Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Pumpkin Challah - #BreadBakers

Oy with the [pumpkins] already!

Please tell me that you get that reference. Please also tell me that I am not the only one frantically re-watching seven seasons of Gilmore Girls in order to be ready for The Revival in November. I'm not? Great! So which episode are you on? I just started and am on season 1 episode 13 and by my calculations, I am a day behind schedule. No worries though - we have a holiday weekend coming up and methinks I will spend more than a little time watching Gilmore Girls. Some persons will be gallivanting at the beach, I'll be curled up watching Gilmore Girls. I'll pretend to have a life after November 25. I'm not even ashamed to admit that I have already watched the series at least 4 times. The last time was at least 5 years ago though so it's definitely time for a refresher.To make this viewing a little different, I am also listening to the Gilmore Guys podcast. Two guys talking about the Gilmores. Quirky but fun.

I could go on and on about how much I am loving Netflix' promotion of the series. The Instagram photos are fun. But turning coffee shops across the US and Canada into Luke's diners? GENIUS. As I was saying, I won't dwell too much because I know that you already know these things. You feel the same way. You're binge watching with me too and counting down the days to November 25. I guess we can then move on to pumpkin challah.

Tired of pumpkin yet? I probably would be if I had hopped on the pumpkin bandwagon earlier. The theme for this month's Bundt Bakers is fall fruits and vegetables. There was definitely a lot to choose from but I still found myself gravitating towards pumpkin. I just have not used it often so it still feels new to me. I love braiding dough so I easily gravitated towards making a challah. It's definitely not traditional but it sure is delicious.

Pumpkin Challah
(Yield: 2 1lb loaves)


2 eggs
3/4 cup mashed pumpkin
1/2 cup melted shortening
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
4 cups flour
1/4 cup water
1 egg + a tablespoon of water for egg wash


Whisk together eggs, pumpkin, shortening, sugar,  yeast, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg, and ginger until sugar is mostly dissolved. Add the flour and enough water to form a soft and slightly tacky dough. The dough should not be sticky. Knead until it's soft and cohesive then placed in a greased bowl to rise until doubled. The length of time will depend on the temperature of your kitchen.

When the dough has risen, divide the dough into two equal pieces. Divide each half into four equal pieces. Roll the pieces into logs about 12 inches long. Braid each set of four pieces into a round braid following the instructions here. Let rise until doubled.

Before the braids have doubled, preheat oven to 350 F. When the braids are ready, brush with egg wash then bake 25-30 minutes or until golden.


This month's for BreadBakers', we are baking bread with fall fruits and vegetables, for example, apples, grapes, pears, sweet potatoes, cauliflower, broccoli, acorn squash, butternut squash etc. Our host of the month is Pavani at Cook's Hideout. Check out what our fellow bakers have come up with:
#BreadBakers is a group of bread loving bakers who get together once a month to bake bread with a common ingredient or theme. You can see all our of lovely bread by following our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated after each event on the #BreadBakers home page.
We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient. If you are a food blogger and would like to join us, just send Stacy an email with your blog URL to
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Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Simple Chocolate Cake - #FoodieExtravaganza

It would take one of my most favourite things in the world to bring me out of Foodie Extravaganza hibernation - CHOCOLATE. This month we are celebrating chocolate! I don't even know how long it has been since I have participated. Too long. Not my intention at all but life happens, apparently.

As I type this (late Sunday night), I am listening to news reports about Hurricane Matthew. Up until last night, Matthew had us in its sight and was making a beeline towards us. Now, it has shifted slightly east and is heading towards Haiti instead. Bittersweet news. We are of course ecstatic that we won't have a category 4 hurricane passing directly over us but poor, poor Haiti. They can't handle such a major hurricane either. Matthew is still several hours away (roughly 415km away moving at 8km/h) but the outer bands are already causing major flooding in Kingston. Even though it seems we won't get a direct hit, Matthew is huge so we will still be heavily impacted.

I live on a flood-prone street so with talks of Matthew bringing over 25 inches of rain, we are gearing up to be very very wet. Cupboards, closets and drawers have been unpacked. Chairs and other knickknacks will be put on top of tables so the water doesn't push them over. The roof could go. The beloved mango tree could fall onto the house. Cars will be flooded.

