No-Knead Bread

no-knead bread - trustinkim

I recently paid $9 for a loaf of bread – it was really beautiful, but it didn’t taste like a $9 loaf of bread. But this one sure does! I’d even bump that up to an $11 loaf.

AND . . . it is so easy to make! You just mix up the flour, salt, yeast and sugar the night before and leave it to do its thing The next day you do one more quick step a few hours hours before baking, and in the end you get this beautiful, delicious, and inexpensive bread. It has a thick dark crust, and a moist and tender inside, and the smell as you’re cutting it and taking that first bite is heavenly.

For this recipe you need a lidded baker; the trapped steam helps to develop a crust. I use a Romertopf clay roaster (see special instructions) which helps to create an excellent crust because of the moisture stored in the clay. I have also used a lidded le Creuset pot, but I would imagine you could use a tall cast-iron pan covered with foil… I’ll let you know when I try this out!

What you need:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
  • 1 & 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 & 1/3 cups water, room temperature

What you do:

  1. In a large bowl combine the flour, yeast and salt. Add the water and stir just until it comes together. It will look a bit shaggy, but it’s fine.
  2. Loosely cover the bowl with a lid, plate or plastic wrap and leave in a room temperature spot for 12 to 18 hours. Eighteen-ish hours is preferable, especially if it’s a little cooler in your place. In winter it can be helpful to put the bowl in a warmer spot, like on top of a fridge.
  3. About two hours before baking time, generously flour a tea towel (not a terry cloth one, as the dough sticks too much). Use a spatula to coax the dough out of the bowl, and then use floured hands to gently form it into a loaf, and place it seam-side down onto the floured towel. Sprinkle with a little more flour, then gently place another towel over the top. Allow this to sit for about 2 hours.
  4. About 1/2 an hour before baking turn the oven to 450°F/ 232°C. (If using a Romertopf/clay baker, make sure you have pre-soaked it, and then placed it in the oven BEFORE turning the oven on.)
  5. When the oven is ready gently place the dough, seam side down, into the lidded baker. Use a sharp knife to make a few slashes a few centimetres deep into the top of the bread.
  6. Place the lid on the baking dish and bake for 30 minutes. After that time remove the lid and bake for 15-25 minutes. The crust should be dark, and the bread should sound hollow when you tap it.
  7. Allow the bread to cool on a wire rack for about an hour. When it is hot it will be too sticky inside to but, but after an hour there should still be some warmth.
  8. Enjoy!

 

No-Bake Chocolate Date Nut Brownies

 

date nut brownie - trustinkim

This nutty brownie is a no-bake, vegan, gluten-free, lactose-free, raw recipe that also happens to be super tasty. It makes a great energy bar that you can pack for a big bike ride or hike. It contains nuts to give you some protein, and there’s natural sugar in the dates to make it taste good. 

You don’t need an oven, but you will need a food processor for this recipe. It keeps well in the fridge for a few weeks, or the freezer for a few months.

Just know that it is not your typical brownie that is cakey or gooey. You can find some of those recipes here here, and here.

I halved the recipe when I made it, but here is the full recipe version that comes from theminimalistbaker.com.

What you need:

  • 1 cup raw unsalted almonds (roughly chopped)
  • 1 cup raw walnuts
  • 1/2 cup raw walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 2 & 2 1/2 cups Medjool dates (pitted)
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder or raw cacao 
  • 1-2 tsp espresso powder or finely ground coffee
  • pinch sea salt
  1. Line a cake pan with parchment paper (or loaf pan for 1/2 a recipe)
  2. Place 1 cup of the walnuts along with the almonds in the food processor and process until it is finely ground.
  3. Put the cocoa, espresso powder and sea salt in the processor, then pulse to combine. Place in a bowl and set aside.
  4. Process the dates until soft, then remove to a bowl.
  5. Put the nut and cocoa mixture back in the processor, then slowly add the dates through the spout in the top of the processor. Process until it becomes doughy; I had to add a little bit of water. The mixture should come together when you squeeze it.
  6. Place the mixture into the lined cake pan, then add the chopped walnuts. Combine the walnuts with the brownie mixture, then press it down until it is flat.
  7. Cover and refrigerate for about half an hour before cutting.
  8. Enjoy!

The Best Date Squares

date squares - trustinkim

My mom says these are the best date squares she’s ever had, even better than hers – so that’s all the recommendation I need to give for these. The recipe is from Ricardo’s website, and it is also available en français.

Another name for these is matrimonial cake, or date crumbles. Apparently this is a true Canadian treat!

