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Jude's Kitchen: Christmas Baking

Jude
Jude's Kitchen: Christmas Baking
— image credit: Judie Steeves/Capital News

Back to baking

from Jude’s Kitchen

This week is the countdown to Christmas and for many it’s a very hectic few days before a few big dinners and gatherings with family and friends.

Perhaps there’ll be a little over-indulgence in the excitement of the season, but even if you’re watching your weight, a little latitude over the holidays is permitted, I believe, and this chocolate pudding cake is a truly scrumptious dessert.

It’s from the latest book by Anna Olson, an experienced pastry chef who is one of the celebrity chefs on the Food Network. It’s called Back to Baking: 200 Timeless Recipes to Bake, Share, and Enjoy and it’s published by Whitecap Books.

Even the experienced baker will find some tips and ideas in this book that will be of interest, but there’s a good foundation of knowledge for the beginner as well.

I’m delighted to find she’s included sections of recipes for those cooking for celiacs and others who are on restricted diets, including: dairy-free desserts, egg-free desserts, gluten-free desserts and low-fat or low-sugar desserts. The recipes throughout the book include more of each too. She includes an excellent introduction to baking, including conversions and tips, as well as chapters on cookies, squares and bars, pies and tarts, cakes, custards, muffins, coffee cakes and other morning goodies, holiday desserts and sauces and garnishes.

This is like an encyclopedia of baking, with a lot of information written in an easy-to-understand style.

I hope you’ll also enjoy my new book, Jude’s Kitchen, which is now available wherever books are sold.

In this week or two of busy days packed full of festive events, remember to take a moment to enjoy the simple things, close your eyes and take a deep and reflective breath and remember what’s truly important: family and loved ones, sharing and giving—not just bought or material things.

Have a peaceful holiday season.

Apple Cheddar Walnut Scones 

Christmas breakfast with a cheddary nip is excellent with a bit of fresh fruit such as wedges of crisp B.C. apples and pears.

1 2/3 c. (410 ml) flour

2 tbsp. (30 ml) sugar

1 tbsp. (15 ml) baking powder

1/2 tsp. (2 ml) celery salt

1/8 tsp. (.5 ml) ground cinnamon

5 tbsp. (75 ml) unsalted butter, cut in small pieces and chilled

2 oz. (60 g) coarsely grated old cheddar

1 tart apple

1/3 c. (80 ml) cold milk, plus a little extra

1/2 c. (125 ml) chopped walnut pieces, lightly toasted

Pre-heat the oven to 400 F and line a baking tray with parchment paper.

Stir the flour, baking powder, celery salt and cinnamon to combine.

Cut in the chilled butter using a pastry cutter, 2 knives or your fingers until the mixture is crumbly but pieces of butter are still visible. Stir in the cheddar cheese to coat it with the flour mixture.

Using the coarse side of a box grater, grate the apple into the flour mixture and stir in. Stir in the milk until the dough begins to come together, then turn it out on a work surface.

Sprinkle the walnuts over top the dough and work them in by flattening the dough out with your hands and then folding it in half, pressing the walnuts in at the same time. (It takes 4 or 5 folds to do this.)

Shape the dough into a disc and flatten it with your hands until it is about 8 inches across. Cut the dough into 8 wedges and place them onto the prepared baking tray.

Brush the tops of the scones with milk and bake for about 16 minutes, until they are a rich golden brown. The scones are best served the day they are baked but can be re-heated the second day for 5 minutes in a 300 F oven to refresh them.

Makes 8 scones. 

Warm Chocolate Cherry Pudding Cake

This is really easy to make and looks quite dramatically delicious when served warm and runny fresh from the oven. You can make most of it ahead and put it into the fridge, then remove and finish; and put into the oven as you put dinner on the table, so it’s ready when you’ve eaten. There are no eggs in this recipe. Although a syrah wine is classic paired with dark chocolate, we found the Mission Hill Famiy Estate Reserve 2010 Riesling Icewine was intense enough in flavour to pair with this dessert as well.

1 c. (250 ml) flour

2/3 c. (160 ml) sugar

2 tbsp. (30 ml) + 1/4 c. (60 ml) cocoa powder

2 tsp. (10 ml) baking powder

1/2 tsp. (2 ml) salt

1/2 c. (125 ml) milk

2 tbsp. (30 ml) vegetable oil

1 tsp. (5 ml) vanilla extract

1/2 c. (125 ml) chocolate chips

1/2 c. (125 ml) coarsely chopped dried cherries

2/3 c. (160 ml) packed dark brown sugar

1 3/4 c. (435 ml) boiling water

Pre-heat the oven to 350 F and grease an 8-cup (2 l) baking dish.

Sift the flour, sugar, 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of the cocoa, baking powder and salt into a large bowl. Add the milk, oil and vanilla, and stir to blend well (the batter will be thick).

Stir in the chocolate chips and dried cherries.

Scrape this mixture into the prepared dish and spread the batter evenly.

Stir the brown sugar and remaining quarter cup of the cocoa to combine, and sprinkle evenly over the cake batter. Pour the boiling water directly over the entire surface of the cake.

Bake for about 40 minutes, until the cake bubbles around the entire outside.

Let sit for 10 minutes before serving. The pudding is best eaten just after baking, but any remaining portions can be reheated, loosely covered, in the microwave for 20 seconds. Reheating in the oven is not recommended.

Anna says this batter can be prepared ahead and chilled. Just pull it out of the refrigerator 30 minutes before baking the cake and then sprinkle with the sugar before pouring the boiling water over the top.

Serves 8.

 

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