Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Drip Cake: Chocolate Quinoa Layer Cake with Vanilla Bean Buttercream (gluten free)

Made my own Birthday Cake. Yes I did😆
6 inch GF Chocolate Quinoa Cake layers and Vanilla Bean Buttercream
This is my favourite part of making a cake

Decorated with my fave goodies: matcha macaron, Lindt chocolate balls, dragées, a mini KitKat and mini Coffee Crisp and crushed macaron shells
The chocolate ganache was perfect. I threw dragées on the side of the cake too and they stuck🙌
It's late November and the only thing blooming in my garden are these little purple Daikon flowers.  I just let the daikon go to seed and never did harvest the daikon (so bitter!)  The flowers sure are pretty...and edible
Scroll down past the recipes to watch a video of me assembling the layers

adapted from Quinoa 365:  The Everyday Superfood
makes 3 6-inch layers
  • 2 1/4 cups cooked quinoa (see note below for instructions to cook quinoa. No substitutions)
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla bean paste
  • 3/4 cups coconut oil, melted and cooled (you can use unsalted butter)
  • 1 1/2 cups organic cane sugar
  • 1 cup unsweetened organic cacao powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
*3 6-inch cake tins (you can make do with 2 pans and after baking the first batch, make the last layer after cleaning the pan)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Spray the tins with coconut oil spray or non-stick spray.  Line with a round piece of parchment paper
  2. In a Vitamix, heavy-duty Blender of Food Processor, combine:  milk, eggs, vanilla paste.  Blend until combined.  Add 2 1/4 cups of cooked quinoa and the melted coconut oil and continue to blend until smooth.
  3. Dump in the sugar, cacao powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt into the Vitamix.  Blend well to combine.  [NB: if you are using a regular blender, you will encounter problems with the thick batter and may not be able to totally break down the cooked quinoa grains. In this case, you should use a food processor]
  4. Divide the batter evenly between the 3 prepared cake pans. Gently tap the pans on the counter to get rid of air bubbles and smooth the tops evenly
  5. Bake in the centre of the oven for approximately 25-30 minutes.
  6. Test the cakes for doneness with a toothpick or cake tester.
  7. Allow to cool for 5 minutes.  Remove from the pan and allow the cake layers to cool completely on a rack. 
  8. Frost with Buttercream (see recipe below).  Refrigerate the cake for at least 30 minutes. Make the ganache (see recipe below) and allow to cool as the cake is in the fridge.  Drip chocolate ganache over the cold buttercream. Decorate with your fave chocolates and bling✨ it up with dragees if desired.
  9. Cake layers can be stored sealed in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or freeze for up to 1 month. 
COOKING QUINOA Note:  Bring 2/3 cup raw, rinsed white or golden quinoa to boil in a heavy saucepan with 1 1/3 cups water.  Cover, reduce to simmer and cook for 10 minutes.  Turn off heat and leave covered saucepan on burner for another 10 minutes.  Fluff with fork and allow the Quinoa to cool.
Rice Cooker Method:  Cook rinsed quinoa as you would rice, following manufacturer's instructions and the indicator lines for appropriate water levels.    I made 1 cup quinoa and found it had enough leftovers to make another dish.

(makes just enough for a nearly naked cake; or just enough to frost this little 6 inch cake)
3 cups confectioners' sugar (icing sugar)
1 1/4 cups unsalted butter [I used Kerrygold]
1 tsp Vanilla Bean Paste
1 tablespoon milk
  1. In an electric mixing bowl, beat the butter until creamy and smooth
  2. Add the confectioners' sugar 1/2 cup at a time
  3. Add vanilla bean paste and gradually add milk until the buttercream is at a consistency that is not too stiff. Continue beating [speed 8 on the KitchenAid] for 7-8 minutes until almost white in colour. The buttercream will be fluffy
  4. Use immediately to frost the 3 cake layers.  
1 cup whipping/heavy cream
1 bag Wilton Chocolate Candy Melts (chocolate chips or dark chocolate will work as well)
8 ounces chocolate
1 cup heavy cream

