Buttermilk Cornbread (Johnnycake)

I had a serious craving for johnnycake (sweetened cornbread) the other day. After trolling through Pinterest looking for a good recipe, I kept returning to one from Allrecipes.com because it was so straight-forward. Usually I avoid recipes from this site because they tend to be a bit dull, but this one really is five stars! It’s super easy to make, and made enough to have for dinner with turkey and bean chili, plus leftovers for a cheeky breakfast of johnnycake with butter and maple syrup (yum!).

DSCN1447
Johnnycake with turkey and bean chili

Ingredients:

1/2 cup butter
2/3 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 cup cornmeal (labelled as polenta in the UK, even though polenta is a dish…)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt

DSCN1451
Cheeky breakfast

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 175C and line an 8 inch square baking dish with parchment paper.
Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Remove from heat and stir in sugar.
Quickly add the eggs and beat until well blended.

Combine buttermilk with baking soda and stir mixture into the pan.
Stir in the cornmeal, flour, and salt until well blended and few lumps remain.
Pour batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 30-40 minutes.

DSCN1445

Sweet Pea and Lemon Cake

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Although St. Patrick’s Day isn’t celebrated in the UK to the same extent as it is in Canada, the US, and presumably in Ireland, I still wanted to bake something special (green) for today. I’ve had my eye on this recipe from Veggie Desserts, and thought I would bake this cake as a surprise and make my partner guess what is in it. She eventually guessed peas, but I had to tell her the icing is lemon.

DSCN1434

I opted to halve the recipe and make only one tier since it’s just the two of us eating my baking, but you can easily double the recipe for two tiers. The icing quantities should work for a two layer cake since I did some superfluous decorating and had leftovers. My artistic skills scream “5-year-old’s finger painting”, especially as I was literally down to the last-minute before I had to dash off to work, but the design is supposed to be a glade with vines and shamrocks. The cake is moist and fairly dense, and the lemon icing balances it well. And no, you can’t taste the peas, but they do give it a nice natural green colour!

DSCN1437

Ingredients:

makes 1 layer

Note: The original recipe didn’t convert the cups and grams properly, so I stuck with grams, except for the peas.

1 cup frozen peas
100g. unsalted butter, softened
75g. granulated sugar
1 1/2 eggs (I whisked one and poured half out before adding the second)
1 tsp. vanilla
zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
125g. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt

Ingredients for the Lemon Buttercream:

150g. unsalted butter, softened
300g. icing sugar
zest and juice of 1/2 a lemon
green gel food colouring
green sprinkles

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 160C. Grease and line one 9″ cake tin.
Microwave the frozen peas in water for 4-5 minutes and refresh under cold water.
Purée the peas, lemon juice, and zest with a hand blender, or in your NutriBullet. Set aside.

DSCN1418DSCN1419
In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, then beat in the cooled pea/lemon mix and the vanilla.
Sift in the flour, baking powder, and salt and stir to gently combine.
Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and make sure the batter is level. Bake for 25 minutes and then cool slightly before inverting on a wire rack to cool completely.

For the icing, cream the butter until fluffy. Add the icing sugar and beat. Beat in the zest and lemon juice. Decorate as desired.

I iced the cake in white and then added some green food colouring to the icing and piped stars using a closed star tip. I then added a bit more food colouring (can’t really see the difference) to the remaining icing and used a small round tip to design the shamrocks and vines.
I added some green sprinkles to finish.

DSCN1435

Pecan and Raisin Sticky Buns

A childhood friend’s mom used to make sticky buns and every so often he was kind enough to share the gooey caramel centre with me. Ever since then, I’ve tried to figure out how she made those buns taste so good. But, the search will continue because this recipe didn’t make the cut.

DSCN1411

I adapted the recipe from a vegan one by Minimalist Baker, opting to use regular butter and milk, which could have altered the recipe’s chemistry. Yet, the original instructions weren’t clear on how to prepare the glaze. My sticky buns tasted fine, but the glaze turned grainy as the sugar had crystallised. Moreover, I got side-tracked by working on the computer (story of my life) and forgot to invert the buns after baking while they were still warm, so the glaze didn’t “glaze” the buns, but rather solidified on the bottom of the dish. I’m hoping to try to make sticky buns again in the future, but will likely try a different recipe.

P.S. I’m still sick, so maybe I just messed up the recipe in my feverish delirium…

Ingredients:

Dough:
1 cup milk
3 tbsp. butter
2 1/4 tsp. instant yeast
1 tbsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
2.5 cups flour

Filling:
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup brown sugar (I just sprinkled some, and I really should have used the full amount)
1/2 tbsp. cinnamon

Sticky Glaze:
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
handful chopped pecans
small handful of raisins

Instructions:

Prepare an 8×8 dish by lining with parchment paper.

In a saucepan, heat the milk and 3 tbsp. butter until warm and melted, never reaching boiling. Remove from the heat and let cool to 110F, or the temperature of bath water [took about 10 min.].

Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl and sprinkle on the yeast. Let activate for 10 minutes, then add 1 tbsp. of sugar and 1/4 tsp. of salt, then stir.

