Chocolate and Strawberry Battenburg Cake

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As an (almost) Canadian and an avid baker, I was incredibly excited when I heard that Canada was hosting a version of the Great British Bake off. Eagerly I hopped on the website and started reading the application, only to find the eligibility criteria stated that contestants must be “Canadian citizens or permanent residents.” At the time I was only on a work permit (#americanproblems so I did not qualify. Crestfallen, I resolved to watching the show with a mixture of admiration and envy, wishing that I was in that glorious baking tent.

But, if there’s a season 2, you can bet your bonnet I will put my name into the hat as I now am a permanent resident! And what better way to prepare than to attempt the challenges on the show. Cake week’s technical challenge was a Battenburg Cake, which I had never heard of before. So obviously, I decided to recreate my own version in my kitchen.

This is not an easy cake, as you may have guessed. It made a complete ridiculous mess of my kitchen. Gooey marshmallow was everywhere. (They say marshmallow fondant is easier than making the regular fondant… if that’s true, heaven help us). Honestly, I think I should get credit for making my own marshmallow fondant and marzipan, because I’m pretty sure the contestants didn’t have to do that. This cake is legitimately from scratch.

I also didn’t feel like scouring the grocery store to find pistachio paste, and I had strawberry flavouring and jam, so I switched up the flavours for my version. Chocolate and strawberry is a bit more appealing than pistachio and cherry, in my very humble opinion.

I sincerely apologize to my British readers (if they exist?) if changing the flavours of this cake is a disrespectful bastardization of a true Battenburg. But if there’s anything us Americans are good at, it’s taking a perfectly good thing and ruining it, like this horrific combination of donuts and burgers.

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Long instructions:

Alright, so let’s start with the cake. Easy peasy. Preheat your oven to 375 F.

Cream together 1 1/3 cup room temperature butter and 1 1/8 cup white sugar until light and fluffy. Add in 5 eggs one by one until combined. Add 3/4 teaspoon vanilla. (Sorry for the weird quantities, I converted from grams to volume because that’s how I bake).

In a separate bowl combine 1 7/8 cups flour with 1 tablespoon baking powder. Add to the wet mixture and combine.

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Think KitchenAid would sponsor me for this product placement??

Split your batter evenly into 2 bowls. To one bowl, add 1/8 cup of cocoa powder. To the other bowl, add a couple drops of strawberry flavouring and red food colouring. Mix both well.

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Mmm two delicious flavours, strawberry and chocolate!!! So much better than pistachio and cherry 😉

Prepare your pan by greasing the bottom and sides. I apparently do not own a 9×9 pan because I am a poor student, so I jerry-rigged a 9×13 to do the trick by implementing a false tinfoil wall. I suggest you make life easier and find a 9×9 pan. Take a piece of parchment paper and fold it up in the middle to make a little barrier between the two sides.

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Yep. I did that. And it worked. Surprised even myself.

Then fill one side with the strawberry and other with the chocolate batter.

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And bake! It should take approximately 25-30 minutes.

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After they cool for 5 or so minutes, turn out onto a wire rack and let cool completely.

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Clearly some trimming needs to be done here. You can see all the parchment paper grooves.

And now the fun part – marzipan and fondant! Let’s start with the marzipan. Now I will warn you that the only time I had heard of marzipan before this recipe was the character Marzipan from Homestarrunner.com, so I had absolutely no idea what I was making while I was making it, but it seemed to turn out ok.

Either get some whole almonds and grind them in a food processor, or buy ground almonds. I ground my own. You want 1 3/4 cup of ground almonds chilling in a food processor.

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Stir together 1 cup sugar, 1/4 cup honey, and 2 tablespoons water in a small pot. Bring to a boil over high heat and sugar has dissolved.

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Pour this sugar mixture into the food processor with the almonds while it’s running, until it’s one big goopy mess. Add 1 teaspoon almond extract.

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Does this seem right? I honestly had no clue.

Pour the goop onto some plastic wrap, shape it into a log, and let cool at room temperature.

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Not too shabby!

And now the marshmallow fondant. Good luck. Deceptively simple looking because of how few ingredients it requires, but working with melted marshmallows is a level of sticky hell.

Melt 1 bag of mini marshmallows by microwaving for 30 seconds at a time and stirring in between.

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Once melted, combine the marshmallow with 3 cups of powdered sugar. I tried to use my  hand mixer but it really did not work too well, sticky marshmallow all over my hands, the beaters, my counter…… so I think it might be easier just to get in there with your hands. There are not many pictures of this process as I was a sticky mess.

Knead this mixture until soft and shiny, adding the last cup of sugar bit by bit and adding a little water at a time if it feels dry. Eventually you’ll have a ball of edible model magic (grade school, anyone?). If you want you could knead in some food colouring at this point, but I chose to leave it white. Wrap in plastic wrap until you’re ready to work with it.

