Archive for the ‘breads and baked things’ Category

(Note: This post was originally published in February 2013 in the Okanagan Sunday, Kamloops This Week and Prairie Post. The time and date of the reading mentioned has come and gone. But! You can join author Astrid Blodgett on Tuesday evening, October 8 instead. You can contact the Peachland Library or Astrid, via her blog, for further information.)


In my grandmother’s kitchen, there were many plastic bags.

Although I never knew her to buy a loaf of bread, somehow the bread bags of other families made their way to her.

She used and reused them, washed and hung them to dry from clothespins suspended on a string over the kitchen sink.

When they’d dripped dry, she stored her own bread in them. White bread, soft as down pillows, the dough for which rose daily in an enameled bowl, covered and set on the kitchen table.

february10.foodpic.darcie     Meanwhile, Grandma would do her other baking. Cookies and doughnuts and buns and roll kuchen.

As many of these goodies as might have been for her and Grandpa, many more were for visitors who dropped by, usually unannounced. Or they were sent home with children and grandchildren.

With the homemade bread in bread bags, the twist ties long ago stripped of their red or green paper ribbons, the cream cookies were packed in one of dozens of kept ice cream buckets.

Salvaged grocery ware, after all, were Grandma’s Mennonite “Tupperware.” A thrifty measure that predated our modern “Reduce/Reuse/Recycle” movement. And one that, some twenty-plus years later, has lately served me well.

While writing and rehearsing the talk and reading I would deliver at the book launch for Mennonites Don’t Dance more than two years ago, I wanted, also, to do something special, and sweet, for readers who have followed this column for so many years.

Arriving at the downtown library an hour ahead of the event, Chefhusband and I brought in ice cream buckets stuffed with pink-frosted cream cookies, the same as my grandmother used to bake. We put on the library’s conference-sized coffee urns. And when the reading was over, we invited the sixty or so people who’d come to listen, to join us for a Mennonite treat.

On tour in Alberta a few weeks later, my mom, sister and niece did the baking, while an aunt and uncle provided the Mennonite “Tupperware” I brought to the library in Lethbridge.

Across Canada, libraries (and independent book stores) have been very good to me: The Ontario Library Association nominated Mennonites Don’t Dance for their annual Evergreen Award, while local librarians have made me feel at home among their stacks.

In the end, the honours went, last week, to Linwood Barclay who wrote The Accident (Doubleday Canada).

Today, however, I’m getting ready for another reading, at another library. This time in Peachland, on Tuesday February 12th at 7pm. A bit of a drive, but all are welcome. And there will be cream cookies, made from my grandmother’s recipe, with a twist, and carried in Mennonite “Tupperware” from my own collection.

“Your aunt says she  needs those back,” my mom said to me when she delivered the cream cookies for Lethbridge.

I’m sorry to say that when I returned them, it was minus one.


Mennonite “Whoopie Pies”

2 large eggs

1 cup whipping cream

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

pinch salt

4 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

1tsp baking soda



1 cup butter, softened

2 cups sifted icing sugar

2 tsp cocoa powder

3 cups marshmallow “Fluff”* (store bought or homemade)

2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Whisk together eggs, cream, sugar, vanilla and salt. Whisk together remaining ingredients. Add dry ingredients to wet, one cup at a time, mixing to form a soft dough. Divide into two parts. Wrap each in plastic. Refrigerate to chill.

Preheat oven to 350F. On a floured surface, roll out dough to 1/2-inch. Cut cookies using a medium round cutter. Place 1-inch apart on a greased baking sheet. Bake 12-14 minutes (cookies should remain white, but be set in the centre). Cool completely.

Meanwhile, for filling, cream together butter, icing sugar and cocoa until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add Fluff* and vanilla. Mix until combined.

Spread undersides of cookies with filling and press together into sandwich cookies.

*Marshmallow Fluff

3 egg whites

2 cups light corn syrup

1/2 tsp salt

2 cups icing sugar

1 Tbs pure vanilla extract


Using the whisk attachment of an electric beater, beat egg, syrup and salt on high speed for 10 minutes. Add sugar and vanilla and beat on low to combine.

