Saturday, February 27, 2010

Nia's Birthday Cake

As I shared in my previous posting, that we were celebrating seven birthdays in the family. We choose Valentine Day February 14th, for the big celebration, as my sister in law lives with her family in Mississauga which is the next big city after Toronto, and they are part of the celebration party. Mississauga is almost four hours driving to North Bay.

It was a simple choice for the birthday cake, the Landry's love love love chocolate, I choose a double chocolate cake with chocolate ganache frosting, check the earlier posting for the recipe.

Now when it comes to a child birthday cake, you have to very careful with what you are using… my plan was doing an Ariel Cake and cover the cake with homemade fondant as well as the doll, also make fondant under the sea characters. To be honest, it will be a gorgeous cake, but do you really want a five years old girl to eat all that sugar even if its her birthday cake, who cares if the cakes is gorgeous or not… It’s covered with sugar. I know for surel that Lorraine will not be happy giving Nia all that sugar, and the cake will stay in North Bay for someone to eat, and will not go with them to Mississauga…

For sometime I wanted to try Farida’s Zebra Cake it looks great the recipe doesn’t include lot of sugar … I still wanted to go with under the water theme, and I wanted to use a nice icing which will stay perfect on the cake, light and not overly sweet… and my seven minutes icing is perfect for the job... it never failed me before. The candy store has a big variety of jelly candy, I found several under the sea characters , I grabbed couple of each and went back to assemble the cake.

By the way when we carried the two cakes we left Nia’s cake in the truck, I wanted to surprise her… and oh boy, she was surprised for sure, she yelled, cried from joy and hugged and kissed me then hugged me again... I leave the rest for the photos.

The big surprise on Miss Nia... She new there is a big cake for all of them but didn't expect a special one for her!!!!

P.S. my husband is after me now to bake him some Zebra CupCakes for his lunch box.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

H2OPE FOR HAITI & A Double Chocolate Cake

It’s been snowing since last night; the ground is covered with snow… I was sitting on a bar stool in the kitchen, waiting for the coffee and looking outside at the falling snow , I felt happy to see the white powder again, funny for someone who hates the winter cold snowy season, I felt happy to see the snow…

We didnt have a bad winter season this year. It was mild in comparison to earlier years... Especially in Northern Ontario where we will be covered with snow till mid of March…It didn’t snow all January, and this is the first snow in February.

In just the past two years alone, there have been major food and fuel crises, a global recession, and climatic disasters. There have also been other natural catastrophes, like the earthquake in Haiti which wrought so much pain and destruction. Last week Madeira landslide changed the map of the City, taking with it several victims, hundred of families lost their homes.

The devastating magnitude 7.0 quake that ripped through Haiti last month, reportedly killing thousands of people, the severe shaking which was so damaging, leaving thousands homeless without a safe shelter, the infrastructure is completely destroyed leaving the victims without food and water.

From Sunday, February 21 to Sunday-March 7th, 2010

BloggerAid Changing the Face of Famine (BA-CFF) will be launching H2Ope for Haiti, an online raffle to raise funds for Concern Worldwide relief effort in Haiti.

They selected Concern Worldwide because of its long track record and quick response after the quake to provide clean drinking water and water purification tablets.

Concern Worldwide estimates that its initial response to the emergency will last at least six months. The money raised by this raffle will be paid directly into Concern Worldwide's account by Justgiving and will be used exclusively for the Haiti relief effort

Although the donation is small ; coming from a warm sincere heart will make a difference, and penny over penny will reach the target

Go to the Justgiving donation page and follow the instructions on how to win. You will find the list of great raffle prizes donated such as an I-Pod Shuffle, artwork, autographed cookbooks and so much more!!! You can also see the list of prizes on for a complete list of prizes

One raffle ticket will give you the chance to win your choice of wonderful prizes donated by some fabulous bloggers. How's about an I-Pod Shuffle, an autographed copy of David Lebovitz's latest cookbook, Indian artwork or many more exciting prizes.

Also I got a $50.00 shopping spree from, they have over 200 stores. you can shop online from Baby & kids, Home Decor, Home Improvement, Housewares , Outdoors, and many more PRIZE CODE: HFH35

Double Chocolate Cake

I've been using the Epicurious Double chocolate Layer Cake since some years now, and every time I make the cake, I try to add a new flavour. The original recipe of this cake make two 9 " round cake pans. Because I made this cake for a big birthday Party I doubled the recipe using two 12" cake pans, and four pounds of Callebaut Chocolate between the cake the ganache and the the chocolate flowers which were my first time trial. "the birthday party was on Feb 14th - what's better than chocolate on this special day"

For cake layers

  • 3 ounces fine-quality semisweet chocolate such as Callebaut
  • 1 1/2 cups hot brewed coffee
  • 3 cups sugar ( use 2 1/2)
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cups well-shaken buttermilk
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla

For ganache frosting

  • 1 pound fine-quality semisweet chocolate such as Callebaut
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter

for my cake I have to use 2 1/2 pounds of chocolate.

