Dear Friends and Fellow Bakers,
Welcome to the merry month of May 2021!
Iâ€™ve created some really special things this month and Iâ€™m hard-pressed to choose a favorite recipe.
TheÂ Blackberry Jam Cake with Caramel IcingÂ is a classic from the southern kitchen where buttermilk-based, blackberry cakes still appear in Southern baking cookbooks. If you like any sort of cake, youâ€™ll love this retro spice cake, mellow with blackberry jam (any jam will do) and its fast and easy Caramel Glaze. I prefer my cakes, even simple ones, cakes to have at least something on top â€“ a bit of demerara sugar, a glaze, or a drizzle of chocolate because they are ever so much more fetching that way. Not only do we eat with our eyes but a finishing touch in a glaze or thin frosting goes a long way to seal in a cakeâ€™s freshness. This cake is a naturally good keeper and obedient slicing cake, i.e. no crumbs, no foul â€“ the perfect sharing cake.
TheÂ Strawberry (or Raspberry) TartsÂ are a classic and yet? Just try looking for a standard recipe for a great pastry cream or pate sucree or tart dough. Itâ€™s not that I donâ€™t have these things in my recipe files and cookbooks but I wanted to do a refresher course and come up with the best pastry and a definitive pastry cream. I was amazed at the less-than-stellar recipes out there and/or the lack of consistency. So I created my own tarts from the ground up and they are beyond devourable. Flakey, slightly sweet pastry is home to a silken custard and the whole affair is then topped with fresh berries and a slick of apricot jam glaze. Everyone who had them was delighted but also surprised to see something a big different, light and French come out of my kitchen (people forget I spent three years in hotel school!).
Pro tip:Â if you want total success with these, make the pastry and custard a day before. Then next day, relaxed and prepared, youâ€™re ready to go and bake up French pastry shop perfection. In fact, you can even bake up the tart shells and fill them the next day. Thatâ€™s the key btw in pastry. Prepare your elementsÂ aheadÂ of time and then when youâ€™re non-frazzled and cool as a cucumber and your kitchen is relatively neat, you just assemble the pastry, add the filling and decorate with the fruit. Such sanity.
Â French Pastry Strawberry Tarts,Â elegant and springy.
Like the perfect black dress you can never have too many brownie recipes. The recipe forÂ Â Chocolate Decadence BrowniesÂ was inspired by a bit of nostalgia. Back in the day, when Montreal had Woolworthâ€™s stores, their brownies were exceptional: fudgy and dense with an icing layer that was about as thick as the brownie itself. This is a distinct contrast with todayâ€™s icing-less brownies. When icing and brownies parted company I donâ€™t know but when I recently made a batch of brownies that was missing a cup of sugar. Since the brownies themselves were sweet enough, dense and moist. I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to ice them with that Woolworthâ€™s one-inch layer of frosting. Because the brownies are sweet but not cloying, happenstance and creativity converged into brilliance. These triple layer brownies are break-you-at-your-knees delicious. I doled them out, wrapped and frozen, to a few people, none of whom could even wait for them to defrost. What makes these exceptional is also the icing itself. Itâ€™s based on a ganache and itâ€™s soft and luscious.
Â Chocolate Decadence BrowniesÂ because no issue of BB is complete without a chocolate offering.
The Free Recipe of this month isÂ Bumble Berry MuffinsÂ which is one of my favorites and perfect for spring. It's a simple recipe as muffins tend to be but surprisingly delectable thanks to the beautiful batter that's replete with a medley ofÂ berries.
Happy MayÂ everyone! As always, happy baking from my kitchen to yours,
Author, Master Baker