Bake Club: Confetti Cake

At my house, we are heading into birthday season. It kicks off with my mom’s birthday in March and ends with my dad’s in May. In between there are nephews, sisters, best friends and my two kids. We used to have parties in the before times. Now we bake layer cakes, give two layers to the birthday person and save one for us so we can eat it virtually together. My daughter requested a confetti layer cake but shares her birthday week with two of her best friends. She wants each of them to have a layer….with money baked in. Then she will deliver the cakes and together they will Zoom chat, eat cake and likely watch a movie or play a game together. This is what quarantine birthdays part II look like. Her first one was sad and lonely, now we have the hang of this together alone business. Maybe next year will be different?

I pulled out my Dessert Person cookbook by Claire Saffitz. She has really good cake cake recipes. Her Almond Poppy Seed is stellar. So I thought I would give her Confetti Cake a try.

In my head this is a pink cake, but when I read the recipe and look at my photos – its white. Weird.

The recipe calls for three 9″ round cake pans. I have two, but I also have a 9″ spring form pan. So I used that as well since this was not going to be a three layer cake. Grease – I used Pam – the pans then cut a 9″ round of parchment for the bottom of the pan and give that a once over with spray as well. Set these aside.

This cake uses the reverse creaming method. Nothing about this method is typical to cakes but it makes a superior moist cake with a tight crumb. I will forever make cakes this way from now on.

Mix all the dry ingredients (this includes the sugar – strange but true) in your stand mixer on low and mix to combine. Give the eggs a quick whisk with a fork to break them up then add it along with all the wet ingredients to the dry. Turn the speed up and let it go for a good two minutes. You are whipping it to incorporate air. This is what makes it fluffy.

Turn the speed up and let it go for a good two minutes. You are whipping it to incorporate air. This is what makes it fluffy.

It makes a big difference so set your timer. Then add one cup of sprinkles. I went to bulk barn. When you need a lot, buying in bulk makes sense.

The stars are my favourites.

Pour out the batter into the prepared pans. You can scoop, pour or weigh but try to get them even so they bake at the same rate.

Bake at 350F for about 40 – 45 minutes rotating at about 30 minutes unless you have a convection oven – then its fine and will bake evenly. Let them cool in the pan for about 15 minutes. Cake need the pan to help hold its structure. pop them out too quickly and you get cracks or broken sections. Then lay them on a wire rack to cool completely.

While they are cooling make your frosting. This uses a pound of room temp cream cheese – the good stuff not low fat or it won’t emulsify. This equates to two packages of cream cheese (room temp) and half a pound of butter – also room temp. Cream these two together for a minute. Then add one pound of icing sugar, a pinch of salt and two tablespoons of vanilla. Cover your mixer with a clean tea towel and start mixing until everything is fluffy and combined. Chill this in the fridge for about 30 minutes.

I trimmed the layers so they would sit flat on the cake plate.

This is the chef’s snack.

Then place a dollop of frosting onto the layer, spread it around. It is at this point you add money. Wrap coins in wax paper or cling wrap – my grandma always used foil – and lay the coins around the first layer. Mix it up! Add twoonies and loonies or even wrap a fiver – but coins are super fun. Then add the next layer flat side up. Continue spreading the frosting across the top then the sides. Use a bench scraper to get everything super smooth.

I tossed more sprinkles on top but do whatever you like. My decorating skills are basic because it doesn’t interest me to go fancy – that is my sister’s job.

I did the same with the single layer but you could add it as a third layer if you wish.

This cake was delicious and reminded me of birthday cakes in the olden days before people started buying supermarket sheet cakes. I think that is why I thought I didn’t like cake. Store cakes don’t taste like anything good.

The single layer was plenty big. You could even wrap the layers and freeze. Frost them before you are going to eat them. I recommend watching her video first.

