Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Our next love to baking cookies, cakes, and cupcakes, are visiting bakeries that serve their own amazing delicious treats. So many bakeries in the T-dot, and not enough time to visit them all, we chose two bakeries that stood out for us which we've reviewed by judging and comparing them based on quality of the product, service/atmosphere, and pricing. Our two contenders were OMG Baked Goodness Ltd. and LeaH's.

OMG Baked Goodness
The Stats
Location: 1561 Dundas Street West
Owner: Lesley Mattina
Website: http://www.omgbakedgoodness.com/
Famous for: Chocolate Vegan Cupcake

Ann's Thoughts

I had seen this bakery a few months ago when I was walking down Dundas Street West, and what drew my attention was the quirky pink and black sign "OMG baked Goodness." I was curious to check out what this bakery had to offer, which was why Ana and I chose this one as our review, arbitrary I know, but it has received rave reviews and publicity from blogto, the Toronto Star, OurFaves.com, and many more.

The selection at OMG was disappointingly small. It had a couple of cupcakes, some biscotti, a few cookies and scones. Ana and I both selected the chocolate vegan cupcakes at $2.50 each, which is the signature item from this bakery. So how was the cupcake? It was soooooo good, I totally was not expecting it. It wasn't dry, or dense, and I definitely cannot taste the difference between a vegan cupcake versus a non-vegan cupcake. The only question is: Since the cupcakes at OMG do not have butter and eggs, does that mean it's (close to) fat-free????

Quality of Product: 10-'Nough said!
Service/Atmosphere: 7-The girl who served us was nice and didn't pester us much when we were trying to decide on which cupcake (yeah right!) we would chose. However I found the place rather sterile, with uncomfortable wooden benches, and no music, you wouldn't want to stay inside for long.
Pricing: 8-Although for some people $2.50 (+ tax) may seem a lot for a cupcake, it's totally worth it, trust me!

Ana's Thoughts

Hmm cupcakes. Who doesn't love them? I certainly do. And OMG cupcakes doesn't disappoint. They are moist, fluffy, bigger than most cupcakes out there and, according to Ann, they are healthy -vegan food does not contain butter nor eggs. I like to think she's right. Let's pretend the super sugary frosting is healthy too, ok? hehe =) Oh yeah, the frosting was the only thing I didn't like. It gives the sweetness the cake needs but I thought it was overly sweet. But this was not a surprise for me because I usually don't like butter cream frosting. FYI my cupcake is the one with the pink frosting.

Quality of Product: 9- The cupcake itself deserves a 10 but because of the frosting, which I suspect wasn't fresh - it was grainy and dry - I will give it a 9.
Service/Atmosphere: 7- I'll make Ann's words mine. And with the huge space they have some tables and comfortable chairs wouldn't hurt. A good coffee machine would be good, too. With this weather, it would help bring more customers inside but I guess they don't want people to stay long, chatting and eating their goods. Go figure.
Pricing: 8- Good value for the cupcake, but not so much for the other goods they have in store, specially for the tiny, skinny biscotti.


The Stats
Location: 621 St. Clair Avenue
Owner: Leah Kalish
Website: Not available
Famous for: Biscotti

Ann's Thoughts

From the outside looking in, I think this bakery is so attractive. Although small, it looks very cosy and inviting. It was on Ana's list of places to visit in Toronto, so instead of just visiting, why not do a comparative review as well?

After having bunch at CocoaLatte which consisted of waffles topped with strawberries, bananas, and whipped cream drizzled in maple syrup (oh the sugar!!!!) we briskly walked two blocks down to LeaH's for more sugary treats. In this bakery there was an assortment of baked goods such as cookies, biscotti, cupcakes, nata tarts, scones, chicken pot pie, and the list goes on, it took Ana and I a while to decide exactly what we were going to have.

