Sunday, December 28, 2008

Another year...another log!

This month's challenge is brought to us by the adventurous Hilda from Saffron and Blueberry and Marion from Il en Faut Peu Pour Etre Heureux. They have chosen a French Yule Log by Flore from Florilege Gourmand.

The Daring Bakers decided to welcome in this holiday season with another traditional French yule log. This version of the yule log was a multi-step, mousse based version. Instead of the buttercream and genoise cake of last year, this year saw a more traditionally European style dessert. Each version is a wonderful addition to any holiday table and I'm not sure I can pick my favourite. Each had its wow factors.
Last year's log was an almond genoise rolled around a buttercream filling and topped with more mocha and rum flavoured buttercream. The decoration was a rustic and somewhat realistic looking log decorated with almond paste mushrooms. The Italian meringue buttercream was wonderfully silky, subtle and the perfect complement to the airy cake.

This year's log has a dacquoise base and I used a hazelnut version. It made a very light and airy base for the dessert. Then there are layers of chocolate mousse, creme brulee insert, praline feuillette for crunch and chocolate ganache. The whole log is then covered in the most decadent chocolate icing which I ate, in large part, right out of the bowl! The finished dessert is frozen for stability and then when brought back at room temperature for 1/2 hour or so. It tastes wonderfully decadent with each layer bringing its own flavour profile to the table. On the whole it may be a little more work than the buttercream version given the various components that need to be assembled. But many of the layers can be made in advance so the work could be spread out over two days. I also had fun creating a chocolate clay poinsettia for decoration.
Thanks to Hilda and Marion for a wonderful recipe. A big thanks also to my photographer Jason who has, by taking photos each month, by default taken on the monthly DB challenge with me. He patiently listens to my vision for the pictures and how I see the dessert being photographed and then does his own thing! The good thing is that his vision always results in a great shot and I'm very grateful for the time and effort he puts in to taking the pictures, editing, sizing them and sending them to me. A big shout out to Shelly as well who never begrudges the time this process takes. Christmas is the perfect time to count your blessings. We've been so happy this year to find such good friends across the backyard fence which now has a section removed and a well worn (and snowplowed!) path between our back doors.
Happy Holidays everyone!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

How Sweet It Is

This month's challenge was a return to sweet. And when I say sweet, I mean really sweet! Thanks to Dolores (, Alex (, Jenny ( Natalie (, this month the Daring Bakers tackled Shuna Fish Lydon's signature Caramel Cake.

While I have developed a sweet tooth in recent years, I still find caramel can be, on the whole, a little too sweet when eaten in large amounts. So I decided to stick to cupcake size portions this month. I also tried to tone down the sweetness of the icing by adding some salt and cutting out some of the sugar. I was happy with the results and with the decision to keep things simple in terms of the quantity (6 small cupcakes), icing and decoration. The photos are another story! I was unable to get to my neighbourhood photographer in time (everyone was clambering for a cupcake) so I had to tackle the pictures myself. Let's just say they don't do justice to the results.

I also decided to try the caramels this month. I've not had good luck with candy making in the past so I looked forward to the challenge. Unfortunately, even with the advice of other DBers, and not letting the caramel get above 240 on the candy thermometer, my caramel came out as hard as a rock. More the consistency 9f a (stale) McIntosh caramel bar than a Kraft caramel!! So working on the philosophy of "when life hands you lemons, make lemonade", I put the tooth breaking caramel into the food processor, ground it up and used it to make Toffee Shortbreads. A much better result! I got the recipe from the Robin Hood flour website and they will be a yummy addition to my Christmas cookie tins and trays.

December marks my 1 year anniversary with the Daring Bakers and I haven't missed a challenge yet!! I've had so much baking with this group, trying new recipes and making friends along the way. Can't wait to see what December brings!

RECIPE SOURCE: Caramel Cake with Caramelized Butter Frosting courtesy of Shuna Fish Lydon (, as published on Bay Area Bites (…%20he-recipe/)

Golden Vanilla Bean Caramels from Pure Dessert by Alice Medrich, Artisan Press, Copyright 2007, ISBN: 978-1579652111.


