everything granola

everything granola
everything granola

I call this “everything granola” as it doesn’t have a specific flavour profile that I would use to describe it (canonically, in the tentimestea universe, three flavours) – rather it’s a mix of nuts and seeds and a menagerie of variously hued dried fruits. Substitutions galore, of course!

This is the also the budget granola in comparison to my old favourite recipe (which I would only make on a rare occasion due to bougie ingredients): honey instead of maple syrup, pecans instead of pistachios, and whole almonds instead of sliced almonds (the sliced ones are quite a bit more expensive!). This recipe is also faster and more convenient with a shorter bake, no intermittent mixing during its oven stay and all packed into one baking tray.

The features I mentioned above are quite deliberate – for a while, my roommate and I ate this granola nearly every day for breakfast which entailed making a new batch every few weeks, so I came to appreciate being able to cut down a bit on our Bulk Barn bill and preparation time.

everything granola
everything granola

This granola recipe uses egg white, something I first came across from a Deb Perelman. The egg white acts as an additional binder, helping you generate a chunky granola while being less reliant on the sugary binders. You whisk it until frothy (which helps break up the strands so it can be more evenly distributed) and then mix it into the granola right at the end. As I’ve done with my previous granola versions, I’ve taken out the sweeteners aside from what is needed to bind the granola. Using lots of nuts also balances the sweetness of the dried fruit.

I find the baking time affects this granola quite a bit. A shorter baking time is sweeter tasting and the cinnamon flavour is a bit more apparent; this is what I tend to do most as it was my roommate’s preference. In this case, be sure to use pre-toasted nuts to ensure a deep nutty flavour (you can even toast the nuts as the oven preheats). A longer baking time results in a less sweet granola but also toastier flavour. The cinnamon can burn a bit and become lost, but I compensate for that in the recipe by adding half of the cinnamon to the granola at first, and sprinkling the other half overtop after it comes out from the oven. Longer or shorter both work – it depends on your preference!

everything granola

everything granola

  • Servings: 1-2 jars of granola
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Proportions based on my previous adaptation of Alton Brown’s granola and the egg white and baking strategy based on Deb Perelman.

  • 300g large flake rolled oats
  • 120g lightly toasted pecan halves, two thirds left whole and one third coarsely chopped
  • 80g lightly toasted almonds, most coarsely chopped and a few left whole
  • 50g pumpkin seeds
  • 50g oil
  • 75-80g honey
  • ¾ tsp kosher salt (reduce if using table salt)
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon, divided
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 1/2 cups of dried fruit (around 200-220g) – I usually use a mix of cherries, cranberries, sultana raisins, golden raisins and quartered apricots

Preheat oven to 275F. Line a standard size half sheet pan with a piece of parchment paper.

Combine the oats, nuts, and pumpkin seeds in a large bowl. Separately, whisk together the oil, honey, salt, 1/2 tsp of the cinnamon and vanilla until emulsified. Pour the oil mixture over the oats and mix with a wooden spoon until everything is evenly coated.

Whisk the egg white until frothy, then drizzle over top and mix until combined. Spread the granola over the prepared pan into an even layer.

Bake for around 30 minutes or until the granola is lightly browned (you can bake it longer for a toastier, and less sweet tasting, granola). Remove from the oven and sprinkle the remaining 1/2 tsp of cinnamon over top, as evenly as you can. Fresh from the oven the granola will seem quite soft, but it will firm up once it cools. Once cooled, sprinkle with the dried fruit, and then transfer to a jar.

The granola will be crispiest on the first couple days! After that, thanks to the dried fruit, it will gradually soften a bit.

strawberry milk with matcha panna cotta

strawberry milk latte with matcha panna cotta thumbnail

Last fall my roommate and I spent an hour in line at the new Machi Machi, a Taiwanese tea shop chain, that had opened up in Toronto – the wait an obvious necessity, my roommate pointed out, as after all, Jay Chou is a fan. We also discovered that Machi Machi drinks make for perfect colour-coded fashion accessories and there is a super cute wall to take photos with (note: none of these infants, dogs or fashionistas are me).

Long wait aside, we both agreed that the fresh strawberry latte with panna cotta (also a fashion necessity) was our favourite – strawberries pureed with milk, poured over a soft and jiggly panna cotta, and the whole thing drank with a straw. (It must be said: eating panna cotta with a straw is pure brilliance.)

