Thursday, 29 May 2014

Lemon Squares ☀

I've been FORCED to bake this week.  How terrible!  ...  With all the craziness happening right now and work being super busy there has been little time for anything, never mind my precious baking!  And also, strangely enough, there haven't been too many events, or reasons to bake or make things for (at least not ones that I can disclose right now!) so I found myself come to the end of the weekend with nothing to bake about. 

HMPHH.  So when Tuesday rolled around, and a glorious spare hour came to me between work and work I jumped on the chance to bake something delicious!  No time to go to the shop, so I was lucky enough to flick through a recipe book of 'Cakes and Slices' and come across Lemon Squares that didn't need more lemons than I had, and the 1 1/2 lemons sitting in my fridge would work perfectly.  Phew!  So I got right to it.


I'm so glad I did it as well... Since I started this blog in January 2013 I have really made it my aim to blog EVERY week about something, no matter how awesome or how small the project was.  There have been busy times that I thought I had nothing to blog about, but nothing has compared to how things are right now.  So whilst no one was physically forcing me to bake and to blog this week, my own mind definitely was - and I'm glad I did, because not only were the lemon squares perfectly lemony and delicious, but also it means I'm here - writing a post even if I don't really have time for it!
Hopefully I'll have enough to blog about the next couple of months too... we'll see, week after week what I can come up with.  And let's face it, baking is a go-to option even if no sewing or crafting is happening!

Well, after all that rambling about being busy, let's actually get to the lemon squares - it was the point of this after all!


125g unsalted butter
75g sugar
155g plain, all-purpose flour


4 eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten
250g sugar
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
30g plain, all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder


1.  Preheat the oven to 350°F/ 180°C.  Lightly grease a 9 x 9 inch tin and line the base with baking paper. (Yes, these first few photos show a rectangular tin as that is what the original recipe stated, however I wanted a slightly thicker bottom crust, so I made the decision and switched to a square tin instead!).

2.  Cream the butter and sugar in the mixer until light and fluffy.   

3.  Fold in the flour with a metal spoon. 

4.  Press into the tin and bake for 20 - 24 minutes, or until golden and firm.

Leave to cool.

5.  For the topping - beat the eggs and sugar using the mixer (or electric beaters) for 2 minutes, or until light and fluffy. 

6.  Stir in the lemon juice and lemon zest.
7.  Sift together the flour and baking powder, and gradually whisk into the egg mixture.  
8.  Pour onto the base (when cool) and bake for 25-28 minutes, or until just firm.

9.  Leave to cool in the tin.  Cut into squares and if desired, dust with icing sugar before serving.

After baking, I was desparately hoping the squares cooled in time to take some to my choir rehearsal... and luckily, just in time they were!  We got to enjoy them mid-rehearsal... I may have eaten a few too many, especially as I had one more when I shared them with my husband later that evening! 

I'm glad I chose the smaller pan so that I got more of a biscuit-y crust.  I think I could have done with cooking it a bit longer (now accounted for in the recipe) but it still had a crunch to it.  And my favourite pieces were definitely the edge pieces that had a nice caramelised edge to them!

With enough squares left for a couple more days, we're all set!  But be warned... You can't just eat one of them!  Which is why I'm glad I cut them into small little squares instead of big pieces... but that's up to you :)

No Spring in Toronto... only Winter and then a couple of weeks later WHAM Summer!  These Lemon Squares are a perfect flavour and taste for a sunny day!

☀  Enjoy!  ☀

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Strawberries and Cream Lemon Scone Dessert

Summer is on it's way, and to celebrate the long weekend I created a super yummy dessert that wasn't just baking, but actually something that was served in a bowl - not just a cupcake liner like usual these days! 
I was excited to put together this dessert using fresh strawberries, whipped cream and, my favourite part - home baked lemon scones.  In my mind, I think perhaps this is similar to the American dessert Strawberry Shortcake, but well... In British style, I decided to go with a basic, but delicious scone recipe with some added lemon zest to please my citrus taste buds, and also give a good twist to match the flavours of the strawberries.
What better time of year to create this dessert... It was Victoria Day, and then Canada Day is coming up on July 1st - could the colours of strawberries and cream be any more Canadian?!... Wimbledon is only a month away as well, and endless strawberries and cream will be eating in England during the tennis tournament!  ... Another thought I had was for my American readers, add a sprinkling of fresh blueberries to go with the strawberries and you have a perfect mix of red, white and blue, just in time for Memorial Day and Independence Day!  So however you choose to create this dish, I'm sure it will pair well with any Summer party theme :)
The dish didn't need too much preparation.  Each element needed some preparation, but scones are an easy bake and the rest was easy peasy too.  I'm sure anybody reading this could recreate the dessert!  You probably have all of the scone ingredients in your cupboards too, go take a look now, and get baking!  They'll be fresh out of the oven in just a few minutes!

