Monthly Archives: October 2013

October meetup -the recipes!

Whew, this took me too long to post. Too many long days last week and not enough pouring over recipes. Before we start, next month we’ll be gathering at Cherry Tree Quilts.

This time it will be on a Wednesday night, November 13. The “Free from” theme will give us all a chance to try out some healthy alternatives. Whether it’s wheat free (try baking with spelt or kamut, available at True Grain), gluten free, or sugar free, get creative! Hope to see you there!

And now, the recipes and more good memories from our evening at Grape Escape Guest House.

Dorthea’s Spider Web Florentines
These were so rich and delicate and absolutely lovely. Click here for the recipe from Martha Stewart.
Spider Web Florentines

Sophia’s Mahoosive Pumpkin Cake

First of all, glance at how it was supposed to look. Instead, mine resembled an upright orange brick with a brown lump on top. Cake designer I am not. Perhaps I made a mistake using the recipe for a chocolate orange marble cake, instead of a sponge cake. And perhaps something a little less sickly sweet that the over-the-top cream cheese icing.

Needless to say there were a lot of leftovers. However, I have learned that the crew at Big O Tire is more than happy to see a plate of cake on a Friday morning.

Pumpkin Cake

blue cheese crackersBlue Cheese Crackers
While my cake was somewhat of a disaster, the Halloween blue cheese crackers were scrummy. They are so rich but because they were tiny it made them easier to nibble. The recipe is also from Martha Stewart. Go, Martha!



Gerri’s Smoked Butternut Squash Soup

I never thought I would want a smoker, but after tasting this soup it is on my wish list of cookery gadgets. This soup was perfect with Gerri’s herbed scones (see below)

smokey butternut squash soup4 lbs. butternut squash (Pulp and seeds from squash)
3 strips bacon
1 onion, diced
2 firm apples, diced
1/2 c. apple juice
1/8 c. white wine vinegar – good quality (see Kim)
6 cups water stock with veggie stock flavouring Or 6 cups chicken or veggie stock
1 c. heavy cream
8 springs fresh thyme
1 cinnamon stick

Take pulp out of squash and reserve for rest of recipe and cut in half – smoke butternut squash in smoker until soft. Or if you don’t want too intense a smoked flavour, smoke and then finish cooking in an oven until soft.

Dice and sauté bacon, add apples and onions. Sauté until translucent. Add apple juice and white vinegar and reduce until almost dry. Add chicken stock, squash pulp, and cinnamon.

Simmer for 40 minutes. Add heavy cream and strain through a fine sieve. Add thyme and steep for 30 minutes. Strain again and serve.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Gerri’s Herbed Corn Scones
Recipe from “Brunch” by Marc Meyer and Peter Meehan
Makes twelve – three inch square scones – a sweet/savory scone
herbed sconeFinely chop 1.5 cups cold butter and pit in the freezer for up to ½ hour while you measure out the rest of the ingredients.
Preheat oven to 400 deg.
Combine in a large bowl and mix well together – chill for 15 minutes after mixing

  • 3 cups all – purpose flour
  • ¾ cup cake flour
  • 1 ¾ cups cornmeal
  • 1 tables.
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ¼ cup fresh finely chopped FRESH herbs such as rosemary or sage or thyme (or all if you like)
  • ¾ cup light brown sugar

Combine in a small bowl:

  • 1 egg plus 1 egg yolk
  • 3 tablesp. Honey
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • ¼ to ½ cup buttermilk

NOW: cut frozen butter pieces into flour mixture until it looks like pebbles in the flour
Add the egg, honey and milk mixture as quickly as possible – don’t overwork dough.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured board and very gently bring it together and roll our 1 inch thick with a lightly floured rolling pin or pat gently with hands.

Cut scones out with a cutter or into 3” inch squares with a knife and put on a baking sheet lined with a silpat or parchment paper. Brush tops of scones with a bit of melted butter, dust with turbinado sugar and gently press some fresh chopped herbs (whatever you used) onto top of each one. Bake for 25 – 30 minutes – watch so they don’t get overdone.