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Pizza Fridays

Friday nights are eagerly anticipated by everyone in our family. Not only is it the start of the weekend, but it generally means pizza and movie night with friends. The kids love to make a large fort with blankets and chairs from which to watch the movie or we all hunker down on a giant "pillow pile" and fight for the best viewing space and comfiest position.

Sometimes the pizza is store bought but more often than not it's homemade and we experiment with different recipes to make the perfect crust. This month's DB challenge fed right into pizza night with Peter Reinhart's pizza dough recipe. The dough came together easily on Thursday night, although I did find it stickier than what I was used to. Apparently there is a higher ratio of water than with the more typical pizza dough recipe. The disks went into the fridge for an overnight rest to be brought out Friday afternoon for tossing, forming, topping and eating.
Well, tossing the dough wasn't a huge success - given its pliability, the dough didn't really need tossing and after a few halfhearted attempts, we decided to simply stretch it out and free form it into circles. Everyone topped their own pizzas from a selection of traditional toppings - mushrooms, black olives, pepperoni, onion, red pepper, and tomato.

The oven was turned up to 500F and the pizza stone was preheated as directed. However, despite being in the oven over 18 minutes (twice as long as the recipe called for), it never got the crispy all over crust that I get from my usual dough recipe. It eventually did come together but I found the recipe more finicky and more work than what I traditionally use and the results not really any different in terms of taste. I was kind of surprised to read how much others really liked their results. Maybe I was missing something?!? Oh well, with the red wine flowing and dominoes out, a good time was had by all.

Thanks again to my resident photography for the great pics and to Rosa of Rosa's Yummy Yums for a great challenge.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

You say cracker, I say pita!

This month was a first for me - the Daring Baker's recipe for September was one I had already baked previously. Unfortunately, it was one that I wasn't particularly impressed with the results. A few months ago I had a hankering for lavash crackers and turned to bread baking guru Peter Reinhart in great anticipation of a cracker that surpassed store quality and didn't break the bank. However, the crackers ended up more chewy than crispy and none of my toppings stayed on the cracker when cut.
So while I was excited to try a vegan recipe this month from Shel (Musings from the fishbowl) and Natalie (Gluten a-go-go), I can't say that the recipe was one I was expecting much from. But the good thing though with having a private DB discussion board is that I got to learn from others' experiences and found out that many had rolled the dough thicker and turned the crackers into pita. What a great idea and I had a much better result. The kids asked to take it to school for lunch for 3 days running!
To complement the pita I made my standby bruschetta dip with the end of season tomatos and basil. Throwing in some green onions, garlic, olive oil and balsamic vinegar makes for a quick and tasty topping for just about anything.

I know I say it every month, but what a great challenge! And thanks to Shelly for her usual great pics.


Sunday, August 31, 2008

Eclairs in August

August was an especially hectic (but fun) month for us. With all of the birthday parties, camping trips, barbecues and day trips to amusement parks, I never really found the perfect time to make this month's challenge. And it wasn't for the lack of a good recipe - Pierre Herme and chocolate is the ultimate combination. Thanks to Meeta of What's for Lunch Honey? and Tony of Tony Tahhan, August's DB challenge was Pierre Herme's chocolate eclair recipe.

But with the deadline looming and not wanting to miss my first challenge in almost a year, I bit the bullet and decided to make the eclairs this past Thursday and Friday. With a birthday party to host at the same time and packing for the last camping trip of the summer on Saturday, let's just say that I had a few early (really early) mornings before work making all the things that I needed to get done. Luckily the eclairs turned out to be the easiest part of the equation. (Don't even get me started on the birthday cake that started out as a princess cake but ended up a crown. Not my finest baking moment but luckily the preschool crowd isn't judgmental - they love anything pink and sparkley and can use their imaginations to see a crown where the rest of us see a lumpy mess of a cake!!)

