Vanilla Extract From Scratch

The price of pure vanilla extract has been going up over the past few years.  There’s nothing like a global Covid 19 pandemic to get people to become more resourceful at home.  Here is a terrific DIY project with 2 ingredients.  This is costly but may last forever…. And definitely cheaper than the store purchased kind.  Please check out websites such as smittenkitchen.com, inagarten.com, and sallysbakingaddiction.com for details on the maintenance. In summary, you leave the alcohol and beans sitting for 8 weeks – 6 months and shake once a week. When you take off vanilla, top up with fresh alcohol and some beans if its been >6 months.

Ingredients:

Vanilla beans (such as Madagascar) and vodka (or bourbon – any flavourless inexpensive alcohol)

Directions:

Use a clean 64 oz. (1.8 L) Mason jar to store the vanilla.  Use 1 whole vanilla bean for every 2 liquid ounces of alcohol.  I used 24 vanilla beans, split lengthwise and placed vertically in the jar.  I then poured in 48 oz. (1.42 L) of unflavoured vodka.  Seal the jar tightly and keep in a dark cupboard.  Give the bottle a good shake at least once weekly and after 6 patient months, it is ready to use. 

As you begin to use your vanilla, you can refill with a little vodka each time.  Give it a shake after you refill and before each use, too.  After about 1 year of frequent use and refilling, you will find the vanilla flavour less intense. Simply remove old beans, add fresh beans, shake and continue to use/refill.   Aged extract without the beans will last indefinitely.

Cheesy Pull-Apart Loaf

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Ingredients:

For the Bread:

3/4 cup milk, warmed in microwave
1/4 cup warm water
2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp yeast
3 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 egg
Block Cheddar cheese, thinly sliced
Shredded mozzarella to top
Optional – add parmesan on top

For the Topping:

1/4 cup butter, melted
2 gloves garlic minced
1/2 tsp oregano

Directions:

Combine warm water and milk in a bowl. Add sugar and yeast and mix. Allow to sit for 10 minutes.

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In a stand mixer with paddle attachment combine 2 cups of flour and salt, add butter and egg and mix well until crumbly.

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Add yeast mixture, mix well and add remaining flour.

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Switch to dough hook and knead for 6-8 minutes.

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Transfer to oiled bowl and allow to rise for 1 hour covered (until doubled)

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In a parchment lined and greased pan alternate between placing torn pieces of dough and cheese. Cover and allow to rise for 1 hour (I proofed in the oven on bread proof for 30 minutes). I also topped with additional shredded mozzarella on top.

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Mix topping ingredients in a bowl

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Brush dough with topping.

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Bake at 400˚F for 10 minutes, and then lower to 350˚ (remove lid of dutch oven if using – see below) and bake for an additional 25 minutes.

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Alternatively bake at 375˚F for 40 minutes

Optional: bake for the first 10 minutes in a dutch oven to help contain the moisture and give it a crispy top. I preheated my dutch oven prior to putting the bread in.

Lemon Pound Cake

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Classic and elegant, adapted from Anna Olson, this pound cake takes minutes to make and has relatively few ingredients.

Ingredients:

For the Cake:

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted pareve margarine, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
Zest of one lemon
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 tsp. lemon extract
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. kosher salt

For the glaze:

2 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
¾ cup icing sugar, sifted

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 275F and line a 9-x5-inch loaf pan with parchment paper sprayed with cooking spray. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the margarine, sugar, and lemon zest until light and fluffy.

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Add the eggs, one at a time, followed by the extracts, scraping down the bowl as necessary.

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In a bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt.

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Slowly add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.

IMG_8045.jpgTransfer the batter to the baking pan and bake for 20 minutes.

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Raise the temperature to 325F and bake for 55 more minutes. Allow to cool completely, remove from pan and then prepare the glaze.

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In a small bowl, combine the lemon juice and icing sugar. Pour over the cake.

Sourdough Focaccia

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I’m still pandemic baking. This is scheduled for November and I really hope we’re allowed out.

I’m on a bit of a sourdough binge. I made a foccacia a couple weeks ago but it didn’t turn out well so I went back to the drawing board. This was the result and it was PERFECT.

