Friday, November 20, 2009

Lemon cake, and my triumphant return!

I haven't posted since Hallowe'en for a couple reasons... first, I really haven't done much baking since then, and second, I have a busted camera that make photographing the boring things I have made (some plain carrot muffins, some haystacks) incredibly difficult. But this time my baking was being shared with my dear friends Andrew and Kevin, who are the happy owners of a DSLR they let me use. So I bring to you, lemon cake! Or rather, vanilla cake filled with lemon curd iced in buttercream to look (kind of) like a lemon!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Hallowe'en Cookies (and Cake Trial & Error)

The boy is still visiting, and he has decided to go hang out with our friends for Hallowe'en tonight. Me? I am babysitting the cutest little redheaded girl in all of Ottawa, and maybe the world! I'm not big on Hallowe'en, but I don't mind Hallowe'en baking. If I had my icing colours and all that stuff here I would have made sugar cookie zombies, mummies, vampires, and werewolves (this was my original plan) but I loaned them to my sister and won't get them back until tomorrow. So instead we get Hallowe'en Chip Cookies. They're chocolate chip, but with Reese's Pieces mixed in too! It's the best I could come up with, with limited supplies. once again I gave anothe recipe a try... not that it's much different from my usual chocolate chip recipe. They're all pretty similar!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Apple Streusel Cupcakes

October is almost over and I haven't done any baking with apples! Well, aside from my Thanksgiving apple pie... but I don't entirely count that because I make apple pie a couple times a year, every year. So I decided to make some apple muffins and tea for breakfast this morning. However... the thought of drinking tea quickly lost its appeal the more I thought about it, so I drank coffee and the boyfriend drank a cup of chai tea. And the recipe I ended up wanting to make didn't actually have apples in them. So I still haven't baked with apples yet this season... though I still intend to! I do have a cake in mind, but we'll see if I get to it... maybe next week! In the meantime, apple streusel cupcakes from one of my beautiful cookbooks, Cupcakes, Muffins & Baked Goods which I've resolved to make more from. So far so good... these were delicious!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Zebra Brownies

I found out that my love is coming up for a visit tomorrow, and while my attentions would have been better directed toward cleaning the apartment (I did some, I swear!) I decided that some sort of treat was in order. So I made zebra brownies! They're fudgey brownies with cream cheese icing and chocolate drizzled on them and they are... mmmm. So good. A little on the rich side, but who's going to complain? Hopefully he enjoys them as much as I did taste testing them! Normally I'd make my sister's brownie recipe but did not tonight for two reasons, first I didn't need as much as it usually makes, and second I think she'd beat me if I posted it online! She makes them better than anyone else, so I won't bother trying to compete :) The recipe I used is after the jump!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Yarn and Fondant

Pretty birthday cake anyone? My sister and I made this for her friend Marina's birthday, and I'm so excited with how pretty it turned out. To be fair, and to give credit where credit is due, I mostly helped with making buttercream, and with the rolling, tinting, cutting, and smoothing of fondant. She had the cakes in the oven when I got there, and did the final assembly after I left. Regardless, I'm thrilled to have been able to help, and apparently her friend Marina loved her cake! It's a chocolate buttermilk cake (my go-to recipe, which I'll provide after the jump) with chocolate buttercream filling and plain old fondant.

In other news, I'm finally knitting again! I hit a dry spell this summer and really haven't done much of anything besides the occasional discloth. However, since I was asked to make a mug cozy for this same birthday I rose to the challenge. I'm really happy with how it turned out too. The purple yarn is lovely, and I'm pleased that I found a button that suited it. The pattern is available as a Ravelry download, it's called Mug and French Press Jacket, by MK Carroll. The things I've come to love about this pattern (I've made it twice now) is how quickly it knits up, how easy it is to follow, and how amazing it is to block wool to the exact shape you want on the mug. Seriously, wool is amazing. I don't know how I didn't know this earlier in my life! I'm pretty sure the recipient liked this part of her present too, so my mission was accomplished.

Saturday, October 17, 2009


It's a week late, but here's the updates on Thanksgiving baking... we did the stuff for my dad's birthday (oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, chocolate chip cookies, brownies, and nanaimo bars) which he thoroughly enjoyed. We also had banana muffins (same recipe as the cake in the first post), some less-than-successful cranbery muffins, and the traditional pumpkin and apple pies. Pumpkin pie should have had foil on the crust for longer, but the apple pie turned out beautifully and both tasted amazing. I also made pumpkin tarts, the one's from Bakerella's blog! 

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Nanaimo Bars & Birthday Wishes

My dad's birthday was yesterday... happy birthday! Dads are shockingly hard to buy for, and every year my sister and I have to bend our brains a bit to come up with something. This year we had a brilliant idea - we're making a care package! We're baking a bunch of his favourite goodies that freeze nicely, and giving him a couple big containers full of them. Cookies, nanaimo bars, haystacks... he'll love it (I hope!). Most of the baking will be done this weekend, and taken over when we visit for Thanksgiving, but my sister and I tried our hands at nanaimo bars lastnight.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


I love cookies. They're so welcoming, comforting, and they range from rustic to elegant all with a certain compact charm. Though cookies are rarely (if ever) as impressive as a cake or elaborate pastry, I believe that the perfect chocolate chip cookie is a measure of one's baking style and skill.

These are my go-to chocolate chip cookies, my mom's recipe... chewy, not overly sweet, and lots of chocolate chips!

Wikipedia tells me that cookies originated in 7th century Persia, but that they first came to North America in the 1600s, and our standard creamed-butter-and-sugar method cookie became common in the 1700s. Even Wikipedia makes note of the compact appeal of cookies... you can send them, pack them, set them out as bite-sized treats, ice them, sandwich them, dip them... they're endlessly versatile.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Banana Bundt Cake and an Inaugural Post!

So here it is, the first post! Here we have another amateur food blog to further fill the internet with pictures of my baking, cooking, and probably knitting, as well as my rambling thoughts. So welcome to Needle in a Haystack, a blog which as I've said will combine my favourite things and give me a place to put them all.

I thought about starting off by posting some of my favourite baked goodies and knitted projects, things I'm proud of and that would give a good sense of who I am. Instead I decided that the first post should be a fresh project, something to inaugurate this little cyber-nook of mine. The archives can wait for another day. So I present you with today's indulgence, a banana bundt cake with chocolate glaze and walnut topping!