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By the Bay
(July 2012)
On Wednesday, we drive towards the Bay of Fundy, en route from Halifax to Prince Edward Island.
After stopping to take pictures of salt-sanded outbuildings and fence lines, and wildly-growing wildflowers, we arrive at the Bay’s interpretive centre where we’re reminded to be aware of the shoreline at all times. “The volume of water that will return to the Bay over the next six hours is greater than than all the fresh water lakes and rivers on earth.”
Once outside with this information, I try to imagine what it means. But while my mind telescopes for perspective, I find there is none. It’s simply not possible to gain a sense of such volume.
And so we walk.
We walk down a tree- and berry-lined path.
We walk down and down an encasement of wooden stairs. We hop onto a rock and then down further still, onto another, then another. We step onto the ocean floor, where the high tide markers suddenly rise five stories above us.
I think to myself how it’s possible that, only hours ago, a whale swam through this very passage which is now bare enough to walk on while carrying a camera and a red plastic bucket we use to collect a few rocks, a few shells, and a possible fossil.
At sand level, I pick up tiny hermit crabs that reach around their shells to touch my thumb, then settle them back in their tide pools, wondering about life in such a dramatically cycling waterscape.
Above are knotted ropes that dangle from trees atop stone towers that will become islands by mid-afternoon: lifelines for anyone caught spelunking in sea caves, or simply caught daydreaming.
I find it’s impossible to not imagine being marooned atop one of these islands, and I take a mental inventory of things that ought to be in our backpack should we find ourselves climbing out of the tide to relative safety.
In truth, everything I think of would better fill a picnic basket. And later, as we continue to travel through Nova Scotia, across a corner of New Brunswick, and the circle drives of P.E.I., we’ll discover all the edible items we could ever want to be stranded with.
There will be fresh raspberries and blueberries, and every kind of vegetable, all sold roadside, by an honor system of taking what you want and leaving money in a wooden box.
We’ll discover a gouda farm and more ice cream stands per capita than seems reasonable, even to us. And we’ll find The Maroon Pig, a bakery in Georgetown where the once-mayor/maker-of-sea-glass-jewellery will send us for olive-studded focaccia. The kind of bread that might make a couple of foolish married people imagine an accidental picnic on one of Fundy’s tidal islands.
For now, though, it’s time to be on our way.
And so we walk back across the tidal flats, climb over one rock, then another and another. Up the wooden stairs and back to our rental car, where we set shoes caked with red mud to dry in the trunk, along with a few rocks, a few shells, and a possible fossil.
“Georgetown” Focaccia
1 1/4 cups warm water
1 Tbs active dry yeast
2 tbs extra-virgin olive oil
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp flaked kosher salt
extra-virgin olive oil
grape tomatoes and green olives
Proof yeast in water. Pour into the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk in olive oil.
In another bowl, whisk together flour and salt.
Add half of the flour to the yeast mixture and stir (with dough hook) on low, just to mix. Add remaining flour. Mix 3 minutes more. Increase speed to medium-high and mix for 8 minutes.
Transfer dough to an oiled bowl. Cover and let rise until doubled. Punch down and let rise a second time. Shape into a ball, transfer to a clean bowl. Brush with olive oil and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate 24 hours.
Take dough from fridge an hour before baking. Preheat oven to 425F, with a baking stone set inside.
Spread parchment paper on a baking peel and pour dough onto paper. Brush with oil and top with olives and halved grape tomatoes and a sprinkling of kosher salt. Slide focaccia, along with paper, onto stone. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until lightly golden.

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1/2 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 whole vanilla bean, split and scraped
1/2 cup milk
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder


Cream together butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in vanilla seeds.

Whisk together flour and baking powder.

Blend in half of the flour into butter mixture, followed by the milk, then the remaining flour mixture, until incorporated.

Divide into 5 balls. Place on a floured surface and flatten to 3/4-inch thick rounds. Cut each into 4 triangles and arrange on Silpat-lined baking sheet.

Bake at 400F for 12-15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

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Raspberry Rhubarb Grunt
1 pound rhubarb stalks, chopped into 1-inch pieces
3/4 cup golden brown sugar
1/2 cup water
4 cups ripe raspberries
In a wide (9-inch diameter), straight-sided skillet or pot, over medium-low heat, stew rhubarb together with water and sugar, until rhubarb is tender. Add raspberries and cook until juices run.
Meanwhile, make the dumplings:
1/3 cup milk
2 Tbs melted butter
3/4 cup flour
2 Tbs granulated sugar
3/4 tsp baking powder
1 Tbs granulated sugar
1/8 tsp cinnamon
Combine milk and butter. Combine flour, sugar and baking powder. Add dry ingredients to wet and bring together with a fork until combined. Drop by tablespoons onto simmering fruit. Combine sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over dumplings. Cover with lid, reduce heat to low, and let dumplings poach for 15 minutes. Serve warm with ice cream or drizzled cream.

