Baking

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Improvisation
Black Forest Chocolate Bundt Cake Recipe - The Messy Baker I think I've created a new, never-heard-of-before dessert. Bundt Trifle. Not because I'm trying to be different or start the next food craze, but because my imagination plays tricks on me. I had wanted to make a trifle in one of those clear, straight-sided dishes that shows off all the layers. I knew my mother had one. I just knew it — as in Bet-Real-Money-on-It knew it. I could see it clearly in my head. I could even tell you where it was stored. So I phoned my mother and made arrangements to pop over and pick up the bowl. When I arrived, my mother handed me the cut-glass bowl with sloped sides she uses every year for the Christmas trifle. "Thanks, Mom. But I want your other trifle bowl." There was no other trifle bowl.
Rosemary Almond Crackers
Rosemary Almond Crackers
So-and-so can't touch gluten. Whatshisface is allergic to eggs. Dairy gives Thing-gummy a rash. And Hoojicky? Garlic sensitivity. Happy Holidays, indeed. I feel for you. I do. Having been on both sides of this equation (I have played the role of allergic guest and accommodating host over the years) I feel for all parties. Unfortunately, it's very hard to find a recipe everyone can eat, let alone will gobble. Sorry, but not matter how many times you suggest tofu pudding, I'm not going for it. Given the scope of food allergies and sensitivities, I have decided finding the perfect party food is downright impossible. But I've come close. This recipe from Superfood Kitchen by Julie Morris (Sterling Epicure, 2012)  is egg-free, soy-free, gluten-free, sugar-free, transfat-free and dairy-free. Yet this cracker is not flavour- or texture-free. It's pleasant on its own and plays nicely with almost any savoury dip you throw at it. And if that isn't enough, it also provides me with an opportunity to use my fancy dehydrator again. Win-win or what?
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Buttermilk Scones | 2 Make-Ahead Options
Buttermilk scones with two make-ahead options - TheMessyBaker.com My shoulder's ache, my fingertips have callouses, and the daylight hurts my eyes. But The Messy Baker is written, filed electronically and a 292-page, double-spaced paper copy is beating up all the Christmas cards as it pushes its way to HarperCollins in Toronto. I have promised myself I will not obsessively check the tracking number until Wednesday —the earliest realistic delivery date. Wednesday noon? All bets are off. In the process of the Last Big Push, I broke a personal record or two. Not only did I write more words than the not-so-great NaNoWriMo novel of 2009, all were coherent (relatively) and spelled correctly (or at least recognizably). In addition, I am now officially the household champion of The Most Consecutive Days Spent Unwashed & in Pajamas — Without a Raging Fever or Knee Surgery Category. Until now, that title was held by my husband during the panic-infused finishing stretch of his recent book. I used to take comfort in my leaf green house robe. Now it reeks of hysteria and is stained with writer's tears. A Messy Robe for a Messy Baker. Everything is unfolding as it should.
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Hazelnut Sandwich Cookies
Removing the skins from toasted hazelnuts in preparation to make hazelnut sandwich cookies - TheMessyBaker.com Hazelnuts. Filberts. Cobnuts. This tasty kernel goes by many names. I'm going to add one more to its repertoire and dub it the "hasselnut." Because of the bitter skin, hazelnuts require a bit more work than pecans or walnuts. They need to be roasted and then rubbed with a clean kitchen towel before being added to baked goods. Some may think hazelnuts are being divas, but I think they're just a bit shy. After all, you can rub and rub and rub and they will never completely reveal themselves. Perhaps this bashful nature is why they hide behind so many aliases?
Pumpkin-Diptych
Fear Not: Gingersnap Pumpkin Pie with Candied Pumpkin Seeds
Gingersnap Pumpkin Pie - TheMessyBaker.com If I could eliminate one emotion. It would be fear. I'm not talking the "Don't go down that dark alley" kind of fear where your Spidey senses are tingling for good reason. I'm talking the joy-crushing, "This not going to work" kind of fear. The type that keeps you from trying something outside your comfort zone. The type of fear that prevents you from offering to bake the Thanksgiving pie, even though you know the host will be busy battling the bird. The type of fear that has you making the same dish over and over and over again because you don't want to upset the apple cart — even though no one has  so much as bumped that cart for such a long time its wheels have sunk deep into the ground. Well, this is for the Pastry Paranoid and the Apple Cart Dwellers.
sesame-biscuits
Canada’s Favourite Recipes
Elizabeth Baird's Home - TheMessyBaker.com I could tell you I have always dreamed of being invited to Elizabeth Baird's home, but I'd be lying. The thought was simply too grand to have ever occurred to me. Seems I have been thinking small without knowing it. Last week, I had the honour -- and I use that term sincerely -- of having lunch with authors Rose Murray and Elizabeth Baird. In Elizabeth's home no less. The reason? A quiet launch of their newest co-authored book, Canada's Favourite Recipes (Whitecap 2012). For context, Elizabeth Baird and Rose Murray are two of Canada's best known and well respected cookbook authors and food writers. It's no exaggeration to say Elizabeth Baird is a household name. All my peers own at least one cookbook she either authored or edited with Canadian Living. Rose is no slouch either. She likely contributed to the aforementioned books. In addition she has at least 10 solo cookbooks to her name. Both as a team and as individuals, these two women have  been shaping the Canadian culinary landscape for more than three decades via their delicious yet approachable recipes. And I lunched with them. In Elizabeth's home. As guests arrived, I snooped about the main floor. If I could have stolen a paint chip from her front office, I would have, just to prove that it is, in fact, close to the colour of my kitchen. Fortunately, I had my iPhone
Peach and Ginger Fruit Leather - The Messy Baker
What to Do with Less-Than-Perfect Peaches – Fruit Leather

