Yes we can go to the nearest big supermarkets 30 miles away to get most of the ingredients you need for baking but we choose not to, we like to use what we’ve grown or can get locally at the market. Winter is my baking season, it’s just too hot in the Summer months and the cooking pechka is on for heating the house so it makes sense to use it for baking with. I remember the days when I’d get up decide to bake, write a shopping list, jump in the car pop to the local supermarket and be back home an hour later with everything I needed, but that is no longer the case.
I like to make big batches all at once so the day before is spent working out what we have and what I can make, then it’s usually a case of bashing some walnuts, cracking hazelnuts and, if we have any, chopping up dried fruit. Our dried fruit is a mixture of figs, apples, peaches, plums and cherries. Some of these I buy at the market as we have had limited success so far drying own fruit but a dehydrator is on the list of things to build later this year. We don’t use raisins and sultanas because so far we haven’t found a seedless variety of grapes for drying and they are expensive to buy compared to the home dried fruit on the market. Then because the chickens go on strike in winter I work out how many eggs are needed and get them out of the freezer, which we freeze when we have a surplus. You can get self-raising flour but it only comes in small bags and is expensive, so we get a big sack of plain and add baking power. This only comes in tiny packets of about 2 teaspoons worth so I make my own out of bicarbonate soda and cream of tartar which also has it’s problems as we haven’t been able to find cream of tartar here so, when friends visit from the UK and ask if I need anything bringing, that is always on my list.
On baking day we light the pechka, keep checking it till it reaches temperature then damp down, then all day is spent either adding wood to bring temperature up or damping down to cool the oven off. We have also found things cook quicker in the pechka than a normal oven, don’t know why it’s just the way it is, so clock watching doesn’t work ( not that we’ve got one anyway ) so you can’t go off and do something else. At the end everything gets bagged up, labeled and stuck in the freezer.
We have got quite inventive with our cake making, we used to make carrot cake, but now we have added beetroot, ( our neighbours’ are the size of footballs ) pumpkin, courgette and green tomatoes to our list of veggies used if we have them.