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…

Cake and Yarn (What more do you need?)

I was jonesing for some cake today, but with Virginia fighting a cold and myself not wanting to get one, I figured it would be best to just leave it… unless, the cake was actually good for us.

Good-For-You Cake

I’m calling this a good-for-you cake. The recipe is as follows:
In a small bowl, soak then combine (I used a wand blender to liquefy):
1/3 cup finely chopped dates
1/4 cup oats
1 1/2 cups boiling water

Add to mixture:
2-3 Tbsp. sour cream
2-3 Tbsp. canola oil (I wasn’t measuring that carefully)
1 Tbsp. maple syrup

In a medium bowl combine:
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/4 cup white flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. cardamom

Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, briskly mix together until batter is smooth, but not overmixed. Pour batter into greased 9-inch round cake pan and bake for 30 minutes (or until toothpick comes out clean) in a 350º oven. (I actually used a 7-inch springform, but it was a little small for the amount of batter, and I had a difficult time getting the center done without drying out the sides–hey that’s what experimentation is all about, right?).

Because I had a smaller, but taller cake, I cut it into three sections and spread some cooked-down blackberries (with a splash of lemon and 1/2 tsp. corn starch to thicken it) between the layers… and since we had a bit of cream in the fridge, it seemed like a touch of freshly whipped cream on top was appropriate. Perfect with an afternoon cup of tea.

In the spinning department, I finished up another bump of superwash merino. I kettle dyed some top in several 3 oz. portions (I actually thought I had set aside several 4 oz. portions, but I blame that mistake on the vicodin I was taking at the time…).

Handspun - Superwash Merino

This skein is actually only 2.8 oz. but I was able to squeeze 220 yards of 3-ply yarn out of it. Probably not enough for a full pair of socks, but I’m spinning all this sock yarn a similar weight, so there will probably be some mixing and matching going on.