About Lynne

i love to bake. i love pies. i heart cake. anything with chocolate can pretty much rock my world. i couldn't live without peanut butter. or lemons. i hope that you enjoy following me in my baking adventures - and i hope i inspire you to try some new recipes as well ;0) (welcome to my kitchen... and my world) My cookbook says if I don't have 2 eggs, I can substitute with 3 egg yolks... I don't think my cookbook understands my problems.

double chocolate tart

Oh my goodness. I’ve just realized that it’s Valentine’s day and I haven’t posted a recipe yet.

Which is such a shame because this recipe … it kinda TOTALLY rocks!

double chocolate tart

It’s all about a rich chocolate mousse encased in a dark chocolate pastry shell and then topped with light meringue: torched to perfection. Consider it a s’mores tart only without any graham crackers. Or marshmallows. So not a s’mores tart at all. It’s a double chocolate tart made for lovers. Or non-lovers. Or platonic friends. It’s a tart that shows that *special* someone that you care about them; and that you want them to eat something delicious on the *most* romantic day of the year.

You might think it’ll be too sweet.  It’s not.

You might think it’ll be too decadent. It’s not.

You might think you can’t possibly make it. You can.

All you need to do is break it down into three simple steps:

Chocolate pastry dough – easy

Chocolate mousse filling – super easy

Meringue – simple

That’s it. I have faith that you can make this. Quite frankly, this is a good tart. You should make it for that reason alone. Forget Valentine’s day; bake this because you love to bake and you love chocolate.

double chocolate tart

ingredients:

¼ c. cocoa powder

1 ½ c. flour

125 g cold butter, cubed

½ c. icing sugar

3 egg yolks (save the egg whites for the meringue)

1 tbsp iced water

1 egg white

chocolate pastry dough ingredients

Place the cocoa, flour, butter and icing sugar in the bowl of a food processor (using the dough blade) and process until the mixture is incorporated. Not quite breadcrumbs, slightly larger than that.

While the motor is running, add the egg yolks. Once they have been incorporated, add the iced water. You’ll notice that this is when the dough really comes together.

ps – you’ll notice that in the photo above I added the egg yolks at the beginning. no big deal. the pastry still comes together.

patting the dough into the tart pan

That’s it. You’re done. Place the pastry dough in your tart pan – I start by putting it all in the middle of the pan and then by using my fingertips, I gently press the dough along the base and up the sides. I’ll be honest, I get enough pastry dough to line both a 9-inch tart pan and a 9 x 3 rectangular tart pan.

unbaked tart shell

Brush the tart base with your lightly beaten egg white and then chill for 20 minutes.

Heat your oven to 325 F.

When you’re about ready to pre-bake the tart shell, use a fork to pierce the top of the dough – go crazy! You want to ensure that the dough doesn’t puff up as it bakes, so pierce away!

Bake on a low rack in your oven for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.

Time to make the decadent chocolate mousse.

chocolate mousse

ingredients:

2 tbsp butter

4 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped

3 eggs, separated

¼ c. sugar

½ c. heavy cream

½ tsp vanilla

Using a double boiler, melt the butter and chocolate together. Once the chocolate has melted, remove the bowl from the heat and beat the chocolate with a wooden spoon until smooth.

Transfer chocolate to another bowl, use a whisk to beat in the egg yolks. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill.

Beat the egg whites with half the sugar (2 tbsp) until they hold stiff peaks. Set aside. Beat the heavy cream with the remaining 2 tbsp of sugar and the vanilla until it holds in soft peaks.

Remove the chocolate from the fridge and spoon a third of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture. It will lighten the chocolate a bit. Fold in the remaining egg whites, a little at a time. You want to be gentle because this is where the airiness of the mousse comes from.

Fold in the cream.

Refrigerate until chilled, and slightly thickened. This isn’t a very stiff mousse, but it does become gorgeously thick as it chills.

