Carrot Zucchini Cake

I haven’t felt like my usual self lately - more like an automaton whose time is consumed by running and work. Nothing’s wrong per se, but something seems a little out of sync these days.

Few activities make me feel as much like my happiest self as baking. I probably should’ve just crashed at 8pm (goodness knows I’m tired enough, having run 32K & worked 9hrs yesterday). And yet, I had some carrots and zucchinis in the fridge that I know will hit their past-prime in a few days, combined with an all-consuming need to get my hands in some flour and STEP AWAY FROM MY PHONES for half an hour.

I put on one of my favourite LPs, Neil Young’s After The Gold Rush, grated some carrots & zucchini in the food processor, and made a snacking cake. 

For that half hour or so, things felt kind of okay. I felt more like myself again — and had a little cake to show for it.

August(ish) Baking Roundup

I haven’t been baking as much as usual lately I haven’t been posting photos of my baking lately (largely due to busy work times + marathon training), but my oven hasn’t been entirely chilled.

In late July, I made coconut brownies & morning glory muffins (I can’t find the recipe I used, oops). As it turns out, I REALLY like morning glory muffins - carrot & coconut, oh my! For a weekend away at the cottage with friends, I contributed (vegan) coconut banana bread (do we sense a recurring theme?!). After a long Sunday run a few weeks ago, I made myself coconut carrot pancakes. Prior to the Midsummer Night Run two weeks ago, I made myself some oatmeal everything-ish cookies, but neglected to take a photo.

For my good friend’s annual “no pants” birthday party last weekend, I made some vegan maple cinnamon buns - which seemed appropriate for the theme. I modified this vegan cinnamon buns recipe, adding maple syrup instead of the sugar, as well as about a tsp of maple extract in the dough and in the icing. I also inadvertently figured out how to make maple sugar candy (yay!) by boiling down the syrup & adding some margarine to make sort of a caramel as a base for the icing.

Finally, I capped the month off today with a carrot cake, which was nice enough to merit its own post.

I’m excited about fall baking - my pumpkin-themed Pinterest board is going to get a workout!

Carrot Cake: Happy birthday, Katherine!

Today, I made a carrot cake for my sister-in-law’s birthday dinner. It was only my second time making a carrot cake, and it went over rather well. (I even managed to partially overcome my admittedly weird personal aversion to cream cheese icing.)

Recipe: I used an Allrecipes carrot cake recipe my mom had printed, which was pretty much identical to Smitten Kitchen’s recipe (I used 1/2 cup each raisins & walnuts), with a cream cheese icing.

"Pie crust, I learned, is one of those things—maybe like relationships—where practice really does make perfect. Or at least it makes for a better result. The more you do it, the less afraid you are of messing up."

S’mores Ice Cream Cups

My recent obsession with coconut is matched only by my seasonal obsession with s’mores. I was looking for an occasion conducive to making another s’mores ice cream cake, but I had a flash of inspiration: why not make individual-size s’mores ice cream cups so I could eat them one at a time (instead of contending with an entire cake)?

Since my friend Mel recently suggested that it’s nice to see my baking process, rather than the just end results, I took step-by-step photos.

Here’s how to recreate this recipe (adapted from these ice cream cake, and ice cream cup recipes). It’s actually really simple, other than waiting patiently during freezing.

Base: Graham cracker crumbs (about 2 cups, but 1.5 would be good) + coconut oil (+ a little butter when I ran out of oil). (Set some aside to sprinkle on top). Press into a muffin tin. Chill for ~20-30 min.

Chocolate: Unsweetened coconut milk (about 1/2 cup), heated, with chocolate chips (about 1 cup). Heat in short bursts in the microwave until melted, stirring often. Pour over graham layer & freeze until set.

Marshmallows: Roasted under the broiler for a few minutes until browned. Set aside.

Ice cream: I used Vanilla Fudge Crackle, spooned over frozen chocolate layer. Sprinkle leftover graham crumbs, and put a marshmallow on top.

The result is as good as you’d hope, and the individual portions are just right. S’mores ice cream cake fix: achieved!

Coconut Mousse

Continuing with my recent coconut obsession, I made this coconut mousse on Saturday for a family BBQ (yes, technically it wasn’t baked, but whatever).

It didn’t set as well as I liked (perhaps because of the humidity?), so it was more of a pudding, but it still tasted delicious. I’ll have to try it again! 

Maple Blueberry Bran Muffins

I’ve been on a real coconut kick lately, but I’ve wanted to make Smitten Kitchen’s Blue Sky Bran muffins for a little while now. When I was little, my mom would try to sneak bran into baked goods to make them more healthy… but I now find myself enjoying things that have a bit more substance to them.

