Cinnamon Sweet Bread

Did you ever get the urge to bake (often on a storm day, for example) and realize that every recipe you look at requires a shopping trip to the supermarket?  Well, here’s my answer to that dilemma.  Today’s recipe is Cinnamon Sweet Bread that takes no more than pantry staples.  So long as you have basic baking supplies, you can whip this tasty sweet bread up in no time.

This is the recipe our family has been making for years.  I slice the loaf and individually wrap each slice for the freezer as this loaf freezes very well.  Having the slices pre-wrapped and stored in either a freezer zip-lok bag or airtight container means snacks for work and school are conveniently ready for quick departure on weekday mornings.

This is an easy loaf to make. The only challenge is to ensure that the loaf not be over-baked as it will be dry.

Even though I add the cinnamon-sugar mixture on an evenly spread base of one-half the batter, I am always intrigued by how, as the bread rises, the cinnamon forms its own shape. I think this one looks like a smiley face!

Cinnamon Sweet Bread


1 cup milk + 2 tsp vinegar

¼ cup shortening
1 cup white sugar
2 extra-large eggs
1½ tsp vanilla

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt

2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp cinnamon


Assemble ingredients.

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease or spray 9”x5x3” loaf pan with cooking spray. Pan may be lined with tin foil and greased/sprayed for easy clean-up.

Place one cup milk into measuring cup or small bowl. Add 2 tsp vinegar. Set aside to let milk sour for about 5-7 minutes.

Meanwhile, cream shortening and sugar together well.

Beat in eggs and vanilla.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

Blend dry ingredients into mixture alternately with the sour milk, starting and ending with dry ingredients (three additions of dry ingredients and two of sour milk). Mix only until ingredients are incorporated.

The batter for this loaf will be smooth, not lumpy.

In small bowl, combine the brown sugar and cinnamon. Set aside.

Transfer one-half the batter to the prepared loaf pan and spread evenly in pan.

Sprinkle about three-quarters of the cinnamon-brown sugar mixture over batter, covering completely.

Cover with remaining batter.

Sprinkle the remaining cinnamon-brown sugar mixture over top of batter.

Bake for 45-50 minutes or until cake tester inserted into center of loaf comes out clean.

Let stand in pan for about 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool. Let cool completely before slicing.

Yield: 1 loaf

I am going to be joining in on Sandi’s 5th Anniversary of Tea Time Blogging this week over at Rose Chintz Cottage.


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Raisin Puff (aka Plum Puff)

Today, I’m sharing the recipe for a real old-fashioned vintage dessert. Some of you may remember your mother or grandmother making Raisin Puff (aka Plum Puff) dessert or, perhaps, you have made it yourself.

This dessert was popular in my part of the world up until about the early 1960s but is not so common anymore. It’s one of those desserts that carries a lot of nostalgia with it. When I first mentioned that I was working on a posting for Raisin Puff, several people said they hadn’t had it in years but it brings back great memories of their childhood days when Raisin Puff was a staple in many PEI households. Some remember grandmothers making this dessert in huge pans for their large families. Others remember going to visit neighbours and being served Raisin Puff. My mother recalls her own mother always having Raisin Puff on hand. I suspect the popularity of this dessert may have been due to it being a very substantial, filling dessert that does not call for many ingredients nor any that are difficult to source. So long as one has raisins and common baking ingredients, it’s a dessert that can be made from pantry stock without having to go on a special shopping trip to the supermarket.

Raisin Puff is essentially raisin pie without the pastry crust. In its place, a cookie dough is used for the base and top into which is sandwiched a spiced, cooked raisin filling.

Following my recipe below, I will offer some tips on how to make this tasty dessert.

Raisin Puff
(aka Plum Puff)

Raisin filling:
1 lb sultana raisins
2½ cups water
1 tbsp orange juice

½ cup white sugar
3 tbsp flour
½ tsp salt
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp cloves
½ tsp nutmeg

1 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp butter

Cookie Dough Base and Top:
½ cup butter
1 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
1 extra-large egg
1 tsp vanilla
¾ cup milk
3¼ cups + 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp cream of tartar
½ tsp salt

Sugar for sprinkling on top crust


Assemble ingredients.

Place raisins into a medium-sized saucepan. Add the water and orange juice.

Cover raisin mixture and bring to a boil then immediately reduce heat, uncover, and boil mixture gently over medium-low heat for 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Mix white sugar, flour, salt, and spices for the filling together.

