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.