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white cheddar & za’atar scones

cheddar za'atar sconescheddar za'atar scones

My introduction to Bouchon Bakery  by Thomas Keller & Sebastien Rouxel began with my sister waxing poetic on everything she had made from the book. Even the chocolate chip cookies were probably the best cookies she had ever made.

This scone recipe is a riff off of their savoury bacon cheddar scones, and they are probably the best scones I’ve ever made.

What’s that – a good scone? Yes – a good scone: i.e. the perennial struggle! There are many things that I tend to make terribly over and over again, scones one amongst them. There have been tough scones, flat scones, scones that are just straight up proper paperweights.

These scones are actually, like, good scones – baking up light while tasting like blocks of butter and browned cheese and herbs.

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green curry banana bread

green curry & coconut banana breadgreen curry & coconut banana breadgreen curry & coconut banana bread

Growing up, I lived vicariously through the menus of far-away bakeries. One time, while randomly perusing bakery websites, I saw a green curry banana bread at milk bar. Since then, on the rather rare occasions I’ve made banana bread, I’ve transposed the combination of Thai green curry paste and coconut from one banana bread recipe to the next until I settled on my current favourite adaptation. Because while I’ve never been too big a fan of banana bread, there are exceptions. For example, an exception flavoured with green curry paste and (this part just began a few years ago, but thank goodness it did:) crested with a crispy coconut fragipane of sorts.

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mocha java loaf

mocha java cake

This is day 10 of 10 of a series celebrating local Toronto businesses!  Recent events have put many local businesses in a difficult position and unfortunately, it’s not clear when this situation will come to an end. For ten days I’ll be posting recipes inspired by some of my favourite local businesses as my own way of celebrating what they bring to our communities. While we may not be able to visit our local bakeries, cafes and restaurants right now, this is a way of keeping them in mind, and a reminder to support them again once there is a chance.

Harbord Bakery is an everything bakery – the main wall lined with shelves proffering rye breads, fluffy challah, dense poppy seed Danish rings, and the fabled Thursday-through-Sunday-only chocolate babka. In comparison, the mocha java cake is a bit more discreet. We’ve only ever seen it in the freezer section, innocuously tucked away against the lemon and blueberry loaves. My roommate bought it once out of curiosity – a deep brown loaf cake with a tight, silky crumb, and intense coffee flavour. We devoured it within days – a slice for breakfast, oh a slice for afternoon snack, maybe another with tea in the evening. It’s such an anticipated treat that when we do buy it, we usually crack open the plastic clamshell as soon as we get home and eat the first piece (or two) while still frozen, breaking the softly brittle slices into pieces in our hands. It is just as great frozen too.

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duck broth jook

jook, or rice porridge, is a definite winter comfort food for me. this is one of my favourite ways to make it, with a strong duck broth and simple garnishes

duck broth jookduck broth jook

My mum would always make jook (congee or rice porridge) for me when I was sick. The degree of flavour would depend on the degree of sickness; a cold meant a base of chicken broth, whereas a stomach flu would call for nothing more than rice cooked in water with a slice of ginger.

While these blander variants are just what I want when I’m under the weather, my favourite sort of jook is not one I grew up associating with sickness. After buying a BBQ duck, my mum would dismantle it and the the bones, stripped of the meat, would be simmered for a couple hours for a strong broth which made a jook heavy with meatiness and spices and a just a tad bit sweet.

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week-end citron (lemon loaf 3.0)

weekend citron
weekend citron
weekend citron

When I was younger, we would purchase this lemon loaf cake from Première Moisson in Montreal. I thought it was so special and regal, packed in a stiff transparent plastic box on a gold piece of cardboard. And packed was key: the cake barely fit in the box, and each time you slide it out, the top of the cake streaked the plastic with glaze. Those 1800 cubic centimetres contained satisfaction for days.

The cake had two presentations — first it would be the crisp morning coating of a crackly sugar glaze, and later, after a day or so, the glaze would be softened and the crown of each slice would be moist and saturated with lemon and sugary glaze.

I’ve been trying to make a lemon cake that lived up to my excessively detailed and visceral memories for a long time. That goal had vaguely concluded with the previous lemon loaf cake–I wasn’t fully satisfied, but I had brought that cake recipe as far as I could.

weekend citron
weekend citron
weekend citron
weekend citron
weekend citron

I was fairly certain that was to be that and any advances in lemon cake-making remained dormant until the last time my grandparents were in Montreal. They brought back a shrink wrapped loaf cake, and while it wasn’t glazed, this cake, labelled as “week-end citron”, had the tender and fine crumb that I remembered.

