Category Archives: baking

Lemon Blueberry Muffins

I really should of been a baker. Not a fancy sort with funky icing designs, or cake too pretty to eat sort of baker, but a practical, every day healthy food consumption kind of baker.  Stop at my little corner bakery on the way to work for your breakfast to-go.  I could do it.  Maybe I should do it…

Sixteen years ago when my son was diagnosed with life threatening food allergies (peanuts and tree nuts) I started paying attention to ingredients in food. Up until then I had the grab and shove in cart mentality.

That many years ago there wasn’t a large variety of peanut/nut free foods or even strict allergen listing requirements that is available today. So, if my child was to enjoy a cookie, or a muffin or at that point, bread, I had better get the baking ingredients out and get’er done.  Besides, I started to notice this food in EVERYTHING called ‘Soy’ and labeled in many different forms. Soy lecithin, soy flour, hydrolyzed soy, soy soy soy. After much research into the world of soy, we avoid all soy in this home and if you buy anything premade/boxed etc., you will more than likely find it in the ingredients list. Anyways, this post isn’t about the deteriorating ingredient list in foods, its about super refreshing delicious Lemon Blueberry Muffins.

When it comes to blueberries and baking, the type matters. The small wild blueberries, won’t give you the blue bleed. The taste of biting into a juicy blueberry isn’t as prominent in the small blueberries, so I recommend Blueberries. You can use wild blueberries, just not my fav when it comes to baking.

If you are lucky like us, you will have a Mennonite Blueberry Farm around the corner. I can pop in anytime of year and grab a bag of frozen big juicy blueberries.

Chances are you can buy blueberries in your local area in the late summer when it is in season. The good things about this farm is they don’t use pesticides or harmful treatments so you can just plop them in a freezer bag and have on hand all year around. No washing. (Fantastic for smoothies too).

I also got a wonderful gift recently from a friend who went to Mexico and brought back vanilla.  The good stuff!

Like most of my recipes they have happened by accident and the measurements are my critiquing over time. Ok, here we go.

Side Note: I never advocate for the use of margarine in my baking.  It has a different outcome and really, if you are using margarine, do yourself a favour and don’t.  Seriously, don’t believe all the crap the agencies tell you.  Hydrolyzed anything and soy is not for human consumption!

Ingredients

1/2 cup melted butter
2 large farm eggs
3/4 cup of milk
1 cup of organic cane sugar
2 cups of blueberries (frozen is best for the addition to baking)
Zest of 2 organic lemons (zest of anything should be organic to avoid crop sprays)
2 tsp of vanilla
2 cups of AP flour, plus more for blueberry dusting
1 1/2 tsp of baking powder
1/2 tsp of salt

See that ingredient list?  Wonderful!  Okay, lets get ready to bake!

Preheat your oven to 375 – I use convention oven, but any oven will do.  Line your muffin tray with paper cups.

In a medium bowl add the flour, baking powder and salt and mix.

In an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, add your melted butter (room temperature so you don’t scramble your eggs), vanilla, sugar, milk and mix until all incorporated.  Add in your lemon zest.jUNE 2017 058
(yup, those are pretty blue eggs from a friends farm)

Put the frozen blueberries into a bowl and cover them with flour and make sure they are all dusted.

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After your wet ingredients are all mixed well, add in your dry ingredients slowly with mixer on low.  Let it mix for 1 minute on medium speed.  If your batter looks too dry don’t be afraid to add a splash of milk to get the desired texture seen in the picture.  Some flours, especially depending on age, can be more dry than others.  A bit more milk never hurt anyone.

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Remove bowl from mixer stand.  Add your frozen flour dusted blueberries (not all the flour in the bottom of the bowl, just the blueberries) to your batter.  Fold the blueberries in gently.

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Once completely mixed, scoop into lined muffin tray.  Fill them up!

