Biology held their annual bake-off last Thursday with an irresistible challenge to faculty, staff and students: taste and vote for your favourite home-made dessert.
Eight members of the Biology Department contended for the first place and runner-up titles, which included everything from rich tiramisu and intricate yeasted cinnamon buns to gluten-free brownies and lemon poppy seed muffins. Biology’s Social Committee organized this incredibly popular event, attended by Department Chair Hugh Broders and Dean of Science Robert Lemieux.
The contenders this year were:
- James Campbell, PhD student, Heikkila lab - cinnamon buns
- Deanna Hope, Graduate Office Assistant - mini cheesecake
- Heather Ikert, MSc student, Craig lab - strawberry chocolate tarts
- Ola Matysiakiewicz, MSc student, Charles lab - lemon poppy seed muffins
- Ashley Ross, MSc student, Neufeld lab - caramel espresso bars
- Lucy Satora, Biology Financial/Purchasing Assistant - tiramisu
- Emilie Spasov, MSc student, Neufeld lab - chickpea brownies
- Terence Tang, Departmental Technician - rhubarb marscapone mousse cake
Biology grad students, staff and faculty voted on their favourite dessert to determine the winners.
In the end, Lucy Satora won with her version of Italian tiramisu. She received a $25 gift card to Starbucks. Terence Tang came in second with rhubarb marscapone mousse cake and PhD student James Campbell’s cinnamon buns came in a close third. Terence and James each received a Biology T-shirt.
This was Biology’s second annual bake-off; Professor Barb Moffatt won the inaugural competition with her version of rhubarb crumble.
"We plan to continue to hold the bake-off as an annual biology event," says Jeannie Redpath-Erb, chair of Biology's Social Committee. "We were happy with the number of people that attended the event, we hope next year we have more competitors to compete in the bake off and each year it will continue to grow."
Craving something sweet now? Need a dish to bring to that Canada Day potluck? Several participants have graciously provided their recipes below.
First place – Italian Tiramisu (Lucy Satora)
- 1 package (approx.250g) of ladyfinger biscuits
- 500g mascarpone cheese
- 4 egg yolks
- 50g sugar
- 6 tablespoons amaretto liquor (90ml)
- small espresso coffee
- Cocoa or chocolate for sprinkling
1. Prepare espresso coffee, allow to cool, then add amaretto.
2. Separate egg yolks and whites.
3. Whip yolks with sugar than gently stir with a mass of mascarpone.
5. Dip ½ package of biscuits in the coffee and place one next to the other in a dish.
6. Spoon a generous layer of the mascarpone filling over the lady fingers
7. Put another layer of biscuits and another layer of mascarpone cheese
8. Sprinkle with cocoa or chocolate before serving.
9. Add raspberries for decoration
10. Refrigerate 4-6 hours
Second place – Rhubarb Marscapone Mousse Cake (Terence Tang)
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 large egg, at room temperature 30 minutes
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/3 cup whole milk
- 1/2 cup strawberry or strawberry-rhubarb jam
- 2 pounds rhubarb, cut into 1-inch pieces (8 cups)
- 1 1/2 cups sugar, divided
- 1/2 cup water, divided
- 3 teaspoons unflavored gelatin (less than 2 packages)
- 1 cup (8 ounces) mascarpone
- 3/4 cup chilled heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- Vegetable oil for greasing pan
- 1 1/2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
- 3 tablespoons water
- 1 cup rhubarb syrup (see below)
- a few small strawberries, such as tri-star or wild strawberries with their leaves, or hibiscus flowers (optional)
Preheat oven to 350°F and place rack in center.
Butter 9-inch cake pan and line bottom with a round of parchment.
Butter paper, then dust pan with flour, knocking out excess.
Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt into a bowl.
Beat butter and sugar together at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
Beat in egg and vanilla until fluffy and combined well, about 2 minutes.
Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture and milk alternately in 3 batches, beginning and ending with flour. Mix until batter is just combined. Do not overmix.
Spread batter evenly in pan and bake until cake begins to pull away from sides of pan and a wooden pick or skewer inserted in center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes (cake will still be pale in color, not golden brown).