Here are the ingredients:

Confetti Cake:

Butter for the pans

5 1/2 cups cake flour (23.3 oz/ 660g)

2 1/2 cups sugar (16.4 oz / 466g)

4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder (0.63 oz / 18g)

1 1/2 teaspoons Diamond Crystal kosher salt (0.16 oz / 5g)

3/4 teaspoon baking soda 3 sticks unsalted butter (12 oz / 340g),

1 1/2 cups buttermilk (12.7 oz / 360g)

1/3 cup neutral oil, such as vegetable or grapeseed (2.6 oz / 75g)

3 large eggs (5.3 oz / 150g),

6 large egg whites (7.4 oz / 210g),

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon almond extract (optional)

1/2 cup store-bought rainbow sprinkles (3.3 oz / 93g), plus more for decorating

Classic Cream Cheese Frosting

Question 14 of 52

Name three qualities you love about yourself.

As we get deeper into these questions, they feel a little repetitive. Maybe that is the point. Keep telling yourself that you love you until you believe it.

  1. I am comfortable being alone. In fact, I love it. I am an introvert. That doesn’t make me shy. Introvert means my energy is depleted in a crowd of people or when I am with energy vampires. Working from home during the pandemic has me living my best life. I like the quiet. I can get lots done and I don’t feel like someone is sucking the energy from me dementor style. I enjoy my own company and get my best thinking done alone.
  2. I am a risk taker. People are not mind readers. You need to ask for what you want. This is risky and puts you in a vulnerable position. But it is helpful too. If I don’t want something I express that. If I do want something – I will say it out loud. Tell someone. They might be able to help. Tell the Universe. Nothing happens if you don’t do anything about it. Take a risk.
  3. I am a dreamer. My grade one teacher Mrs. Long used to tell my parents I day dream too much. No I don’t. Stop blaming me because your class was boring. I used daydreaming to solve problems, think about what I want in the future or just put myself into a movie of my own making. It kept me out of trouble and I wasn’t bothering anyone. Lots of teachers were interesting and I would stay focused in their class. I can sit for long periods of time in stillness but my mind is super active planning out my future, coming up with new ideas or sometimes thinking about a scenario I wish I could have done different. I am learning from all of those scenarios. Dreaming is what makes the world better.

How about you? What three things do you love about yourself?

Stay healthy friends!

Bake Club: Not Hot Cross Buns

The act of making is typically done to please someone else. At least in my case. I have created all kinds of things to gain that praise from someone. When I bake I make things that my family likes. Not this time. Today I made something that only I like. Last week I realized I have not been treating myself – that ended today.

My daughter claims dried fruit is an abomination. Raisins are like chewing old people. I disagree. But because I love her, I tend to leave out raisins, dried cherries, candied ginger and other dried fruit to please her. My grandma put raisins in everything. I remember my dad complaining about it in everything but butter tarts. I always loved them except that time she put it in her stew… grandma – I love you but that was weird. But the raisin sauce on ham was good!

Today I made Not Hot Cross Buns because every spring the bakeries make them and they look so delicious with their currents and raisins. The hubs bough ‘hot cross bun bagels’ last week. The flavour was nice but the fruit was green and red. That candied peel fruit that is dyed is tasteless and holds way too much artificial colour. I prefer no food dye. I am not sure why – but it turns me off. Anything that alters normal body chemistry and turns things colours can’t be good for you over the long haul.

I soaked 2/3 cup of raisins – the good kind that taste like they came from a red box. You know what I mean. Then I zested one orange and juiced it. I soaked the raisins in the orange juice for about 30 minutes. Rum is good for this as well. While that was happening I weighed out my 440g of flour, 50 grams of dark brown sugar and 50 g of white granulated sugar into the bowl of my stand mixer. I added 2 1/4 tsp or one package of instant yeast, 1 tsp sea salt, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp of allspice and 1/4 of a grated nutmeg. I whisked that together and started on my wet ingredients.