NB: before you start! if you have a kitchen scale the ratio for the ganache in weight is 1:1.  But if you don't or if you're too lazy to whip out the scale like me, you can eyeball it and adjust by adding more chocolate or cream until you get a thick pouring consistency.  
  1. Put whipping cream in a microwave-safe container and heat in 30 second increments until it is hot to the touch.  Check on it at intervals so it doesn't boil over.
  2. Add 1 cup of the Candy Melts or chopped chocolate and stir gently until the ganache is thick but pourable.  Mine was too runny initially so I had to add another handful of candy melts. As well, allowing it to cool will also thicken the ganache before pouring.  Test the ganache before drizzling on the cake by attempting to drip from the top edge of a glass or mug.  If it runs too quickly then add more chocolate or candy melts.  

♬Bossa Nova Royalty Free Background Music

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Gluten Free Oatmeal-Banana Bread

My 9 yr old's Gluten Free Oatmeal-Banana Bread...all made in the Vitamix!

I'm the only person in the household that avoids gluten because of my autoimmune disease...Hashimoto's.  One of the things I miss a lot is a really good Banana Bread...full of gluten. There's something about the texture of gluten-full banana bread that I miss!  But lucky for you I hit upon a lovely oat flour banana bread that is not only super easy to make (in one container!) but has an amazing texture and flavour.

She made mini doughnuts too! They were absolutely delicious with my espresso...and my 15 hours of marking
My homemade gf flour blend is great for cakes and I usually add psyllium husk powder to help with the texture (this works really well, by the way).  But sometimes I don't want to buy all those flours and have all those bags half-full of varieties of flours.  It's a pain because you have too much of one and not enough of the other!  

My 9 yr old loves anything mini and cute.  Here is her little Mouse Chef for perspective...next to  my one shot of espresso.  The kid's mini banana bread doughnuts were so moist and gave me energy to power through 15 hours of marking. geesh
Mostly all of the gf baked goods I buy in stores and gf bakeries are too dense or heavy and I don't know about you but sometimes gf flour is pasty or painfully grainy.  I have yet to find a really good gf bread that's chewy, crusty and slices well (still working on that!)  I've had great success with my own gf flour blend when I bake cakes but a recent spate of moths found in my cabinets had me throwing out everything.  I think the rice that I had stored in the cupboard had brought in some moth eggs. They even got into sealed plastic containers! ew.  Anyway, I store my oats in a sealed plastic container in a different area of the house and I thought they would make a perfect substitution for my usual gf flour blend.  There's something satisfying about grinding your own oat flour and only having to wash one container.  And only ONE flour! yay! And case in point...avoid those moths from the multitude of half-used flours you need to make your own flour blend!  

Bake your loaves until they have lovely cracks...don't be afraid to bake longer by up to 10 minutes because sometimes your bananas might be big so your batter might need the extra baking time
As a treat for the kid because after all, she did all the mixing and baking (and all I did was grind the oat flour)...I took a few of the mini banana bread doughnuts she made...and the next day coated them with a white glaze and cake sprinkles! Can you spot Mickey Mouse on Hello Kitty? 
yes, I only had red Mickey Mouse cake sprinkles so put 2 heads together for Hello Kitty's red bow
So not only is grinding your own oat flour in a Vitamix easy, but it is also a resounding success flavour-wise.  To boot, it's way cheaper than gf flour or bagged oat flour.  The oats add an amazing nutty flavour and you'll find yourself wanting to experiment with oat flour in other baked goods too (like me!) Let me know in the comments if you'd like more Vitamix recipes (which I can do because I use it a lot...but I have no idea if people actually want that?)

