Slender, delicate, refreshing English cucumbers. Beloved in cucumber sandwiches. Adored in Salads. Admired in pickles. And wonderful lavished on burgers.   English cucumbers piled in glorious green pyramids at the vegetable markets. I fill my shopping basket with them. Cucumbers to nibble on now. Cucumbers to enjoy in the winter months ahead.

English cucumbers are so reasonably priced in the summer. The thrifty minded will stock up. This recipe is incredibly simple. The first time I tasted these cucumber pickles I swooned over them. I couldn’t believe they were freezer pickles.  And that they were so easy to make.    The recipe is courtesy a pickling aficionado friend of mine. Her pickles and chutneys are legendary. Before I tuck the pickles into the freezer I will label them JEAN’S PICKLES.

Slice the cucumbers, onion, and green, red or yellow peppers very thin. In a large bowl mix vinegar, sugar, salt and celery seed, Toss in your vegetables and stir well. Cover and pop into your refrigerator for three days. Give the mixture a quick stir every day. Then pack into freezer containers or canning jars and freeze. Thaw before serving.

Freezer English cucumber pickles will keep in your refrigerator at least eight weeks or your freezer at least a year. They are delicious served just as they are or use them generously in sandwiches, topping a burger or in a salad.

(A cautionary word. If you are using a French mandoline for the first time BE VERY CAREFUL. It does a beautiful job of slicing but it is extremely sharp).

(This recipe from Company’s Coming)

: pickles
Cuisine: English
: 3 pts
Simple and easy way to pickle English cucumbers in brine. Then refrigerate or freeze. No stove work involved.
  • 3 English cucumbers with peel, sliced thin
  • l large onion, sliced thin
  • 1 cup green, yellow or red peppers, seeded, sliced thin (your choice combined or use just one type of pepper. The red peppers provide a nice contrast
  • 1 tablespoon coarse salt (pickling)
  • ½ teaspoon celery seed. Or if you are fortunate enough to have fresh dill use a generous handful )
  • 1 cup white vinegar (do not use pickling vinegar. It is too strong.)
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  1. A French mandoline makes quick work of the slicing vegetables. Be aware - the blades are VERY SHARP.
  2. Combine the vinegar and sugar and stir until the sugar is dissolved
  3. Add the vegetables and stir well.
  4. Cover and refrigerate for 3 days. STIR EVERY DAY.
  5. Pack into freezer containers covering with brine to within 1 inch of the top.
  6. Freeze or refrigerate. Thaw before serving.
  7. Keeps in the refrigerator at least 8 weeks. Keeps in your freezer at least a year.
  8. Makes 3 pints or so.




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THE VERY VERY BEST TOMATO SAUCE . . . thank you Marcella Hazan

Early morning. I’ve walked out to the garden to harvest tomatoes. My farmer neighbour is cutting hay in the field near by. The swaths lay in military straight rows. The air is filled with the perfume of the freshly cut hay. The sun catching diamonds of dew suspended in delicate cobwebs in grass around the garden.

Like glowing rubies tomatoes hang suspended from vines. A tomato house protects them from low night river fog that growls and prowls our gardens and blight the tomatoes. It’s not an elegant structure. A wooden frame and heavy plastic curtains open for sun then close at night. It gives an extra month or so of growing time and generously increases our crop of tomatoes.

I’ve picked a heavy basket of tomatoes; irresistibly sweet, juicy, rich and bursting with flavours. Tomatoes you eat over the sink, sprinkled with a little Malden salt. Juice running down your arms and a beatific smile on your face. Now is the time to practice tomato alchemy and turn these tomatoes into sauce.

Start this sauce by melting butter and onions.


Then add chopped tomatoes.

To me this recipe is the simplest, most elegant and finest of all sauces. Chopped tomatoes, butter, onion and salt. Five minutes preparation time. Forty-five minutes cooking time and the occasional stir. Serve it over linguine generously anointed with parmigiana cheese. Toss it with gnocchi.  Top an artisan pizza.   Or simply stand at the stove and eat a spoonful or too. After all, one simply must taste to check salt seasoning.

