neapolitan pound loaf … actually it’s a cake.

Another week … another

baking crew challenge.

The theme: loaves.

I tend to think of a loaf as a *somewhat* healthy baked treat … chalk full of mashed bananas, grated zucchini, or even pumpkin purée, with an above average sprinkling of chocolate chips … a little sweetness in the belly.

Oh how I heart a good slice of *fresh out of the oven*, warm, gooey banana/zucchini/pumpkin loaf.

That’s why I was so excited about this challenge. Not only would I bake one of my favourite things … but I would also get to try a new recipe.

A neapolitan pound cake recipe to be exact.

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First off. I’m going to be honest. I decided to bake this because it looked good. And if something can look that good … it’s got to stand a chance of TASTING good right?

Well … it lived up to my pre-judgement.

Except.

This is no loaf. Nope. Don’t confuse this for a slightly savoury loaf: something warm and comforting to accompany your tea or coffee. It’s not the kind of thing you bake as your afternoon snack … or as a *quick,easy, and healthy* breakfast option.

Nope.

This is a committment. You must commit yourself to this intensely decadent and absolutely delightful dessert.

It’s based on neapolitan ice cream right … so vanilla, chocolate and strawberry all swirled together to create a party in your mouth.

It’s true. All those flavours are good things.

I decided to change it up a little. Rather than stick to the traditional strawberry flavour, I opted for a strawberry-rhubarb flavour. I actually couldn’t decide on cherry or raspberry … but then I spotted the strawberry-rhubarb jam on the shelf, I couldn’t resist adding a splash of tart rhubarb to the mix. Could you?

I didn’t think so.

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The richness in this cake comes from the 5 ounces of mascarpone cheese … added to another 2 ounces of cream cheese … plus 1 cup of butter … and 6 eggs.

Mother of pearl. You just know that this is going to be one rich and delicious slice of cake!

So while I was busy whipping mini loaf and bundt cake versions of this recipe … my friends were busy baking their own loaves. Tom & Aimée baked a beautiful cardamom loaf, Meredith brought a tangy lemon blueberry loaf, and Cory baked a family favourite, walnut sour cream loaf.

I’m going to say … each and every one of the loaves were delicious … but so completely different.

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The cardamom loaf was beautiful … an exquisite crumb and shape … and then when you bit into it, the pungent flavour of the cardamom perefectly accompanied a cup of coffee. It was a spicy addition to the challenge.

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The walnut sour cream loaf is one of Cory’s favourite family holiday treats. Who can fault a loaf that’s chalk full of walnuts and then topped with a brown sugar crumble? Although Cory’s recipe was a tad oily (even after Cory adjusted his mother’s original recipe – and he agreed with us) … I still gladly took a mini loaf home with me … and very happily devoured it.

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We all know that I heart lemons … so it probably won’t come as a surprise that I’m going to annouce that Meredith’s lemon blueberry loaf was my favourite. I loved how light it was. I loved the fresh blueberries. I loved the tang of the lemons. It’s the perfect afternoon tea snack. You don’t actually need to drink tea … you can just grab a slice of this loaf and savour it … that’s what I did.

Compared to the cardamom loaf, walnut sour cream loaf, and lemon blueberry loaf, my neapolitan pound loaf really stuck out as a cake. It was denser and sweeter and richer and more of a dessert. I’m not saying it wasn’t good … but it certainly shouldn’t quality as a loaf. Needless to say … if you’re looking to make something that will wow your friends, family, neighbours, co-workers … maybe you want to give this recipe a try. It certainly put a smile on many a face and satisfied many a craving for a treat in the middle of the day.

neapolitan pound loaf cake

ingredients:

3 oz cream cheese, at room temperature

5 oz, mascarpone cheese, at room temperature

1 ½ c. unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 tsp vanilla extract

6 eggs

2 c. sugar

1 c. powdered sugar

3 c. cake flour

pinch of salt

flavours

6 tbsp strawberry-rhubarb jam

3 tbsp cocoa

1 tsp vanilla

1/8 tsp pink food colouring (I use Wilton’s colour gels … less is more – I went a little overboard!)

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Number one rule … don’t preheat your oven.

Time to get started.

In a medium bowl sift together the granulated and powdered sugars. Set aside.

Cream together the mascapone, cream cheese and butter together in your stand-mixer: medium-high speed using your paddle attachment for about 3 minutes. Add the vanilla and beat for a further 30 seconds.

