Bring on the Baking: Cranberry Lavender Nut Bread

I am in no way a baker. In fact, I’ve frequently told people that I hate baking. I completely admire the art of it and I envy those who can whip up masterful treats. It just never really clicked with me. Growing up, my dad and grandma taught me proper techniques and every holiday season I reviewed pie making and nut bread rolling. One of my favorite Thanksgiving memories happens to be a time my sister and I were elbow deep in flour. I’ll never forget the way my dad crouched over the counter, meticulously pinching the pie crust together. He patiently walked us through each step of the process, while my mom read aloud the most recent Cleveland Cavaliers news. That’s just how my parents rolled, and I loved it. 

Despite growing up learning how to bake, I have not carried it through to my adult life. A natural deterrent is definitely the size of my kitchen. If the baking mood strikes, I simply glance into my kitchen and convince myself it’s not worth the hassle. Now, I realize there are plenty of people out there with tiny kitchens who still manage to bake, it’s just a convenient excuse, okay? Last night, something incredible happened. 

I made bread. *gasp* 

It literally just happened, I don’t even know how. As I prepared our feast of grilled cheese and tomato soup I glanced at this mix of dried cranberries and walnuts my mom brought me. I snacked on a few and immediately wanted to create something with them. Normally, I head in the savory direction but before I knew it my hands reached for a mixing bowl and flour. Let me share this bizarre experience with you:

1 cup flour
2 eggs
Dried cranberries and walnuts – or whatever your favorites are!
Lemon juice

Okay, let’s stumble through this process together. I figured the easiest way to start was with the flour, so I dumped 1 cup of that into my bowl, followed by milk and sugar. Now, I’m a little clumsy so I ended up spilling in the sugar (lol) sooooo best advice is to start with 3/4 cup and go from there and same with the milk. I promise next time I bake I’ll be more detailed in the measurements than I am when cooking. Not much of a baker, remember?

After adding the flour, milk, and sugar, crack in two eggs, squeeze in lemon juice, dump in your lavender, cranberries and walnuts, and start whisking. My dough got thick pretty quickly, so my whisking promptly turned to folding with a spatula. If I noticed it getting tough I would add a splash more milk or lemon juice. Make sure to taste it and then trust yourself to add whatever you think it needs. At this point, I had absolutely no plan as to what I was doing with this mix. Should I put it in a bread pan? Cupcake tin? Roll it into little balls and fry it?

bakingMy dough’s texture reminded me of the way my grandma’s nut roll recipe turns out, so I decided to treat it like bread dough. Flour your counter and hands, then drop that baby down. Start kneading until it’s a beautiful, smooth little ball. Everything in this is so fragrant, you’ll find yourself inhaling deeper than a yogi during practice. By the way, I think kneading is incredibly relaxing, so bakers you’re on to something there. 

Once you think it’s ready, grease a round pan and stick it in! Finish with egg wash and you’re ready to bake it. My oven was preheated to 350° and I think it ended up cooking for 45-60 minutes (again with the lack of details here, sorry). Nothing beats the smells of baking, and the entire apartment smelled like heaven. I’m very critical of what I make, so of course I thought of tons of things I could have done differently, but Troy loved it. Like, loved. To the point where his eyes widened and he looked at me with utter confusion:

“Why don’t you ever bake!? Oh my gosh you need to bake more!”

Okay, success! It very quickly could have turned into a shit show, but alas, it didn’t! Surprisingly, this impromptu baking session has opened new doors for me and MyStyle Foods. I mean, what better place to share my journey into the world of baking than here? Also, I think the upcoming holiday season is pretty much the perfect time to start experimenting. 

So now it’s your turn. Whether you’re jumping right in like me, or you’re a master baker, share your baking recipes that a young grasshoppa like me could try out! Post your tips and tricks and tag me on Instagram (don’t forget #MyStyleFoods) to show me your creations. I’m ready to learn!

Bring on the baking, holidays!

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