Bake Club: Gram’s Butter Tarts

There is nothing more polarizing to Canadians – hockey withstanding – than butter tarts. The debate is endless. Do you prefer runny or firm? Nuts or raisins? Frozen or room temperature? I could go on. I think the defining recipe is dependent on the one you grew up with. I made the mistake of not asking for my grandma’s recipes while she was alive. Thankfully my Aunty had the good sense to not only ask, but write them down. She has been my baking angel this fall with family favourite baking dishes. Her recipes come with “Mom Tip” sections and “Memory” sections. I need to do this. I talked before about hand writing recipes and writing the origin, but the mom tip and memory sections add another layer to the specialness of the recipe.

My dad will reminisce about his mom’s butter tarts and the importance of drippy raisin filled tarts. Every recipe I have tried all tasted fine, but they never were the same from childhood. I heard my Aunty and her family reserve November 11th as official Butter Tart Day. They all get together and make eight dozen tarts. Then divvy them up. I love this idea. So I wrote to her and asked for the recipe. I think the reason I have never found a recipe similar is because there are secret ingredients and methods no professional chef has ever written down. This recipe has honey instead of cornsyrup. It cooks the filling before baking AND it has a pastry recipe I have never experienced before. My grandma always made great pie crust but this recipe goes against everything all pie experts ever taught me. It was the most flavourful and flakiest crust ever.

This recipe needed common knowledge by baking it with someone in the know. The pie dough said it made 8 dozen, I got four dozen. Clearly I didn’t roll the dough thin enough, and honestly, I don’t think I will next time either. I loved the thick flaky crust. I also recommend a circle cutter. I don’t own one. I used a flower cutter and it makes pretty fluted edges but the tart overflows into the divots and the results aren’t pretty. I am sharing this because my grandmas made the best butter tarts ever. Every November 11 my grandma and her mom would bake these with my two aunties. I suspect this recipe was originally my great gram’s, but who knows? I think it is important to share vintage recipes and origin stories.

Pastry

Do NOT substitute any ingredients and be sure to measure carefully!! (These are the instructions – first of all I never heard of baking powder in pie dough and I never have used lard, nor have I added brown sugar. I assure you, this makes the easiest, most flaky and delicious piecrust ever. Suck it Erin McDowell, my gran knew what she was doing!)

5 cups flour

1 tsp salt

1 tsp baking powder

3 tbsp brown sugar

1 lb. (2 1/3 cups) lard (Mom uses Tenderflake)

2 tbsp white vinegar

2/3 cup water

1 egg

Mix flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar in a large bowl.  Blend the flour mixture and the lard with a pastry blade until it is equally fine and feels silky.  Make a well in the centre.  In a separate bowl or large measuring cup add the vinegar to the water and beat in the egg with the hand mixer.  Pour this mixture into the well in the dry ingredients.  Mix well and form into a large ball.  This will keep for a week or two in the fridge.

Roll on a lightly floured counter from centre out.  Do not roll back and forth or turn over the dough – this will make your pastry tough.

Will make 6 double pie crusts. Double recipe makes 8 – 81/2 doz. tarts. (Edmonton Tourist Tips: ummm I only made 4 dozen. I ran to the store to buy another pound of lard. I have a quart of filling left so I wanted to use it up. Roll thin to get 8 dozen – or don’t. I am not mad at the thick pie crust. Cut with a sharp circle cutter (Aunty uses 3 7/8 or 98 mm diameter cutter). Flute the shells into the tart pans. Also – this is good snacking dough for those who are inclined to snack on raw dough. I chilled the dough for 30 minutes – I recommend this to give structure and hydrate the flour. This is the easiest and most forgiving dough I have ever made!)

Butter Tart Filling

1 cup raisins (I use Sultanas)

1 kg and 1 cup brown sugar ( I nearly died when I saw this amount but it makes 96 tarts – that made sense while I filling endless tart shells.)