THE VERY VERY BEST TOMATO SAUCE . . . thank you Marcella Hazan
: sauce
Cuisine: Italian
: 6
A tomato sauce with just three ingredients. Tomatoes, butter and onion. The simplest, most elegant and superb tomato sauce. made with fresh tomatoes or canned Italian tomatoes.
  • 2 pounds, 3 cups chopped, 907g peeled tomatoes with their juice (or 28 oz. canned tomatoes such as San Marzano whole peeled tomatoes)
  • 5 tablespoons, 2.5 oz. 7lg unsalted butter. (Yes this much butter. It 's the butter that gives this sauce it's incomparable rich flavour.
  • 1 medium onion
  • sea salt
  1. First blanch and peel your tomatoes. It's a simple process. Drop the potatoes into boiling water for about 20-30 seconds. Then quickly chill them in a bowl of ice water for a minute or so. Fetch them out and let them drain in a colander as you slip the skin off. Tomatoes that are over ripe will become a little mushy but they work.
  2. Peel the onions and cut into half or quarters. If possible keep the root end attached making it easier to remove the onion when the sauce is finished. (In the photographs I have doubled the recipe so I have more quarters swimming in tomatoes).
  3. Drop the butter into a generous sized sauce on medium heat. You need a wide pan. You are reducing the volume.
  4. Add the onions cut side down and let the onions bath in the melted butter for a minute or two.
  5. Tip the chopped tomatoes and their juice into the pan.
  6. Season with about one half teaspoon or so of sea salt. You will taste the finished sauce to adjust the seasoning so use a light hand.
  7. Bring the sauce to a simmer and cook uncovered for about 40 to45 minutes Stir occasionally with a wooden spoon to break down the tomatoes but try to keep the onions whole..
  8. Remove the whole onions with a slotted spoon. Fish out any errant pieces of onion.
  9. I don;t throw away the onions. Just pop them in a container and freeze and use when you are making stock.
  10. For a really smooth sauce use a potato masher to break up the last of the tomatoes.
  11. For a vegan sauce substitute a really good quality extra virgin olive oil with a mild flavoour.

The recipe is from Marcella Hazan’s book Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking (1992). A much used, food spattered, absolutely adored book.




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I walk to the garden past hedges heavy with fragrant with wild roses and awash with cow parsley. Blackbirds, wrens, robins and song thrushes fill the air with glorious song. The early morning sun catches glittering drops of dew suspended in fragile spiderwebs turning grass into a field of diamonds. A walk of happiness to the garden to gather rhubarb.

This Rhubarb cake is one you make with pleasurable ease. The tactile pleasure of combining the crumble by hand. The lemony perfume of adding the sumac. The sharp tang of grating the lemon into brown sugar then rubbing the zest through the sugar with your finger tips. A whip of eggs. An easy pour of melted butter. A gently folding of flour and a delicate hand with the rhubarb.

This is a cake that sits often under a glass dome in my kitchen. As the season changes the cake takes on a different persona. Sometimes chopped pears with a dash of almond flavouring. The stone fruit comes into season I add peaches, apricots or deep purple plums and serve the cake with whipped cream. Apples and cinnamon cake generously presented with a wedge of crumbly wedge of old cheddar cheese; the flavour of autumn.

Rhubarb Crumb Cake with Sumac Crumble
: cake
Cuisine: dessert
: 8
A quick to make rich cake with rhubarb and topped with a buttery crumb topping.
  • ½ cup (63 g) all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup (50 g) light brown sugar firmly packed
  • ¼ cup (23 g) old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 2 tsp dried sumac (or 1 tsp grated lemon)
  • pinch salt
  • ¼ cup (55 g) unsalted butter, VERY SOFT
  • 1 LEMON
  • ¾ CUP (150 g) light brown sugar , firmly packed
  • 2 large eggs (room temperature)
  • ¾ cup (165 g) sour cream (room temperature)
  • ½ cup (113g) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • 1½ cps (160g) all-purpose flour
  • 1½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1½ cups (150g) fresh or frozen chopped rhubarb, in ½-inch pieces
  1. Place rack in center of your oven and preheat the oven to 350F. When oven comes to temperature wait 15 minutes before putting cake in.
  2. Butter a 9-inch round pan and line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper.
  4. Combine the flour, brown sugar, oats, sumac, and salt in a small bowl. Add the butter and work everything together with your fingers until the butter is evenly distributed and crumbs form. Set aside.
  6. Zest the lemon directly into the mixing bowl containing the sugar. Using your fingers rub the zest into the brown sugar mixture with your fingers. Your warm hands help release the aroma of the zest and infuse the sugar. (always a good idea to add lemon zest in the recipe to the sugar when baking)
  7. Add the eggs, one at a time whisking until pale and foamy, - about one or two minutes.
  8. Add the sour cream, butter, vanilla and salt and whisk until smooth and emulsified.
  9. Add the flour, baking power and baking soda to the bowl. Whisk until ALMOST combined, then switch to a rubber spatula for the last few strokes. The batter will be thick. Fold in the rhubarb.
  10. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and tap the pan gently on the counter to release any air bubbles. Smooth the top of the batter with an offset spatula
  11. Sprinkle the crumble topping over the batter.
  12. Bake the cake until puffed and golden and a test inserted into the center comes out clean, 50 go 60 minutes.
  13. Set the pan on a rack to cool before removing the cake.
  14. Store the cake, well wrapped at room temperature for up to two days.
  16. You can bake this cake in an 8-inch square baking pan.
  17. Gild the lily; serve the cake with vanilla ice cream or sweetened whipped cream

I’ve adapted this recipe from the book Snacking Cakes by Yossy Arefi

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This rich,dense, spectacularly chocolate cake in every is my absolute favorite of all cakes.    It has a delicate moist crumb and the dream-like chocolate buttercream frosting stays light and fluffy to the very last slice.   This is the cake I make for any and every occasion.

