Saturday, October 30, 2021

chocolate-zucchini cake









When I was growing up, my favourite cake was chocolate-zucchini cake.

No matter that I turned up my nose at the zucchini fresh out of the garden that turned up on my dinner plate. 

In fact, I was just saving my zucchini appetite for dessert.

My mom made this cake every year when we were inundated by giant zucchinis that just wouldn't stop growing.

And every time I ate it, I thought to myself: this is much better than a regular chocolate cake.

I have missed it for the past 14 years, as I've been baking gluten-free for my favourite Celiac husband. 

But I'm now happy to say that I've cracked the gluten-free chocolate-zucchini cake code!

So, of course I wanted to share it with you — whether you need a gluten-free version or not.






one year ago: mary berry's oat rounds

two years ago: german sunken plum cake

three years ago: oat-date slice




chocolate-zucchini cake

Note: This is half the size of my mom's original cake. If you make it with wheat flour, you could easily double the recipe and bake it in a 10-inch tube, 13 x 9-inch pan, or bundt pan.

90 g. (6 tbsp.) butter, softened
200 g. (1 c.) sugar
1 1/2 large eggs (or 2 medium)
1 tsp. vanilla
156 g. (1 1/4 c.) wheat flour 
   or gluten-free:
   62 g. millet flour
   46 g. potato starch
   46 g. sweet rice flour
   1 tsp. xanthan gum
1/4 c. cocoa powder
1 1/4 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 c. milk
1 c. zucchini, grated
1/2 c. mini chocolate chips
1/2 c. walnuts, chopped

Butter an 8-inch round pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.

Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time and mix well. Mix in vanilla. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, whisk dry ingredients together. 

Alternate adding the dry ingredients and milk to the butter mixture. Stir in zucchini, chocolate chips, and nuts at the end. Scrape into prepared pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 60 minutes. The cake is done when a tester comes out clean and it just starts to pull away from the edges of the pan.


Friday, June 12, 2020

mary berry's oat rounds

When we were in Scotland a few years ago, I found the cookies — or "biscuits" as they call them there — to be particularly inspiring in their plainness.

They were not gooey and packed full of chocolate chunks or exotic dried fruit.

They were crisp and buttery and just begging to be eaten with a good cup of strong black tea.

It was their very plainness that made them so desirable. A simple cookie is harder to get tired of. It becomes almost elemental, like good bread.

Upon our return to Canada, I set out to bake my way into these plain biscuits.

And here we are. A recipe from the ever-reliable and truly-lovely Mary Berry.

We have them on hand often. They keep well and are sturdy enough to pack on a road trip or hike. And, of course, they are perfect with a good cup of strong black tea in the late afternoon.

one year ago: oat-date slice
two years ago:
overnight oats with raspberries
three years ago:
(do you sense a theme?)


mary berry's oat rounds
slightly adapted
bakes up 18 — 20 cookies

50 g. berry/caster sugar*
100 g. butter, at room temperature
100 g. quick-cooking oats
50 g. wheat flour
     or gluten-free:
     20 g. millet flour
     15 g. potato starch
     15 g. sweet rice flour
     1/2 tsp. xanthan gum
1/4 tsp. fine sea salt

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees Celcius / 320 degrees Fahrenheit. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Cream the sugar and butter together in a big bowl. Set aside.

In another bowl, mix the oats, flour(s) and salt together. Work into the creamed butter and sugar.

Knead lightly until smooth. Roll on a lightly-floured work surface until about 5 mm thick. Use a 6 cm round cutter to cut rounds and place on prepared cookie sheets.

Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes, until starting to colour on the edges. Cool on a wire rack.

*If you don't have any berry or caster sugar, just grind plain white sugar in the food processor until it's finer. 

Saturday, October 19, 2019

german sunken plum cake

For the past three years, Classic German Baking has been my favourite cookbook.

By my latest count, I've made 31 of the recipes in the book. Everything from marble cake to choclate-dipped almond crescents to apple-marzipan cake to South German leek tart. And it's all very, very good. It is my dearest wish that Luisa would follow up this book with a classic German cooking book. Just putting that out there.

Anyway. This is the cake we have made the most often because it is endlessly adaptable, according to the fruit you have on hand.

When we lived on the Prairies, we often made it with sour cherries or chopped rhubarb that had been tossed with a handful of brown sugar.

Now that we're in Montreal, I've been finding some nice prune plums that have been crying out to be added to cakes. I happily oblige.

