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Christmas 2015

A friend displayed the cookies I sent

Every year I put together a Christmas Cookie Box for friends and family. This past Christmas they were sent out the last weekend of November for deilvery before Advent.

The cookies sent out were:

  • Current Gingerbread Cookies

  • Mincemeat Pinwheels

  • Clove Sugar Cookies

  • Cherry & Nut Biscotti

  • Speculaas

  • Chocolate Espresso Cookies

  • Christmas Balls

  • Gingerbread Hearts

  • Braune Kuchen – Brown Crisp Baltic Cookies

  • Lemon Butter Cookies

Over the next weeks I’ll publish each of cookies individually. You want some right?

Hazelnut Cake

We were haveing some friends and a neighbour over for dinner one evening we needed a dessert. Cake!

Utilizing cookbooks seems to be a  challenge foe me lately. With the web always close at hand, in my mind it can be easier to go and print something off. One of my ongoing goals is to use our large collection of cookbooks more often. After all , they are already printed.

A few years ago I was given John Barricelli’s book – The SONO Baing Company Cookbook. I can’t get over that it was published 5 years ago! I haven’t made too many things from the book, but the Hazelnut Cake recipe always interested me.

This recipe uses:
For the sponge:
– 1/4 Cup Hazelnut flour
– 3.4 Cup Sugar
– 9 Tablespoons Cake Flour
– 6 Tablespoons of Cornstarch
– 3 Large Eggs
– 3 Large Egg Yolks
– 1/8 Teaspoon of Salt
– 1 Tablespoon of Almond Extract (see note)
– 3/4 Cup of Vegetable oil

For the Butter Cream
– 5 Large Egg Whites
– 1 1/3 Cups of Sugar
– 1 Pound of Unsalted Butter
– 8 Ounces of chopped Milk Chocolate
– 2 Tablespoons of Dutch Cocoa
– 1/4 Cup of Praline Paste (see note)

More after the break….


According to the directions I sprayed a 9″ pan with vegetable spray and lined the pan with parchment and sprayed it again (see note).

As I was using hazelnut flour, rather than whole hazelnuts, is sifted the flours, cornstarch, 1/4 of a cup of sugar. Just to get out any obvious lumps.



Using my mixer, I combined the eggs, egg yolks and 1/2 cup of sugar, salt and almond extract . I Whipped it on high speed for 8 minutes until the mixture held a thick ribbon.


It was then into the pan and off to a pre heated 375 degree oven. For 28 minutes (your time may vary).

As soon as the cake came away from the edges I removed it to a cooling rack.

I immeditely turned it out as per the instructions. The parchment stock to the pan and some of the cake stuck to the parchment. Not a pretty dight but easily recoverable. I let the cake cool completely.

While the cake was in the oven I started in on the butter cream, mixtures. I combined the sugar and eggwhites in a bowl and heated them until it was warm to the touch.

I then transferred the mixture to the mixer and whipped it until stiff peaks formed.

While the mixer was soing it’s job, I started melting some milk chocolate and let it cool just a little.

Once the stiff peaks had formed it was time to beat in the pound of butter tablespoon by tablespoon. This took 4 or 5 minutes.

I then split the buttercream in 1/2 and added the milk chcolate to one of the bowls and combined it well.


In another bowl, I added the praline paste and a scoop of the remaining plain butter cream. I combined the two to lighten up the praline paste.

Next I added the rest of the remaining plain butter cream and combined them well.

Once the cake was cool I split it into 3 layers. On the first 2 layers I spread 1/2 of the hazelnut buttercream.

I added the 3rd layer and spread 1/2 of the milk chocolate butter cream all over the top and sides as a crumb coat. I let this chill in the fridge or 30 minutes. I cam back to the cake and finished frosting it and decorating. The recipe really had no decorating directions. A few swirls and some German Hazelnut Krokant finished the cake.

Enter a caption

It was a decent cake! Our guests enjoyed it.

Bakers Notes:
– 1 Tablespoon of Almond Extract is way too much. Hides any hint there may have been hazelnuts used. Maybe a teaspoon would be better
– Praline paste is available in some higher end grocerys stores or your local gourmet market. For this recipe I made my own. A can of a few ounces was $12.
– In my opinion, other than the overwhealming almond flavour of the sponge, it was not very memorable. The praline and milk chcocolate butter creams seemed to be the stars
– Butter and flour the pan, the recipe only calls for buttering
– I would use and 8″ cake pan for a taller cake
– The instructions said to place the cake pan on a sheet pan in the oven. Next time I would avoid the sheet pan.
– I woud make the chocolate butter cream again and again!

