TWD: Danish Braid

First, go get some protein into your body. Some whole grains, fruits and vegetables too. You’ll need them in a few hours.

A recent Sunday started off with a bowl of steel cut oatmeal. And then my mom and I got to work on a pastry that would send my whole family into sugar-and-butter induced naps soon after. Even the barky old dog and energetic new dog crashed (after a dog park visit), and all was calm and quiet in the Roanoke household for an hour. Upon waking, my body craved an egg to put everything back in balance. Be prepared before you indulge, but either way, you’ll certainly enjoy these Danishes. Continue reading “TWD: Danish Braid”

How to make a better loaf of bread and other baking lessons from King Arthur Flour


Remember that delicious loaf of whole wheat bread I made a few weeks back? The one with the HUGE hole running through? The hole certainly didn’t affect the taste, but besides being an eyesore, it caused peanut butter and jelly’s to become a sticky mess oozing from the bread. And really, that’s just not acceptable.

But a lesson from baking experts at King Arthur Flour revealed a better way to shape a loaf of bread, eliminating unsightly holes and encouraging a higher rise. The demonstration was a stop on the company’s fall tour across the country; the closest to Fredericksburg was in Fairfax. The drive up I-95 proved to be longer than hoped (doesn’t it always on Saturdays though?), but at least I didn’t have to drive to Vermont.  I was glad to have the chance to be among 150 or so other bakers learning tips to bake a better loaf of whole wheat bread from folks who really know their stuff. Continue reading “How to make a better loaf of bread and other baking lessons from King Arthur Flour”

TWD: Croissants

Two exciting things to share: I finally made croissants, and I’m the new food blogger for my newspaper!


The flaky pastries took the entire weekend, but my relatives and my family devoured almost all of them. Let’s not think about the butter that was consumed. Despite my worries and the amount of time and work involved, the croissants turned out wonderfully.

You can find the whole story here on the Front Burner blog, but I wanted to share more photos here. Better late than never!

Continue reading “TWD: Croissants”

Grandma Betty’s Hot Milk Cake

Betty Schaefer and Dale Marston were students at University of Illinois  as World War II was brewing on the other side of the world. She was a freshman studying home economics, he was in his second year of chemical engineering. They lived in neighboring boarding houses, and the meals for the dozen or so students were served at Betty’s. That’s where the couple met, in the old version of college dining halls, almost a sign of the many, many meals they were to share in their future.

My grandparents’ wedding portrait, August 1941

In August 1941, Dale was called to report to the Army in Washington. He had already “pinned” Betty with his fraternity pin, essentially a sign of their engagement, but the time for a no-frills wedding came much sooner than they expected. Betty left school and the pair traveled to St. Louis, where there was no waiting period to get married. They moved east, and started their lives together on $125 month, renting a $40 apartment.

Continue reading “Grandma Betty’s Hot Milk Cake”

TWD: Pizza with Onion Confit AND French Apple Tart

At least my mom is on the ball.

Meanwhile, I’m so, so behind in Tuesdays with Dorie. I haven’t had the chance to make either of January’s recipes!

Fortunately, my mom was quite the baker with her snow day and resulting long weekend.

Isn’t her French Apple Tart just beautiful! She said it was delicious, definitely a keeper. Beneath the layer of sliced apples is a filling of cooked apples. Her friend recommended to next time add apple brandy to the filling, and to brush strained apricot jam on top.


Continue reading “TWD: Pizza with Onion Confit AND French Apple Tart”

TWD: Buttermilk Crumb Muffins

Sometimes, my housemates and I just want to eat a lot of carbs. Lots and lots of carbs.

OK, not just sometimes. Pretty much all of the time.

Loaves of Irish soda bread disappeared much faster than expected this week. Cookies don’t last long on the counter–I usually have to take half the batch into the newsroom so that our health-conscious house doesn’t pack on the unwanted pounds. Carbs and sweets are just hard to resist.

Buttermilk Crumb Muffins

Continue reading “TWD: Buttermilk Crumb Muffins”

Chocolate cravings? Make brownies

It’s Friday afternoon. It’s time for chocolate. Preferably brownies.

A co-worker asked the other day if I had a good brownie recipe. Do I ever. My mom long ago adapted the recipe from one of her old red Betty Crocker cookbooks for a  9×13 pan full of fudgy browies, which is really how brownies should be. Not cakey. No icing, either. Just delicious brownies.

I don’t have any photos of the finished product. I don’t even really have a copy of the recipe. This scrap of paper is what I do have, after calling my mom too many times to ask for the recipe over the past few years. (Brownies and chocolate chip cookies were staples during college, and I’d lug my big plastic box full of ingredients and cooking supplies down to the dorm’s kitchen to satisfy my cravings, and tempt my dorm-mates with fresh baked goods.)  I’m sure the other times I’ve copied it down, the paper has ended up splattered with chocolate. But really, the recipe isn’t much harder than what I’ve written here.


The Best Fudgy Chocolate Brownies
Adapted from Betty Crocker

  • 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped (4 squares Baker’s brand)
  • 2 sticks butter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a microwave-safe bowl or over a double boiler, melt the chocolate and butter together. Be careful not to burn the chocolate in the microwave — it works best to cook for 1-2 minutes at medium-ish heat, then add additional increments of 20-30 seconds, stirring in between. Mix in the sugar and let cool slightly. Mix in eggs and vanilla. Add flour and salt.

Pour into prepared 9×13 pan. Sprinkle on mini M&M’s or chocolate chips if you want. Bake 20-30 minutes. Let cool slightly before cutting to allow brownies to set up. Enjoy!