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1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 Tbs fresh lemon zest
2 large eggs
1/2 cup whole milk
1 1/2 Tbs poppy seeds
for syrup:
juice from 3 medium Meyer lemons (1/3 cup)
1/3 cup granulated sugar
Butter and flour a loaf pan.
In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter, sugar and lemon zest until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Alternating, add the flour mixture and milk until incorporated (do not over beat). Add poppy seeds.
Scrape batter into prepared pan and bake at 350F for 50 minutes, until a tester inserted in centre comes out clean.
Let cool, in pan, on a wire rack for half an hour before turning out to cool completely.
Meanwhile, in a small pot, heat together lemon juice and sugar until dissolved. Cool.
Serve slices of cake, each drizzled with the lemon syrup.

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(contributed by Elsie K. Neufeld)
2 cups brown sugar
3 cups flour
2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 cup margarine (or butter, I suppose), softened.

Mix the above and reserve 3/4 -1 cup for “crumbs.”


Add 2 tsp BAKING SODA to 1 1/2 cups sour milk (or buttermilk). Whisk with a fork.
Pour into the dry mixture. Then beat 2 eggs and add. Turn on mixer. Beat until your intuition tells you to stop.

Pour into a 9×13 inch pan. Top with reserved crumbs.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 or so minutes.


Bakers’ notes: I wanted to keep Elsie’s mom’s recipe worded just the way it was. I used a different method, so include these few notes:


Whisk together sugar, flour and cinnamon. Cut in butter until crumbly. Set aside 3/4 cup crumbs. Whisk baking soda into remaining crumbs.


Whisk together buttermilk and eggs. Add to crumb mixture and bring together with a fork, until the consistency of muffin batter.


Pour into a buttered pan. Top with reserved crumbs. Bake until a tester comes out clean.

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Brioche Sticky Buns

March 1, 2012 by darcie friesen hossack | Edit

4 tsp active dry yeast
1 1/4 cups warm milk
6 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1 pound butter, room temperature, cut into cubes
In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in milk. Set aside in a warm place, 10 minutes, until creamy.
In the bowl of a heavy-duty electric mixer, whisk together flour and sugar. Fit mixer with dough hook. Add yeast mixture and eggs to flour. Mix on low until liquids are completely incorporated; 3 minutes.
With mixer on high, add butter, several pieces at a time. When all the butter is added, knead for 8 minutes. Transfer dough to a very large, buttered bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate several hours or overnight.
Let stand at room temperature 15 minutes. Roll out to 15×20-inches.
3/4 cup sour cream
1 1/2 tbs cinnamon
1 cup light brown sugar
Spread sour cream over surface of dough, leaving a boarder of 1/2-inch. Combine cinnamon and brown sugar. Sprinkle over sour cream. Roll up lengthwise.
1 1/2 cups golden brown sugar
1/2 pound butter, softened
1/4 cup maple syrup (not pancake syrup)
1/4 cup golden corn syrup
Cream together butter and sugar. Add syrups and beat until well combined. Spread mixture into the bottom and sides of two 8x11x2-inch glass baking dishes. Cut roll into 12 equal slices. Arrange into pans.
Bake, with a cookie sheet below to catch drips, at 350F for 40-45 minutes, until deep golden. Serve warm.

Second Breakfast:

Prairie Berry Clafoutis

December 1, 2010 by darcie friesen hossack | Edit

I have a new favourite recipe and this is it!
by Amy Jo Ehman, author of Prairie Feast, a writer’s journey home for dinner
2 tbs butter
2 cups mixed Saskatchewan berries, fresh or frozen
(raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, sour cherries and, of course, saskatoons)
1 tbsp flour
3 eggs
3 tbsp sugar
1 cup milk
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup flour
Heat the oven to 350F. In the oven, melt the butter in a 10-inch cast iron skillet or large pie plate. Do not brown. Meanwhile, toss the berries with 1 tbsp of flour. In a blender or food processor, mix the eggs, sugar, milk, vanilla and salt. With the blades running, gradually add the cup of flour and blend well. Pour the batter into the pan. Scatter the berries overtop. Bake 20-25 minutes, until the centre is set. Serve warm or at room temperature, sprinkled with icing sugar or a drizzle of maple syrup.
Cook’s note: Clafoutis is a French custard cake, much like a thick crepe, and makes a perfect brunch or dessert.


