Sunday, May 18, 2014

Intersession Week Of Cooking 1: Root Beer & Jam

Every year around December my school does a thing called "Intersession" Which is basically when students get to pick their classes of a list of available classes. Well a couple weeks ago, the juniors had to do testing and the seniors were in Santa Cruz for their senior class trip. The school decided to have a second intersession for the freshman and sophomores. I opted out of the testing, and did intersession instead. We made a variety of things, Pickles, pickled carrots, jam, yogurt, cookies, chips, bread, butter, and root beer. So, I'm going to talk about what we did and share the experience! (I'm going to do this in a few separate posts)

Day 1:
We started out making root beer, smelling the many things that go into it. Though not a lot of people could handle the taste of it, making it was very interesting, and it was fun to watch everyone's faces who tried it!
Root Beer Ingredients:

  •  1/4 cup sassafras root bark
  • 1/4 cup winter green leaf
  • 2 tablespoons sarsaparilla root
  • 1 tablespoon ginger root
  • 1 tablespoon dandelion root
  • 1 tablespoon hops flowers (4-5 cones)
  • 1 tablespoon birch bark
  • 1 tablespoon wild cherry tree bark
  • 1 teaspoon juniper berries
  • 1 cinnamon stick or 1 tablespoon crushed bark
  • 2 cups unrefined cane sugar, white or brown, 
  • 1 cup ginger bug, or fresh whey, or 1 packet keifir starter culture
  • Strainer bag
Root Beer Directions:
As you bring 4 1/2 quarts of water to a boil, measure the herbs into a strainer bag, then plop it into the hot water. Stir it a bit, making sure the bag is pressed down and wetted thoroughly. Reduce the heat low and simmer the bag for 20 minutes, stirring and pressing often. The room smelled really good after we had it brewing for a few minutes, with the herbal teabag.

Turn off the heat and remove the bag. Let it drain back into the pot by placing it on a drying rack set on top of the pot. s it cools a bit, press the teabag until little or no liquid remains. Stir sugar into the hot infusion and allow liquid to cool until blood temperature, or a little warmer.

Stir in the ginger bug or fresh whey and pour into individual bottles, leaving in 1-inch head space in each bottle. Allow root beer to ferment 3-4 days at room temperature, then transfer to refrigerator for an additional 2 days. When ready to serve, open the bottles slowly to release pressure. The ginger bug/whey/keifir help give the root bee a mild carbonation. 

This root beer DOES NOT taste like commercial root beer, no A&W or Muggs root beer. It is a healthy, natural root beer with a very earthy taste. 

After the root beer was brewing, we started making our jam. The jam turned out very well. It is a very low sugar jam so you cannot make this to sell it. Jams have to have a certain level of sugar to be deemed sellable.

Jam Ingredients:
  • 4 quarts mixed berries (blackberries, blueberries, raspberries) We used raspberries, blackberries, strawberries.
  • 4 tart apples, peeled, cored, and chopped 
  • 1 cup honey, more if your berries are tart
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 package pectin
  • Clean and serialized, jars, lids, and rings 
Jam Directions:
Put cleaned, stemmed berries into a large heavy-bottomed sauce pan. Pare and chop apples in food processor into applesauce, incorporating sugar, honey, and pectin. Cook over medium heat. Bring slowly to a boil and boil gently for at least 30 minutes or until it looks like jam and tastes like jam. Ours took about 45 minutes.

Take a bit out on a spoon and put it on a cold plate. If the juices are watery looking then keep cooking! Cook until when you put a little on a plate it has a more syrupy consistency. Let the dab cool a bit. It should set up a little. It doesn't have to look extremely thick. If there is a lot of foam, skim it off with a spoon. Turn off the heat and ladle the jam into the jars.

Fill them up within 1/2-inch of the top, add lids and screw down the lids. Put them in a canner for a 5-minute process and they are done! Let them cool, and tighten the lids. Within an hour they will seal with a pop!

My Experience:
After day one was over I just couldn't wait for the rest of the week. Everything was already so exciting to make. I haven't made a lot of the stuff we did so I was excited to try new things. The jam was excellent, and even though the root beer had a funny taste, it was still exciting to learn about all of the ingredients that went into it, and be able to learn how good each one is for the body. Overall day 1 was a success! I will be doing the next couple days that went into this week in different posts! 


Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Lemon Lavender Cupcakes with Lavender Glaze

I made these to sell in a talent show I preformed in. The frosting is supposed to be for lavender butter cream frosting, but mine turned into glaze.
For the cakes:
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon dried edible lavender
  • 1 1/3 cups (158 g) cake flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup + 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 3 Tablespoon honey
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 lemon (juice)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
For the frosting:
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3 tablespoons culinary lavender
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 5 or so cups of powdered sugar
For the cakes:
Gather ingredients.
Preheat oven to 350F

In a food processor combine milk, lemon juice and lavender and pulse about 1 - 1 1/2 minutes until lavender is well chopped. Scraping down the inside of the food processor once during processing. Pour into liquid measuring cup (be sure to scrape out all of milk and lavender from sides and lid), set aside and allow to rest.

In a mixing bowl whisk together cake flour, baking powder and salt for 30 seconds, set aside. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, whip butter and sugar on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 4 minutes, occasionally scraping down sides of bowl. Blend in honey. Add eggs one at a time and mix just until combined after each addition. Stir in vanilla. Working in 3 separate batches beginning and ending with flour mixture, add dry ingredients alternating with milk mixture, mixing just until combined after each addition.

Fill paper lined muffin cups 2/3 full.

Bake in preheated oven 19 - 21 minutes, until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Allow to cool several minutes in muffin tin before transferring to a wire rack to cool. Cool completely then frost with Lavender Glaze. Store in an airtight container.

For the frosting:
Place the 3 tablespoon of lavender in a coffee filter. Using kitchen twine or un-dyed cotton yarn, turn the coffee filter into a lavender “tea bag.”
Pour milk into a small sauce pan and put the lavender in the milk. Place over low heat and slowly bring to a simmer.

Just as the milk begins to bubble, remove from heat and let seep for 10-15 minutes. Squeeze excess milk from the lavender. Let cool completely before using.
Beat butter and 2 tablespoons of the milk together. Beat in a hearty pinch of salt (just under 1/8 of a teaspoon).Add 2.5 cups of powdered sugar and beat until well incorporated.Begin alternating between additions of more sugar (about a half cup at a time) and adding more milk (a couple of teaspoons at a time, at the most). Taste test frequently, if you find that you have hit just the right amount of lavender flavor but need more liquid, move to regular place frosting in a Tupperware container and chill in fridge for at least a 30 minutes before spreading on cupcakes. Chill about 45 minutes if piping on cupcakes. If piping frosting on to the cupcakes, do not completely fill the piping bag, otherwise you will need to frequently re-chill the frosting to keep it from getting runny. Instead fill it halfway and refill frequently. Also, keep an eye on how thick the frosting is becoming.

My Experience:
This was one of my favourite recipes to make. It turned out really well, and everyone that tried them seemed to enjoy them. I ran out of powdered sugar halfway through so I ended up having to make my own, which was a new experience for me as well. I have never baked or cooked with lavender before, but I think that I will defiantly try out more lavender recipes.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Peanut Butter Cookies With Peanut Butter Chips

I went on a picnic with my boyfriend and his family and I wanted to make something quick and delicious, so I took a generic peanut butter cookie recipe and added peanut butter chips. If you want another way to change up a peanut butter cookie recipe you can always put a Hershey kiss on each cookie.


  • 2 cups peanut butter
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Peanut butter chips (optional)
  • 1 package of Hershey kisses, unwrapped (optional)
Gather Ingredients.

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease cookie sheets, or use a silicone baking mat.

In a medium bowl, stir peanut butter and sugar together until smooth. Beat in eggs, one at a time, then stir in the baking soda, salt, and vanilla. If you are adding peanut butter chips, stir in as many as you want now. I probably used about 2-2 1/2 cups.

Roll into 1-inch balls and place them two inches apart onto the prepared cookie sheets.

Press a criss-cross into the top using a fork, this helps the cookies have a flatter shape. Peanut butter cookies have a hard time flattening when baking. You can also use the bottom of a cup dipped in sugar to flatten the cookies if you don't want the criss-cross shape, or if you want the cookies to stay in a ball shape then don't flatten them at all!

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. If you want to use Hershey kisses, then place one on the top of each cookie after letting cool for a few minutes, but don't wait too long because then the kisses wont stick to the cookies. If you are not using them then let the cookies cool for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack.

My Experience:
Peanut butter cookies are one of my favourites. You can do so much with a generic recipe. This recipe turned out great, and everyone loved them. I love experimenting with recipes so if I were to make them again I'm sure I would add something different to them, the possibilities are endless in baking! 


Monday, April 7, 2014

Cinnamon Rolls

This week I have been really wanting cinnamon rolls, so I thought they would be a great thing to make for this.


