I’ve been doing a good bit of baking: I have the time, it warms the kitchen, and a perhaps illusory sense of productiveness is inspired. Well, not illusion exactly: the baked goods exist; but they’re not really to the point. Nevertheless, they are tasty. I’ve made several batches of the Ranger Cookies (with, variously, raisins and nuts, dried cranberries, chopped crystallized ginger, and chocolate chips) and a version of Nanaimo Bars with a brownie base, averting the need to buy graham crackers and adding, perhaps, extra deliciousness. I’ve worked my way through some of the bananas in the freezer with a couple of loaves of banana bread. I made lemon cornmeal shortbread cookies that came out really nicely and now I can’t figure out what recipe I used. I bring the results to my singing friends.
I’ve been baking bread every few days too. Nothing artisanal, but various off-white sandwich loaves that have a little oil in them so they’ll keep. One loaf had whole wheat, bread flour, and all-purpose; one had buckwheat, bread flour, and ap; another added some rye; some have had poppy, sesame, and (or) sunflower seeds; the latest has oat flour, a couple of tbs of oat bran, and all-purpose. Sweeteners have included honey, sugar, and molasses. The first couple I made from the ancient Broccoli Forest book with its comic-book instructions. Then I realized that (a) I had instant yeast, requiring different treatment, and (b) that recipe had led me to very dry doughs, especially in winter and using hygroscopic whole grains, difficult to knead and resistant to rising. At the Fleishmann’s Yeast page I found instructions about the different kinds of yeasts — instant yeast doesn’t get proofed, but mixes in with the dry ingredients — a skeleton recipe calling for just one short rest and one in-pan rise, and more. I’ve been trying out keeping the dough wetter, and remembering to add more salt. The loaves are mostly pretty good, nothing to win a prize but modestly well-textured and tasty.