February 2015

It has been a long while since I posted on a regular basis. It’s been a couple of years getting over a heart problem and getting back to a reasonable facsimile of health. With that out of the way I am going to try and get back to posting.

In 2015 I was fortunate enough to travel to Las Vegas and take a European holiday. We travelled to Barcelona on a cruise that departed Ft. Lauderdale and made its way to Funchal, Portugal and then along the Southern Spanish coast to Barcelona. An excellent 2 week journey. After a few days in Barcelona we headed to Amsterdam for the tulip fields. Then it was off to the Mannheim area to visit friends and then to Munich to spend some time with family before returning home to Vancouver.

But I digress….

Back to baking adventures. I am going to try and change things up a little. We all read foodie blogs that show step by step showing how someone produced something spectacular. I look for hints and tips to making my baking experience better.

With that said, I am going to post my final pictures of what I was able to make along with my comments with a link to the original content. I’ll follow that main page with a jump to the progress pictures. Hopefully this change will be a good one. In the case where I am making an original recipe, or substantial changes to an existing recipe, I’ll be sure to list the whole recipe so that you can try it too!

Below is a picture from the recipient of a Christmas cookie box that I send out every year. Thinking back I have made at least 30000 Christmas cookies to send out over the years.

As always I want to hear your questions and comments.

Bon Appetit


Ps. if you are able to check out the gofundme page in the top right.. This little guy needs some help

A Tray of about 1/2 of the Cookies in my Annual Christmas Cookie Box

Carrot Ginger Layer Cake – for a Summer Pot Luck

With summer coming to a close we were invited to a work colleagues home for a pot luck supper. These are always great fun!

I was requested to make a carrot cake. A favourite around our house but there is always way too much for the two of us to enjoy – responsibly.

Below are the glory shots of the cake. Sadly I ran out of time to complete the decoration. Not sure anyone but me was worried about it. The recipe can be found here.

Carrot Cake

More after the jump….

Carrot Cake – Bright Orange Goodness

Carrot Cake – The Layers

Carrot Cake

Carrot Cake

Carrot Cake

Nando’s – Vancouver Davie Street

Lunch at Nando’s

Last week a few friends and I got together for a last summer lunch. Two friends were on their lunch hour and the other two had the day at leisure. Nando’s was close for all on this day.

I won’t go into the meal.  It was typical Nando’s – good for its type.

I decided to buy a couple of Pasteis da Nata – Custard Tarts to finish off our meal over coffee.

They arrived at the table looking pretty great. The shell looked nice and flakey and the edges of the custard were lightly browned.

We dug in! Nice and crispy and a puddling like inside. A nice end to a meal.

Value – 3 stars out of five (a little pricey at @2.50 each)

June 2015

Well it’s certainly been a long time since I made a regular post on the blog….

It’s been an insteresting  year and a half dealing with a health issue. While I have been active and continued to be able to travel, finding the energy to create a coherant blog post has been challenging.

Having said that, Thank you for continuing to check out the blog and leave your helpful comments and requests for recipes.

What I’ve been up to:
 – over the last 2 Christmas seasons I continued to bake mountains of cookies for family, friends, and a few of you that ordered some seasonal creations

– lots of travel!
  • a winter vacation to Southern Florida
  • an Easter trip to Portland
  • a pre summer trip to Phoenix and area
  • a weekend in Seattle with a friend from Europe
  • a long trip to Toyko – Munich (Oktoberfest)and back through Seoul
  • Victoria BC with friends from OZ
  • a mid-winter tript to Las Vegas
  • a cruise from Florida to Spain and then on to Keukenhof, NL and further stops in Mannheim and Munich in Germany

I have a ton of material to post! If you have been following me on Twitter or Instagram or Pinterest or  Ello you will have kept up with some of my kitchen escapades. I have recently re-activated Facebook. If you have time, please add me to your social media feeds!

All during this time I piked up a ton of inspirational reading material!! I mean a ton! I hope to wade through it and share a bunch of new creations.
Is there anything you would like to see? Anything you don’t want to see? I always love to hear from you!
Happy Baking
Holiday Baker Man