Turns out, even an early spring thunderstorm and heavy rain can’t dampen Toronto’s generosity (or its appetite for delicious baked goodies).
The totals for the weekend are in, there’s no question – Toronto Bakes for Japan was a roaring success. At last count, the total had just passed $20,000 (more than doubling the original $10,000 goal), and is continuing to rise with online donations. That’s an impressive chunk of change, every penny of which is being passed on to the Japanese Red Cross.
I’m so very proud of my hometown today. Much love to the organizers who worked tirelessly to assemble such a massive fundraiser, the bakers who toiled in their kitchens to create beautiful treats of all kinds, the businesses who donated piles of professionally-baked goodies, the volunteers who hustled for business in the sunshine and in the rain, and the wonderful customers who turned out in droves to support the cause. Together, we did something amazing.
Most of all, a huge congratulations to organizers Heena and Niya, who put in many sleepless hours into putting together an amazing event. They are, in a word, stupendous.
At the Cafe Diplomatico, we had an unbelievable assortment of treats on display. There were beautiful cupcakes topped with swirls of colourful icing, moist loaves of lemon-blueberry cake, sweet cornbread and banana bread, tangy lemon curd bars, various flavours and colours of cake pops, entire apple and pecan tarts, tiny puffs of savoury gougeres and sweet petits choux, and more cookies than you can shake a stick at (including some rather intriguing peanut butter and bacon ones that I never got a chance to try, because they went so darned fast). I’m pretty sure I gained 5lbs just from standing amidst all that deliciousness.
As for me, I donated several batches of my homemade chewy granola in Blueberry-Apricot and Cranberry-Walnut, packed up in small Mason jars and trimmed with pretty polka-dotted ribbons. By the end of the day, all but one jar had been snapped up by generous buyers (and that one came home with me, a thank-you gift for The Boy for putting up with my cranky stressed-out self).
If you couldn’t make it out to the Cafe Diplomatico on Sunday to grab a jar of your own, never fear… homemade granola nirvana isn’t beyond your reach – here’s my not-so-secret recipe so that you can make a batch of your very own.
(BTW, if you couldn’t make it out this weekend and would still like to make a donation, you can contribute online via the Toronto Bakes for Japan website. You won’t get a sweet treat, but you will get a warm fuzzy feeling from doing a good deed for a great cause!)
- 2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
- ½ cup rye flakes
- ½ cup sesame seeds
- ½ cup shelled pistachios
- ½ cup shelled pumpkin seeds
- ⅓ cup dried blueberries
- ⅓ cup chopped dried apricots
- ½ cup unsweetened flaked coconut
- ½ cup whole wheat flour
- ½ cup dry skim milk powder
- 2 tbsp flax meal
- ½ tsp each ground ginger and cinnamon
- ¼ tsp ground cardamom
- 6 tbsp canola oil
- 2 tbsp raw organic coconut oil, melted
- ⅔ cup honey
- Pinch of sea salt
- Preheat oven to 275F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil.
- In a large mixing bowl, stir together all of the ingredients until thoroughly combined.
- Turn out onto the prepared baking sheet, and use your hands to gently press into a large mound in the centre of the pan.
- Transfer the baking sheet to the top rack of preheated oven, and bake for 20 minutes.
- Using a wooden spoon, gently break up the granola into large clumps, and spread out evenly over the full surface of the pan. Return to the oven for another 15-20 minutes or until lightly toasted, stirring the granola halfway through to ensure it browns evenly.
- Allow the granola to cool completely before scooping into mason jars for storage. Keeps for about a month if stored in a cool, dry place - assuming you haven't already snarfed it down by then, that is.
- Chewy Cranberry-Walnut Granola: Substitute ⅔ dried cranberries for dried blueberries and apricots, and walnuts for pistachios. Omit ginger and cardamom, and increase cinnamon to 1½ tsp.