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Put the trays in your preheated oven.  Turn 1/2 way through cooking.  Watch your muffins as they can easily overcook in the matter of 2 mins.  Then you’ll have dry I need a drink of coffee kind of muffins.  Look for a bounce back when gently pushed in the middle to see if it is done.  Cook for 15-20 mins depending on your oven and elevation.

Remove from tray immediately and place on a bakers rack to cool.

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Bakers tip:  Baked foods always continue to cook for a few minutes while cooling.  So its OK to pull from the oven when JUST done, that extra minute you would wait in the oven, let it do it on the counter.

This is such a great ‘summer’ muffin that can be enjoyed at anytime of the year.  The lemon is fresh and the blueberries are juicy!

Thanks for stopping by!

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Be Good To The Senior In You ❤️

Buttermilk Bran Muffins

Ingredients
1 cup of 100% Wheat Bran
1 1/2 cup of 1% buttermilk
1/3 cup sunflower or safflower oil
1 large egg
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp of vanilla
1 cup of AP Flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup (more or less) raisins

Directions:  Preheat over to 375 (convection bake). Line muffin tin with muffin paper or silicone inserts. My preference is non-bleached muffin paper that is biodegradable. Top that Starbucks & Tim Hortons!!

Bowl #1
Wheat bran and buttermilk. Mix and let it stand for 5-10 mins.

Bowl #2
Oil, brown sugar, egg and vanilla. Mix with a blender on medium until creamy and smooth.

Mix bowl #2 into bowl #1. Make sure they are incorporated into each other fully.

Add flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt into mixture and mix with spatula until smooth and mixed well.  Stir in raisins.

Scoop into prepared muffin pan. Fill to the top of the liner. Not halfway. All the way to the top (see picture).

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Bake in preheated oven for 12-15 minutes. Easy right?v
Use the ‘spring back’ test to check for readiness.  Remove promptly from pan and place on cooling rack.

Enjoy warm and cooled.

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Lemon Blueberry Cranberry Muffins, Oh My!!

These muffins are a huge hit at home and everywhere I have taken them.  It’s a recipe I created from scratch and have critiqued over time.  I have a friend who just bought and moved into his new house and I’ll be visiting soon with these beauties as a house warming gift. Nothing like edible gifts!!

Some of the measurements like milk are easily added to, to make the muffin batter the right texture.  I usually just pour and mix and call it done when it looks right.  Today I measured (sort of) while I was making them so I could share this recipe.

As always, my recipes call for butter.  Don’t talk to me if you use margarine in my recipes and it tastes like shit.

Ingredients
3/4 cup of melted salted butter
2 large eggs
3/4 cup of milk (I use skim)
2 tsp of pure vanilla extract
1 cup of cane sugar
1/4 cup of brown sugar

2 cups of all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp of baking powder
1/2 tsp of salt

Rind of 2 lemons
Large fresh organic blueberries dusted with flour
Organic Cranberries

I didn’t give a quantity of cranberries or blueberries as I find it is usually a personal preference.  I used about 3/4 cup of large blueberries and a little bit less of cranberries.  Einstein doesn’t like it to be a berry explosion, he likes it all in moderation.

Directions
Prepare baking pan with muffin liners and set aside. Preheat oven to 375 (convect bake). Dust blueberries with flour and set aside. Cut cranberries in half and set aside. Grate off lemon rind from both lemons and set aside.

In medium bowl mix flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In a big bowl add eggs, milk, vanilla and sugar. Mix on medium for about 2 minutes. (I use a stand mixer, but hand held will be fine as well). Add melted butter slowly while mixer is continuing to mix. Put 1/2 cup of flour mixture at a time into your egg mixture, ensuring it is fully incorporated before adding the next 1/2 cup. When all the flour mixture is added, continue on medium speed mixing for one more minute.

Add in rind of the lemons and mix for another minute.

Remove bowl from stand mixer and drop in blueberries (minus left over flour) and cranberries and still just until incorporated. Careful to not over do it, or the berries could break and smear, however it’s not the end of the world if they do.

