Tasty treats doesn’t even begin to describe what you can make when you start baking!
About the Episode:
I think I say “tasty treats” about twelve thousand times in this podcast, but you’ll just have to cut me some slack because I was talking about baking and I just couldn’t help myself! The best part of baking is eating what you made. So even if you don’t think of yourself as a baker, I hope to perhaps inspire you to get out the mixing bowls and trying whipping something up.
In this episode, you’ll hear:
- A brief history of Paige’s love affair with baked goods
- Why getting started can be super easy with just a few tools and ingredients
- How to get my favorite starter recipes
And so much more!src=”//play.libsyn.com/embed/episode/id/22909505/height/192/theme/modern/size/large/thumbnail/yes/custom-color/555e2b/time-start/00:00:00/hide-playlist/yes” height=”192″ width=”100%” scrolling=”no” allowfullscreen=”” webkitallowfullscreen=”true” mozallowfullscreen=”true” oallowfullscreen=”true” msallowfullscreen=”true” style=”border: none;”>
Follow me on Instagram @FarmhouseVernacular!
Download my recipe for Vanilla Cinnamon Banana Bread!
Download my recipe for White Bread!
Lisa at Farmhouse on Boone
Hello, and welcome to the Vernacular Life Podcast, where we talk about anything and everything that could go on in our turn-of-the-century Vernacular Farmhouse. I’m your host, Paige, as usual. Today we’re going to be talking about something rather scrumptious, delicious, absolutely splendid, if I do say so myself.
The last episode, we talked a little bit about a crash course in sewing, just what you need to get started. Today, we’re going to be talking about baking. Oh yes. Baking delicious, carby, wonderful treats right in your very own home. So let’s get started.
Of course, I have to start off this by saying that I am in no way a professional baker. I have never had a class. I have never baked professionally. I have a few recipes that are tried and true that I absolutely adore and that’s about it. But just because you’re not a professional, just because you don’t have all of these fancy tricks about making croissants and all sorts of other super, super elaborate baked goods, it doesn’t mean that you can’t learn to bake, and doesn’t mean that you can’t treat yourself and your family to super delicious, wonderful tasty treats.
Baking is something that I learned at a pretty young age. My mother was always baking things. She was always making coffee cakes and breads and cookies and muffins and biscuits and all sorts of things all the time. And I, being a naturally curious person who also happens to love carbs, I just watched her, and I started to learn to help her.
And then once I got out on my own, I really found baking therapeutic. I loved making treats. At one of my internships in college, I was kind of known as the baking lady. I even had a mason jar on the corner of my desk that said “baking fund” and people would drop in a dollar or two to keep me bringing in tasty treats.
How many times have I said tasty treats, and it’s only a minute into the podcast, Paige? Pick up a thesaurus.
I just really love carbs. There’s pretty much no other way to put it. If you put pretty much anything else in front of me or fresh baked bread with butter, I will take the bread every single time because I just love it. Fresh bread out of the oven with butter when it’s all warm and steaming, ugh, there’s nothing better than that.
That kind of brings us to the first question of why should you bake? Well, I mean, obviously if you’re like me and you just like to eat the products of your baking, that’s a pretty good reason to bake. The other thing that I love is the self-sufficiency of it. If you go to the store and suddenly there’s no bread or all of the bread is out or all the bread that’s left is smashed and useless, it’s really nice to know that you can still make yourself a loaf of bread. If you want to make something, but you want to make sure that you have more control over the ingredients, maybe for an allergy or just because you want more control over the ingredients, it’s really nice to know how to do that.
My primary love of baking comes from the self-sufficiency aspect. I like to know how to do stuff. And knowing how to bake bread, knowing how to bake muffins and cookies, I just think it’s a really good life skill. It’s a really good thing to know how to do.
You also get way better quality food once you start baking, and once you start being able to tweak it the way that you like. I have now figured out the kind of bread, the texture of bread and rolls that we like to eat, and so that’s all I make. I don’t have to buy rolls. I don’t have to eat anything I don’t like because we figured out exactly what we like in rolls and in bread and now I can replicate it every single time. I love that about baking. I love the freedom to kind of tweak things to be exactly what you want.
You may have picked up on this by my love of DIY and my love of figuring things out myself, but I don’t really like to be told what to do, and that includes in my food. I don’t want to eat something just because it’s the only option I have. I would rather use some raw ingredients and a little bit of time and teach myself how to make it exactly what I want.