I started with the pastry cream and other than using quite a few dishes and utensils during the process, the cream was easy to make and tasted fantastic. It went into the fridge while I worked on the choux pastry (and cleaned up the mess!) I have made choux pastry many times before in baking class and this recipe was pretty much the same that I was used to. I did love a tip found on the DB private website of piping long rows of the choux, freezing them then cutting to the size you want. Made things very easy. I had read how many people found that their eclairs fell after baking. So I followed the advice and cooled them slowly after baking by keeping the oven door open. They came out great. I did find, though, that sitting overnight made them a little soft so I reheated them in the morning in the oven to puff them back up.

The morning of the party turned out to be more hectic than expected so I took advantage of homemade caramel that I had in the fridge rather than making a chocolate glaze. I covered the top with the caramel and swirled in a little chocolate that I also had around. I quickly got my very good and understanding friend Shelly to pull out her camera and take some pics before they were in the fridge ready for the party later. They were a big hit and I must say that the chocolate pastry cream was fantastic. Definitely a filling that I would use again. Can't wait to see what September brings!


Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Celebrating marriage and cake!

My in-laws have great timing. Their birthdays fell during the May Daring Bakers challenge and I was able to present them with a stunning opera cake (if I do say so myself!) in celebration of their special days. This month was their 44th wedding anniversary and Daring Bakers didn't disappoint. Chris of Mele Cotte picked a truly decadent and impressive Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream which was a lovely dessert to mark another milestone in their long and wonderful marriage. As much as my husband is supportive of my baking hobby, I think my father-in-law is my most ardent cheerleader as he has an incredible sweet tooth (though he will deny it!) and loves to be the recipient of my many baking creations.

With their anniversary on a patriotic July 4th (although us being Canadians, our holiday was on July 1st), I didn't have much time to preassemble some of the cake components, only having learned of the challenge on July 1st. Added to this, I had already committed to making a cake for a friend's father for the same day. Luckily, I was able to double the buttercream recipe and use it for both cakes, saving a good amount of time in the process. I also had filberts (aka hazelnuts) already in the freezer and lots of eggs and butter in the fridge.

I started out with the genoise and decided to make a 6" diameter cake. I had my usual problem of not being able to grind my nuts in the food processor as fine as I would like. I wanted the consistency of a nut flour (powdery, dry) but instead got more of a grainy texture. I think it's from chopping the nuts rather than grinding (mashing) them but unfortunately none of the other Daring Bakers were able to provide suggestions for a finer texture other than simply pulsing the nuts more. If I can't find a method that I like, I think I will start buying the more expensive nut flour so that I get a finer texture to the genoise.

The buttercream was a delight as usual. The French and Italian meringue methods are so much better than the American method of icing sugar in shortening (what is typically used for Wilton cakes and are too sweet!) The top was a wonderful glassy mirror but the sides showed every lump in the layers. Next time, I would do a second bath in the ganache to smooth out the layers. Luckily I had some gumpaste roses saved from a previous cake job which saved time with the decorating.

Here's a picture of my friend's cake. Since it had to be transported by car an hour away along bumpy roads to a cottage without the luxury of a passenger to make sure it didn't move, I decided to simplify my original plans and use cookies along the side in hopes that it would survive the journey intact. The cake was made using Dorie's Black and White Cake recipe, the praline buttercream, and store bought cookies (I just didn't have the time to make them myself). Apparently it survived the journey very well and was a hit at the party. As usual my neighbour Jason stepped in to take great pictures while his wife Shelly and I relaxed on the back deck enjoying a refreshing glass of white wine. Summertime and the living is easy!!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Danishes in June

When I first read that the Daring Bakers challenge this month was a danish braid, I have to admit that I didn't have my usual feelings of excitement for the challenge to come. In the baking classes that I took last fall, danish dough was probably one of my least favourite doughs to make. I found that it was one of those rare baked goods that wasn't an improvement over the store bought variety.

But as a good Daring Baker knows, there is always something to be learned with a challenge and being part of the forum discussing the highs and lows of a challenge is worth the price of admission! So I forged ahead with the recipe and boy was I glad that I did. This recipe was awesome!!!! I only wish I could transmit the smells coming from my oven as the dough first proofed (I love using the oven light for perfect proofing temp) and then baked.

