Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Great British Bake-Along - A Chocolate Souffle

The semi-finals of the Great British Bakeoff are over and this week the 2015 Star Baker will be decided. It has been a very exciting season so far, and I'm sure this week's final will be a nail-biting affair.  I'll be truthful, I'm pulling for Nadiya.  I think she'll be the champion come Wednesday night!
I am joining in once again this week with  Amanda over at Rhyme and Ribbons for her weekly GBBO Bake-along. 

And this week I gave a good old Chocolate Souffle a try!
I went straight to Martha for my recipe.
And it goes as follows:
Unsalted butter, room temperature, for baking dish        
    1/4 cup sugar, plus more for baking dish           
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped, or semisweet chocolate chips (1 cup)           
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract           
3 large egg yolks, lightly beaten, plus 4 large egg whites           
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter a 1 1/2-quart tall-sided baking dish. Coat with sugar, tapping out excess. Set dish on a rimmed baking sheet.
2.  In a large heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water, combine chocolate, vanilla, and 1/4 cup water. Stir until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature, 20 minutes.

3. Stir egg yolks into cooled chocolate mixture until well combined. Set souffle base aside.
4.  In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat egg whites on medium-high until soft peaks form, about 2 minutes. Gradually add sugar and beat until stiff, glossy peaks form, about 5 minutes (do not overbeat).

5.  In two additions, fold egg-white mixture into souffle base: With a rubber spatula, gently cut down through center and lift up some base from bottom of bowl. Turning bowl, steadily continue to cut down and lift up base until just combined.

6.  Transfer mixture to dish, taking care not to get batter on top edge of dish; smooth top. Bake souffle until puffed and set, 30 to 35 minutes. (Do not open oven during first 25 minutes of baking.) Serve immediately.

I used a 1.5 quart baking dish just as the recipe specified.  Did my souffle rise up out of the dish?
But, it was light and  fluffy, with a creamy texture under the crispy top. The chocolate flavour was rich and not too sweet. 
I sprinkled some icing sugar on top as Martha suggested. 

Did my family like it?  Oh yes! They all wished there was more after we devoured our servings fresh out of the oven. 
Thanksgiving is coming up this weekend here in Canada and I may try this again as an alternative for some of our dinner guests instead of pumpkin or apple pie (don't worry, I'll serve those too!)
The kids are all for it, that's for sure!!
Looking forward to checking everyone else's bakes this week.  I wonder if anyone made a chocolate peacock centrepiece? 
Buy for now.  Looking forward to Wednesday night's final!!

Sunday, October 4, 2015

An Apple Each Day....

With autumn arriving full-force this past week, of course it was time to hit the apple orchards and do some picking!
There are a vast number of orchards around our town, some are huge and have literally thousands of visitors each weekend, and others are small and family-run and you can basically have the place to yourself on a cool, October day 

When it was all said and done we chose Wheelbarrow Orchards for their selection of apple-types and the cute little food shop right in the premises.
 To begin, we entered the shop and purchased a "picking bag." They had 2 sizes available. Buy it (mine cost $18) and fill it with apples.  The farmer told me it would likely hold 30 apples.  I was sure we could fit in a few more than that!

Out into the orchard we went. We were very thankful that we had worn hats and gloves.  It was pretty cold out there in the exposed rural area. 
Look how heavily-laden the trees are.  Amazing! Nature at its best.

I think it took all of 38 seconds before Camden had bitten into a apple.  He chose a crunchy, green Mutsu. With a wiggly front tooth, he found it a bit of a challenge, but by the end of our picking time, he had eaten it to its core!

Afton prefers her apples red  and small.   Hers was gone in about 15 bites!

The kids wanted to buy our Hallowe'en pumpkins today, but I wasn't quite ready for that.  We've still got 3 weeks before that spooky event arrives and I figured we could save a pumpkin-patch outing for another weekend. 

After one last walk through the trees, we climbed back into the car for the short ride back to our home.  All agreed it had been a pleasant afternoon spent within the orchard.  It was cool, but it truly felt like autumn. 

And how may apples  did we manage to get into that "picking bag?"  Way more than 30!! We counted once we returned home and we had 38!!
Kevin and I also grabbed a big bottle of cider.  We love it mixed with caramel or maple vodka this time of year. Mmmmm.....is it too early for another one right now??
I hope you and your family are finding a few Fall adventures as yummy as ours. 
Have a wonderful week everyone!

Friday, October 2, 2015

Five On Friday: Five From My Phone

Once again I am sharing with Amy at Love Made My Home for her weekly photo link-up. My pictures, as usual, are five pictures from my iphone that I snapped during the randomness of life.  This week has been far from stellar around here (mostly because of hardships at work) so my evenings at home with my family pursuing leisure activities have seemed extra-wonderful this week. 
Without further ado, my Five on Friday:
Number One: Autumn's Arrival
This photo says it all.  The crisp coolness of autumn arrived, quite literally, overnight, here in my part of Canada.  We went to bed on a hot, humid evening and woke the next morning with temperatures nearly 20 degrees below  where they were the night before.  Bring on the pumpkins and colourful mums!!

Number Two: Christmas Magazines
Oh yes I did!!  I bought 2 of them this week.  I like autumn - pumpkins, coloured leaves, Thanksgiving....but I LOVE Christmas.  It is never too early to start thinking about festive décor and crafting!!

Number Three: My Healthy Boy
Bryn and our family received the best news this week while at our oncology review at our local children's hospital.  The MRI Bryn had a few weeks ago  has come back completely clear and the doctors are so confident at his healthy brain, that they have decided that they won't need to see him again for 2 years!!  Woohoo! The hardest part of this tumour journey is over!

