Growing up, I used to bake biscuits with my brother and my dad every Sunday. When we were finished, covered in suspicious amounts of flour, we would run into my mom’s room, yelling “Biscuits are ready! Biscuits are ready!” and she would pretend to be surprised and delighted. Biscuits and chocolate chip cookies, those were the staples of my childhood baking experiences, and that was all I needed.
Five years ago I spent six months with the Montana Conservation Corps. My particular crew (love you, “Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop”!) was full of people who loved to cook and/or bake. Every night we took turns preparing an appetizer, entree, and dessert for each other. It quickly became apparent that the standard of dessert was set particularly high. No store-bought cookies or candy for us. It started off relatively simple with bar cookies and muddy buddies, but it escalated quickly. I’m talking homemade poundcake, strawberry pies, cinnamon rolls, etc. (In fact, one week we had a substitute crew leader who brought convenience store donuts for his dessert contribution. Poor guy, he just didn’t know what he was getting into.)
Why yes, that is a homemade pie made in a Dutch oven over our campfire!
Those six months gave me the motivation and the freedom to try a new recipe (or two!) every single week, and to discover the joy of sharing my creations with a hungry trail construction crew. I also realized how much baking kept me sane during our time in town where I lived with people who were not my favorite roommates ever. (Let’s just say my dreamed-about-for-ten-days-while-working-in-the-woods ice cream was eaten while I was gone. Multiple times.)
After Montana, I continued to bake and share my creations with coworkers and students. I’ve gone through different phases– cookies, cupcakes, lollipops, candy in general, yeasted pastries, cakes, etc. I have the most fun when I use a recipe as inspiration and then make it my own, such as this beautiful cake: Earl Grey cake with orange marmalade, orange zest whipped cream, almond shortbread crumble, and chocolate ganache
Now that I’m in grad school I have decided to make it my mission to bake at least one thing every week. Bringing baked goods to the office is a great way to make friends, and I love getting to be creative.
My roommate and I made a deal that we would only have one baked good in the house at a time. But… well… even if you don’t count extra goodies stashed in the freezer, I’ve already broken it. Ooops– you can’t keep me away from the oven!
I’ll detail a few of my most recent recipes here, and then try to update every week as I try new recipes and flavor combinations. A few old recipes to look for…
Earl Grey Cake
Vanilla Strawberry Cake
Chocolate Chip Almond Scones
Homemade Strawberry Poptarts
Raspberry Almond Sweet Rolls
Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake
Cookies and Cream Cupcakes