Into a small bowl or two cup glass measure, I added 1/2 cup of 2% milk, 1/3 cup of butter and popped that into the microwave for about a minute swirling it together until the butter melted. I added 1 Tbsp. of vanilla and the orange zest from before. Whisked 1 egg and add it to the mix.

In your stand mixer with a dough hook attachment (or by hand – but it will take a while) on low speed, slowly drizzle the wet ingredients. Before it combines into a ball, drain the raisins and add them to the dough. Beat on medium speed until it comes together. There will likely be raisins or what ever dried fruit you used on the bottom of the bowl.

Sprinkle about 2 Tbsp. of flour onto a clean surface and dump the dough and remaining dried fruit out. Start to knead the dough until it feels soft. At the beginning it will be gritty – you will know the second it becomes soft and smooth. It will take about 5-7 minutes but maybe longer. It took me 10 minutes today. Form into a ball.

Light oil a bowl, and place your dough into the bowl. rotate it so it also is covered in oil. Cover with a damp cloth and let this double in size in a warm spot. Keep an eye on it it should be about an hour but it really depends on your kitchen.

Divide up the dough into 14 pieces and form into balls. I put them into a parchment lined pan because I like soft sides. Give them a little room because they will expand. If you don’t want soft pull-a-parts – put them on a baking tray with lots of room around them so they won’t touch while rising. Let rise for another 2 hours.

This is where I stop because a flour paste cross is tasteless and I don’t like the sticky glaze – but if you do – here are the rest of the instructions. This is why I call them Not Hot Cross Buns. My daughter said – just call it raisin buns…. sheesh mom!

The cross! Mix about a 1/3 cup of flour and 1/4 of water until it forms a paste. You are going to pipe this – so adjust the consistency as necessary. I filled a ziplock bag and snipped the end off. Pipe a long stream from top to bottom allowing it to hug the bun. Turn your tray and repeat the process intersecting the first line.

Preheat your oven to 375F. Make an egg wash of egg and cream or milk – about a tbsp, and brush over your buns. Bake in the overn for about 20 – 25 minutes.

Make an apricot glaze – I used Peach jam because that is what my mom made me and it is what I had on hand. 1 tbsp. of jam, 3 tbsp. of vanilla and 1 tbsp. of water. heat together and strain through a fine sieve. Brush over the warm buns. Eat them warm, eat them room temperature or eat them cold.

This is how they should look:

Easter Hot Cross Buns Recipe | Le Cordon Bleu

Tell me how yours turned out!

Stay healthy friends!

Question 13 of 52

Bits: Kermit, Miss Piggy Split; 'Archie' Musical In Works | Joy Hog!

Of the people in your life, who makes you feel the most confident?

The hubs. I suppose your life partner should be the one you feel safest with. I know that isn’t always true. I was married before to a class A selfish abusive rat-bastard. That relationship was the opposite of instilling confidence. I went through a series of people in my life who were allowed – by me – to treat me like hot garbage. There was a deep something that was comforting about this. I knew what to expect. Knowing what to expect – even bad – was comforting. How sad is that? Feeling bad because you know what to expect. Abuse messes you up.

The hubs held space for me to explore all kinds of feelings and experiences. He was constant. Was? IS. I had a terrible “friend” once say my hubs was a good guy like it was a surprise. He is. We are a good team. He is the anchor while I go out and try new things and either fall or fly. He is there to cheer or give me Band-Aids. Our relationship has evolved into something I can’t explain but its really good. Twenty five years this June.

Who is your person?

One year later

It’s been one year since everything changed for everyone on the planet. How are you all doing? I am tired, as in, I am not sleeping well. I have a lot on my mind and it wakes me up or worse, I dream about it. So I am doing my best to stay present. One of my strategies for that is to read. I have read 11 books in March (there is that 11 again). Reading keeps me absorbed in the story so I can’t think about the future. Since January, I have read 21 books. I can see thinks took a turn for the worse in Late February… so I read. I read at breakfast, lunch, after work and before bed. On the weekends I read most of the afternoon.