LeaH is known for biscotti, which the owner, Leah Kalish sells in grocery stores around Toronto. I bought the cranberry and orange biscotti as well as the double chocolate biscotti, which cost me $1.25 each. Ana selected the lemon poppy seed biscotti, as well as her version of the oreo cookies, and a chocolate peanut butter rice crispy squares. Being allergic to the latter item, I tried all three biscotti as well as the oreo cookie. The biscotti was good. Out of the three I preferred the double chocolate. The oreo cookie did not taste like an oreo cookie (nobody can copy Mr. Christie) but they were still good.

Quality of Product: 7-The food was okay.
Service/Atmosphere: 6-The lady who served us was rather impatient (even though she wasn't doing anything.) The bakery itself was very cute, but because it was small, only a few people at a time can actually go there, and fewer can actually stay inside to eat.
Pricing: 9- I forgot the prices for the other stuff, but at $1.25 per biscotti, it's a really good deal.

Ana's Thoughts

We finally had a chance to go to LeaH's! Yay. The goods I had was a Lemon Poppy seed biscotti, Homemade Oreo cookies and a Chocolate Peanut Butter rice crisppy square. My favorite was the Lemon Poppy seed biscotti. I don't know what's considered a good biscotti but the lemon poppy seed was delicious. I will definitelly try to make it at home. The orange cranberry was my second fav. - hm, I see a citrus pattern here.

I don't know why the homemade oreos are called oreos. It tasted nothing like the store bought - of course- and the cookies were crunchy and very thin. It was good, nonetheless. I'm a huge lover of rice crispies so of course I had to have the Chocolate Peanut Butter at LeaH's. It was very good, crunchy with tiny bits of marshmellows in it. I coudn't taste the peanut butter, though. Just a teeny tiny hint of it.

Quality of Product: 8 1/2 - All the goods we had were great. Even though the Oreo cookies didn't taste like Oreos or the Peanut butter rice crispy only had a hint of peanuts, they still tasted very good.
Service/Atmosphere: 6-The lady wasn't very friendly with the customers and that's a big no no for me. What's the problem with smilling a little and making an effort to make people feel welcomed? It would make me hang out there more, even though they have such a limited space.
Pricing: 9- All the goods we had have a reasonable price.

PS: If your mouth filled with water when Ann mentioned out brunch at Cocoa Latte, here's a picture to make you drool. ;)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

We consider biscotti as being the grown up version of cookies. These narrow crispy cookies are perfect for dipping in one's tea or coffee. For those who have not heard of biscotti, they come from Italy and originally are almond flavoured, but today come in a vast array of flavours such as dark or white chocolate, lemon and poppy seed, and espresso flavour, just to name a few. We've chosen to stick with tradition and do a vanilla and almond biscotti and we made a batch of chocolate chip biscotti for those with nut allergies. The vanilla and almond recipe was taken from food stylist and author Donna Hay. Changes we have made to the recipe are written in italics. So bake, eat, and enjoy.
Vanilla Almond + Chocolate Chip Biscotti
Slightly modified from our beloved book
2 cups plain all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup blanched almonds (we used 1/4 cup)
3 eggs
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup dark chocolate chip

Preheat hte oven to 160ºC (325ºF).

Place flour, baking powder, sugar in a bowl and mix together.

Add the eggs and vanilla and mix well to form a dough. (You can use your hands. It's easier.)
Divide the dough in two.

Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and knead each piece until smooth.

Add the chocolate chips to one of the dough and the almonds in the other one and knead again.

Shape into logs and flatten slightly. Place the logs on a baking tray lined with non-stick baking paper and bake for 35 min.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.

Cut the logs into 5mm thick slices and place on a baking tray lined with non-stick baking paper.
Bake for 10-15 min. or until the biscotti are crisp. Store in an airtight container and serve dunked into espresso coffee or liqueur.
Makes 40.