Jan’s Candy Corn with Fennel

Okay so it wasn’t baked. I think we’re all finding that having some savoury treats is the only thing balancing out all the rest of the extravagance.
pumpkin popcorn1. Popcorn – ½ cup. Pop it!

2. Pumpkin seeds* – 1 cup (green, hull-less) Roasted

3. Salt – 1 ½ teaspoon
Baking soda – ½ teaspoon
Fennel seed** – 2 teaspoons

Grind together slightly with mortar and pestle.

4. Butter – ½ cup
White sugar – 1 cup
Golden sugar – ½ cup
Light corn syrup – ½ cup

Boil together, stirring gently, in large sauce pan til 300 degrees F ***

Add pumpkin seeds and spice mix to sugar solution in saucepan.
Using greased silicone spatula, add 1/3 of the popcorn. Mix well.
Add remaining popcorn. Avoid unpopped kernels. Stir. Coat.
Place on parchment to cool. Store in an airtight container.

*Kakai pumpkin produces hull-less, green seeds; try pistachios if you don’t have pumpkin seeds
**Fennel seed is similar to anise; try anise if you don’t have fennel

Lisa’s Wacky Cake
Let’s all take a moment to recognize the awesomeness that Lisa showed by spending all that time cutting liquorice individual legs for all those tiny spiders.

Makes 48 spiders (or halve the recipe for 24)
chocolate spidersUse a mini-muffin pan. Spray with non-stick coating. Preheat oven to 350

  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar
  • 5 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 cup cold water

Preparation: 5 minutes!

In a large mixing bowl, mix flour, sugar, cocoa, soda and salt. Make three wells in the flour mixture. In one put vanilla; in another the vinegar, and in the third the oil. Pour the cold water over the mixture and stir until moistened. Pour into muffin tins. Bake at 350°F. oven for 15 minutes, or until it springs back when touched lightly.

Ice with your favourite icing! I used a chocolate and a vanilla icing, but you can use anything you like.
For the eyes, I used smarties. For the legs I used licorice (RJ’s Soft Raspberry licorice, which I bought at Summerland IGA) I cut the licorice into thin strips, and then pinched each “leg” in the middle to bend it. Please refer to the photo for finishing. Remember, each spider has 8 legs! But I couldn’t fit 8 eyes on the body 😉

Kim’s Pumpkin Pumpkin Bread (Valentine Farm October 2013)
This was so tasty and pretty, not to mention a great way to use up a glut of autumn squash.

Pumpkin Bread

  • 1 ½ cups cooked pumpkin or squash
  • 2 teaspoons dried active yeast
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ¼ cup warm water
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 cups unbleached white flour (more or less)
  • 1 ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 small egg beaten with
  • 2 teaspoons water

Preheat oven to 425°and grease a cookie sheet.
Place yeast and sugar in bowl of mixer, add warm water and stir. Leave to stand for 10 minutes or until froth has formed on top.

Stir in pumpkin.
Add two cups whole wheat flour and mix.
Add salt and start adding white flour half a cup at a time. Mix to a dough. If too sticky, add more flour. Depending on the type of flour you may not need all of it.

Knead by hand (or if using using dough hook) for 10 minutes. Place completed dough in an oiled bowl and cover with a towel until doubled in size (about one hour – depends on how cold your kitchen is –
mine is freezing.)

Uncover bowl and turn over leaving the dough resting underneath for a further 10 minutes.

Remove bowl and twist off a large walnut sized piece of dough to form the stem of the pumpkin, leaves and tendril. Form the remainder into a round ball pinching the seam together well on the under side.

Place dough ball on a greased cookie sheet. Flatten dough ball slightly and cut eight or nine slashes around the sides. This is tricky as you don’t want to cut too deeply as the dough will open too much; slash too shallow and the pumpkin effect is lost.

Take half of the small piece of dough to form the stem.

***This next step is not necessary but looks charming. Roll out the other half and free hand the shape of a leaf or leaves. Cut out. Take the remaining scraps and roll together then twist several times to make tendril. With your thumb make an indentation in the centre of the pumpkin and place the leaves, stem and tendril.***

Cover and let rise for about an hour until doubled.