6 tbsp honey (liquid)

2 cups butter (maybe a bit more)

6 eggs (room temperature)

3 tsp vanilla

Put cleaned (check for and remove any stems) raisins into mixing bowl and cover with HOT water. Let soak for a half an hour. In a heavy saucepan , over LOW melt butter and add honey and vanilla. Beat the eggs with hand mixer and add slowly while stirring constantly (you don’t want the egg to cook into little pieces!) – I use my hand blender in the mixture while adding the eggs. Stir regularly until mixture becomes like syrup. Add raisins. (Edmonton Tourist Tip: Don’t add raisins to the liquid – add to unfilled tart shells. They become evenly distributed that way – Or nuts. I made three different tarts, raisin, pecan and plain. I like them all but my kids and definite preferences. The beaters were the secret tip – use them if you have them!)

The mixture should have a butterscotch syrup consistency. Keep warm at on medium low stirring regularly. Half fill with raisin mixture (it will boil up and over the edges if you fill them too full – then they will stick to the pans and you won’t be able to get them out). Edmonton Tourist Tip: Fact! I have non-stick tins that are the best I have ever had. Mine all boiled over so I was fussing with my offset spatula to scrape the syrup away to free the tarts. It also makes them ugleeeeeeey)

These are my Aunty’s – her’s are prettier.

Edmonton Tourist Tip: Do not have holes in your tarts and be carful when cooling. If these suckers spring a leak you will have syrup all over the place. When that happened, sprinkle with pastry crumbs or flour to absorb the stickiness and the use your bench scrapper to remove from the counter.

Verdict? Dad said they were the best. I could give him a shoe to eat and he would tell me it was the best. My dad is the best. But…. It did conjure up childhood memories for him and honestly that was the purpose. That is the number one reason to make these…. and also because they are the best.

Thanks Aunty! I love you to pieces!

Stay healthy friends!

Bake Club: Scones

A couple of years ago I received a jar of flour, sugar, baking powder and freeze dried raspberries as a gift. I made them and thought freeze dried raspberries are the greatest thing ever. I still think highly of them, but the greatest thing ever is actually the magic of buttermilk. I tried to recreate this scone recipe several times and each time it was good. Once it even tasted just like that jar of scone mix. Recently, I decided to make them again, except I decided to use buttermilk, because I had it in the fridge and I like how fluffy it makes cake and biscuits. I accidentally made the best scones ever.

When you bake with buttermilk, you need to add baking powder so it has something to react to. I found if I use 1 cup of flour, then I need 1 tsp of baking powder. If I use 1 1/2 cups of flour I need 1 1/2 tsp of baking powder – see where I am going here? Baking soda reacts immediately with the buttermilk causing the dough to rise and baking powder gives the dough lift and keeps it elevated or a slow continued rise with the heat. These two ingredients are key to a fluffy scone.

I bet you are wondering the difference between a scone and a biscuit? A scone has egg in it. It also tends to be drier and needs support from fruit, jam and nuts, or other flavourings like herbs and onions. Scones tend to be a bit denser, something I like with tea for breakfast or as an afternoon snack to help me last until dinner.

Messing around with proportions I think I came up with a version I really like. It was soft and luscious and perfect for breakfast. This recipe is not sweet. If you like a sweeter bread, add an additional 1/2 cup of sugar. If you need more sweetness, think about jam or honey as a condiment, or make a compound butter. Honey butter is nice.

I sifted together 2 1/2 cups of all purpose flour, 2 tbsp of granulated sugar, 2 1/2 tsp of baking powder and 1/2 tsp of baking soda. You could use bread flour but I never have it in the house. Give it a good whisk before adding 1/2 cup of cubed butter. It should be cold but honestly, I never have cold butter. Butter as it melts in the oven creates pockets of steam that add to the flakiness. If you are quick and gentle, room temp is fine.

I tossed the butter pieces into the flour to coat them well. Then I use my thumb and two fingers in a circular rubbing motion to work the butter into the flour until the butter is pea sized. Using a pastry cutter does the same thing. I read once using two knives works too…. two knives? Just get your hands dirty. That is what they are for. Then you get a feel for you baking and you know when to stop.

After the butter is worked in you can stick it in the freezer for about 10 minutes if you wish. I don’t because I think it’s fine. I am not trying to win the GBBO. At this point I add an egg to 1 cup of butter milk and whisk them together. Making a well in the center of the flour, I pour the buttermilk egg mixture in. With a fork, I pull the flour into the center getting everything moist and incorporated.

