Bake Club: Nanaimo Bars

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Nanaimo Bar from the Nanaimo Trail BC.

My 50th birthday took me to Vancouver Island with Tofino as the ultimate destination. I had been reading about the Nanaimo Trail and thought Nanaimo might be a great place to stop for lunch. It was. We had great soup and a Nanaimo bar for dessert, because when in Nanaimo… well, you know how the story goes. EAT THE NANAIMO BAR. I really liked it. I never thought Costco made a good one, nor have I liked the ‘variations’ to the classic bar. I never had family who made it and it wasn’t a staple growing up. The hubs loves nanaimo bars. He raved about the one we had on the trail. This year I thought I would do him a solid and make some amongst the Christmas baking.

I did some research and found everyone had their own version. Some used pudding powder, some didn’t, other’s had mint (WTF?) other’s had oats. NONE OF THESE ARE CORRECT! I went to the City of Nanaimo’s page for the Canadian classic treat because I figured this would be the authentic version. I was correct. It had custard powder and almonds. I downloaded this recipe and was preparde for a LOT OF WORK, because that is what people told me….ohhhhhh they are sooooo much work.

Liars. All of you.

These bars were easy and probably the best tasting bars ever. I mean EVER. Look for the recipe here. You are welcome.

When you try this recipe follow all the ingredients as written out. Don’t substitute things and then tell me it was crap. It is not the recipe, it is the recipe follower. There, I said it.

I did make a mistake though – I forgot to add the coconut. You could tell. It was still really good but the bottom wasn’t as thick. I am making new ones and I will not forget the coconut this time.

I made the crust first. I chopped blanched almonds for days. I want a small food processor. The upside is my knife skills are getting pretty darn great. I used parchment with an overhang to pull the squares out in a quick and painless fashion. I recommend that step. Add consider chilling the crust while you make the filling. I think it makes for better definition of the layers.

The filling is basically vanilla custard frosting. It is delicious! I am a Doctor Who fan so I had Birds custard powder for fish fingers and custard party. Sometimes we have custard for desert. It is not the same a Jello vanilla pudding and do not bother telling me it is. Because it’s not. So don’t use that.

Bird's Custard Powder - Original - 340g | London Drugs

You only need two tablespoons of the powder – this is the secret ingredient. Do not skip it and use your stand mixer or hand beaters to get the filling fluffy. I poured this on top of the chilled bottom crust and popped it back into the fridge while I melted the chocolate.

This is where you can elevate the squares. It calls for baking squares of chocolate. Um, no. Have you tasted that stuff? that isn’t chocolate, it is wax flavored baking topping. Ew.

Schitt's Creek: 10 Memes Too Hilarious For Words | ScreenRant

Chop your best chocolate and add 2 tablespoons of butter and melt them together over a double boiler – it won’t burn this way. The microwave will burn your chocolate. If you use terrible chocolate, use the microwave. It doesn’t matter any more…

I tempered the chocolate to get a nice snap – but you don’t have to. It works just fine without. Plus temper gives it a nice gloss.

I cut them into 16 squares because the hubs would have two otherwise. But you could easily get 32 rectangles of the perfect size.

These took maybe 30 minutes to make from start to finish. I am making one more batch this weekend for the freezer and don’t tell the hubs because I need these to last for gifts.

If you try this Canadian classic tell me how it went!

Stay healthy friends!

Bake Club: Pie Crust

Canadian Thanksgiving has past. It was delicious. I didn’t have my parents over this year because of the pandemic. We wanted to still share food. We each make things that taste good and like to contribute to the larger meal. My mom made our family’s traditional style cabbage rolls, I love these. They are a hybrid of Ukrainian and German. Not sour, stuffed with rice and bacon, topped with a sweetish tomato sauce and cloves. I traded two pumpkin pies.

Making pies is typically my super power but somehow this year the crust turned out terrible. I know why but it was still terrible. At least the filling was excellent. I thought I would write out the recipe and share it with you. Only this one will talk about the mistakes and why it went so wrong so future us will do better.

