This site is an archive of For the latest information about Susy and her adventrures, visit the Cultivate Simple site.
Thank you for all your support over the years!

Winter Baking

February 5th, 2011

Most of the time I love to cook more than I love to bake. I enjoy chopping lots of veggies for soups and rolling out pasta for lasagna. In the winter however, I enjoy baking, especially when it’s really cold outside. In The past couple weeks the oven’s been working overtime making all sorts of wonderful things. Today I’m going to be busy baking a few things for the Super Bowl party we’ll be attending tomorrow.

When I do bake, I generally prefer to make bread. I make all kinds of bread, but nice crusty sourdoughs come out of the oven more often than sweet breads. Every now and then Mr Chiots talks me into making cinnamon rolls for him, the ones above were made for his birthday (they were topped with maple caramel made with our homemade maple syrup).

I’m not a big cookie baker either, much to Mr Chiot’s chagrin. Every now and then I feel like some chocolate chip cookies so I make a batch. My favorite recipe at the moment is this one from Nosh With Me. I made a batch this week to eat while reading through the new 2010 USDA nutrition guidelines. I happily munched away on my butter laden cookies and drank my whole milk latte without any guilt while reading their recommendations to drink skim milk and remove butter from your diet.

Last night a delicious four berry pandowdy with the zest of four of those lovely Meyer lemons came out of the oven. Didn’t get a photo of that, I was too hungry, and tired. I have to admit, if I could only bake one thing for the rest of my life, it would be a good loaf of sourdough. I’d happily give up all cakes, cookies, brownies and sweets for a good piece of bread any day.

Do you prefer cooking or baking? What’s your favorite thing that comes out of your oven?

39 Comments to “Winter Baking”
  1. susan on February 5, 2011 at 6:05 am

    I definitely prefer baking! Unfortunately, I also prefer eating it, so I have to limit my baking to days when I have company to help me eat it. The picture of your cinnamon rolls almost did me in this morning!! And how I wish I could produce a loaf of bread that beautiful.

    Reply to susan's comment

  2. Ken Toney on February 5, 2011 at 6:07 am

    I love to cook, but I can bake all day. Breads, pies, cookies, brownies, quickbreads, I love it all. My passion right now is sourdough bread.

    Reply to Ken Toney's comment

  3. Liz J on February 5, 2011 at 7:07 am

    I love to bake bread. I usually make sourdough, and today will be making plain white (to enjoy with last June’s strawberry preserves). Most recently I’ve gotten into Artisan whole grain breads which are wonderful, as long as I have the time to devote to it. I just love the whole process from kneading to watching it rise, to baking and filling up the entire house with that wonderful aroma…and right now, I’m off to check out that chocolate chip cookie recipe :)

    Reply to Liz J's comment

  4. goatpod2 on February 5, 2011 at 8:04 am

    Looks yummy! My Mom usually makes brownies as dessert and caseroles.


    Reply to goatpod2's comment

  5. Jennifer Fisk on February 5, 2011 at 8:46 am

    For me it makes a difference what the season is. I love baking Rhubarb pies in the late spring early summer or Blueberry cake in the summer. In winter, I prefer to cook and it usually a soup.
    USDA dietary guidlines LOL What do they know? They think GMO grains, rBGH produced milk and Aspartame are just fine. Give me my local organic raw Jersey milk and cookies made from homemade butter made from the Jersey cream and organic grains anyday. You are what you eat is a sobering thought.

    Reply to Jennifer Fisk's comment

  6. Dani on February 5, 2011 at 8:55 am

    Hmmm – feel that way about the bread recipe that I have adapted for my solar oven.

    Wonder if I could make a cheesecake in the solar oven…? And where that would figure on the USDA nutrition guidelines :-)

    Reply to Dani's comment

  7. Cheryl on February 5, 2011 at 9:26 am

    Your blog and photos are well done! I wish I could enjoy delicious bread like this but I had to eliminate gluten from my diet 2 years ago. I wish someone could figure out how to make GF bread with a light fluffy texture and one that taste good!