I know that some DBers found the dough a little difficult to work in terms of having oozing butter or being too elastic to roll out properly. I actually had a good experience on both accounts. I was in no hurry to make the dough so I had lots of time to let the dough rest in the fridge between turns and let the butter firm up before rolling out again. While it took a good 2-3 hours to complete all of the turns, the actual work during that period was quite minimal. If the dough ever got too elastic to roll, I just let it rest for a few minutes and that seemed to do the trick. When I cut the dough in half to freeze one portion for later use, I was thrilled to see all of the distinct layers and had a pretty good idea that I was going to have a good result this time around.

Choosing what to fill the braid with was a daunting task at first. Our private DB website had so many good options from savory to sweet, seasonal strawberries to fall apples, from nutty and crunchy to honey sweet. With our local strawberries coming into season though, the choice was made for me in the end. I started with a base of cream cheese mixed with ricotta and vanilla bean seeds. I then added a strawberry jam made with our local berries. The layers baked up golden, flaky and gave just a hint of the strawberry goodness underneath.

Unfortunately, I couldn't get a photographer to take pics early Tuesday morning when I decided to bake the braid. So I ventured outside in the garden myself and did my best with the early summer flowers. I'm hoping that when I get around to baking the second half of the dough (I'm thinking Nutella, dark chocolate and toasted hazelnuts) I'll be able to switch these pictures with more artistic shots from one of my talented photographer friends.

Thanks to Kelly and Ben for this challenge - for being so quick to respond to questions on the DB website and for providing the push necessary to revisit a technique that I vastly underrated. Also thanks to Jasmine who was gracious enough to sit down with me one night to go over the ins and outs of starting up my own blog, patiently answer all of my questions (no matter how silly!) and provide inspiration with her beautifully photographed, informative and well written blog. And her recipe book collection is a wonder to behold - her house was an Aladdin's den of written treasures :-)


Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Not your usual birthday song and cake

Thanks to this month’s DB challenge, brought to us by our fearless founders Lis and Ivonne and newbies Fran and Shea, I was able to make my in-laws a special birthday cake for their double birthday. In the spirit of the Opera cake challenge, we brought the cake to the table while singing “Happy Birthday” in our best operatic voices. The singing was hilarious due to our almost tone-deaf rendition, but the cake was a huge hit!

Like what I imagine a well choreographed opera would be to bring to the stage, there was much preparation in advance of the birthday dinner. I was grateful for a recipe that could be prepped and assembled mostly all in advance and I took advantage of that by spreading out the steps over 2 days. I decided to keep the flavours clean by sticking to an almond and vanilla palette.
The simple syrup was flavoured with almond extract and the buttercream had hints of almond as well.
The jaconde was a pleasure to make. I mistakenly bought whole almonds rather than blanched so the texture was a little “grittier” than I would have liked but it still turned out light and moist. The buttercream was fabulous although I did have my first curdling experience. My mixture cooled down too much before I added all of the butter resulting in a disappointing mess in my mixer. Thanks to past DB challenges, I figured out the problem and solution quickly. I reheated 25% of the mixture and whipped it back in to bring it all together. It was silky, smooth and I would double the amount next time to make sure everyone got a generous helping.
The white chocolate ganache/mousse was a wonderful addition to the cake. The delicate flavour was enhanced by the addition of Baileys. I think this was my favourite layer of the cake. My only disappointment was the white chocolate glaze which I found a little too sweet and overpowering – especially covering the delicate flavour of the underlying mousse. I would either make a thinner layer in the future or try to find a substitute.
Thanks again to my talented neighbourhood photographer Jason who took stunning pictures again this month. The DB experience wouldn’t be so much fun if I had to muddle my way through the photography and food styling process with my little point and shoot camera!