The cake takes only a few minutes to throw together and has such a good buttery flavour with pockets of sweet slumped fruit ... I expect I'll be baking it every couple of months for the rest of my life.

one year ago: overnight oats with raspberries
two years ago:
dutch koek
three years ago:
salted butter crackers


german sunken plum cake
adapted from luisa weiss's sunken lemon-cherry cake in classic german baking

130 g. (9 tbsp. + 1 tsp.) butter, at room temperature
180 g. (1 c. minus 1.5 tbsp.) sugar
3 eggs
grated peel of one lemon
180 g. wheat flour
     or gluten-free:
     70 g. millet flour
     55 g. sweet rice flour
     55 g. potato starch
     1 tsp. xanthan gum
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
300 — 400 g. (about 1.5 cups) quartered plums, pitted sour cherries, other stone fruit
icing sugar to dust (optional)

Turn the oven on to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Use parchment paper to line the bottom of a 9-inch/23 cm springform pan.

Beat the butter and sugar together until fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Mix in the grated lemon peel.

In another bowl, stir the flour(s), baking powder and salt together. Stir into the butter mixture until just combined. Make sure you've scraped the sides down to mix everything. If you are putting fruit in the batter (you may just put it on top), fold it in now.

Put the batter into your prepared pan and smooth the top. If you're putting fruit on top, do it now.

Bake for 50 — 60 minutes until it's golden brown and starting to pull away from the side of the pan.

Cool on a rack for 20 minutes before taking off the springform ring. You may dust with icing sugar before serving.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

oat-date slice

A few things have happened since I last wrote here.

The husband wrote his PhD thesis and successfully defended it.

We moved across the country (again) and now live in Montréal.

I can now say with confidence: "I have my own bag" and "have a good day" in French when I'm shopping.

La belle province is a land of milk and honey. Literally. We are eating excellent local cheese and the honey from the Atwater Market is so full of flavour that I feel like I can actually taste the wildflowers.

And even though it isn't French, this old Scottish favourite has become one of our favourite snacks.

It's called oat-date slice, and it's rather like matrimonial squares — but much simpler. The squares are soft but sturdy, and full of gooey dates. In other words, the perfect snack with your afternoon tea. (It's possible I've said that about other recipes here. It's all true.)

I adapted the recipe from The Scottish Farmers' Market Cookbook. We picked up this little gem on our honeymoon, way back in 2007.

one year ago: overnight oats with raspberries
two years ago: amazing overnight waffles
three years ago: sriracha tofu and broccolini with coconut rice

oat-date slice
The Scottish Farmers' Market Cookbook by Nick Paul

175 g. quick-cooking oats
130 g. brown sugar
1/4 tsp. sea salt
125 g. wheat flour
     or gluten-free:
     50 g. millet flour
     35 g. sweet rice flour
     40 g. potato starch
     1/2 tsp. xanthan gum
90 g. coconut flakes
135 g. butter
1/4 c. water
37 g. / 2 tbsp. golden syrup*
1 tsp. baking soda
200 g. dates, chopped roughly

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease an 8-by-8-inch baking dish or line it with parchment paper.

Stir oats, brown sugar, sea salt, flours and coconut together in a large bowl. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, melt the butter. Add the golden syrup and baking soda and whisk well. Stir into the oat mix. Mix well. Spread into the baking dish and use your fingers to pat it down evenly.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until golden and somewhat set. Let cool completely before cutting.

*You could probably use honey or corn syrup in a pinch.


Wednesday, August 15, 2018

overnight oats with raspberries

OK, I'm back.

I have a cool breakfast for you on this hot and hazy summer's day.

And by cool, I do mean cold. Which is nice when you wake up and the house is already too hot to do anything but walk around very slowly as you wake up and consider whether you actually want that hot cup of tea.

And by cool, I mean: the work is already done. You can make it up the night before and pop it in the fridge. Total prep time is a cool five minutes.

How did I come across this cool recipe, you ask?

Well, I was doing a breakfast survey of what y'all eat for breakfast and my friend Chira suggested this. I was intrigued. She shared the recipe. The rest is history, and overnight oats are now a firm favourite at the breakfast table chez Mitchell Campbell.

It's a very forgiving recipe. Scale it up or down as you please. I'm giving you enough to feed two people for three days. Or three people for two days. And so on. Do feel free to use other frozen or fresh fruit, too. Of course, you can also use flavoured yogurt and remove the honey and vanilla. See what I mean about it being a forgiving recipe?

one year ago: scotland
two years ago: eating out from amsterdam to vienna
three years ago: chicken coconut curry soup


overnight oats with raspberries
feeds 6 

2 c. quick oats*
1 c. milk
1 c. plain yogurt
1 — 2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 — 3 tbsp. honey
few grinds of salt
2 c. frozen raspberries

The night before breakfast, stir everything together but the raspberries. Taste and see if you'd like more honey or salt. Stir in the frozen raspberries. Cover and store in the fridge. Eat.

*Make sure those oats are certified gluten-free if you're feeding a Celiac.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

cock-a-leekie soup

Just a few months of radio silence there.