[caption id="attachment_8131" align="alignnone" width="500"] You don't need a dehydrator to make fruit roll-ups, but if you're looking for an excuse to buy one, these will seal the deal.[/caption] What do you do when you have less-than-perfect peaches squatting on your counter, threatening to dissolve into a...

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Berry-Lime Cornmeal Shortcakes
By now, you've likely heard a lot about Ripe: A Fresh, Colorful Approach to Fruits and Vegetables written by Cheryl Sternman Rule and photographed by Paulette Phlipot.  You've likely seen some of its in-your-face photographs, read excerpts of the light-hearted writing, and possibly tried one of the delicious yet accessible recipes. If not, you've at least heard it's organized by colour, so the fruits and vegetables appear according to the rainbow, not course. But what you might not have heard is the story behind the book itself. Yes, Ripe is an unusual book, but not because of the obvious. Yes, the writing is crisp. Yes the photographs make you see food in a new way. Its sum is greater than the whole because of the unusual collaborative relationship between author and photographer. Look at the book's spine. It says "Rule & Phlipot." When I interviewed Cheryl, she explained how Ripe  came into being. And what happened before the writing and photography even began made all the difference to the outcome.
Roasted Strawberry and Rhubarb with Yogurt
Strawberry-Rhubarb En Papillote
[caption id="attachment_7789" align="alignnone" width="500"]The strawberry-rhubarb en papillote is in the bag, heading for the oven -- The Messy Baker En Papillote (French for "in parchment") makes for tender rhubarb in no time.[/caption] As if Friday isn't reason enough to celebrate. Today is the first anniversary of Lynn Ogryzlo's The Ontario Table, and I'm one of her virtual guests. I'm pretty chuffed to be asked to take part. Not only do I enjoy a party, I like hanging out with Lynn, even if it is online. First of all, she spells my  name right. Granted, with a surname like Ogryzlo, you're probably sensitive to such things, but it still earns her bonus points. Secondly, she loves my  doughnuts, and last but certainly not least, she takes one of the most sensible approaches to eating local I've ever seen. Instead of giving you the stink eye if everything on your shopping list doesn't comply with the 100-mile diet, she simply issues a $10 challenge. The concept is easy. Each week, spend $10 of your grocery money on local food. That's it. Small (locally grown) potatoes, right?
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Recipe: Perfect Elephant Ears (Palmiers)
Elephant Ear - TheMessyBaker These are elephant ears. Or palm ears. Or palmiers. Or French hearts, or butterflies or glasses. No matter what you call them, these sugar-laced puff pastry treats are one of my all time favourites. Like most things worthwhile, they are a labour of love. And I love my father. So I made a batch to welcome him home after a month abroad on a volunteer mission. But as Murphy would have it, my website went haywire* during the process. I tried to restore the site between rounds of rolling, chilling, slicing and baking. The results? A salvaged blog and a pan of burnt elephant ears. Another senseless waste of pastry.

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