I added fresh raspberries that had seen better days and a cup of freezed dried raspberries, the last of my visit from Trader Joe’s. You can add anything you like here, nuts and apples, blue berries or rum soaked raisins. The choice is yours and do what you like, but don’t go over 1 1/2 cups of extras because the dough won’t be able to hold it together – chocolate and banana would be nice too!

Gently fold everything together. Now the tricky part. This is a wet dough. Prep a baking sheet with parchment or a silpat lined tray. Four your hands! I did this on a cutting board and regretted it. Do it on the baking sheet. Pat the dough into a large circle about an inch thick. Cut and separate the wedges.

Brush with butter milk and sprinkle sugar over top. I used granulated sugar but any will do. If you dust with icing sugar, wait until they come out of the oven.

Bake for 20 minutes at 400F. I prefer them the next day but some of my family like them warm out of the oven. I freeze these and pull them out as I need them. If you try them, let me know what you think!

They aren’t pretty but they are delicious.

Bake Club: These are not kiddie cookies

I am starting to develop my own baking recipes and adding them to my vintage cookbook if they pass the family. If they like it and want it again, it passes, if they don’t – total fail and it is left out. I cleaned up the pantry and needed to do something with some raw pecans and hard raisins.

I liberated a bottle of spiced rum from my son and poured about 1/8 cup over the rest of the raisins, 1/2 cup. I let the raisins soak for about an hour. It smelled so good.

I melted 1/4 cup of salted butter in a sauce pan and added the rest of my raw pecans. I let the butter foam and I watch it closely because I didn’t want it to burn. It took about 2 minutes on medium heat. Make sure you remove it once you can smell roasty toasty nuts. I poured everything through a sieve and reserved the butter.

Preheat your oven to 350F I whisked together 1 cup of flour, 1/2 tsp sea salt, 1/2 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon, 1/8 tsp nutmeg. I then added 2 cups of quick oats. Whisked it together and set it aside.

Pull out your mixer either a stand or hand beaters because you need to whipped the butter and sugars until it looks like frosting. Cream together the reserved 1/4 of browned butter – it has a pecan flavour and smells fantastic. (scrape in those brown solid bits because it adds the best flavour) Add 1/2 cup of salted butter – room temperature, 3/4 cup of packed brown sugar, 1/4 cup white sugar, 1 egg , 2 tsp vanilla, 2 Tbsp of maple syrup (the real stuff. If you don’t have it, leave out the fake and carry on) Mix this until it is light and fluffy, about 4-5 minutes.

Add the flour and mix until almost combined. Add the plumped raisins (I didn’t drain the rum, I added it to the cookie batter – because RUM IS DELICIOUS!) and the buttered pecans. Combine and let it sit for 5 minutes to let the flour hydrate. This makes a huge difference. Take the time.

On a parchment lined or silpat lined baking sheet, drop 1/4 cup or a ice cream scoop of batter on the sheet. My tray holds 6 scoops nicely. Bake for 15 minutes at 350F.

They taste best warm out of the oven, or room temperature or frozen. These are good and yes there is a rum flavour to them. The alcohol bakes off so you don’t need to worry if that is something that concerns you. There is alcohol in vanilla too – that bakes off and you don’t seem to mind that so please refrain from harassing me about alcohol. I like it, now you know.

If you do give the a try, let me know what you think!

Rum Raisin Oatmeal Cookies with Butter Pecans

  • 2 cups quick oats
  • 1 cup of All Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 browned butter
  • 1/2 cup salted butter
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup white granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/8 cup spiced rum
  • 1/2 cup of raisins
  • 1 cup of raw pecans

Freestyle baking

I spent the week (when I wasn’t at work) processing my harvest. There is something very satisfying about seeing bags of fruit and vegetables flat packed in my freezer. Everything was orderly in my fridge freezer and that inspired me to tackle the pantry.

I have a walk-thru pantry. It was the number one reason I bought this house. Number two reason was more than one bathroom and number three reason was the view. Maybe reason number one was the view…whatever.

