A Note from Marcy July 2024

A Note from Marcy July 2024

A Note from Marcy July 2024

Dear Bakers and Friends,

(It must be noted that this Note from Marcy was crafted by a real person and not AI as all notes-from-Marcy are)

Welcome to the July 2024 issue of Betterbaking.com. Happy Birthday to my fellow Canadians and to my American friends and neighbours!  It’s so nice that our birthdays are just days apart and during the summer vacation season. FYI our countries (that are honored to share the longest peaceful border in the world) are respectively 157 and 247 years old which makes us both relative youngsters in the global family.

For July I traditionally offer my readers patriotic red, white and blue recipes or Canuck specialties like Ontario Butter Tarts, Quebec Sugar Pie and Nanaimo Bars but not this year. Why? Because my new range just arrived a couple of days ago!  I’m putting it through its paces with recipes that I’ve wanted to try for weeks but couldn’t. I’m talking things like Lemon Blueberry Crumb Cakes and Ukrainian Scuffles aka as Frozen Dough in Boston (thank you Robin B, native daughter of Boston).  For some reason my enforced baking hiatus makes me want to try both new and old things I’ve also long wanted to bake up authentic Kaiser (not Vienna Rolls) and that’s also on the menu. That’s the nice thing about having my own baking magazine –it’s Marcy centric. There’s no rhyme or reason or season sometimes only…..whims.  That said, I hope my whims suits your tastes.

Speaking of my new range, if you want a before and after view (or disaster shot and then replacement range) check out this link. https://betterbaking.com/home-on-the-range/.  You’ll also find a bonus shot on that page of my garden deck which you might find interesting.

Tango Miles and the long distance dancer

Aside from food, I’ve completed a marathon twenty months or so of tango. I took one class a week and then it became two and then three with extra festivals and practises.  It became my new day job. And then…. every limb, every muscle began to hurt. I did physio, rested, changed my shoes, got a heating pad, Tylenol, did special yoga, and got ice-packs; nothing helped and sad to say, I complained a lot both in my head and to people.  I’m getting old, I thought. Then one day I decided something:  if Diana Nyad could swim from Cuba to Florida at age 64 I could certain figure out the too-much-tango aches and pain thing. I chose to think of myself as a dancer or athlete and dance with or through the pain (i.e. acknowledge it but make it of less significance). I could go ‘past’ it which is exactly what happened. I danced right through until eventually all pain receded and I’m as a fit as a fiddle again. This is to say, set yourself up to know no limits. Our abilities are sky-high if you follow your own script and choose some good role models and you curate things you’re passionate about and refuse to let go. Sometimes it won’t work and you have to listen to your body. But this time, it could also be I just stopped focusing on the pain and then eventually my body also caught up to its new level of fitness.

Post pandemic or looking back just a bit….

I don’t miss much about the pandemic but I do miss some things. One of those was the emphasis on wellness. Somehow the pandemic gave us permission to lie low, go slow and luxuriate in self-care and I liked that so very much. Like so many of us,  I rarely give myself permission to do that and yet I’m always trying to get back to that place. While revisiting those years and those observations, I found this piece of writing from an older journal of mine, written in the middle of the viral event. It still resonates as it reminds me of the calm I had in those days and how much I want to return to that same calm. My journal (I type one and hand write another) still helps me collect myself. I’m happy to share a segment with you:

My Journal July 2021

Dear….(I won’t say who I write to  - it could be g-d or Dear Journal but suffice to say lately I feel whoever is listening is also scrolling Instragram. Big sigh. Distraction is everywhere!)

There is so much to do in the morning. Frankly I don’t know how the pioneers survived.
I usually get up very early, between 4:30 and 5:00 am which is to say, often before the sun itself. For starters, I just pad around, saying hello to the house and my plants and the cardinal couple.  I love their flash of red in the poplar tree in the back yard. That’s the same tree the city keeps threatening to cut down because of some nonsense about the power lines. Something about the city planning department just hates any thriving tree that has some autonomy. Each summer a bunch of men in hard hats and orange vests descend on the tree, equipped with Tim Horton’s coffees, saws, extension cords and tools of measurements. They yammer away, scratch their heads but so far, all they’ve done is trim a branch or two and then they leave. Relief! Like clockwork, they were here yesterday going through their same song and dance but the popular was given another stay of execution. After they left, I could swear the beautiful tree seems to have only grown taller. Maybe relief is a growth hormone.

