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Posts Tagged ‘whipped cream’

Hello Spring

Spring has finally sprung in The Big Smoke so I thought I would run some lovely signs of spring first. I’m always surprised at how elated I am when I see the first buds on the trees and then somehow, it seems that from one minute to the next BOOM, we have blooms. It’s like spring explodes into nature; trees go from no leaves to full leaves, bulbs spring up, lilacs bloom and everything is glad to be alive. Finally.

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The Azaleas are one of the first to bloom

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A visiting Cardinal. He is just too big for our feeder, so he eats the dregs.

Flowering Tree_4626

Our new Japanese Cherry Tree just loves its new home.

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Completely covered in blooms

HeatLight_4632

Even sitting on the back deck is quite pleasant with a little fire and heat.

Trillium_4656

Our lovely trillium returned in the back 20.

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And last but not least, this 7 year old lilac FINALLY bloomed this year. Ironically, this was the year I had planned to replace it with a Rose of Sharon.

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A drive through High Park to showcase the beautiful Japanese Cherry trees just prior to their peak.

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It’s a lovely fresh aroma

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There were tour buses on the weekend

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The trees are dispersed throughout the park, but there are also gorgeous clumps of them.

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I took these pictures on Saturday; the trees were definitely at their peak.

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Such gorgeous delicate blossoms.

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I wish they bloomed all year round; that would make me very happy.

We had my family Easter dinner in mid-April because my brother and family always have other plans on Easter Weekend. I don’t mind having these holiday dinners at a different time, things are generally cheaper, it’s fun to have the festivities again (we had an Easter Egg Hunt) and it gives a good excuse to get together regardless of missing the holiday. Win-win.

We made a couple of BBQ’d Herbes of Provence chickens which always turn out exceptionally well, even though we remove every bit of skin it’s super moist and flavourful (I can’t believe I haven’t done a post about this flavourfull chicken, but here is a photo of the bird on the BBQ). And of course, this wonderful dish pairs so well with Susur Lee’s Singapore Slaw (aka 19 Ingredient Slaw) that I made it again. We also had some lovely roasted sweet potatoes.

Angel Food Cake_4479

My first Angel Food Cake from scratch. Who knew it would be so easy?

And of course, the dessert: Strawberry Shortcake made with a lovely Angel Food Cake. My very first scratch Angel Food Cake. I always hesitated to make this cake because my MIL warned me about how difficult and finicky it was. So as she did, I used a mix. Strange but true. I hadn’t thought about an Angel Food Cake in a lot of years (she’s been gone for more than 15 years) but I wanted a light cake with little to no fat and this fit the bill. Now to find a recipe which doesn’t use 14 or 16 egg whites! I found this recipe created by Anna Olson for a light chiffon cake using 8 egg whites. Perfect.

Now you know me by now that I generally don’t have a lot of dessert eaters, so when I chose a dessert (whether it be slightly better for you than ordinary) I always make it smaller. Who needs left overs? So I figured out the volume of the 10″ tube pan Anna used and cut it in half to fit my 8″ spring form pan! Clever? I must warn you, that the tube pan is used to help bake this light, airy meringue-like cake through the centre; my small spring form was just the right size and it baked relatively evenly. I would not recommend going larger as your edges will dry out and your insides will be runny. Anyway, food for thought!

I got a nice crumb on the cake, the bottom of the spring form had a harder time releasing due to the little dimples in it, so next time, I will line it with a piece of ungreased parchment, that should do the trick. Oh, and it’s really important not to jump around the oven like a mad dance, or even open the oven door during the first 20 minutes of baking. Also note that although this pan is smaller, it did take a bit longer to bake through, probably because there wasn’t the chimney effect heating the centre through. And having said that, I’d do it again in an instant, it’s a lovely light-feeling dessert.

Strawberry Shortcake_4489

A cake slathered in stabilized whipped cream and way too many strawberries.

You’re probably wondering “what the heck is stabilized whipped cream?” Well, maybe only some of you. I was looking for a way to make this cake up a few hours in advance and not have the whipped cream fall flat and runny on me. It’s really rather easy, 1 tsp of gelatin in about 3 tbsp cold water, nuked until gelatin melts complete, cooled down but not set and drizzled into the whipped cream with (1 tbsp icing sugar and 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract) as you’re whipping. So easy and it sets the whipped cream ever so slightly so it won’t go all sloppy and meltie. You can’t taste the difference.

Strawberry Shortcake_4490

It just looked so yummy, I had to take another photo.

