Strawberry Cake – Hold the Cow (aka Dairy Free)

This post has as much to do with my family tree as it does food. You may need a flow chart to follow along…

I have a sister. She is a very, very, very lovely sister. She has a boyfriend. He is also lovely. Recently, he discovered that he is allergic to dairy. Not so lovely :(

Have I mentioned I also have two lovely cousins? It’s true. These two cousins also have lovely parents who were in town to help their children (the cousins) prepare for their upcoming adventure to Thailand. I wanted to make a cake to celebrate their visit but also wanted aforementioned boyfriend to be able to enjoy it. So I fired up the internet to see if there was such a thing as a dairy-free cake (I know, I know…I am new to this whole alternative diet thing).

I came across this recipe on the WholeFoods Market website. You can find the original here. I tweaked it slightly to compensate for the sad state of my pantry. The result; a very moist and flavourful cake. It was also a very pretty shade of pink if that matters.

Dairy Free Strawberry Cake

Dairy-Free Strawberry Cake

  • 2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 c. coconut milk
  • 1/2 c. vegetable oil
  • 1 c. pureed strawberries – can use frozen but at this time of year, why would you?

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Welcome Back (to me)

Hi! After a long hiatus I think I am back in the swing of things…just in time for Hallowe’en.

This started out as a frosted cake with ganache topping but I was overly enthusiastic with my pouring and found my cake entirely covered with chocolate. Terrible, no? The ghosts are simply icing piped in stacked circles (I did pop the cake in the fridge after each round of circles) and the eyes and mouths are chocolate chips.

If you are looking for a quick and fool-proof recipe for ganache – read on:

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Brown Sugar Banana Bread

One of my least favourite smells is that of over-ripe bananas. I suspect that I am not the only person that has a deep aversion to it, as someone, long ago, caught a whiff of their the fruit bowl and decided that instead of throwing out the offending fruit, they would beat it to a pulp and turn it into a delicious treat (and thanks be to them).

I found myself with a few stinkers last night and decided to use them up. When I went to my pantry to gather the ingredients to make my Aunt Dee’s famous recipe, I discovered that the holiday baking season had left it in a state that Old Mother Hubbard could relate to. No white sugar, no butter and barely enough all purpose flour (did I mention that Aunt Dee was not the most health conscious baker I’ve ever met). It was time to improvise. I substituted whole wheat flour for some of the all purpose and turned to brown sugar instead of white. Vegetable oil replaced the melted butter. I also fiddled a bit with the baking powder/soda ratios to see if I could get a lighter loaf. I also added cinnamon, just because I like it.

Overall, very pleasing results. The bread had the perfect consistency and texture. Moist and a bit crumby and the brown sugar on the top was the perfect finishing touch. I would also recommend popping a slice in the toaster for a few minutes for a breakfast treat.

Brown Sugar Banana Bread

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

  • 1 1/4 c. flour
  • 1/2 c. whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 4 over ripe bananas, mashed up beyond recognition
  • 2 eggs, room temp
  • 1/3 c canola oil
  • 1/2 c brown sugar + some for sprinkling on top of loaf
  • 2 tsp vanilla

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Sticky Lemon Buns with Lemon Cream Cheese Icing

After 15 or so years of living in different cities, my sister made the jump to Vancouver…much to my delight and surprise (but that’s another story). We are having an excellent time getting to know each other as adults and enjoying all of those time-honored sisterly traditions like lunch dates, movies and the occasional shopping trip. To our mutual surprise, we have also found ourselves sharing a lot of time in my kitchen…baking. I am not a big baker; that title goes to my mother. However, with the company of my sister, I am starting to appreciate the art of bringing four, butter and sugar together in all manner of ways. These gems were our Easter brunch experiment and they turned out beautifully, if I do say so myself.

Sticky Lemon Rolls with Lemon Cream Cheese Glaze
Adapted from The Kitchn

Lemon Roll Dough

  • 1 envelope (0.25 ounces, or 2 1/2 teaspoons) yeast
  • 3/4 cup milk, heated so it is warm but not hot on your wrist
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, very soft
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 lemons, zested
  • 2 eggs

Sticky Lemon Filling

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly-ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon powdered ginger
  • 2 lemons, zested
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, very soft

Lemon Cream Cheese Glaze

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 cup powdered sugar

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Unbelievably Good – Coconut Cake with Chocolate Chunks & Coconut Drizzle

OK…here is a New Year’s riddle for you. What do you get when you cross coconut and chocolate? Answer: one of the best cakes I have ever tasted! It was so moist and so tasty…I could go on and on and on. However, I think the ingredients and the pictures speak for themselves.