  • 2 Cups oat flour**[see note for how to use the Vitamix to grind oats into oat flour] (If you are Celiac, you should buy certified gluten free oats. Some Celiacs may be sensitive to gf oats too so play safe and maybe replace with a gf flour blend if you wish. I used Trader Joe's Rolled Oats) 
  • 1/2 cup gluten free flour blend [any gf blend will do but I used "Namaste GF Organic Perfect Flour Blend" that I bought at Costco.  If you don't have any gf flour, you can just use another 1/2 cup of oat flour. Everything will turn out just fine!  If you're not avoiding gluten, just use 2 1/2 cups total of all-purpose flour]
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 sticks salted butter, softened [yes, you read right...SALTED. You can use unsalted but it will taste different]
  • 1 1/2 Cups packed light brown sugar
  • 2 Large eggs
  • 3 Cups ripe bananas mashed (about 7 medium)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • optional: 1/2 cup chocolate chips, nuts or whatever chunky dried fruit cranks your wheel
You will need the "Dry Grains Container" for your Vitamix for this and approximately 3 cups of rolled oats or steel cut oats.
Place the oats into the Vitamix Dry Grains Container.  Set the Vitamix to variable speed.  Start out low and slow and pulse until the oats are ground into a powder.  You may need to stop the machine and stir down any chunks that cling to the side.  Continue to do this until the oats have been finely ground.  You will have more than enough for the recipe above so you can store the rest of the oat flour in an air tight container.  1 cup of rolled oats will yield approximately 1 cup of oat flour.

1. Preheat oven to 325degrees F.  Prepare 2 loaf pans by spraying with nonstick spray (I used coconut oil spray) and line with parchment paper. [My 9 yr old used 1 mini doughnut pan and 2 small loaf tins. You can also use paper-lined muffin tins but adjust baking times according to the size of your tins]

2. In the regular ("Classic") Vitamix container, place your salted butter and brown sugar.  Pulse on variable speed until the mixture appears creamy and cohesive.  Add 2 eggs and vanilla...continue to pulse to mix well.  

3.  Turn off the machine and periodically scrape down the sides of the Vitamix container with a rubber spatula to ensure that all the contents are evenly mixed. 

4.  With the Vitamix running on medium variable speed, add the whole bananas one at a time through the lid's chute.  Continue to blend until the mixture is smooth...this should take a couple of minutes

5.  Add all the dry ingredients to the Vitamix: the oat flour, gf flour, salt and baking soda.  Blend on Variable speed until the mixture is combined well; turning off to scrape down the sides if needed.

6.  If you want to go crazy, toss in chocolate chips at this point and just stir to combine with your rubber spatula before pouring into your prepared loaf tins.

7.  Pour prepared batter into the lined loaf tins. For regular-sized loaves, bake for 60-70 minutes until toothpick inserted reveals crumbs.  [My girl's mini doughnuts took 12 minutes.  Regular muffins might take anywhere from 12-15 minutes.  The small loves took 45 minutes. Don't worry...just check that there is no jiggle in the middle and use that toothpick-test to ensure it is baked through well. If your bananas are large sometimes you will have to bake up to 10 minutes longer]

Sunday, 14 August 2016

Miso-Maple Glazed Japanese Eggplant

Here is yet another fabulously easy go-to no-recipe recipe! 

Miso-Glazed Japanese Eggplant

3 Japanese eggplant, washed and stem end trimmed off
1 tablespoon Shiro Miso (White Miso Paste)
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup (more or less to taste)
1 tablespoon hot water
1 tablespoon avocado oil
Extra avocado oil for brushing
Slivered Scallions for sprinkling (I had to use organic baby spinach lol! It's the only green stuff I had in my fridge)

1. Slice the Japanese eggplant on the bias (diagonally) into 1/2 inch slices.  
2. Arrange on a parchment-lined baking sheet or shallow pan in a single layer.  Brush the tops of the eggplant slices with avocado oil.  
3. Preheat a broiler or crank up the bbq.  If using a bbq, you may want to place the eggplant in a foil-boat or metal veggie basket so that they don't fall through the grate.
4. Mix together the Miso paste, maple syrup and hot water to make a paste.  Add more hot water if the paste is too thick to brush.  Stir in the avocado oil.  Brush the miso mixture onto the tops of the eggplant slices.
5.  Place under the broiler and broil until golden brown and glazed.  The eggplant should be soft all the way through.  Mine took approximately 12 minutes because I had the rack placed in the middle of the oven.  I moved it up to the top third of the oven mid-point because I wanted it to brown more quickly and I was hangry!  Cooking time all depends on how far away your eggplant are from the top element...watch the eggplant carefully so they don't burn.  If you're using a bbq, your eggplant will not char if they are in a foil boat.  However, you can get char on them if you use a metal veggie basket.  
6. Sprinkle with slivered scallions to serve.