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This lump of fondant is probably your sugar quota for the year. Or decade. 

And now… the assembly!!! Where you discover whether your hard work will pay off with a technically inspiring masterpiece, or look like a wonky sad cake that looks like it’s had better days.

Prepare the jam by putting 3/4 cup of strawberry jam in a small saucepan and warming on the stove.

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Then press the jam through a sieve to strain out any lumps or seeds. You should have a bowl of smooth jam.

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Take the cake and stack on top of each other. Trip the edges until you have 2 identically sized rectangles. If you need to, trim the top so it’s level as well. This will create many delicious cake pieces for you to snack on while trying to conquer this challenge.

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My favourite part of baking:  snacking as you go

Then, cut the rectangles in half so you have 4 rectangles.

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Little cake bricks waiting to be assembled!

Coat the inside long edges of two of the opposite coloured rectangles with jam and stick together horizontally. Do the same with the other two. Then, coat the top of two rectangles with jam and place the other two cake rectangles on top, alternating the colour of the rectangles. You should get a checkerboard. Essentially, you want the 4 pieces of cake together with jam lining all the seems to glue them together.

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The jam is the glue, so be generous, unless you want your cake to fall apart. Which you don’t.

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So pretty! Starting to look like a Battenburg

Sprinkle your counter generously with icing sugar and roll out the marzipan into a thin rectangle.

battenburg (38)Make sure it’s 4 times as wide as your cake is wide, as it’ll need to wrap around all 4 sides. Coat the top of the cake with jam and then invert, jam side down, onto the middle of the marzipan. Then, coat both long sides and top with jam and wrap with marzipan, like you would a present. Don’t worry about the checkerboard ends, as you’re trimming them off anyway.

I had a horrible time with this step, as you can see below, because my marizpan was not rolled out big enough. Make sure you roll it out big – you can always trim the excess. Thankfully, you can cover this layer with fondant, so all is not lost.

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Yep. This was really sad… who knows what the judges would say if they saw this sorry mess.

Do the same with the fondant – roll out into a thin rectangle on a counter dusted with icing sugar.

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Brush the marzipan with water, then place in the middle of the fondant and wrap. Trim as needed so that the ends meet perfectly in the middle. Then place seem side down on  your serving dish.

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Nicely recovered, you can’t tell the marzipan is in pieces! Looking good. I never thought I’d say this, but thank goodness for fondant!

Trim off the edges so that you have a nice clean open face cake and let that checkerboard show!

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You may notice the sides are gaping a bit. That’s because I forgot to coat all sides with jam. So learn from this and coat every freaking side with jam.

And lastly, garnish the top. I topped with a dusting of cocoa powder, a strawberry rose, and some strawberry slices, but feel free to be creative!

And voila! A yummy chocolate strawberry Battenburg that is sure to impress your friends and family.

Ingredients:

  • Cake
    • 1 1/3 cup room temperature butter
    • 1 1/8 cup white sugar
    • 5 eggs
    • 1 7/8 cup flour
    • 1 tablespoon baking powder
    • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 2 drops strawberry flavouring
    • red food colouring
    • 1/8 cup cocoa powder
  • Marzipan
    • 1 3/4 cup ground almonds (you can grind yourself in a food processor)
    • 1 cup white sugar
    • 1/4 cup honey
    • 2 Tablespoons water
    • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • Marshmallow fondant
    • 4 cups icing sugar
    • 1 bag mini marshmallows
  • For assembly:
    • 3/4 cup strawberry jam
    • cocoa powder
    • 2-3 strawberries

Short instructions:

Preheat your oven to 375 F.

Cream together 1 1/3 cup room temperature butter and 1 1/8 cup white sugar until light and fluffy. Add in 5 eggs one by one until combined. Add 3/4 teaspoon vanilla.

In a separate bowl combine 1 7/8 cups flour with 1 tablespoon baking powder. Add to the wet mixture and combine.

Split your batter evenly into 2 bowls. To one bowl, add 1/8 cup of cocoa powder. To the other bowl, add a couple drops of strawberry flavouring and red food colouring. Mix both well.

Prepare your pan by greasing the bottom and sides. Take a piece of parchment paper and fold it up in the middle to make a little barrier between the two sides.

Then fill one side with the strawberry and other with the chocolate batter.

Bake for approximately 25-30 minutes.

Let the cake cool for 5 or so minutes, turn out onto a wire rack and let cool completely.

Marzipan:

Place 1 3/4 cup of ground almonds in a food processor.

Stir together 1 cup sugar, 1/4 cup honey, and 2 tablespoons water in a small pot. Bring to a boil over high heat and sugar has dissolved.

Pour this sugar mixture into the food processor with the almonds while it’s running until combined. Add 1 teaspoon almond extract.

Pour the mixture onto some plastic wrap, shape it into a log, and let cool at room temperature.