For every day snacking I make it as a one layer cake or loaf cake.    You can double the recipe for a two layer cake or a sheet cake.   I have made a magnificent three layer birthday cake using this recipe.  Baking is a science and one can not always double a recipe successfully.    This sweetheart of a cake does allow you to double the ingredients ( but no further).  For a three layer cake I bake a double cake and then the single cake.  All this belies that fact that it is incredibly easy to make.

This most chocolate of cakes uses unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder in the cake and the frosting. It has a smoother, more mellow flavour than cocoa but you can use either.  Buttermilk adds a suggestion of tangy flavour and a small amount of coffee brings a deeper note of richness to the cake.  If you don’t have a mixer you a generous sized whip will do the trick.   The icing does require a mixer so the chocolate glaze would be the answer.

If you are passionate about cooking and baking  I high recommend using  a scale.  I use a combination of measuring spoons and a scale.   It is more accurate than measuring cups and eliminates scraping sour cream or honey out of a measuring cup or spoon.  Clean up is much easier and that makes me happy.


: baking
Cuisine: dessert
: 8
This rich,dense cake is deeply chocolate with a fluffy buttercream frosting.
  • 1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs at room temperature
  • 1 cup (240 ml) buttermilk, well shaken at room temperature
  • ¼ cup (60 jl) neutral oil, like canola or grapeseed
  • ¼ cup (55 g) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¾ tsp kosher salt
  • ¾ cup (68 g) unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1 cup (128 g) all-purpose flour
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) strong hot coffee (or water)
  • 6 tb (85 g) unsalted butter, VERY SOFT
  • ¼ (23 g) unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder, SIFTED
  • 1 cup (100g) confectioners' sugar, SIFTED
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 2 to 3 tbs milk (or a tiny bit more if needed)
  • 1 cup (100g) confectioners' sugar,SIFTED
  • 3 tbs unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1 tbs unsalted butter, VERY SOFT
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 2 to 3 tbsp boiling water
  1. Position a rack in the center of your oven and preheat the oven to 350F. Your cake will rise better if you wait at least 15 minutes or more AFTER the oven reaches temperature before putting the cake in. (Something to remember no matter what you are baking or roasting)
  2. Butter your 9-inch round baking pan and line with parchment paper. If you are using an 8-inch square baking pan line the pan with a strip of parchment paper that hangs over two of the edge. This allows you to easily remove the cooled baked cake.
  4. In your stand mixer whisk the eggs for two or three minutes until they begin to thicken and become creamy.
  5. Add the sugar and whip for another two minutes.
  6. Add the buttermilk, oil, butter, vanilla and salt. Whisk until smooth and emulsified.
  7. Add the cocoa powder and whisk until combined. It will take a couple of minutes for the cocoa powder to be completed absorbed by the liquid mixture. Be sure all the cocoa is combined.
  8. Add the flour, baking powder and baking soda and whisk at low speed until well combined. Do not over mix.
  9. Gently stir in the coffee.
  10. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, tap the pan gently on the counter to release any air bubbles, and smooth the top of the batter with an offset spatula.
  11. Bake the cake until puffed and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 35 to 45 minutes. Set the pan on a rack to cool for about 15 minutes. Then turn out on to a rack to cool completely. If you have baked your cake in the square baking pan use the parchment paper to lift the cake out of the pan and set it to cool on a rack.
  13. Add the very soft butter to the bowl and mix on medium-high until sooth and creamy.
  14. Turn the mixer to low, add the cocoa powder and mix until smooth, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl as necessary. The cocoa powder and butter do not assimilate quickly so be patient.
  15. Add the sugar slowly. A couple of tablespoons at a time. Mix until the sugar is moistened then add the vanilla, a pinch of salt and 2 tablespoons milk.
  16. Turn the mixer to medium high and whip until light and fluffy, adding more milk as necessary to make a smooth and fluffy frosting.
  17. Top the cooled cake with swoops of frosting. Store the cake, covered, at room temperature or in the fridge for up to three days.
  19. Add the confectioners' sugar and cocoa to a bowl. Whisk until combined and any lumps in the cocoa have been broken up. Add the butter, salt and 2 tablespoons boiling water and quickly whisk until smooth; If the glaze is very thick add a few drops of water until it has a smooth and pourable consistency.
  20. Immediately pour the glaze over the cooked cake. The glaze will harden to a more spreadable rather than pourable consistency if you let it set. Let the glaze set for about 20 minutes before slicing the cake. Store the cake, covered at room temperature or in the fridge for u to three days.


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If I could make only one type of pie a crostata would be my choice. It is spectacular in presentation with a sublime choice of fillings. Its professional appearance belies the simplicity of its construction. A dessert to swoon over at the end of dinner.