BLT Bread Salad

4 slices bacon, crumbled

3 slices day-old bread, cubed

(or equivalent artisan bread, cubed or sliced into thin fingers, as shown)

2 medium tomatoes

2 cups salad greens

2 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced


2 Tbs light mayonnaise

1 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard

dash hot sauce

3 Tbs milk

flaked kosher salt/freshly ground pepper

Fry bacon until crisp, then remove with tongs to a paper towel. Add sliced garlic to bacon fat and distribute evenly around pan. Add bread and fry until golden on one side. Flip and fry on other (or all) side. Remove from pan.

Roughly chop the tomatoes. Place in a large salad bowl and squeeze lightly to release some of the juices.

Whisk together dressing ingredients. Pour over tomatoes and stir. Adjust seasoning. Just before serving, toss in bread.

Arrange salad greens on two large plates. Top with the tomato/bread mixture. Sprinkle with crumbled bacon. Season lightly with salt and pepper.


Baked Potato Soup
flesh from 4 large baked potatoes
4 Tbs butter
2 medium leeks, finely sliced, (white and light green parts only)
5-6 cups chicken stock
2 cups grated cheddar
6 green onions, finely sliced, (white and light green parts only)
5 strips bacon, cooked crisp, drained, chopped
flaked kosher salt/freshly ground pepper
sour cream
Scoop flesh from well-baked potatoes.
Melt butter in a stock pot over medium-high heat. Add leeks; sauté until softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Add potatoes and 5 cups stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmering for 10 minutes
Puree using an immersion blender. Thin with additional stock if needed.
Bring back to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with grated cheddar, green onions, bacon and sour cream.

Afternoon Tea:

London Fog for one

3/4 cup hot water
2 Earl Grey tea bags
3/4 cup whole milk
3 tbs vanilla syrup
Steep both tea bags in water for very strong tea. Meanwhile, froth milk with the steam attachment of an espresso machine (or heat and use a latte whip). Remove tea bags from tea. Add vanilla syrup and steamed milk, reserving froth for the top. Serve immediately, with crumb cake (next recipe).

Susanne Klassen’s Crumb cake recipe!

(contributed by Elsie K. Neufeld)

2 cups brown sugar
3 cups flour
2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 cup margarine (or butter, I suppose), softened.

Mix the above and reserve 3/4 -1 cup for “crumbs.”

Add 2 tsp BAKING SODA to 1 1/2 cups sour milk (or buttermilk). Whisk with a fork.
Pour into the dry mixture. Then beat 2 eggs and add. Turn on mixer. Beat until your intuition tells you to stop.

Pour into a 9×13 inch pan. Top with reserved crumbs.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 or so minutes.

Bakers’ notes: I wanted to keep Elsie’s mom’s recipe worded just the way it was. I used a different method, so include these few notes:

Whisk together sugar, flour and cinnamon. Cut in butter until crumbly. Set aside 3/4 cup crumbs. Whisk baking soda into remaining crumbs.

Whisk together buttermilk and eggs. Add to crumb mixture and bring together with a fork, until the consistency of muffin batter.

Pour into a buttered pan. Top with reserved crumbs. Bake until a tester comes out clean.


Chefhusband’s Ultimate Fried Egg Sandwich

March 30, 2012 by darcie friesen hossack | Edit


(makes 2)

4 slices artisan bread

4 fresh eggs

8 slices bacon, cooked, drippings reserved

1 tomato, sliced

4 slices sharp cheddar

2 tbs mayonnaise

herb salad

kosher salt, fresh ground pepper


Preheat oven to 350F. Place a pan over med-high heat.

For each sandwich, butter one side of two slices of bread. Spread insides with mayo and place tomato slices on one side, cheese on the other. Season tomato with salt and pepper. Place bread, buttered side down, in skillet. After 30 seconds, transfer to oven to melt cheese.