Note: I added 2 cups of toasted sliced Hazelnuts , this is optional
I use a strong brewed Melita Coffee, then add extra tbsp of Nescafe to the mix.

All I can say, this is the best ever chocolate cake you will ever eat PERIOD

Once again I remind you to check the justgiving and bid on one of the prizes.. there are plenty to choose from. and remember your money is going toward a great cause, God will bless every penny paid . Thank you so much every one for your support.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Home made Sourdough Starter

Many Readers wrote, and ask if I can share a simple recipe for preparing a sourdough starter at home. I am going to post two recipes one for the raisin method, which I use because I like the wine smell … and the second using fresh juice starter. Two friends from the Walima Cooking Club use the Juice method… I am planning to try this method soon, and share the photos with you later...

Very sorry that I don’t have any photos for this recipe to share , I took many pictures from the first night until the day the starter became active and ready to be used… AS I mentioned before when my computer crashed last summer we lost many documents and files and one of them a big file of my cooking photos…. Some are precious documentary photos which I cannot get any more...

Sourdough Starter using Raisin:

It’s recommended if you mark the cup or the jar from day one until the starter is active to see the progress of the starter.

1- Soak one cup of raisin in warm for couple of hours, or over night, until you start seeing some white stuff floating on top, this is the good bacteria we are looking for. Drain your raisin, and use the water for starting your sourdough. You can wash the raisin and use them in my raisin bread recipe if you like. Mix one cup of unbleached white flour, wheat flour or even rye flour with ¾ of raisin water. Cover it with a plastic wrap and let it sit 24 hours.

2- The second day your mix will be risen and maybe doubled. You are into a good start. Mix one cup bread flour + ½ cup of water + 1 cup of the starter (you can through away the rest of the starter – I know it’s not fair to through food) also cover and leave it for 24 hours. The dough might not rise double the size don’t worry. Keep going

3- Also start with one cup flour half cup of water and one cup of the starter and through the rest. It’s better if you start marking your glass pot to see the progress of the starter and how much it’s rising … by now you should have double the amount you starter. If it’s not moving fast you can switch to wheat flour... some flours maybe are packed tight and sometimes the flour needs more water to loosen up and make sure that the plastic wrap is not tight the starter needs to breath.

4- You will see that your starter is alive… can take one cup of the starter and half a cup of flour and half a cup of water mix with a wooden spoon and put it in a jar Let it sit 24 hours to rise before you store it in the fridge as the base you start building on… The other cup you can take it and use it in your bread

Bread recipe using the starter

1-1 cup starter

2-1 cup bread flour

3-1 cup unbleached flour

4-1 tsp salt

5-1 cup warm water

Knead for 5-6 minutes if it tightens up let it rest for 15minutes, then start kneading, you might need to add some flour to make nice smooth dough. This dough needs several hours to rest to rise and double, because we are not helping it with commercial yeast, or before you can add one tsp of dry yeast to help it rise quickly.

Sourdough Starter using Fruit Juice – (Source the Fresh Loaf)

Day 1: Mix two tablespoons whole grain flour (rye and/or wheat) with two tbsp unsweetened pineapple juice or orange juice.
Cover and let sit at room temperature for 24 hours.

Day 2: add two tbsp whole grain flour with two tbsp juice
Stir well, cover and let sit at room temperature 24 hours. At day 2 you may (or may not) start to see some small bubbles.

Day 3: add two tbsp whole grain flour with two tbsp juice Stir well, cover and let sit at room temperature 24 hours.

Day 4: Stir down, measure out 1/4 cup and discard the rest.
To the 1/4 cup add 1/4 cup flour*
1/4 cup filtered or spring water

*You can feed the starter whatever type of flour you want at this point (unbleached white, whole wheat, rye). If you are new to sourdough, a white starter is probably the best choice. All-purpose flour is fine--high protein flour is not necessary.

Repeat Day 4:
Once daily until the mixture starts to expand and smell yeasty. It is not unusual for the mixture to get very bubbly around Day 3 or 4 and then go completely flat and appear dead. If the mixture does not start to grow again by Day 6, add 1/4 tsp. apple cider vinegar with the daily feeding. This will lower the pH level a bit more and it should wake up the yeast.

Very important after each feeding the starter needs to sit for 24hours to rise and double, before you put it back in the fridge. The Sourdough starter needs to be fed at least 3 times a week to stay alive…

I hope my recipe will help you in achieving the best bread results...

I like to hear from you , also if you like to share your photos, you are more than welcome to email me with the resutls. Thank you and have a great baking day.