Using Medjool dates might be one of the factors in the greatness of this recipe, but I also love the buttery goodness of the crumble and crust.

These will keep well if wrapped and stored in the fridge for over a week, or in the freezer for several months. 

What you need for the date filling:

  • 2 & 1/2 cups (625 ml) Medjool dates, lightly packed, pitted and chopped 
  • 1 cup (250ml) water
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 ml) baking soda

What you need for the crumble and crust:

  • 3/4 cup (180 ml) salted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup (250 ml) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 & 3/4 cups (430 ml) quick-cooking rolled oats
  • 3/4 cup (180 ml) brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1 ml) baking powder

What you do:

  1. Bring the chopped dates, water, lemon juice and brown sugar to a boil in a saucepan. Add the baking soda and allow to simmer while stirring for about 5 minutes. The dates should have fallen apart. Mine didn’t really fall apart enough, so I gave them a whizz with my immersion blender. Allow this mixture to cool.
  2. Prepare a square baking pan (20 cm/8 inch) by lining it with a strip of parchment paper; allow the edges to hang over two sides. Butter the exposed sides of the pan. (When I make this again I will also butter the parchment paper to make it easier to remove.)
  3. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F), positioning the rack in the middle.
  4. In a large bowl cream the butter using a wooden spoon, then add the oats, flour, brown sugar and baking powder. Stir to combine. You might need to get in there with your hands to make this a little bit easier.
  5. Spread half of the oats mixture into the pan, then add the date mixture. Sprinkle on the rest of the crumble and press it down a little.
  6. Bake for about 55 minutes, or until golden brown. Let it cool on a wire rack – this will take a number of hours.
  7. When cooled, gently pull up on the parchment paper strips to remove the date squares from the pan.
  8. Enjoy! 

 

Aniseed Pound Cake

anise pound cake - trustinkim.com

This aniseed pound cake is awesome with a coffee or cuppa tea. I happen to love the flavour of anise, so I was eager to make this recipe from Bijoux.com. The recipe calls for confectioners sugar (I call it icing sugar) to be sprinkled on top, but although that looks pretty, I’m not a fan of the metallic taste of the sugar.

The cake was really good even four or five days after baking! I put some of it in the freezer, and it was awesome to be able to pull it out when I had company coming for afternoon tea.

Of course, being Canadian I should have changed the name to ‘slightly less than half a kilogram’ cake, but that sounds a bit pedantic. And in this recipe no ingredient is a pound anyways, unlike the traditional pound cake that has a pound each of butter, sugar, egg and flour. So maybe I should call it pound-ish cake . . .

The only planning ahead you have to do is taking the butter and eggs out of the fridge early so that they can come to room temperature.

This recipe makes one 8-inch/20 cm loaf, or four small loaves.

What you need:

  • 1 cup/   1/2 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 & 2/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 5 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 & 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons anise seed

What you do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F/165°C. Butter the bottom of a loaf pan, then line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper. Butter and flour the parchment paper.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar using an electric mixer, beating on high for about 10 minutes until it becomes light and fluffy.
  3. Beat the eggs in one at a time on medium-low speed.
  4. Stir the flour, salt and anise seeds in by hand just until it is combined.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the tops a little. Tapping the pans down on the counter will help to settle the batter. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
  6. Place the loaf pan on a rack and let it cool before removing it from the pan. 
  7. To store, wrap the loaf tightly in plastic wrap. You may freeze it if you wish.

Cranberry Coffee Cake

cranberry coffee cake - trustinkim

This coffee cake is a classic that everyone seems to appreciate eating, and one of the recipes I make more than any other. It makes a large cake or two smaller ones, so it’s great to make when baking for a crowd. I like to bring it to the staffroom for goodie day, or to a picnic. 

The sweetness of the nutty topping is a nice balance for the tartness of the cranberries, and the cake is moist and delicious. It is still great a few days after baking, but of course is the very best the day it’s made . . . especially when it’s still a little warm. 

Store in an airtight counter for a few days. Serve at room temperature.

What you need for the cake:

  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1 & 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup plain yogurt (not non-fat)
  • 1 & 1/2 cups cranberries, frozen or fresh

What you need for the topping:

  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (pecans are good for this too)
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamom

What you do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F, then spray or butter and flour a 9 x 13 inch pan (or two round or square 9-inch pans – springform would be great).
  2. To make the topping, melt the butter, then stir in the rest of the ingredients. Set this aside.
  3. Cream the butter along with the brown sugar, then blend in the egg.
  4. Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt.
  5. Mix one-third of the flour mixture into the batter with a wooden spoon. Add half the yogurt and mix it until just it is incorporated. Mix in one-third more of the flour, then the rest of the yogurt, finishing with the rest of the flour.  Mix until just combined.
  6. Gently fold in the cranberries, then pour into the baking pan. It is quite a thick batter, so you’ll have to smooth it a bit. Don’t worry too much about getting into all the corners, as it will fill in as it bakes.
  7. Sprinkle on the nut-sugar topping.
  8. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out clean.