Scoop into lined muffin tray and place in oven. Cook for 15-20 minutes and remove from oven when done. Each oven is different so keep a watchful eye on them. See bakers tip for best results.

Bakers Tip: don’t cook muffins all the way until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Once muffins or any bread based baking (exemption: true bread) is removed from the oven it will continue to cook, especially when left in the pan. It’s easy to over cook muffins making them dry and crumbly when waiting until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Instead when a little bit of muffin batt er is sticky on your toothpick, remove from oven and leave in pan for 10 minutes. I use muffin liners so the muffins don’t stick to the pan. If you don’t use muffin liners they will still continue to cook once out of the pan while cooling.

This batter is versitile and always willing to please. You can mix it up, by adding lemon rinds and fresh raspberries, orange rind with cranberry, or simply just add berries without a fruit rind.  Chunked apples, cinnamon, nutmeg, I try it a lot in this batter and it hasn’t failed me yet.  We are a nut free, peanut free home but I’m sure this recipe could definitely tolerate some nuts as well.

The lemon rind makes these muffins a step above the rest and when you bite into a blueberries or cranberry it’s just a little bit of simple heaven. Enjoy!

Versatile Chocolate Chip Muffins

I like this recipe for the simplicity and how good they taste. The batter is rich and creamy which allows for equal distribution of the chocolate chips. Other recipes I’ve tried the chips all fall to the bottom.

The good thing about this batter is you can mix it up. You could add more or less chocolate chips, nuts, dried fruits or blueberries cranberries etc. It’s pretty versatile, so give it a try. It won’t disappoint.

I have swapped out the milk for buttermilk when I use blueberries instead of the chocolate chips and it is delicious but for other variations of the recipes I usually stick with skim milk. I’m sure almond milk etc., would be fine. We can’t use nuts or peanuts in our home so if you use a milk alternative let me know how it is 🙂  When using butter milk, increase quantity to 1 cup.

I use ‘Enjoy Life’ mini chocolate chips.  Not only are they free of all top 8 allergens, their ingredient list is simple and they are NON-GMO verified.  Ingredients:  brown sugar, cocoa mass, cocoa butter.  That’s it that’s all.  it doesnt need to be more. There isn’t soy, artifical colour or flavours, or ‘natural’ flavours added.  No junk.  A regular size bag of the Mini’s costs approx. $4 but when they are on sale I buy more and freeze.

Recommendation for recipe: Butter only. No margarine or other oil based alternatives.

CHOCOLATE CHIP MUFFINS RECIPE

2 cups all purpose flour
2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup cane sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup milk
1/2 cup butter, melted and slightly cooled
2 eggs
2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup milk chocolate chips

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375°F.
Put muffin liners in muffin pan.
In a large bowl, stir together flour, sugars, baking powder, and salt.
In another bowl, beat with mixer on low, milk, eggs, butter, and vanilla until blended.
Add wet mixture to dry mixture.
Beat on medium low until mixed well.
Stir in chocolate chips.
Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups.
Now bake for 15-20 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in center of one muffin comes out clean.
Remove muffin tin to wire rack.
Cool for 5 minutes.
Remove from tins to finish cooling.
Serve warm or completely cool.

Oreos In The Pantry

Definition of Anaphylaxis: Anaphylaxis is a severe, potentially life-threatening allergic reaction. It can occur within seconds or minutes of exposure to something you’re allergic to, such as a peanut or the venom from a bee sting.

The flood of chemicals released by your immune system during anaphylaxis can cause you to go into shock; your blood pressure drops suddenly and your airways narrow, blocking normal breathing. Signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis include a rapid, weak pulse, a skin rash, and nausea and vomiting. Common triggers of anaphylaxis include certain foods, some medications, insect venom and latex. Anaphylaxis requires an immediate trip to the emergency department and an injection of epinephrine. If anaphylaxis isn’t treated right away, it can lead to unconsciousness or even death.

