Rhubarb Coffee Cake

Well I guess my last few posts, spaced very dramatically apart over the last couple years were a suggestion that poor NotCrocker was left on its own. I’ve been around, checking in, but largely just figuring out life. And it’s been alright. I produced a short film, am still doing that. Flew to London and most recently I’ve started a new job, and am finally getting back to things that make me happy. It’s been a crazy 2-3 years. Truly, since I’ve moved to Vancouver, my whole life has been a bit topsy-turvey. I moved to Vancouver in August of 2011, packed into the moving truck with my dad at the wheel, it was the exciting start to a new adventure. We arrived, settled into my new place and struck off on my new life. I’ve met some incredible people in this city. My Masters program was a huge part of my feeling settled and part of something. My best friends are those I met in the program, women whose drive and intelligence inspire me. And since finishing coursework, the jobs I’ve held have all been an amazing source of learning and growing for me. I loved being part of the NFB team, and while I am sad to move on, I have been really enjoying my new path.

In the midst of all the newness, my dad was diagnosed with and passed away from cancer. It was a traumatic time, and it changed me a lot. My dad and I were close, he was a wonderful man who really shaped who I am, and how I go through the world. His passing taught me a lot about myself, lessons I am still learning, really.

All to say, a lot has changed, but my love for NotCrocker has remained. I’ve baked and cooked plenty over the last couple years. I’ve made cakes and cookies, casseroles and salads. I’ve come up with new combos and tweaked old, I’ve just not had the energy or brainspace to focus on this, something just for myself. NotCrocker is my space, it’s always been where I’ve come to be creative. The last couple of years were a bit of a suck on my resources, and I feel that a lot of myself was swept under the rug while I was busy serving other interests. Enough of that. I am going to, admittedly slowly, start posting again. And I am excited. I’d love suggestions for recipes, requests, new things to try!

For today’s recipe, I am channeling my deep, deep love of rhubarb. Seriously folks, I love rhubarb. I love dipping a stalk in sugar and taking a bite. Rhubarb just tastes like summer. I even like rhubarb and strawberry pie… and I barely like pie as a rule, so that’s pretty special. The tangy, brightness of rhubarb just goes so well with buttery-sweet baking. My mom caught wind of my desire to have some tasty rhubarb treats and when we ended up at my sister’s place that weekend, my sister proceeded to whip up a delicious crumble. She chopped up the extra rhubarb and we popped it in the freezer so I could take it home and do some baking of my own. Well, of course I forgot it, and only now, two weeks later, have I hunted down my own in Vancouver. To start, Rhubarb Coffee Cake!

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Sunshine Lemon Poppy Seed Loaf- Willing summer to come!

Well, I’ve officially completed my second week at the NFB. I am still doing a lot of learning but have had the chance to get my toes wet with some contracts, so that’s been fun. While I am really excited about my position, I would love to get a chance to work on the creative side, there are a lot of things tossed around that I would love to get my hands on. Anyway, things have been going well, aside from the fact that I had a ridiculous tumble on Monday that left my knee in a bit of a mess. I was walking across the street towards a corner-crazy (hanging out, yelling at traffic). I was wearing my newish boots that were still a little slippery on the edges and right when the man asked me “How far are you going?” I slipped my right leg under my left and came down hard on my left knee. I got up quickly and hustled it down the street, trying to ignore the searing pain. Fortunately, I didn’t do any lasting damage, just a small lump, significant bruises, and some really impressive scrapes. I was pretty thrilled though that my new jeans were no worse for the wear.

In any case, I am fully ready for summer, I have a few new pairs of capris, a new pair of sandals, and the deep desire for a tan. Sadly, as with the rest of Canada, we’ve been having a second winter of sorts. Fortunately, we are in the paradise of Canada and our second winter consists of drizzly days rather than snow drifts. In an attempt to bring about some sunshine I baked up some lemon poppy seed loaves! I am not usually a fan of citrus desserts—my many, many recipes show a trend towards chocolate—but I’ve been craving a little brightness. And, wouldn’t you believe it, THE SUN CAME OUT! Seriously, I whipped this loaf up on Tuesday night, brought it in on Wednesday to work and the sun raged straight through Wednesday afternoon through Thursday night!