In honour of Canada Day, and just generally loving maple, I decided to make them maple bran muffins, with some fresh blueberries (not local, sadly).

The result: a nice bran muffin - moist, not too dense, and not too sweet. I wouldn’t mind a bit more maple flavour since it’s fairly subtle, but overall I’m pretty happy with these. 

Substitutions:

  • I didn’t have eggs, so I used 1/3c unsweetened applesauce + 1 tsp ground flaxseed
  • swapped the 1/4c brown sugar for 1/4c maple syrup
  • added 1/2 tsp maple extract
  • instead of buttermilk, used 1c coconut milk + ~1/4c orange juice

*PS don’t the blueberries on the muffin make it look like frog eyes? I can’t un-see Kermit the Frog here…

Coconut Oatmeal Muffins

I’d originally considered making nice, hearty blueberry bran muffins on Friday ngiht, but I was too tired to go to the store to buy bran, so I had to work with what I had in the cupboards. I still wanted something hearty, so I figured I’d incorporate oatmeal. I’d been craving coconut a lot lately, so decided to go for a coconut oatmeal muffin.

I adapted these muffins from these two recipes. The result was a dense but moist muffin - tasty, though I suspect they might work better as a loaf. They didn’t rise as much as might be hoped (perhaps because of the lack of eggs - they are vegan, sort of by accident/laziness), so I’d experiment with that next time. But oh my goodness do I love coconut. Yum!

Here’s what I came up with for the recipe:

  • 2 cups of oats
  • scant 1 cup flour (I used pastry flour bc I had it on hand)
  • 2  tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 tbsp wheat germ
  • 2 1/2 tsp ground flaxseed
  • 1 cup of coconut (soaked in the coconut milk then drained, reserving the coconut milk)
  • 1 cup coconut milk 
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • ~2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 5 tbsp coconut oil (mine was already liquid since it’s warm in my apartment)
  • 1/2 cup of coconut for topping (I had a little less - ~1/3c)

I got the coconut milk soaking. I then mixed the dry ingredients, then the wet ingredients in another bowl (after straining the coconut/coconut milk), leaving the flaxseed to sit for a few min & whisking well. Then I mixed the wet ingredients & coconuts into the dry ingredients. The batter was quite moist. I filled 10 muffin cups fairly full, and sprinkled the remaining coconut on top. The coconut on top toasted nicely! 

Maple Bourbon Apple Pie

My friends and I recently had another in our series of potlucks. I had some free time that weekend, and felt inspired to make a pie.

It was still a little too early for certain seasonal spring fruits (rhubarb, raspberries, and strawberries, I’m lookin’ your way). However, maple seemed to capture late spring, and it was cool enough that weekend that I figured a little bourbon wouldn’t hurt (and I basically only had an oz. or two left of Buffalo Trace, anyway). With a few minor tweaks, I used the crust & streusel (though sans-walnuts) from this recipe, and the filling from this one.

Since I’d retrieved my bike from winter storage, I happily cycled over to my friend’s house with the pie in my bike rack. It was only a little worse for the wear (lots of potholes on Ossington & College!), but a slightly broken edge of the crust (see above) allowed me to see an awesome cross-section of the crust - and it looked so flaky that I was overjoyed! I was happy with the taste - more maple than bourbon, with a nice spice. I’d make it again, but might experiment a little more.

I don’t have any photos of a slice - we implemented a ‘no phones’ rule for dinner, which was a delightful break from Instagramming/tweeting errrrrrything. When you’ve got 10 of your closest friends in the same room, what else do you need?

I haven’t carved out the time to post my baking to Tumblr lately, but I haven’t stopped baking altogether. Here’s a quick round-up:

1. Spent Grain Peanut Butter cookies (wow, going all the way back to Family Day in February here) adapted from Brooklyn Brew Shop’s Spent Grain Chef recipe 

2. Banana-chocolate swirl bread, from Isa Does It! cookbook

3. Pre-Around The Bay carbloading included some delicious, partially whole-wheat pizza, loaded with vegetables (basically salad on bread here, folks)

4. A giant ROLO cookie (just a standard cookie recipe, but chopped up Rolo instead of chocolate chips, and in a pan)

I feel like I must be missing something, because typically I bake more than 4x in two months… but it has been a rather busy couple of months…

EDIT: I forgot to include the ‘oatmeal/spent grain/everything’ cookies I made for my friend Lauren and I to eat en route to/before running Around the Bay. I neglected to take photos, but she captured them in a picture of trip snacks here.