Fill the pastry shell with the chocolate mousse. Return to the fridge while you make the meringue.

layer of mousse

bakers note: I decided not to make an Italian or Swiss meringue for this tart and stuck with the traditional French meringue. Any of the meringue types will work – this is just the simplest version.

meringue

ingredients:

3 egg whites

good pinch of cream of tartar

1/3 c. sugar

In the bowl of a stand-mixer, using the whisk attachment, slowly start to beat the eggs until they foam, add the cream of tartar. Increase the speed until you’re at medium-high speed, and slowly add the sugar. Once the sugar is fully incorporated, increase the speed to as high as it’ll go. Beat until you get stiff peaks when you lift the whisk attachment out of the bowl.

layer of meringue on chocolate mousse

completely covered in meringue

Cover the layer of chocolate mousse with the meringue; then grab that torch of yours - and torch the meringue until it’s toasty and golden!

torhced

Chill your tart in the fridge until you’re ready to eat.

basic white bread

I’m the kind of girl who likes to make New Year’s Resolutions.

I know … you are probably wondering … why?

I like the feeling of starting the year with a bit of an action plan.  What can I do different?  Better?  How can I challenge myself?

Last year the Resolution was limiting my buying of books to 3 new ones per month – excluding anything I bought for book club reading.

The result?

I joined 3 more (virtual) book clubs … ones in which we normally read more than one book a month.  I didn’t really get the result I was aiming for – spending less money on books, and reading more from my already fully stocked bookcase … but I did sure read some good books!

This year my Resolution is all about making bread.

2014 - the year of bread

That’s right!  2014 IS GOING TO BE MY YEAR OF THE BREAD.  My goal is to finally get comfortable using yeast (oh how yeast has scared me away from recipes in the past), enjoy kneading the dough, and turn out a decent loaf.

So far … so good!

We’re three weeks into this New Year and I have been baking bread 2 to 3 times a week.  The same recipe mostly – but I’m finding myself encouraged that:

(1) each and every single loaf has turned out

(2) yeast isn’t as scary as I always assumed, and

(3) I’ve been able to bake a loaf first thing in the morning and slather a piece of warm bread in butter.

Life is pretty grand when you make your own bread.

My confidence is really all thanks James Morton, runner-up of BBC’s 2012 The Great British Bake Off (ps. my favourite show … tied with MasterChef Australia – both worthy of being downloaded & obsessed over).  James is actually a medical student at the University of Glasgow who loves to bake bread.  He competed on The Great British Bake Off, won hearts of viewers and then published a book: Brilliant Bread.

If you are considering bread making at home – go out and get this book.  Seriously.  James is able to make bread accessible to the home baker.  Nothing fancy.  Nothing crazy.  Just good bread.  The book is basically divided into three parts.

1.  No-knead bread.

2.  Kneaded bread.

3.  Fancy breads and things to impress.

I’m still enjoying section one.  I’m not kneading … I’m allowing the yeast to work in its own time.  Considering one of the things that has always scared me about bread making is the kneading aspect, this suits me just fine.

This recipe is the very first in his book.  I haven’t changed a single thing.  There’s no need to.  I can tell you that the first 2 times I used all-purpose flour, and have since switched to bread flour (or as the Brits say – “strong flour”)I like the texture that I get out of bread flour, but honestly, this recipe works just fine with all-purpose flour.

Bakers note:  The one thing I will recommend getting is a kitchen scale.  I have done my best to convert the amounts for you – however, the scale is more accurate. 

Join me in the mission of baking homemade bread.  Your kitchen will smell brilliant; you’ll impress the pants off your friends and family (and yourself!); and honestly … there’s nothing better than a fresh loaf of bread!

Basic White Bread

Ingredients:

500 g (3 cups less 3 tbsp) bread flour

10 g (1 ½ tsp) salt

7 g (1 packet or 1 ½ tsp) instant yeast

350 g (350 mL) tepid water

*tepid water = when you turn on the water to hot and cold, you shouldn’t be able to feel whether it’s hot or cold.

