I think we all need a little more cake these days. Blending whole oranges into a thick puree to add to cake and muffin batter isn’t new – I have a recipe for a whole orange cake on an old recipe card I’ve had since childhood (yes, I was a kid who wrote and collected recipe cards) and the Sunshine Muffins in the Best of Bridge are made with whole oranges whizzed with everything else in a blender. Food 52 has a recipe for a whole orange bundt from Sunset Magazine in their book, Genius Desserts. W made it awhile ago, and it occurred to me that such a cake would make perfect use of those inevitable squidgy mandarin oranges I always seem to wind up with, whether I buy them by the box or bag. (We talked about other things to do with mandarins on this week’s Eyeopener!)

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I made a plant-based (vegan) Deep n’ Delicious chocolate cake for a friend’s birthday last spring, and it was pretty fantastic if I do say so myself. Baked in a disposable foil cake pan for easy door dropping and classic Deep n’ Delicious aesthetic, with frosting piped on with a star tip to complete the effect, I’ve baked this several times and it has been devoured each time – it’s wonderful, vegan or not.

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I’ve finally come to the conclusion that I’m a lazy pie maker. I don’t strive for perfection, or elaborately styled tops (not that there’s anything wrong with that), but more ease – of both assembly and eating. I do get a lot of satisfaction out of a proper crimped double crust pie, but I make galettes more often. Because they’re not as deep they bake more quickly and are easier to eat out of hand, which makes them ideal breakfast pastries and perfect for afternoon snacking.

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I’ve been getting a lot of requests for this pavlova recipe – it’s one I’ve been making for years, and I often teach it in classes and use it as a base recipe for other pavlovas, but this is my go-to, with lemon curd made out of the egg yolks you’ll have left after you make the meringue. It’s perfect – you need something sweet-tart to go with the crunchy-chewy-marshmallowy meringue and creamy-sweet whipped cream. Pavlova truly is the ultimate dessert. This makes a relatively small one, but you could scale it up – I often double the recipe (6 egg whites + 1 1/2 cups sugar) to make a larger pavlova, or two, or one large and a bunch of small ones, or just straight-up meringues. It’s a very versatile formula. And if you’re at all nervous about the meringue turning out, or if it doesn’t look perfect (who cares though!), you could bash it up and layer it in glasses or a trifleContinue reading

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I make a lot of galettes – which sound fancy, but are really free form pies you assemble and bake on a sheet without needing to trim or crimp – and in the fall and winter, they’re often apple ones. Sometimes, I spread some jam onto the bottom of the crust before I pile on the apples, but a couple weeks ago I had a jar of mincemeat on the counter and inspiration struck. It turned out to be a very good idea. I adore mincemeat – a thick sort of preserve of fresh and dried fruits, citrus, brown sugar, booze (if you want it) and spices you can simmer on the stovetop until your house smells fantastic (it only takes 20 minutes, really) or buy in the jar without shame. (The smell of a jar of Robertson’s all-fruit mincemeat reminds me so much of my grandma, I nearly tear up when I take off the lid.) You don’t need suet (which is beef fat)Continue reading

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This isn’t the most stunning morning-after photo of what was (and still is) a delicious chocolate cake-the light was far better last night than it was when I nibbled it with my coffee in the early morning light. But it’s a simple, delicious cake that could become your go-to if you have frequent birthday cake obligations. This weekend was the first two of a week of family birthdays (which wraps up with mine on Friday), and because one of them was my sister, and I knew her favourite part would be blowing out candles with her grandkids, a double chocolate, quick to bake single layer cake that could be served straight from the pan and accommodate plenty of sprinkles seemed like just the ticket. And look at that ganache!!

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I’ve made two blackberry-plum friands in the past three days, and eaten 1 3/4 of them myself, with a spoon, straight out of the baking dish. A friand is a dense, chewy almond cake, this version studded with juicy fruit, from Ottolenghi’s Simple- I had it out for a virtual book club, and when I got home from picking up a farmers’ market box (from the Bridgeland Farmers’ Market), which had plums and blackberries bigger than my thumb in it, I took it as a sign.

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It’s that time- Saskatoons are ready for picking on shrubs along my street, at the dog park and along the riverbank… as always, I find myself rooting around for an empty coffee cup or other vessel to fill as I walk. I rarely manage to pick enough for pie, but almost always find enough for a batch of tarts-these are simple, made by simmering berries, sugar and cornstarch and spooning the mixture into pre-baked tart shells. Blueberries work just as well if you want to combine the two, or in case you don’t have access to saskatoons wherever you are.

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I’m a sucker for anything topped with torched meringue, but my preference is ice cream, baked Alaska-style. (Yes, this is essentially a baked Alaska.. though B.A. is typically frozen in a bowl, so it’s dome-shaped, like this.) Ice cream “cake” was my birthday cake of choice as a kid.. because really, the scoop of ice cream beside the cake is always the best part. If you’re making it yourself, layered ice cream negates the need to turn on the oven, or even follow a recipe—it’s ideal for the baking intimidated. You don’t require a specific cake pan size (or a cake pan at all, really), and an ice cream “cake” can be made in advance and stashed away in the freezer for days, weeks or even months— until you’re ready to finish it with a simple cooked meringue, which is easy to work with and finish with swirls and flourishes.

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