Here's my recipe for the lemon scones, and some step by step pictures to help along the way...  The recipe will make enough for 8/9 scones, thick enough to cut in half and smother with whipped cream and syrupy strawberries. 
We had friends over for dinner one evening of the long weekend, and then headed over to a friends place on the final night of the bonus day off work and got to share the dessert with each of them!
10oz plain flour (all-purpose)
3 oz granulated sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
4 oz unsalted butter, cold
1/2 cup whole milk (3.25%)
2 large egg yolks
Zest of 1 lemon
1 large egg
1 tbsp whole milk
Sprinkling of sugar
1.  Preheat your oven to 400°F/205°C and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2.  Place the flour in a mixing bowl, and grate or cube unsalted butter in with it.

3.  Using a pastry blender, and/or your fingertips, rub together the flour and butter until it resembles breadcrumbs.  You could also use a food processor for this.

4.  Add the remaining dry ingredients to the bowl - baking powder, sugar and salt.

5.  Warm the 1/2 cup milk for 30 seconds in the microwave, and add the beaten egg yolks to the jug.  Once combined, pour into the bowl of dry ingredients and mix to combine.

The dough will come together into a ball that may still feel sticky. 

6.  Flour your hands and the surface and knead the dough a little before patting it into a round shape, around 2-3cm thick.  I thought a rolling pin may be needed here, but in the end, my hands were the only thing required!
7.  Using a cookie cutter cut out scone rounds and place on the lined baking sheet.
8.  Beat together the 1 egg and tablespoon of milk, and using a pastry brush, spread over the tops of the scones.  Sprinkle sugar on top and place in the oven.
9.  Bake for 9-12 minutes, until the tops are golden brown, and until a cake tested comes out clean.

If at this point, you're making lemon scones for scones sake - then dig in while they're still warm and fresh, but otherwise, leave them to cool and get started on preparing the strawberries and cream.

I used a box of strawberries per 4 lemon scones, one for each night of the long weekend where we ate with friends!  I cut each strawberry into 8 and placed them in a bowl along with a spoonful of sugar (to help the medicine go down!?)... Leaving it for a few hours, the strawberries tasted deliciously sweet and even a little syrupy!  Perfection!


For the whipped cream, take a carton of 35% whipping cream (500ml), along with 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract and a tablespoon of sugar and whip together until stiff.  This, like the strawberries, can be prepared a few hours before guests arrive meaning this is nice and easy to put together even perhaps after the main course as all of the elements of the dessert would be ready.

The soft cream paired well with the freshly baked scones - and all went down a treat with a cup of coffee or tea!
Super easy, but good looking!  And lucky us getting to eat it twice in two nights, sharing with different friends along the way!  I hope you get to try out these lemon scones - they're a really great basic recipe that can be put together and baked in just 30 minutes.  Halve and butter them and they're a great bake to share... And whether it's a traditional clotted cream and jam, or my take on freshly whipped cream and fresh fruit to go along with it - it's sure to go down a treat in these Summer months!

Monday, 12 May 2014

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

Mmm I'm excited to be blogging about these cookies today.  I had forgotten how much I loved them, until I re-baked them last weekend and ate a few of them along the way! 
Do you remember last year, when our church youth group ran the first Fun(d) Fair in order to raise FUNDS while having FUN for World Vision!?  Check out all the games and exciting things we did, and what I baked for the bake sale in 2013 here.
This year, we wanted even more baked goods to sell, as they were a big hit last year and we ran out before the event was over.  So, with everyone baking the Friday before the event, I had to get my thinking cap on as well.  I wanted something small, and easy to buy one or two of, but also needing a recipe that made a LOT of whatever the bake was.
I couldn't think for a while what to make... I considered a rectangular cake cut into small squares, but I didn't want it to dry out.  I didn't have time to make all the components of the Cherry Bakewell traybake that I also love so much.  And I've made SO many cupcakes recently I didn't want to go down that path either.
Then I remembered these cookies I made from the Taste of Home 'Best Loved Cookies and Candy' 2010 magazine!  I made them for my piano students in 2010, in a Christmas treat bag full of various cookies and candy, and they were definitely my favourite out of the lot.

A deliciously soft and chewy inside, with a crinkle top, slightly crusty outside layer with a full on chocolate flavour.  Perfect with a glass of cold milk!
Ingredients (to make 3 1/2 dozen cookies):
2 cups (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 egg whites
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup icing sugar
1.  In a microwave, melt 1 cup cholate chips.  Stir until smooth, and set aside.
2.  In a small bowl, beat the butter and sugar until crumble - about 2 minutes.
3.  Add the egg whites and vanilla, and beat well.
4.  Stir in the melted chocolate.
5.  Combine the flour, baking powder and salt, and gradually add to the butter mixture, alternately with water.
6.  Stir in the remaining chocolate chips. 
7.  Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours, or until easy to handle.
8.  Pre-heat the oven to 350°F.
9.  Shape the dough into 1-inch balls and roll in icing sugar.
10.  Place 2 inches apart on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray
11.  Bake for 10-12 minutes in pre-heated oven.
12.  Leave to cool on the tray for 5 minutes, and then move to the cooling rack to cool completely. 

And then, all that is left to do is enjoy these delicious cookies!... And if, like me, you're donating them to a good cause - try not to eat too many of them first!!
And in good news, despite the weather (the afternoon of the Fun(d) Fair was miserable and wet!) we still managed to raise $898, and then, along with some generous donations the next morning we actually BEAT our 2013 amount, raising over $1200 for World Vision :-D