Sticks and Stones

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Yesterday was cool enough to bake.  It’s been so long. We’ve really missed it. Anyway we took advantage and baked Sticks and Stones Cookies from Rosie Daykins beautiful book, “Butter Baked Goods”.

We made half the recipe, but the full recipe says to sift 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour with 1 tsp baking soda and 1/2 tsp salt. Cream 3/4 cup butter with 3/4 cup of granulated sugar and 3/4 cup brown sugar. Add 2 eggs one at a time and mix well between additions. Add 1 tsp vanilla and mix. Add the flour mixture. The recipe actually says, “add the dry ingredients” so I added the M&Ms and pretzel sticks too. Ooops. Anyway, spoon the dough onto a prepared baking sheet.  You should have 24 blobs of cookie dough. You can now push 2 bags of M&Ms or Smarties and a bag of pretzel sticks broken in half, into the piles of cookie dough. Sticks and stones🙂

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We used peanut M&Ms which are rather large so we chopped them up.

Bake at 350C for 15-17 minutes or the edges are golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool, then eat, eat, eat! These are so good.

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Happy Baking!

Cheryl and Becky

 

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Becky’s Brilliant Idea

How many of you are looking for zucchini recipes? Yep, us too. We found an Ina Garten recipe for a Goat cheese and Zucchini Tart. I said I didn’t fancy making or baking pastry because it’s so hot out, and Becky said, “put it on a pizza”. Brilliant! So that’s what we did.

Roll out pizza dough to desired thickness. We used 125g goat cheese mixed with some water and thyme leaves. I tried to get a nice spreadable consistency. We sliced one of our many home grown yellow zucchini and coated the slices in olive oil, salt and pepper. We roasted the slices for about 20 minutes. Spread the goat cheese on the dough. Arranges the zucchini slices on the pizza. Grate some cheddar cheese on top. Cook on barbeque for 5 minutes on direct heat at about 450F, then turn off a burner and continue cooking the pizza over indirect heat for another 15 minutes.  Check regularly. Ours was perfect! Goat Cheese and Zucchini Pizza.

It was really good. We couldn’t think of anything we would add to make it better.

Happy Baking

Cheryl and Becky

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Back to Nature

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With Becky away, I can wander a little, and two days ago I wandered up to Algonquin Provincial Park. It’s a long drive, but so worth it. The weather was perfect, and I managed to hike three short trails. Yeah!

It is so beautiful up there. This is only a tiny part of the park as most of it you need to canoe in or hike in for hours. I have done that in the past and it was amazing. This was short and sweet and just what I needed.

Cheryl

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Light and Fluffy Scones

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A couple of weeks ago, we invited our friend, Sue, over as a thank you for all the help she gave us in the garden. We decided to make some scones, which sounds pretty easy, right? I remember whipping up light fluffy scones in England no problem at all. Here, in Ontario, at least, it has been a struggle, and not just me, but most of my friends too. We don’t have self-raising flour, and the flour we do have is heavy enough to bake bread. The scones usually resemble hockey pucks! Wasn’t I amazed to read a recipe from Paul Hollywood’s book “British Baking” that uses bread flour! Becky and I began our 17th Bake-Off challenge, Sultana Scone Ring.

You need 225g bread flour, a pinch of salt, and 40g butter, diced. Rub in the butter until you have a breadcrumb mixture. Add 40g sugar, 60g sultanas, 2 tsp baking powder, and 1 egg. We used dried cranberries instead of sultanas. Mix gently and start adding 125ml milk until you have a very soft dough. You probably won’t need all of it. Put another 25g/tbsp. flour on a work surface. Fold the dough several times, turning 90 degrees each time until the dough is smooth.  Don’t over work the dough! Make a circle 2.5cm/1″ thick and place on a prepared baking tray. Mark 8 triangles in the dough cutting part way into the dough.

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Brush the top with egg and bake at 220C/425 F for 20 minutes. We gave it the full 20 minutes, but I think it could have come out a couple of minutes earlier.

The scone ring rose beautifully. We made some orange honey butter to go with it; orange and cranberries, oh yeah.

We had a lovely morning outside and then we invited Sue for lunch.

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Chicken and strawberry salad with pecans. Yum!