My son, Flyp is an anaphylactic. He’s anaphylactic to peanuts. Most recently he has dropped tree nuts, but we will still be avoiding them for 2 years until we have a second negative test. Simply put a peanut can kill him.

Flyp is 15 years old. Over the years the availability of peanut and nut free foods has definitely been increasing. It’s wonderful. Other allergens such as gluten, milk/dairy etc. are also getting the spot light and allergens are being respected. The FDA has strict labelling laws to help protect anaphylactic persons. This makes a big difference for families living with allergies and/or anaphylaxis. Some big restaurant chains have allergen listings which helps as well. Real progress over the years.

I won’t get into the emotional and physical stress that comes with allergies today. I’d like to just keep it simple in this write.

Dare Foods is superior in peanut and nut free foods in my opinion. Crackers, cookies, jelly beans, June jubes, Melba toast. I just got an email today/press release from Anaphylaxis Canada that Dare has partnered with Cineplex for a safer environment for all. Wow. Impressive. But we also have other companies like Enjoy Life, Nabisco, Quaker, Presidents Choice, Natures Best, to name a few, who have made a lot of peanut/nut free (and some other allergens too) alternatives for families that live with allergies.

Although Flyp does gets some store bought cookies every once in a while…thank you Dare, Nabisco and Presidents Choice, he has always wondered about the famous Oreo. The one everyone loves. The one his friends say ‘man it must suck to have an Oreo free life’. Everyone loves an Oreo. I do prefer to make our own cookies, just way less junk in the ingredients list and we have become used to it with his allergies. However once in a while Flyp wants to have a store bought box of cookies.

Today I was out doing errands before the snow storm hits tomorrow and I noticed a bag of mini Oreos. The bag looked like it has the very recognizable peanut free symbol on it. I did a double take. It is!! Oreo Minis are peanut free. I read the label. Yup. Looked at the other Oreo bags, they all have peanut free symbols on them. I get my phone out and call the 1-800 number on the bag and ask all my relevant questions. They pass the test and make it into my cart. I grabbed a carton of chocolate milk and said today will be the day. A question answered. Yes it’s not the most important question in the world, but it’s one of his many questions in life.

I wish I videoed his first Oreo taste. Flyp is definitely on the Oreo band wagon. Best cookie ever. Being the good mother I am, I didn’t put him in the spot and ask him whose is better, mine or the scrumptious Oreo. I can’t handle the truth. Hahah! He’s a teenager whose never had an Oreo until today. I’m totally cool with taking the back seat for a bit.

It’s just a bag of Oreos to most, but to us it’s been a forbidden item for 15 years. That bag of Oreos is gone less than 4 hours later. I’m ok with it. Everyone needs freedom to eat a whole bag of Oreo minis once in a while.

So, today a bag of Oreo Mini’s made it to the pantry.

Butter Tart Squares

These babies do not disappoint. They are so creamy and delicious, I love baking them and getting to showing off while sharing them. An extra bonus is the house smells so yummy when you bake these, like a big sweet, creamy, candy store.

Use butter. It frustrates me beyond belief when people use margarine in recipes. Baking should be about ‘whole foods’ as much as possible. Throw the margarine out and do yourself, and those that eat the baking, a favour. Keep it real. Butter it up!!

Butter Tart Squares

Crust/Base
1/2 cup butter
2 tbsp icing sugar
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour

The Filling
1 1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup of melted butter
2 eggs lightly beaten
1 tbsp distilled white vinegar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup of raisins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

To Make Base: In a small mixer bowl, cream together 1/2 cup butter or margarine and confectioners’ sugar. Blend in flour. Pat into 9X9 inch square pan. Bake in preheated oven for 3 minutes.
To Make Filling: In a large bowl combine brown sugar, melted butter or margarine, beaten eggs, vinegar, vanilla, and raisins. Pour over base and bake in preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes, until set.
Side Note: I use my mixer to beat the filling. I prefer the lighter texture instead of a more dense filling. It will appear foamy. But trust me, it’s amazing.

Bread. Simple But It’s True.