A crostata is a tart filled with fruit or cream or even both. A crostata is shallower than a pie but has more structure than a galette. It is made with pasta frolla, a sweet, buttery, forgivable pastry, The sweet pastry dough is typically enriched with butter and egg yolk. The dough is easy to roll out and easily patched together if it tears. The dough is so forgiving and tender that I rolled out leftover scraps of pasty and cut out rounds for miniature fruits tarts. The much handled dough baked beautifully tender.

In Italy the basic crostata is made with a thick layer of good jam, preferably homemade, sandwiched between the bottom crust and a lattice top. Summer is a delicious season for crostatas. One can use fresh fruit cooked down a bit with sugar to make a quick jam. Almost any fruit, fresh or frozen, from strawberries, peaches and blueberries to figs can be used for the fillings. The jam for the filling can be stored in an airtight container for up to two 2 weeks. I like to make the pastry the day before and refrigerate it overnight night. This is a very accommodating recipe. A joy to make. The perfect dessert.

: fruit tart
Cuisine: Italian
: 10
This tart has a thick layer of good homemade jam sandwiched between the bottom crust and a rolled lattice.. Make the jam from almost any fruit from strawberries to figs.
  • PASTA FROLLA (sweet pastry dough)
  • Makes enough for a 9- inch lattice-top crostata
  • 2 cups (272 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • ⅔ cup (65 g) confectioners' sugar
  • ¼ tsp fine salt
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon or 1 small orange - or a little of both (about 1 tbs.)
  • 11 tbs.(156 g) cold unsalted butter, cut into ½ inch cubs
  • 1 large egg, plus 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 lb. (453 g) blueberries, fresh or frozen (about 4 cups)]
  • Generous ¾ cups(150 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 2-inch strip lemon zest
  • 1 tbs. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves
  • pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
  2. Put the blueberries, sugar, and lemon zest and juice in a medium heavy-duty saucepan. Cook over low heat to dissolve the sugar, about 10 minutes.
  3. Use a potato masher to break the berries up a bit.
  4. Raise the heat to medium, and bring to a boil.Reduce the heat and simmer. stirring often, until the mixture has thickened, about 10 minutes
  5. Stir in the cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg, and simmer until thickened to a jam consistency, about 5 minutes more.
  6. You should be able to drag a path through the bottom of the saucepan with a silicone spatula or a wooden spoon.
  7. Remove and discard the zest .
  8. Scrape the jam into heatproof bowl and let cool completely.
  9. (The jam can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks)
  10. PASTA FROLLA (sweet pastry dough)
  11. Put the flour, sugar,salt, baking powder and zest into food processor. Pulse briefly to combine
  12. Distribute the butter around the bowl, and pulse until the mixture is crumbly..
  13. Add the egg and egg yolk, and process just until the dough begins to clump together, about 3
  14. seconds or less)
  15. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and gather it into a ball.
  16. Form the dough into two flat disks, one slightly larger than the other. .
  17. Wrap each disk tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour of until well chilled (overnight is fine).
  18. Remove the dough from the refrigerator 30 minutes before rolling it out.
  20. Thirty minutes before you begin to assemble the crostata position a rack in the center of the oven. Put a large rimmed baking sheet on the rack, and heat the oven to 350F. Remove the pasta frolla from the refrigerator and let it rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  21. Have ready a 9 inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Lightly butter the pan.
  22. Lightly dust a work surface and rolling pin with flour.
  23. Roll the larger disk of pasta frolla into a 12-inch circle, lifting and turning the dough as you roll to prevent sticking and create an even round.
  24. Gently fit the dough into the pan without stretching it. Use the palm of your hand or the rolling pin to trim off the excess.
  25. Refrigerate while you roll out the second piece of dough.
  26. Roll the smaller piece into a 10-inch circle, and use a fluted pastry wheel to cut it into strips from1/2 inch to 1 inch wide.
  27. Remove the crostata base from the refrigerator. Spread the blueberry jam over the base.
  28. Position the strips of pastry on top in a lattice pattern.
  29. Press the edges of the strips into the edge of the tart shell to secure and trim off the excess.
  30. Put the crostata on the heated baking sheet and bake until the crust if golden-brown and the filling is set, for 40 to 45 minutes.
  31. Transfer from the baking sheet to a rack to cool completely.
  32. Remove the ring, and use a large, wide-angled spatula to transfer the crostata from the metal tart base to a serving place. (or simply cut the tart and serve on individual dessert plates.
  33. Dust with confectioners' sugar if desired and serve.
  34. Chef tips:
  35. You can roll the pastry between two pieces of parchment paper - if desired.
  36. The dough is easy to roll out, but warms up quickly - take care not to over handle it. Still, don't fret over it; the dough is silky and forgiving, and while it can tear easily, it is just as easily patched back together.
  37. STRAWBERRY JAM CROSTATA - 1 pound of strawberries, hulled and quartered, 1½ cups (312 g) granulated sugar, 2 2 - inch strips lemon zest, 1 tbs. fresh lemon juice. Follow the instructions for blueberry jam.

