Vanilla Chiffon Roll


The week I made this recipe I needed a diversion.  My daughter left to study abroad for the spring semester in London, England and although I was very excited for her, it was a bit unsettling as we waited to hear that all was good!  I can now report she has hit the ground running and loving the city and all the sights! 🙂


This recipe was a bit deceiving…it didn’t sound all that difficult but as you got into it there were many steps and it used MANY bowls, appliances, and utensils!!  Just to go through it quickly this is what I encountered:

Made the cake batter which included

  • sifting the dry ingredients (with my new sifter!)
  • whisking the egg yolks, oil, water, and vanilla
  • mix the yolk mixture and dry ingredients together


  • whipping the egg whites into thick, shiny peaks
  • gently fold 1/3 of whites into the yolk mixture and then all of it together

I poured the batter into the prepared pan and baked for the 12 minutes.  My cake puffed up pretty good.  I wasn’t sure if that was what it was suppose to do.  After I took it out and let it cool it fell considerably but looked more like what I expected.

Made the mousse

  • Put the walnuts and oil in the food processor creating a paste
  • Added the melted chocolate and set aside
  • Made the simple sugar syrup and gradually added it to the egg yolks whisking without stopping
  • Fit that bowl over a make shift double boiler and whisked the mixture until foamy and hot to the touch
  • Then beat the mixture on high until pale and holds a soft ribbon…and it cool to the touch.
  • fold in the reserved nut mixture
  • whip the heavy cream and fold it delicately into the walnut mixture and refigerate

I have never made chocolate mousse and I would have to say I was very proud of myself!  It tasted great and looked correct…light and fluffy!

Assemble the cake

  • Un-mold, trim, and flip the cake
  • Spread the chilled mousse evenly
  • Roll the cake and chill for at least two hours


I think mine had too much chocolate mousse in the middle and didn’t become a pretty roll but I didn’t hear anyone complain about too much mousse.  🙂

Finishing the cake

  • Sprinkle the top of the roll with sifted cocoa powder to create a pattern
  • Add candied walnuts..which I made from scratch following the recipe in the back of the cookbook.  That was an interesting process….I kept feeling like I needed to add liquid to the sugar to get it going.  Totally burned two of my fingertips removing the walnuts from the fork and placing on the wax paper.  I won’t make that mistake again!!

I would say this whole process took me about 3 hours.  Nothing about it was particularly hard, but it took time with so many steps.  I was happy to do it and everyone enjoyed tasting it, BUT I can’t see myself ever making this again.  I would be so stressed out making this for an occasion of some sort.  It just took too long and as my son said, “It is really good Mom, but not great.  Probably not worth it for the time it took you”…haha.  I think he is right.  😉

Country Bread


Twenty years ago it started…my sister was getting married in January and my siblings and I, and our spouses for those of us that were married at the time, decided for Christmas that year we were going to do something different.  We all were feeling poor with the wedding festivities so we decided to pick names and pick a theme…that year the gift had to be $5 or less and color that we picked out of a hat.  We NEVER in a million years thought we were starting something that would evolve through the years and become the highlight of our Christmas gatherings each year.  We had so much fun we have continued the idea for 20 years.  Each year a different creative theme…everything from creating a video, fulfilling certain criteria about color, size, store, or even having to recruit a friend to purchase and wrap the gift on our behalf after describing the person we chose…That year it was hilarious because none of us knew what any of the gifts would be…it was a surprise for everyone!!

It truly has become the stories that are behind the gifts each year rather than the gift itself.  It has become such a tradition we have people who ask our family each year, “what is the theme this year?” and as each of the nieces and nephews graduate from high school they get to join our club haha!  My daughter has been participating for three years now and this year we chose her theme…which is getting harder and harder each year as you can imagine after 20 years.  Anyway, we each had to pick a name and a decade: 20’s, 30’s, 40’s etc and then do something with that to represent the gift.  It was pretty open ended unlike some other years with many requirements.  Stick with me…my story does have some relevance to baking/my blog haha…my brother had picked my name and the 1930’s.  He remembered reading my blog about cooking with our Grandma and how I said I didn’t have a cool sifter.  He put together a vintage baking gift for me consisting of a sifter, apron, and measuring cups.  It was incredible thoughtful and just warmed my heart.  I had to share the story and a picture on my blog!

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I just loved my gift…and if you can believe it this is my first apron!!  With all of us married, my parents joining in and now my daughter there are 11 of us participating.  It is so much fun…all of the 9 remaining nieces and nephews all watch to see everyone’s creative presentations.  In case you are wondering I had my sister and the 1920’s…being the former teacher that I am I did a bit of a history lesson in a poem with small gifts along the way, ending with prohibition/bootlegging and she got a bottle of wine we found with a label that went along with the 1920’s.  The guys at Total Wine got a good laugh at us the night we were there and they were trying to help us!

So, hopefully you stayed with my little story so you can hear about this fabulous bread we made this time.  I have to tell you I did not have high hopes…I mean really who could that baked the challah…that bread was so amazing.  I didn’t have the wheat or rye flour and was thinking if I really wanted to make this and remembered why I started this group in the first place…to TRY new things!!  So I proceeded. 🙂  This bread, for being very simple sure takes a long time.  I kept thinking as I was making this bread, how people did it back in history when there was no store to buy bread.  Baking for the family had to have been a full time job…that and doing the laundry!!

This bread starts with a sponge which I did at 7am in the morning so I would have enough time.  The sponge needed to sit for 6-8 hours!

After the rest, you add the remaining ingredients…more yeast, flour, salt, and water.  Not a whole lot of ingredients go into this bread…very simple.  This dough sits for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Next, you shape the dough into the round loaf.  This is done with repeated folding, turning, flipping and cupping of the dough.  The recipe said to then put the ball into a banneton, basket, or colander lined with a floured towel. I had to go with a bowl…seemed to work out fine.



This dough rests for another 1 1/2 to 2 hours!


Finally ready to bake the bread…I had to improvise a bit…no tiles or baking stone so I used an upside down baking sheet.  I also did not spray the inside of my oven with water.  In my haste, I also forgot to score the top…I was afraid this would cause a problem but I think it just created a little air pocket on top.

photo8This bread gets baked for 60-70 minutes.  It wasn’t done until 7pm…can you imagine if I was making it for dinner because the recipe says it still needs to sit and cool for at least 20 minutes.  We tried it later that night and were pleasantly surprised!!!  This bread was SO good and SO tasty!!  We just did not see that coming.  Everyone who tasted it thought the same thing.  I would totally make this bread again which is a good thing since I now have rye and wheat flour haha!! 🙂