Rediscovering home baking revives timeless traditions

: Pumpkin loaf provides comfort on a crisp harvest morning, while fresh brewed coffee and a cheese slice complete the offering.  | Jodie Mirosovsky photo

Summer has gone by so quickly.

Farmers are in the fields, kids are at school in some form or another, and commerce is slowly making a comeback.

Throughout these uncertain times, the one thing that has remained constant is the daily job of nourishing ourselves with food. The change, however, is that we have gone back into our kitchens and dug out our recipe books to make some of the old favourites that had been replaced with store-bought offerings.

There is a beautiful sense of tradition as we reacquaint ourselves with home baking.

September is the time to get back into packing lunches, but what makes the lunches complete are the little sweet treats that are baked from scratch.

Pumpkin Cranberry Nut Bread

A chilly September morning, some fresh brewed coffee and a slice of this bread with butter and cheese — heaven. Originally from a Nestle cookbook.

  • 3 c. flour 750 mL
  • 5 tsp. pumpkin pie spice 25 mL (or a combination of 3 tsp./15 mL cinnamon, 1 tsp./5 mL nutmeg, 1/2 tsp./2 mL cloves and 1/4 tsp./1 mL ginger)
  • 2 tsp. baking soda 10 mL
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt 7 mL
  • 3 c. sugar 750 mL
  • 2 c. canned pumpkin 500 mL
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 c. oil 250 mL
  • 1/2 c. orange juice 125 mL
  • 1 c. chopped nuts of your choice 250 mL
  • 1 c. fresh or frozen cranberries 250 mL

Preheat the oven to 350 F (180 C).

Prepare two loaf pans.

Combine the flour, spice, soda and salt in a mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the sugar, pumpkin, eggs, oil and orange juice. Beat until well combined, then, gradually add the flour mixture.

Fold in the nuts and cranberries and pour into the prepared pans.

Bake for 60 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Cool and remove from the pans. Source:

Old-Fashioned Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

The traditional bag lunch treat.

The oats make these cookies very filling. I remember when Wagon Wheels came out. You know the chocolate, wafer and marshmallow treats in a shiny wrapper? Everyone wanted them in their lunches.

I tried them but still preferred a good home-baked cookie.

  • 1 1/2 c. flour 375 mL
  • 1 tsp. baking soda 5 mL
  • 1/2 tsp. salt 2 mL
  • 1 c. unsalted butter room temperature (if using salted butter, just cut back on the added salt) 250 mL
  • 1 c. brown sugar packed 250 mL
  • 1/4 c. sugar 60 mL
  • 2 large eggs (set out 30 minutes before using) 2
  • 2 tsp. vanilla 10 mL
  • 3 c. rolled oats 750 mL
  • 1 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips 250 mL

In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In another bowl, beat the butter and sugars. Then add the eggs one at a time and beat on high for approximately one minute. Add vanilla.

Add the butter mixture to the flour mixture, mix until combined.

Then add oats and chocolate chips. Mix until just combined. Chill in the refrigerator for a minimum of 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350F (180 C) and prepare a cookie sheet or line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Once the batter is chilled, use a large spoon to drop the cookies on baking sheet about 1 1/2 to two inches apart.

Bake for 10 minutes or until edges are lightly browned but centre is still soft.


Makes about 40 cookies.

Cookie sheet cake

This cake teamed with your favourite icing is sure to please. A real lunch room trend in the 1970s.

  • 2/3 c. hot water 150 mL
  • 1 c. raisins 250 mL
  • 1/2 tsp. instant coffee powder 2 mL
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon 5 mL
  • 1/2 c. butter or margarine 125 mL
  • 1 c. sugar 250 mL
  • 2 large eggs 2
  • 1 tsp. vanilla 5 mL
  • 1 1/2 c. flour 375 mL
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda 2 mL
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder 2 mL

Preheat oven to 350 F(180 C). Generously grease and flour a 10 x 15 inch (27 x 39 centimetre) pan (cookie sheet pan with sides).

In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and baking soda. Set aside.

Pour hot water over raisins. Stir in instant coffee and cinnamon. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Add vanilla then mix in the flour mixture. Finally stir in the raisin mixture.

Spread batter in the prepared pan. Bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.

The sheet cake is best covered with a glaze or icing.

This makes a generous amount of icing. Store some for other uses if desired.