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A wind like wolves prowling across the fields. Growling at windows and doors. Snarling down the fireplace chimney. The kind of rainy, dark, dismal day that cried out for a kitchen perfumed with the fragrance of exotic spices. A cake! A cake to be consumed still warm from the oven. A cake with a bold presence. A cake to keep the wolf from the door.

When I lived in Amsterdam I shopped daily at the Albert Cupt Street Market. And every day I would stop at a near by cafe to watch boats traveling the canals, and  enjoy a coffee with a slice of Apple Cinnamon and Cardamon Cake. I’ve adapted this recipe from Luthra Vedika’s cookbook “52 Weeks, 52 Sweets”. It’s a delightfully easy cake to make. The streusel topping is crunchy, rich and flavoured with cinnamon and cardamon. You hand -mix the cake batter in one bowl. Fold in a generous amount of chopped apples and top it with the streusel .

: one bowl cake
Cuisine: Dutch
: 8
Easy to hand mix one bowl cake with streusel topping.
  • 1½ cups (225 g) all--purpose flour
  • ¾ cups (176 g) sugar
  • ½ tsp fine sea salt
  • 1½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ground cardamon
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ⅓ cup (75 mL) vegetable oil
  • 1 large egg at room temperature whisked but not foamy
  • ½ cup (118mL) buttermilk room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 large apples (450 g) peeled, cored and chopped into 1-cm or ½ inch cubes. Use a firm apple such as Granny Smith, Pink Lady or Honey Crisp.
  • ¾ cups(102 g) all purpose flour
  • 3 tbs sugar
  • 1 tbs brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground cardamon
  • ¼ tsp fine sea salt
  • 5½ tbs (78 g) cold unsalted cutter, cut into small cubes
  • ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven to 350F(1880C). and allow the oven to come to temperature for at least 30 minutes before you use it. This avoids the temperature dropping as you put your cake in the oven.
  2. Butter and flour an 8 to 9 inch (20-to-24-cm) springform pan. Line the bottom with a circle of parchment paper.
  3. Make the streusel topping.
  4. Whisk the flour, both sugars, the cinnamon, salt and cardamon in a medium bowl. Drop in the cubes of cold butter and toss the ingredients together with your fingers until the butter is coated. Squeeze and rub and press everything together until you have a bowl of moist clumps. It is ready if you can pinch the streusel and it holds together.
  5. Sprinkle over the vanilla and toss to blend. Set aside.
  6. (You can mix the streusel with a stand mixer. With the paddle attachment mix all the ingredients (except vanilla) on medium low speed until the ingredients form moist, clumpy crumbs. Sprinkle with vanilla and mix until blended.)
  8. Mix the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and cardamon in a large bowl
  9. Make a well in the center and add in the oil, egg, buttermilk and vanilla. The batter will be quick thick.
  10. Fold in the chopped apples until just incorporated. Don't overwork the cake batter as it will result in a denser cake.
  11. Pour the mixture into the prepared cake pan.
  12. Distribute the streusel over the top of the cake as evenly as possible.
  13. Place the cake pan on a baking sheet and bake the cake for 45 to 60 minutes (depending on how big your cake pan). I used a 9 inch pan and it took a full 60 minutes to bake.
  14. Check ever now and then after the 45-minute mark.until a toothpick inserted comes out mostly clean with a few damp crumbs, and the apples are cooked. The toothpick should not be sticky.
  15. Cool on a rack then run a knife around the edges to loose it and unmold it from the springform
  16. pan.
  17. This cake is delicious warm, but unmolding it while still hot may prove a challenge. Be brave - it's your call.
  18. To place it on a cake plate run a long spatula under the cake then carefully slide the cake unto the plate. The softened parchment paper will come away and stay on the bottom of the cake pan.
  19. Lavish the cake top with confectioners' sugar. Shake it over the cake through a small sieve .
  21. The cake lasts fro several days if stored in the fridge, but because it has fruit it's best eaten fresh.
  22. CHEFS' NOTE;
  23. You can add nuts to the streusel or replace the apples with pears

Serve it warm or at room temperature embellished with a generous dusting of confectioners’ sugar. I believe that a cake that tames a wild beast could also benefit from a generous drift of whipped cream of a large scoop of vanilla ice cream.

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This gloriously simple cake can be made with the usual pantry items,  a good sized bowl and a whisk – if that is your desire.    Or you can whip it up with  hand held electric beaters or a stand mixer.  The results are a tender, butter-rich, nutty cake.  Top it with a generous swipe of frosting and you’ve just swanned your way to creating a delectable, delicious, no stress cake.