Sunday, April 27, 2008

More is More

Without an occasion to celebrate this month and no dinner party planned, I have to admit that I procrastinated a bit with April's DB challenge. That's not to say that I don't love cheesecake. I often make cheesecake as I find it's one of those desserts that even the most picky dessert eater will like and it looks impressive without having to put much effort into it. The benefit of my late start was that I was armed with the experience of those early DBers who found that a cooking time of 35-45 minutes didn't fully cook the cheesecake base. This is just one of the reasons I love being part of this group - getting the benefit of everyone's experiences, be they good or bad. I haven't had a challenge yet where I haven't learned something; either a new technique, a new flavour combination or just how to relax and enjoy the baking experience.

I decided to make a half recipe and used an 8" square glass dish in the water bath. I cooked the batter for 50 minutes. The cheesecake came out set, there was no cracking on the top and it had a lovely creamy colour. I refrigerated the pan overnight and then formed the balls the next morning. My friends will tell you that I tend to be an everything at right angles, clean lines kind of person. I don't usually gravitate towards dessert presentations that are more rustic in appearance (unless the rustic presentation looks like it was carefully planned to be that way - totally against the rustic philosophy!!!) So I was a little out of my comfort zone when I started to form the cheesecake balls and they weren't coming together in the perfectly symmetrical, smooth round balls that I envisioned in my mind. My hands became coated with cheesecake and the balls were a little "squatter" than the look I wanted.

I ended up freezing the cheesecake and using cooking spray on my hands so that the process was less messy and I had more time to get the desired shape. But since they still weren't as smooth as I wanted I decided to cut loose and go with the "more is more" philosophy. Inspired by those chocolate coated apples that you see at the mall covered in inches of candy toppings, I decided to dip the pops in chocolate and then roll them in cookie crumbs and then drizzled on more chocolate.

Well the pops were a big hit at my moms' group. The presentation was whimsical and the size perfect for those who might feel guilty about eating a whole piece of cheesecake. Would I make them again? I'm not sure to be honest. At the rolling stage I was definitely thinking no - it was just too much work for something that wasn't too impressive. The cheesecake wasn't as firm as I like and they didn't weather well for too long out of the fridge - it's not one of those desserts that you can have out for a long period of time while people talk and snack. But the coating process was fun and it was an unexpected way to have cheesecake. In the end, I think I'll stick with a tried and true classic cheesecake but I'm glad I had the experience of making the pops. Thanks Deborah and Elle for challenging me to try a presentation that I would have never done on my own! Well the pops were a big hit at my moms' group. The presentation was whimsical and the size perfect for those who might feel guilty about eating a whole piece of cheesecake.

Would I make them again? I'm not sure to be honest. At the rolling stage I was definitely thinking no - it was just too much work for something that wasn't too impressive. The cheesecake wasn't as firm as I like and they didn't weather well for too long out of the fridge - it's not one of those desserts that you can have out for a long period of time while people talk and snack. But the coating process was fun and it was an unexpected way to have cheesecake. In the end, I think I'll stick with a tried and true classic cheesecake but I'm glad I had the experience of making the pops. Thanks Deborah and Elle for challenging me to try a presentation that I would have never done on my own!


Friday, March 28, 2008

The perfect party cake (truly!)

A wonderful occasion deserves a special cake and Dorie Greenspan's Perfect Party Cake delivers and delivers consistently. I've used this recipe many times in the past with great results every time. The cake is moist which I've found is not the case with most other white cake recipes that I've tried. The layers don't bake up very high in a 9" cake pan so I've taken to using my 8" by 3" high pan (the standard cake size in Canada) which results in 3 perfect layers. There's not much more that I need to say about this great recipe so I've simply attached my pictures.

I keep forgetting to take pictures though after we've cut into the cakes - too busy enjoying (hoovering it back!) to remember to pick up the camera! You'll have to trust me that the buttercream and raspberry curd layers are the perfect complement to the sponge layers and pop against the snowy white background of the cake. The chocolate decorations are also fun to make and I think make for a whimsical cake. Thanks Morven for another fun-filled challenge.

Friday, February 29, 2008

9 hours, 4 ingredients, 1 great bread!

I've been intimidated by yeast for a long time and I had resigned myself to never having homemade bread. Well, when I started baking yeast breads this fall in my baking classes I was amazed at how easy it actually was. I had such fun making white pan bread, sourdough buns, raisin bread, rye bread, breadsticks etc. Over Christmas I also made the most delicious asiago cheese bread using a recipe created by our very own Breadchick, Mary, co-host of this month's Daring Baker challenge.