The last thing also is kind of my dooms-day reason is that I want to be useful. If we’re suddenly in a situation where people need to have useful skills, baking bread is a very useful skill. I can’t fix a car engine. I can’t necessarily chop down a tree. But I can make you a darn good loaf of bread, so maybe we could barter.
So whatever reason that you might be interested in baking to be more self-sufficient, to save money, to have higher quality food, control the ingredients, whatever reason, baking is a really nice accomplishment. I also find it that it’s something that if I’m having a bad day and nothing’s going right, and I’m not really able to accomplish anything, usually I can whip up some cookies or a cake or some bread, and I can feel like I’ve done something for that day. I’ve done something good, and then the result is something that I can eat, which is always a bonus.
As you’re thinking about baking, one thing I want you to remember is that it’s pretty low stakes. I love skills and projects that aren’t really too drastic if something goes wrong. If something goes wrong with baking, okay, maybe you’ve wasted 20 or 30 minutes of your life.
You’ve wasted a few bucks in ingredients, but really, most of the time, you end up with something edible. Especially once you start making lots of different things and trying different recipes, you end up with things that are pretty edible most of the time.
So if you’re worried about it because you’re not sure that it’s going to turn out well, or you’ve never done it before, and what if I ruin the bread? So you ruin the bread. Okay, figure out what you did wrong and don’t do that next time. Maybe this is just me because I like to try new things, but it’s just not very high stakes. It’s not very drastic if something goes wrong with your bread making.
I kind of prefer that with baking to cooking, because cooking I feel like I’m not necessarily picky, but there’s just certain things I don’t like. And so I feel like I run the risk with cooking of spending money on meat or on veggies or on side dishes and making this whole meal and then not liking it. But almost every baked good I’ve ever made, I’ve liked enough to eat all of it. So it seems a little bit lower risk in terms of adventure to be baking as opposed to cooking.
You don’t really need a whole lot to get started with baking. You really need some bowls. I use a bunch of different bowls. I have some very pretty milk glass bowls that I picked up at thrift stores and yard sales. Those are really good for small things, for maybe small scale cookies or for making icings or something like that.
But my holy grail and probably one of the most useful things I have ever thrifted, is a set of four stainless steel bowls. The biggest one is, I want to say, 20 inches across or something like that. It’s massive. It’s what I make all of my bread in. The next sizes are similarly big, but not quite as big as my giant bowl. Those stainless steel bowls I use multiple times a week. They are so useful. They’re so functional. I absolutely love everything about them.
Make sure you have some good bowls for yourself, but you don’t have to run out and get all fancy and buy 30 or 40 or $50 bowls. We’re good. We thrift here. We just need a place to contain all of the ingredients.
In addition to bowls, the other thing that’s probably going to be the most useful are measuring cups and measuring spoons. I say this, but I’m also not super precise about my measurements. I probably should be more precise. Especially if I’m making something that I’ve made a lot, and I kind of know what it’s supposed to look like, and I know how the dough is supposed to feel, or how the batter is supposed to look, I kind of eyeball things. You do need some kind of measuring cups. They’ll be measuring cups that will measure in one cup, three quarters cup, half a cup, third of a cup. And then there will be measuring spoons for teaspoons and tablespoons.
If you get really into baking, especially baking European or artisan style breads, you will also need a kitchen scale because a lot of other countries, other than the US, bake by weights. So they’ll have 500 grams of flour or 200 grams of water. Even though that’s not a measurement system I’m super familiar with, I have baked with weights, and for that, you do need a kitchen scale. But for most of the stuff I make, I don’t bother with that. I get very good results with my breads and my cookies and my cakes by just using the cup measurements.
You will need baking sheets and baking pans. Mine are pretty gross, honestly. They’ve been used a lot and they’re pretty dark. I almost always use parchment paper on them to keep my things from sticking. I don’t really grease things unless it specifically calls for it. I much prefer parchment paper because you can reuse it over and over, and it just makes cleanups so much easier. I don’t have to wash all of these baking trays. I just pick up the parchment paper.
I do have to wax poetic about my bread pans. I bought three of these bread pans at an antique fair, I want to say for five or $6 each. They’re not your normal 5×9 or 8×4 bread pans. These are 4×13, so they’re really long, and they’re really skinny. They’re the same dimensions of something called a Pullman pan. Typically, a Pullman pan has a lid on it. So that lid makes a square shaped loaf, and it’s really good for sandwich bread. But these don’t have lids on them. They’re just open.