Add dry ingredients to raisins and cook, uncovered, over medium low heat until thick, about 10-12 minutes, stirring constantly and gently to prevent scorching.

Remove from heat and add vanilla and butter. Stir well.

Place saucepan on wire cooling rack and let mixture cool completely to room temperature, stirring several times, for a couple of hours or so.

Preheat oven to 400°F. Grease 9”x13” pan.

In large bowl, cream butter and brown sugar.

Add egg and beat well.

Add vanilla and milk and beat until incorporated.

Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt together.

Add dry ingredients to the creamed mixture, a cup at a time, stirring until combined.

Transfer dough to floured flat surface and knead dough into a disk shape.

Divide the dough into two equal parts.

Form each half of the dough into a rectangular log shape.

Cut a piece of wax paper about 18” long. Sprinkle lightly with flour.

On the wax paper, roll out half of the dough into a rectangle shape the size of the pan.

Lay the pan upside down over the dough. Catch both ends of the wax paper while grabbing onto the ends of the pan and flip the pan and dough over together.

Remove the wax paper and adjust and press the dough to fit the bottom of the pan.

Spread the cooled raisin mixture evenly over the cookie dough base.

On wax paper sprinkled lightly with flour, roll out the remaining half of the dough into a rectangle shape to fit the size of the pan. By catching hold of the ends of the wax paper, carefully lift the wax paper and dough up and flip it over on to the raisin filling. Remove the wax paper. Sprinkle the crust with white sugar, if desired.

Bake for 18-20 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire cooling rack before cutting into 2” squares and serving.

Yield: 24 – 2” squares


Hints and Tips

Cooking the Raisin Filling

The one ingredient not listed in the recipe is patience! This is not a quick dessert to make. This is because the raisin mixture has to first be cooked then allowed to cool to room temperature before assembling the dessert.

Once the sugar-flour-spice mixture is added to the raisins, it is important to stir the mixture constantly to avoid scorching but do so gently so as not to break up the raisins. The raisins should keep their shape for this dessert.

Let the raisin mixture cool at room temperature as opposed to trying to speed up the cooling process by placing it in the refrigerator. The filling will thicken more as it cools slowly. The filling will be a better texture and  easier to spread if allowed to cool naturally at room temperature. This cooling process will take at least two hours (remember, I mentioned patience!).

It is important to let the mixture cool completely before spreading it on the cookie dough base because, if the mixture is too warm, it will start to melt, or break down, the composition of the cookie dough, yielding a doughy base.

Stirring the mixture occasionally as it cools will also help the filling to thicken. By the time the mixture is cool enough to spread on the cookie dough base, it should be sufficiently thick that it clings to the spoon as shown in the photo below.

Cookie Dough

The top and bottom crusts are made of a soft cookie dough which means only barely enough flour is used to be able to roll it out. Add the dry ingredients to the dough mixture, a cup at a time, blending well before adding the next cup.

Once the cookie dough mixture has been prepared, it needs to be divided into two equal parts – one for the base and one for the top. If you are able to “eyeball” the equal division, great. If not, or for more assurance that the top and bottom crusts are of equal depth, I recommend weighing each dough portion to ensure equal amounts of dough are apportioned for the two crusts. I love my kitchen scales and couldn’t get along without them.

It also helps to shape each dough portion into rectangular-shaped logs before starting to roll out the dough to fit the 9”x13” pan. This will help to shape the dough as it is being rolled out. Lightly flour a piece of wax paper about 18” long. Rolling out the dough on the wax paper will make it easier to transfer the dough to the pan as this is a very soft dough. If you try to pick up the dough in your hands to move it, it will stretch and might tear before it reaches the pan.

Try to keep the depth of the dough even as you roll it out. If the dough starts to roll out unevenly, gently “square” it up by repositioning or reshaping it with your hands. When you think it is about the size of the pan, hold the pan over the dough and make any necessary adjustments to the dough so it will fit the pan.

Place the greased pan, upside down, over the dough. Grasp both ends of the wax paper and the ends of the pan and flip the dough and pan over together at the same time. The dough will drop into the pan. Remove the wax paper and make any minor adjustments needed so the dough covers the bottom of the pan completely. Do not put any dough up the sides of the pan. Sounds easy enough – and the bottom crust is. It’s the top crust placement that’s a bit tricky.