I am a volunteer at our Ladner hospital thrift shop. It’s a busy operation and our morning tea break is appreciated.    I call it The Fellowship of  Cookie and Cake Bakers.  The table is always graced with volunteers home baked goodies.  The  discussions are frequently about  food in general and baking in great detail.  Recipes are shared and stored in a three ring binder for anyone looking for baking inspiration.

The women I work with are mostly retired.  They donate a great deal of time and energy to their volunteer work.  They still love to bake but appreciate recipes that that don’t require a lot of prep time.  Some prefer recipes that are not too complicated or require too many ingredients.  And, they don’t want to spend a lot of time shopping for ingredients that are difficult to find.

An easy one bowl cake recipe means less time is spent mixing the ingredients and less time in clean up.   Make this recipe once and it will be yours forever.  The chopped walnuts are toasted in the butter then added to the eggs, sugar and sour cream and vanilla and whisked  until well combined. Then add the flour, baking powder and soda and whisk to combine and pour into your cake pan.  You can add optional flavours such as instant espresso powder or cardamon. It also bakes beautifully in a loaf pan or double the recipe and bake in a  Bundt pan.  The Butter Maple frosting does require an electric hand mixer or stand mixer.

This recipe is adapted from Snacking Cakes by Yossy Arefi

: snacking cake
Cuisine: baking
: 8
Easy one bowl cake with a delicate nutty flavour and a fluffy maple butter frosting.
  • ½ cup (113 4 oz.) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup (110g) chopped walnuts
  • ¾ cups (150g) granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs room temperature
  • ¾ cup (165g) sour cream room temperature
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp. fine sea salt
  • 1¼ cups (160g) all-purpose flour
  • 1½ tsp. baking powder
  • ¼ tsp. baking soda (this small amount is necessary, do not leave out)
  • ½ tsp. instant espresso powder (optional)
  • 1 tsp.cardamon (optional)
  • 1 cup (100g) confectioners' sugar (SIFTED)
  • ¼ cup (55g 2 0z.) unsalted butter VERY VERY SOFT
  • 1 tbsp. milk or more if needed
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 tbs. maple syrup
  • A pinch of salt.
  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Butter a 9 inch round baking pan and line the bottom with parchment paper. Top with a double layer 5 inch strip of parchment paper that hangs over two of the edges. Use this parchment paper to lift the cake out of the pan when it is baked.
  2. In a medium sized saucepan or skillet melt the butter over medium heat. Add the walnuts and toast the nuts in the butter, STIRRING CONSTANTLY, for about 3-4 minutes. When the nuts and butter begin to brown pour everything into a large bowl and let it cool while for a few minutes. (see chef's note concerning the safety of walnuts)
  3. In the bowl you are using to mix the cake add sugar and eggs and whip for a few minutes until creamy.
  4. Add the sour cream, vanilla, salt and seasoning if using and whip to combine.
  5. Tip all the butter and nuts and whisk until well-combined and emulsified.
  6. Add the flour, baking power and baking soda and whisk gently gentle until combined and smooth. Do not over beat.
  7. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and ta the pan gently on the counter to release any air bubbles. Smooth the top of the batter.
  8. Bake the cake until puffed and golden and a tested inserted into the center comes out clean. About 25 to 35 minutes.
  9. Set the pan on a rack to cool for about 20 minutes. Use the parchment paper to the cake out of the pan and set it on the rack to cool completely.
  11. Add the sifted confectioners' sugar, .very soft butter, vanilla, maple syrup, milk and salt to the mixing bowl.
  12. Use an electric hand mixer or stand mixer to mix the ingredients on low until the sugar is moistened. Scrape down the sides of the bowl if necessary..
  13. Increase the speed to medium high and whip until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes, adding a bit more milk if necessary.
  14. Top the cooled cake with swirls of frosting/
  15. Store the cake loosely covered ( a glass cake dome works beautifully) at room temperature or in the fridge for up to three days. (if it lasts that long)
  16. Chef"s note
  17. Toasting the nuts in butter or roasting walnuts in a 350F oven for 10 minutes improves the flavour and removes any chance of botulism spores.


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Spiced pumpkin and walnut tart.

The perfect Thanksgiving dinner always ends with pumpkin pie. The delicious aroma of aromatic spices fill your kitchen as you take this delicate creamy textured tart out of the oven. Pumpkin is one of those marvelous vegetables that can be used in both sweet and savoury recipes. It attains a glorious height of wonderfulness when it is encased in a sweet walnut pastry.

