Back to Baking

…not that I ever stopped.

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It’s summer in California and I am enjoying every foggy morning turned sunny afternoon! Running up and down the Napa hills is giving me great morning workouts. I have a bike and a car to get around and there is so, so much to see and do here!

The first priority is finding an apartment. Lee and I are looking at our favorite candidate this evening so I have my fingers crossed that we get this place and don’t have to keep playing the San Francisco housing game. All I want is a good-sized (as in not tiny) kitchen, preferably with a gas stove, and a place to sleep.

Once we have a place to live, I’ll pick up the job search again. Does anyone know of a bay area museum that’s hiring for entry-level anything? Until I find employment, I’ll find a place to volunteer in the area and do as much blogging as I can! That doesn’t sound like a bad way to spend a few months!

I dove right back into cooking as soon as I got back to the mainland. After a short stint in a hotel on St. Kitts while Lee and I put the boat away I was ready for some home cooking in a real kitchen. My first stop was my mom’s house in Seattle, where I wanted to pick up my car and spend a little quality time with my mother. We had a great week cooking together, visiting her favorite Seattle restaurants, and taking in some culture.

My aunt was visiting as well and the three of us drove to nearby home of some long-time family friends for one night. The baker in that family was generous enough to share his sourdough starter with my mom and me! We brought home a generous portion, which we grew and then divided in half when I left for California. This 10+ year old starter is a treasure that I hope to craft into delicious bread in my own kitchen.

Not only did our friend share his starter with us, he also made us his famous Swedish Pancakes for breakfast! My parents used to make this recipe when I was growing up but I haven’t cut into a gooey, sweet Swedish pancake for years. They were better than I remembered them and I watched closely to pick up the proper cooking technique. These delicious breakfast treats will definitely be appearing on this blog soon!

At my mom’s house, our baking endeavors included a hearty polenta bake (for which I will have to find the recipe), rosemary walnut bread with fresh rosemary from the garden, and a yogurt cake that starred as dessert with strawberries and vanilla sugar.

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Unfortunately I didn’t use a recipe when I made the rosemary walnut bread. I loosely followed this one and added some chopped fresh rosemary and chopped walnuts before the final rise. The result was quite good considering I’ve never experimented with adding ingredients like that to bread before. The rosemary flavor was wonderful with the chewy wheat bread and it was a great accompaniment to dinner at our friends’ house.

For dessert, this yogurt cake was too tempting for even our full bellies to resist. I couldn’t resist a cake recipe that called for plain yogurt, one of my favorite staples that I always have in the fridge. I added lemon zest to the original recipe because I thought a summery flavor would be nice. My mom, my aunt, and I picked up a few boxes of fresh strawberries at a local stand to serve with the cake. Nothing says summer like cake and berries!

I didn’t have my camera with me on this adventure so I wasn’t able to photograph the cake and berries. I did snap a few pictures of both the cake and the bread when they came out of the oven!

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Simple Yogurt Cake
From Whole Foods Market

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup plain nonfat yogurt
1 cup cane sugar 3 large eggs
1/3 cup expeller-pressed canola oil, plus more for oiling the pan
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups fresh berries for garnish

Preheat oven to 350°F.
Oil a 9-inch cake pan, then line the bottom with a circle of parchment paper. Oil the paper, too; set the pan aside. (I used a square cake pan, as you can see)
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
In a separate bowl, whisk together yogurt, sugar, eggs, oil, almond extract and vanilla extract.
Gently whisk flour mixture into yogurt mixture just until blended and smooth.
Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 45 minutes, or until cake is golden brown and top has formed a thin crust.
The cake should be just firm in the center when done. (I think I slightly overcooked my cake so check it after 35-40 minutes)
Cool cake on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then remove cake from pan and peel off parchment paper. Continue cooling on a rack.
Slice and serve with berries.

5 Comments

Filed under desserts, inspiration and musings

5 Responses to Back to Baking

  1. Good luck on the job and house search! I think you’ll need large pieces of this cake to sustain you…looks delicious!

  2. Thanks for stopping by my blog! I am terribly jealous that you get to run Napa hills and live i the bay area. 🙂

    That cake looks delish – I have been really in to baking with yogurt/cottage cheese lately myself. It adds such a smooth, moistness to treats!

  3. Gorgeous yoghurt cake, Rachel. Will have to try with strawberries.

    With your love of food, would you think of trying some of the restaurants in SF as well as the museums (a museum restaurant perhaps?) Good luck with the search for your new home.

    p.s. what a great and unusual gift of the sourdough starter. The Poilâne bakery in Paris uses a starter that is 79 years old (according to legend) Perhaps this is the start of your own baking dynasty!

  4. Awww! Congratulations on the move (I AM SO FREAKING SUPER JEALOUS)! Seriously, best of luck on the place-to-sleep-and-bake search, and the job search (or the I-need-something-to-pay-for-high-quality-vanilla-extract search), too! I love when recipes are passed down like that, and I suppose a sourdough starter is the best example of that 🙂 Keep in touch!

  5. Pingback: » Sourdough English Muffins MuffinEgg

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