THINGS are so much different from last week, so much chaos, so much uncertainty, but behind every cloud there is a silver lining and there is always a light at the end of every tunnel. Let’s be grateful, grateful that we are protected and safe in the confines of our home. Grateful that we can still go out and get food at our groceries and markets, grateful with the advent of social media and we can stay in touch with our loved ones and friends near and far away.
It’s a great time to bond with your family members, if you have smaller children at home, give them the same routine as school, they are accustomed to this and will welcome it. Go for a walk with them, limit their use of electronic devices and fill the home with arts and crafts.
Baking is a great way to alleviate stress, and there is a lot of anxiety baking going on right now, Instagram is exploding with it! But you know what, it’s a great stress reliever, challenge yourself try a new recipe, push the bar as to what you can bake, try to understand the science in baking. It is amazing what can be created from flour, butter, sugar and eggs!
Red velvet whoopie pies
¼ cup butter, room temperature
1 cup brown sugar
4 tbs vegetable oil
1 tablespoon red food colouring
⅔ cup plain yoghurt
4 tbs cocoa powder
2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
Cream ⅔ cups butter with 1lb cream cheese until smooth.
Add about 2½ cups sifted icing sugar with 2 tbs sour cream, add 1 tsp orange zest.
Pre -heat the oven to 375°F.
Line 3 cookie sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.
In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
Add vegetable oil and beat for a few seconds, add the egg and beat until incorporated.
Stir together the food colouring and yoghurt and add to the creamed butter.
Combine cocoa powder, flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
Add gradually to creamed butter mixture in 3 additions, beginning and ending with dry mix. Do not over mix.
With a small ice-cream scoop, drop cookie dough onto the prepared sheets, about 2 inches apart.
Bake for 8-9 minutes or until the cookies slightly spring back when touched.
Cool on baking sheets for few minutes before moving to cooling racks. Let cool completely before frosting.
Prepare cream cheese frosting.
Pipe a blob of frosting onto the flat portion of one cookie, place another cookie on top flat face down and gently press until frosting comes to edge of cookie.
Makes 12-3½ inch whoopee pies
The best basic loaf
5 to 6 cups flour
1 tbs instant yeast
2½cups warm milk (105 to 120F)
1 tablespoons sugar
½ cup butter or shortening or mixed, melted
2 tsp salt
In a large bowl of an electric mixer, place two cups flour yeast, salt and sugar.
Add milk, melted butter and eggs, beat until smooth.
Add the rest of the flour and knead to a soft smooth dough, about 5 minutes.
Cover and let rise until doubled in volume, about 45 to 60 minutes
Punch down dough and divide into 2.
Prepare two loaf tins.
Roll dough out to a 10-inch rectangle. Roll up and place seam side down into the loaf tins. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes.
Preheat oven to 400F
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until the bottom of the loaves give a hollow sound when tapped.
Makes 2, 9x5 inch loaves or about 16 dinner rolls.
½ cup unsalted butter or shortening
1½ cups brown sugar
3 cups shredded uncooked pumpkin
⅔ cup water
3⅓ cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
⅔ cups raisins
⅔ cups coarsely chopped nuts (optional)
½ cup toasted pumpkin seeds, optional (divided into 2)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease bottoms only of 2 loaf pans, 9x5x3 inches.
In a large mixing bowl beat butter and sugar until creamy.
Add eggs one at a time and continue beating until light coloured.
Add pumpkin and water, blend.
In a separate bowl mix flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and spices.
Add to pumpkin mixture, mix only until combined.
Stir in nuts and raisins and ½ pumpkin seeds, and pour into pans.
Sprinkle with remaining seeds.
Bake until wooden pick inserted into the centre comes out clean, about 45-50 minutes.
Oil slightly, and loosen sides of loaves from pans.
Remove from pans and cool completely before slicing.
To store wrap and refrigerate no longer than 10 days or freeze.
Makes 2 loaves