All posts by Ray

On a mission to make the best apple cake I can!

While spending time in Victoria, I discovered a delicious apple cake at a coffee shop called the Nest. Now that I’m home, I’m trying to find a recipe that comes close.

This one turned out very good – and is a little lighter than the Nest cake which is not a bad thing! I also had some zucchini that I wanted to use up. Next time I make this, I think I will use a full teaspoon of cloves, and maybe add a half teaspoon of ground ginger.

Zucchini Apple Spice Cake

Course Dessert
Keyword baking, cake, zucchini
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Servings 12

Ingredients

  • 2 c zucchini peeled and grated (I used one large zucchini)
  • 2 c Granny Smith apple peeled and grated (I used 2 apples)
  • 2 c light brown sugar
  • 2 each large eggs
  • 2 c all-purpose flour
  • 3 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 c vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 c walnuts toasted and coarsely crushed
  • 1 each Macintosh apple (optional) peeled, cored, and thinly sliced into wedges

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

  2. Lightly oil and flour baking dish.

  3. Peel, core and grate Granny Smith apples, and also peel and grate zucchini. Should have 2 cups of each.

  4. In large mixing bowl, beat eggs and sugar until smooth.

  5. Slowly add oil to sugar and egg mixture while mixing thoroughly.

  6. Add remaining dry ingredients (spices, salt, baking soda and flour).

  7. Mix grated apple and zucchini into mixture.

  8. Add nuts and mix into batter.

  9. Pour batter into baking dish. Gently evenly spread batter.

  10. Arrange apple slices as desired onto top of batter.

  11. Bake for 45 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.

  12. Server warm or cooled, and enjoy!

Tasty Fruit and Butter Scones

This is a recipe from a friends mother – it’s pretty flexible and easy to make. So far I’ve used it to make Saskatoon Berry Scones as well as Blueberry Scones.

Blueberry Scones

Course Breakfast
Keyword baking, blueberry, scones
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings 8 scones

Ingredients

  • 4 cups flour
  • 6 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter cold, cut into small cubes
  • 1 1/2 cups berries
  • 1 cup milk add extra if necessary
  • 2 each eggs beaten, can reserve one yolk to wash tops if you like

Instructions

  1. Mix all dry ingredients, and then cut in butter with pastry cutter

  2. Wash and dry berries, then toss gently to get evenly distribute throughout mixture

  3. Add eggs and milk, and mix to combine and wet all of the flour/butter/berry mixture. Don't over mix or knead.

  4. Roll into a cylinder, approx. 3-4" in diameter. Can either cut discs approx 1.5 – 2" thick, or gently flatten cylinder and then cut triangles.

  5. Place pieces onto parchment lined baking sheet, keep pieces at least 1" apart.

  6. If desired, brush tops with egg wash and lightly sprinkle with sugar.

  7. Bake for 15-20 minutes @ 425 degrees Farenheit, or until golden brown on top.

    Saskatoon scones

Recipe Notes

First time making this recipe I made the scones with Saskatoon berries.  I over mixed these a little – making them a bit dense.  The Blueberry scones I worked much less, and the result was much nicer 🙂

Knife Rack

Decided our knife block was taking up too much space on the counter. It also interfered with the microwave door if knives weren’t put into specific locations. Another motivation was to store my knives that would also display some of them – particularly some Japanese knives that have some amazing damascus patterns in their steel.

I do have a couple magnetic knife strips designed to just mount on the wall, but unfortunately there was no convenient wall large enough to hold the strips. The strips are also bare metal, and thought they might not be too kind on the knife blades. My approach would be to insert magnets from the back of the rack, so the knives only contacted wood. I also wanted the knife rack to store a sharpening steel and ceramic honing rod.

After doing a few sketches in Photoshop, I made up a simple cardboard mockup of my design. The purpose of this was to determine the best angle for the knife rack so that it would accommodate my knives and also a sharpening steel & honing rod – without impeding access to space below the rack. Once I had those details sorted, it was time to see what wood to make the rack from.

I had an old board of some very figured birds-eye maple to use as the primary ‘shelf’ to hold the knives. I used some red oak for the ends of the rack. These would also serve as the mounting point to the underside of a microwave shelf. I also had some small bits of black walnut to make a simple holder to store a sharpening steel and honing rod.

I needed to resaw the birds-eye maple to make the thinner shelf. I then ran the pieces through the thickness planer to clean up the saw marks. There was still a fair bit of sanding required despite the very sharp planer blades due to the wildly figured maple.

I cut a couple dados in the back side of the maple that will hold some neodymium bar magnets I got on Amazon (the ones I used were 60mm x 20mm x 5mm). The dado left about 1/8″ of wood. The magnets are very strong, and very effective even behind that much wood. I created similar dados in one of the oak end pieces as well. This provides a spot for a pair of kitchen shears. To fill the dados after the magnets were glued in I made oak plugs for the end piece. I just used a thin 1/16″ strip of oak to cover the magnets on the underside of the knife shelf.


To finish the knife rack, I used Butcher Block wax from Knifewear – it’s a soft, food safe paste wax made right here in Edmonton. I slathered it all over the rack and let it sit for 15 or 20 minutes, and then rubbed the wax in. I did this a couple more times (using less wax than the initial application) and vigorously rubbed the wax in. The result was a satin sheen that really looks good. I’m also using this stuff on my cutting board instead of the mineral oil I used previously :).

I did sort through our knives a little – leaving room in case another new Japanese knife happens to need a new home :).