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Miscellaneous Baking

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These are meant for the bath but I use them as a room scent and ambience item.

Find some gorgeous gauze bags or velveteen bags to pack the salts in. Tie with gorgeous ribbons or gold braid. Crafts stores often all you need but look online via Google for companies that specialize in these items. When you purchase a dozen or half a dozen at a time, the price is excellent. Fragrant oils are easy to find (check Scent of a Baker for some of my favorite sources). Vanilla is used here but green tea, mandarin, red currant, coconut, peach, or lilacs and other florals are good choices. For men, go with Vertiver, oak moss or oils such as ‘leather’, all widely available. You can use these salts in the bath or as I prefer, just place them around the house to keep a constant ‘waft’ of scent all over.

What’s nice is that you get home ambience fragrance, with the worry of lit candles or oil burners.

Mix it, jar it, seal it with a ribbon and a card and add in some nice cookie cutters or a heart of thistle shortbread clay mold.

I fell in love with www.Terrachips over the holidays. These are fried, thin chips of sweet potatoes, carrots, parsnips, yaro and beets.  It’s easy to make your own at home but slow baked, not fried. Much less fat.Tossed with some sea salt and vegetable oil, they are addictive.

I saw versions of this unusual, multi-layered pastry like cake for years. When a baking acquaintance gave me her sister’s Rosette’s recipe simply inscribed as “Mrs. Peterson’s Vinartera or Iceland’s National Cake,. I was inspired to finally give it a whirl. In the end, I fiddled and adjusted with that recipe and the others I researched but I think kept the concept of Icelandic prune cake intact. This is an easy cake, a great keeper, and most unique. Prune is the traditional filling but I have made it with apricot filling or alternated apricot and raspberry preserves. This is superb with tea or afternoon coffee.This is decidedly European and a one-of-a-kind treat that could become your trademark. The Lemon Glaze is optional but a nice touch - in a café, such a dessert would fare a lot better with the sides neatly slicked up with this easy coating.

Sometimes you need a walnut filling for a strudel, potica, a wonderful rolled up pastry delicacy from European kitchens, or a nutty filling for a cheesecake or bubka. This is a great one.

My personal favorite recipe. This recipe makes for impressive, crusty, corn meal-coated English muffins. Moist and full of holes, rough textured and hearty. A combination of unbleached white bread flour together with some white wholewheat (or regular whole wheat). A smack of butter and honey rounds out the simple flavor. Don't be spooked by the starter. It's child's play – you can make it an hour ahead or the night before and refrigerate it. Why bother settling for ordinary (insipid) store-bought, English Muffins when recipes like these are around? A large cast iron pan is great for baking. The rough hewn look of these are fetching.


Chunks of bread pulled together in a creamy batter of eggs, cream, vanilla, cinnamon and studded with chunks of white chocolate. This is great warm or even cold - and is ambrosial from simply ingredients.

This is not a recipe; this is the blueprint for a new business.  On a recent wander up and down

Montreal's famed St. Denis Street I stumbled into Babette’s Feast, a little tea and pastry room that is like a time warp to 1950's rural France. It is like an old-time French general store, replete with tins of tea, fine chocolates, Brittany cookies and a nod-to-French-Canada in these amazing truffles. These are not them exactly but as the original were thin white chocolate truffle coating, hiding a center of molten maple cream, and the whole thing was coated in crushed maple sugar. What a sensation. This is what they mean when they say: ambrosial. My version is easier but totally wonderful. I features a maple cream center, white chocolate exterior and if you want, a coating of crushed pecan/brown sugar and maple heaven.

What’s more inviting that spice and warmth in a cup? This is a seasonal perk that will make your espresso pot beam. If you have a steamer for the milk, that’s super. If not, simmer the milk and half and half to simmering, so that is shivers with foam. The pumpkin puree is canned. Best to use most of it in pie, muffins or pumpkin bread and ‘borrow’ ½ cup or so that you can keep refrigerated or in half ice-cubes (frozen) and use it as you need for this marvelous potion. For a less rich drink, use all milk.

This is fabulous challah, perfect for Friday Night, or Rosh Hashanah or anytime you want a great whole-wheat bread that is moist, and slightly sweet. I use stone-ground whole-wheat flour or white wholewheat flour (that I get from King Arthur Flour). White whole-wheat flour is sweeter but just as nutritious. If you want to up the whole-wheat flour, go ahead and make it all whole-wheat (no white flour).  Just make sure you let the dough rest more, to allow the bran and germ in the whole-wheat flour to absorb the moisture in the dough.

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