This batter isn’t a simple “add dry ingredients to wet ingredients” batter … there are steps to follow. But they are TOTALLY worth it.

Ok .. here goes.

  • Add two of the eggs to the cheese / butter mixture.
  • Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.
  • Add 1 cup of the sugar mixture.
  • Beat at medium speed until combined.
  • Add 1 cup flour plus the pinch of salt.
  • Beat until combined.
  • Repeat until all of the eggs, sugars, and flour are used.

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Divide the batter equally between three bowls.

In one bowl combine the batter with the strawberry-rhubarb jam. Add the food colouring gel.

In another bowl combine the batter with the cocoa powder.

And the vanilla to the remaining batter. Stir to combine.

Time to bake.

You have some options here. You can bake a regular sized loaf… or a regular bundt cake. You can go the mini loaf / mini bundt option. I decided that since I wanted to bake these quickly, the mini loaf and mini bundt cakes were the way to go. Whichever option you pick, spray the pan with non-stick spray and set aside.

I scooped a spoonful of each flavour of batter into each mini loaf tin and bundt cake (I dozen of each). Then I took a toothpick and swirled the different flavours into one another.

Place the loaf / bundt cake tin in oven.

Turn oven on to 300F.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes for the mini loaves / mini bundts. Obviously longer for a regular sized loaf or bundt cake. The original recipe recommended 2 hours … I would probably check it out after 75 minutes.

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Serve with a scoop of ice cream and a drizzle of hot fudge sauce.

Go big or go home right?

carob chip – almond butter – quinoa cookies

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You might be wondering … what the heck is going on?!

Am I on the right blog????

A recipe that doesn’t include butter. or sugar. or flour. or chocolate chips.

Instead these cookies are chock full of quinoa. rolled oats. almond butter. carob chips. maple syrup.

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Oh my goodness … what happened to Lynne?????

Well my friends … I decided to get out of my baking comfort-zone. I saw this recipe on my facebook feed and figured … what do I have to lose?

It turns out I gained a brand new favourite healthy cookie recipe.

Mother of pearl. Who would have thunk it!

I’ve already made this recipe twice. Yep. I liked it enough the first time to make it again … only this time I included a few *twists* to the original recipe. Obviously.

I’m going to start off with the major selling feature for me … these are actually the best mid-afternoon snack. I’m not saying these should be your *treat* for the day … HOWEVER … if you find yourself reaching for something cookie-like at around 2 pm to get you through the rest of your work day … look no further.

These cookies have become my afternoon life savers.

And they only require 5 ingredients … actually more like 7 … I added some additional spices to the original recipe.

Have I sold you on the idea of a healthy cookie yet?

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Tip number 1 … when cooking your quinoa … add a vanilla pod and cinnamon stick to the water and quinoa. Any bit of extra flavour helps … especially when you’re baking healthy.

Tip number 2 … flatten these out a little pre-baking. Otherwise the middles get a tad dry. No butter = no added moisture.

Tip number 3 … the carob chips tend to spread and burn faster than I find chocolate chips would. Just keep an eye on the cookies while they bake. You might be able to take them out of the oven closer to 17 minutes rather than the recommended 20 minutes.

Tip number 4 … these cookies could easily be turned into bars. Simply pat down the dough into a square pan and bake for about 22 to 25 minutes.

Now are you ready to give these a try????

elimination challenge: dessert wars

Top Chef Just Desserts elimination challenge is dessert shop wars!  The premise behind this challenge is the following:  the cheftestants are divided into two teams of three; each team “opens” a dessert shop (picks a theme, etc), and than each individual must bake / create three individual desserts to serve in their shop (for a total of 9 different options in each shop).

I LOVE IT!

This is my kind of challenge … since I often find myself day-dreaming about what I would offer if I ever opened my own little shop … obviously I’d have some tarts on offer: chocolate pecan, lemon meringue, fresh berry tart, then apple and fruit pies … I’d offer a scone of the day: lemon, vanilla, dark chocolate cherry, jalapeno-cheddar, apple walnut, lemon blueberry, raspberry white chocolate, trip chocolate … I could probably go two weeks without offering the same scone twice!  I’d make my brownies, and my flour-less torte … I’d make as many things drizzled or macerated in lemoncello as possible … I think my little shop would be cute … and would smell incredible.