Marshmallow fondant:

Melt 1 bag of mini marshmallows in the microwave by nuking for 30 seconds at a time and stirring in between.

Once melted, combine the marshmallow with 3 cups of powdered sugar.

Knead this mixture until soft and shiny, adding the last cup of sugar bit by bit and adding a little water at a time if it feels dry. Wrap in plastic wrap until you’re ready to work with it.

Assembly:

Prepare the jam by putting 3/4 cup of strawberry jam in a small saucepan and warming on the stove. Then press the jam through a sieve to strain out any lumps or seeds.

Take the cake and stack on top of each other. Trip the edges until you have 2 identically sized rectangles. If you need to, trim the top so it’s level as well.

Then, cut the rectangles in half so you have 4 rectangles.

Coat the inside long edges of two of the opposite coloured rectangles with jam and stick together horizontally. Do the same with the other two. Then, coat the top of two rectangles with jam and place the other two cake rectangles on top, alternating the colour of the rectangles. You should get a checkerboard. Essentially, you want the 4 pieces of cake together with jam lining all the seems to glue them together.

Sprinkle your counter generously with icing sugar and roll out the marzipan into a thin rectangle.

Make sure it’s 4 times as wide as your cake is wide, as it’ll need to wrap around all 4 sides. Coat the top of the cake with jam and then invert, jam side down, onto the middle of the marzipan. Then, coat both long sides and top with jam and wrap with marzipan.

Do the same with the fondant – roll out into a thin rectangle on a counter dusted with icing sugar.

Brush the marzipan with water, then place the cake in the middle of the fondant and wrap with the fondant Trim as needed so that the ends meet perfectly in the middle. Then place seem side down on  your serving dish.

Trim off the edges so that you have a nice clean open face cake.

And lastly, garnish the top. I topped with a dusting of cocoa powder, a strawberry rose, and some strawberry slices, but feel free to be creative!

Recipe adapted from:

http://www.cbc.ca/food/recipes/recipe-battenberg-cake

http://www.foodnetwork.ca/recipe/homemade-marzipan/16562/

https://www.biggerbolderbaking.com/how-to-make-marshmallow-fondant/

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Old-fashioned Apple Dumplings

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Oh yes, Grandma’s apple dumplings. A piece of childhood. (In case you’re unfamiliar with the term, an apple dumpling is an apple filled with cinnamon sugar, wrapped in pie dough, covered in a sweet syrup, and baked.) I used to love apple dumplings growing up, but my mother didn’t like to make them because she felt they were a lot of work. Which is fairly reasonable I suppose. However, my Grandmother was quite the baker, and so it became tradition that when Grandma was visiting she and I would make apple dumplings. I was never quite apple to peel apples as well as her, with the whole peel coming off in one lovely spiral. Perhaps 80 years of experience was on her side. In any case, we worked together to produce this truly delicious (and filling!) dessert. Seriously filling; my family used to eat it as the main course instead of dessert because apple dumplings really fill you up. But a piping hot apple dumpling, topped with milk so it becomes a cinnamony, appley, doughy goo… mmm delicious! Also goes extremely well with vanilla ice cream.

Anyway, this is an old Mennonite Recipe from the Mennonite Community Cookbook- and you know if it’s Mennonite, it has to be good. And probably filled with an unreasonable amount of butter. Which makes it delicious. Seriously, Mennonites can bake, check out http://www.mennonitegirlscancook.ca/.

This one was a huge hit at the house! I had been talking about them for a while and it was finally time to actually cook them up. Unfortunately, due to the fact I still don’t use gas ovens properly and seem to burn the bottom of everything, and the pan was rather large so the syrup was spread out pretty thin, I may have burned the sugary syrup onto the bottom of the pan. It was pretty awful to get off. Try not to do that. The dumplings themselves were perfectly alright though. Not to worry.

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First step is to peel and core the apples. I was pretty impressed with this length of peel, I’m super not good at making long peels.

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Then core your apples by inserting the knife around the core in a circle, on both sides of the apple, then pushing out the core. Or some other method that maybe you prefer. Just get the core outa there!

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For the dough, mix the flour and baking soda and salt together. Then I prefer to use cold (either frozen or refrigerated) butter and use a cheese grater to grate the butter into the flour mix. Then you get really cold little pieces of butter for a fluffier pastry. If you use shortening, just cut in the shorting with a pastry blender or two knives.

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Even if you grate in the butter you’ll probably need to cut the butter a little more with a fork or some knifes until it looks like this, little pea-sized pieces.

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Sprinkle the milk in a bit at a time until you’re able to form the dough into a ball. Try not to overwork the dough.

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Roll out the dough onto a floured surface. Because I had limited space I only rolled out 1/3 at a time. If you have a large surface feel free to roll the whole thing out at one time. You want to have roughly 6 square shaped pieces of dough, at least 9″ by 9.” Depending on how big your apples are.

