Friday, 12 November 2010

Robin Hood Baking: Over 250 recipes from Robin Hood's Baking Festival and Home Baking cookbooks

 My family has been hearing a fair bit of, "I've been baking today, want a taste?"  I don't need to ask twice and they are in the kitchen sniffing, and trying to discover what I made.  They reacted no differently as I tested many of the recipes in the new Robin Hood Baking cookbook. 

I received a copy of this book early in October and spent days paging through it looking at the full colour photos that accompany many of the recipes.  Then I started reading the actual recipes.  Along with a complete ingredient and measurement list, there are step-by-step instructions, and variation suggestions when appropriate.  There is also a 'Tips' section with each recipe.  This is where you'll find those helpful hints of when parchment paper is recommended, comments on whether to use salted or unsalted nuts, whether the item freezes well and much more.

It was only after I had stuck about twenty post-it notes on the recipes I wanted to sample that I turned to the front of them book and read the introduction and the sections on: Baking Basics, Baking Equipment, Baking Tips and Techniques , and Making Perfect Cakes.

Bakers will appreciate that this book has a unique 'concealed wire-o hardcover binding', this means that it easily lays flat open on your counter while you are baking.
I didn't realize that Robin Hood has been producing flour for over 100 years.  I have been using their recipes and recipe booklets for at least twenty years.  After reading the section of pan materials and sizes I bought a new, metal nine inch square pan.  I had been using an eight inch glass one; while it worked I often had to adjust cooking times.  These sections of the book go beyond telling you what to do or buy, it also includes explanations of why.  For example, in the section titled "Achieving Volume" we are told "When butter and sugar are creamed together, the jagged edges of the sugar crystals create bubbles of air in the fat, which contributes to the aeration of the batter."  Don't skimp on time spent creaming your butter and sugar.

I tried ten recipes in total from this book and all of them were a success.  I tried to stay as close to the ingredient list as possible, though a few times I used unsalted butter, but I'll tell you about that later.

I loved this book and it's recipes.  The binding method is so practical and the hardcover has a shiny surface that makes it easy to clean off any stray cooking splatters.  This is a perfect book for a new baker with little kitchen experience, or for one who is limited in the number of cookbooks he or she can purchase.  There are also ample recipes to attract the more experienced baker. (over 250 recipes)

Buttermilk Biscuits

This is your traditional quick biscuit using buttermilk instead of regular white milk.  My friend made these with her three year old daughter while I was putting the finishing touches on our Thanksgiving dinner.  They told me that they went together well and that they used a juice cup to cut the biscuits.  They were so light and fluffy that they were the first dish empty at dinner that day.  Definitely worth purchasing buttermilk.  Sorry there is no photo, they were so good they were gone before I grabbed my camera.

Basic Pastry

I used this for the shell for my pumpkin pies.  I made the 'double crust' amount.  I followed the recommendation of using Cake & Pastry Flour, as I happened to have some, and handled the dough as little as possible. Again, the crust was actually light and flaky.  I had made the same pumpkin pies a week earlier using the recipe on the vegetable shortening box and the pastry was kind of tough.  This is a much better recipe. 

 Oat Pancakes with Cinnamon Honey Butter

I made these pancakes as written with the exception that I added a half cup of chopped pecans to the batter.  They cooked up light and fluffy.  They are more chewy than a full flour pancake, but that made them more filling.  That day there were five teenagers for breakfast, so filling food was important.  These were  eaten before I had a chance to take any pictures.

Chocolate Almond Macaroon Logs

After making rice pudding for my son, I had a bunch of egg whites left over.  A quick look in this cookbook found this recipe.  I was a bit leery about shaping the 'logs', but as it turned out, it was quite easy.  After the batter was mixed, I picked up some in a soup spoon and using a teaspoon I patted it into shape on the spoon before gently pushing it off on to the parchment paper covered pan.  These are sticky cookies, so you really do need the parchment paper.  Don't skip the chocolate coating.  It really does turn these cookies into something special. 

The macaroon logs are more a cakey type cookie and not as overly sweet as your traditional macaroon.

Chunky Caramel Nut Squares and Chewy Cherry Bars

I love to make bars.  You get the bite size benefit of cookies, yet everything is done in one step, no multiple trips to the oven. 

The "Chunky Caramel Nut Squares" were the highlight of all the recipes we tried.  The bottom layer is essentially a brown sugar shortbread.  The topping is a stove cooked caramel which you then top with your choice of salted nuts.  I chose cashews as they are the most decadent, and then added a few soy flavoured whole almonds.  This is a simple recipe that you and your family will love.  Chose your favourite nut or nut mixture.  The recipe is at the bottom of the post.

My daughter specially requested the "Chewy Cherry Bars".  She was attracted by the combination of the maraschino cherries, coconut, and the pecans.  As I mixed the filling layer, they reminded me of a fancy butter tart.  The base is similar to a brown sugar shortbread, though with half the amount of butter.  My daughter had made a soft pink frosting and my niece surprised her by adding blue food colouring.  Daughter also learned to be more careful when reading the number on the measuring spoon.  One tablespoon is not the same as four teaspoons. Oops, too much milk makes runny frosting.  They tasted wonderful even though they look a bit eerie.