So when I saw this month's challenge was French bread, I thought noooo problem. Even after I saw the seventeen page printed recipe, I thought how hard can it be? I mean just because it takes 17 pages to instruct you how to put together four ingredients in a 7-9 hour timeframe to make a loaf of bread, that doesn't mean it's difficult, does it?!? So off I went in my blissfully ignorant state of mind to make the most perfect French bread ever. Let's just say that my first attempt ended up hanging off both ends of the pizza stone and was a misshapen mess!!!I got up at 7am on a Saturday morning and hummed to music as my trusty KitchenAid mixed the ingredients together. I used instant yeast since I had it on hand and have been happy with its consistent results in the past. The dough kneaded in the mixer for around 7 minutes and required a little more flour than called for in the recipe. I finished the kneading process with a minute or two of hand kneading and the dough felt wonderfully elastic. I placed the dough ball back in the cleaned KitchenAid mixing bowl, covered it and put it into the oven for the first rise. I was thrilled with Mary and Sara's tip to put the oven light on to get the oven to the right temperature for the fermentation process.

Three hours later the dough had tripled in bulk and was ready for a punch down and second rising. It felt wonderfully warm and smelled fantastic. Then back into the oven for its second rise. My first inkling of problems to come started during the shaping stage. I had decided to make 2 batards and divided the dough accordingly. I felt reasonably comfortable shaping the dough after watching the recommended PBS episode of Baking with Julia (It was great to find out that you could watch these old episodes online - what a treat!) I unfortunately used a floured cotton tea towel to place the shaped bread on since I didn't have linen. I also put the loaves on the towel seam side down, opposite of what I should have done. This meant that I had to really manhandle the dough onto the board and then try to get it off the board onto the pizza stone in the oven. Good luck!!! That darn dough wouldn't budge. I finally rolled it off by hand and it fell upside down on the stone, with both ends dripping off. Urgghhh!!!

After 10 minutes of naively thinking "it can still work out", I decided to cut my losses and try again with the second loaf. This time I used a baking sheet lined with parchment and then manhandled the second loaf onto it. The result was much better (there was no place to go but up!) especially since I had ice cubes at the bottom of the oven for steam and misted the loaf 3 times with water. The loaf was a little misshapen due to manhandling and using a knife for slashes rather than a razor blade but it still was presentable. But the fight in me came out and I decided I would tackle the recipe again the following weekend, armed with the knowledge gained from this experience. (And as a sidenote, when I returned from my dinner party a few hours later, I put the first loaf back in the oven, baked it for the remaining 10 minutes and ate it the next day. Surprisingly, it tasted great - better than anything you can get at the supermarket. It just looked like a big, drippy breadstick!!!!)

Second time was a charm and I baked a French bread that not only tasted great but looked good. It had the distinctive flavour, crispy crust and large holes throughout that you want to see with a French bread. Thanks to Jason for wonderful pictures again this month and to Mary and Sara for hosting. It wasn't the gooey, chocolatey February dessert that I was expecting but it was a recipe that both challenged and delighted. Just what you want from a DB challenge!


Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Sunshine on a Wintery Day

After a December of making and eating rich desserts and lavish dinners, it was refreshing to be baking a lemon pie for this month's challenge. As far as my favourite flavours go, I'm hands down a chocolate girl! I love, love, love anything chocolate. I didn't think there was anyone in the world who didn't share my passion until I met my husband. He dislikes chocolate... a lot. To the extent of not liking chocolate chip cookies and who doesn't like chocolate chip cookies!?!. I know, weird!
This is a roundabout way of getting to my point which is that his dislike of chocolate forced me to go outside of my comfort zone into the world of baking with other flavours such as citrus, caramel, vanilla, and ginger. I've loved experimenting more with flavour and along the way have discovered that lemon is pretty amazing in desserts (not as good as chocolate, mind you, but great when you want something that tastes a little lighter or more refreshing.) Lemon tastes like spring to me and lemon meringue pie is a hint of spring to come during these long, grey days of winter following Christmas.