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Little apple on a dough square! Put your apple in the middle and pour some cinnamon sugar in the middle.

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Wrap it up like a present! A nice little ball, pad it so the dough is  nice and sealed.

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All the little dumplings on the pan with the sugar syrup poured over them, ready to go in the oven!

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And they’re done! Look at that deliciousness.

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Ready to eat! Doesn’t it just look delectable?

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Just go to town. Break open that sucker and pour some milk on it. Nothing better.

Apple Dumplings

Ingredients;

  • 6 medium-sized baking apples (bitter, Granny Smith or the like)
  • 3 cups flour
  • 3 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup shortening or butter (depending on what you feel)
  • 3/4-1 cup milk
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon

Sauce:

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons cold butter
  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon or nutmeg

Instructions:

First off, peel the 6 apples, Then remove the core. I usually do this but taking a paring knife and inserting it straight into the apple around the core, circling the core on one side, doing the same on the other, and then push the core out. Some people put the knife into the apple on an angle and pivot the knife around their thumb, taking out a cone shaped piece from the top of the apple. They do that on both sides and then carve out the rest of the middle. Do whatever you feel, as long as the core is removed and the apple is not split in two. Even if the apple does split, you can still use it, it’ll just be trickier to hold together while wrapping it in the pastry.

To make the pastry, mix together the  3 cups flour, 3 3/4 teaspoons baking powder and 3/4 teaspoon salt. Then cut in the cup of shortening or butter with a pastry blender or two knives held between your fingers. If you’re using butter, my advice is to use cold butter (refrigerated or frozen) and then grate the butter with a cheese grater. It allows the butter to be made into small pieces while still being cold, and cold butter makes a flakier pastry. Sprinkle the milk over the mixture and add just enough to make it come together so that you can work with it. Probably will be roughly a cup but could be more or less. If you add too much and the dough is super sticky, just add a bit more flour.

Roll out the dough on a floured surface. Depending on how much space you  have, you can roll it all out at once, or separate into 3 and roll out 1/3rd at a time (that is what I did). Roll into a rectangle until the dough is fairly thin, as you would for a pie crust. Cut into the appropriate amount of squares (6 if you’re rolling out the whole thing, 2 if rolling out 1/3).

Now to assemble the dumplings! Put an apple on the middle of a square of dough. Mix the cup of sugar and 1 tablespoon of cinnamon together and put a spoonful into the middle of the apple. Then wrap apple in the dough, patting it to seal the dough almost as you would a ball of play-dough. Use a little milk if the dough doesn’t stick. Place the dumplings on a greased baking pan.

For the sauce: Get a pot and combine 1 cup brown sugar, 1 cup water, and 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon or nutmeg. Bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes. Then remove from heat and add the butter, stirring until completely melted. Pour the sauce over the dumplings, emptying the pan.

Bake the dumplings at 375 F for around 50 minutes. Baste occasionally during baking, 2 or 3 times is good. They’re done when they’re a nice toasty brown and a knife can be easily inserted through the apple part of the dumpling. Serve hot, dousing in milk or vanilla ice-cream if desired. Yum!

Orange Sticky Buns

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I’ve had this recipe and have been meaning to try it for a while. Thankfully, the chance presented itself as a dessert for our communal meal. Despite that fact that I don’t think I’ve ever made Cinnamon Buns before, apparently I decided that cinnamon was too mainstream and therefore was attracted to this citrus-y take on a traditional favourite. It was good to have a fun dessert, because I unwittingly continued my theme of some kind of carb with roasted vegetables, tomato sauce, and cheese. After I bought the ingredients for my veggie pasta casserole, I realized it was pretty much the veggie lasagna and the veggie stromboli in a different form. Ah well.

Everything turned out well except for the icing- we didn’t have quite enough icing sugar but we had already added the butter and it was, well, interesting. And we didn’t whip up the butter enough with the sugar or something, so there were chunks of butter we couldn’t get rid of (we’re also working sans mixer here).  However, when we put the icing on the warm buns the butter melted and it was delicious. Seriously to die for. We couldn’t stop eating them. I think if I do it again, I’ll just use the glaze I make for my scones- very simple, just orange juice and sugar which is the glaze I’ve included below. No need for all that butter!

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Follow the instructions below to make the dough. After the dough has risen, roll it out on a floured surface into a rectangle.

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Then mix the filling. Zest an orange by grating the skin of an orange with the small holes on a cheese grater, or with a steak knife.

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Yay orange zest! It should look like this.

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Mix the orange zest with 3 tablespoons butter and some sugar and voila! Tasty filling.

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I let the filling set for too long before spreading it, so the butter started to solidify. Still works, but I’d suggest waiting until you’re ready to spread to melt the butter.

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Roll ‘er up! You have an orange roll log. Roll it from the long side; you want the length.