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Carrot Cake

I have to tell you something before you scroll down to the intro photo. There was not enough time for me to take a good photo of this cake. We made it Friday night and were so busy once the party got started that I didn’t have a chance to slip away and take nice shots of the cut cake. So… what you see below is all that is left, it is a broken, half-smooshed tiny piece. Also, I too have kitchen issues, I definitely grated my finger in the process (don’t worry, it didn’t get in with the carrots) and have been band-aided for two days. Sigh. In all, I hope you know that this means that this carrot cake was too good for photos. Don’t judge this delicious cake by the photo…

We made some of my dad’s favourite foods for his party and the desserts were no exception. Dad has always loved carrot cake, so of course it was on the menu. We also made Saskatoon Blueberry Pie and Saskatoon Blueberry Plum Apple Pie, so stay tuned for those on Thursday. This carrot cake was a big hit, I had many requests for it to be posted and rightfully so, it is moist, perfectly sweet and everything we’d hoped! Dad would’ve loved it, and that is exactly what we wanted.

Carrot Cake

Cake recipe adapted from here.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsps baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsps ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 3/4 tsp cardamon
  • 1 3/4 cups white sugar
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups shredded carrots
  • 1 cup shredded coconut
  • 1 (14 oz) can pineapple tidbits (or crushed), drained
  • 1 cup walnuts, crushed (optional)

Cream Cheese Icing

  • 1 (250 g) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups icing sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 9 x 13-inch pan.
  2. In a large bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, cardamon, and cinnamon.
  3. Add sugar, oil, eggs, and vanilla. Stir well, mixing until smooth.
  4. Stir in carrots, coconut, and pineapple. (add walnuts now too)
  5. Pour into your prepared pan and bake for 30-40 minutes. The centre might sink a bit, it didn’t for me, but don’t fear!
  6. Cool completely before frosting.
  7. To make the frosting, cream the butter and cream cheese until smooth. Add the confectioners sugar and vanilla, beat until creamy and fluffy, add more sugar as needed for the desired texture.
  8. Even better, frost with the mascarpone whipped cream frosting from the Guinness Cupcakes!

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Fresh Fig and Frangipane Torte

I have always wondered about fresh figs. My only experience with figs at all has been in Newtons, and while I liked those, I couldn’t imagine the fresh fruit being particularly special. Finally, when cruising through the grocery story for other ingredients I decided to pick up some fresh figs. When I got home I cut one open and gave it a taste. I get it, they are yummy, though nothing in their flavour really stands out for me. The skin has a bit of a tart punch, but I wish it was more, and the flesh is slightly sweet but really muted. Overall I enjoyed it, but I really did want to make something special. So here we go, a torte with almonds and figs. I made a fairly standard almond torte, then whipped up a small batch of frangipane, an almond cream (of sorts) that elevated the figs and the almonds in the torte to a whole new level. Now, I did slightly burn the outside of my torte, sigh, but that is a product a poor pan, the centre is crumbly, buttery, perfection.

Fresh Fig and Frangipane Torte

Inspired by Orangette.

INGREDIENTS

Frangipane

  • 1/2 cup whole almonds
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 tbsp butter, room temperature
  • 1 egg

Torte

  • 2/3 cup almond meal (make your own by pulsing whole almonds in a coffee grinder until they are fine, not too long though or you will make almond butter)
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp dark rum (I went with The Kraken, no surprize, but you can use any liquor you like here, or vanilla)
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 to 5 ripe figs, quartered

DIRECTIONS

  1. Frangipane: Heat the oven to 350°F.  Spread the almonds evenly on a baking sheet and roast for about 10 minutes, or until fragrant.  Transfer to a plate and let cool to room temperature.Put the almonds and the sugar into a food processor and process until fine.  Add the butter and the egg and pulse until well-combined. Set aside.
  2. Turn the oven to 375 F. Butter and flour a 9-inch cake pan.
  3. Take 1 cup of whole almonds  and in small batches, grind in a coffee grinder until you have a fine powder. Be careful not to over process. Empty into a measuring cup until you have 2/3 cup of almond meal. Remove and reprocess the large chunks of almonds.
  4. Whisk together the almond meal, flour, salt, and baking powder. Set aside.
  5. In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar until pale yellow and fluffy.
  6. Add the rum, the dry ingredients, and the eggs. Beat well until everything is incorporated.
  7. Scrape the batter into your prepared pan and spread it out until even across the base of the pan.
  8. Dollop your frangipane in 5 parts on top of the cake batter and gently smooth in an even circle across the centre, leaving 1/4 inch at the edges.
  9. Arrange the fig pieces on top and bake for 40 minutes or until the top of the cake turns golden brown. A toothpick test should also come out clean.
  10. Run a knife along the edge of the pan and allow it to cool for 10 minutes. Flip the cake onto a plate, allowing it to come out of the pan. Then, place a rack on the bottom and flip it back over to cool for another 10 minutes.
  11. Serve alone or with a dollop of mascarpone whipped cream.

Homemade almond meal

A little dark, but super tender inside.

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