The Beginnings

Growing up I really loved food. I was my mom’s assistant in the kitchen. She would get me to measure the flour, make sure it was level and count very closely.  After much insistence I received an Easy Bake Oven for Christmas. I loved this thing.  You mix your little packet of cake mix with water or milk, put it in the 3 inch cake pan and bake it in the little light bulb heated oven for 7-10 minutes until it was baked. Then I would decorate the little cake with frosting from a container and sprinkles. The cake would then be shared by myself and my little sister who was too young to use the Easy Bake Oven and not happy about it.

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Eventually I upgraded to being allowed to use the oven by myself which was a big deal and I started baking recipes I found in my Mom’s Company’s Coming books.

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Banana bread, cookies, muffins, and cakes. There was a number of mishaps for certain but gradually I got a bit better as time went on. I went through this phase of love for cinnamon. I found this recipe for yeast less cinnamon buns  that I started to make. When I first started making these cinnamon buns I would get frustrated because the dough was sticky and sometimes the filling would boil over. Then on one occasion I had scaled up all the ingredients and then proceeded to mix up the butters for the filling and the dough. The dough had extra butter in it and became much smoother and easier to work with. With a little less butter in the filling and a little less sugar, it wouldn’t boil out as easily. Then I started putting them in a muffin tin to bake them so the filling wouldn’t flow out completely.

Cinnamon Buns 

Flour                    2 cups

Butter                   1/3 cup

Sugar                    2 Tbsp

Salt                       1 tsp

Milk                      1 cup

Butter                  1/4 cup

Brown Sugar      3/4 cup

Cinnamon          1.5 tsp

Procedure:

Dry blend the sugar, salt, and flour. Cut in the butter. Add milk and stir until combined. To make filling cream the sugar and butter and cinnamon until spreadable. Roll out dough. Spread with filling. Roll up. Cut into 12 rolls and put in muffin tins. Bake at 375F.

My interests only grew from there. I started volunteering at this used bookstore/cafe called Sam’s Place. I saw my first ever fresh baked bread. I was able to help with some of the specials and because of a very delicious coffee cake called Blueberry Boy Bait

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I started following the Smitten Kitchen blog and I have been nurturing my interest in food, baking and pastry. It stopped being something I would muddle around with in the kitchen and became what I actually wanted to do for a living.

 

Eventually I applied for Culinary Arts and really just got hooked on baking and pastry after taking a patisserie class.

The next step will be to bake and cook in Europe.

Thanks for reading,

Lanaya

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Boterkoek

Baking is a true science and for me baking is my passion, I put love into the things that I make. This makes a difference in the product, both in appearance and the way it tastes. My friends tend to say to me, ‘boy this is so good and tastes better than when I make it, what is your trick?” and my answer to them every time is one word…. Love. If you love what you do it will shine through your product and people can literally taste the difference.

My all time favourite Dutch dessert is Boterkoek (Dutch Butter Cake). This traditional Dutch dessert is somewhere between a tart and a shortbread. It has lots of butter, an almond flavour, a reminiscent of frangipane and makes a great afternoon treat at coffee/tea time. Oh my goodness my mouth is watering just thinking about it!

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As for my Oma’s recipe, now that is a secret but I will share another recipe with you all that I found to produce a delicious product.

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To make boterkoek:

  • 150g butter
    • 200g caster sugar
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract
    • 1 egg, beaten
    • 200g  flour
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
    • 20g flaked almonds

Preheat the oven to 175°C (350°F). Line a 23cm (9 inch) cake tin with greaseproof paper.

In a medium bowl, cream the butter, sugar and almond extract until light and fluffy.

Remove one teaspoon of the beaten egg and set aside. Pour the rest of the egg into the mixture, and stir well. Add the flour and baking powder, and mix until you have a smooth dough.

Transfer the mixture to a baking tin, and pat down with the back of a spoon until smooth (you might find it easier to use clean hands to smooth the mixture). Mix the teaspoon of egg with a teaspoon of water, and brush on top of the boterkoek. Sprinkle with the flaked almonds, and bake for 25-30 minutes until just golden and firm to the touch.

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Genieten! 

Mennonite Delights: Pappanate

Pappanate. Said Pay-pa-nate.
The direct translation from Low German, or Plautdietsch, is Pepper Nut.

This is a Mennonite bread/bun like dessert often served at Christmas, and oh what a treat it is! These, along with jam jams, I only ever get to eat at Christmas gatherings, and needless to say, ack frate me zelse domlicht (translation: I eat myself silly). In the Mennonite culture, a lot of importance is placed on family. Every year we gather with all of our aunts (tantes), uncles, cousins and grandparents (grausmam and grauspap, gotta roll those r’s!) to celebrate holidays such as Christmas and Easter. Each holiday has its traditional food, pappanate being one at Christmas. Other Christmas foods include meike rece (milk rice) and plume mouse (a cold plum soup type bowl of joy). Below are links to recipes for both:

http://www.mennonitegirlscancook.ca/2010/01/cooked-rice-with-milk.html
http://www.mennonitegirlscancook.ca/2012/04/plumi-moos.html

There are two varieties of pappanate; one is a loaf with swirls, while the other is bun like with sprinkles or sugar topping. My favorite, as you may or may not have guessed, is the bun pappanate. I have also heard of there being tiny peppernut cookies, but have yet to try or see those.