Grab a large glass bowl.  Add your flour.  Sprinkle the salt on one side of the bowl.  Sprinkle the yeast on the other side of the bowl.  You don’t want the salt and yeast to touch right off … since the salt can kill the yeast (thank you James for that bit of information)!

Rub the salt and yeast into the flour (on their respective sides).

Add the tepid water.  I used my hand to mix it into a ball of dough.  You might freak out slightly, thinking there isn’t enough water.  Don’t worry.  Keep mixing the dough together.  It’ll become a cohesive ball.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.  Set in a warm place and allow it to sit for about 1 hour.  You’ll notice that the yeast starts to work – the dough should increase in size, and appear airier.  That’s good.

When ready, wet your hand slightly and use it to pull the dough away from the sides of the bowl and fold the dough in half.  Turn the bowl and continue folding over the dough until it appears smooth and the air has been removed.

the first rise

dough ready for a second rise

Cover with plastic wrap and allow it to rise in a warm place for another hour.  To be honest, I sometimes let it sit longer – my goal is to get the best rise out of it as possible.

 *baker notes: you can even place your bowl in the fridge and allow it to rise overnight between 10-12 hours – your bread will still bake beautifully! 

Once your dough has risen, use your hand to scrape the dough onto a floured surface.  This is the part where you do the most work: shape into a ball.

second rise & shaping

I’d explain the process of shaping into a ball… expect James’ book has such a wonderful visual.  I’ve included it.  All credit to Brilliant Bread and James Morton.

shaping & final prove

Once the dough is shaped, place it on your cookie sheet and set aside for another 40 to 60 minutes.  It’ll double in size and spring back to the touch.

With 20 minutes remaining in the final prove; turn your oven to 410 F (210 C).  You might think this is too high a heat.  It’s not.

When you’re just about ready to plop that loaf into the oven, grab a serrated knife and score the top of your bread.

Place your tray on a low rack in your oven and bake for 40 minutes.  This will create a beautiful golden crust that has a real crunch.  It’s pretty spectacular.

perfect basic white bread

You’ll know the bread is ready when you pull it out, turn it over, and knock on the base.  If it sounds hallow (or if your dog barks at the sound because he thinks someone’s knocking at the door), then you know – your bread is done!

Allow the loaf to cool on a wire rack.  If you cut into it right away you might think it’s a little doughy … so just be patient and allow it to cool slightly.

perfect bread

This recipe has NEVER failed me.  It’s the kind of thing that is building my confidence in becoming a bread baker.  I can’t wait to get tucked into the tea loaf recipe this weekend.  But until then … I’m happy to slather a slice of this loaf with butter and honey. That combo is never a bad idea :0)

butter and honey

Red & White 2014

R&W2014

It’s that time of year again.

It’s time for one of my absolute FAVOURITE events.

The Red & White.

Wednesday, January 15th, 2014 is going to be an evening of great food, wonderful entertainment, some wine, locally brewed beer, and all for a good cause: Harmony House.

This year Chef Michael Blackie is back (two years ago he made this event one of my favourite food events of the year). Joined by Chef Norm Aitken (Juniper Kitchen & Wine Bar), I’m already anticipating what dishes they are going to have on offer.  Seriously – these men can cook.

And guess what?!

I’ll also be on hand with CUPCAKES.

That’s right!  This year I’ve been asked to make some cupcakes in support of a great cause.

Doesn’t that sound like the icing on the (cup)cake?

Ok.  Now for the important stuff.

This is what I need from you.  I need YOU to go to eventbrite and buy a ticket.

They’re $65 each.  You get food, alcohol AND entertainment.  Not bad eh?

Then I need YOU to get a friend to join you.

I mean … although there will already be loads of awesome people attending … you might want to have a partner in crime while you watch the cooking demos, eat your food and then wander over and snag a cupcake or two… right?

Come join me next Wednesday evening as we help raise some money for Harmony House.  With your help, countless staff and volunteers will be able to provide safe, affordable, transitional housing for women and children who are survivors of violence.