Friday, 27 May 2016


Condensed Milk Pound Cake with Organic Ground Vanilla

That Organic Raw Ground Vanilla was very expensive.  Like $54. I had plopped it into the basket when my husband wasn't looking.  

Friday, 1 January 2016

Itty Bitty Lemon Meringue Tartlets!

Mini Lemon Meringue Tartlets
Pucker up! Mini Lemon Meringue Tartlets for the New Year!

Wishing you all a healthy, happy, delicious 2016 full of laughter and good times!

Thursday, 24 December 2015

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

A Very Merry Totoro Christmas to You!

I regret that for the majority of my life I had not watched the movie My Neighbor Totoro (となりのトトロ) the 1988 Japanese animation written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki, and produced by Studio Ghibli.  Just last year my kids and I watched it at home and thereafter I was smitten.

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Birthday Pie! Flaky All-Butter Crust Apple Pie

Birthday Pie

Organic cold unsalted butter sliced in 1/4 inch pieces in my food processor, along with only 2/3 of the flour mixture...ready for pulsing.

Several years ago, my friend confided to me that he doesn't like birthday cake (gasp!)
I remembered that.

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Garlic Scapes Potstickers

Garlic Scapes! My fave ingredient for amazing home-made potstickers

These are Garlic Scapes.  They are not hollow like scallions or chives but have a solid core.  They are very mild in flavour and a wonderful addition to homemade potstickers.  I threw in a few stalks of green onion also (can you spot them?) because they just happened to be in the fridge too.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Homemade Fizzy Grape Kombucha

Homemade Fizzy Kombucha
This Kombucha experiment was anxiety-ridden and exciting and most importantly economical! Do you struggle with paying almost $5 for those bottles of effervescent flavoured kombuchas too?
I failed somewhat in trying to grow my own SCOBY from a bottle of store-bought GT Unflavoured Raw Kombucha.  I don't think I had the right ph balance and I never got anything beyond a translucent scoby that was a few millimetres thin.  When I found out that a local shop was selling scobies I practically went there the next day.  Interestingly, there was a kombucha workshop running that day but I didn't stay for it.  I knew what I wanted and after purchasing some other supplies (at a pretty reasonable price!) I went home to try and make my own kombucha.

Saturday, 16 May 2015

BC SPOT PRAWN FESTIVAL! Stir-Fried Ginger Scallion and Soy Spot Prawns

BC Spot Prawns w/Ginger, Scallion & Soy
It's BC Spot Prawn Season! yay!

The season lasts from May to June and after seeing friends' Spot Prawn pics posted on FB I had a yearning too.  I sent the man down to T&T supermarket where they were on sale for $15.99/lb until May 18.

A photo posted by Cake Brain (@cakebrain) on

The Spot Prawns were lively in their plastic bag.  These guys have pokey antennae and sharp spear-like tails and heads.  You have to buy the Spot Prawns with the intent to eat them within a few hours.  I kept them in the fridge for an hour before I was ready to prep them.  I am squeamish and even with rubber dish gloves to protect me from their sharp pointy bits, I couldn't handle how each prawn would squirm and hop out of my hand.  In the end, I held a prawn with tongs in my left hand and worked the scissors in my other hand. It gave me the willies...but I was not deterred enough to stop because I knew these prawns had to be cooked quickly to maintain their freshness.  After they die, the prawn flesh becomes mushy...bleh...inedible.  When cooked fresh, they have a firm 'n bouncy texture and they're sweet and juicy.  They do not require much fuss in terms of cooking.  

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Ayoub's Dried Fruit and Mixed Nuts

love the chandelier in Ayoub's
If you love nuts and dried fruit, you'll have to check this place out.  Ayoub's first of all is beautiful. It's like walking into another world.  The white shelves, silver urns filled with fragrant spiced nuts and the huge candelier hanging in the centre of the room make for an impressive first impression.


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