    Reply to Cheryl's comment

  8. CatHerder on February 5, 2011 at 9:37 am

    oh those look sooooo good. im a cook more than a baker myself.maybe because cooking affords me a little more leeway with ingredients…i dont usually follow a recipe per se, i just go with the flow….you cant do that with really needs to be precise.

    Reply to CatHerder's comment

  9. sarah on February 5, 2011 at 11:08 am

    These are lovely pictures to wake up to! Yum. You are amazing. A fantastic gardener, blogger, baker & photographer :) Keep up the good work!

    Reply to sarah's comment

  10. Emma on February 5, 2011 at 11:31 am

    I’ve always been a much better cooker than a baker — it probably has to do with my overall patience and lack of the ability to follow directions. I’ve been working hard to get better at baking though, and made my first loaf of bread yesterday. It was wonderful! And man, those cinnamon rolls look divine!

    City Roots, Country Life

    Reply to Emma's comment

  11. risa b on February 5, 2011 at 11:34 am

    I like both about equally, though my baking often comes out better than my cooking.

    Lately, I’ve been on a kick where I do all of both on top of the wood heat stove. The bread I get with the Dutch oven is not as pretty as the bread I can do in the electric oven, but there’s a satisfaction in being able to do that at all!

    Reply to risa b's comment

  12. Sarah H on February 5, 2011 at 11:43 am

    I like baking more, but mostly because I’m like Clay and I love rolls and cookies. My all time favorite is a nice loaf of homemade bread, some vegetarian bean soup with a cookie for dessert!

    Reply to Sarah H's comment

  13. melissa on February 5, 2011 at 12:25 pm

    I would say bread (which I do most often) and pie (which, I loooove to make pie crust, it’s so relaxing to do by hand).

    Reply to melissa's comment

  14. Terry on February 5, 2011 at 12:37 pm

    I love baking but my boyfriend can’t eat wheat so I don’t do it often. I eat real butter and I think everyone should!

    Reply to Terry's comment

  15. MAYBELLINE on February 5, 2011 at 12:41 pm

    I prefer baking – anything.
    Can you tell me what would replace butter? My daughter is trying to eliminate dairy from her diet in an effort to go dairy free. She suffers from adult acne and is trying a different diet to experiment. Any suggestions are welcome.

    Reply to MAYBELLINE's comment

  16. Sheryl at Providence Acres Farm on February 5, 2011 at 12:59 pm

    Blueberry pie or cheesecake!

    I have to limit my wheat intake to just a little a day, as in one piece of bread or maybe two cookies and that’s it, so I tend not to bake much in the bread area. I bake a lot of muffins for hubby’s lunches. I despise baking cookies – in and out and in and out and rolling all those little balls – not for me.

    Reply to Sheryl at Providence Acres Farm's comment

  17. amy on February 5, 2011 at 1:07 pm

    Baking. Last night the husband and I were out doing our monthly shopping and I picked up the items needed to make your “Delicious Mistake” cranberry bread pudding….I have been saving that recipe for a special occasion….. I decided yesterday to make it for the Super Bowl party we will be addition to a loaf of sourdough…..Would you mind posting your pandowdy recipe….I love the abundance of lemon. Thanks:)

    Reply to amy's comment

  18. Christine McCormick on February 5, 2011 at 1:16 pm

    I have tried many, MANY times the past few weeks to bake a good loaf of sourdough. My starter looks great, once I make the sponge, it too looks great, but I just can’t get the darn thing to rise once the dough is made (I have let it sit for 20 hours, and nothing). An entry about your recipe/process would be very helpful, or some recommendations for resources online. I’ve tried searching all over the internet, but most of the sourdough-specific recipes aren’t terribly helpful.

    Reply to Christine McCormick's comment

  19. Lynda on February 5, 2011 at 1:24 pm

    I’m a baker. I bake 4-6 loaves of bread a week. I am always excited and a bit surprised when I bake a cake from scratch and it looks terrific. I do pies every other week…all kinds. My favorites are the ones my husband and kids say are *keepers*!

    Reply to Lynda's comment

  20. Colleen on February 5, 2011 at 4:06 pm

    I’m definitely more of a baker… I’ve checked your website for the Cinnamon Rolls recipe and can’t seem to find it anywhere. Am I missing it or is it just unpublished?