Julie thinks I should name it Lynnoncello (yeah… it seems my obsession with lemoncello has gone to her head).  I kinda like the name one heck of a tart!  But that doesn’t really matter… what really matters is what three recipes I’d make for the challenge.

It’s simple really.  Go with what you love.  And I love the following:

date squares.  I love date squares more than I should.  Mostly because it brings back memories of my grandmother.  I even have her recipe framed in my kitchen… see :0)

lemon scones.  Because I love lemon.  And these scones are the bomb.  They are so good – fluffy and airy and oh so tart.  Sigh.

chocolate espresso sandwiches.  Chocolate espresso ganache (from failed truffle recipe fame) sandwiched between two mini shortbread cookies and rolled in vanilla sugar.  They are so small and cute – I could present them in a pretty bowl. 

I found the chocolate espresso sandwiches recipe in Gale Gand’s book chocolate and vanilla.  They looked too cute to pass up – - and when she recommended filling them with ganache (rather than jam), I just couldn’t help going back to that failed truffle recipe for dark chocolate espresso ganache.  It was a win-win kinda idea to me.

This recipe is SIMPLE.  I know – I always say that: but in this instance it REALLY IS.  It’s just not the quickest recipe in the world.  You need chilling time after every step.  Think of this recipe as assembly line baking - step 1, chill, step 2, chill, step 3, chill, step 4, serve! 

chocolate espresso sandwiches

ingredients:

shortbread cookies

1 c. butter, room temperature

1/2 c. sugar

1 3/4 c. flour, sifted

half batch dark chocolate espresso ganache

vanilla sugar, for rolling

Gale Gand’s original recipe asks that you beat the butter in the bowl of your stand mixer using your whisk attachment.  I actually started it off using the paddle attachment – since my butter wasn’t as soft as I had hoped it would be.  Once the butter had softened (well… been beaten into submission), I then switched out the paddle for the whisk attachment and proceeded to beat away for another 3 – 5 minutes: the butter became very fluffy.

Add the sugar, and once well blended, add the flour.  The dough will start to form – lifting away from the sides of the mixing bowl and gathering around the whisk in one ball.  Wrap the disk of dough in plastic wrap and allow to chill in the fridge for at least 3 hours (keep chilled, unused up to 1 week in the fridge, otherwise freeze for up to 1 month)

See … step 1 is completed.  Now you’re chillin’

When you’re ready to roll out the mini balls – take the dough out of the fridge and temper it for 5 minutes.

Roll out the dough into small balls – it’s a pretty tedious task.  Place each ball on a parchment lined cookie sheet; they spread out slightly while baking – so don’t press them next to one another – but I left a little too much unnecessary space between them :0)

Return the filled cookie sheet to the freezer and chill for 30 minutes. 

Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 375 F.

Bake each try for 10 minutes – the balls become firm, but not really golden (although the base will be slightly golden).  Remove them from the oven and allow them to cool on the cookie sheet on a wire rack.  Once cooled, remove and place in the freezer for 5 minutes – this will allow the cookies to get cold enough to add the tempered ganache.

Step 2 …. complete. 

Remove your sugar cookies from the freezer and top every other cookie with a slight dot of ganache. 

Grab the un-ganached cookies and top them – forming a little sandwich ball. 

Allow the ganache to firm up a bit again – I put mine back in the freezer for 5 minutes to help this along.

Step 3 – done! 

Remove from the freezer and roll each ball in vanilla sugar – coating the little sandwiches as best as you can.

There you have it!  Chocolate espresso sandwiches – done!  And so pretty too!

I brought the baked goodies into the office today.  WOW.  I was shocked at how quickly everything went!

The date squares disappeared in 5 minutes.  For Reals!  I put them out and … all gone.  I take that as the ultimate compliment.

The vanilla balls were a pretty huge success as well… everyone thought they were so cute – and since they’re shortbread they would be prefect for the holiday season … can’t you just picture bowls full of them, being scooped up and enjoyed by the handful — DEADLY (deliciousness).

The chocolate espresso sandwiches - you should ask Platonic Jeff what he thought of them … just like a real bakery – he bought them all up!  LOVES IT!

FYI – my virtual bakery (as per last year) is open again.  If you want some scones … send me an email (see top left hand corner).

Orders are accepted :0) … Yes …  Zarah, Audrey, Platonic Jeff, Pierre, Mary, Lilu, Tonya, Vanessa … I’m talking to you!