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Now I used dental floss, but you can use sewing thread or that cheese wire stuff. Just put the string under the dough, cross over top, and then pull in opposite directions. Yay orange buns!

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This is the bun ready to be baked, Doesn’t it look adorable?

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They’re all on the pan! Wahoo! They’ll expand don’t you worry.

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While they’re baking, mix the glaze. This is my weird chunky butter glaze. Just use icing sugar and orange juice. It’s better trust me. Not sure what was going on here. But it worked.

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They’re done! Don’t they look marvelous? But wait, they’re missing the glaze! Quick, while they’re warm…

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And that my friends. Is an orange roll. They were super tasty and I kind of wish I had made more.

Bon Appetit!

Original recipe- http://www.justgetoffyourbuttandbake.com/2010/01/18/orange-rolls-to-die-for-picture-tutorial-you-can-do-it/

Orange Sticky Buns

Yield: 15 sticky buns

Ingredients:

Rolls:

  • 1 cup warm milk
  • 9 tablespoons butter
  • 4 cup flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon yeast
  • 1 tsp salt
  • zest of 1 orange

Icing:

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 4 tablespoons orange juice (fresh squeeze is preferable)

Instructions:

First off, prepare the dough. You want to proof your yeast to be sure it’s active, so dissolve 1 tablespoon of yeast with 1/2 teaspoon sugar in 1/3 cup of very warm water. Mix it together and let it rise. If it doesn’t start to bubble and rise a bit after a few minutes, your yeast is probably dead because of water that was too hot or the age of the yeast.

Next melt 3 tablespoons butter and mix with the 3 eggs, 1/2 cup sugar, the yeast mixture, and 1 cup milk. Mix well and then add 1 cup of flour. Then add 3 more cups of flour (or however much you need until you have a nice dough) and 1 teaspoon of salt. Let rise until doubled, about 2 hours.

Now for the yummy orange part! While the dough is rising, zest an orange. If you don’t know what zesting is, basically you grate off the peel of an orange and that shredded peel is called zest. Don’t zest the white part, only the orange part. When your dough is risen, roll it out flat onto the counter into an oblong rectangle. Roughly 28″x9″. Then for the filling, combine 6 tablespoons melted butter with 1/2 cup sugar and the orange zest. Spread this filling over the surface of the dough, and then roll the dough up lengthwise (so the end result is a 28″ long roll of awesome).

Cut the roll into 1” cross sections (roughly 15 piece). I used dental floss because it works beautifully; if you have that wire you use to cut cheese, or some other implement you’d rather use go for it; i hear sewing thread works well. Using a knife, though, can squish the rolls, and no one wants that. Then set the rolls on a greased baking sheet (leave a bit of space- they will rise!) and let rise for a bit, until double.

Bake the rolls at 375 F for about 20 minutes, or until done through. While the rolls are baking, prepare the glaze. Squeeze out the juice from the orange you zested and mix it with 2 cups of powdered sugar. The ratio is about 4 T orange juice to 1 cup sugar, but feel free to add until you have a nice consistency. Remember, it’s a lot easier to add a little more liquid if your glaze has too much sugar then to add more sugar, so I suggest starting with the sugar and slowly adding orange juice.

When the rolls are done, feel free to glaze while still warm. Then eat them! For they are delicious and you will love them.

 

Red and White Roasted Vegetable Lasagna

This isn’t your normal lasagna. No sir. This lasagna will blow all of your other lasagnas out of the water. “But I like my lasagnas with meat because I’m a carnivore” you say. Trust me. This lasagna is freaking delicious, and meat is overrated and unnecessary when you have a plethora of juicy vegetables swimming in 2 delicious sauces and a mountain of cheese.

I also made Red Lobster cheesy biscuits to go along with, which isn’t traditionally a lasagna side dish but still super tasty. Along with an avocado semifreddo for dessert (yes, avocado in a dessert. Mind blowing). Basically the best meal ever.

Anywho this lasagna was pretty easy to make, just roast some veggies, make some sauce, shred some cheese and bam! Assemble into deliciousness. I made the sauces from scratch because a) I don’t know if i can find premade sauce here in Peru and b) making things from scratch is more bad ass and fun. Although I do hate peeling tomatoes. However, I do love a day of working hard in the kitchen while rocking out to my favourite playlist.

veggie lasagna (18)First is the preparation of the vegetables and the sauce. Chop up all the veggies, toss them with some oil and garlic, and roast them in the oven until they start to brown- the egg plant and mushrooms will take less time than the pepper and zucchini. This is a picture of post-rosted veggies- don’t they look delicious?! And the great thing about roasted vegetables is that you can use them in tons of things- pastas, lasagnas, noodle bakes, just eat them as a side. So versatile.