This is the only pie crust I ever make. It is made with butter and when I follow the rules it is tender and flakey.

Double Butter Pie Crust

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 cup butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes – I use salted butter
  • 1 cup  ice water, or more as needed

That is it. Simple but complicated. You can half it to make a single crust. This recipe can make a covered pie or two open pies. Things you need:

  • 2 9″ pie plates. Not deep dish – regular pie plates
  • Pie weights. You can buy special pie weights or use dried beans, lentils or rice.

I keep my butter in the freezer and put it in the fridge the night before. I cut it up into cubes when it is cold and store it in the fridge until I need it. Cold it important, especially if you have hot hands. Fill a two cup measure with ice. Add one cup of cold water to the ice and let it chill for a few minutes.

Whisk together the flour and salt in a large bowl.

Add the cubed butter. Working quickly you need to rub the butter into the flour. I toss the butter in the flour to coat it first then I rub it in with my thumb and first two fingers. You can use a pastry cutter if you like but like but I like to feel the mixture. If you like a flakey crust you want to have larger bits of butter. If you want only a tender crust, rub it until it looks like sand.

I turn the crumbles on to a board or counter. Make a well in the centre and add water a few tablespoons at a time while folding the dough together. You don’t want your dough to be sticky nor do you want it dry. As you kneed it together it will form a ball. Too dry and you get cracks, to wet and it sticks to your fingers. You can add water or flour as needed. (no pun intended). The perfect consistency is when you squeeze it and it holds together (even when the bowl still looks like crumbs).

Form the dough into a ball. Cut in half and fold it onto iself a few times. This is how you get the layers of a flakey crust like the ones you see on Crisco commercials. Then pat into a circle. This is important. It helps the gluten strands develop and it is easier to roll out a circle. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap or an air tight container and chill at least 30 minutes.

I will often make the dough in the morning or the night before. I pull them out of the fridge, unwrap and place on a floured surface. I bang on it with my rolling pie. This loosens up the crust making it easier to roll out.

When I roll the dough, I start in the centre and roll forward once, lift the dough and make a quarter turn and repeat the process. This does a couple of things. It ensures I get a round crust, the crust does not stick to the surface and I can control the size and thickness better.

I keep checking the diameter with the pie plate. I want at least two inches larger than the plate. Then I fold it in half and centre it in the plate and unfold it. I gently hold the sides and I fit it into the plate being carful not to tear the sides. If you do – just pinch together.

Fold the edges under itself. This gives a thicker crust edge and allows for a pretty crimp. You can do whatever you like, I use my two fingers and thumb to create the zigzag pattern. My grandma used a fork for the crimp. Do what every you like best.

Now you fill it. If it will be a custard filling, like pumpkin, you will need to blind bake it.

Blind Bake:

Dock the pie with a fork (poke holes all over it) and bush on an egg wash. This prevents the crust from absorbing the custard filling.

Take a piece of parchment and cover the bottom of the pie. Ensure it is long enough to cover the sides. Fill with dried beans or pie weights. DO NOT MISS THIS STEP. I couldn’t find my pie weights so baked without. BIG MISTAKE. The crust folded on itself and shrank. I couldn’t bake it fully because it was melting into itself. It was a disaster.

Bake at 350F for 30 – 45 minutes. Shorter if you need to bake the filling in the pie, longer if you are putting a cooked filling in the finished pie shell.

The crust should be lightly brown and not translucent. (like mine was because I didn’t use pie weights.)

I have no idea what I was thinking but I will never make that mistake again. At least the crust tasted good – although it was a little under done. Don’t do that either.

Double Crust:

Place the bottom crust in the centre of the pie plate. Unfold it.

Add filling.

Place to the top crust over the filling. Fold the top crust under the bottom crust. Then crimp. Crimping here keeps the pie filling from spilling out. it isn’t just decorative. Cut a pie vent in the centre of the pie to let steam escape. Otherwise it will explode in your oven and that is just sad for everyone, especially the person who cleans the oven.