Ann's Thoughts

Biscotti has to be the most time consuming batch of cookies I've ever made because it consists of baking it, then waiting for it to really cool down, and then re-bake it again-so I'd say it takes about an hour and a half to make, compared to the average cookie which takes ten, twelve, fifteen minutes to bake? Anyway if you do decide to make these cookies, plan accordingly because they do take time to make.

This recipe is suppose to yield 40 biscotti, but the way Donna Hay makes them are way too thin. We made ours thicker and ended up with half that amount.

Our batch did not come out the way we wanted them to (see Ana's comments below). But it was an honest mistake, which I've made a couple times before on this blog. Next time we bake this, we'll get it right.

Ana's Thoughts

Disappointed. I'm so disappointed. With myself. I messed up this recipe. =( Such an easy recipe and with just a few ingredients and I managed to spoiled it. I put baking soda instead of baking POWDER. Damn you English and my lack of attention! I'm starting to think that we here at OSSD definitely don't get along very well with baking powder/soda.

Because of this little mistake our biscotti had a bitter aftertaste. =s Such a shame. Everything else went well, though. They were very easy to make. I'll definitely be making them again.

Try it. You will love it. Just remember: baking POWDER, not baking soda!

'Til next week!

Receita em Português
Biscotti de baunilha e amêndoas e gotas de chocolate
2 xíc. de farinha
1 1/2 col. (chá) de fermento em pó
3/4 xíc. de açúcar
3/4 xíc. de amêndoas, sem casca (Nós usamos somente 1/4 de xícara.)
3 ovos
2 1/2 col.(chá) de extrato/essência de baunilha
1/4 de xíc. de gotas de chocolate meio amargo (Opcional)

Preaqueça o forno a 160ºC.
Numa tigela grande, junte a farinha, o fermento e o açúcar. Acrescente os ovos e a baunilha e misture até formar uma massa. Divida a massa em duas.
Em uma superfície levemente enfarinhada, sove as massas por aproximadamente 1 minuto, acrescente as amêndoas em uma das massas e as gotas na outra. Sove mais um pouco.
Role a massa até que fique parecida com uma baguete média. Coloque em uma assadeira de beiradas baixas forrada com papel manteiga e leve ao forno por 35 minutos. Retire do forno e deixe esfriar completamente.
Corte as "baguetes" em fatias de 5 mm e leve para assar por mais 10-15 minutos ou até que fiquem crocantes, na mesma assadeira.
Rende 40.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Happy B-Day Ann!!!

Today's Ann's birthday! Yay! So let's sing happy birthday together! (insert lot's of people singing happy birthday awkwardly and out of sync here.)

I wish you all the best!
Hope you have a great day! 
Oh, and go buy something nice for you. You deserve it. =D


New post out tomorrow!
The chocolate cake caught your eye?? Stay tunned for next week's post! ;)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

We've made items that have orginated from Brazil, Greece, and the United States, but were feeling rather Britsh this week, and what better recipe to represent the UK than scones. Made salty or sweet, scones make a yummy mid-day snack. So invite some or your mates over and have some rapsberry scones over tea.

Raspberry Scones

Makes 8 scones


2 cups (260g) all purpose flour
1/3 cup (65g) granulated white sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons (75g) unsalted butter, cold and cut into pieces
2oz dark chocolate chunks or chips (1/2 cup or 50g) (optional)
3/4 cup fresh or frozen raspberries (we used fresh ones)
1/2 cup (120ml) whole milk plain yogurt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (or just the regular vanilla)
1 large egg, lightly beaten


Preheat oven to 375ºF (177ºC), and place rack in the middle of the oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Cut the butter into small pieces and blend into the flour mixture with a pastry blender or two knives. (Fingertips work just fine, too). The mixture should look like coarse crumbs. Stir in the chocolate chunks and raspberries. In a small measuring cup whisk together the yogurt, vanilla, and egg. Add this mixture to the flour mixture and stir just until the dough comes together. Do not over mix.

