Sunday, October 31, 2010

Inspiration...... Hong Kong

Passing by a supermaket in Hong Kong and came across ready to go pastries! Great idea.

Ready to Go Pastries - Hing Kong

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Inspiration......Hong Kong Mandarin Oriental Hotel

While walking around Hong Kong we were stuck for food (lunch) options in the financial district on a Sunday afternoon. We stumbled across the Mandarin Oriental hotel and decided this was the place for lunch. Attached to the hotel cafe on the mezzanine level was a patisserie  - The Mandarin Cake Shop - that provided some great inspiration:
The Mandarin Cake Shop
More after the jump......

Friday, October 29, 2010

Inspiration...... Stockholm

One of the great things about traveling are the sights you see while visiting city neighbourhoods.

Case in point is a bakery window in Stockholm.

Bread @ Östermalms Saluhall, Stockholm, Sweden

This was at the Östermalms Saluhall in Stockholm. My only regret is not buying a loaf!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Inspiration...... Berlin Christmas Market

You never know when you will come across something that will stick with you. I was in Berlin in late November 1 year and was lucky enough to visit an early Christmas market near the Potsdam Palaces. I came across a hot candied almond seller. Man were these good.

Candied Almond Stand

Unfortunately I forget the package of nuts in the car on the way to the airport. Reason enough to go back!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

I Can't Bake Without......

I can't bake with out:

Straight Rolling Pin

A straight rolling pin. Much is said by various bakers about the type of rolling pin they like. For me the traditional baker rolling pin using a spindle, or the french rolling pin that is tapered just do not have the right feel. The 20" long and 2" diameter gives me the control and final results I prefer. Cheap too!

One day I would like to get a duplicate but in mahogany.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Insprition...... Paris Pastries

Wandering through the streets of Paris one morning it felt like it was time for coffee and a little something. Soon I came across a bakery that sold coffee along with a case full of sweet delights. I chose a large macaron with raspberries and my partner chose a giant palmier.
Palmier & Macaron
One of these days I will remember the name of the bakery and post it (rue du faubourg?)

Monday, October 25, 2010

I Can't Bake Without...... Multiple Measuring Spoons

At Christmas time I am normally baking more than one batch of a recipe. If I only had one set of measuring spoons inevitably I will need to measure a teaspoon of baking soda then a teaspoon of vanilla for one batch and then the same for the next batch. Cleaning a set of measuring spoons between batches can be time consuming, even a little messy.

Buying an extra set of measuring spoons can make your life a bit easier.

Measuring Spoons - 2 Sets
January 2013 - now have 4!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Chocolate Crackle Cookies

Chocolate Crackle Cookies

This is a cookie I have made every year for the past 4 or 5 years. When baked up it is a sight to behold. When you bite into it it is pure chocolate. Definitely not for the faint of heart. The recipe is not mine originally and can be found on line at Martha Stewart's site.

Chocolate Crackle Cookies

This year 3 batches are being made needing:

24 Ounces of Bittersweet Chocolate
3 3/4 Cups of Flour
1 1/2 Cups of Dutched Cocoa
6 Teaspoons of Baking Powder
3/4 Teaspoon of Salt
3 Sticks of Unsalted Butter
4 Cups of Light Brown Sugar
6 Large Eggs
3 Teaspoons of Vanilla Extract
1 Cup of Milk
3 Cups + of Icing/Confectioners Sugar

More pictures after the jump:

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Inspiration...... Venice Panforte

While wandering the streets of Venice a couple of years ago I cam across a stunning display in a bakery window of Panforte. I was just after lunch and I was unable to sample it but I have to make some one day.

Panforte in Venice

Friday, October 22, 2010

I Can't Bake Without...... Taylor Kitchen Scale

 I can't bake without:

Taylor Kitchen Scale
...... a good kitchen scale.

Measurements in baking are particularly unforgiving so a good kitchen scale is a must.

For me a scale should be able to switch between grams and ounces, should be easy to clean or keep clean, and should be able to handle a tare of 2 or 3 pounds.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Inspiration...... Jordan

Once in a while I run across some inspiration for baking. This summer while at the Intercontinental Hotel in Aqaba, Jordan I found such inspiration.

When I was at the hotel it was the Holy Month of Ramadan. I had been told that the hotel buffets pull out all the stops. This hotel was no different.

The dessert buffet was no less than 20 feet long!

Dessert Buffet @ Intercontinental Hotel, Aqaba, Jordan
More after the jump......

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

I Can't Bake Without...... Odd Sized Measuring Cups

There are many tools that can make things easier in the kitchen. Different tools for different people.

Today's tool I can't live without is:

Odd Sized Measuring Cups
Odd size measuring cups!

For me there are many times that you need 3/4 cup of something. Or even 2 cups of something. A set of odd size measuring cups includes: 2/3 cup, 3/4 cup, 1 1/2 cup, and 2 cups.

Not only do the cups make for easy measuring but also quicker clean up!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Oatmeal Toffee Cookies

Oatmeal Toffee Cookies

Oatmeal Toffee Cookies

In prep for my time away I have mixed and frozen the 3 batches of Oatmeal Toffee Cookies. This recipe has been liberated from another widely distributed source and is always a favorite year round. My one change from the original recipe is to be sure to cut the dried sour cherries in half before mixing them in.