Brush with egg wash for a golden crust, milk for a pale crust.

Bake at 450F for 15 – 30 minutes and then drop the heat to 350F for about 45 minutes. Bake until golden brown.

Stay safe and healthy everyone!

Bake Club: Pumpkin Bourbon Bread

Back in the spring when I was buying squash seeds, I purchased butternut squash. When they came from the online shop they were actually kobocha squash. This was a happy accident. I had no idea what to do with them but after a little research, I learned they taste like pumpkin and sweet potato. Libby’s uses these to make their canned pumpkin – this could be a lie because I hear Libby genetically created their own special squash. Doesn’t matter – the kobocha squash tasted exactly like canned pumpkin only… fresher if that makes sense.

I harvested them, cut them up, seeded and roasted them for about an hour at 400F – until fork tender. I had 5lbs of squash and that should yield about 2-2.5 cups of puree. I pushed the roasted pulp through a sieve and was very pleased with the result.

The puree was smooth and tasty.

I followed Melissa Clark’s Pumpkin Bourbon Bread recipe. I had a some bourbon leftover from making vanilla extract and I had 1 3/4 of squash left aft I ran it through the sieve so it work out perfectly! You can use canned pumpkin but my garden squash was next level!

Her method for making brown butter was the easiest method. The key is to use a skillet. That way you can actually see when the solids turn. Big foam – then brown solids. Perfect.

I added all the wet ingredients into the squash except the sugar. That was weird. The sugar needed to be whisked into the flour. I had never done that before.

The 1/4 cup of whisky smelled amazing. Don’t leave it out. It makes this bread.

Then combine everything together and fill two 8″ loaf pans. I have 9″ so they were a bit shallow.

This made two loaves and I think pistachios would be great in this. I used fresh and fragrant ground cardamom – It is worth doing that as well. I am learning fresh spices not purchased in bulk at Costco is worth it. The flavour intensity is amazing.

These were simple to make and Melissa Clarks instructions are always easy to follow. I added this recipe to my hand written recipe book because I will always make this version.

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

Bake Club: Cornflake Chocolate Chip Cookie

I joined Christina Tosi’s Bake Club. I decided to try her famous Cornflake Chocolate Marshmallow cookies right out of the gate. I read her recipe and watched her do this on a lot of different videos. I used this recipe. In theory and in taste it is the perfect cookie. I made it. I read the reviews and learned there is something not right about the recipe because it couldn’t possibly be my skills. It was everyone else that was a terrible baker…not me. I will get to that, but first, let’s go through the process (no matter how disastrous the end result was for me).

Step one: Make the Cornflake Crunch (Warning: this stuff should be called crack. It is addicting.)

I made this the day before because it needs to be at room temperature before you use it. I crushed cornflakes and added powdered milk, sugar, salt and melted butter. I tossed them together and spread it out on a silpat lined baking sheet and baked it for 20 minutes.

It tasted familiar but also like nothing I have eaten before. After it cooled I stored it in an air-tight container.

Dang it was good. I would be happy snacking on this. Forget carrot sticks….

The next morning, I began the mixing of the cookie batter because it needed to chill for a while. The reviews said to freeze it, but I trusted Christina and only chilled them in the fridge.

THIS WAS MISTAKE NUMBER ONE.

The first part of the instructions call for beating the life out of the butter, sugar and eggs for 10 minutes. TEN MINUTES! So I did.

This stuff was so light and fluffy you could make clouds with it.

Then I needed to add the flour and mix until almost combined – that took less than one minute. Next add the Cornflake Crunch, marshmallows and mini chocolate chips.

Simple enough. I took my large cookie scoop as instructed and scooped out tightly packed balls of dough and lined them up on a sheet pan to chill a minimum of 30 minutes. I chilled them for four hours because I had errands to run.

The batter made enough for 24 balls. EXACTLY 24 balls. I had weighed the ingredients for precision and was very impressed. The dough tasted promising, like the cookie would be delicious!

The recipe directed me to bake for 18 minutes in a 375F oven.

