The Things We’ve Baked
A few quarantine favorites
When Ruby left to spend the summer with her dad five weeks ago, Georgia and I spent about an hour moping around the house. Then, to cheer ourselves up, we got drive-thru Taco Bell and took a walk at the Lakefront (these have been two of my proven comfort strategies for the past 25+ years, and I am gratified to know that Georgia takes joy in them, as well).
“Yes, we’re definitely going to miss Sissy,” I said as we strolled on the levee, “but she is going to have so much fun with her dad, and you and I get to have a lot of quality Mommy-and-Georgia Time! Let’s think of some fun things we can do together!”
Mostly, her suggestions revolved around her playing Roblox and Animal Crossing and me watching her play, which if I’m being honest holds even less appeal than watching paint dry, but she had two solid suggestions: “Let’s put together my birthday LEGO set and also get really into baking.”
So we did. And over the course of the next few weeks, we learned that I am remarkably bad at LEGOs – it’s like assembling Ikea furniture but smaller – and Georgia is remarkably good at baking.
Georgia wants to bake every night, and even though I like baking, I couldn’t quite figure out her obsession with it until I realized that if I didn’t have to clean the kitchen afterward or worry about calories, I’d want to bake every night, too, so from her perspective, I get it now. Still, though, even with the 2 dozen eggs I get from Costco and the massive amount of yeast my husband procured from Restaurant Depot at the start of quarantine, we can’t bake every night. But we have baked something several times a week since June, and Georgia is now an expert egg-cracker, baking powder-leveler, and strawberry-slicer and –folder.
Here are a few of our greatest hits:
Strawberry Mini-Muffins (makes 24 mini-muffins)
Georgia ate these so quickly, I yelled at the dog because 10 muffins were missing and I couldn’t believe she – weighing in at 45 pounds and a notoriously reluctant eater – could have done it. Also, they’re so tiny that you can pretend they don’t have calories.
- 1.5 cups flour
- 1.5 teaspoons baking powder
- Quarter-teaspoon baking soda
- Quarter-teaspoon salt
- Half-teaspoon cinnamon
- Half-cup plus two tablespoons of sugar
- Half-cup plus 2 tablespoons of milk
- 1 egg
- 1 stick of butter, melted
- Half-teaspoon vanilla
- 1 cup strawberries, diced small
Preheat oven to 375. Whisk dry ingredients together. Melt butter in a glass measuring cup and then add milk and vanilla. Making sure it’s cool enough, add the egg, and blend. Make a well in the dry ingredients, pour in the wet, and mix just till combined. Fold in strawberries. Bake in greased mini-muffin tin for 16 minutes or until browned and a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the centermost mini-muffin.
Blueberry-Banana Bread (makes one loaf)
We made this for the very sad occasion of the celebration of life for our friend’s pig, Hank. Like everyone else in lockdown, we’ve been making a lot of banana bread. We added blueberries to this one because they were one of Hank’s favorite foods, and it was a serendipitous addition.
- 1.5 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Half-teaspoon baking powder
- Half-teaspoon cinnamon
- Half-teaspoon nutmeg (fresh grated if possible)
- 1 cup of sugar
- 1 stick butter, melted
- 2 eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 3 very ripe bananas, mashed
- 1 cup blueberries
Preheat oven to 350. Whisk dry ingredients together. Melt butter in a glass measuring cup and then add vanilla. Making sure it’s cool enough, add the eggs, and blend. Make a well in the dry ingredients, pour in the wet, and mix just till combined. Fold in the mashed bananas and blueberries. Pour into a greased loaf pan and baked for about an hour or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Lemon Icebox Pie
This is both of the girls’ favorite dessert, which is really saying something because Ruby hates chocolate and typically prefers cinnamon- or caramel-based treats while Georgia loves chocolate and all things chocolate and so it’s rare and delightful to find something they both agree on.
The recipe, which is from David Guas’ Dam Good Sweet and adapted from Clancy’s, can be found here.
We’ve also made bread, cookies, pancakes, quiches, and waffles … but these are the recipes we keep going back to again and again.
What delicacies have you cooked up in quarantine?