Bread has been traumatized. Brutalized. Abused. For most the reality of making homemade bread seems out of reach. Family life is crazy busy, work consumes our energy and we typically buy bread out of convenience.

Sliced sandwich bread should come with a FDA warning. The crap they put in it is inexcusable. Soy, Canola, Fructose. It’s a real tragedy.

Well, I have a simple diverse recipe for loaf bread, french bread or you can shape into buns for lunches. It’s fast and simple.  Trusted and true. I’m not just saying that, it really is. It’s also wayyyy cheaper than store bought junk that you put in your trunk!

You will need a stand mixer for this recipe and a bread loaf pan – or if your going to make buns or french loaf, just a cookie sheet with parchment paper will do.
By stand mixer, I mean the big mixers with the bread dough hook.

Recipe

Grease a loaf pan. (Use butter)

In stand mixer add in this order.
1 1/2 cups of really warm water
2 tsp salt
1 tsp cane sugar (I recommend organic cane sugar to avoid the use of refined sugars)
4 cups of bread flour – spread the flour over the wet solution in bowl.
2 tsp of instant yeast.

For sliced Sandwich Bread.
Heat oven to 150-175F. Turn off. Boil water and pour into a pan in oven on bottom rack.

Put all ingredients in mixer bowl in order listed.  Spread the flour over the liquid mix and sprinkle yeast over top of entire mixture.

Turn on mixer to low speed. Let it get completely mixed and then turn mixer off for 3 minutes (give or take don’t stress). Turn back on to level 2 and let mixer continue to kneed for 8-9 minutes. Turn mixer off for 2 minutes. This ‘off’ is to allow the flour to absorb water and for the gluten to relax (we want it to relax then get stretched again). Turn mixer on speed 2 for 5-6 minutes. Dough should be soft and look smooth.

Remove dough from bowl, roll out a bit. Make it long enough to fit into bread pan. Tuck ends in and roll into a log. Pinching seams closed. Dust with a bit of flour on top and make 3 slits.

Let sit while you boil some more water. Empty existing water in oven and refill with boiling water. (I just use a pie dish to hold the boiling water). Place loaf in the over the boiling water and let rise until it is well over the top of the pan. (Approx. 45 mins. to approx. 1 hour)

Remove from oven – gently. Don’t bang it around. Remove water from oven. Heat oven to 375 (convection bake). Bake in centre of oven for approx. 30 minutes turning once. When loaf tapped sounds hollow it is ready.  Ovens very so keep an eye on your loaf.

That’s it. That’s all.

For french loaf, just shape into a long loaf rolling and sealing edges and do rising process but just put loaf on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.

For buns, roll dough into log. Using a knife of pastry cutter, cut dough into approx. 12 equal pieces (more or less depending on size of buns you’d like) and shape, put on lined cookie sheet and rise. Same instructions for baking and rising for all 3 versions. Simple, delicious and safer to consume than all the other ingredients in sliced bread.

Love feed back when you give it a try. Thanks for reading!

Cinnamon Roll Pancakes

Ok, I confess.  These aren’t a whole wheat (gross) healthy pancakes, but today I needed these amazing pancakes!  Once in a while it’s ok to spoil yourself with a sweet delicious pancake breakfast because I said so!

Hold the syrup!

Pancake Batter
1 cup of all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp of baking powder
1/2 tsp of salt
1 cup of milk
1 egg
1 tbsp melted butter

Mix dry together ingredients together. Add egg and milk. Mix. Add melted butter, mix and set aside. Don’t over mix.

Cinnamon Filling
1/2 cup melted butter
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tbsp cinnamon

Melt butter over medium low heat. Add brown sugar and mix well. Add cinnamon and set aside.

Cream Cheese Glaze
4 tbsp melted butter
2 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
1 1/4 cup icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Whip cream cheese until light and fluffy. Pour in melted butter and continue to beat while adding icing sugar 1/4 cup at a time. Set aside.