While in pantry, I found at least a quarter tonnne of David’s Tea, several jars of nuts and a packet of freeze dried raspberries from Trader Joe’s. We don’t have TJ’s here in Canada so that was from my last trip to the USA in May 2019. I repacked the tea and found a better location for it, I sorted the baking items and spices so I had a good idea of what I had and what I needed to replenish. I put the items I needed to use up on my counter. Plus I had some raisins that were a little on the hard side. Can someone please tell me why I have two Costco size jars of cinnamon in my pantry, bags of cinnamon from the Bulk Barn and one glass jar of cinnamon. I don’t even like cinnamon. That honour belongs to my family. They are all about apple pie and cinnamon, cinnamon buns and cookies with cinnamon. I like cardamom. Not the same but similar. No I don’t like all the pumpkin flavoured things out right now. They don’t taste like pumpkin, they taste like cinnamon and nutmeg. I love pumpkin. It tastes like squash because it is squash.

I looked at these things and came up with a plan. I pulled the spiced rum from the liquor shelf and soaked the raisins for about an hour. I took the raw pecans leftover from my birthday cake and deep fried them in browned butter. I would add these to my oatmeal cookie recipe that I love.

I found some nearly expired raspberries in the fridge. They were at the ugly stage where you cook with them and refrain from adding them as a yogurt topping. I added those to the freeze dried raspberries and decided to use up the buttermilk I had and make raspberry scones. I wanted to recreate a dry jar I received as a gift from my son’s girlfriend. One of those jars where you add the dry ingredients to some butter and milk then bake. Those scones were amazing.

Then I had 6lbs of apples that I picked yesterday after work and needed to process them them. So my daughter and I sat, peeled and chopped those, laid them out on a tray and now they are freezing before I bag them. There is nothing that frustrated me more than a bag of fruit that is frozen together in one giant lump. It’s nearly impossible to do anything useful with a brick of macerated fruit or veg. I packed up the scones and tried to freeze them in my fridge freezer. Nope, that was full of rhubarb, carrots, beans, zucchini, green onions and now trays of apples. I went to my deep freezer in my pantry and yikes. Nothing was going in there, so I cleaned that out too. There was expired things int there from 2017. Maybe older. I tossed that and discovered I need to buy meat. I have one steak and some stew meat. I am good for vegetables and fruit from smoothies though! I even have frozen cubed coconut.

The scones went in the freezer along side Grandma’s date squares. The rum raisin oatmeal cookies went in the cookie jar. The daughter made an apple pie that is in the fridge. Baking has gone from a stress reliever to a creative outlet for me. I am developing my own recipes from techniques I learned this spring. I was always a cooking freestyler and rarely follow a recipe for meals. Now my creativity is flying high with baked goods. Later this week I will share my new recipes because they were delicious.

Dang I am tired. I had a full day and should sleep well tonight. Hopefully… sleep has been elusive but now that my kitchen is decluttered, perhaps I will sleep well one again.

Stay healthy everyone!

The Garden

When the pandemic began in the spring, I was inspired to plant a garden. I prepared containers, bought a yard of soil and several packets of seeds. My dad said I could have a couple of beds out in his garden. I immediately said yes. The advantage to dad’s yard is he will make sure everyone is watered.

My containers yielded enough peas for a week of snacking, 3 harvests of bush beans, soon I will have about 5lbs of carrots and a dozen plum tomatoes. The lettuce and celery in the container is bitter. But I hate lettuce so I don’t care much. Hopefully the cucumbers will grow longer than an inch. I am growing small pickling cucumbers and those little fellas are tiny so far. The lavender is in full bloom and that will be harvested soon. We have alpine strawberries that are devoured when we are out in the garden. We have had about 2 dozen off of that plant.

At my dad’s garden we harvested a squash, 10lbs of potatoes, 10lbs of carrots, and two dozen onions. Earlier in the season I thinned out the onions. At that point they were like green onions or scallions. I chopped them finely and froze them. I had about 4 litres of green onions. I have used them for everything from green onion pancakes to egg and rice dishes. It is so lovely having a bag of frozen green onions at the ready, when they are gone I will likely buy a bunch and do it again. My freezer is full of rhubarb, shredded zucchini, fresh yeast and carrot juice.