    Reply to Colleen's comment

    • Susy on February 5, 2011 at 4:21 pm

      I haven’t published per se. I use this basic roll recipe found here: /2010/11/16/bread-for-every-occasion/
      then I roll it out into a rectangle spread with butter, sprinkle with cinnamon & brown sugar (I don’t usually measure this, just a good sprinkling of each).

      If I want to make caramel nut rolls like the ones above I mix a half cup of maple, a few tablespoons of butter and cream in the bottom of the pan, sprinkle on nuts, then put cut rolls on top, let raise & bake. If I’m making iced rolls I simply put cut rolls in pan, let raise, then bake until done. I usually bake at 350 until internal temp of rolls is 180.

      Reply to Susy's comment

      • Colleen on February 5, 2011 at 5:57 pm

        oooh…thanks!! I love your blog by the way!

        to Colleen's comment

  21. Marcia on February 5, 2011 at 4:40 pm

    Baking! In a bizarre twist of fate, I LOVE baking but do not have a sweet tooth. So to the great enjoyment of friends and coworkers, I bake and give. Just this week I made a peach upside down cake with my peach preserves from this summer. I flavored it with almond extract and my home-made vanilla extract (my parents are presently living in Madagascar and have given me a dozen fresh beans) and I must say it was scrumptious. I really recommend serious bakers make their own vanilla extract. I have some made with Gin, Rhum and am thinking of starting a batch with Calvados.

    Reply to Marcia's comment

  22. gardenfrisk on February 5, 2011 at 5:01 pm

    Your photos are more than beautiful — they’re breathtaking! Are you a professional?

    I noticed your in northeastern Ohio — my husband’s from Warren but has been happily transplanted in Central Florida!

    Reply to gardenfrisk's comment

  23. Hilary on February 5, 2011 at 6:03 pm

    Glad you liked the cookies, they look beautiful! You should try David Lebovitz’s recipe too, it’s been a HUGE hit at my office lately!

    Reply to Hilary's comment

  24. Wanda on February 5, 2011 at 7:08 pm

    Oh that bread! I have a weakness for fresh-baked crusty bread that I never have for baked sweets. I’ve stayed away from bread-baking for a while because I just eat it all immediately. But I think I have to get back to it–maybe I can freeze half of it right away to keep it away from myself. Your loaf is beautiful and I envy all those lemons you got.

    Reply to Wanda's comment

  25. Cheryl on February 5, 2011 at 7:42 pm

    We have fought the battle looking for an amazing GF bread. If you are interested I’d love to hear your feedback on our favorite recipe.


    Reply to Cheryl's comment

  26. kristin on February 5, 2011 at 10:01 pm

    For me, baking=boredom. Too much measuring. Considering how much I can eat of baked goods, however, it’s probably a good thing that I rarely bring myself to bake. I have no control over myself when the MiL does, but luckily, she’s not home enough to bake on a regular basis.

    Reply to kristin's comment

  27. Eleanor on February 5, 2011 at 11:14 pm

    I’m with you: I definitely prefer cooking over baking. I think it’s because I have an almost complete inability to follow a recipe. I simply can’t resist changing things around, just for the fun of it. This doesn’t always work out very well with baking, but things like soups seem to be able to tolerate my crazy schemes. Once, I was tempted to “improve” the world’s best chocolate cheesecake recipe by adding extra chocolate. Seemed like a good idea, except that the darned thing never did set up…I served it in goblets, like a lovely pudding. Ah…chemistry.

    Reply to Eleanor's comment

  28. Jaye Whitney on February 6, 2011 at 5:39 am

    Baking!! I love how comforting it is. I always reach for my baking recipes when stressed out too…don’t necessarily eat everything I bake, so my neighbors definitely reap the benefits! :)

    Reply to Jaye Whitney's comment

  29. Kara on February 7, 2011 at 4:50 pm

    Do you have any recipe recommendations for a first time bread maker? I love to cook and bake but have yet to make successful bread. A recent attempt to make honey whole wheat turned out awful. It was like eating a giant hockey puck. Thanks!