Number Four: More Autumn Décor by Request of  Family
"Ummm...Mommy?  It's fall. Where are all of our pumpkins?"
Yes.  This question was posed by my 6 year old son last weekend.  It's true.  I usually make a bigger effort to decorate the house this time of year, but because it had been so hot right up until, like, Wednesday, pumpkins were not on my mind. However, I cannot let my little guy down.  So the other night, after the kids went to bed, I dug out the storage bin of autumn décor and got to work.   Was he excited when he rolled out of bed the next morning?
Oh yes. 
"Mom! This is absolutely awesome!!"


Number Five :  The End of Softball Season
My daughter played for the first time this year and she loved every single second of it! My sisters and I were ball players too and stuck with it for nearly 10 years during our childhoods. I can see that Afton has fallen in love with every aspect of it too - the exercise, new friends, outside time, cute uniform, body confidence and cool trophies!

Looking to more family fun this weekend and a total re-charge after my long week at work. 
We're planning on apple-picking and joining in with the local "Pumpkin Trail" event.
I'll have lots of pictures to share next week, of course.
Here's to a wonderful weekend!!

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

I've Been Baking "A Cake A Week"


While on our trip to the UK back in March, my daughter and I enjoyed a piece of cake pretty much every day.  We tasted a little bit of everything from Red Velvet to Banoffee Cake, to Battenberg and Pear Almond Coffee Cake.  All were scrumptious I might add. 
My daughter agreed that all that cake was pretty darn awesome and that we needed to eat it way more often once we returned to Canada. 
So upon arrival home, I resolved that I would use and hone my baking skills by baking a cake every week, from scratch, to enjoy with our family.
I am pleased to say I have kept up this new goal (except for the 2 weeks we were in Italy in July!) and we have enjoyed countless new flavours and textures each weekend, usually with a cup of tea or a glass of wine.  
Now what kind of cakes have I made?  
Of course I have taken pictures along the way and I can share them all with you now!
A Traditional Victoria Sponge, Upside-Down Summer Berry Cornmeal Cake, Lemon Drizzle Cake,  Chocolate-Chip Brown Sugar Cake 

Spiced Applesauce Cake, Strawberry Rhubarb Coffee Cake,
Coconut Apricot Cake, Almond Cake 

 Chocolate Blackout Cake, Gluten-free Banana Cake,
Battenberg Cake,  Chocolate Fudge Cake with Butterscotch Pecan Topping

Salted Caramel Poached Pear Meringue Slab "Cake," Black Forest Cake, Triple Citrus Madeira Cake, Swedish Tosca Almond Cake

And where do I find all of these luscious cake recipes?  Honestly I am pretty "old school" about my cake recipes.  They all come books.  Gorgeous, colourful books that have photography that make every single recipe  a "must bake!"
Here are my favourites:
Vintage Cakes by Jane Brocket

Dessert For Two by Christina Lane

Gluten-Free Sweet Treats by Emma Goss-Custard

Meringue Girls by Alex Hoffler and Stacey O'Gorman

One Bowl Baking by Yvonne Ruperti

Most of the cakes I have pictured above are from one of these books. If you'd like any details about the books or  which book each cake was from, leave me a comment and I'll get right back to you!
I have really enjoyed baking a cake each weekend.  Sometimes I make it gluten-free for my son and husband, often just replacing GF flour for regular all-purpose flour. I have practised a variety of techniques and have learned new ways to "gussy up" a cake to make it visually attractive, too.  I hope to continue my "cake a week" until the end of 2015, then I might give bread-making a try in 2016. We'll see where the flour and sugar take me....

Hugs to all,

PS  I am joining in with the "Secret Blogger Club" this week. 

The Blonder Side of Life

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Family Fun : An Evening at the Fall Fair

I grew up in a small town in an agricultural area of Canada. Although my parents were not farmers, both were brought up on farms and  knew and understood the "farming" life.  My hometown held an annual Fall Fair in celebration of all things rural and it was a big event for people of ages. Unfortunately, the fair in my hometown is no more and I was never able to take my own kids to see it.
Luckily, the town we live in now still has "rural roots" and it holds a Fall Fair every September, too. 
The weather was gorgeous this weekend, so  we headed out to spend some time at the fair. 
I LOVE the domestic animal building.  It always brings back memories of my Opa and Oma's farm.  The sheep in the top picture have their full wool coats.  The ones at the bottom had just "helped out" in a sheep-shearing demonstration!

I'd never met an alpaca before.  This girl was gentle and quiet and had fur as soft as a bunny.

Speaking of bunnies.....

One of the exhibit buildings had a variety of craft demonstrations.  This woman was a table-top loom weaver.  Here scarves were absolutely beautiful!

Bryn and Kevin enjoy our fancy supper!
After supper we enjoyed an exotic animal show.  We met a lemur named Julian. 
Then Julian introduced himself to Bryn!!

No! Lemurs and  kangaroos are not typical Canadian farm animals but it was pretty cool to be able to spend time with them up close!

The final event of the evening was the "Demolition Derby!" We spent two hours watching cars and mini-vans crash into each other, hoping for sparks and engine fires. Lots of noise and lots of smoke!

Afton's choice for her "Derby snack?"  A Beaver Tail - a Canadian specialty - deep-fried dough covered in a variety of sweet toppings. She opted for icing, chocolate syrup and Oreo cookie bits.  Yep.  It's as good as it sounds!!

Did these Fall Fair pictures bring any nostalgic feelings for you?  I hope so.  I definitely LOVED this day out with my family. 

Thanks for popping by and thank-you so much for leaving a comment, too!

Here's to another great week!