Friday, June 28, 2013

Jeanne's Cake

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It's funny how our tastes can be influenced by what we grew up with.  You may recall me mentioning Jeanne's Bakery in the past.  It's a well-known bakery in Winnipeg that makes a distinctive cake with a cookie bottom and chocolate shavings on the side.  For many Winnipegers, Jeanne's is a staple for any celebration.  

The thing about Jeanne's cakes is that most people, who try it for the first time as an adult, are pretty unimpressed with the cake.  The cake itself is pretty dry.  It gets worse if you put it in the fridge (freezer or counter storage only).

The flavour isn't particularly strong.  It's not even that nice to go to the bakery itself.  It doesn't have that typical bakery smell that entices you to add a couple of treats to your order.

Despite all of this, it's a hugely popular cake and is one of the few food items I will add to the request list when family is coming to Ottawa for a visit.

Recently, my dad and stepmom came to visit to celebrate Father's Day and my dad's birthday. Somehow bringing a Jeanne's cake wasn't added to the "bring to Ottawa" list.  So, my stepmom and I decided to take matters into our own hands.

Jeannie's Cake

1/3 cup shortening
1/4 cup icing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup shortening
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup shortening
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup icing sugar
1 dash salt

To prepare base, cut shortening into dry ingredients, mix well.

Pat firmly and evenly into an 8 inch square pan and bake at 350 deg. F. for 10-12 minutes. Cool. 
Note: the base and cake are baked separately.

For cake: cream shortening, and sugar; add eggs and vanilla, beating well until fluffy. Sift flour, baking powder and salt together; add to creamed mixture alternately with milk.

Pour batter into a greased and floured 8 inch square pan. Bake at 350 deg. F for 25 - 40 minutes.

Frosting: in small saucepan, stir tog. milk and flour. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixute is thickened and smooth. Cool.

On highest speed of mixer, beat cooled flour mixture with butter, shortening and vanilla until smooth and fluffy.

Blend in icing sugar and salt; continue beating until frosting is very fluffy. This will take at least 15 minutes.

To assemble cake: place shortbread base on serving plate; spread with small amount of frosting. Place cake on base. (you can split the cake for layers).
Cover top and sides of cake with remaining frosting. If desired, garnish sides of cake with shaved semi-sweet chocolate. Note: If you are decorating your cake, it is best to add the shaved chocolate beforehand.

Note: we found that the chocolate was easiest to shave when it warmed up a bit.  Next time, I'd probably try freezing it after shaving so that it doesn't melt in my hands when pressing it onto the cake quite so much.  Any advice on how best to do this is welcome!

Verdict:'s the closest thing to a Jeanne's cake I've tasted that wasn't from Jeanne's Bakery.  But, that isn't really a huge feat.  I found the cookie crumb to taste more like shortbread than Jeanne's.  Also, I tasted the shortening in the icing more than I'd like.  The cake itself wasn't as fluffy.  Everyone liked the cake, but I wasn't crazy about it.  I forgot to put icing between the cookie crumb and the cake.  I'd definitely recommend doing this...maybe even a layer mid-cake.  


Monday, June 17, 2013

Creamy Blueberry Pie

When I saw this recipe on Bunny's Warm Oven, I immediately thought: annual potluck.  Maybe it's because it has some similar components to the Blueberry Crumble Cake I made for last year's potluck.  I love blueberries.  Who am I kidding? I love custard and crumble too.  Not to mention that it looks delicious. So, I couldn't resist.

We have been longtime followers of Bunny's blog.  She is a great baker and I'm partial to her step-by-step photos of the process.  I'm a visual person and I like to know what I'd be getting myself into. 

I started with making this crust recipe:

Butter Flaky Pie Crust

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup butter, chilled and diced

1/4 cup ice water

In a large bowl, combine flour and salt. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in water, a tablespoon at a time, until mixture forms a ball. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.

Roll dough out to fit a 9 inch pie plate. Place crust in pie plate. Press the dough evenly into the bottom and sides of the pie plate.

Creamy Blueberry Pie

Original recipe makes 1 9-inch deep dish pie

          cups fresh blueberries

          1 (9 inch) deep dish pie crust
For the Custard: 

1 cup white sugar  (Note: I used 2/3 cup)  

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

1/8 teaspoon salt

2 eggs, beaten

1/2 cup sour cream  (Note: I used 2/3 cup) 
(Note: I also added a tsp. of vanilla and 1/2 tsp. of cinnamon based on recommendations from reviewers)
For the Streusel:       
1/2 cup white sugar  (Note: I used half brown sugar and half white sugar) 

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup butter

(Note: I halved the streusel quantities based on recommendations from reviewers)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Place the blueberries in the pastry shell and set aside.
2. Combine 1 cup sugar, 1/3 cup flour, and salt. Add eggs and sour cream, stirring until blended. Pour the sour cream custard over the blueberries.