Meanwhile, heat 2-3 tsp bacon drippings in a small pan. Crack in 2 eggs and fry over-easy, leaving the yolks runny.

Remove pan from oven. Transfer bread to a cutting board. Add eggs, bacon and a few greens. Assemble and slice in half. Serve immediately.



This is an old Mennonite recipe. Though I didn’t learn it from my Grandma Friesen, it still reminds me of her kitchen in Schoenfeld, Saskatchewan.
2 cups milk
1/2 cup warm water
1 tbs active dry yeast
1 tbs granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1 tsp kosher salt
4-5 cups flour
12 oz Farmers sausage (about 1 1/2 large)
Grease an 11 by 11 by 3-inch baking pan.
In a  small pot, scald milk by warming it over med-high heat until barely simmering. Allow to cool until it is warm but no longer hot (baby bottle temperature).
Meanwhile, proof yeast in water with sugar.
In a large bowl, beat eggs well. Stir in milk and yeast mixture.
Whisk salt into flour and add, one cup at a time into the wet mixture (whisking at first, then changing to a wooden spoon), until mixture is thick and slightly elastic. (It should be like a very heavy muffin batter, but not so thick or overworked that it becomes a dough).
Chop sausage into bite-sized pieces. Fold into batter.
Scrape batter into prepared pan, cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm place to rise for 1 1/2 hours, until nearly doubled.
Bake at 350F for 45 minutes.

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1/4 cup lard
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup quick oats
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup buttermilk
In a large mixing bowl, using a wooden spoon, beat together lard, butter and sugar until mixture is smooth and light.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt, and baking soda.
Add flour and buttermilk to lard mixture, and stir into a (cookie-like) dough.
Wrap dough in plastic wrap. Refrigerate 30 minutes.
(Work with one third at a time, leaving the rest covered in the fridge.) Place dough on a lightly floured surface. Using a floured rolling pin, roll dough to about 12×13 inches.
Cut with a sharp knife into 4×1-inch rectangles. Using a small offset spatula, transfer to a Silpat-lined baking sheet.
Bake at 325F for 12-14 minutes. Crackers are done when golden.
Remove from oven and sprinkle lightly with Kosher salt (optional). Allow to cool for a few minutes before transferring to a rack to cool completely. Repeat with remaining dough.
Great for nibbling. Perfect for cured fish appetizers.

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300g semi-sweet chocolate

2 tbs butter

2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk

1 tsp vanilla

Melt together in a double boiler. Remove from heat and stir until smooth.

1/2 cup butter, soft

1 cup brown sugar

1 egg, beaten

1/2 tsp vanilla

3/4 cup flour

1/2 tsp soda

2 cups quick oats

Cream together butter and sugar. Beat in egg and vanilla. Whisk together flour and soda. Beat in until combined, followed by oatmeal.

Line bottom of a 9×9-inch baking pan with parchment, leaving enough length to lift out squares later.

Pat 2/3 of batter into pan. Spread with chocolate and dot with remaining batter.

Bake at 350F for 25 min. Set on a wire rack to cool completely before lifting out and cutting into squares.

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(Makes 5 dozen)
1 cup butter, softened
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp kosher salt
Cereal Crunch (recipe follows)
3/4 cups milk chocolate chips
1 1/4 cups mini marshmallows

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugars on medium-high. Scrape down sides. Add egg and vanilla and beat 7 minutes.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, soda, cinnamon and salt. Add to wet mixture and beat until just combined. Scrape sides.

Add cereal crunch and chocolate. Pulse from low to high until just incorporated. Pulse in marshmallows.

Scoop dough by heaping tablespoonfuls (3/4 oz scoop), generously spaced, onto Silpat-lined baking sheets. Flatten. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least one hour (do not skip this step!)

Bake in a 375F oven for 10 minutes.

Set pans on a wire rack for an hour cool completely.

Cereal Crunch
4 cups cornflakes
2/3 cup coarsely chopped pecans
1/3 cup milk powder
3 tbs brown sugar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
6 tbs butter, melted

In a medium bowl crush cornflakes to Rice Krispie size with a potato masher. Toss with pecans, milk powder, sugar, and salt. Add butter; toss to coat, creating small clusters.

On a Silpat-lined baking pan, spread clusters and bake at 275F for 20 minutes.

Cool completely.

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