Apples are just about ready to harvest. We have a branch that hangs over the fence and that will be enough for a pie or two. I am drying my potatoes and onions and will pop them into a burlap bag and store under the stairs in the basement. A lot of this knowledge came from my former mother-in-law. She was the daughter of a farmer. The rest of it came from Lois Hole’s vegetable book and YouTube.

I didn’t think I would reap much but I have about two months worth of food. There is a rebel plum tree growing on my path in the side yard. We are going to transplant her. 90% of the trees and shrubs in my yard are self starters. I respect that. Its as if they know I have a plant sanctuary and they are safe in my yard. There is a patch of violets that grows in the gravel path, a dozen potentillas and they are a virtual alpine weed. I have moved them around my yard to encourage a hedge. I have a spruce, pines and an aspen that started off as seedlings and have given them a home in my yard. I may not get anywhere because of the pandemic but I have cultivated a lovely sanctuary in my yard. It is enough.

Next year I think I will plant more beans and onions and less peas. 100% less lettuce and 50% more carrots. I follow people who have plots in local community gardens to see what they are growing. I think there is a movement back to cultivating home grown food. I would like to purchase a few stand up gardens because its just easier as I age. I miss my grandpa. He would have whipped up a few for me if I asked.

That is what I have been up to this summer. Staycation and not going ANYWHERE including a store. Have you been gardening? Do you have a bread and butter pickle recipe that is delicious? Let me know and drop me a line. Hang in there friends, I think we will be dealing with the pandemic for a long time to come.

Vintage Recipes

June 1917 Good Housekeeping Magazine Cover

I am OBSESSED with vintage cookbooks and recipes. YouTube has a great selection of cooks trying out these recipes. My favourite part is the lack of direction. There is an assumption of the recipe that you know your way around the kitchen so you don’t need to be insulted by overly complicated directions. I find it hilarious when the host is making something and says ‘huh…I guess we are making the cheese!’ Then they proceed to make cheese from scratch because the recipe called for it.

My favourite recipes are from an era that I think my grandmothers may have tried. Somewhere around 1940 – 1949 because it predates Crisco salads or soup casseroles and the focus is on baking. There is a great selection of cookbooks from communities and flour companies in Canada, more specifically, Five Roses Flour and Robin Hood Flour. I remember my grandma looking at the Robin Hood cookbook, pulling a chair to the counter for me to stand on so I could ‘help’. My job consisted of dumping pre-measured ingredients into the mixing bowl and being the official taster. I am sure this is how I became a baker with my mom, grandmas and aunties letting me help. I did the same with my kids, nieces and nephews. Even now, my son needs to be the official batter taster and beater licker, he is 24.

Last night while I was watching the Eco Challenge, I was reminded of a square my grandmother used to make. <the name of this recipe is inherently racist, so I don’t want to use it, and I am changing the name to Grandma’s squares for my family’s reference but will footnote the history> I messaged my aunties and one looked in her Watkins 1943 cookbook – nope. My other aunty had it in her recipe collection because she still makes it. SCORE! I used to sneak into the freezer and steal a square. I thought they were best frozen. Grandma always frosted them with a bright pink buttercream.

I did a little research and discovered the recipe origin is from 1917 Good Housekeeping. < CT warning: If you click on the link to get the recipe, you will see the racial slur.> My Grandmother wasn’t born yet but her mother would have been 28. Conceivably, that is how my grandmother came by the recipe or it could have been reprinted in a later version of Good Housekeeping or in a Catholic Women’s League cookbook. I am very happy to have this in my family recipe collection.