But as Matthew rages out there, I will be calming my nerves with this chocolate cake. This is an extremely simple chocolate cake that I have baked several times over the years - I mainly make it as cupcakes when I want a small batch. I love it because it's egg free (can be vegan if you use non-dairy milk) so it makes dividing the ingredients very easy. It's also very moist. Once I used yogurt instead of milk + vinegar and it was even more moist.  In this case, I made a simple one layer cake. Instead of the usual vanilla, I used a little almond extract. A little coffee perks things up and if you're feeling fancy, splash in some rum too. Frost it or not. I didn't here but there's a batch of frosting in my freezer so I may just have to practise my piping while Matthew rages. Chocolate frosting is amazing. The one in my fridge is vanilla. It will work just as well too. OK, not just as well. Nothing works just as well as chocolate. Forgive me for saying that.

Edited to add: It's Wednesday and we are safe. No flooding here. In fact, it rained for no more than 10 minutes n Monday. Communities on the eastern end of the island had some flooding but for the most part, we are good. Extremely grateful for Matthew changing its course. But heartbroken for Haiti, Cuba and now the Bahamas.

Be sure to check out all the other chocolate recipes below. Lots of good stuff and it isn't all desserts. Thanks for hosting, Kathleen!

Simple Chocolate Cake
(adapted from Lauren's Latest)

1 cup milk plus 1 teaspoon vinegar
1 cup flour
1/3 cup cocoa
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup oil (I've used canola and melted coconut oils)
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon almond extract


Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and flour an 8 inch baking pan.

Mix milk and vinegar and set aside until curdled. Whisk together flour, cocoa, baking soda and baking powder. In a separate container mix together oil, sugar, and vanilla. Alternate adding the dry ingredients with the milk. Mix until combined.

Pour into the prepared pan. Bake 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean.

Foodie Extravaganza is a monthly food fest, where a group of bloggers all create and share a recipe around one of the monthly food 'holidays' as detailed in The Nibble. This month Kathleen from Fearlessly Creative Mammas is hosting and since chocolate day is October 28th, Chocolate is our theme. There are actually two other days that incorporate chocolate in October, the 14th is Chocolate Covered Insect Day and the 18th is Chocolate Cupcake day. We didn't want to get to specific though, so we will just say chocolate. Posting day is always the first Wednesday of each month. If you are a blogger and would like to join our group and blog along with us, come join our Facebook page Foodie Extravaganza. We would love to have you! If you're a spectator looking for delicious tid-bits check out our Foodie Extravaganza Pinterest Board! Looking for our previous parties? Check them out HERE. Now, check out these great chocolate submissions!

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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Cinnamon Mayo Cupcakes with Chocolate Black Bean Frosting - CIC

I know, I know. You just read that title several times. And now you're wondering if I have lost my mind. Yes, yes, I have. However, that's very unrelated to the black bean frosting. I didn't even come up with the recipe. You can find anything on the internet, apparently. So here's how black bean frosting happened.

This month's winning Crazy Ingredient Challenge ingredients are black beans and mayonnaise. There's nothing crazy about that. If the winning ingredients aren't crazy then I usually challenge myself to do something unusual with them. There's a bit of a buzz about black bean brownies. I tried them once and they just did not taste good. I contemplated trying again and then making a mayonnaise based frosting. But I just did not want to try that brownie again.

I had finally settled on just making a savoury recipe. But one night I googled "black bean frosting" and this popped up. I took a leap of faith and tried the tiniest possible batcha and you know what? It wasn't bad! There was no black bean flavour whatsoever. You'd never guess that they were in there. My only complaint was the strong honey flavour. I am not a big honey fan though. I'd try another liquid sweetener or even just powdered sugar next time.

But why put black beans in your frosting? Really, there's no reason to. It's just a fun little experiment that doesn't taste bad. I ate most of it straight from the blender with a spoon so trust me, it's good. And hey, I guess you now have protein in your frosting?

The cupcakes are pretty good too. Very moist. Very delicious. Make them - with or without the frosting.

Cinnamon Mayo Cupcakes with Chocolate Black Bean Frosting
(adapted from Always Order Dessert; yield 12 cupcakes)

Cupcake Ingredients
2 cups flour
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a cupcake tin with cupcake liners.
Whisk together the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
Add the mayonnaise, milk and vanilla. Mix until combined them pour into the lined cupcake wells.
Bake 17 to 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Black Bean Frosting Ingredients
120 grams black beans
4 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons cocoa
3 tablespoons peanut butter
pinch of salt
vanilla to taste
enough warm water to get a smooth frosting.

Blend all the frosting ingredients until extremely smooth. Taste and adjust taste as you feel necessary. Don't use chunky peanut butter, I did and that made making it smooth harder.  

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