Both bars benefit from lining the pan with parchment paper.  I did for the "Chunky Caramel Nut Squares" and they were so easy to lift out of the pan and slice.  I didn't for the "Chewy Cherry Bars" and it was very difficult to try and cut a nice piece.

Cranberry Apricot Almond Squares

I was intrigued that these bars started with dried cranberries and dried apricots; both fruits that I enjoy.  But to use them in a bar, that was new to me.  While these were re-hydrating, I made the shortbread like crust.  This is where my new nine inch square pan came into play.  Since it was new I lined it with parchment paper.  Great choice.  These bars lifted easily out of the pan for slicing. 
My family loved these.  To me there was something missing.  I had used un-salted butter.  The recipe didn't call for it, but it was the type I had on hand.  It did make a big difference in the taste, though it didn't matter to my family.  They were gone within two days.

Best-Ever Banana Muffins

I was skeptical when I spied this recipe.  I have been baking ripe banana muffins for years and I thought they were excellent.  Well, these were much, much better.  The top was crunchy, yet the insides were nice and moist.  This is our new, favourite banana muffin recipe.  Note, this is a very thick batter.  We added a half cup of chopped pecans.

Cheddar, Bacon and Corn Muffins

I had a bunch of Oktoberfest revellers in the house and wanted to feed them a hearty breakfast.  What better than a savoury muffin.  These were loaded with bacon, creamed corn, and cheddar cheese.  The teen aged boys in the house practically inhaled them.  They slathered them with butter while I spread on a thick layer of molasses.  Yummy.
Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

My niece selected this cake.  She said she'd never had a "Pineapple Upside-down cake".    Hard to imagine, as I thought that every body's grandmothers made this cake.  Guess they don't make it in New Zealand. 
As you'll notice from the picture, we didn't have enough pineapple rings.  Be sure to read the complete instructions where it tells you that you need a 19 ounce can of pineapple rings, not the 14 ounce one that I purchased.  A cherry flower in the middle was a perfect substitute.

Niece said it was easy to mix up this cake and it turned out perfectly.  All the fruit stayed in place when we turned it out onto the plate.  The little bit of leftovers were great at breakfast the next morning.

Chunky Caramel Nut Squares
• Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C)

• 13- by 9-inch (3.5 L) cake pan, greased


2 cups Robin Hood All-Purpose Flour 500 mL
1 cup packed brown sugar 250 mL
1⁄4 tsp salt 1 mL
1 cup butter, softened 250 mL
1 egg yolk 1


11⁄2 cups butterscotch chips 375 mL
3⁄4 cup corn syrup 175 mL
3 tbsp butter 45 mL
21⁄2 cups salted mixed nuts (12 oz/375 g) 625 mL

1. Crust: Combine flour, brown sugar and salt. Using two knives, a pastry blender or your fingers, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in egg yolk. Press into prepared pan.

2. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden. Cool.

3. Topping: Combine butterscotch chips, corn syrup and butter in a small saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until smooth and melted. Cool slightly. Spread over cooled crust and sprinkle with nuts; press nuts gently into topping. Refrigerate until topping is firm, about 1 hour. Cut into squares.

If you can bear to part with them, these chewy squares, which are chock‑full of nuts, make a perfect gift.


The look and taste of these squares depends entirely on the nuts you use. You can buy mixed nuts, with or without peanuts, or you can make your own mix.

Be sure your butterscotch chips are fresh for easy melting.


Excerpted from Robin Hood Baking © 2010 Smucker Foods of Canada Corp. & Robert Rose Inc. reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

Thank-you to Robert Rose Inc. for my review copy.  You can also join Robert Rose on Facebook and learn more about baking and ask your baking and food related questions.

Visit Robin Hood for more baking information and additional recipes.


Beth F said...

I used to use Robin Hood flour a lot but 20 years ago or so I discovered King Arthur flour and loved it so much I used to mail order it. Now, thankfully, I can get at the grocery store.

Regardless of what flour you use this looks like a winner of a baking book. Oh I wish lived in your house this fall. Yummmmm. Everything looks so appetizing. Your pineapple upside-down cake is beautiful.

Margot said...

It looks like you found a real gem of a cookbook. Everything looks very delicious. The banana muffins caught my attention as I've been looking for a new twist on my old recipe. Will have to find this book.

Esme said...

Those cranberry apricot bars look tasty. I love anything with cranberries.

Marg said...

Can I say, I love that the US baking brands are King Arthur and Robin Hood! So much more fun than the brands that we have here!

And these treats looked amazing! I have always wanted to try a Pineapple Upside Down Cake.

JoAnn said...

This post is just amazing - I don't know what to comment on first. I'll just say the Chocolate Almond Macaroon Logs look heavenly!

Clare said...

Can Kathleen and I come live at your house?

Gnoe said...

Wow, you've put a lot of work into this post! Of course the baking part is best of the fun, right? Or should I say the EATING part... ;)