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Then start on the sauces- for the tomato sauce, boil a big pot of water and then throw your tomatoes in. The tomatoes, when ready to peel, should look like the above picture, like the skin is splitting a bit. That is when you know to take them out. Throw them in a blender and toss in the rest of the sauce ingredients and simmer for a while. For the white sauce, melt the butter and stir in the flour. Then add the milk and stir constantly over medium heat until thickened.

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I wanted to keep the two sauces distinct, so I decided to mix the white sauce with the vegetables, keep them nice and moist and it will make a nice layer in the lasagna. Mmm. Also soak the lasagna noodles if necessary, mine needed to be soaked.

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Now to assemble the lasagna. First off, grease the pan. Then, put a nice layer of your freshly made tomato sauce down as the base. If you put noodles first they will stick, and no one wants that! Look at the steam coming off, that is some fresh sauce right there.

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Next put a layer of noodles over the sauce. Then put half the vegetable sauce mix on top of the noodles, 1/2 of the basil, 1/3 of the cheese, 1/4 of the red sauce on top of that, and then 4 more noodles on top. Then repeat- vegetables, basil, cheese, sauce, noodle. For the end, put the rest of the red sauce on top of the noodles, and the rest of the cheese on top. If you don’t have enough sauce, red or white, to do all the layers, omit one or two in the middle. As long as everything is in the pan, it’s all good.

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Finished lasagna, ready to go in the oven! My pan was super full, and halfway through baking I smelled some burn- it had overflowed a bit into the oven, so I took a larger pan to put underneath and catch the drips. Just beware if your lasagna is really full.

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After baking for a while, it’s finally done!!! Smelled so good, couldn’t wait to dig in. Have you ever seen such beauty.

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Tell me you don’t want to eat that. Go ahead. I’m waiting. That’s right, no one could resist! Except maybe lactose intolerant people. Or people allergic to tomatoes. Other than that…

veggie lasagna (12)Barely any left in the pan! It was an instant hit at the house. And lasagna is one of those foods that tastes super good as leftovers!

Red and White Roasted Vegetable Lasagna

adapted from http://www.yummly.com/recipe/external/Roasted-Vegetable-Lasagna-TasteOfHome

Ingredients:

Tomato Sauce:

  • 15 tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • 3 Tablespoons tomato paste

White Sauce:

  • 3 cups milk
  • 6 Tablespoons butter
  • 6 Tablespoons flour

Assembly:

  • 1 medium eggplant, cut into slices
  • 1/2 pound mushrooms, cut into slices
  • 3 small zucchini, cut into slices
  • 2 red peppers, cut lengthwise
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 Mozzarella cheese
  • 2-3 cups another kind of cheese (you can go for ricotta, I got some mozzarella type thing with herbs. Just basically, get lots of cheese)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 jar meatless spaghetti sauce or the sauce made above
  • 12 ready to bake lasagna noodles
  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh basil

Yield: 1 awesome lasagna.

Directions:

First off, vegetables! Chop the vegetables and put the zucchini and red pepper in one bowl and the eggplant and mushroom in another. Combine the 3 T oil and 2 cloves garlic and split between the two bowls, coating the vegetables with the oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Bake the pepper and zucchini at 400 F for 10 minutes, then add the mushrooms and eggplant until tender and edges are browned.

While the vegetables are cooking, start on the sauce. For the red sauce, boil a large pot of water and once boiling put in the tomatoes. When the skin starts to split, take them out and submerge in cold/icy water. Peel and chop the tomatoes, the skin should come off easily, and purée in a blender. Then saute the onion, bell pepper, and garlic in the oil and butter until the onion softens. Pour in the pureed tomatoes, and add the 1/4 cup basil, 1 T oregano, 1/4 cup red wine, and 3 T tomato paste. Bring to a boil and simmer for a while, until you’re ready to assemble the lasagna, at least a half hour.

For the white sauce, melt the 6 T butter in a pot, and when melted add the 6 T flour. Stir well, and add the 3 cups milk. Stir until the sauce thickens then remove from heat.

When the vegetables are done, mix them with the white sauce- this will keep them nice and juicy! Mix all the cheeses together with the  eggs. My lasagna noodles said to be soaked in water first, so if yours are the same put them in some water to soak.

Now time for assembly! Best part. Layer 1/4 of the sauce on the bottom of a greased 13 x 9 pan. Then put 4 noodles, and try not to let them touch the edge. Then put half the vegetable sauce mix on top of the noodles, 1/2 of the basil, 1/3 of the cheese, 1/4 of the red sauce on top of that, and then 4 more noodles on top. Then repeat- vegetables, basil, cheese, sauce, noodle. For the end, put the rest of the red sauce on top of the noodles, and the rest of the cheese on top. If you don’t have enough sauce to do all the layers, omit one or two in the middle. As long as everything is in the pan, it’s all good. Most important is that the last few layers are noodles, red sauce, and cheese. The middle doesn’t matter.