  • 1 tsp. instant coffee powder 5 mL
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon 2 mL
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla 5 mL
  • 1/2 c. butter, softened 125 mL
  • 3 c. icing sugar 750 mL
  • 1/3 c. milk 80 mL

Combine all the ingredients in a mixing bowl. Beat on medium speed with mixer until smooth.

Add more milk for a thinner consistency or more icing sugar for more thickness. Spread over cooled cake.

Peanut Butter Icing

This icing is so creamy.

  • 1 1/2 c. icing sugar 375 mL
  • 2 tbsp. milk 30 mL
  • 2 tbsp. butter 30 mL
  • 1/2 c. creamy peanut butter 125 mL
  • 1 tsp. vanilla 5 mL

Combine all the ingredients in a mixing bowl. Beat on medium speed with mixer until smooth.

Add more icing sugar for a thicker icing. Spread over cooled cake.

Coffee Crisp Square

I have printed this recipe before, but it is a necessity in every one of our harvest coolers at least two or three times throughout the season, so I thought I could share again.

    • 3/4 c. brown sugar 175 mL
    • 3/4 c. corn syrup 175 mL
    • 1/4 c. butter 60 mL
    • 3/4 c. peanut butter 175 mL
    • 1 tsp. vanilla 5 mL
    • 4 c. coarsely crushed Corn Flakes 1 L
    • 2 c. crushed Rice Krispies 500 mL


        • 2 tbsp. cocoa 30 mL
        • 2 tbsp. butter 30 mL
        • 1 c. icing sugar 250 mL
        • 3 tbsp hot coffee 45 mL

Combine dry cereals in a bowl.

Heat and stir brown sugar, corn syrup and butter together until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture starts to bubble over the top.

Remove from heat and add peanut butter and vanilla. Pour syrup over the cereal and mix well. You have to work quickly so the mix does not harden too much and pack firmly into a greased 9 x 13 inch (22 x 33 cm) baking pan.

Once the cereal mix is cooled, combine the cocoa, butter, icing sugar and hot coffee. Spread over cereal mixture.

Banana Blueberry Muffins

This is the banana muffin recipe that we have used for years, but recently we started adding blueberries and nuts with good results.

        • 2 c. mashed bananas 500 mL
        • 3/4 c. sugar 175 mL
        • 1 egg
        • 1/4 c. oil 60 mL
        • 1 tsp. baking soda 5 mL
        • 1 tsp. baking powder 5 mL
        • 1/2 tsp. salt 2 mL
        • 1 1/2 c. flour 375 mL
        • 1/2 c. finely chopped nuts, such as pecans or walnuts (optional but adds substance to the muffin) 125 mL
        • 1/2 c. fresh or frozen blueberries 125 mL

In a large mixing bowl, combine the bananas, sugar, egg and oil.

Add the dry ingredients and mix well until the batter is quite smooth. Stir in nuts if desired.

Pour into muffin tins and place three or four blueberries per muffin (simply push down into the batter, and bake at 375 F (190 C) for 20 minutes. Makes one dozen large muffins.

Chocolate Zucchini Bundt Cake

September often brings abundant zucchini from the garden, which makes way for this seasonal cake.

        • 3 c. flour 370 mL
        • 3/4 c. cocoa powder 175 mL
        • 1/2 tsp. salt 2 mL
        • 2 tsp. baking soda 10 mL
        • 3/4 c. oil 175 mL
        • 1 1/2 c. sugar 375 mL
        • 6 tbsp. brown sugar 100 mL
        • 4 eggs
        • 2 tsp. vanilla 10 mL
        • 3/4 c. sour cream 175 mL
        • 4 c. shredded zucchini 1 L
        • 1 c. chocolate chips 250 mL

Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C). Prepare a bundt pan and set aside.

In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, salt and baking soda. In a large mixing bowl, combine oil, sugars, eggs and vanilla. Mix to combine and then stir in sour cream just until blended. Add zucchini until just combined. Add the dry ingredients to the bowl and mix.

Pour batter into prepared pan, sprinkle the chocolate chips over the top and bake for about one hour or when a toothpick comes out clean. Depending on your oven the cake may need another five or 10 minutes.

Let cake cool then remove from the bundt pan. Sprinkle the cooled cake with a dusting of icing sugar or make a glaze, either chocolate or vanilla to drizzle over the cake.

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Jodie Mirosovsky is a home economist from Rosetown, Sask., and a member of Team Resources. Contact:

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