I decided to make mini lemon tarts since they looked so cute and I didn't have a particular occasion that called for a whole pie. I used the food processor method since I normally make the dough with my pastry cutter and I wanted to try something new. I know that Dorie Greenspan uses this method for her tart dough and I had marked that as one of the recipes on my list to try. It all came together quite nicely and very fast too. I formed the shells in medium sized muffin tins. I cut circles so that the dough, when shaped in the muffin cup, came up about halfway on the sides. They baked in about 35 minutes and after cooling to room temperature they came out very easily. The texture was a little sturdier than I like but taste testers compared it favourable to shortbread. I've tried many lemon curd recipes in the past and this one was as good as others I've tried. I was going to have fun with the meringue and experiment with many styles of topping the tarts, but time got away from me and I had to top them quickly before heading to work.
All in all, another successful and satisfying challenge. Thanks to Jenn for a great recipe, to fellow DBers for their tips, tricks and insights on our private blog and to my wonderfully talented friend Christine ( for taking such droolworthy pictures. She is a fabulous photographer and an even better friend! I'm still new to the world of blogging and do more "lurking" around other DBers blogs, enjoying their yummy pics and heartwarming stories, than I do commenting and giving back some of the support that I've been getting by being part of this wonderful group. I'm making a conscious effort to put more of myself out there so I look forward to seeing everyone's beautiful creations this month and Ietting you know how great they are! See you next month - I'm crossing my fingers for a gooey, triple-chocolately Valentine's dessert!



When the call went out for a baking event from two of the Daring Bakers whose blog I read on an almost daily basis, Helene and Peabody, I had to yes. It didn't hurt that the challenge was to bake donuts. Mmmmm, donuts... You almost can't be a Canadian without loving donuts. With a Tim Hortons around every corner and colleagues who bring donuts and, of course, Timbits (donut holes for non-Canadians!) as a matter of course to meetings, you can't escape the donut. And who would want to!?!

I have never made donuts before so I welcomed the opportunity. But what to make? My involvement in the Daring Bakers group made the decision easy - it was just one of those weeks where everything connected and came together like I had planned it. I made a christening cake earlier in the week using the mocha buttercream from the December yule log challenge as the filling. Since that recipe just called for egg whites, I had egg yolks in the refrigerator to use up in another recipe. Hunting around for something yummy to make, I came across an old post of Helene's for white chocolate pots de creme. Perfect. That made a quick and easy dessert for Sunday dinner when neighbours came over. Even after everyone had their fill of the custard, I had some leftovers to use up. Now what? Back to Helene's site and the call to make donuts. What better than to use Helene's recipe in a Boston creme filled donut for her blogging event. The circle was complete! From egg yolks from a Daring Baker recipe to Boston creme donuts for an event hosted by two Daring Bakers.

I found a good recipe on the Food Network site. Other than the donuts taking such a short time to fry and coming out darker than I would have liked, the result was what I had wanted. The cream filling was rich and flavourful, the chocolate glaze was silky and not too sweet and the yeast dough had such a light texture. Really, a wonderful donut.
Unfortunately I was unable to get good pictures as I finished the donuts first thing in the morning and my usual photographers had already left for work. To take advantage of the great light outside and white backdrop of the snow, I shovelled a path with my feet on the back deck and propped the plate up on a table that had been left outside to brave the winter cold. I'm sure I could feel the eyes of neighbours peering through their windows wondering what the crazy lady was doing without her jacket on, in 2 feet of snow, taking pictures of donuts! Oh well, I enjoyed seeing the snowflakes melt on the warm donuts.

With pictures done, I packed them all up to take to my moms group. Unfortunately, I hadn't planned on icy road conditions and ended up stranded at home with 20 fresh donuts. I figured I could at least brave the icy sidewalks and made my way around the neighbourhood delivering donuts on a sled to those that were also stuck at home. It not only made their day but saved me from the temptation of eating them all! Thanks Helene and Peabody for a great challenge.