I read somewhere on some self-help thing that reading a book a week will change your life. I suppose it can. The more I read the faster I get. I retain a lot of it but I am only reading fiction with a couple of memoirs thrown in. I read a lot for work last year and you know what? I learned I am not that ambitious that I need to spend my down time reading for work. I have chose books from Jenna Bush’s book club, tried Reese Whitherspoons’ book club and have hated all of them except for one. Oprah’s books are often too tragic. I am trying to not be tragic so I can’t read those. I like happy.

My top three reads for the first Q of 2021

  1. The Dutch House by Ann Patchett
  2. The Book of Longings by Sue Monk Kid
  3. Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes

I am still baking on the regular. I just haven’t written about it lately. I made a three layer birthday funfetti cake with extra sprinkles. I made some ginger krinkles – the same ones you can buy at the Duchess and I am planning out Hot Cross Buns for Easter. I don’t celebrate Easter but I really like Hot Cross Buns and Cadbury Cream Eggs, so those will happen as a treat for me.

Treat for me.

I just realized I haven’t been doing any thing nice for me. Maybe that’s why I am feeling so crappy with the stress living in my head.

I did one thing that was fun and for me. I went downtown to the Downtown Spark Festival and saw Fantastic Planet. I love public art installations. This one was fun and interesting – I will do a post on the entire happenings including those cute chickadees and the rabbits at Amiskwaskahegan (Beaver Hills House Park) but I need to get there first.

May be an image of standing, sculpture and outdoors

Soon I expect to hear I can make an appointment for my vaccination. I fall under 2b – those high-risk non-senior adults. I am looking forward to it because I miss stuff. Like visiting Vancouver in the spring, or the mountains in the fall. Most of all I miss brunch.

Brunch… It’s a stupid name that means delicious. The hubs and I take the bottle return money and put it in our brunch jar. So far we have enough saved for a dozen brunches. Soon I will be able to take my brunch money and have it pay for a trip to Tofino for brunch at the Point. Oh man! I miss Tofino. Surprisingly, I don’t miss Disneyland.

No photo description available.

I think the first places I will visit will be Tofino, Vancouver and then head east as far as St. John’s. I also want to meet up with friends at the Sugarbowl. Just have a giant takeover of the patio in the height of summer, drinking beer and eating their popcorn. It’s funny that you don’t realize what you miss until its gone.

The Sugarbowl Cafe | Alberta Canada

As I wait for my turn for the vaccine, I feel like a kid waiting for Christmas. The anticipation of a new found freedom (ironically as we head into the third wave…) I want long summer nights on patios with friends laughing. Not talking about serious stuff. Just fun stupid stuff. I want to go swimming. I miss swimming. I want to listen to music and watch theatre in the park or even inside. I want to hug family.

Realistically I know this isn’t going to happen in 2021, but 2022 will have no excuse. Get your vaccine because its science and because you should do nice things for others but most of all you.

Stay healthy friends.

Question 12 of 52

What do you do when you see a classmate struggling with something?

I suppose in my case it would be a colleague or peer. Throughout my life people told me I was too sensitive and I needed to grow a thicker skin. In the same breath I was too mean. So what’s the deal? The moral of the story is you can’t please everyone so you might as well please yourself. As a kid, I was hypersensitive to kids who were bullied or harmed, or even struggled with tasks. I wanted to help and protect everyone. I know there is a whole case study as to why I was like that – no need to go into the psychology of it. However, it is a trait I still have. I like being a helper.

But…

I am careful who I help. I look at a multitude of factors.

  • Do I consider them a friend?
  • If they are a stranger – is it something I can assist with that won’t put me in jeopardy?
  • Do they help others?
  • Are the generally kind?
  • Do I think I can trust them?

If I can answer yes to these questions – then I will help to the level they will let me. That is important. No point in helping someone who wont accept your help. Mister Rogers tells children to look for the helpers. I know I am one of his helpers.