THIS WAS MISTAKE NUMBER TWO

This yielded flat lacy dark brown cookies. nothing like the cookies in the picture. Luckily it was only six. I shortened the time to 13 minutes and it was a bit better. Then finally to 10 minutes and they were lighter in colour but still really spread out. Super crispy on the outside. Just like the reviews said it would be.

I think the oven was too hot. They taste good, but super greasy and not cookie like at all. I was so disappointed. I had high hopes and wanted this to be a successful return to baking. Now I have a box of toffee with cookie crumbs instead of cookies.

They look nothing like Tosi’s, so my inclination is to say lower the temperature of the oven to 300F or even 350F and bake for 10 minutes then check them. I am not sure if I will try again unless I find the recipe from her cookbook.

I will give bake club another try. I think I will make birthday cake next. It is grandpa’s birthday tomorrow, he would have been 97 and he hated cake. So if it turns out terrible, he won’t mind.

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.

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!

Basically: Bars

I made it through another recipe with almost all the ingredients! I am enjoying this project so much, I can’t even!! Every Sunday morning another recipe pops up in my inbox and I read the entire recipe first. Then I read it again thinking about the ingredients. This week was Tahini Billionaire Bars. First off, Tahini is a weird ingredient for me. I have used it in hummus but that is about it. It isn’t sweet so using it would tone down the sweetness in the butterscotch. Apparently, you can use any nut butter as long as it is unsweetened. Fair enough. After tasting this, I would substitute peanut butter but this is really good as is, just super sweet. Cut the bars smaller than they call for because it was just too much sugar. It tastes like you can eat the whole piece but then it gets to be too much and you lose interest about halfway. Maybe that’s just me, maybe not. I will let you decide.

The first step was making the shortbread. I didn’t have sesame seeds so I made it without. I have to confess, this layer was an ORDEAL. The dough kept sticking to my hands as I pressed it into the sides, it became too soft. I suppose I could have stuck it into the freezer to chill it but it was a Tuesday night and I didn’t want to be at this for hours. So I swore and smooshed. The recommendation was for a 9 x 9 pan but spreading was thin, the corner was overdone. You can’t tell with the other layers tho and my family eats anything.

The second layer was problematic too. I started it WAY BEFORE the bottom layer was cool and out of the oven. HA, so much for reading the instructions twice. I have made butterscotch before so I dived in with a lot of arrogance. (The difference between butterscotch and caramel is brown versus white sugar – the more you know!)

The butterscotch was perfect, I could have added all the cream from the one cup container, it could have taken it. Now I have a 1/4 cup of cream in my fridge and keep forgetting to use it in my coffee. I let the caramel cool slightly while I waited for the shortbread to come out of the over, reversed I know but too bad, so sad.

I added the butterscotch and put the two layers in the fridge for an hour. Too hot, I know but whatEVER, stop judging.

After an hour, everything was firm and cool to the touch. I kept it in the fridge while I melted the chocolate. I didn’t have the fancy bittersweet 60% blablabla… WE ARE IN ISOLATION PEOPLE! So I used my standard chocolate chip use in cookies chocolate. It was fine. Good enough for snacks, good enough for this. Back into the fridge for 30 minutes and then I cut into them. That was the hard part (Other than the crust layer) These suckers need a firm hand and a sharp knife. Use a serrated knife and saw. I didn’t. I cut, I didn’t crush it like they said it would happen, but I didn’t use boujee chocolate so maybe that was the difference. I cut this into 16 squares, then after tasting, I cut into 32 rectangles. Trust me. I also didn’t sprinkle sesame seeds all over the top because WE ARE IN ISOLATION PEOPLE! And I didn’t want to go to the bulk barn for just that. Hopefully, I have the stuff for the next recipe, I heard a rumour it has carrots and carrot juice. Where the heck will I find carrot juice??? Wish me luck. Meanwhile, I nailed it this week in spite of the problems. Judge for yourself and imagine tiny little sesame seeds all over the top.

Theirs vs Mine

They taste as good as they look. What are you making this week?