I started a recipe book this summer. It is a collection of family favourite recipes that I make. The intent is to not lose recipes the our family loves and a reference for my kids for when they have their own families or even just want to make comfort food for themselves. When I began this project, my son loved the idea and gave me a list of recipes that are his favourite. Honestly, I didn’t even consider adding some of the food he wanted. His list included pizza crust, Yorkshire pudding, chocolate chip cookies and the rolls I make at Christmas. These are recipes that I make without thinking and it didn’t occur to me I needed to add them. The hubs sourced his mom’s infamous pickled onion recipe we both thought needed to be written down. My mom makes the best scrambled eggs that my daughter can recreate, her brother wanted that recipe. We need to get her oatmeal cookie, magic bar and leftover turkey casserole recipes too. I am also collecting recipes from my grandmothers that I loved like Lassie Coos – the family name for soft sparkly ginger cookies or GP’s turkey soup. Thinking about future generations trying these recipes and reading them in my handwriting is an important part of this. As I think of a recipe to include, I add it to the index with page number. I find myself flipping through this book because everything is in one place rather that the copious amount of cook books or random slips of paper I have.

I am sure as time moves forward I will remember other recipes I need to add, like mom’s turkey gravy, her baked ham and her sister’s scalloped potatoes. I like to think of this as the never completed family recipe book. I have to say, this has been one of the more meaningful projects I have worked on during the pandemic. What are some of you family favourites? Maybe you should send them to me so I can try them out here and share them with this community. I think this weekend I am giving Grandma’s Squares a bake – I will report back to see if they are as good as I remember.

Bake Club

I have a new crush.

She is everything I have been looking for and more. But I suppose I should back up a bit…

When June rolled in the BLM was changing the way white people saw themselves and understood capitalism is embedded with systemic racism. It was a wake up call for me and everyone I know. It changed who I follow, it changed my fun activities, it changed me. I should say – changing. I am a work in progress. I am learning. The point is, I am not the same as I was in May.

In the early part of 2020, I participated in a fun Basically Baking series by Bon Appetite. It taught me a lot and my crush Sohla El-Waylly taught me so much about baking and riffing on projects. Then she suggested the Editor in Chief Adam Rapoprt should resign. Wait…what? I followed the dismantling of my beloved YouTube series and felt a little lost while I learn more about the disgusting things that happen in a work place. I was aware from a certain perspective, obviously the female one but digging deeper taught me a lot. I noticed my social feed was pretty white with a few BIPOC sprinkled in. I actively looked for other chefs that didn’t look like me.

I turned off YouTube and headed straight for Netflix where I found Samin Nostrat and watched SALT FAT ACID HEAT. I recognized her from New York Times Cooking. This documentary fascinated me. I wanted more and was prepared to enter a rabbit hole of diverse chefs. I listened to her on podcasts and interviews. I tried some of her recipes, I crushed hard. Then I found another Netflix documentary series called Chefs Table. This took me around the world where chefs explored their cultural foods. I learned about Spain, Thailand, Japan, deep South African American cooking, Mexico, and so many more. I was then exploring spice combinations and that led me to Spice Island here in the city. Me trying new things. Then one episode later about a desert bar in New York City, I met my new crush.

Christine Tosi the owner/chef at Milk Bar. She famously uses cereal milk in coffee, cookies, cakes. I am a sucker for all baked goods. Who am I kiddin? I am a sucker for someone who loves Captain Crunch and corn based cereals in general. Plus she seems like the like of gal I would be friends with. She is fun, ambitious, innovative and creative AND adorable. All things I admire in strong female leaders.

I googled her and SHE HAS A BAKE CLUB! I love Samin but she doesn’t bake that often, she is all about roast chicken and pasta and vegetables. Christine Tosi is about DAIRY and GLUTEN and CEREAL and COOKIES and CAKE. All things that I don’t eat all the time, but when I do I don’t want it to be fat free, gluten free or sugar free. I want it to be delicious. Tosi’s pantry series on YouTube was made for me. She is hilarious and delightful and feels normal like she isn’t trying to be anything but herself.

Obviously I joined her bake club. I wish I could say I have been baking all of June and July following the baking club but I only found her yesterday. Bake Club is Sundays. I have no idea what it is going to be, but I have decided to start with an older Bake Club recipe called Cornflake Chocolate Chip Marshmallow Cookies. But first I need to make Cornflake Crunch which is the major ingredient in the cookies. I need some ingredients for that but will report back this weekend. I am so excited to be a part of a new bake club!

