From the Introduction
“BAKING DAY” IS A phrase you may have heard in casual conversation and, like me, never really stopped to think about. It pops up in situations like:
“I’m having a baking day with my son on Saturday. We’re making a birthday cake for his brother.”
“I’m spending a baking day with my grandma, and she’s showing me how to make her babka.”
“My sisters and I always get together at this time of year for a baking day, to make holiday cookies.”
“I am obsessing over making French baguette for my fiancée—it’s her favourite— so I’m going to spend a baking day mastering it.”
“Summer’s here, so I’m spending my baking day making popsicles with the kids!”
Quite simply, a baking day is time set aside to bake with or for people you want to spend time with. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a full day—even an hour spent making a batch of cookies counts as a baking day. We tend to bake more on week- ends, because that’s when we usually have a little more time and, as with most hobbies and interests, we fit baking in when we can.
No matter when the baking day, its value is more than the treats, breads or cakes that we pull from the oven. It is the memories created by spending time in the kitchen with someone you love, or devoting time to baking as a form of self-expression, that are worth so much.
This book was inspired by looking back on my baking day memories and asking my family and friends about their own favourite baking moments and recipes. For some, making weekend breakfast with their kids was a special time, or baking cookies as a family became a regular routine. For others, baking a cake for a special occa- sion was as much fun as the birthday party itself. Baking treasured family recipes or learning about baking from grandparents also holds a special place in a lot of people’s hearts.
This collection of recipes is meant to inspire you to take a little time in the kitchen and embrace baking time for the gift that it is. You can’t force memories to be created, but by making a batch of simple Fudgiest Frosted Brownies (page 181) or spending an afternoon baking cupcakes and matching frostings (pages 212-219) with some friends, you are setting the stage for the good times to happen.
In the following pages, you’ll find recipes for all levels of bakers, from novice to expert, and for all types of baking, from quick and easy to more elaborate. I have included quite a few breakfast recipes that aren’t actually “baked,” because a relaxed weekend morning spent making a family breakfast together has the potential to inspire further kitchen activities.
I have especially kept young bakers top of mind as I’ve developed and played with these recipes. Kids are always observing and learning, and they continue to remind me of the joy and surprise that baking brings. Think about it—you combine butter, sugar, eggs, flour and cocoa in a bowl and whisk them together. That gooey mess is poured into a pan, and after just 30 minutes in the oven . . . cake! Watching a child pull up a stool in front of the oven to watch that cake bake reminds me of my own childhood and always gives me great pleasure.
Kids should be supervised in the kitchen even when they are baking “on their own.” I have steered clear of recipes that involve candying or caramelizing sugar, since those techniques can be tricky. But I have included recipes for doughnuts that are cooked in a deep fryer (or in a pot of hot oil). Kids can do the mixing and kneading, but an adult should do the actual frying (my grandmother was in charge of frying the doughnuts we made together).
To make baking days as inclusive as possible, I have offered many vegan, gluten- free, dairy-free and egg-free recipes. No recipes use peanuts (except for the Cereal Killer Squares, page 185, and pet treats, pages 300 to 307, but you can use school- safe soy nut butters instead). Just a few recipes contain nuts at all, and they can easily be replaced by other crunchy items if need be.
So, pull out a stick of butter to soften, preheat the oven and get ready to make some delicious memories. Enjoy your baking day!
Copyright © 2020 by Anna Olson. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.