    Reply to Kara's comment

  30. elizabeth on March 13, 2011 at 2:25 pm

    Are your sourdough recipes on this site? I searched but can’t find anything to do with bread baking.

    I have been working with a sourdough starter for a week now using Nancy Silverton’s recipes, but can’t get it right and would love to make a loaf like the beautiful one in your picture above. Could you share your recipe?


    Reply to elizabeth's comment

    • Susy on March 13, 2011 at 9:15 pm

      One of my favorite sourdough recipes is Norwich Sourdough from Wild Yeast Blog.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  31. elizabeth on March 14, 2011 at 11:32 pm

    Oh Thank you! That’s so funny, the other day I clicked over to wild yeast from your site and that is the recipe I found that looked like your loaf and the one I most want to try. Do you follow the recipe exactly and it works for you? Do you use the pumpernickel flour or all white? I don’t have a linen couche yet or lava rocks for steam. I have mostly been baking no-knead bread in a covered pot.

    I hope I can get the norwich sourdough to work for me, my starter seems active and good, but still I haven’t been able to make a great loaf of bread with it yet. I need more practice I guess.

    Reply to elizabeth's comment

    • Susy on March 15, 2011 at 7:23 am

      I usually use some rye flour in place of pumpernickel and usually use half whole wheat (freshly ground) and half white. Sometime I do make all white if I’m making it for friends. I would recommend using white flour until you get the knack of it as substituting in whole grain does affect a lot of the process of making bread (longer fermenting times, different amount of water, etc). It does take a lot of practice. I bake mine in a cast iron dutch oven instead of with lava rocks & water. I find it works much better (I have tried the lava rocks & steam). Keep trying, I had some bad loaves before I finally figured it out. Until I had a linen couche I used a flour sack towel sprinkled in flour, seems to work well.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  32. elizabeth on March 15, 2011 at 10:29 am

    Thanks for the tips, I’m not giving up! So happy to hear you bake in a covered pot since that method has worked well for me here, I’ll try it with that recipe as well.

    Was the loaf pictured above baked in a cast iron dutch oven? Your must have an oval shaped pan? Where did you buy your linen couche or did you make it? Can you share timing and temp for baking the norwich sourdough in your dutch oven? Do you need to slash the bread when you bake it in the covered cast iron pot? Do you keep your starter in the fridge and what is your feeding method when you take it out and prepare for baking this loaf?

    Reply to elizabeth's comment

    • Susy on March 15, 2011 at 10:36 am

      It was baked in a dutch oven, but a really big one so the loaf baked oval even though it’s a round pan. Mr Chiots bought me a couche from King Arthur Flour a few years ago.

      Preheat the oven, with pan, to 475F. Turn the proofed loaves onto parchment. Slash each one with two overlapping cuts that are almost parallel to the long axis of the batard. Lower loaf into dutch oven with parchment paper, put lid on pan, put in oven and turn the heat down to 450F. Bake for 15 minutes, remove lid from pan and bake another 15 – 18 minutes. Check internal temp of loaves, I usually bake mine to around 204. The crust should be a deep brown. Then turn off the oven and leave the loaves in for 5 minutes longer, with the door ajar, to help them dry. Cool on wire rack, reheat oven with pan inside for more loaves.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  33. Christine on August 23, 2013 at 9:20 pm

    That sourdough loaf is beautiful! I have occasionally tried baking bread but I love a really crusty loaf and haven’t been able to achieve it (and when I tried spraying in my oven with water like a lot of recipes recommend it made my baking sheet bubble permanently – non-stick, it was a gift). I’m assuming the dutch oven works by trapping the steam produced by baking the loaf? There isn’t any additional water introduced, right? I might have to look for a dutch oven next time I go thrifting…

    Reply to Christine's comment

    • Susy on August 24, 2013 at 10:49 am

      Yes, the dutch oven acts as a steam oven and produces that lovely crispy crust with the moist chewy crumb.

      Reply to Susy's comment


This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

Read previous post:
Friday Favorite: Pucker Up for Free Lemons

I'm a big fan of all things lemon, always have been. When I was a little girl I ate lemons...