I knew a woman who helped strangers unconditionally because it might be Jesus – you never know. But when it came to friends and family, forget it. I always found that strange. She rather let something rot in front of her than give it to someone in her family who would use it. She would demand help rather than ask for it. That’s fine, it was her prerogative. That is not how I am. If I can, I will help. As a kid I could see when people needed help. As a hermit or recluse – not really but feels like that now in quarantine – I need verbal ques and direct asking because I feel clueless. When someone struggles, it genuinely hurts my heart. Contrary to popular sibling belief, I am not a monster but siblings see each other as forever 11 never maturing. Boundaries can make people perceive you that way because you will say no. I suppose it is complicated.

I like to say yes, but saying no can be very good for me. Evaluating the situation is new for me and smart. I think the correct answer is to be self-aware and know what you are capable of doing because you can’t give water from an empty well.

How about you? Are you one of Mister Rogers helpers?

Question 11 of 52

What makes you feel like a strong person?

Boundaries.

Before I had courage to set boundaries and before I am who I think I am – not who you tell me to be, my boundaries were weak. I let people lie and gaslight me, I let people take advantage of my good nature and worst of all, I gave more chances than I ever should have. I allowed people to treat me like garbage all because I wanted to belong and I wanted friends to want me and value me. I was looking in the wrong places. I let myself down.

July 7, 2019 I snapped. I had had enough. I drew the line in the sand and walked away. I grieved for a while but mostly I reflected on the state of my mental health and began to enjoy the peace in my life.

I don’t regret anything I did for a minute.

I realize that all of events of my life led me to that moment. Choosing me was the best thing I ever did and I am glad it didn’t happen too late. I have years left to enjoy this new found freedom. I have purged former friends and family from my life. I now have a circle of friends and family who I can trust with my life. I know they have my back. They are reliable. In the end, I conjured up covenant that Indiana Jones would have chosen and chose wisely.

Boundaries are more powerful than I thought they were with the added bonus of being a set of blueprints to map out my day to day life. It took a friend telling me what I didn’t want to hear. A punch to the gut and she was right. She is the friend everyone needs. She will tell you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear. I even said no at work. I was off for the weekend and received a message asking for a file. I had worked overtime every day that week. I said no – I would get it Monday morning or they could ask xxx who was still working. They apologized and said Monday was fine. The world didn’t end, I wasn’t fired and I could continue with the relaxing start to my weekend. I promptly turned off my phone.

Boundaries are a beautiful thing and that is what makes me strong. How about you?

Question 10 of 52

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What does it feel like when someone recognizes something you worked hard to do?

Satisfying. The end.

Kidding… I can write a bit more on this topic

I used to draw a lot. The hours I spent at my desk, alone in my room drawing was astounding. I transposed images. I would look for the detail and copy them exactly. I didn’t have tons of talent to come up with something on my own, so exploring graphic design didn’t work out so well for me. But I could take an image and duplicated. If any of you know what career that could lead to, please drop me a line. Any rate, I would take these images and show my dad. He was always amazed and proud. He often encouraged me to show people my portfolio when they came to visit. It made me feel good.

I was never the athletic child and in a world where all the funding goes towards that, or you are judged by size of your body, having arts as your talent was pretty frustrating. I often felt inadequate. But art and academics came easy to me. Easy doesn’t mean it didn’t take effort. When I worked hard at something, I often heard “but it’s easy for you” or “but you are good at that”. Hell yeah I am good at it because I put effort into it. To be recognized for it was another level.

My dad has always been stellar at encouraging me. His enthusiastic response helped me pursue activities and achievements without fear. People will often shoot you down rather than build you up. It is just as easy to be a cheerleader than a discourager. So when you get recognized for the effort, it is a great feeling. Who doesn’t like that? It sure doesn’t happen often.

I like to take a page from my dad’s book, lead by example. Offer the complement. Tell someone you see their work. Show people you appreciate their efforts. If we all lifted each other up, the world would be a better place.

Stay healthy friends!

