Saturday, April 20, 2013

Chocolate Pecan Cake

A work colleague of mine was finishing up her time with us :(  Instead of buying a cake, I offered to make one.  I knew she loved chocolate so I tried a new to me recipe of Chocolate Pecan cake.  It was tasty, but dense.  It didn't rise the way I would have like and left me wishing I'd made my wacky cake instead.  I think I'd like to go back and play with this recipe a bit as I really liked the idea and the flavour, it just came out a little bit more like a brownie than a cake that's all.  One fantastic part of the cake was that I got to use some of the beautiful Mexican Chocolate my brother sent me from his trip to Mexico.  Yum!
  • 1 1/2 cups  unsalted butter
  • 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup pecans, toasted and chopped
Preheat oven to 350 degrees . In large saucepan, melt 11/2 sticks butter, chocolate, granulated sugar, 1/3 cup cocoa and 1 cup water over medium, whisking until smooth and warm. Let cool, 10 minutes. Grease bottom and sides of 9-by-13-inch metal baking pan. Whisk buttermilk, eggs, 1 tsp. vanilla and 1/2 tsp. salt into chocolate mixture. Add flour, baking powder, baking soda and chopped pecans; whisk just until blended. Transfer batter to prepared pan; bake until springy in center, about 45 minutes. 
I frosted this cake with some cream cheese icing.  After I wrote on it, I sprinkled a little bit of chopped pecans around the writing, just to pretty it up a bit.


Hot Cross Buns

What would Good Friday be without Hot Cross Buns?  For me, it's become a tradition.  It started a number of years back when I went on a Stations of the Cross walk across town with my church at the time.  I remember it being a drizzly Friday and a very moving experience, taking my turn to carry the cross as we paraded along, stopping to read scripture and pray along the way.  The last stop was at our church building.  Some of the ladies at the church were ready for us with Hot Cross Buns and Hot Chocolate, a welcome gift on a rainy BC day.  Since that day Hot Cross Buns have been synonymous with Good Friday.  I have to admit that I've always let the Superstore do the baking for me.  Until this year.
This year my daughter (age 3) and I baked them together.  I grabbed the Pioneer Woman's Recipe because let's face it, if anyone knows how to make Hot Cross Buns it would be her.  The only thing I did differently was the icing.  I used my own sugar cookie icing instead as I had all those ingredients on hand.  It worked just fine. 

Buns Recipe
  • 2 cups Milk
  • 1/2 cup Canola Oil
  • 1/2 cup Sugar
  • 1 package (2 1/4 Teaspoons) Active Dry Yeast
  • 4 cups All-purpose Flour
  • 1/2 cup (additional) Flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon (heaping) Baking Powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon (scant) Baking Soda
  • 2 teaspoons Salt
  • 1/4 cup Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Cinnamon
  • Spices: Cardamom, Nutmeg, Allspice (optional)
  • 1/2 cup Raisins   
    Combine 2 cups milk, canola oil, and 1/2 cup sugar in a saucepan. Stir and heat until very warm but not boiling. Turn off the heat and allow to cool until mixture is still warm, but not hot--about 30 minutes.

    Sprinkle yeast over mixture. Add 4 cups of flour and stir to combine. Mixture will be very sticky. Cover with a towel and set aside for 1 hour.

    Add 1/2 cup flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir till combined.

    Combine 1/4 cup sugar with cinnamon and whatever other spices you want to use.

    Lightly flour surface. Press to slightly flatten dough. Sprinkle a couple tablespoons of the sugar/cinnamon mixture. Sprinkle on about a third of the raisins. Then fold the dough over on itself and flatten again so the dough is "plain" again. Repeat the sugar/raisin process, then fold the dough again. Repeat a third time until all the raisins are used. (You won't use all the sugar/cinnamon mixture.)

    Pinch off ping pong or golf ball-size bunches of dough. With floured hands, quickly roll it into a ball, then turn the edges under themselves slightly. Place on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Cover and allow to rise in a warm place for at least 30 hour-plus is better.

    Preheat oven to 400 degrees

    Mix 1 egg white with a splash of milk. Brush onto each roll.
    Bake for 20 minutes, give or take, or until tops of buns have turned nice and golden brown.
    Remove from pan and allow to cool on a cooling rack.


    1 cup icing sugar
    2 tbsp milk

    Mix the sugar with the milk.  Once mixed, put the icing into a ziplock bag.  snip one of the corners off just a little.  Use the ziplock bag as a pastry bag to pipe the cross on the top of the buns once they are cooled a little.

    *Did you know? 
    Some say sharing  a Hot Cross Bun with someone ensured unbroken friendship for the coming year. You're supposed to say these words: "Half for you and half for me, Between us two shall goodwill be."