Meanwhile…

I am still working from home. I don’t go anywhere. Cases are rising in my province and our provincial government has a war going on with doctors and teachers. Its not awesome. I have been reading a lot (Martha Beck, Judy Blume, Rebecca Serle, Sarah McCrum), I achieved certification as a crystal practitioner (need a grid? reach out!), and I went rhubarb picking.

I made cobbler. But can we take a moment to admire the strawberries?

I diced up rhubarb and tossed them and a the strawberries in a cup of sugar and 1/4 cup of flour and a pinch of salt. ( I needed more flour it was too juicy)

I made a crumble topping – 1/4 cup each of chilled butter, brown sugar and white sugar. 1 tsp salt. 1/2 cup of flour and rub together until butter is the size of peas. Toss on top and bake at 400F for 45 mintues – ish.

Not everyone likes rhubarb so the smaller pan was bumble berry for my daughter.

It was delicious! I chopped the remaining rhubarb into a 1/2 inch dice and a 4 inch stick.

I freeze these on a cookie sheet so they don’t clump together in the freezer bag. I feel pies and cakes coming on but I need a bit more so I can make some jam.

Life is good right now. I have everything I need and more. I am one of the lucky ones. I hope you are all safe and healthy.

Stress Baking: Green Onion Cakes

There is a food here in Edmonton that locals go wild for. We stand in line at every festival waiting for a hot green onion cake to be served to use with a side of chile sauce and black vinegar. Edmontonians have a rabid obsession with these flakey hot disks of deliciousness. I don’t know if you have heard, but summer was cancelled by our Chief Medical Officer. I will miss the green onion cake truck so I decided to make my own.

I am learning that most people call these scallion pancakes… what?? Not in Edmonton. There is even a shop by the dude who brought them to Edmonton called The Green Onion Cake Man, so that is the proper name when you visit here. I was flipping through Instagram and saw a sponsored post by Robin Hood Flour to make these. I looked through the recipe and those that was easy enough. I had all the ingredients so why not? The recipe wasn’t as easy to follow because a online content specialist developed the format and not someone who follows recipes. I had to flip back and forth for measurements so I am sure there is an easier recipe out there, but this one is very delicious.

I made the shaggy dough. The number one most important step is to add boiling water. This will hydrate the flour to make it easy for rolling paper thin.

Then I chopped the green onions (scallions for you non-Edmontonians) and tossed it with the sesame oil and flour – this was different from the recipe but I have watched Green Onion Man make it this way. The recipe says to just combine flour and oil, I combined all three. Let the dough rest for 30 minutes. It needs time for the gluten to develop and rest. Divide the dough into four parts. I weighed them to make it even and fair.

I rolled the dough into a 8″ circle, and spread 1/4 of the onion paste onto the disk. Then I rolled it tightly into a tube – cinnamon bun style.

There were zero pictures in this recipe so I watched a video to get the hang of it. (Not all online marketing content writers are good at explaining things- I’m judgey because this is my industry).

Then you are supposed to spiral it – thusly:

How cute is that little snail-like bundle?

Now roll the living daylights out of it – the first one was terrible – let it rest about 5 minutes before rolling.

Then I popped it into a hot pan and fried them about 2 minutes a side with a lid – the lid helps these beauties rise and show off their flaky innards.

My pan was too hot so I suggest 3-4 minutes on medium, not medium high.

These did not last longer than 30 seconds. I recomend not using too much of the whit becuase they cut through the dough. Just use the greens. I saved a couple onions to regrow because I jumped on that bandwagon too. I plan to grow a few more because so many things taste nice with fresh sprigs of the green tops.

It takes about 8 days of changing the water everyday until you have enough to harvest. These little guys are four days old and grew one inch yesterday.

What projects are you working on this week? Let me know! I am looking for more inspiration. I am making butter tarts this week for the daughter’s birthday and planning out my garden. I am beginning to feel a lot like Laura Ingalls or Anne Shirley.

Stay healthy friends!

Basically: Sticky-Buns

Basically’s last week of baking projects ends with a multi-step complicated recipe that rivals Cinnabon. I kid you not. Just don’t over bake it and you can recreate Cinnabon’s huge confectionary. This week was Cinnamon-Date Sticky Buns and I learned a couple of things that I will recreate next time, because the more you know…

The final recipe landed in my inbox on Saturday morning, because it is a two-day time investment. However, I think it could be done in a day, but more on that later. 