Cool for 10 minutes in pan on a rack, then invert onto rack and reinvert to cool completely right side up.
Make mousse while cake is baking:
Combine rhubarb, 1 1/4 cups sugar, and 1/4 cup water in a large heavy saucepan and cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until rhubarb releases enough juice to almost cover rhubarb, 5 to 8 minutes.
Reduce heat and simmer mixture, stirring occasionally, until rhubarb falls apart and is reduced to about 4 cups, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from heat.
Pour mixture into a large fine-mesh sieve set over a bowl and collect 1 cup syrup and set aside. Transfer rhubarb pulp to another bowl.
Soften gelatin in remaining 1/4 cup water 1 minute, then stir into hot rhubarb mixture until dissolved.
Set bowl inside a larger bowl of ice water and stir rhubarb mixture until cooled to room temperature (do not let set on ice).
Beat together mascarpone, heavy cream, and vanilla with remaining 1/4 cup sugar until it just holds stiff peaks.
Fold cooled rhubarb mixture into mascarpone mixture.
Assemble mousse cake:
Carefully halve cooled cake horizontally, then spread jam on bottom half and reassemble.
Invert bottom of spring-form pan (to make it easier to slide cake off bottom), then lock on side. Lightly oil bottom and sides of pan with some vegetable oil.
Arrange cake in center of spring-form pan. Spoon rhubarb mousse into pan over cake. Smooth top. Rap pan on counter twice to release any air bubbles and chill cake, uncovered, until mousse is set, at least 2 hours.
Sprinkle gelatin over water in a small heavy saucepan to soften, 1 minute. Heat gelatin over low heat until it has dissolved. Remove from heat then stir in reserved rhubarb syrup.
Pour glaze over chilled mousse, tilting pan slightly to cover it completely in an even layer. Chill, uncovered, until glaze is set, at least 1 hour.
Let cake stand at room temperature 30 minutes to soften slightly. Wrap a kitchen towel dampened in hot water around the side of the pan for about 15 seconds. Run the tip of a thin knife around the edge of the pan, then gently unlock and remove sides of spring-form pan.
Third place – Cinnamon Buns (James Campbell)
1/4 cup + 1 tbsp milk
2 cups (divided into 1 1/2 + 1/2 cups) flour
1 1/2 stick of butter, softened and cut into chunks
3 beaten eggs
1/3 cup white sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 pkg (2 1/4 tsp) dry active yeast
1/2 stick of butter, softened
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp instant coffee
pinch o' salt
1 cup icing sugar
1 tbsp buttermilk
bit of triple sec
The idea of using a brioche dough for cinnamon buns came from America's test kitchen, but this was adapted from a joy of cooking recipe. Making brioche is rather tedious, but it pays off. Warm 1/4 cup of milk to 30C and add yeast to activate. Add mixture to 1/2 cup of flour. Add eggs, white sugar, salt and vanilla. Mix in remaining flour. Knead with a dough hook for about 15 minutes, until the dough is smooth, elastic and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Add the chunks of butter one by one to the dough, ensuring it is well mixed before moving on to the next one. When completely mixed cover dough and put in a warm place to rise until it is doubled in size. To make the filling mix all filling ingredients well. Be careful with the instant coffee because it has a tendency to clump.
After risen beat down the dough. Grease a surface and a rolling pin well and turn out the dough. Roll out dough into a rectangle about 1/2-1/4 inch thick. Spread filling across dough, leaving a 1/4 inch margin around the edges. Roll up the rectangle of dough into a cylinder and form buns by cutting off sections of the cylinder from one end. Place in a lined, well-greased baking pan. Let buns rise a second time for about an hour. You can also stop here and refrigerate or freeze buns after rising, but you may need to allow for extra cooking time.
Bake buns in a preheated oven at 375F for half an hour to 40 minutes or until done. Prepare icing by thoroughly mixing icing ingredients. Apply half the icing immediately upon removal from oven and remainder after buns have had a chance to cool.
Strawberry Chocolate Tart (Heather Ikert)
5 cups flour
1 lb. shortening
10 oz. can 7-up or soda water
Blend flour and shortening until well blended in a bowl with a lid. Pour pop over blended mixture. Seal and turn bowl back and forth. Burp and then turn again. If not completely mixed, just stir together.