Bake Club: Pistachio Pinwheel Cookies

I have never made a pinwheel cookie until yesterday. It wasn’t easy but completely manageable. Yesterday wasn’t a very good day overall and maybe that is a contributing factor. I haven’t been sleeping, I feel tremendous stress at work, I have cabin fever like I have never experienced and am fantasizing about living in a six bedroom house ALONE. I don’t have a six bedroom house now…so why one where I am alone? I have no idea but the past year has taken a toll on all of us and I am really feeling it. Where some people want to socialize – I want to feel isolation. This may lead to a drive in the country later today. If I don’t come back it’s because I found the six bedroom home in the woods and live there now. Back to cookies and why this wasn’t easy with my crankiness aside.

There are many steps to this cookie. I am more of a cream and dump kind of cookie baker. Give me a basic butter cookie and toss in things like chocolate, nuts and fruit – you have yourself my favourite kind of cookie. But, working my way through cookbooks is part of the challenge. Learning new skills, trying new ingredients, is all part of growth on my part. So here were are.

I watched Claire Safitz’s NYT Cooking video on how to make this cookie and found that to be the same as reading her instructions. For a change, there is no discrepancy. Yay Claire! She likes this cookie for Christmas because she doesn’t like decorating and this is a self decorating or interesting cookie with the green. I probably wouldn’t make this cookie all the time either but save it for a fancier time because it looks good – it tastes fine but it’s not sweet. You get the sweetness from the nuts and a bit from the the outer ridges.

This cookie is a shortbread cookie. The almond white layer would be a great cookie on its own but it pairs nicely to the pistachio layer. I used almond flour – a new ingredient to me. The almond extract takes it to a new level. I divided it into thirds and set 1/3 aside for the pistachios. I rolled it out measuring 12″ x 8 “. Measuring is also new to me. I have a ruler in my kitchen now and all dough is rolled to the perfect thickness. All my baked good were too thin. I have the hang of this now! I rolled it out and popped it into the fridge while I made the pistachio layer.

I keep pistachios in the freezer because of the high fat content. This prevents the expensive nuts from going rancid. Honestly, I practice this with all my nuts now. Everything in the freezer, label and dated. I ground up the nuts in my food processor and added them to the reserved 1/3 of the almond dough. I think you could sub cashews because it would taste wonderful but you wouldn’t get colour variation. Then I dropped spoonful’s onto the chilled pre-rolled dough.

Using my offset spatula, I spread it out leaving a 1/2″ boarder. Not going to lie, this was not easy and very fussy. I let it chill for 30 minutes.

No came the hard part. Rolling this into a log. I started with the edge closest to me but the almond dough just tore and crumbled. Then I thought to use the parchment as if I was rolling sushi on a mat. Boom – this mad a huge difference and I used the parchment to help put it into a tight log.

I wrapped the log in the parchment and let chill for another 30 minutes.

I rolled the log in sugar. Don’t miss this step. I didn’t have sanding or turbinado but it was still fine, and honestly these cookies need the extra sugar. Then the instructions said to cut in half and continue cutting in half until you have 32 pieces. I trimmed the ends first to give it an even start.

I laid them out on a baking sheet fairly close together and baked them for 20 minutes at 350F. They don’t spread but you need to give them room for the heat to circulate.

These cookies need a cup of tea or a glass of cold milk but after a day the flavour improved and I found myself really enjoying these. Her full recipe can be found here.

Food processor is useful for chopping pistachios. Obviously it can be done with a knife.

  • 2/8 cup shelled pistachios (3.2 oz /90g)
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter(6 oz /170g), cut into 1/2-inch pieces, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons powdered sugar (3.7 oz / 105g)
  • 2 large egg yolks (1.1 oz / 32g)
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (4.6 oz / 130g)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt
  • 1-1/8 cups almond flour (5.6 oz / 160g)
  • 1/2 cup demerara sugar, for rolling

Stay healthly friends!