Pappanate is smaller than a bun, and just as soft. But the thought of adding pepper to a sweet dough topped in colored sprinkles does not sound appealing in any sense, yet it is one of the most enjoyable Christmas desserts.

Below, the pictures will take you through the long, step by step process of making pappanate.

 

Like many Mennonite recipes, pappanate is another typical case of ‘flour until good’, something I find quite annoying. But each to their own! Nevertheless, pappanate is still one of the most delightful Christmas desserts around!

For recipes on all types of pappanate, see the links below. I’m keeping my recipe to myself, sorry all!
Happy baking!

http://www.mennonitegirlscancook.ca/2009/03/peppernut-bunsspiced-buns.html
http://www.mommymoment.ca/2013/11/peppernuts-recipe-pfeffernusse.html
https://books.google.ca/books?id=SvUjtHzLlywC&pg=PA21&lpg=PA21&dq=mennonite+peppernut+loaf&source=bl&ots=8lJhtvtW2O&sig=Tp0v20sIHdPU2iJ8xWrSOGpHYIQ&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjc_4-Yu7rLAhUY4WMKHXwsDGMQ6AEIGzAA#v=onepage&q=mennonite%20peppernut%20loaf&f=false
http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/peppernut-tea-bread

 

Mennonite Delights: Schmondt Kuchen

Schmondt Kuchen. Said Sh-moe-nt Q-ken.
So many consonants in a row, I know.

The English translation for this dessert is cream cookie. It’s a classic Mennonite cookie with a smooth white icing, possibly topped with coconut or sprinkles (just like butterhorns).

The name is spoken in Plautdietsch, or more commonly known as Low German. This language is primarily spoken by Mennonites and has German, Dutch and Russian influences. Interesting facts about Plautdietsch include that it is only a spoken language, not written, and is an important factor in preserving the culture and bringing people together. If you’re looking to learn more about Plautdietsch, you can visit:

http://www.plautdietsch.ca/
http://www.mennolink.org/doc/lg/

Another big factor in preserving the culture is the food! Lets face it, Mennonites love to eat. Where two or three are gathered, there food will be also. Especially delicious treats such as Schmondt Kuchen.

There are two varieties: cut out and scooped. Now, I have made the cut out variety before, so I thought I would give the scooped type a whirl, partly because there is less waste and they are much simpler. But mostly because Mennonites have a strange habit of including ‘flour until good’ in the recipe. Not a fan. (see also Mennonite Delights: Butterhorns)

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Above is the recipe, pretty simple and straight forward. I used a small cookie scoop and baked them for 8 minutes, any longer and they burn.

Looking back, I should have spaced the cookies further apart. Being my first go at it, I hadn’t expected them to flow nearly as much.

In my experience, I did find some differences between the two varieties. For example, the scooped ones are more cake like and spongy, where as the cut out are denser but still soft. The taste was relatively the same with the rich, creamy flavor; hence the name. Although, I do prefer the texture of the cut outs, and they are the more traditional of the two.

Schmondt Kuchen may not be nearly as beautiful as other cookies, but let me tell you, they are delightful!

Below I have included some links with more information and recipes for Schmondt Kuchen. Enjoy!

https://grandmasoldwoodenrecipebox.wordpress.com/2011/04/09/very-nice-cake-drops/
http://www.food.com/recipe/mennonite-soft-white-cookies-411399
http://www.kehler.ca/schmaunt-kuchen/#more-2311

Jalebi

Two years ago I attempted to make Jalebi; an Indian dessert that is soaked in sugar syrup and saffron.

During Diwali (Festival of Lights) instead of buying it from our local Indian bakery, I thought to myself, “How hard could this be?” I was beyond wrong.

Not only is the hand technique hard to master, but I also found out that there is yeast in this recipe as well.

Now, I had never worked with yeasted products at this point in my life and when I would go to our local Indian bakeries, the chefs would not tell me how to make it or show me the technique when I asked because only a hand full of people have mastered it and their recipe has been in their family for years. Therefore, it was a family secret.

Thank goodness we live in a generation where with a click of a button and typing in a few words in the search engine can help us get so far.

After watching a few YouTube videos and comparing recipes that I found online I decided to give it a go. It was difficult at first because of the amount of patience you required for this recipe, and not understanding how yeast worked I got frustrated pretty quick.

It was when I had to transfer the batter in a squeeze bottle that I realized there was to much gas that was produced from the yeast and right when I was about to practice the swirling technique, the bottle cap exploded from all the pressure and there was batter everywhere. Fun. So, after cleaning the mess I had made, I went back and did some more research, watched some more YouTube videos and finally came across a lady by the name of Manjula  (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tv13kzR4wBU)

After a second go at it, I somewhat got the rhythm down and overall it wasn’t the greatest, however my family enjoyed it. A year later I tried again and the quality and technique got so much better for me. Not only did the Jalebi hold its crisp, the flavor with the hint of saffron and rose water made it that much more flavorful and a delight.

 

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BY: SHIENAL PRASAD