Bannock is bread in its most basic form – flour, baking powder, oil or lard, water – baked in the oven to supplement your morning coffee or evening stew, wound around a stick to cook over an open fire, or torn off in a ball and patted thin, then fried in lard or oil in a hot skillet until golden and crisp on both sides. It’s essentially a scone, only easier, and with a slightly more rugged chew. I learned to make fry bread with a hole in the middle, in what I think might be the Blackfoot tradition – I say this only because the few times I’ve seen it made this way was by women from nations in the Blackfoot Confederacy – and I love how quickly and evenly the bread cooks in this flattened doughnut shape, without worry about it remaining doughy inside. The hot pan gives a quick crusty exterior without making you turn on the oven. And I’ve been knownContinue reading

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This is just a recipe for crêpes – I promise you don’t have to stack them, smeared with lemon curd and cream (above) or Nutella and stacked into a cake unless you want to. I consider crêpes an essential thing to know how to make – there is nothing like standing at the stove, rhythmically pouring and tilting batter in the bottom of a hot pan, then spreading hot crêpes with butter, sprinkling them with brown sugar and a shake of cinnamon, rolling them up and doling them out, to make everything feel right in the world on a weekend morning. (Lately I’ve been eating mine with large spoonfuls of cold stewed rhubarb and a blop of plain yogurt.) Everyone should know how to make a batch of crêpes, and not be intimidated by the process – the best way to learn is to practice, to get a feel for quickly tilting the pan to cover the bottom with batter as it cooks. And evenContinue reading

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I don’t know why it takes March coming around again to remind me that an Irish soda bread is a good and simple thing to make, as versatile as a scone (which essentially it is), and the perfect, craggly-edged sort of thing to mix together and serve with soup or stew or chili, or in wedges slathered with butter and jam on weekend mornings. I am an enormous fan of raisin toast in all its forms, and of chewy oats, particularly when you get the satisfaction of kneading them into a loaf. For some reason, I forget all this for approximately 11 1/2 months of the year.

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As you may have noticed, I’m a fan of the scone. I’m also a fan of apples, and pie, and sweet-but-not-too-sweet carby things to nibble with coffee, and warming up the house from the kitchen out. Enter the apple pie scone – an amalgamation of all of the above. A slab scone is simply biscuit or scone dough – you could use whatever formula you like – for this recipe I’ve used this dough and this dough and both work just fine – and rather than roll or pat it an inch thick to cut, you roll it into a 10-inch square. In the past I’ve filled slab scones with jam and other preserves – there is potential to get creative here – but this time I tossed some apples with sugar and cinnamon, as you would if you were making pie, and loaded those in a strip down the middle instead.

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How many of you wind up with self-composting pears every. single. time. you buy them? I’ve been known to make or bake something just for the sake of saving something from being tossed. It’s a bit weird, but it’s also a bit of a game – and most of the time I wind up making something I wouldn’t have otherwise. Like this carrot cake-loaf (let’s call it a loaf because it has less sugar than a typical cake, and is baked in a loaf pan), made with the grated overripe pear pictured below. It turned out to be perfect timing, because the three of us are hopping on a plane tomorrow and heading to London (!!) for a week. It was my Christmas gift to M + W, who have never been overseas, and I got a steal of a deal last fall. And because the snacking options are generally overpriced snacks at the airport or from the little cart on the plane, we’ll packContinue reading

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Yes! You can turn mashed potatoes into doughnuts. As if you needed another good reason to make more mashed potatoes than you need – these doughnuts are what you make with the leftover mashed potatoes you haven’t yet eaten with butter and salt. So… the leftover leftovers. The recipe comes from my friend Caroline, who sings and plays in a retro pop rock band called the Lovebullies, and whose family makes enormous batches of these mashed potato doughnuts every Christmas. Christmas doughnuts seem like a great idea to me – not only are they delicious, you could, if you were so inclined, probably hang them on the tree. And making doughnuts is more of a production than one would generally take on on a regular weekend – which is really what the upcoming holidays are all about. Staying in your PJs until noon, and spending an hour making homemade doughnuts, to be doused in sugar and eaten with large cups of coffee and hot chocolate.Continue reading

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Somehow it came to be November – before I even managed to settle into October – and because I was out of town for much of last month – and because THIS WEEK – I just want to putter around the house and bake. Also – this is the week we usually pack up and head to Jasper for Christmas in November for 10 days – and having spent the past 14 years with that block of holiday fun on the calendar, we’re going into withdrawal. To that end, we’ve planned some fun things to do around here, including digging out some Christmas movies to watch on a weekend morning. And so we pulled out the Christmas box early and rummaged through for the Grinch and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer – the Saturday morning classics. And of course The Snowman, a little-known but fabulous movie based on a wordless kids’ picture book by English author Raymond Briggs. It was nominated for an Oscar, even –Continue reading

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I get the sense that sourdough starters are starting to come back into fashion – for the most part, it’s the bakers and chefs who nurture their bubbling little jars, texting each other about feeding schedules and storage advice. I started some new starter earlier this summer – the batch I had, with a backup tucked away in the back of the freezer, finally gave up due to neglect. I got them going, and then left town – and on the way back from Tofino, we detoured through Edmonton, popping in to Prairie Gardens farm in Bon Accord, where chef Blair Lebsack and Caitlin Fulton of Rge Rd cook farm dinners, they teach classes using the wood-fired cobb oven – pizza, charred salads with tomatoes, arugula and beans and beans from the garden, things like charred greens, braised leeks and Brussels sprouts, roasted herbs, quick pickles, bannock, cooked on a stick over the fire, pastry for spiced apple empanadas and galettes. Christine Sandford is oneContinue reading

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Back in the nineties, cranberry-orange everything was all the rage in coffee shops – and when we went to those first few that began taking over our Saturday mornings, Mike always ordered cranberry orange in muffin and loaf form. Although it’s not as common a flavour combination these days, it came to mind on Sunday morning as I puttered around the kitchen and although I didn’t really need to bake anything, slush was falling from the sky outside and I wanted to warm up with the smell of something baking. Also: second coffee.

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