But best of all, the name was also familiar: the “week-end cake” recipe from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking Chez Moi from which I had previously adapted this chestnut and prune version. In fact, the crumb and richness was quite similar to the cake I had made. A look at the ingredients also seemed to confirm that, as both cakes also contain heavy cream and rum.

I set about making a lemon adaptation of the week-end cake, taking some of the core principles that guided my previous favourite lemon cake. Based on Smitten Kitchen’s lemon cake, we use two glazes: some lemon juice squeezed over just out of the oven followed by a set sugary glaze once the cake is cool. But let’s take some measures to control the sweetness–just using straight lemon juice for the first soaking and cutting sugar from the cake. This is key so we can completely coat the whole cake (and I mean every spot of the top and sides) in a doughnut-like thin sugary crust without it being overwhelming (no thick drizzle please!). In the previous rendition, cuts to the sugar budget compromised texture and led to a bit of an anemic crust. This cake cooks long enough in the oven to end up with a golden brown crust, and has a rather lovely texture that is less dependent on proper butter-sugar aeration.

weekend citron
weekend citron
weekend citron

This cake is like I remember in the important ways. The crumb is finer and denser, and straightforwardly rich and each slice is solid, not crumbly. The deeply browned crust peeking out from below an icing sugar glaze and the profile when you cut a slice from the middle–of a tall, proud craggy crest of lemon yellow cake–is just what I remember.

This cake is also not like I remember; in fact, I think it’s a wee bit better in some of the even more important ways such as being very, very lemony.

weekend citron
weekend citron

I’ve made this cake upwards of seven times now (it is a good one to bring to the lab). And each time it has been actually rather excellent. Of course, all the credit goes towards the reliable base cake recipe from Dorie Greenspan, because in fact, this cake is far easier and reliable than the previous one. With melted butter, there’s no need for softening nor emergency measures when your perfect room-temperature butter gets wrecked by those dastardly fridge-temperature eggs. Nor do you need to actually put in the work of creaming butter (which I know really does pay off, yet I am never able to convince my right limb of that in the moment).

Now this earlier lemon cake still has plenty of merit, just of a different sort. When your butter and eggs are at the right temperature and properly creamed, the crumb is softer, lighter and fluffier. It’s not worse at all (and probably better to some), it’s just that this cake is the one that I’ve been looking for all this time.

Well. I’ll try not to overstate and exaggerate too much. It’s a very, very small thing, but it’s still a really lovely cake.

weekend citron

week-end citron

Adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s brown butter and vanilla weekend cake in Baking Chez Moi.

cake

  • 238 g a.p. flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp b.p.
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 150 g sugar
  • finely grated zest of 2 lemons
  • 4 room temperature eggs
  • 3/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp dark rum (optional)
  • 80 mL heavy cream
  • 1 stick butter, melted and cooled

to glaze

  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 100g (1 c) icing sugar

Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a loaf pan with a parchment paper sling and butter the exposed sides of the pan.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.

In another bowl, rub the lemon zest into the sugar until very aromatic. Add the eggs and whisk thoroughly to combine, then whisk in the vanilla extract, rum and finally the heavy cream. Mix in the flour mixture with a spatula, and finally add the butter in 2-3 additions, folding in the butter completely each time. Scrape the batter, which is beautifully ribbony, into the prepared pan.

Bake for 45-55 minutes or until an inserted skewer is removed clean. Remove from the oven, prick lightly all over with a wooden skewer, and drizzle overtop juice of half a lemon. Let cool around 10-15 minutes before removing from the pan and placing on a wire rack to cool completely.

For the second glaze, I recommend doing this the day you’re planning to serve the cake. Often I will bake the cake the night before, and then finish glazing next morning so it is freshly set before bringing it as a gift.

For the sugar glaze, whisk together the icing sugar with enough lemon juice (usually a bit less than half a lemon, depending on the size of your lemons) to make a glaze that is thin and drizzly (slightly translucent), but still thick enough to cling to the cake. Place the cooled cake on a wire rack over a pan. Pour the glaze over the cake, using a large offset spatula to spread the glaze evenly over the sides of the cake until it is completely coated.

Update notes: photographs updated Apr 2021.