Morning is so busy even though it is so quiet!
First, there is wet laundry I forgot to put in the dryer the night before to deal with. If there’s no mildew-y smell then into the dryer it goes. If it smells rank, it’s a rewash. Then I trim and light the candles (Body Paris Café) and vanilla incense. If it’s spring or summer or fall, I put incense outside as well and sit out for a bit. I also always trim the candles first and put a timer on -  I’m such a safety girl. Then I put up the kettle, make the bed as kettle is boiling and then deal out the tea leaves on my return to the kitchen

Tea is a big thing and I have quite a collection – not hoarding level but certainly a princely palette or teas.  Lately I prefer East Frisian or Scottish Morning and I’m fussy about the leaves. I approach tea brewing like a shaman or 18th century pharmacist. It’s magical. Tea is a mindful ritual unless you shortcut it, i.e. make it with a bag, dunked in hot water, and then drink it with the string floating down your mug on the side. As the tea brews, I notice the floor needs sweeping because there’s nothing like the morning sun to illuminate the dust. Then I know without checking that the plants are dry and crying for water - especially the lemon geraniums who look at me with reproach as their leaves droop,  as if we didn’t go through all this the day before! These fragrant plants are plant ‘camels’ – sucking  back so much water I’d swear they run an underground water railway for parched sister plants.

I manage to ignore emails and any incoming pings from devices because morning is sacred time; it’s as quiet as a prayer.   By now it’s about  6 am or so and I usually unwrap the sourdough loaf I baked the other day that’s been stored in a tea towel. I take off a hunk of bread and set the homemade butter to warm on the counter. I’ll get to real breakfast (which means coffee!) bit later but this is my chaser breakfast.

Between the laundry, candles, incense and plants the time scurries away. The day isn’t started and I’m still only priming the well. I think of the pioneers who were probably up even earlier. The fire had to be started and stoked, water pumped and boiled for both washing and breakfast and biscuits to be made and bread for later, set to rise (probably near the warm oven), livestock fed and eggs to fetch for breakfast or slow oatmeal to cook or a side of salt pork to be hacked away at. I can’t imagine the hard work involved given that I can spend the same time slowly and mindfully doing far fewer tasks. I doubt the pioneers had vanilla incense as a priority.

In balmy seasons (like this early July day) I take my tea outside and curl up on the wicker chair near the ensemble of flowering plants I’ve curated, including a two-fruit fig tree adopted off Facebook Marketplace.  I inhale the incense, the Cape Cod rose bush and whatever other glorious fragrances courtesy of the summer wind. I listen to the tinkle-ly sound of my chimes and the birds and I just breathe. My pen is poised over my journal but I take the moment to gather. Gathering is my favorite thing; in fact, I could ‘gather’ 24/7. And then I realize in that moment, albeit it 2024 and not 1844, I am not just ‘gathering’, I am homesteading…..at home.
(End of journal entry)

Warm wishes on this beautiful Canada Day and the upcoming American holiday but also, the decanting of the official summer vacation season. Travel safe, bake at the cottage, the cabin, the boat or taste the baking of wherever you go.

Wishing you sweetness from my kitchen to yours,

Marcy Goldman

July 2024 Recipes

Lemon Blueberry Crumb Cakes from the Movies

A moist and light crumb cake modeled after the ‘irresistible’ blueberry crumb cake in the movie Irresistible. Starring Steve Carrel, the movie has a bakery in a small town in Wisconsin which sells a little blueberry crumb cake which Carrel’s character devours like an addict discovery a new supply. The cakes look beautiful and I had to replicate them. If you don’t have mini cake pans (which I bought on Amazon), use mini tart pans (I have those that also worked) or use a deep muffin pan.


Ukrainian Scuffles aka Boston Frozen Dough

What looks like rugulah, tastes like babka and melts in your mouth like French puff pastry? Ukrainian Scuffles! Although according to my friend in Boston, Robin B, Bostonians call this Frozen Dough.

I had this recipe in my files and made it a long time ago (in hotel school actually) and it got supplanted by other rugulah recipes. This is NOT traditional rugulah as you might know it but it rolls like it. It is made with a yeasted dough (no rising) that is a joy to work with (i.e. it stays put when you roll it). My colleague Joan Nathan mentioned it to me recently and it reminded me to decant the recipe anew. What a treasure – and what a taste reward. I made this mini, medium and large as bakery-style pastries – all amazing and slightly different textures. The trick in this recipe among many is rolling the dough on a cinnamon sugar board (not a floured board). The 'twist' shown in my photo is just a variation on what you can do with this marvellous dough. When you make the crescents small, it tastes like a cookie or pastry. When you make larger crescents, it will taste a bit more like Danish or babka.

Classic Baklavah

I’ve made quite a few baklavahs over the years and this is the ultra-one – plenty of pastry, syrup and nuts –it’s tall and decadent and delicious. Btw, toasting the nuts first before grinding them makes for a more buttery flavored pastry. (I never do it)

Kaiser Rolls

There’s so much confusion about Kaiser rolls. Some people think they’re interchangeable with Vienna Rolls. To me, a Kaiser roll is a light hard roll with a swirl on top.


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