Baking time! Cover and bake at 350 for 40 minutes. Uncover and bake for 10 minutes longer. Then eat it! Delicious lasagna time 🙂 You won’t be able to keep from having seconds. Or maybe 3rds. Veggies are healthy!

Sweet Cinnamon Swirl Bread

My time in Peru is almost up. Well, I still have a month, but a month isn’t very long. The kids have a 2 week break starting next week, so it will be the last time Victoria, my co-teacher, has class with the students. I still have 2 weeks with them after the break, but because Victoria is leaving, we decided to bake them all cookies. And for our Professor? What better than a sweet loaf of bread! I had this recipe in my bookmarks tab for a while, and it seemed perfect.

Our first attempt failed because I had forgotten to check for yeast, meaning we couldn’t make it (which is a very important bread ingredient I suppose). Yesterday however we had all the ingredients gathered, and set upon baking the loaf. It turned out pretty well I think, but it’s hard to tell when you can’t cut a piece off to try.

cinnamon bread (3)First combine the warm milk and yeast, letting it set for 10 minutes until a faint froth appears. In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, salt, and cinnamon.

cinnamon bread (4)In another separate bowl, add the butter, sour cream, honey, and granulated sugar. We didn’t have a mixer so we just mushed it together with a fork. Then add the eggs one at a time, and the vanilla.

cinnamon bread (6)Beat in the yeast/milk mixture. Yay soupy batter!

cinnamon bread (7)Time to add the flour. First add half the flour and mix well, then add the rest of the flour.

cinnamon bread (8)It should form a nice dough. I had to add some extra flour to make it kneadable. Knead it for a bit until elastic. Then let it rise until doubled or roughly 2 hours.

cinnamon bread (10)Then, in another separate bowl because baking is all about dirtying as many dishes as possible, add the sugar, raisins, and spices for the filling.

cinnamon bread (14)After the dough has risen, roll it out into a rectangle. The short side of the rectangle should be the same width as your bread pan. Then take the melted butter and spread it over the dough.

cinnamon bread (17)  Sprinkle the sugar/spices/raisins over the bread, covering it completely. Deliciousness! This will be the cinnamon swirl.      

cinnamon bread (20)Roll the dough up into a nice log. Put the dough seam side down into the bread pan. I forgot to put it seam side down, and it won’t ruin anything, but probably would look nicer with the seam down. Let rise again for 2 hours/until doubled. Mix together an egg and some milk for the egg wash and coat the top of the bread. I didn’t use all of mine, it makes a bit much. Then bake it at 350 F for 30-35 minutes.

cinnamon bread (23)The bread is done when it sounds hollow when tapped and looks deep bronze. Cool for 10 minutes in the pan and turn it out onto a rack to cool completely. Then eat it! Will taste best fresh or toasted with a bit of butter. Mmmmmm good! 🙂 It makes a great gift for a teacher, or other friend, who doesn’t like cinnamon bread?

Cinnamon Swirl Bread.

Original recipe- http://ruhlman.com/2012/12/cinnamon-bread-recipe/

Ingredients:

Bread:

3/4 cup warm milk
1 packet (2 1/2 teaspoons) active dry yeast
3 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup sour cream, at room temperature (we didn’t have sour cream, used vanilla yogurt. Worked fine)
3 tablespoons honey
1/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Filling:

3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup raisins

Egg Wash

1 egg, beaten
1 tablespoon milk

In a small bowl, combine 3/4 cup warm milk and 2 1/2 teaspoons of yeast. Let rest for 10 minutes until a faint froth appears on the surface of the milk.

In a medium bowl, combine the 3 1/2 cups of flour, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon. Set aside.

Add 5 tablespoons of butter, 1/4 cup sour cream (or yogurt), 3 tablespoons honey, and 1/4 cup  sugar together. Mix until creamy, then beat in the 2 eggs one at a time until incorporated. Add 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Add yeast/milk mixture.

Add half of the flour mixture, beat until combined, then add the rest. Knead the dough until elastic, adding more flour if the dough is too sticky (I needed to add at least 1/4 cup to make it workable.)

Lightly grease a large bowl and place the dough in the bowl, covering with a piece of plastic wrap. Let set somewhere warm and allow to rise until the dough doubles in size, roughly 2 hours.

In a small bowl, combine the dry ingredients for the filling (3 tablespoons brown sugar, 1 tablespoon cinnamon, 1 teaspoon nutmeg, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 cup raisins).

Flour a surface and roll out the risen dough into a rectangle roughly 9 inches by 20 inches (the 9 inch side should match the length of your loaf pan). Take the 3 T of melted butter and spread it over the dough. Then sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mixture and raisins on top. Roll the dough up into a log and place the log, seam side down, into a well greased bread pan. Cover again with a towel and let rise for 2 more hours/ until doubled inside.