Once the raisin mixture is cooled, evenly spread it over the base. Prepare the top crust using the same procedure as for the bottom crust. Obviously, with the raisin filling now added, the pan cannot be turned upside down over the dough! This means the dough on the wax paper needs to be flipped on top of the filling. This is one of those times where it’s important to get it right the first time as there is no opportunity to remove or re-adjust the top crust once it is placed on the sticky raisin filling and the filling needs to be completely covered with the crust. Bring the wax paper with the dough on it as close to the pan as possible. Grab both ends of the wax paper and flip the dough on to the filling, then remove the wax paper. Sprinkle a light dusting of sugar on top of the crust, if desired.


Bake the Raisin Puff in a 400°F oven on a rack positioned in the middle of the oven.  Bake for about 18-20 minutes. It’s important that the dough get baked but it is not meant to be hard. It still should have some “give” and softness to it – a fork should easily break through the crust with moderate resistance.


Let the Raisin Puff cool completely in the pan on a wire cooling rack before cutting into 2” squares. This dessert is not a finger food because of the gooey filling so is best served plated.


Store in refrigerator.

This dessert goes particularly well with a fine cup of tea and, because it does, I’m going to pop over and join Sandi at Rose Chintz Cottage for her weekly teatime.


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Plum Puff
Raisin Puff


My Island Bistro Kitchen Celebrates 3rd Blogiversary Food Blogging

Today, I celebrate my third blogiversary, three years blogging about food.  For those of you who are regular followers of my blog, you’ll notice I often focus on food that is produced in my home province of Prince Edward Island on the East Coast of Canada and I frequently features stories about Island food producers.  As I have said countless times, we may be Canada’s smallest province but we sure do produce some mighty fine food!  Along with top quality food products to work with, Island-produced food  gives me great inspiration to cook, bake, and blog.

So, some “eye candy” to celebrate the blogiversary.

I live in a winter climate so I chose ice blue for the cupcake frosting, almost a Tiffany blue.

I like the turquoise-colored frosting against the chocolate cupcakes encased in the silver foil liners.  There are many pretty paper cupcake liners on the market but I have yet to discover the trick to keeping the oil/butter from seeping through and spoiling the look of them.  That’s one reason why I like the foil liners – they stay clean.

The cupcakes are themed around snowflakes and ice crystals.  Here’s a close-up of the detail.


I spent some time playing with the lighting today so these cupcakes starred in many photos!  (They were very patient subjects!)


One of the things I like most about cupcakes is that they are each a little mini canvas to work with.  They are also more casual than a cake and each guest gets his/her own mini cake.  As well, they are size and portion-controlled and don’t need to be served on a plate!

They may be a more casual option to a celebratory cake but that doesn’t mean cupcakes can’t be dressed up for the party!

Thanks for stopping by “the Bistro” today and celebrating my third blogiversary with me!  Cheers!



Thank you for visiting “the Bistro” today. There are lots of ways to connect with “the Bistro” through social media:

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Sausage-Stuffed Cremini Mushroom Caps

Sausage-stuffed Cremini Mushroom Caps
Sausage-stuffed Cremini Mushroom Caps

I was recently contacted by Laure Solange Tchamdja, President and CEO of Aldanel Authentic Foods, of Charlottetown, PEI, to let me know about her new line of tomato sauces being produced right here on PEI. I sat down for a chat with Tchamdja to find out more about the sauces.

In October, 2013, Tchamdja began producing tomato sauce. The company manufactures five varieties of their tomato-based sauces, all sold in 240ml bottles: Tomato Celebration, Spinach Carnival, Chili Tango, Carrot Symphony, and Rouge Poivron. Over the period of some nine months in the lab, the BioFood Technology plant on the UPEI campus in Charlottetown helped Tchamdja convert her family recipe into a commercial product suitable for the retail market. As the company does not presently have its own manufacturing plant, the sauces are produced at the BioFood Technology plant on the UPEI campus in Charlottetown.

Tchamdja wanted to create a tomato sauce product that is safe and healthy, not too spicy, and that would help working women, young professionals, and students prepare healthy meals at home. She says her products are versatile and multipurpose and one does not have to be a chef to use them. They can be used directly from the bottle as pasta sauces, added to soups and vegetables, used as a condiment for meat and fish, as a sauce for pizza, on nachos, and even as marinades for meat and fish. So, the product can be used as is without having to cook it again or it can be used as an ingredient in a recipe. Tchamdja says her products are all natural with no preservatives and are low in sugar.

