Thursday, 8 September 2011

A Random Bake of Kindness


A what?

Just yesterday I stumbled upon an event making ripples across the blogosphere, which had been live for a couple of weeks, but under my personal radar. Random Bakes of Kindness, spearheaded by Vanessa Kimbell, is an event whereby you surprise someone in your life with baked goods just to show how much you appreciate them. I have done this sort of thing before, but how fun to intentionally go about making peoples days brighter with a random gift of baked goodness? Who wouldn't want this kind of surprise?

My target? Lifelong friend Angie.



Why is she so deserving?

Angie is someone I've admired for a very long time. Long a voracious career woman, she took her sector by storm and in no time at all was eye-to-eye with all the 'suits' in her industry. Angie never let her career, or the fact that she was among the first of our friends to get married, get in the way of her time with friends. She was always ready at the drop of a hat if I needed to vent about school, professors, or those university boys (you know the ones). Angie is only 3 years older than me, but she has always been wise beyond her years and her advice has done my heart good on countless occasions. While I was frolicking around new continents and countries, we didn't see a whole lot of each other, but it never changed anything.

In the past 4 years, Angie has had two beautiful children, which - quite naturally - has drastically changed her life. Now that I'm home, it's still a bit hard to match up our schedules sometimes, but every time we do it's like I've hit a goldmine of happiness. She has always been one of my biggest cheerleaders and I appreciate her so much for that. I am so grateful for her constant enthusiasm, the idea factory in her head, and her gracious, warm heart.

On top of all of this, Angie shares my unabashed love for eating and creating food. She is the only appetite I know that rivals my own at a potluck. Impressive, to say the least!



More than all this, Angie went back to work yesterday for the first time since having her second baby. I know it hurts her heart to leave them, as she confronts a topic she feels increasingly torn on: career and motherhood. It's still an awkward topic in today's society, with women feeling pressure to either bridge that void or come down on one side or the other. For some women, the choice is easy, but my heart goes out to women who struggle with these two identities on a daily basis.

Finally, I knew Angie would be my RBOK recipient when I read this update on Facebook last night:
First day at work in a year and a half. In that time away I lost my last grandparent, built and moved into our family's dream home, had an AWESOME baby boy (and I am in awe every day!), had laser eye surgery and stopped wearing glasses for the 1st time in 16 years, went to Disney World for the 1st time ever, had gall bladder removal surgery, lost my family home in NL but gained my wonderful family here, and mostly I got to spend the most amazing time with my family and friends!

Isn't her optimism infectious?

So, my darling girl, I am baking some madeleines for you. I chose this particular flavour because, truthfully, as soon as September hits, my palate is ready for fall and spices, and I suspected Angie would feel the same way. Moreover, she was so excited when I first learned how to bake madeleines, that I wanted to bake her a batch of her very own, as a heartfelt thank you for everything she is and all she'll still become.



Honey Spiced Madeleines 
Makes 12 large or more than 36 mini madeleines

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon double-acting baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves (or a little less, if you prefer)
Pinch of salt
Pinch of freshly ground black pepper (I didn't include the pepper - I liked the other spices as they were)
1/3 cup sugar
Grated zest of 1/2 orange
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
6 tablespoons (3 ounces) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
Whisk together the flour, baking powder, spices, salt and pepper and keep at hand.

Working in a mixer bowl, rub the sugar and orange zest together with your fingertips until the sugar is moist and fragrant. Fit the mixer with the whisk attachment (you can make this batter easily with a handheld mixer or just a whisk, if you prefer), add the eggs to the bowl and beat until the mixture is light, fluffy and thickened, about 2 minutes; beat in the honey, then the vanilla. Switch to a rubber spatula and very gently fold in the dry ingredients followed by the melted butter. You may use the batter now, but it's better if you can give it a little rest. Press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface of the batter and chill for 3 hours or, if you have the time, overnight. (For real convenience, you can spoon the batter into buttered-and-floured madeleine molds, cover, chill, then bake the cookies directly from the fridge. See below for instructions on prepping the pans.)

Getting ready to bake: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Butter 12 full-size madeleine molds (or 36 mini-molds), dust the insides with flour and tap out the excess. If you have a nonstick madeleine mold, butter and flour it or give it a light coating of vegetable cooking spray. (If your pan is silicone, you can leave it as is.) Place the pan on a baking sheet.

Spoon the batter into the molds, filling each one. Bake the large madeleines for 11 to 13 minutes and the minis for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the madeleines are golden and the tops spring back when prodded gently. Remove the pan from the oven and release the madeleines from the molds by rapping the edge of the pan against the counter. Gently pry any recalcitrant madeleines from the pan using your fingers or a butter knife. Transfer the cookies to a rack to cool to just-warm or room temperature.

8 comments:

  1. Aww... i love angie's enthusiasm and you're a sweet friend Aimee! I'm sure she loved those spiced madeleines!

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  2. Happy Birthday Aimée! So nice of you to bake something for a busy mama. Makes me wish I could move closer to you:)

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  3. I need need to make these. Well first I need to get a madeleine pan. And then I will call you for advise on how to make these as perfect as yours! Be ready to answer that call ;)

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  4. Thanks for the feedback, ladies! It was wonderful to sit with Angie last night over these pretty madeleines and tell her in person why I chose her.

    Elena - if only! :) I'd happily spoil you!

    As if you need my advice on baking, Nelly, madam baker supreme ;) But I'll take any excuse for a phone call!

    If you want to read more about the other participants in RBOK, you can check it out here:

    http://writingacookerybook.blogspot.com/2011/09/ripple-of-kindness.html

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  5. Those look awesome, and, of course, there's nothing like Cool Friends to share baked goods with! :)

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  6. It really is a blessing to have wonderful friends, and you are very wise to show your love and appreciation.

    They look utterly delicious.

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  7. We all need optimism. The Madeline are beautiful and I'm inspired to join the next RBoK

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  8. I love this idea! Thanks for reminding me of my randomness kindness moments!

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