3. In another bowl, combine 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup flour. Cut in the butter with pastry blender until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Sprinkle the topping over the sour cream mixture and berries in the pie shell.
Bake in the preheated oven for 50 to 55 minutes, or until lightly browned.  Cool on wire rack.

(like Bunny, I put tin foil over the pie for the first 20 minutes to avoid over cooking the crust)

Verdict:  The pie was a hit!  It was all gone by the time we left the potluck.  I did have some challenges with it though.  For one, my streusel topping didn't look anywhere near as nice as Bunny's.  Also, I had to cook the pie a lot longer to get the centre to finish cooking.  I knew it would get harder once it cooled, but it was just too liquidy for my liking to take it out at the directed time.  Lastly, I kind of wished that there was a more prominent vanilla flavour with the custard.  I added vanilla to the recipe.  But, I didn't taste it much after it finished baking. Still, the pie tasted great.


Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Westfest & Baby Knit

Weekends can be a tough balance of trying to take in as many local events and gatherings with friends as possible and fitting in E's naps.  When E was younger, she would regularly fall asleep in a carrier or in someone's arms while we were out.  But, now that she is becoming more aware of her surroundings (and dogs going for walks with their owners), naps on the go are pretty rare.

It was looking like we might have to miss out on Westfest this year, but we managed to squeeze in a walk up and down the festival area.  Westfest is a free festival in Westboro that has grown every year and just had its 10th anniversary. During the day, most of the focus seemed to be on activities for kids and local stores advertising/selling their products.  At night, the focus shifts toward musical performances.  

Here are just a few shots we took while walking up and down the 14 block strip:

These guys were out advertising the Star Wars Identities exhibit at the Canadian Aviation and Space Museum, which will be in town until September 2nd.

I am always attracted to fruit-filled juices.  I need to find a see-through carafe and an occasion to make something like this.

I'm guessing this seat was a product of the recent Knit in Public day.  Hopefully the city isn't too eager to remove it.  

I definitely want to check out the Ottawa Turkish Festival on July 20-21.

After opening in the Byward Market a few years ago, The Cupcake Lounge has just opened its second location in Westboro.  I guess they're doing something right!

After Wesfest, we attended a friend's shower.  Here is E modelling the baby leg warmers I made for a friend's baby.

Baby leg warmers might be up there as one of my favourite things to knit for a baby.  It's a relatively fast knitting project, but is one of the longest-lasting wearable knits you can make for a baby.  They'll fit most babies from 3 months to 2 years. StumbleUpon

Monday, June 10, 2013

Baskets with Panache: Ticket Giveaway

It should come as no surprise that I'm a fan of the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum.   Recently, they contacted me to host a giveaway to Baskets with Panache.

This is a charity event that raises money for children and youth with financial and physical challenges to attend the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum's educational programs.  Since 2007, this annual event has raised over $250,000.

When: Wednesday June 19th from 6:30-9:30
Where: The new Learning Centre at the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum
The event will feature: 
  • Seasonal Canadian hors-d'oeuvres and beverages by Thyme & Again Creative Catering 
  • Award-winning Prince Edward County wines and specially selected summertime beers 
  • Entertaining live auction conducted by Ottawa's own Stuntman Stu 
  • Live music featuring eclectic blend of blues, jazz and Dixieland 
  • Silent auction of a wide range of impressive gift “baskets”
The gift baskets up for auction this year sound great!  Here are just a few examples:

1) Famed food writer and author Gay Cook invites you and seven friends (or clients) to her home, Bayne-Morrison House — Ottawa’s oldest home (1828) — for a delectable dinner in an unforgettable setting.

2) The chefs at Thyme & Again Creative Catering will create a selection of gourmet seasonal hors d’oeuvres for you and 11 guests at The Exposure Gallery, their private Photography Gallery located in the heart of Wellington West.

3) Renowned chef Michael Blackie prepare a Chef’s Table for six in your very own home!  Exquisite food and wine pairings and full tableside service for you and your guests.

Cost: Usually tickets are $75 a piece, but I have two tickets to give away!
How to enter: Leave a comment on this post before Friday, June 14th at midnight (EST)

For an extra entry, tweet about the giveaway:
Enter the #Ottawa #Giveaway @EqualOppKitchen for 2 tickets to #BasketsWithPanache ($150 value) @AgMuseum
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