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From pies to cookies to the best-ever frosted cakes, May 17 is the best day to celebrate World Baking Day – a special day of yum!
If the pandemic left us a lasting gift it’s the fact many who had been housebound unleashed their inner baker to create an astonishing selection of delicious treats, banana bread notwithstanding.
People learned how to make favourite foods from scratch, especially baked goods – creating in the kitchen helped many get over the lack of control caused by the pandemic, and offered an opportunity to show off everyone’s creativity: Today, one of the areas of the home that are most being renovated is the kitchen, where the love affair with cooking and baking continues.
Who came up with World Baking Day? Well, the folks over at worldbakingday.com, “who decided it was high time to spread the joy of baking all around the world,” noted Daysoftheyear. Among many things, it’s recognizing what a stress reliever cooking and baking is.
“We’re all bakers in the making,” noted the folks at BakeGood.ca, who have recently launched an immersive online hub to connect and provide resources to Canadian bakers of all skill levels. (The hub also has a libraray of more than 2,000 original, seasonally-inspired recipes.) You can find advice from local experts as well as follow the virtual lessons housed in the Bake Good Academy for beginner, intermediate and expert levels – all free, in English and French.
So, let’s celebrate World Baking Day – today’s the perfect day to get started, starting with this delicious cake perfect for spring.
Lemon Poppy Seed Cake
Light and lemony and easy to make! Note – cake contains almonds. Serves 8-10. Recipe courtesy of BakeGood.ca with lagostina.ca.
2 tsp. baking powder
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 cups organic granulated sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
2 Tbsp. poppy seeds
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup milk
2 tsp. freshly grated lemon peel
1/2 tsp. almond extract
1-1/2 cups icing sugar
3 to 4 Tbsp.lemon juice
Preheat oven to 350F. Spray a 9 by 11-inch square bake pan (or a fluted tube pan) with cooking spray and set aside. Stir flour, poppy seeds, baking powder and salt in a medium mixing bowl; mix well, set aside.
Beat eggs with an electric mixer at medium speed until eggs are frothy and pale yellow, about 1 minute. Add sugar, oil, milk, lemon zest and almond extract; continue mixing for 1 minute. Stir in flour mixture using a spoon or rubber spatula just until flour is moistened. Pour batter into prepared bakeware. Bake 45 to 55 minutes or until golden brown and toothpick inserted into centre comes out clean. Cool cake before glazing.
For Glaze: Whisk icing sugar and lemon juice until smooth. Drizzle over top of warm cake. Serve with fresh sliced strawberries, if desired. Store covered.
World Baking Day Tips from Bake Good Academy expert, Shelagh Rutherford:
– While your oven is preheating, measure out all of your ingredients
– Make sure your bakeware is well greased to prevent sticking.
– Before using, it’s always a good idea to check if your baking powder is still fresh, especially if it’s been in your cupboard for a while. Simply drop 1 teaspoon of baking powder into a cup of hot water. If it bubbles, your baking powder is still active. If it doesn’t it’s time to buy another container.
– Forget to take your eggs out of the fridge? Place the eggs in a bowl of warm water. Let them sit for 5 minutes. The water will warm the eggs to room temperature, now you are ready to start baking!
Baking tips I learned the hard way:
– Before you even start baking anything, read the recipe carefully – and then read it again.
– Recipes can be confusing, but a good recipe starts the instructions with the first items on the recipe list. In other words, if it starts with 1 Tbsp. butter, that should be the first ingredient you start with.
– Many bakers swear by the imperial measuring system (1 cup/1 Tbsp.) while others only work with a metric system (250 mL/15mL). Purist bakers only work in grams, and measure everything by weight, instead of volume. They will have a separate set of measuring cups for both wet and dry ingredients. My mother measured everything with an experienced eye. Use whatever is convenient for you, but keep in mind – cooking is art, baking is science.
– When a recipe calls for you to preheat your oven – preheat it. Never put a cake or cookies into a cold or even warm oven. Note, it may call for 350F/180C but double-check the oven temperature with a portable oven monitoring device – they cost as little as $10, and will become your new best friend in the kitchen.
– The shelf life of various ingredients vary from product to product. Whole nutmeg, for example, has a shelf life of years – you just grate what you need. Purchased ground nutmeg can last around six months. Same applies for such ingredients as flour, baking powder, baking soda. Regular flour, for example, has a shelf life of up to 8 months, and you can also refrigerate flour in an airtight container to get a few more months out of it – but you don’t want to use it after that as flour can become home to teeny-tiny beetles, also known as weevils, wheat bugs or the unflattering flour worms. You can’t really see them until you use the flour – and notice really strange markings in your dough. If you accidentally ingest a weevil, don’t worry – they’re harmless and they’re already baked into your food.
– You can also freeze flour in an airtight container for up to two years.
– Store all your dry goods – flour, sugar, cereals, and other grains – in proper, airtight containers and jars.
– Baking powder and baking soda have a shelf life of between six months to 16 months. They should be treated with care and kept in a cool, dry cupboard. You can try to use it after it’s expiry date, but foods may not rise.
– Speaking of – what’s the difference between the two? Baking soda is sodium bicarbonate, which needs an acid and a liquid to become activated in order to help baked goods rise. Baking powder, on the other hand, already includes sodium bicarbonate, as well as an acid, so it just needs a liquid to activate it. Many recipes call for both to balance out the activation.
– Rita DeMontis