, I don't think it mattered because my loaf looked approximately the same height as the one in the cookbook.

I used granulated sugar instead of golden caster sugar, again because I didn't think I had any, but it turns out that I might actually have a jar! Cornflour was one of the ingredients listed, but after doing some research, it means cornstarch in the UK. I didn't think cornmeal would be used for a lemon loaf - but who knows?

Lastly, I changed the "drizzle" part of the recipe. This was a personal choice, I wanted smooth icing sugar, but I'm sure the texture of their icing makes the loaf more interesting.

Howard so kindly taste-tested a few slices for me. I think it was met with approval because he said, "Something finally worked out!" That was a poke to my first baking blunder of the year. Hmph!

But it was nice to hear that he enjoyed it. The cake was moist with a lemon flavour. I'd say go stronger, the zest and juice of one lemon isn't enough! Unless maybe if you had a giant lemon?