: pie and pastry filling
Cuisine: dessert
: 6 to 8
Pumpkin is a marvelous vegetable that can be used in both sweet and savoury recipes. Here it is matched with aromatic spices and sweet walnut pastry.
  • 3 large eggs, beaten
  • A scant cup (200g) of sour cream
  • A generous half cup(125g) of light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground clovers
  • ¼ tsp ground cardamon
  • 1'2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • zest of one lemon
  • 1¾ cup (425 g) tinned pumpkin puree
  • 1 medium egg, beaten, to glaze
  • Scant 1¾ cups (225g) all purpose flour
  • ½ cup (4 oz, 115 g) cold unsalted butter, diced into small pieces
  • ¼ cup (50g) fine sugar
  • 1¼ cups (125g) finely ground walnuts
  • ¼ tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 egg yolk beaten with 2 tbsp ice-cold water
  2. Preheat the oven to 400F(200C) and put a baking tray inside to heat up.
  3. Put the flour into a large bowl and rub in the butter until it resembles breadcrumbs. Use the flats of your hand to rub the mixture.
  4. Stir in the sugar and ground walnuts.
  5. Stirring with a flat-bladed knife (a table knife works fine) add enough of the yolk and water until the mixture clumps together.
  6. Bring together with the tips of your fingers into a ball. Knead on a lightly flour work surface until smooth. It will feel slightly crumbly at first but comes together.
  7. Flatten into a disc, wrap in clingfilm and chill for 20 minutes.
  8. Lightly dust the work surface again with flour. Roll out the pastry a little thicker then you would normally do and line an 8 inch(22cm) round loose-bottomed flan tin.
  9. Prick the base with a fork and trim the edges.
  10. Chill until cold or pop in the freezer for 10 minutes/
  11. Gather up the trimmings and knead briefly until smooth.
  12. Roll out the same thickness as the tart and cut out into decorative shapes.
  13. Put out on a flour dusted board and chill until needed
  14. Line your flan tin with a very crumpled circle of parchment paper. The paper should extend generously above the rim of the tin. Fill with beans.
  15. Bake for 10-12 minutes until the sides have set.
  16. Remove the paper and beans and bake for 5 minutes more until the base feels dry and sandy. Cool then carefully remove the baked pastry from the tin.
  17. :Lower the temperature to 350F(180C)
  18. Briefly beat together the large eggs. (they shouldn't be foamy)
  19. Mix in the cream, sugar, spices and zest then blend in the pumpkin.
  20. Put the pastry case on a baking sheet (a cold one) and pour in the pumpkin mixture.
  21. Arrange the pastry shapes around the edge. Carefully brush with the beaten egg edge of the tart.
  22. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until the tart wobbles slightly in the centre.
  23. Serve warm or chilled with whipped cream or ice cream


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This is a cake recipe that is compatibility with the baker. I have two sisters. My older sister is 91 years old. She is a fabulous baker but she find the time it requires very tiring. My younger sister’s health is not the best and she also finds it difficult to indulge in her love of baking. They both enjoy a slice of cake or a cookie with their afternoon cup of tea. Store bought cookies or cake simply do not make the cut. I have made it my mandate to adept some recipes that will allow them continue to enjoy baking. Recipes that are considerate and compatibility for them.

This cake recipe has a delicious chocolate flavour and a whisper of coffee in the Mocha glaze. One can assemble and measure out the ingredients the day before. This takes about ten minutes or so. Then next day, in the morning when you are not tired you mix the cake and pour it into the pan. Another ten minutes. When the cake is cool mix the glaze and give it a quick stir and pour it over the cake. That’s it. You’re done You are not standing for long periods of time and one can rest in between each process.

As for clean up. Before one starts the mixing process a sink full of hot soapy water allows you to clean as you go. It is all about doing a bit at a time.

The ingredients of this cake are ones normally found in ones pantry or refrigerator. My sisters order their groceries on line so I have considered accessibility to ingredients in this cake. They don’t enjoy cake mixes or store bought baking. This is a recipe is quick and easy to make. Has a rich, soul satisfying chocolate flavour.  A treat with tea or anytime a treat is called for.

Recipes such as this one would also be helpful for those who have little time to spend in the kitchen, but would love to have a home made cake. It would be an excellent cake for children to bake with a little adult help.  This recipe was adapted from  Yossy Arefi’s book Snacking Cakes.