Ingredients:

100 g active starter
10 g salt
440 g water
530 g bread flour
Olive oil
Flaked sea salt

Directions:

Mix starter, water and salt in a large bowl.

Add flour and mix well.

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Allow to rest 30 minutes.

Stretch and fold.

Allow to rise 8-12 hours.

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Oil the top and pull edges towards centre in bowl.

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Transfer to oiled 9×13 pan and stretch out to edges.

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Allow to rise 5-6 hours.

Oil the top and using and oiled finger create “dimples”. Top with flaked sea salt

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Bake at 425˚F for 25-30 minutes.

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S’mores Bundt Cake

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From overtimecook.com, this showstopper cake can be prepped in under 15 minutes.

Ingredients:

For the graham cracker streusel:

¾ cup graham cracker crumbs
2 tbsp. brown sugar
2 tbsp. grapeseed oil

For the chocolate cake:

5 large eggs
2/3 cup grapeseed oil
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 ¾ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
¾ cup soy/almond/coconut milk

For the marshmallow glaze:

1 ½ cups marshmallow fluff
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 tbsp. boiling water
Optional garnish-graham cracker crumbs

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350F and spray a Bundt pan well with floured baking spray.

In a small bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar, and oil until just combined. Set the streusel aside.

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In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the “s” blade, combine the eggs, oil, sugars, baking powder, baking soda, and vanilla until smooth.

Add the flour, cocoa, and milk, and pulse until just combined.

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Transfer half of the batter to the Bundt pan and cover with about 2/3 of the graham cracker streusel.

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Transfer the remaining batter and sprinkle the remaining streusel over it.

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Bake for 50 minutes.

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Allow to cool for at least 20 minutes in the pan before inverting.

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To make the glaze, combine the marshmallow fluff, vanilla and boiling water in a bowl. Mix until it is a pourable consistency then drizzle over the cake.

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Sprinkle with graham cracker crumbs.

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Macaron

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These are a difficult project. They take a lot of patience, but if done properly can be mastered.

Ingredients:

200 g almond flour
200 g icing sugar
200 g granulated sugar
50 g water
150 g egg whited, divided into 75 and 75, at room temperature

Directions:

Stack two baking trays on top of each other. Line with parchment paper or a silicon mat.

Process almonds and sugar in food processor. Sift out and large pieces of almond.

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Heat water and sugar on the stop. Mix and heat until sugar is dissolved and mixture reaches 245˚F.

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While heating begin whisking 75g egg whites in electric mixer on high. When they have stiff peaks either stop mixer.

Turn mixer on low, slowly pour sugar mixture into egg whites.

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Continue to whip on high for 5-7 minutes until cooled, glossy and firm.

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Mix almond mixture and other 75g egg whites (until just combined).

Fold egg whites into almond meal without deflating. Batter should be thick and flow slowly without over-mixing.

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Scoop into piping bag with circular tip (1/2 inch diameter).

Pipe 1 1/2 inch circles onto baking sheet. Hold piping bag about 1 cm above tray, and move tip quickly off the circle when finished piping.

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If top doesn’t smooth out, use a finger dipping in water to smooth out top.

Allow shells to harden for 30 minutes, tops should be dry and not glossy.

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Preheat oven to 320˚F.

Bake for 15 minutes, rotating halfway through.

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Fill with jam, nutella or buttercream icing.

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Cold Brew Cheesecake with Espresso Ganache

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Adapted from kitchen-tested.com, this cheesecake has multiple layers of coffee and is covered with a rich chocolate ganache topping.

Ingredients:

For the crust:

2 ½ cups chocolate baking or graham cracker crumbs
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
For the cold brew cheesecake:
24 oz. (three 8 oz. bricks) light cream cheese, room temperature
1 ½ cups light sour cream
3 large eggs, room temperature
¾ cup pure maple syrup
½ cup cold brew concentrate
½ tsp. kosher salt
¼ cup espresso liqueur

For the coffee liqueur ganache:

2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
½ cup whipping/heavy cream
4 tbsp. unsalted butter
2 tbsp. espresso liqueur

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 350F and line a 9×13-inch baking pan with parchment paper sprayed with nonstick spray.

In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the “s” blade, pulse together the baking/graham crumbs with the melted butter until moistened.