I love them because I just find that a 5×9 pan makes a very big slice of bread for a sandwich. I think these 4×13 pans work much better. They give just a much better proportion and I like them a lot better for baking white bread. So if you can find some at an antique fair. I’ve never seen them again.
I only saw them that one time and I bought all three that the lady had. I haven’t really been able to find a great comparison to them on Amazon or anything. But if you ever come across 4×13 pans, buy them because they’re wonderful. They’re the best for baking. They make the most wonderful size loaf for pretty much anything.
Now, the last thing to say that you probably need for baking would be spoons and spatulas to mix dough and everything, but I want to also offer up your hands as an option for mixing dough. Pretty much when I’m making bread at this point, I don’t stir it with a spoon ever. I get a disposable glove. I stick it on my hand, just because I don’t like digging dough out from underneath my fingernails.
And I mix dough by hand. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with it. It does make me feel extremely old fashioned. I feel like I’m a pioneer woman or something with my big bowl and all of my dough. And then I dump it down on the counter and I knead it all. I’m like, “Oh, it’s 1887. I love this.” I use my hands to make quite a lot of things. I use them to make cookies. I use them to mix dough. But if you are not doing that, obviously mixing bowls with spoons is going to be the way to go.
Now, if you’re looking to start baking, there’s lots of different options. As per my usual recommendation, I would start with what you’re interested in. If you want to make chocolate chip cookies, then start with chocolate chip cookies, because that’s obviously what you’re interested in and that’s what you want to eat. However, if you still are like, I don’t know, I like so many things, I just want something that’s not too hard, I would start with quick breads.
Quick breads are things like banana bread or lemon poppy seed bread or pumpkin bread. The reason that I would start with those is that they’re pretty much a dump everything in the bowl and mix it and bake it type thing. I wouldn’t necessarily start with cookies because a lot of times, depending on the temperature of your butter or how much butter or sugar you use, the cookies can turn out kind of weird. They might spread too much or not enough, and then you have to do all the scooping out and all of that kind of stuff. So if you’re looking for something just delicious and simple, start with the quick bread.
In the show notes of this episode, there will be a link to my absolute favorite cinnamon and vanilla banana bread. It is divine. I made it by accident once, because I was trying to make cinnamon vanilla bread and I was out of something, and so I used a banana instead. It’s so good. So if you want a very simple, delicious, quick bread to start with, check out that recipe.
Quick breads are called quick breads because the leavening agent, or the agent that makes the bread rise up and be kind of fluffy in them, is not yeast and it’s not sourdough. It is a baking soda or a baking powder, or sometimes both, which means that you can whip them up in about 15 minutes. They do bake for a long time. Usually they bake for 60 minutes, 65 minutes, an hour and 10 minutes, something like that, because there’s just a lot of moisture in the dough so you have to bake all of that out. They’re called quick breads because you don’t have to wait for them to rise.
If cinnamon vanilla is not your thing, you can also look for pumpkin chocolate chip. Zucchini bread is a great one to make in summer if you have zucchini in your garden and usually zucchini kind of take over the whole place. Zucchini bread is really good. Banana bread, blueberry muffins, anything that’s a quick bread like that is a really good place to start because they’re kind of hard to mess up.
I’ve messed with different proportions of different ingredients and they almost always turn out edible in some degree. I made a carrot one once, which was okay, but it was a little drier than I hoped. So you can make those, I promise. If you want to start with something, start with quick breads.
If you get your confidence up and you make a couple quick breads and you’re like, “Well, that’s pretty good. What can I do next?” Do yeast breads. And I know, I know the number one issue with yeast breads people are always like, “Oh, it takes so long.” I mean, start to finish, yes, there’s a lot of time involved from starting the dough to being able to eat your finished bread. But in terms of time that you’re actually spending making the bread and working on the bread, it’s not really that much. Most of your time is spent waiting for the bread to rise.
Also, in the shows to this podcast will be a recipe for my favorite white bread. This is the best white sandwich bread I’ve ever made in my life. It’s kind of sweet. It’s really easy. It’s really rich. There’s so much butter in it. It’s just really, really good. So if you want to try that, or you want to try the cinnamon vanilla banana bread, the recipes for both of those will be down in the show notes for this episode.