But now — now!

Now, it is 2018 and it appears to be the Year of the Flu at our house, so I have a great many chicken soup recipes in store for you.

Let's start with this one. Unless you're Scottish, you might not have heard of it before.

I will tell you all about it. First and foremost, it is very tasty and just the thing you want to eat in the winter, whether you are sickly or healthy. It is also quick, which is handy when you're frail or come home from work and want to eat quickly on a dark winter's night.

It is basically a chicken soup with leeks and rice ... but, oh, it is so much more than that.

The leeks and rice are like silky soulmates — you'll know what I mean when you take your first bite. And the lemon rind! Somehow, when you add a bay leaf and a piece of lemon rind to this soup, you get a soup that tastes much more complex than it actually is. The original recipe doesn't call for carrots but I like the way the orange flecks brighten up the soup.

Apparently, the first recipe was printed in 1598, although its very fun name wasn't popular until the 1700s. Also, the original version had prunes. Prunes! I could actually see them working here but I haven't tried them yet. I'll let you know.

Now, in terms of how you do the chicken, you have two options. You may start with a couple of chicken breasts and poach them in the broth while the soup cooks. Then you pull them out, cut them up, and throw them back in.

Or, you may start with the best invention in the grocery story: the rotisserie chicken. In that case, cut out little chunks and add them near the end. Either way, this is easy. And very, very comforting.

one year ago: old-fashioned scottish shortbread
two years ago: kimchi soup
three years ago: cheesecake in a jar with passion fruit sauce


cock-a-leekie soup
adapted from canadian living
serves 4 — 5

2 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 tbsp. butter
3 c. leeks, sliced
1 1/2 c. carrots, chopped
9 c. chicken stock
1 c. long-grain white rice, like jasmine or basmati
3 strips of lemon rind
2 bay leaves
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (raw or cooked)
salt and pepper
3 tbsp. flat-leaf parsley, chopped

Warm a Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add the oil and butter, then stir in the leeks and carrots. Throw in a bit of salt. Cover and cook for 5 to 10 minutes until leeks are soft.

Add stock, rice, lemon rind and bay leaf. If using raw chicken breast, throw in now. Bring to a boil. Simmer for about 18 to 20 minutes until rice is tender.

Remove the lemon rind and bay leaf. If you poached the chicken breast, remove it now and cut into small chunks. Add chicken chunks to the soup and heat up again.

Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir in parsley. Serve.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017


As far as I understand, it's pronounced like "kook."

The word is Dutch, and so is this lovely little loaf.

You might not be surprised when I tell you it has a slight black-licorice flavour, because of the anise powder. It has other warming spices, too — cinnamon, allspice and cloves — but the anise comes through the most.

If you don't love licorice, you might not love this loaf.

But if you do — oh, you're in for a treat.

It bakes up to be satisfyingly chewy and is absolutely the perfect thing slathered with butter right around mid-afternoon. With a cup of tea, of course.

This is another recipe from my friend Sheri's late mom, who was a wonderful home baker. If you'd like to try another recipe of hers, here's her Dutch marzipan cookies.

one year ago: eating out from amsterdam to vienna
two years ago: summer: germany
three years ago: mt. harris trail mix


original recipe from Mrs. Brink

2 c. wheat flour
     or gluten-free:
     70 g. millet flour
     70 g. oat flour
     70 g. sweet rice flour
     70 g. potato starch
     1 1/2 tsp. xanthan gum
1 c. brown sugar
3 tsp. baking powder
1 tbsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. anise
1/8 tsp. allspice
1/8 tsp. cloves
1/2 c. molasses
1 c. milk

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a loaf pan.

Get out a big bowl and mix the dry ingredients. Stir in the molasses and milk. Pour into loaf pans.

Bake 45 minutes to 1 hour, until set and a toothpick comes out clean.

Saturday, July 15, 2017


My dear readers — where did I go?

Well, as you can see here, Scotland.

But that was just for two weeks. Otherwise, I've been sticking close to home in Edmonton and Calgary. My writing coaching business is growing, which means less time to come and dollop around over here.

However. I continue to cook and bake, so surely I can work myself up to posting about it more than once every three months? I certainly hope so. In fact, I've been making a lot of Scottish food lately.

So, Scotland! Let me show you some pictures ...


Rhodos in full bloom in Kelvingrove Park, next to Kelvingrove Art Gallery
The River Kelvin (AKA our running route)
Twilight stroll in the Glasgow Botanical Garden to
celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary

Isle of Bute:


Isle of Mull:

Isle of Skye:


Oh, and you were wondering about the food? 

We loved it — thank you for asking. The local creamy cheese, the cockles meat, the smoked fish, the perfect soups for lunch ... You see why I've been inspired to make more Scottish food at home.

one year ago: walnut pesto