The first task was to soften the yeast at a temperature 98F. This was the first time I ever used a thermometer and actually test the liquid temperature. I microwaved the buttermilk to take the chill off, and it took about a minute in my microwave. I added the egg and yeast, let it sit for a bit, and I was ready to roll.

Problem number 1, I don’t have a food processor, but I do have a stand mixer and have made bread dough endlessly in it over the past few months. So into the mixer went the ingredients. I used the dough hook, but I didn’t knead the dough with the ook this time. Reading the recipe, it seemed important to get a feel for the dough, and after I went through this process, I 100% agree. 

There were strict instructions not to add flour as you knead it on the counter. This was counter-intuitive, but I followed the rules. I invested in a bench scraper finally, and all I can say is WHY DID I WAIT SO LONG?? I was too cheap to spend $20, and I find a use for things every damn day. It is my new favourite kitchen tool. Anyway… I pushed and pulled the dough back and forth until it was soft and silky and a little bit tacky – not sticky. It was a beautiful feeling dough. 


Into the fridge, it went to sit overnight. Here is problem number 2, I assumed it would double in volume, it didn’t apparently it doesn’t or isn’t supposed to. I put it into my biggest bowl and popped a plate over the top. There was a bit of a skin on it the next morning. I watched the Instagram story about this and Sohlea puts it into a ziplock bag overnight. So I recommend a smaller bowl or container with a tight-fitting lid. 

Rolling out the dough and shaping it with the bench scraper made this task infinitely easier (WHY DID I WAIT SO LONG?) It also has a hand ruler on it so I could measure and mark out the 8” I needed. It was so pretty it brought a tear to my eye. 

Problem number 3:

  1. I don’t have a food processor. 
  2. I also don’t have dates in my pantry. 
  3. I don’t have a cast iron pan

I know I promised to follow the recipe exactly but winging it has become second nature to me. Be flexible and resourceful. 

I melted butter and spread it on the dough, and then I spread(?) sprinkled(?) brown sugar over the top. I shook liberal amounts of cinnamon over the sugar.

Rolling these into a tight spiral was so easy with the bench scraper, I know you are tired of hearing me talk about it but seriously, THIS IS IS THE BEST THING EVER!

I divided the log into three and the three again so I ended up with nine equal-ish roles. 

I solved the pan part by using one of my saucepans with a tight-fitting lid. This was excellent for proving and baking but terrible for storage. 

I let it rise for one and a half hours until the poke test didn’t bounce back and everyone was snuggly fit together. 

Into the oven it went for 20 minutes, then I removed the lid and baked another 15 because I like a softer texture like Cinnabon and a light brown colour.

I made a glaze using buttermilk – as directed. This was the perfect balance of cream cheese tang without the heaviness.  I normally don’t glaze, but I was glad I did. I only used half – I wish I used all of it.

The texture was light and airy, soft and spongy all at the same time. We stored them in the pan, and the seal wasn’t very tight, so they began to dry out by day three. Happily, the glaze kept them moist. 

Next time I would transfer them to an airtight container or my cake dome. 

Would I make these again? Heck yeah! But I would do it in one day and let rise until double in size or put into a ziplock bag overnight. I would also use this dough for dinner rolls or add different fillings like pumpkin and cinnamon, or lemon poppy seed. The possibilities are endless with this dough. 

This series taught me so much about baking that I thought I already knew. 

  1. Tools are important.
  2. Room temperature eggs are a game-changer
  3. Following directions exactly makes things taste better
  4. Not all recipes are created equal (I have tried different websites and not everyone tests or explains things well, so experiment!)

So…. How did I do? This is theirs:

This is mine:

I nailed it. Thanks Basically, I will miss your weekly challenges and feel a little lost about what to try next. I have a green onion cake I will share because that was insanely reminiscent of the Fringe Festival Green Onion Cake Man and Disney has dropped some of their theme park favs so maybe you will see Dole Whips and Churros in my future. Meanwhile, drop me a note and tell me what you’d like to see me try. 

Stay healthy friends!