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

In a small bowl, mix the egg and 1 tablespoon milk for the egg wash. Coat the top of the loaf with the wash before placing in the oven. Bake for 30-35 minutes; the bread is done when the top is a deep bronze colour and it sounds hollow when rapped gently.

Cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then turn the loaf out to cool completely. Once cool, you can wrap in plastic and store at room temperature for about a week. Or eat it all right away, it probably tastes better warm.

Delicious Chocolate Banana Brownies with Caramel Sauce

Well, still in Peru, and Victoria and I decided to make brownies. While we were baking, I got the amazing idea to add bananas and top with caramel sauce. It was delicious, best decision ever. Well, except for the sauce… we to make a caramel sauce, but as you’ll see in the pictures, it didn’t quite work out. I think I over cooked it; it became all grainy and hard. The recipe (found here http://thelevelheadedchef.wordpress.com/2013/04/26/caramel-sauce-without-heavy-cream/) said to just boil sugar with milk and butter, but I think next time I’d rather do the kind of sauce where you cook the sugar separately to make the caramel first, and then add the cream and butter.  But anywho. Super delicious and fudgey brownies.

This recipe adapted from http://www.annies-eats.com/2009/08/05/chewy-fudgy-triple-chocolate-brownies/

banana brownies (31)First off, melt the chocolate in a double boiler with some butter. We took a large pot, simmered some water, and then set a smaller pot inside. You can also just melt it on low heat on the stove, or even the microwave if you microwave on low and stir often.

banana brownies (22)Banana time! Mask the banana up well. We had fairly yellow bananas, so it’s not too mushy. You can totally use old bananas, like you would for banana bread.

banana brownies (30)Then mix the banana with the eggs, sugar, vanilla, and salt.

banana brownies (1)Add the chocolate and stir until incorporated. Then stir in the flour until well combined. Pour it into a pan and bake for 35-40 min at 350 F.

banana brownies (11)Mmmm yummy brownies! They look tasty! But wait, there’s more!

Below is my failed attempt at caramel sauce. Take this as an example of what not to do.

banana brownies (3)For this recipe, you put 1/4 c milk, 4 T butter, and 1/2 cup sugar in a pot. Then boil it vigorously for 3-4 minutes.

banana brownies (9)Look it’s boiling!

banana brownies (14)This is where it started to get weird. I thought it didn’t look dark enough, so I kept boiling it. Then it got kind of watery, and too thick.

banana brownies (15)Aaaaand when it cooled this happened. Caramel chunks. Not burned, but definitely now what was supposed to happen.

banana brownies (20)We still decided to try to use the caramel sauce anyway, so we heated it back up and added some milk. It just got hard again on top of the brownie, but didn’t taste entirely bad. maybe could have made caramel chips to put inside the brownie? Not sure. Below is a different caramel recipe that I would recommend using; I’ve used it before for a Banana Cream Pie and it worked splendidly. Or you can try this recipe that I botched. Maybe you will fare better.

Ingredients:

  • 11 oz unsweetened baking chocolate
  • 8 tbsp. butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 bananas, mashed
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup flour

Caramel sauce

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp corn syrup
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease an 8 inch baking pan and set aside.

Using a double boiler, or a smaller pan set in a pot of simmering water, melt the chocolate and butter, stirring occasionally until smooth. Whisk in the cocoa powder until smooth. Set aside to cool.

In a medium bowl, combine the eggs, sugar, vanilla, mashed bananas, and salt; whisk until combined, about 15 seconds. Whisk in the warm chocolate mixture until incorporated. Then stir in the flour with a wooden spoon until just combined. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan, and spread evenly with a spatula. bake until slightly puffed and a toothpick in the centre comes out with a small amount of sticky crumbs on it (everyone loves  gooey brownie!). Should be about 35-40 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool for a bit.

Sauce:

While the brownies are cooking, time to prepare the caramel sauce! First stir the sugar, corn syrup, and water together in a medium saucepan over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Increase the heat and bring to a boil without stirring, and cook, occasionally swirling pan and brushing down the sides with a wet pastry brush until sugar is deep amber in colour, 6-8 minutes. Remove caramel from heat, whisk in heavy cream, butter, and salt (it’ll bubble, that’s normal). Let cool for 5 minutes, then whisk in vanilla. Let it cool. This can be made a bit ahead of time and reheated to put on the brownies.

Voila! Hopefully your caramel sauce turns out better than mine! You’ll never make brownies without bananas again.

Other variations to try:

Peanut butter swirl brownies: After the batter is all prepared and ready to go in the pan, take some peanut butter and place a few globs on top of the batter. Then take a butter knife and swirl the peanut butter through the brownies.

Chunky brownies: Add a cup of your favourite candy chips, whether butterscotch, chocolate, dark chocolate, white chocolate, whatever. Be creative. You can throw some nuts in too if you desire.