: cake
Cuisine: baking
: 8
An extraordinarily easy cake to make. It is one bowl cake with a simple glaze. It goes together quickly and is perfect with coffee or as a dessert with ice cream.
  • ¾ cup(68g) unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder SIFTED to remove any lumps
  • 1 cup(128g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp fine sea salt
  • 2 eggs room temperature.
  • 1 cup (200g) lightly packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup (220) Vanilla or plain whole-milk yogurt
  • ½ cup (120 ml) canola oil
  • t tsp vanilla extract
  • For the Mocha Glaze
  • 1 cup (100g) SIFTED confectioners' sugar
  • 3 tbsp unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1 tbs unsalted butter VERY soft
  • pinch of fine seat salt
  • 2 TO 3 tbsp VERY STRONG VERY HOT coffee
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Have your rack in the center of your oven.
  2. Butter a 9 inch round baking pan and line the bottom with a round of parchment paper. Place with 4-5 inch strip of parchment paper to it hangs over two of the edges.
  3. Combine the WELL SIFTED cocoa powder, the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl and set aside.
  4. Use the whisk attachment for your stand mixer. You can also mix this cake in a large bowl and a hand whisk.
  5. Whisk the eggs until thick and rich looking - about a minute or two.
  6. Add the brown sugar and continue whisking until well combined.
  7. Add the yogurt, oil and vanilla and whisk until smooth and emulsified.
  8. Add the cocoa- flour mixture and whisk (on low speed with your stand mixer) just until well combined. Scrape the bowl well making sure all the flour mixture has been assimilated.
  9. and then whisk again briefly.
  10. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and tap the pan lightly on the counter to release any air bubbles. Smooth the top of the batter.
  11. Bake the cake for 35 to 40 minutes and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean.
  12. Set the cake on a rack to cool for about 30 minutes.
  13. Now use the parchment paper to life the cake out of the pan and set it back on the rack to cool completely
  14. Chef's note: You can use an 8-nch square baking pan (bake for 35-45 minuets ).
  15. For the Mocha glaze
  16. Sift the icing sugar and the cocoa into a medium sized bowl.
  17. Whisk well to insure there are no lumps.
  18. Add the soft butter and smooch it around with a wooden spoon and blend it into the icing sugar and cocoa mixture.
  19. Add about two tablespoons of the hot coffee and mix quickly with the wooden spoon. If the glaze is very thick add a few more drops of hot coffee. Immediate pour the glaze over the cooled cake. If by chance you've added too much hot coffee let the glaze sit for a short while and the glaze will thicken as it cools to a more spreadable rather than pour-able consistency.
  20. If you can - let the cake set 20 minutes or so before you cut it . Then nibble away to your hearts content.
  21. I suggest you keep this cake in the refrigerator. In a warm room the glaze will spread a little.


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One could be forgiven for keeping one of the key ingredients of this cake a secret.  Those who grow zucchini know that overnight a zucchini can morph to a monstrous size.   At least that is what it seems.   We’ve enjoyed healthy zucchini muffins and loaf cakes.  But this bundt cake is gorgeously different.  A bundt  cake rich with bittersweet chocolate and cocoa powder.    A bundt cake that takes chocolate and zucchini and gives you a cake that is gloriously  tender and wonderfully moist.

This so very timely recipe is from the pages of ZOE BAKES CAKES by Zoe Francois.    A fabulous cook book that contains everything you need to know about cakes!

: baking
Cuisine: cakes
: 12
A rich dark chocolate zucchini bundt cake. This very moist cake keeps well. Slices beautifully. And makes the perfect dessert
  • 2 cups(315g) packed grated unpeeled zucchini.
  • 4 oz(115g)bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled to room temperature
  • ⅔ cup(270g) dutch-processed cocoa powder plus extra for dusting
  • 2¼ cups (270g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • ½ cup (110g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (200 g) lightly packed light brown sugar
  • ¾ cup(150g) granulated sugar
  • ½ cup(120ml) vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs at room temperature
  • ½ cup (120g) plain full-fat yogurt or sour cream
  1. Cut ends off zucchini and remove any tough seeds if it is large zucchini.Use a box grater or the grater attachment on your food processor to shred the zucchini.
  2. Melt the chocolate and cool to room temperature.
  3. Preheat oven to 325F(165c)
  4. Generously grease the bundt pan and dust heavily with cocoa powder,. Work the butter and cocoa into the nooks of the pan.
  5. Sift the cocoa to remove any lumps. In a medium bowl sift together the flour, baking soda and salt. Add the sifted cocoa. Mix well
  6. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment cream the butter on medium high speed until creamy and smooth.
  7. Turn the mixer speed to low and add both sugars to the butter and mix until incorporated.
  8. Drizzle in the oil and vanilla. Turn the speed to medium high and beat until very light and fluffy.
  9. Scrape the bowl often for even incorporation.
  10. Turn the speed to medium low and add the eggs one at a time beating just until combined. Scrape the bowl after each addition.
  11. Add one-third of the flour mixture to the butter mixture mixing on low speed just until combined.,
  12. Add half of the yogurt mixing until incorporated.
  13. Repeat with another one-third flour, then the remaining yogurt and finish with the final one-third flour. Scrap the bowl and paddle after each addition.
  14. Remove the bowl from the mixer and stir in the zucchini until it is evenly distributed.
  15. Add the chocolate and stir until combined.
  16. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Gently tap the pan on the counter several times to make sure the batter has fully settled into the nooks of the bundt.
  17. Bake until a tester come out with MOIST crumbs , about an hour. About15 minutes before the.allotted bake time check your cake. DO NOT OVERBAKE. This is the secret to insure the cake has a creamy chocolaty finish.
  18. Let the cake cool in the ;pan for 10 minutes then flip it out onto a serving plate and dust the top with cocoa before serving.



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