The fifth eight weeks of shelter-in-place stress baking with Jill

Jill was just getting over being reminded of how long this has gone on and now they are going to be reminded that it’s been 40 weeks. Happy Hollidays!

Not included was making two two-person-feasts for my spouse’s religious observances, which included that I can now make one of the really hard deserts as well as her mom can.

Week Thirty-Three: Pizza

A low-baking week

Week Thirty-Four: Soda bread and a trial version of a cake

I had researched soda breads during lockdown when everybody was hoarding yeast, figuring that would be a fun thing to bake and eat.

But I never got around to it, because I managed to score a pound of yeast for a reasonable price.

I decided that it was time to make one.

While I was at it, I also did an experiment for a friend’s birthday.

As I’d already exhausted their ability to store pieces of my art, a really nice cake seemed to be a good homemade birthday treat.

My wife suggested that it wasn’t actually that absurd to send them a Sacher Torte via the mail. They have a way of packaging it. And we’d previously brought them a piece of Sacher Torte from Vienna in the past.

So my friend just says “Well, something with chocolate cream” and maybe she meant mousse but my brain goes elsewhere.

So, this week features the trial run, which was making up the cake from a Sacher Torte (or, at least, an approximation of the secret recipe) and then seeing how it worked as a layer cake.

Except that I didn’t adjust the baking time way downwards, so it ended up kinda hard and dry.

But at least I knew what was wrong.

Week Thirty-Five: Spelt muffins and an actual cake

The Spelt muffins were for me, so I’d have something to show for my effort. Well, that, and cake trimmings.

Returning to the problem from the last week, I cooked it at 400 degrees for like ten minutes and got a really quite moist layer.

And then I took the pastry cream recipe and added a bunch of Droste cocoa powder until it was super-chocolate-y, and decided I ought to cover the cake with some ganache.

Based on my samples of the trimmings, it turned out pretty nice. Chocolate pastry cream is a particularly epic form of chocolate.

Week Thirty-Six: Cornbread for stuffing usages, Browned butter herb bread for stuffing usage, and cornbread

Most of my baking was in service of Thanksgiving.

I was making Thanksgiving dinner for two, which is only marginally less effort than making it for eight to twelve, honestly. My main shortcuts was only making the things my wife and I really really relaly like. So, while I will totally eat sweet potatoes with marshmallows on top, it didn’t make the cut.

My mother, of course, gave me crap because there wasn’t a hint of green on my table. No salad, no greenbean casserole.

In order to keep with this year’s theme of regular baking, I made a tray of cornbread and a loaf of bread specifically to make stuffing out of. My wife loves stuffing, so I made cornbread dressing the day before and then bread stuffing inside of the bird.

Because we’re a very spice-friendly household, I decided to throw a bunch of herbs into the bread itself so it would be even more flavorful.

I made a second batch of cornbread specifically because I wanted some cornbread muffins and, for that batch, I added a bit more honey.

Thanksgiving Interlude: Mini-pies


King Arthur Flour had a blog article that went around the Internet a bunch about how to downsize pies. I showed it to my wife. She asked “Wait, are you trying to make less pies?”

I replied, “No, I want to make the same amount of pie, just more kinds of pie.”

And that’s how I made three different kinds of mini-pie for Thanksgiving.

Week Thirty-Seven: Second batch of fruitcakes


The first batch of fruitcakes was mostly to determine if it was worth the effort at all, and I made them early enough so that they’d have a chance to age before I committed to sending people batches of fruitcakes.

This batch was intended to be foisted off on other people.

Week Thirty-Eight: Sugar Cookies, Teacakes, Gingerbread cookies, Ginger Spice Cookies

Recipe from Flour: A Baker’s Collection of Spectacular Recipes by Joanne Chang.

I forgot to get pictures of the Ginger Spice Cookies or the Gingerbread cookies.

But this was the holiday baking batch that was destined for the people who were the farthest away.

Week Thirty-Nine: Peanut butter cookies, Blueberry muffins, Rum Raisin bread, Greek Crescents

Recipe from Brave Tart by Stella Parks

One of my friends who I sent a previous batch of baked goods to was a huge fan of blueberry muffins but I didn’t send any of those to her previously. Thus, I knew I had to send her blueberry muffins in her holiday batch.

I also had to make greek crescents because that was one of the cookie recipes that my mother officially declared that she wasn’t Getting Too Old To Make Every Year and Maybe I Should Take Over Some Of The Christmas Baking Duties Since I’m So Good At It Anyways.

And then I decided that I should make another braided loaf but I felt like I should be sending something at least vaguely Christmas-y so I did another go at the rum raisin bread.

Week Forty: Sugar cookies, Teacakes, Gingerbread cookies, Greek crescents, Pepperoni rolls

Recipe from Brave Tart by Stella Parks

More holiday baking. It was almost the final batch, but I sent out one last batch after Christmas. And I didn’t get pictures of the teacakes or the greek crescents.

My gingerbread people (Why do we call them Gingerbread men? I blame the pastryarchy — the patriarchy applied to pastries — not to be confused with the other pastryarchy — making pastries with your anarchist friends every Sunday at 2 PM Pacific) had masks. Because that’s just how this year has been.

I also made a batch of brioche dough and, prompted by a friend who was telling me about Pepperoni Rolls, the official West Virginian snack, I made pepperoni rolls. Except I don’t think the proper version of them has brioche dough.

Christmas gingerbread cake

Recipe from Rose’s Heavenly Cakes by Rose Levy Beranbaum

I figured I’d make a nice British-styled gingerbread cake for Christmas Eve.


I spent mumble mumble dollars shipping holiday treats to people, which was actually more than the hotel reservation that we made months ago in case it would have been safe but cancelled because it wasn’t. I probably could have sent even more baked goods to even more people but there just wasn’t enough time or space in my not-giant kitchen.

Remember, it’s not 2020’s fault for being hard, it’s not even because killing over a quarter million people in America is actually profitable.

This year has been hard because a bunch of people don’t want you to question how much of modern society is a farce and they don’t care who has to die to keep things that way.