Yeast breads, people get very intimidated by them. They use a bread machine or they just never make them. They’re a little bit tricky, because unlike baking soda or baking powder, which is going to create air bubbles and make your bread rise, yeast is actually a living thing. It’s a little happy, yummy, alive thing that’s going to produce air, and that’s what makes your bread rise.
But because of that, you have to wait. You have to wait some time for it to rise. You have to give it that chance to puff up and get nice and big. So it is a little bit tricky. You have to make sure that your water is not too warm or too cold. You have to make sure there’s enough sugar, but you don’t kill the yeast with salt.
There’s a lot of little things to learn about it, but the trade off is that once you master it, you can make so many delicious things; rolls, hamburger rolls, hot dog rolls, sub rolls, breads, just so many different, absolutely delicious things. And I’m telling you, French toast on homemade bread is unparalleled. It is amazing.
So if you want to get a little bit more excited, going into yeast breads, it’s worth it. I feel like I should be expounding more on this, but I’m just sitting here. All I want to do is tell you, eat the bread. Make the bread. It’s so good.
Yeast breads and quick breads are the main thing that I make. I do make cookies occasionally. I make a real mean pumpkin pie in the fall season, but I feel like I can’t talk about baking without talking about sour dough. I have a little bit of a confession. Sour dough is not my thing. I’ve had it before. I’ve had different sourdough recipes, and I don’t like the sour taste. I don’t like the tang. It just doesn’t do it for me. I would much rather have a yeast bread.
So sour dough, I’ve tried it a couple times. I’ve had a starter. I’ve made things with the starter and I just don’t like it. I don’t know. It seems kind of like an unusual thing. Especially in the homesteading baking community, to not like sourdough because everybody’s holy grail seems to be I have to get my starter and I have to make sourdough bread.
And if you love it or you like the health benefits of it, or sourdough is really your jam, knock yourself out. We love it. But if it doesn’t do it for you, if you can’t get a starter to stay alive, if you’re not baking consistently enough to use all the discard of your starter, it is perfectly okay if sourdough is not your thing.
Now, if it is your thing, you can go check out my friend, Lisa at Farmhouse on Boone. She is the sourdough queen. She has so many recipes and so many videos on how to make sourdough starter and how to keep it alive and all different ways that you could use your sourdough. So if you really are wanting to get into that, you can definitely check out Lisa. But if you’re not into it, that’s perfectly okay too.
I guess this turned out to be just a little bit more of a ramble on why I like baked goods so much, but I am a huge advocate of people getting valuable life skills; sewing, canning, cooking, baking. It can be difficult, especially in a world where you can get DoorDash of anything you want delivered to you in 20 minutes, but knowing those life skills, knowing those kind of heritage talents and tasks I think is incredibly valuable because people will always need to eat, and if you know how to take some flour and some salt and some yeast and make a bread, that’s a valuable skill.
If you’re snowed in, you can’t go anywhere, but you’re really craving something sweet, to be able to go in your pantry and whip up a batch of cookies or a cake or a pie, I love that freedom. That’s why I bake because I want the food and I want to be able to provide the food for myself. And I want to be able to tweak it, if I’m trying to watch calories. Or if I’m trying to make something taste a specific way, I want to be able to control all of that. I don’t think knowing how to bake ever going to be a bad thing. I don’t think having more skills is ever going to be a problem.
It’s a little bit of a shorter and sweeter episode, but hopefully that will give you more time to go bake something, to pick up a couple ingredients from the grocery store this week. Just some flour, some sugar, some salt, some yeast, and just try it. There’ll be two recipes in the show notes for the quick bread, and my favorite white bread. Just try them out. Just see what happens.
I mean, the worst-case scenario is that you make an inedible brick, which I have done. It’s part of the learning process. But the best-case scenario is you may discover a new hobby you love. You may discover a new recipe that you’re just addicted to or that your family loves.
So my hope for you is that some on time this week, you maybe will try to bake something. And if you’re an avid baker, maybe you’ll tackle something that you’ve kind of been a little bit leery of. Maybe you’ll make puff pastry. I hope you enjoyed that. I hope you learned something. I hope maybe now you’re a little bit hungry thinking about some of the delicious things that you could bake. Thank you so much for hanging out with me. I loved having you here, and I will see you next time. Bye.