• Nora Hemsley

Fun Recipes to Try During Time at Home :)

I don’t know about you, but I have turned to baking as a way to cope with all this at-home time. I have really enjoyed improving my cooking abilities, but I am definitely not in a place to be giving any sort of cooking advice :). However, I feel that baking is much more free spirited and open-ended. Yes, all the people who actually know how to bake say you have to measure exactly, but seriously? So what if my cookie is burnt on the edges and deflated in the middle. It tastes good. These are just a few ideas to draw inspiration from for your quarantine days (because cases are rising, so be extra careful!). But if they don’t work out, don’t point your finger at me because this is your warning: I am all about the flavor, not the presentation (and I might be pretty loose with my flavoring grading too).


The Universal Muffin Starter

Ahhhh. Sally’s Baking Addiction. My QUEEN. She really pulls through with a lot of excellent recipes, but this one is a fave. The beauty about this recipe is that you can take it in any direction you please. If you want a super sweet muffin, add some white chocolate and raspberries. Side note, why is white chocolate called chocolate??? Anyway, if you are looking for a more neutral flavor palate (big fancy chef words, I know) try a banana nut. In this link she offers several ideas for different muffin combos, including some for my nut allergy people. And even if she doesn’t list something, try it anyway! Almond and raspberries, cheese and apples (this could be risky but why not), the world is your oyster. She also gives great tips for the actual baking process. According to Queen Sally, if you fill your muffin tins to the top, practically “overflowing,” bake at a really high temperature for five minutes and then return to a normal temperature for the remaining baking time. Your muffin will have a nice dome but will still be cooked in the center. However, she does say that this only works with sturdy mixes.


Pretzels

Some might consider this cooking, but I think it’s actually the perfect bridge between baking and cooking. Like the muffin recipe, there are so many routes you could take. Sweet, savory, salty, spicy or anything your heart desires. I must revisit my Queen Sally for an amazing pretzel recipe. Some excellent add ons to your pretzels could be salt and a cheese dip. That recipe has some kick, but you could make one without spice if you’d like. You could also try sprinkling cinnamon and sugar onto your pretzels before you bake them and then making an icing dip (this always makes me nostalgic for the days I could go to the mall and get an Auntie Anne’s pretzel). Check out this copycat recipe to get the full experience :). If you want to be more adventurous, you could add cheese to your pretzel dough and place jalapeno peppers onto it before baking. Disclaimer: I have never tried this (but I really want to), so don’t hate me if it doesn’t turn out right. If you are feeling really adventurous, you could try pretzel pizzas. Some recipes include pepperoni, so for my fellow vegetarians, you could add vegetarian “meat,” vegetables or whatever else you want.


Sourdough Starter

There are so many options you can take when you have sourdough. Whether it’s traditional bread, pancakes, english muffins, pretzels, pumpkin spice bread or cinnamon crumb cake, sourdough enhances any food. In order to get all of those delicious foods on your own, you need to start a sourdough starter (if you haven’t already). This usually takes 5-7 days, and you’ll need to tend to your starter often. In your process, you will have to discard your starter (unless you use it to bake). You can also adjust your water to flour ratio for a smaller batch if you don’t want to deal with as much starter. If you decide to use APF, it might take a little longer for your starter to be ready, as opposed to a whole grain option. It's also important to know that colder weather leads to a longer prep time, so try and find a slightly warmer than room temperature area for your starter to live. Just be patient, attentive and excited for some delish treats!


Sugar Cookies With Royal Icing

Okay. I’m sorry. But I’m back with another SBA recipe. What can I say, I trust her! These are my tried and true sugar cookies that I always make for the holidays. But, they are perfect for whatever time you want. The beauty of the royal icing is its simplicity. You can also choose whatever shape you want for your cookies and add any sprinkles/colors to the icing. A tip from my experience: don’t use the almond extract. I find that the almond flavor is too overpowering and doesn’t really add much. Also, make sure to follow the refrigerator time instructions. It really makes a difference. The royal icing is very finicky, so when decorating the cookies I use toothpicks to get precise designs (but this usually only lasts for a few cookies and then I get tired and just slap some icing because it all tastes the same). Another tip from my experience: these get hard and stale pretty quickly, so make sure to eat within a few days of making. Also, the icing only tastes good once it has dried on the cookies. Happy baking!

These are some holiday cookies from my last baking extravaganza:



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