Glaze pumpkin with egg and water mixture being careful not to glaze the exposed slashes.

Bake for 25 minutes or until bread sounds hollow when tapped.

chocolate tomb tiffinI’m missing some of recipes, including the peanut butter “dead man’s treats,” Janice’s rich orange cheesecake (which was delightfully decorated with mice for our Halloween theme), Cheryl’s ghoulish chocolate cake with meringue bones, Vanora’s chocolate tomb Tiffin, and Belinda’s beautiful brownies and also her gorgeous spider web sugar cookies which were so wonderfully decorated.

Thanks so much to everyone who attended and I hope you’ll be able to come along next month!

I leave you with this poem, “I like to bake,” sent to me by Gerri. When are those calories going to start dissolving?

chocolate graveyard cake

Orange cheesecake

spider web cookies

Dead mans treats



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Truly “Grape” Halloween gathering

“Just keep going; don’t slow down.” After reading the instructions for ascending the long, steep driveway to Grape Escape Guest House, I imagined throttling my Subaru uphill while simultaneously attempting to keep hold of my enormous pumpkin cake. The daydream ended badly, with one tire hitting a large bump, followed by a virtual explosion of orange and green icing.

In the end, carpooling seemed a better alternative, and what a hilarious good time it was, for I got to keep both hands balancing my monstrosity of a cake while Lisa led the charge to the top. When we rounded the final corner, the yellow house rose up before us, casting a glow in the gloaming the colour of the late autumn sun.

I’m so pleased owners Gerri and George included the word “Escape” when naming their business, for it is just that – a large, warm Okanagan sanctuary. I have a dream of running away with my husband to a place just like this, with one truckload of provisions and another of books, and a plan not to emerge for at least six months.


Autumn TableThe theme for the month was Halloween, and our wee clan of bakers were treated to lit pumpkins greeting us at the door, another on the table, and Gerri’s homemade “cauldron of smokey soup” to get us started before we ran the gauntlet of treats.

And what treats there were. Tiny chocolate bellied spiders with cherry liquorice legs, fresh pumpkin bread, chocolate coffin cake with meringue bones, orange cheesecake with tiny mice scampering about on top, a chocolate tomb tiffin, beautiful spider webbed sugar cookies and Florentines, candy corn with fennel, and peanut butter “dead men’s treats.”


Lisa wins wineThere was even a quiz to test our Halloween knowledge. For example, did you know that if you want to see a witch on Halloween night, you should put your clothes on inside out and walk around backwards? The winner of the quiz, with 9 out of 11 points, was Lisa, who got to take home a bottle of Grape Escape Vineyard’s 2012 Pinot Blanc.

Thank you to Gerri and Robyn for hosting such a lovely evening, and for all the bakers who came out and dared to face the certain sugar hangover. I will post the recipes next time.

Next month: Our first “Free-from” gathering will see bakers experimenting with healthy alternatives, including wheat free, gluten free, or sugar free.

Date: Wednesday, November 13
Place: Cherry Tree Quilts

Summerland Bakers

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Countdown to October meetup

I don’t think I’ve change my mind so much before one of our monthly gatherings. It doesn’t help that I’ve been spending too much time surfing Pinterest for halloween baking and drooling over the possibilities, like adorable spiders!

cookiesI have finally decided, but I’ve only narrowed it down to two things, because I couldn’t bear not to make them both. A wee reminder of this month’s meetup details:

Where we’re meeting: At the lovely Grape Escape Guest House, 28411 Garnet Valley Road. It’s a bit of a journey from town: 6.5km from the corner of Jones Flat Road and Garnet Valley Road. Gerri tells me that the driveway is long and steep, and there is plenty of parking at the top. Need a ride? A couple of bakers have room so email me and we can get you a lift.

When: 6:30-ish. We’ll dig in by 7pm, to give us time to enjoy the guest house and settle in.

As always I’m looking forward to seeing everyone. Can’t wait to see (and eat!) the creations.

Sophia 🙂



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