Warm up frying pan (non stick is good – if not use some butter to help). Scoop in pancake mix. Drop cinnamon filling in a swirl design and use a spoon to spread it around. Flip when pancake has air bubbles released.

When cooked remove from pan and dress with cream cheese glaze. ENJOY!!

Love to hear when you try it how it was. Feedback is always great!!

Delicious Healthy No-Bake Granola Bars

This recipe is a staple in our home.  In fact, I’m making a batch when I’m done with this post to take in to the food bank for my shift today.  I work with some of the best people in my section I’ve ever met. Period. Compassionate doesn’t begin to describe these volunteers and I’m their biggest fan! I love bringing in treats for them (hard to find the time most shifts, but when I have the time, I’m on it!).

This recipe is simple, almost too simple, as most think this simple can’t be good.  Trust me! It’s delish!!  I have a friend who finally tried the recipe and her teens prefer her homemade over the store bought all day, any day.  My son has peanut / nut allergies so baking has become a staple in our home.  Although there are plenty of peanut/nut free items on grocery shelves now (thank you manufacturers!!) but I still have ‘health’ issue with soy products, refined sugars and unnecessary junk that keeps it on a shelf for way too long. No-Bake Chocolate Chip Granola Bars Healthier and cheaper than the store bought kind!!

INGREDIENTS:

1/3 cup butter
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 cups quick cooking oats {not rolled oats!}
1 1/4 cup crispy rice cereal
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons mini chocolate chips

DIRECTIONS: In a large bowl, stir oats and rice cereal together. Set aside. In a small pot, melt butter, honey and brown sugar together over medium high heat until it comes to a bubble. Reduce the heat and cook 2 minutes. Pour in vanilla and stir. Pour over dry ingredients and mix well to moisten all ingredients.

Pour into lightly greased small jelly roll pan {about 12x8x1} and press out to be about 3/4 inch in thickness. {If your pan isn’t small enough, pack the mixture into one side. You really want to press them down so they stick together.}

Sprinkle with mini chocolate chips and press down lightly. Cool on a countertop to room temperature for two hours or until the chocolate chips are set before cutting into bars.

Wrap in parchment or plastic wrap and store at room temperature. The good thing about this recipe is you can add to it as you wish.  Raisins, dried cranberries, other dried fruits and nuts of your choice.  You could add sliced or chopped almonds, maybe some almond extract and invite me over!! Pecan, orange peel grated with dried cranberries. Yum! Mix it up, make your favourite.

The Best Coffee Cake

Recipe Sharing.

I love to bake.  I’d rather bake than cook any day.  Oddly enough I don’t eat a lot of my baking unless it’s buttertart squares and this coffee cake.  Although the recipe labels it Cinnabon bread or something like that, I prefer to call it coffee cake.  Delish coffee cake.

I always want to share the amazing recipes I find, but typically hold back.  Every once in a while I will send out a recipe to a group of friends and family,  not really knowing if they care for it, or want me to even share it with them.  This is a great place to put my favourites!!  Here’s one to get me going.

Butter.  Not margarine.  Butter.  Margarine is oil based and butter is milk based.  Big difference when you’re baking.  Don’t even get me going on margarine.  Garbage on your grocery shelf.

Taaaadaaaaa!!!  The recipe. I promise you will love.

Cinnamon Coffee Cake

Base:
3 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 cups milk
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup butter, melted

Topping:
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon cinnamon

Glaze:
2 cups icing sugar
5 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare a 9 x 13 baking pan (buttered).

Mix all of the base ingredients together, with the exception of the butter. Add the melted butter last, and then pour into your prepared pan,

Mix all of the topping ingredients together in a separate bowl. Mix well. Drop by teaspoonful over the base, as evenly as you can over the entire base. Take a butter knife and swirl the topping into the base. Pop into the oven and bake for 28-30 minutes. DO NOT OVER BAKE.

While the cake is baking, prepare the glaze and set aside.

Remove from oven and glaze the cake while still warm.

(Source: Cooking Up North)