Hello Bakers and Friends,
Welcome to the November 2020 issue of Betterbaking.com!
I hope October has treated you well and these first dark mornings of November aren’t too dreary. I plan months in advance for the first week of daylight savings, curating a war chest of candles, incense, candle warmers and a special cache of balsam pillows I order from Paine Products of Maine. True to my vocation, I keep baker’s hours I rise at 5 am no matter what although usually it’s to check on a sourdough winking at me with that ‘bake-me-now’ look. That tended, I light some vanilla incense and set up some candle melts to warm along with companion candles from Bath and Body. This week I’m featuring Frosted Cranberry and Leaves. Then I switch on the electric Franklin stove which is no true Franklin wood stove given that there’s no real wood and it comes with a remote, but it does the trick with heat and ambience. Last, I lay out my yoga mat in the dawn light, click on the Zoom link for a 6 am live stream yoga class. I recognize the teacher, if not the fellow yoga strangers on their mats, visible in little tiles on my computer screen and it’s all in real time. I get the sense that I'm actually with people even though I’m sheltering in place and on my own.
All this to say, I make everything an occasion or an oasis because this is what I do and how I am – a poster child of self-care. But it’s really not the scents and the baking – it’s about keeping a core structure no matter what the outer storm because I’m bullish on ballast.
Drive-By Thanksgiving Baking and more....
Over the years, I’ve tried over the years to keep this once-monthly publication current since I publish once in 30 days versus every other hour with Instagram or FB blurbs. In 1997, this seemed easier because the world seemed more static; a trend or big news actually had an arc and some staying power. Now things change so fast and more so, these are exceptional times in and of themselves. It’s a challenge creating a recipe collection that matches the moment but also the mood and is politically correct. In these special times, even a recipe can strike the wrong note, be culturally incorrect or just irrelevant, i.e. something really extravagant that takes hard to procure ingredients; this is just not the time. Back in the day, the only way a recipe could be ‘wrong’ was it was that it was inaccurate or possibly dated, i.e. no one writes about blanc mange in 2020 unless they’re also reviewing Little Women.
The onset of daylight saving time calls for carbs so no problem there; I can deliver. Election day and the pandemic says to me: more sugar. Then there’s Thanksgiving up ahead which implies pumpkin, spice and cranberries and recipes for a big feast. But that’ so 2019. This Thanksgiving will showcase holiday tables of 1-3 people instead of the usual crew. Instead of creating a harvest cheesecake that serves fourteen I’m giving you recipes that have flexibility to them, are easy to serve and seasonal. Call them 'holiday-ish' and in case of drive-by, drop-off or Uber delivered Thanksgiving, they work.
On this end, family dinner is still being held outside and guests are spaced apart. In my four-star, eat-at-mom’s restaurant, I have formal seatings. The logistics involve (at least before it snows anyway) an outdoor buffet of crowd-pleasers such as lasagna, fried chicken or last night, breakfast sandwiches with too many desserts. For these socially distant suppers I’ve adapted with desserts like the Mason Jar Pumpkin Pie. Mason Jar desserts are make-ahead simple, good on the go, and my new best thing. Last night I made Red Velvet ones but the free recipe this month is the Pumpkin Pie one.
So welcome to November 2020 everyone and to our next big adventure. Be warm and courageous or pretend for those around you. Ok – what am I saying??? These are impossible times! So just breathe and then breathe again. Slow breathing won’t solve everything but it will make the journey to both wellness and happier days easier. Count your blessings. Instead of wringing your hands, put them to work: bake. Leave what you baked nicely wrapped on someone’s doorstep, ring their bell, then run away, honk your horn, wave, make the 'heart hands' and drive away. Repeat.
You can also check out my pandemic poem at Medium.com )
If you want the world's best pie dough, visit me at Facebook: Best Ever Pie Dough.
With much love, and with the tacit understanding that regardless of your perch, if you’re on this planet, we’re reluctantly, but truly in this together. Let’s cozy up.
Your village baker and friend in flour,
Author, Master Baker
November 2020 Recipes
Everyone needs an over-the-top dessert once in awhile. This beauty is oddly no fuss and stays fresh for days. It also cuts like a dream!