Coconut Cake with Chocolate Chunks and Coconut Drizzle
from Bon Apetit, January 2010

I should also note that I can take absolutely no credit for this beautiful creation…all props go to my lovely mother who came to visit us over the holidays. She is the master baker…not I.


  • 1 3/4 c. all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt (I prefer fine sea salt)
  • 1 c. unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • 1/2 c. (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 tsp (packed) finely grated orange peel
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 c. canned unsweetened coconut milk
  • 6 oz bittersweet chocolate bars (do not exceed 61% cacao), broken into small-ish chunks, divided
  • 1/2 c. sweetened flaked coconut

Coconut Drizzle

  • 3/4 c. powdered sugar
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened coconut milk (you may need a bit more)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

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Oatmeal Cookies with Cranberries, Pecans & White Chocolate

If you were to look inside my freezer right now, you would know that my mom has been to visit lately. The evidence is right there on the top shelf…bags of beautiful cookies, all in a row. These particular cookies are so packed with yummy that there is barely enough dough to hold it all together.

Oatmeal Cookies with Cranberries, Pecans & White Chocolate
Adapted from Fine Cooking, Issue 74

Toasted Coconut

  • 3/4 c. un-salted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1/2 c. light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1 Tbsp. light corn syrup
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour (my mom used 1 c. whole wheat and 1/2 c. all-purpose with excellent results)
  • 1/4 c. cake flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 c. dried cranberries
  • 1/2 c. old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/2 c.  pecans pieces, lightly toasted *
  • 1/2 c. coconut, lightly toasted *
  • 4 oz good quality white chocolate, coarsely chopped

* My mom notes that she has tried to omit the toasting of the nuts and coconut…she recommends that you take the time to pop them in the oven, as it really does enhance the overall taste of the cookies.

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Apple Hand Pies with Butterscotch

You will not find this recipe in any fancy cookbook or magazine, as it relies on two shortcuts that a true chef would never stoop to (or at least in my imagination, they have much higher standards); frozen puff pastry and butterscotch chips. Read on….


Apple Hand Pies with Butterscotch
makes 12-ish

  • 1 package of frozen puff pastry…I have to say I found the best ones at Whole Foods…they were 12 rounds of pastry, all perfectly cut for you.
  • 3 baking apples (I used Granny Smith for excellent results)
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. cardamon
  • 1 tsp. corn starch
  • 1 c. (or more) of butterscotch chips
  • 1 egg, beaten in a small bowl
  • brown sugar for sprinkling

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Yummy – Hot Fudge Sauce

Hot Fudge SauceI realize I have committed a serious oversight. When I was writing my post about the Dinner for 5 in an Hour (or so), I neglected to include the recipe for Hot Fudge Sauce that I mentioned in the description of our dessert.

I was reminded of this last night, when I watched my husband enjoy a Banana Sundae with the remains of the sauce. After you make this and realize how good it is, you will understand why my omission was so serious…I should not have held this back for so long. I am sorry….

Hot Fudge Sauce
I have tried a lot of recipes for Hot Fudge Sauce, but I can tell you that this one is the best. I found it in an old Bon Apetit magazine, February 2004.

  • 2/3 c. heavy cream
  • 1/2 c. light corn syrup
  • 1/3 c. packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 c. unsweetened,  Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 6 oz. good quality dark chocolate, not unsweetened, finely chopped (ok…I used 8 oz)
  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

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Carrot Cake with Classic Cream Cheese Frosting

My husband never asks me to bake him anything…ever. So, imagine my surprise when he requested  carrot cake last week. How could I possibly refuse? I dug out this recipe from my beloved Aunt Dee and started grating carrots (and possibly a knuckle or two).Carrot Cake

Aunt Dee’s Carrot Cake

  • 2 c. all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. table salt
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 c. white sugar
  • 1/3 c. honey
  • 1 1/4 c. canola oil
  • 4 eggs (large)
  • 3 1/2 c. grated carrot
  • 1 c. toasted walnuts, coarsely chopped (optional)

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