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Transfer the mixture to the baking pan and bake for 10 minutes. Remove the crust from the oven and lower the oven temperature to 325F.

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While the crust is cooling, in a cleaned food processor bowl fitted with the “s” blade, combine the cream cheese, sour cream, eggs, maple syrup, cold brew, and salt until smooth.

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Transfer all but ½ cup of the batter to the baking pan.

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Add the espresso liqueur to the ½ cup batter and combine until smooth.

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Drizzle the mixture over the cake and swirl with a toothpick.

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Place a small bowl of boiling water beside the baking pan in the oven and bake for 35 minutes. Turn the oven off but leave the door closed for 15 minutes. Prop the oven door open for 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature.

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Place the pan in the fridge for 4-24 hours. To make the ganache, in a double boiler combine the chocolate chips and heavy cream until smooth.

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Add the butter and espresso liqueur and stir until melted.

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Pour the ganache over the top of the cheesecake and allow it to set for 30 minutes in the fridge before serving. The ganache will cover any cracks in the cheesecake.

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Instant Pot Jam

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During isolation we ran out of jam, but had plenty of strawberries so I starting looking up how to make jam. I didn’t have pectin and with passover approaching I didn’t want to use cornstarch. So that limited me. But I did have an instant pot!

I found this 3 ingredient strawberry jam recipe on The Belly Rules The Mind. I cut it in half just to try it, but it worked perfectly!

Ingredients:

4 cups quartered strawberries (or any other fruit)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tbsp lemon juice

Directions:

Wash and cut strawberries. Add to instant pot with sugar and stir. Allow to sit for 1 hour.

Add lemon juice and Mix.

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Turn on instant pot and set timer for one minute. Turn off Keep Warm and allow pressure to naturally release for 15 minutes.

With an immersion blender or masher, puree the jam.

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Turn the instant pot onto saute to reduce the liquid (this took about 7 minutes for me).

Remove the foam layer on top and put into a glass container or jar. Seal (I used a Weck canning jar).

Allow jam to cool then refrigerate for up to two weeks

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Apple Cherry Layered Crumb Cake

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This delicious apple cherry combo cake is adapted from Kosher By Design Entertains. It does not require any electric equipment or cooktop to prep.

Ingredients:

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
½ tbsp. pure vanilla extract
¾ cup grapeseed oil
1 large egg
1 tsp. baking powder
3 large apples, peeled, cored and diced
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 can cherry pie filling

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350F and line a 9×13-inch baking pan with parchment paper sprayed with nonstick spray.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, vanilla, oil, egg, and baking powder until coarse crumbs form.

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In a separate bowl, combine the diced apples with the cinnamon.

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Transfer 1/3 of the coarse crumb mixture to the baking pan.

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Arrange the apples on top of the crumbs.

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Spread another third of the crumbs over the apple mixture.

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Pour the cherry pie filling over the crumbs in the pan.

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Spread remaining crumbs over the cherry pie filling. Bake for 50 minutes.

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Apple Pear Galette

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This recipe was based on a previous apple pie I made. I modified it to turn it into a galette which was simple and quick.

Ingredients:

For the Crust:

2 cups all-purpose flour
6 tbsp. ice water.
1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp. powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup (1.5 sticks) butter or margarine
1 egg, beaten + 1 tsp water (can replace with melted margarine to be vegan)

For the Filling:

2 apples, thinly sliced
2 pears, thinly sliced
0.5 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup sugar
1.5 tbsp. all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
a pinch of salt

Directions:

Combine 1/2 cup flour, water and vinegar in a small bowl.

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In a large bowl, combine remaining flour, powdered sugar and salt.

Add margarine (cut into small pea sized balls). Cut into flour mixture with a pastry cutter or fork.

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Add wet ingredients to this mixture.

Wrap dough in saran wrap and refrigerate for 30mins – 1 hour.

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Mix filling ingredients in a bowl.

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Preheat oven to 400˚F

Roll out to approximately 1/8 of an inch.

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Transfer to a cookie sheet.

Place filling on dough with approximately 2 inches of crust around the edge.

Fold crust over top.

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Brush crust with egg wash. Sprinkle with coarse sugar.

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Bake for 35-45 minutes.

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