For The Dough:
  • 1/4-ounce package yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1/2 cup scalded milk
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup butter or shortening
  • 1 egg
  • 3 1/2-4 cups all-purpose flour
For The Filling
  • 1/2 cup butter, plus more for greasing
  • 3/4 cup sugar, plus more for pan
  • 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup raisins, walnuts, or pecans (optional)
For The Icing/Glaze
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3-6 tablespoons hot water

Gather Ingredients.

In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water and set aside.

In a large bowl mix milk, sugar, melted butter, salt, and egg. Add 2 cups of flour and mix until smooth. Add yeast mixture. Mix in remaining flour until dough is easy to handle.

Knead dough on lightly floured surface for 5 to 10 minutes, I suggest lightly flouring your hands as well. Place in well-greased bowl, cover and let rise until doubled in size. Usually 1-1 1/2 hours. I let mine rise for  1 1/2 hours.

When doubled in size, punch down dough. Roll out onto a floured surface into a 15 by 9-inch rectangle.

Spread melted butter all over the dough. mix sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over the buttered dough. If desired sprinkle Raisins, walnuts, and pecans on the dough too. This can get messy!

Beginning at the 15-inch side, roll up the dough and pinch the ends together to seal.

Cut into 12-15 slices.

Preheat oven to 350F.

Coat the bottom of the baking pan with butter and sprinkle with sugar. Place cinnamon slices close together in pan and let dough rise until doubled, about 45 minutes.

Bake for about 30 minutes. Mine took exactly 30 minutes, but it depends on the oven.

Meanwhile, mix butter and powdered sugar together. Mix in vanilla. Add water one tablespoon at a time until icing reaches desired consistency. spread icing over slightly cooled rolls.

My Experience:
I enjoyed making these a lot, other than all the waiting. The cinnamon rolls were good, but they weren't the best I have ever eaten. If I were to change anything or make these again I would cook them less so they are more doughy because they were a little hard on the top.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Gatsby Project

This week I had to do a project for my English class, and I decided to incorporate baking into it. I ended up baking two cakes and hollowing one out. Due to various problems I do not have a a lot of photos, but I will do my best to describe a mental Image. I made two cakes, one was a plain white cake with raspberry butter cream frosting.

 For the White cake with raspberry butter cream frosting I used these recipes:

For The White Cake:

  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For The Raspberry Frosting:
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 6-8 cups powdered sugar (I used 5)
  • 1/2 cup seedless raspberry jam (I used a full cup)
  • Milk (optional)
  • Red food colouring (optional)

For The Cake:
Preheat the oven to 350F. Butter two 8-inch round cake pans and line bottoms with parchment; butter parchment as well. Using parchment paper is very important because it helps the cake come out of the pan easier. 

Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Beat together butter and granulated sugar with a mixer on medium speed until combined, 1 to 2 minutes. Add eggs and beat well, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary. Reduce speed to low and gradually add flour mixture, beating until combined. Add milk and vanilla and beat until just combined.

 Divide the batter between pans; smooth tops with an off-set spatula. Bake until golden and a toothpick inserted into centers comes out clean, 33 to 35 minutes. Mine took 35 minutes.

Let cakes cool in pans on wire racks 15 minutes. Turn out cakes onto racks to cool completely.
For the Frosting:
Mix butter and jam in an electric mixer on medium speed until creamy, and well incorporated, this will take about 2 minutes.

Add powdered sugar one cup, or half cups at a time until you reach your desired taste and consistency. I ended up sing 5 cups of powdered sugar, adding half cups at a time. Keep the mixer on a low speed so the powdered sugar doesn't explode everywhere.

If the frosting gets too thick you can add a bit of milk to thin it out, if it gets too thin add a bit more powdered sugar. If your frosting is not the desired pink colour you desire, add a bit of red food colouring to it.


For The Chocolate Cake:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon espresso powder
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water

  • For The Chocolate Frosting:

  • 1 1/2 cups butter (3 sticks), softened
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 5 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon espresso powder

  • Directions For The Cake
    Preheat oven to 350ยบ F. Prepare two 9-inch cake pans by greasing the pans with butter, then parchment paper, then buttering the parchment paper.

    Add flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt and espresso powder to a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk through to combine or, using your paddle attachment, stir through flour mixture until combined well.

    Add milk, vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla to flour mixture and mix together on medium speed until well combined. Reduce speed and carefully add boiling water to the cake batter. Beat on high speed for about 1 minute to add air to the batter.

    Distribute cake batter evenly between the two prepared cake pans. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick or cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. My cake took 40 minutes to bake.

    Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes, remove from the pan and cool completely.

    Notes/My Experience:
    I had a good experience with both recipes, though I believe the chocolate one turned out better. I hollowed out the white cake to show the hollowness of the upper class in the novel "The Great Gatsby." The cake started to cave in when I was frosting it, so I cut out a piece of tinfoil and frosted over it, it took everyone by surprise! I had a lot of fun trying to figure out an idea for my project, and I'm glad it turned out so well!


    Thursday, March 20, 2014

    Lemon Raspberry Cupcakes With Meringue Frosting


    For the Cake:

    • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
    • 3 cups powdered sugar
    • 4 1/2 teaspoons finely grated lemon peel
    • 2 large eggs
    • 1 1/4 cups self-rising flour
    • 1/4 cup buttermilk
    • 4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
    • Seedless raspberry jam
    • Fresh raspberries (optional)
    For the Frosting:
    • 3 large egg whites
    • 3/4 cup sugar
    • 2 tablespoons water
    • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
    • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
    For the Cupcakes:
    Gather ingredients.

    Preheat oven to 350F. Line 12 standard (1/3-cup) muffin cups with paper liners.

    Using an electric mixer, beat butter, 1 1/2 cups sugar, and 3 teaspoons lemon peel in a bowl until fluffy and pale yellow. Beat in eggs one at a time. Beat in half of flour. Beat in buttermilk and 2 tablespoons lemon juice, then remaining flour.

    Drop one rounded tablespoonful of batter into each paper liner. Drop one teaspoon raspberry jam onto the center of batter. Cover jam with remaining batter. You will want to fill the cupcake liners 2/3 of the way full, to avoid over pouring cupcakes.

    Bake cupcakes until tester inserted half way into the center comes out clean, about 23 minutes. Cool cupcakes in pan on rack. Cool completely before frosting. My cupcakes took exactly 23 minutes, which is oddly specific, but it works. When inserting the tester you will want to stick it in towards the side of the cupcake to make sure you don't get jam on it.

    For the Frosting:
    In a large, clean heatproof bowl, combine the egg whites, sugar, water and corn syrup. Set the bowl over (but not touching) simmering water in a saucepan and heat the mixture, whisking constantly, until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is very warm to the touch (about 160F on an instant-read thermometer), about two minutes. Remove the bowl from the saucepan. Using an electric mixer on high speed, beat until glossy and voluminous, about 5 minutes. Beat in vanilla. Use right away. My mixture took longer to heat up than two minutes. If you are planning on using this I suggest you really use it right away, it starts to get weird after awhile.

    My Experience:
    I have never made this recipe. I have also never made meringue frosting before. These cupcakes turned out really well. The only thing I would change is the frosting, and how much I put in the cupcakes. I didn't fill the cupcake liners as much as I should. I was experimenting with a different frosting than normal and although it was good, it wasn't my favourite. I would recommend using a raspberry butter cream frosting, considering that you still probably have some raspberry jam left. This was a very nice recipe that I would recommend to anyone!


    Thursday, March 6, 2014


    This week I made toffee, it's pretty quick if you have time to stand in one spot and stir hot butter sugar for awhile. 

    • 1 cup (two sticks) butter
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 2 tablespoons water
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 4-6 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
    • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts (pecans, almonds, ect.)
    • Candy thermometer
    Gather ingredients.

    Chop chocolate and nuts. Put parchment paper or a silicone baking mat on a large baking sheet. If you use parchment paper dab butter on the corners before putting it on the baking sheet. 

    Melt, and stir butter and sugar in a pot over medium heat, add water. Use a pot that can handle the expansion of the mixture as it cooks. Keep stirring!

    Once the butter and sugar are mixed together, turn down heat to low, continuing to stir. The toffee will start to expand at this point, depending on the stove. Still stirring.

    Once the toffee reaches 300F on the candy thermometer, or if it is a light caramel brown color, remove from heat, and stir in vanilla. Pour onto the prepared baking sheet spread it around with a knife or rubber spatula, not too thin, not too thick.

    put chocolate chips on the hot toffee and let them melt. spread the chocolate evenly on the surface of the toffee. Sprinkle nuts over the chocolate.

    Put toffee in the fridge for at least an hour, or until cooled completely. Once chilled break into pieces and serve.

    My Experience:
    This toffee recipe is the best one I've tried. It is pretty simple, and it makes amazing toffee. I always end up burning myself or pouring hot sugar on me so definitely be careful. I wrote this recipe out of memory, so if there is a part that doesn't seem right, please let me know!