Here we are, in 2021, with the Coronavirus pandemic unfortunately still raging. 2020 flew by in a blur of baby (turned toddler!) care and lockdown-opening up-tightening restrictions-lockdown. You already know that we celebrated a small Thanksgiving and did distanced treat deliveries in lieu of having friends over. This winter, F and I have been baking more bread-like creations, so in a riff on my “What’s Been Cooking?” series, I thought I’d share the baking projects that are keeping us inspired at home.
What’s been baking:
- Sourdough bread: Back in London, there were a couple of years in which we baked sourdough bread regularly – friends taught us the classic “basic country sourdough” recipe from Tartine Bread. But at some point the starter died, and then we moved, so homemade sourdough fell by the wayside for a while. Luckily, F’s mom gave us some of her sourdough starter last fall and that inspired us to start baking again. The first attempt was abysmal! Our shaping technique was rusty and we over-proved the dough. After watching a number of shaping videos on YouTube, we were ready to try again. The second attempt went much better. We’re now in a rhythm of baking two loaves every two to three weeks, and it’s great to keep a stock of bread in the freezer. The sourdough also makes great grilled cheese.
- Bagels: my good friend Emma (featured on this blog via her pumpkin pie recipe) has been telling me about her bagel baking escapades for a while; she always says they are not as difficult to make as you may think. As it’s nigh on impossible to get proper bagels here in Germany, F suggested we try it ourselves. We used this recipe, and it really wasn’t that hard. The bagels turned out well enough that we made them two weekends in a row!
- Fudgy brownies: I had a brownie craving a few weeks ago, in part after reading this piece on the art of chewy brownies. I tried the recipe linked from the article, and it was pretty darn delicious. F and I devoured them over the course of two days.
- Baby E’s first birthday was in December (she’s officially not a baby anymore! Toddler life, here we are), and I made these sugar-free banana muffins for her. They were a bit bland to our adult tastebuds, but E liked them and they were nice with a schmear cream cheese on top.
- Banana bread muffins: it was a rainy Tuesday afternoon and I was craving a sweet baked good. We only had 1.5 ripe bananas, so I halved my nutty banana bread recipe and baked them as 8 muffins. They hit the spot.
- Crumpets: Well, an attempt at them. I was chatting with two London friends (hi, H & E!) and described our bagel-baking attempts. H then challenged me to make crumpets! F and I had talked about trying them from scratch at some point, and H inspired me to order some egg/crumpet rings and give it a go. I used this Jamie Oliver recipe. The crumpets were a bit more finicky than I had hoped, in large part because they stuck to the rings. The flavor was also too yeasty. So not the greatest first attempt, but I will try again and I’d like to try sourdough crumpets at some point, too. Watch this space!
- Pizza: Yes, I count this as baking. Pizza bakes in the oven and is a form of (flat)bread, right? We’ve done a couple of classic sheet pizzas as well as pan pizza. Some of our favorite toppings include (not all at the same time): tuna, mushrooms, spinach (frozen works great), artichoke hearts, and tomato slices. Yum all around.
Unusually, I didn’t bake any sweet treats around Christmastime. We were gifted some cookies in early December, and F’s mom baked her delicious Nusskuchen when we were at their place, so there wasn’t really need for extra sweetness at home.
What have you been baking this winter?
- One Year Ago: What’s Been Cooking? Early 2020 edition
- Two Years Ago: At the National Theatre: “Hadestown” – brilliant show. I’m glad we saw it before it won loads of Tony Awards.
- Three Years Ago: Race Recap: Regent’s Park 10k, Feb 2018
- Four Years Ago: Beetroot & Carrot Salad with Raisins, Walnuts, & Goat Cheese – still in our regular “Monday salad” rotation!
- Five Years Ago: Singing Bach’s “Mass in B Minor”
- Six Years Ago: Roasted Carrot Hummus with a Kick
- Seven Years Ago: Lemon, Ginger & Turmeric Infusion with Cloves & Honey
- Eight Years Ago: Spicy Homemade Falafel with Minty Yogurt Sauce – reminder to self to make these again soon!
- Nine Years Ago: Video Update: January – winter in Ukraine
- Ten (!) Years Ago: A Weekend in Which Tammela Attends 10.5 Hours of Yoga Workshops, Taught Entirely in Russian– that was an experience!