Foolproof small batch biscuits

Strawberry shortcake

I started writing about strawberry shortcake, but quickly realized that the real star was the the easiest and foolproof small batch biscuits I made. Even if you don’t have strawberries, give the biscuits a try.

Whenever strawberries are in season i always plan on baking with them. Except I always end up eating them straight out of the basket because let’s be honest, it is the best way to eat a nice route strawberry. As a kid i would lightly dip them in sugar before eating them letting the sugar dissolve slightly in my mouth before biting into it.

I’ve been seeing strawberry shortcakes pop up everywhere (June 14 is National Strawberry Shortcake Day) and I got a hankering to make some.

With 2.5 people in the household, I only need a recipe for 2. I found a recipe in my Small-Batch Baking cookbook and made it quickly. The dough was a bit of a disaster and called for too much liquid so I had to add in more flour. The next day when I re-read the recipe, it was me who messed it up. I like to scale all my flour and I ended up only putting half the amount called for. When I re-did the recipe, they turned out, but I liked my accidental ones better! The extra fat made for a delectable buttery biscuit.

With a bit of recipe testing, I’ve adapted the recipe to suit my tastes. The biscuits are foolproof, just pay attention to cues. You’ll want a batter that’s sticky, but not soupy and you’ll want to bake it until it’s a light golden brown. It’s an extremely forgiving recipe and even this “nervous chef” can still turn out a decent one. You can reduce the sugar (omit to make savoury ones) and probably even omit the baking powder and still have them turn out. I halved the flour and so these are a wee bit smaller than the original. If you want a larger biscuit, double the flour and cream, but leave the rest of the ingredients the same. Because it only makes two, you can get creative without worrying too much about ruining a big batch. They’re so fast and easy to make that you can have fresh biscuits everyday like I have for the last 3 days…

Strawberries vary in sweetness so this recipe is very loosely written so you can do everything “to taste”. Super ripe sweet ones won’t need much sugar.

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Review: How to feed a family

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I was really excited to receive How to Feed a Family
for review when I was pregnant. I also received this as a gift (signed by the author!). While my kid won’t be eating the meals in this book for awhile, I don’t have the same luxury of time to be in the kitchen for hours. It’s tiring work growing a human being, so a lot of the cooking was done by R. He can cook, but he doesn’t like recipes. His meals are much more laid back: grilled cheese sandwiches, pasta, nachos and cheese, tuna melts or a frozen meal. While he is happy to eat that all the time, I need some variety. So I made him test out the cookbook.

He bookmarked a bunch of recipes to try which is always a good sign.

Apple and chicken curry was simple to make and the directions were straight forward. It’s quick enough for a weeknight dinner and the yogurt gives the dish a nice creaminess. It wasn’t too spicy so it’s very kid friendly. 2 chicken thighs didn’t seem enough, so we used more. I wish the weight for the chicken was given as pieces can vary in weight.

For an easy breakfast, I made the Oatmeal and Strawberry Blender Pancakes. Because all the ingredients are just thrown in, the batter comes together in no time. The pancakes tasted…well…healthy. I’m used to making fluffy, not very wholesome, but delicious pancakes on the weekend. I understand as a parent you want to feed your kids more nutritious meals. Would I serve these to my kids? Absolutely! Would I make them for a brunch with friends? Probably not. Balance is key so I would consider these as everyday pancakes and the version I usually make as a weekend treat.

The last recipe I tested was Risotto, Spinach and Kale Cakes with Parmesan. These are bite sized and easy to take on the go. Once I made it, I had to make it again that same week. Doubling the recipe and freezing it would make an easy last minute dinner option. I’d also mow down these as a snack. I usually take pictures of what I make, but none of the pictures turned out.

There’s a handy legend letting you know which ones are quick to make or my favourite, the ones that make little mess. I would have also liked to see a quick index for the legend. That way I can see a list of make ahead meals at a glance.

