Baking Recovery

It’s been so nice to finally have all of my energy back, and I feel like I might be making up for lost time. Not that I didn’t do any baking while I was recovering from the cancer treatment, I certainly had curtailed the activity.

Well, curtail no more. I’ve been playing with the master recipe from Artisan Breads in Five Minutes a Day (the recipe gives you about 5 one-pound loaves to make over the course of a week, so there’s lots to play with). This particular iteration may have to be part of our routine. It’s a cinnamon-raisin bread that toasts nicely and is perfect, really, any time of the day (I was going to say “breakfast,” but who’s kidding who).

Cinnamon Raisin Bread

Basically I pulled off a pound (or grapefruit-sized hunk of dough) and, using a rolling pin, flattened it into a 9 x 12 inch area. After sprinkling generously with cinnamon and raisins, I rolled it back up into a log-like shape (tucking in the ends) and continued with the directions as is.

What I haven’t mentioned is that I acquired a baking stone, and that has pretty much changed my life. Why did I wait so long? The crust on this bread is thick, the custard resilient (but not too spongy), and, frankly, it’s amazing there is enough bread left to take a picture of.

Of course, bread is not the only baking that I’m doing. I’ve started experimenting with vegan cakes, and I’ve settled on a perfect batter that goes well with all manner of inclusions. Last week it was rhubarb. This week a combination of lemon, blueberries and poppy seeds.

Blueberry Lemon Poppy Seed Cake

Recipe for Blueberry Lemon Poppy Seed Cake

  • 1 cup white flour
  • 1/3 cup (heaping) whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup (or less) of sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 teeny pinch of salt
  • 4 Tbsp poppy seeds

Mix dry ingredients in a bowl, then add:

  • Juice of half a lemon, combined with enough warm water to make 1 cup
  • Zest of that half a lemon
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp white wine vinegar

Mix until batter is nearly combined, then add:

  • 1 cup blueberries (we’re cleaning out our freeze in preparation for this season’s fruit, so I thawed some blueberries for this cake)

Continue mixing until all ingredients have been incorporated (don’t over mix). Pour in to 9-inch round cake pan and bake at 350º for 30 minutes (or until toothpick inserted comes out clean).

Let cool and top with glaze made from the juice and zest of the other half of the lemon (basically add some powder sugar until the mixture is pourable, but not too thin – it’s really hard to screw this up, so I just toss a bit in at a time and whisk the mixture until it seems like a good consistency).

Blueberry Lemon Poppy Seed Cake

I’d better start getting out on my bike more regularly, because with all this baking in the house, and only two people to enjoy it…

House Favorites

You’ve seen both of these make appearances on ScratchCraft multiple times, but in different forms. The beautiful thing is that there is no limit to the types of combinations available for us to make and sample. I’m talking about mittens and I’m talking about pies. Virginia likes making the former and I the latter.

She just finished making Charlene Schurch’s “Pattern 1” from the book Mostly Mittens.

Mittens (Pattern 1)

These are knit with some lovely yarn by Simply Shetland. It’s their Lambswool and Cashmere blend – super soft, super warm, perfect for keeping hands cozy.

Mittens (Pattern 1)

I prefer taking a more indirect approach to keeping ourselves cozy and warm. It starts with a few basic ingredients, then add some heat, serve with tea.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Winter seems to be dragging on in Minnesota, and for everyone bemoaning the fact that Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow (meaning another 6 weeks of winter), I say, “If only we could be so lucky.” It’s going to be awhile before Summer rolls around. In the meantime, Strawberry Rhubarb pie (made without refined sugar, of course) does the trick.

So, really, these are not just house favorites, but house necessities. And, ones we’ll continue to make and enjoy for awhile.

Erin (and apple pie)


Virginia wrapped up another cardigan (even before the keyboard was able to cool down from the previous post). This is “Erin” (from Heartfelt) by Kim Hargreaves, knit using Rowan’s Calmer.


Like her, I have my hands clasped in front of me (more over my stomach, really), because as I type this, the aroma of baking apple pie wafts through the air and is making me quite hungry.

Apple pie - before the oven

Yes, it’s that time of year again. Apple pie is a staple around these parts, and will continue to be so since a coworker bestowed upon me several bags of Haralsons from a tree in his yard.

I’ve done what I can to make this not so much a treat – instead something that can be eaten as a meal (as breakfast with a cup of coffee is perfect), a dessert or just because. Basically, the apples (about 20 of them) are peeled, cut up and tossed with a handful of chopped dates, spices (cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom) and some flour (3-4 Tbsp).

The crust is about 1/3 cup butter (chilled and diced) pressed into 1.5 cups of flour (I also like to add a dash of cinnamon to the crust) and a sprinkling of water to hold it together when rolling out. Roll the crust so that it is quite a bit bigger than the pie pan used. Fill with apple mixture and fold the crust over (like a rustic tart). Bake in a preheated 425º oven for 50 minutes (or until apples are done to your liking). I also like to put a small piece of foil over the opening at the top of the pie to help the apples steam a little. I remove this piece 15 minutes before pie is done baking.

There is debate on if apple pie is better eaten cool or warm. Personally, I like the pie to cool before eating (the apples seem sweeter, and the flavor is more melded). However, if I’ve completely lost my self-control and there is vanilla ice cream in the house… umm, let’s just not go there.

Edited to add:

Apple pie - after the oven


Blackberry Apple Tartlette (and some knitting)

Blackberry Apple Tarts

The search for a sugar-free accompaniment to an afternoon tea continues. This time, I’ve come up with a tartlette that packs a blackberry punch. In this recipe, I cooked down about 3 cups of frozen blackberries and added a cup or so of applesauce (using up some of last year’s canning) and a few dates. Once the mixture was thick enough to hold its shape, I spooned the mixture into crust cups that were made with about a cup of flour (half whole wheat, half white), 1/4 cup of butter, a handful of ground nuts (in this case, toasted pecans and almonds) and just enough water to help it hold their shape while being pressed into the mini cupcake tins. I then baked them for 20 minutes in a 400º (F) and let cool before devouring.

On to the needles…

Norwegian Stockings

I’ve started knitting Virginia some knee-high socks. These are Nancy Bush’s Norwegian Stockings, knit using Smart yarn. Obviously, I’ve only just started these, but I’d like to draw attention to the fact that the posts from here on out will now be focused on life as we like it – full of cancer-free, scratchcrafty goodness.