Shortbread Cookies

shortbread - trustinkimThank you Tante Betty for sharing your amazing shortbread recipe with me!

I have made a few shortbread recipes over the years, but none were ever good enough to post on my blog. I finally asked my Tante Betty if she would share her recipe with me, and she was kind enough to send it.

Apparently there are two camps in the shortbread game. Some people feel strongly that just three ingredients make the best shortbread: butter, sugar and flour. The others prefer to also include cornstarch. I’m sure they’re all great, but to me this recipe with three ingredients (well, two types of sugar) makes the best traditional shortbread.

The only change I made to Tante Betty’s recipe was to cut the recipe in half. I want to make a few different kinds of cookies in smaller batches, so I decided to halve a lot of the recipes. Feel free to double the recipe to make the full four dozen. 

One caveat with this recipe: when cutting the cookies into your desired shapes, stick to a cookie cutter that is not too intricate. I tried making some awesome reindeer cookies, but they broke apart when I tried to put them on the cookie sheet.

So, here’s the recipe:

What you need:

  • 1 cup butter (room temperature)
  • 1/2 cup minus 1 tablespoon icing sugar, sifted
  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted

What you do:

  1. Prepare baking pans by lining with parchment paper.
  2. Cream the butter and sugars with an electric beater. This will take 4-5 minutes to get it nice and fluffy. The sugar should become a lighter colour when you are done.
  3. Add the flour to the butter mixture and beat until combined.
  4. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for a few hours. You can do this the before if you want. Just take it out of the fridge about half an hour before you want to roll it out.
  5. Preheat the oven to 300F.
  6. Roll out the dough on a floured surface to less than one centimetre thick. Use floured cookie cutters to cut into your desired shapes. Place the cookies onto the cookie sheets.
  7. Bake two pans at a time, rotating the pans halfway through the baking, for about 20 minutes (or less – check at around 15 minutes – they should not become brown). The back of the oven tends to be hotter, so if you flip the pans around they will bake more evenly.
  8. Place the cookies on a wire rack to cool. They should be stored in an airtight container, and can be frozen for a few weeks.

shortbread - trustinkim

“Carrot Cake” Bran Muffins

carrot pineapple bran muffins - trustinkim

These moist and delicious muffins are a slight alteration of my previous favourite version.  They still have grated carrots, to give them moisture, and some raisins for a pop of sweetness. For this recipe I’ve chopped up some pineapple instead of apple, which adds to the carrot-cakey flavour. I’ve used pecans here instead of walnuts, and on the top I sprinkled a little bit of brown sugar and cinnamon, just for that extra hit of flavour and some crunchiness.

On busy mornings I appreciate having some of these in the freezer. I warm one up a bit and enjoy it with a cup of tea, and it gives me some energy to start my day.

The recipe makes 12 large muffins, or 14-16 smaller muffins.

What you need:

  • 1 & 1/2 cups All-bran Buds cereal
  • 1 & 1/4 cups buttermilk (or add a tablespoon of vinegar to regular milk to make your own)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil (or melted butter)
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup carrot, grated
  • 1 pineapple, chopped (canned is fine if you drain the liquid)
  • 3/4 cup raisins
  • 3/4 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 & 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • a few tablespoons of brown sugar mixed with some cinnamon

What you do:

  1. In a large bowl, soak the Bran Buds and raisins in milk for 5 minutes.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400F. Line a dozen muffin tins with paper liners.
  3. Add the egg, oil and vanilla to the Bran Buds and stir it in. Stir in the grated carrots and pineapple, and at the last minute stir in the nuts.
  4. Using a large bowl, whisk together the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet bran mixture until it is just combined, being careful not to over-mix.
  5. Spoon the batter into the muffin tins; it makes quite large muffins. Sprinkle on some cinnamon sugar.
  6. Bake immediately for 20-25 minutes. After 20 minutes insert a toothpick into the muffin; if it comes out clean, the muffin is done. If not bake for a few more minutes and test again.
  7. Cool the muffins in the pan for 5 minutes, then allow to cool on a rack. You can eat them before they are cooled, but allow them to cool completely before freezing.