We haven’t baked since, and Becky is away at the moment, so there probably won’t be any more baking for a while. We have been busy and will try and post some photos of our adventures.

Happy baking!

Cheryl and Becky

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Pizza Barbeque

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It’s too hot to bake indoors, so we were excited to find a book about grilling pizza. We have our own dough recipe, but used the general principals to cook pizza on the barbeque.

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This is our dough after the first rising. Then there is a series of folds that we complete three times and then put it in the fridge overnight. We cut it into four, freeze three pieces and use the fourth. We have been playing round with the flavours from a Reuben sandwich and used it in soup and a salad, and decided to try it on pizza. We also used a veggie pesto topping for another pizza.

Reuben pizza was mayonnaise, swiss cheese, drained sauerkraut, and Montreal smoked meat/pastrami. You could add some rye flour to the dough to make it more authentic.

Pesto veggie pizza was pesto, cheddar cheese, and grilled veggies.

Heat the barbeque to about 425-450F. I put foil on the grill and placed the pizzas onto that. Cook for 5 minutes, then turn off the middle or side burner and continue cooking on indirect heat.

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Ours took another 15 minutes, but typically they should be done in less time.

The pizzas were really good. I know the sauerkraut sounds weird, but it adds a zing and a crunch. Yum! It was a beautiful evening, so we sat out and enjoyed the view.

Happy baking!

Cheryl and Becky

 

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Royal Botanical Gardens

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We have been very busy of late. Summer is here and there’s not a day to waste! We spent one of those beautiful days visiting the newly opened Rock Garden at the Royal Botanical Gardens (RBG) in Burlington/Hamilton. It is only one of several gardens, and has been closed for a couple of years for renovations. The great thing for us, is that it is now wheelchair accessible.

It was lovely to meander around the garden, over the bridges, and up to the lookout. We had a little picnic and enjoyed the view. It will take a few years for the plants to mature, but we think they did a great job.

Cheryl and Becky

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Chocolate Eclairs

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These were my favourite cakes in England, followed very closely by Lemon Buns. We can buy something here that is called a Chocolate Éclair, but quite frankly, I can’t eat them, they are so awful.  We can’t buy fresh cream cakes in Ontario. We can buy frozen, but not fresh. Imagine my delight when we baked these earlier this week. This is number 16 of our Bake Off challenges and puts us over the half way mark!

The choux pastry wasn’t too difficult, but I had to keep reading the instructions over and over before I felt ready to give it a try. The recipe is from “The Great British Bake Off How To Bake” book and makes 12 eclairs.  Heat 75g(1/3 cup) butter, 1/4 tsp salt, and 175ml water until the butter has melted. Then turn up the heat until the mixture is just about to boil. Remove from the heat and add 100g (2/3cup) of plain flour in one go. Quickly beat with a spoon. Put the pan back on the heat and beat for 2 minutes until the dough is shiny.

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Have a cup of tea, or coffee, and leave the dough to cool until barely warm. Beat 3 eggs and add small amounts to the dough while beating with an electric mixer. This was Becky’s job.

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You want to end up with a shiny paste that “falls from the spoon when lightly shaken”.

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We had a small amount of egg left over. Fill up your piping bag and pipe. Eclairs are about 10 cm (4″) long. They need lots of space between them. Bake at 200C/400F for 15 minutes. Turn the temperature down to 180C/350F. Quickly open and close the oven door. Bake for another 15 to 20 minutes until the pastry is puffed up and golden brown. Take the buns out of the oven and put a small hole in the end of each bun. Put them back in the oven for 5 minutes. Place on a wire rack to cool.

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Once they are cool you can fill them using a piping bag, or cut them in half, which is what we did. They were filled with Chantilly cream, or 250mil fresh cream whipped into soft peaks with 2 tbsp. icing sugar and 1tsp vanilla extract added. The topping was left over from the Opera Cake. Heat 75ml golden syrup with 75ml cream until almost boiling.  Pour over 150g dark chocolate and mix until the chocolate is melted. Leave to thicken slightly before using. Dip the tops of the eclairs into the chocolate syrup and leave to cool. Fill the middles with as much cream as you can cram in. Sandwich the two pieces together and devour.

Enjoy your summer. Happy Baking!

Cheryl and Becky

 

 

 

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