Roll out dough and cut into tart-sized circles. Place in tins and bake at 400°F for 7 – 10 mins. Remove from oven and let cool.
Chocolate ganache filling and drizzle
Equal parts heavy whipping cream and dark/semisweet chocolate chips (Ex. 1/3 c. of each)
Bring whipping cream to a simmer while stirring constantly. Remove from heat and pour over chocolate. Stir. Add chocolate ganache to the bottom of each tart.
Adapted from: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/15836/strawberry-pie-ii/
1 quart fresh strawberries
1 cup white sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
3/4 cup water
Cut strawberries up into small pieces, and fill the tarts. Mash remaining berries and combine with sugar in a medium saucepan. Place saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil, stirring frequently.
In a small bowl, whisk together cornstarch and water. Gradually stir cornstarch mixture into boiling strawberry mixture. Reduce heat and simmer mixture until thickened, about 10 minutes, stirring constantly. Pour mixture over berries in tarts. Chill for several hours before serving.
Optional: Add whipped cream and/or drizzled chocolate ganache on top of the tarts.
Lemon poppy seed muffins (Ola Matysiakiewicz)
3 cups of all-purpose flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. poppy seeds
2/3 cup unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cup plain yogurt
2 tbsp. lemon zest (from one lemon)
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 cup icing sugar
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and poppy seeds.
In a separate bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Add eggs and lemon zest.
Alternatingly add dry ingredients then yogurt in thirds and beat until just incorporated.
Coat each muffin cup with butter then distribute the muffin dough equally among the cups. Bake until muffins are golden brown, about 20 minutes. Test the center of the muffins with a toothpick to make sure they are done.
Whisk together the icing sugar and lemon juice for the glaze. While the muffins are still a bit warm, use a spoon to pour the glaze over each muffin.
Caramel Espresso Bars (Ashley Ross)
3/4 cup butter, room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 egg yolk
2 tsp. freshly finely ground coffee beans (German chocolate cake variety from Timothy’s)
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar
1 1/2 cups dark chocolate chips
1/3 cup heavy cream
2 tsp. freshly finely ground coffee beans (German chocolate cake variety from Timothy’s)
1. Preheat oven to 350 C. Line an 8x8 baking pan with parchment paper.
2. In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugars until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape the bowl. Add the egg yolk and vanilla and beat to combine.
3. In a small bowl, combine the ground coffee with just enough water to dissolve it and form a thick paste, about 1 tsp. Add the dissolved coffee to the shortbread and mix well. Add the flour and salt and mix until just combined.
4. Press the shortbread into an even layer in the prepared pan. Pierce the crust with a fork all over.
5.Bake the crust 25-30 minutes until golden brown and just beginning to pull away from the sides of the pan.
6. Once the crust is baked, make the caramel. Place the butter, cream and sugar in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until smooth. Increase the heat to bring the mixture to a boil and cook, without stirring, until it reaches 240°C on a candy thermometer.
7. Pour the caramel on top of the shortbread and spread with a spatula to create an even layer. Cool for 10 minutes then place in the fridge and chill for 20 minutes.
8. Once the caramel is firm, melt the chocolate chips and cream in a saucepan, stirring until melted and smooth. Add the ground coffee and stir to dissolve. Pour the melted chocolate over the caramel and use a spatula or knife to smooth it out. Let chill until the chocolate is firm. Sprinkle with sea salt.
Adapted from wholebiteblog.com
Mini cheesecakes (Deanna Hope)
Mini Cheesecakes (modified slightly from a Kraft recipe)
1) Heat oven to 325 F
2) Mix 1 cup of graham cracker crumbs, 2 tbsp sugar, 3 tbsp of butter and press into bottom of 18 paper-lined muffin cups
3) Beat 3 packages of cream cheese, 1 tsp of vanilla and ¾ cup of sugar with a mixer until blended. Add 3 eggs, one at a time, mixing on low speed. Spoon over crusts.
4) Bake 25-30 minutes.
5) Press topping of choice (strawberry, chocolates, etc) into centre while they’re still warm.