Next, add in the flour 1/2 cup at a time, stirring as you go. The dough will be sticky. Transfer to a floured surface and knead for a minute or so until it forms a loose ball. Rinse out your mixing bowl and coat it with vegetable oil, and add your dough ball back in, rolling to coat it. Cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm place to rise until it’s doubled in size, about 2 hours.

While the dough is rising, prepare the glaze. I melted the butter and brown sugar in a sauce pan and poured it over the chopped pecans and raisins in the bottom of the dish [maybe I should have just melted the butter and quickly added the sugar…?].

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into a thin rectangle. Brush with 1/4 cup melted butter and top with the sugar and cinnamon.

Roll up the dough tightly and situate seam side down. With a serrated knife cut the dough into 1.5 inch pieces (I opted for more, smaller buns). Position the rolls in the dish with the glaze on the bottom. Cover with plastic wrap and set on top of the oven to let it rise again briefly while you preheat the oven to 350F (176C).

Bake the rolls for 25-30 minutes or until lightly golden brown. Let cool for a few minutes and carefully invert [I forgot to do this – facepalm].

DSCN1409

The original recipe says to serve immediately, so maybe they would have been gooey while still warm, but I want day-old cold gooey caramel! The search continues…

“Sharlotka” – Russian Apple Cake

I’m still recovering from another round of illness, but that won’t stop me from baking! I came across this recipe via Instagram and thought it looked like such a tasty and interesting cake that I wanted to give it a go. The cake — blogged about by Smitten Kitchen — was easy to make and is very light, making it a perfect dessert post-Sunday roast chicken dinner. This was my first time testing out a springform pan recipe on the blog, and I’m sure there will be many more to come!

dscn1386

Ingredients:

6 large granny smith apples
3 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp. cinnamon, plus more to finish
icing sugar, to finish

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 178C and grease a springform pan [I used a 9 inch, but I think an 8 inch would have worked better, or larger apples], then line the bottom with parchment paper. Peel, halve, and core the apples, then chop them into small chunks.

dscn1375

Pile the apples into the prepared pan. Next, in a large bowl beat the eggs and sugar with an electric mixer until thick and ribbons form on the surface. Beat in the vanilla, then stir in the flour and cinnamon [my addition] with a wooden spoon. The batter will be thick.

Pour the batter over the apples and use a spatula to press it down flat into the apples. Bake for 50-55 minutes [I did 55 but it could have used a few less], or until a tester comes out clean. Cool in the pan for a few minutes before opening spring and flipping the cake onto a cooling rack. Once cooled, dust with cinnamon and icing sugar.

dscn1388

Mediterranean Cheese Bread – ‘no knead’

I received some money from Santa to buy a Le Creuset pot. It took a while, but a couple of weekends ago we went to Bicester Village (a luxury fashion retail outlet) to purchase a 24cm cast iron round casserole dish (at 30% off, I should add). Ever since I’d asked for the Le Creuset pot, I knew the first recipe I wanted to try was the ‘no knead dutch oven’ bread, such as Jo Cook’s recipe. This was the first time in a long time that I’ve attempted to make bread. Despite having the flu (again), I peeled myself from bed because I MUST BAKE FOR THE BLOG! It was a delicious success.

dscn1299
My new Caribbean Teal Le Creuset pot

I put my own spin on this bread, opting for the addition of olives, sun dried tomatoes, and cheddar cheese. This bread is amazing! It has a crispy, chewy crust and tastes reminiscent of sourdough. The only downside is that it takes 12-18 hours to prove! I had wanted to eat it with the chili we were having on Monday night, but I didn’t actually put it in the oven until Tuesday morning. However, it was worth the wait. Next time I’m going to experiment with raisins, cinnamon, and walnuts for a breakfast variation. 🙂


Prepare the day before you want to eat it!

Ingredients:

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups water, room temperature
1/4 cup grated cheddar cheese
1 tbsp. chopped black olives
1 tbsp. sun dried tomatoes in oil (remove excess oil)

Instructions:

In a large bowl, mix the flour, salt, and yeast together. Pour the water into the bowl and use a spatula to mix it. I had to use my hands to fully incorporate. Add the cheese, olives, and sun dried tomatoes, and mix with your hands until incorporated.

Cover the bowl with cling film and let it sit on the counter for 12-18 hours (I waited 18).

Preheat the oven to 450F (232C). Add the Le Creuset pot to the oven and heat it until the oven gets to temperature. Note: I switched the black handle my pot came with to a stainless steel one for high temperature.

Carefully remove the pot from the oven and take off the lid. Sprinkle some cornmeal on the bottom of the pot.

Flour your hands well and sprinkle some flour over the dough. With floured hands, gently remove the dough from the bowl and roughly shape it into a ball (mine ended up a bit odd-shaped). Take the ball of dough and drop it into the pot. Cover the pot with the lid and place back in the oven.

dscn1298

Bake for 30 minutes with the lid on, and then remove the lid and bake for a further 15-20 minutes (mine took 15).

dscn1301

Remove the bread from the pot and cool completely on a cooling rack before slicing. Tastes great toasted!