Initially, Tchamdja sold her tomato sauces at local PEI shops such as Riverview Country Market. She has since expanded her markets to include Sobey’s and Co-op Supermarkets, Pete’s Frootique in Halifax, and Winners and Home Sense stores in Eastern Canada.

The products are sold under the Aldanel™ label, the letters for which are formed from those found in the names of her children. Depending on the retailer, prices per 240 ml bottle range from $4.49 to $5.99 (as of the time of writing).

Tchamdja offered me some complimentary samples of her Tomato Celebration sauce to try. Tchamdja is correct – I found the sauce to be a versatile ingredient in several dishes. I have used it as a pizza sauce and found it very tasty. I have also used it in a recipe I created for  baked stuffed fingerling hors d’oeuvres. And, I have used it as an ingredient in the following recipes for sausage-stuffed cremini mushroom caps.

My recipe for stuffed mushrooms is suitable for hors d’oeuvres or, add a tomato sauce, and they turn into an appetizer.

I have chosen to use cremini mushrooms but white button mushrooms would also work.  As well, any kind of sausage can be used – I have chosen to use sun-dried tomato sausage from KJL Meats here in Charlottetown.  The herb and garlic Gouda cheese I used is from Glasgow Glen Farm in New Glasgow, PEI. The tomato sauce that I am featuring in both recipes is Aldanel’s “Tomato Celebration” variety but any of their other sauces would work well, too.

Sausage-stuffed Cremini Mushroom Caps
Sausage-stuffed Cremini Mushroom Caps

Stuffed Cremini Mushroom Caps (Hors d’oeuvres)

1 tsp olive oil
½ tsp butter

12 medium-sized cremini mushrooms, washed, dried, and de-stemmed (reserve the stems)
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1½ tbsp onion, finely chopped
2 oz. sun-dried tomato sausage, removed from casing and loosely broken up
2 tbsp Ardanel™ tomato sauce
2 tsp truffle aioli
½ tsp basil
½ cup fine breadcrumbs
2 tbsp shredded Gouda cheese
1 tbsp finely grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper, to taste


Assemble ingredients.

Trim and discard ends from mushroom stems.

Remove the stems from the mushroom caps and place mushroom stems into bowl of small food processor. Pulse until mixture is finely chopped.

Add garlic, onion, and sausage and pulse just until mixture is combined.

Preheat oven to 375ºF.

Heat oil in small frypan. Add butter.

Add mushroom-sausage mixture and cook over medium heat for 4-5 minutes, or until sausage meat is no longer pink.

Transfer mixture to small bowl.

Add the tomato sauce.

Add truffle aioli, basil, breadcrumbs, and cheeses along with salt and pepper to taste.

Place mushroom caps on parchment-lined baking sheet. Stuff each mushroom cap with mixture, slightly mounding the top. Sprinkle with finely grated Parmesan cheese.

Bake for about 12 minutes. Garnish with fresh chives, sliced green onion, or parsley, if desired.  Serve immediately.

Yield: 12 hors d’oeuvres

Sausage-stuffed Cremini Mushroom Caps
Sausage-stuffed Cremini Mushroom Caps

Stuffed Cremini Mushroom Caps with Tomato Sauce (Appetizer)

12 sausage-stuffed cremini mushroom caps (recipe above)

Tomato Sauce:

½ tbsp butter
1½ tbsp flour
½ cup chicken or vegetable broth
½ cup light cream or milk
¼ cup Ardanel™ tomato sauce
½ tsp Italian seasoning
¼ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
½ cup shredded Mozarella cheese


Over medium heat, melt butter. Stir in flour.

Whisk in the broth and milk until mixture is smooth.

Stir briskly until mixture starts to thicken then add the tomato sauce, Italian seasoning, and cheeses.


Stir until cheese is melted and sauce is thickened to desired consistency.

Grease four oven-safe appetizer-sized baking dishes. Place three stuffed mushrooms into each dish.

Pour the sauce over the mushrooms, dividing it equally between the four dishes.

Sprinkle with shredded mozzarella cheese.

Broil on high for about 5-6 minutes, until cheese is melted and sauce is bubbling. Serve immediately.

Yield: 4 appetizer servings

Sausage-stuffed Cremini Mushroom Caps in Tomato Sauce
Sausage-stuffed Cremini Mushroom Caps in Tomato Sauce

To learn more about the Aldanel tomato sauce products, visit their website.

This recipe is also being submitted for the Foodie Pages CHEF’S BOX Challenge.


Thank you for visiting “the Bistro” today. There are lots of ways to connect with “the Bistro” through social media:

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