The book is geared to older children so you won’t see any first foods like purees. While I still have a couple of years before my baby will be eating any of the food in this book, I like how it’s fast and uncomplicated.

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image courtesy of Random House

Thanks to Random House for sending me a review copy. As always, my opinions are my own and I did not receive any compensation.

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Baby shower cake and Craftsy class review

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Who is crazy enough to make their own baby shower cake? This gal. I refuse to make my own birthday cake, but I needed to make this.

I wanted an ombre cake in varying shades of purple ruffles, but ended up changing things on the fly. I changed the ruffles to rosettes to make things easier. I used a Wilton 1M tip and you can see a tutorial here on how to make rosettes. It’s really simple and looks fancy. I don’t have much piping experience so this was my first real decorating job. I ran into a problem trying to achieve a purple colour. You’ll want to make sure your purple food colouring isn’t too old as the red dye will fade and you’ll end up with blue. Mixing red and blue together turned everything kind of muddy. I needed to choose a different colour so I chose yellow instead.

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I was inspired by the elephant cake by Hello Naomi and had R create the elephant topper and banner. I didn’t want to buy a styrofoam ball, so I made the balloon out of fondant. This barely held up during the shower, but it’s heavy and was supported by a thin wire. If I were to make this again, I would use the styrofoam to make it lightweight. The fondant toppers were made the day before and weren’t dry by the baby shower happened. I think it takes a week or two to dry out so it’s best to do toppers way in advance.

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I relied heavily on Craftsy for the buttercream techniques. Craftsy is an online learning platform where you learn via high quality videos. You can also ask the instructor questions throughout the video. There’s a free class called Modern Buttercream by Joshua John Russell and he goes through how to cut a cake into layers, crumb coat and decorative techniques. Because this is a free class, the instructors aren’t required to respond, but the community is so big that other students will help answer questions. There are other free classes available that you can take to see what it’s all about. I loved the free pizza class with Peter Reinhart and his pizza dough is now my go to recipe.

I’ve also purchased some of their classes and have found that the instructors respond pretty quickly. If you wait long enough, usually you’ll see that class on sale. Note: I wasn’t paid by Craftsy to do this review, I just really like the site. The only drawbacks is that they say you’ll have the class forever, but realistically that’s not possible. Instructors will eventually move on and you will no longer be able to rely on them for help with your questions.

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An announcement

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I feel like this is old news if you haven’t been following me on Twitter or Instagram, but I thought I’d make it official on this blog.

How does a baker tell their family that they’re expecting? With cookies of course. This explains the long gap of silence. It’s hard to have a food blog when food wasn’t a top priority.

I’m back at it in the kitchen for the most part. I’ve got a few favourite cookbooks that I’ll hopefully share soon.

It’ll be interesting to see how my life changes with a new teeny tiny human. I think the days where I spent hours in the kitchen making complicated meals will become scarce. I’ll now be looking for quick, easy and nutritious meals to feed my family.

I’m not sure how well I’ll be able to juggle a blog and a baby, but I guess I’ll be finding out soon enough!

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Butter tarts

Butter tarts

Summer always reminds me of cottages and butter tarts. Butter tarts are of Canadian origin and taste similar to pecan pie, but with runnier filling. Every individual has their own preferences about what makes a good butter tart. For me, I can’t stand raisins in mine while for others it’s essential. Pecans or walnuts and a not too runny filling for me is perfect.

This is the easiest crust to make ever. It uses shortening (lard is even better) so it doesn’t lose its shape. For pie crusts I always use butter, but it’s just not the same when making these tarts. I made minis because it was for a party. After making the mini size I found that I preferred this size better. I only end up eating half of a regular sized one anyway.

Here’s a pro tip for getting out your tarts from your muffin pans: use small strips of parchment at the bottom. All you have to do is pull the tabs.

This recipe is a mash up of 2 of Anna Olson’s butter tart recipes.

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