Red Velvet Cupcakes with White Chocolate Buttercream

Happy Valentine’s Day (belated)! I’ve known for some time that I wanted to try out red velvet cupcakes to celebrate the day of love, but I’ve never been a fan of synthetic-tasting, over-dyed baked goods, so I was hesitant to use a standard “electric red” velvet recipe. I decided to return to The Sprinkles Baking Book and try their version, which is heavy on the cocoa and light on the colouring. And, since I used cream cheese last week in the spiced beetroot cake, I opted for a white chocolate buttercream instead of cream cheese frosting. Oh my goodness was that a good call – delicious! This is possibly my new favourite cupcake recipe. The buttermilk and vinegar give the cakes a light, moist texture even though they are made with butter (not oil) and they are a beautiful burgundy hue.

dscn1291

 

dscn1279

On a personal note, I received news that a friend – a young mother, wife, and scholar – passed away suddenly from cancer. This news came the day after Valentines and is a solemn reminder to love and live life with all your heart, and never miss an opportunity to share happiness with the people you love because we may not be here tomorrow.

~In memory of Sara


I made a half batch, so double the quantities if you want a dozen.

dscn1286

Ingredients:

3/4 cup flour
1 1/2 tbsp. cocoa powder, sifted
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 cup buttermilk, shaken
3/4 tsp. white vinegar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/3 tsp. red gel food colouring
5 tbsp. (70 g.) unsalted butter, slightly softened
1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp. sugar
1 large egg

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 175C. Line a muffin tin with 6 paper liners.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. In a small bowl, stir together the buttermilk, vinegar, vanilla, and food colouring.

In a large bowl, mix the butter and sugar with an electric mixer on medium-high until light and fluffy (2-3 min.). Reduce the speed to low and add the egg, beating until creamy. Slowly add half the flour mixture, then the buttermilk mixture, then the remaining flour mixture, beating until just blended after each addition.

Divide the batter evenly in the muffin cups and bake until the tops are just dry to the touch: 15-20 minutes. (mine took 21 min.). Transfer the cupcakes to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

 

White Chocolate Buttercream
(for 6 cupcakes)

Ingredients:

113 g. (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
6 ounces melted white chocolate, slightly cooled
1/2 cup icing sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Instructions:

Melt the white chocolate and let cool slightly in the pan. In a mixing bowl, beat the butter until fluffy, and then beat in the chocolate. Add the vanilla and then the icing sugar and beat on low until well combined.

Decorate as desired. I used a closed star wide-tipped (848) piping nozzle and decorated with edible glitter hearts and shaved white chocolate.

dscn1293

dscn1289

Spiced Beetroot Cake

dscn1262

I was gifted a copy of The National Trust Cookbook for Christmas, and among the dozen or so pages I sticky noted was a recipe for a beetroot cake. I don’t think I’ve ever attempted to make a beetroot dessert before, but I’ve certainly had delicious beetroot brownies (another recipe to try!).

One of my favourite cakes is carrot cake and this beetroot variation tastes exactly like a nicely spiced, moist carrot cake, but with an earthy flavour. Definitely, it’s a cake to make again! It was fairly simple to make and I put a slight pink twist on it for Valentine’s Day. ❤

dscn1268

Ingredients:

250g pack of chilled cooked beetroot in juices, drained well and finely grated
100g carrot, finely grated (approx. 1 medium)
40g walnut pieces, chopped
175 ml vegetable oil
4 large eggs
250g caster sugar
250g flour (It called for self-raising but I accidentally put in regular. Honestly it still tasted great and had a good texture without the raising agent. You could also use gluten-free flour)
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp. grated nutmeg
3/4 tsp. ground ginger

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease two 8 inch sandwich tins and line the bases with parchment paper.

Add the beetroot to a sieve and press out excess liquid with the back of a fork. I used rubber gloves to grate and strain the beet and covered my cutting board with parchment paper to prevent staining.

Mix the beet with the carrot and walnuts.

Add the oil, eggs, and caster sugar to a bowl and beat with an electric mixer for 5 minutes until light and fluffy.

Mix the remaining dry ingredients in a third bowl. Gently fold the beetroot mix into the whisked eggs, then fold in the dry ingredients. Spoon the cake mixture evenly into the tins, being careful not to knock out the air.

Bake for 20-25 (mine took 25) minutes until the cakes are well risen, golden brown and the tops spring back when lightly pressed. Mine would have risen more if I hadn’t accidentally used the wrong flour 😦

Leave to cool in the tins for 5 minutes then turn out onto a wire rack. Peel off the parchment paper and leave to cool.


Frosting:

Ingredients:

175g cream cheese (basically a whole pack)
Note: I would bring to room temperature because my cheese remained lumpy during mixing.
40g. butter, room temperature
130g icing sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
food colouring (optional)
walnut pieces and sprinkles (optional)

Instructions:

Whisk the cream cheese and butter together until smooth. Add the icing sugar and vanilla and whisk until a thick consistency. I added a toothpick scoop of pink colouring gel to my frosting. Ice and decorate as desired.

*Note the original recipe has a thin glaze made with boiled sugar and cooled, but I went for a thicker icing with powdered sugar.

dscn1265
On Wednesdays, we wear pink!