For some reason SKOR toffee bits were a little challenging to find this year. My regular shopping places just were not carrying them. I did finally source them at the local Independent Grocery.

3 Batches of Oatmeal Toffee Cookies had:
4.5 Cups of Flour
3 Teaspoons of Baking Soda
3 Cups of Unsalted Butter
2 1/4 Cups of Sugar
2 1/4 Cups of Brown Sugar
3 Eggs
3 Teaspoons of Vanilla Extract
4 1/2 Cups of Large Flake Oatmeal
3 Cups of Dried Sour Cherries
3 Cups of Bittersweet Chocolate
3 Cups of Toffee Pieces

Dough resting comfortably in the freezer for later baking....... More after the jump

Monday, October 18, 2010

Looking Back........

Earlier this summer I had the opportunity to bake for a Sunday Brunch. While the idea was not original no one here had seen it before.

Behold the Rainbow Cake - with French Butter Cream.
Rainbow Cake
Yes it did get fully frosted.

A total surprise and a hit!

Sunday, October 17, 2010



October 17th is admittedly early to think about Christmas Baking never mind starting to bake. With a 2 week break coming very quickly, I thought is would be best to get a start on some of those recipes that can be frozen raw and cooked with out any effects.

Recipe number 1 is: Shortbread

This shortbread recipe is an old family one that my mom has used for many years. I know it is from a old cookbook from the 40's or 50'. Over the years at least one thing has changed with the recipe in that the dough is not rolled out and cut into shapes - rather the dough is rolled into logs and cut into coins and topped with a Dragee.
Shortbread Cookie Recipe - Mixed

This year 8 batches are being made requiring:
8 Cups of Unsalted Butter
4 Cups of Icing Sugar
20 Cups of Flour

The batches are made and off to the freezer. Baking in November as the need some time to age.

See the completed Shortbread Cookies here.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Let the Shopping Begin

For my Christmas Cookie Extravaganza this year shopping must be done. Lets start with the list:

Almond Extract
Almonds Slivered 3.5 Kilos
Almonds Whole Raw 14 Cups
Baking Powder
Baking Soda
Bittersweet Chocolate 50 Ounces
Candy Canes - 3 Boxes (not Chinese made)
Corn Syrup - Light - 2.25 Litre
Dutch Process Cocoa - 5 Cups
Coconut - Extra Fancy - 2 Cups
Brown Sugar - Dark - 4 Pounds
Brown Sugar - Light - 8.3 Pounds
Dried Sour Cherries - 7 Cups
Eggs - 7 Dozen
Flour - 33 Pounds
Ginger - Fresh
Ginger - Ground
Hazelnuts - 2 Kilo
Heavy Cream - 360 ml
Honey - 24 Tablespoons
Icing Sugar - 5.25 Pounds
Lemons - 7
Lemon Peel  - 500 Grams
Maraschino Cherries- 5 Giant Jars
Milk - Powdered - 1 Cup
Molasses - 5 Cups
Oatmeal - Old Fashioned - 6.5 Cups
Oblates - 200
Oranges - XL- 9
Orange Peel - 500 Grams
Pecans- 32 Cups
Peppermint Oil (not extract)
Pistachio - 1/2 Cup
Poppyseed - 1 Cup
Sugar - 11 Pounds
Toffee Pieces - Skor only - 3 Cups
Vanilla- 20 oz
White Chocolate - 6 Pounds

Extra shopping will need to be done for the other goodies needing to be baked.

Baking Ingredients

And I'm off........

Friday, October 15, 2010

The List is out!

This years baking list includes:
Shortbread                              Chocolate Crackles     
Oatmeal Toffee Cookies           Sweet Cardamom Crackers
Pecan/Cherry Biscotti              Feine Lebkuchen
Orange Poppyseed Spirals       Peppermint Bark
Chewy Gingerbread                 Cherry Chews
Almond Crescents                   Bourbon Pecan Chews
Butterscotch Cookies              Cherry Surprises
Pecan Squares                       French Almond Nougat

Along with list above:
At least 2 dinner party desserts,  2 Birthday Cakes, Christmas Dinner Desert, Holiday Party dessert for 20.

All this before December 25 with a 2 week personal break and a long weekend shopping break.

Baking Ingredients

Added by special request: Carrot Cake Cookies and Mince Meat Tarts

Thursday, October 14, 2010

What to Bake for Holiday 2010.....

This years baking decisions started right after Christmas 2010. I looked at what was left over, what ``sold``well, and what I did not enjoy making. Then I let it sit.

My thoughts turned to Christmas during my summer vacation. While I was struggling to climb the 800 steps to the Monastery in Petra, Jordan when it was +47 Celsius my mind turned towards what the weather will be like this Christmas. This lead to fond memories with family and friends. This then lead to thoughts of my annual Christmas baking list!

Shortbread, Oatmeal-Cherry-Toffee-Chocolate cookies, and Cherry Chews flooded my memory. Then I thought that I needed to shake things up this year.

Suddenly I found I had made it to the top and was standing in front of the Monastery!

The Treasury - Petra Jordan
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