Transfer to a lightly floured surface and knead the dough gently four or five times and then pat, or roll, the dough into a circle that is about 7 inches (18cm) round and about 1 1/2 inches (3.75 cm) thick. Cut the dough into eight triangles. Place the scones on the baking sheet.

Bake for about 18-20 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack.

Although not necessary, if you want the tops of the scones to be crispy, then turn your broiler on high. Sprinkle confectioners sugar over the tops of the scones and place them under the broiler. Broil for just a few seconds, turning the pan as necessary, until the sugar has melted and turns golden brown. Make sure to watch the scones carefully as the sugar will burn very quickly. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Ann's Thoughts

Our originally plan this week when we decided to make the raspberry scones, was to use the left over frozen raspberries we had used a couple of months ago for our Lemon Raspberry Swirl Pound Cake. However, when we saw how disintegrated the frozen raspberries were, we decided it was better to use fresh fruit. What we were trying to avoid was a batch of scones that had mashed raspberries rather than semi-formed ones which we could sink our teeth in and actually taste the fruit. In my opinion, it is very difficult to bake very fragile fruits such as berries within pastries and expect them to keep in shape no matter how careful one tries to mix the batter. Our batch of scones looked like it took a beating, being bruised black and blue. Sounds gruesome, but Ana and I were surprised with the results especially since our scones looked nothing like the one on the Joy of Baking - I sense Photo Shop had a hand with their scones.

Speaking of photos, this week's photo shoot was rather frustrating because most of the photos that we've took in previous entries were done outside. However, since the weather is gradually changing, the amount of daylight we've been getting has been gradually decresing. By the time we meet up, bake, and scramble to get outside to take the pics, it is pretty dark out. We're trying to find new (but cheap) methods in taking great photos of our baked goodies and hopefully we can figure out something for next week's recipe.

Ana's Thoughts

It was my first time making scones so I was a little apprehensive as how things would turn out. Specially because I've heard that scones can be a little tricky. But after reading the well-written Joy of Baking instructions I became more confident and saw that scones are very simple to make. You just have to follow a few steps, like using super cold butter and not over kneading the dough. (Just knead until the dough comes together, with no loose crumbs.)

The final result was a success. They turn out very good. Moist, light, tasted like our pound cake but more crumbly. Perfect for breakfast. Can't wait to try new flavours. Hmmm. Oh, and they are super fast to make, too. I think it took us 15 minutes to put the dough together and 20 more minutes to bake them.

See ya'll next week. ;)

Receita em Português

Scones de Framboesas

2 xíc. (260g) de farinha de trigo
1/3 xíc. (65g) de açúcar cristal
1 col. (chá) de fermento em pó
1/2 col. (chá) de bicarbonato de sódio
1/4 col. (chá) de sal
6 col. (sopa) (75g) de manteiga sem sal, gelada e cortada em pedaços pequenos
1/2 xíc. (50g) de chocolate picado ou em gotas (opcional)
3/4 xíc. de framboesas frescas ou congeladas
1/2 xíc. (120ml) de iogurte integral
1 col. (chá) de extrato de baunilha
1 ovo grande, ligeiramente batido

Preaqueça o forno a 177ºC. Forre uma assadeira retangular rasa com papel manteiga.

Em uma tigela grande, peneire a farinha, o açúcar, fermento, bicarbonato e o sal. Junte a manteiga e amasse com a ponta dos dedos até formar uma farofa úmida. Acrescente o chocolate e as framboesas. Em um copo medidor, junte o iogurte, a baunilha e o ovo. Adicione à farofa e misture até combinar. Não misture demais.

Transfira para uma superfície levemente enfarinhada e sove a massa levemente, 4 ou 5 vezes. Abra a massa (com as mãos mesmo) até formar um círculo de aproximadamente 18 cm de diâmetro e 4 cm de altura. Corte em 8 triângulos e coloque na assadeira.

Asse por 18-20 minutos ou até que um palito, quando inserido no centro, saia limpo. Retire do forno e deixe esfriar em uma grade.