Ingredients:

Serves 4-6 from an 20 cm or 8″ spring form pan

  • 1/2 cup cake and pastry flour (less protein than bread flour)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 large egg whites, room temperature
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup icing sugar, sifted
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 236 mL (1/2 pint) whipping cream, stabilized as above
  • Strawberries, to serve

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 163° C or 325° F.
  2. Sift the flour and granulated sugar twice and set aside.
  3. Whip the egg whites with the cream of tartar and salt until foamy, then gradually add the icing sugar, whipping until the whites hold a medium peak when the beaters are lifted. Stir in the vanilla.
  4. Sift in the flour and sugar mixture to the whipped whites in 2 additions and using a whisk to fold in the flour evenly and easily. Scrape the batter into a 8-inch ungreased spring form pan, spread it to level and bake the cake for 40-45 minutes, until it springs back when gently pressed (try not to open the oven before 25 minutes).
  5. Cool upside down (this is apparently important so the cake doesn’t deflate and fall). Wait until it is thoroughly cook (I’m not kidding) to remove from pan (you must cut it out with a clean knife). To slice the cake in half, use an unserated blade and cut with short delft strokes until full severed.
  6. Serve the cake with whipped cream and berries, if you wish. The cake will keep, well wrapped (not refrigerated – it will dry it out) for up to 3 days.
Strawberry Shortcake_4491

It’s only about 20 cm or 8″ wide. My 13 year old nephew had half of it.

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I invited my brother and his family over for brunch on Sunday because it would have been our Mom’s 76th birthday on Friday (we try to get together each year for this occassion). I decided on making an old favourite: Pineapple upside down cake with home made Caramel Sauce because I remembered it to be one of my brother’s favourites (as it turned out, he said he didn’t even remember the dessert, sigh!) The caramel sauce was one I spotted in a blog some time ago, and it’s made entirely in the microwave…so easy. I won’t bother replicating the recipe because Tracey has some wonderful, fool proof, step by step photos. Note that the age of your microwave will have an enormous effect on timing (mine is at least 20 years old, but it still works and I can’t be bothered to change it — it hides in my microwave cabinet in my newish kitchen, seldom used). The sauce is down right amazing. Make it. I’m not kidding. Even if you have nothing to drizzle it on, just make it. The only thing I changed was that instead of using heavy cream, I used fat free Carnation Evaporated Milk to help reduce some of the calories. The kids didn’t even notice! They took leftovers home. You may use this recipe or any old white cake recipe you can find. I didn’t want 20 cakes, so I actually halved the original recipe.

Pineapple Upside Down Cake and Home Made Caramel Sauce

Makes 10 cupcake-sized cakes

Recipe adapted from A Guide to Good Cooking, Five Roses Flour, twenty fifth edition, 1983

sticky, gooey, sweet caramel...you old smoothie

Ingredients:

  • 212 g (3/4 cups) all purpose floour
  • 7.5 mL (1/2 tbsp) baking powder
  • 1 mL (1/4 tsp) salt
  • 67.5 mL (1/4 cup) butter
  • 125 g (1/2 cup) sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2.5 mL (1/2 tsp) vanilla
  • 87.5 m (5/16 cup milk, just a bit more than 1/4!)
  • 67.5 mL (1/4 cup) butter
  • 125 g (1/2 cup) brown sugar
  • 6-7 slices of pineapple (I used fresh, but you can certainly use canned, if you do, you may want to use the syrup instead of milk in the batter)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F).
  2. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together, set aside.
  3. Cream the butter with sugar, eggs and vanilla until light and fluffy (about 6 minutes).
  4. Blend in dry ingredients alternating with the milk beginning and ending with dry.
  5. Prepare 10 muffin tins by generously spraying with non-stick cooking spray.
  6. Melt the second butter with the brown sugar in a microwave proof bowl. Stir well. Distribute into 10 prepared muffin tins evenly.
  7. Slice the pineapple into smallish bits that will fit into each tin. Place one slice in each tin, pressing down into the brown sugar mixture.
  8. Evenly distribute the cake batter into the 10 tins. Give is a bit of a shake to remove bubbles. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.
  9. Cool for about 5-6 minutes (not too long, though) and invert so that the gooey caramel created by the brown sugar still comes out clean. Drizzle what ever brown sugar mixture remains in the pan over each cake.
  10. Serve with home made Caramel Sauce, bits of pineapple and whipped cream. Hide the rest because your guests will want doggy bags.

Can you just taste it?

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