I find baking to be way more intimidating than straight cooking, mostly because you don’t know if you got it right until everything is off into the oven.  If something’s off, it’s back to the very beginning, no take-backs.  No thank you! I bake to eat my stress feelings, not create them.

On today’s episode of Food for Thought, I cover some of my favorite simple baking recipes that can all be adapted, adjusted and personalized for every palette.  Simple cream scones are delicious with chocolate chips or dried fruit, pound cake can be lemon, lime, orange, or practically any other flavor, and I have one cookie recipe, but two types cookies.  I hope you enjoy the fun, simple recipes!




Makes 6 medium triangles

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup granulated white sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces

1 large egg, lightly beaten

1 vanilla bean, scraped

1/2 cup heavy cream


1 large egg, lightly beaten

2 tablespoons heavy cream


Preheat oven to 375 F with the rack in the middle of the oven.

In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. Cut the butter into small pieces and blend into the flour mixture with a pastry blender or two knives. The mixture should look like coarse crumbs, with chunks of butter the size of small peas. Combine the heavy cream, beaten egg and vanilla in a separate bowl. Add this mixture to the flour mixture. Stir just until combined.

Knead dough gently on a lightly floured surface two or three times. The more you touch the dough, the more the butter in it melts, causing it to become dense when baked, so remember to apply a light touch! Roll or pat the dough into a circle that is about 7 inches round. Then, using a 2½ inch round cookie cutter, cut the dough into rounds. Or, if you’re like me an for some reason don’t have a 2 ½ inch cookie cutter, cut the dough into triangles of your desired size. Place the scones on a cookie sheet covered in parchment paper or silicon sheep, spacing a few inches apart. Brush the tops of the scones with the egg and cream mixture. This helps to brown the tops of the scones during baking.

Bake for about 16 – 18 minutes or until nicely browned. Remove from oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool. Serve with Devonshire cream and your favorite jam.




Made in an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 loaf pan

1 1/2 all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

8 ounces softened unsalted butter, plus more for pans

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

4 eggs, room temp

1 tablespoon orange zest (two oranges)

1 tablespoon poppy seeds


Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter two 5-by-9-inch loaf pans. Combine all-purpose flour and salt in a bowl.

Cream butter and sugar with a mixer on high speed until pale and fluffy, for 8 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl. Reduce speed to medium and add vanilla extract.

Lightly beat eggs, and add to mixer bowl in 4 additions, mixing thoroughly after each and scraping down sides. Reduce speed to low, and add flour mixture in 4 additions, mixing until just incorporated. Divide batter between pans. Tap on counter to distribute; smooth tops.

Bake until a tester inserted into center of each cake comes out clean, about 65 minutes. Let cool in pans on a wire rack for 30 minutes. Remove from pans, and let cool completely on wire rack.


1/4 cup butter

2 tablespoons water

1/2 cup white sugar

1/4 cup melted bittersweet chocolate

1 teaspoon vanilla


Combine all of the ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat, until the sugar is fully dissolved.  Pour as much as you like on top of cake.  The Pound Cake can be covered and stored for several days at room temperature, for one week when refrigerated, or it can be frozen for two months.




Makes 18 shortbread cookies or 2-3 dozen Russian Tea Cakes

8 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature

1/2 cup powdered (confectioners or icing) sugar, plus another cup for garnish if making russian tea cakes

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon  salt

1 teaspoon  pure vanilla extract

1 cup pecans, very finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon


Sift together the flour, salt, and powdered sugar. Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until light and fluffy. Add the flour and sugar a third at a time on low speed, then add the vanilla.

If making Russian tea cookies, add the pecans and cinnamon into the dough and mix together.  If making pecan crusted shortbread cookies, combine the pecans and cinnamon separately, and set aside.

Form into ball for Russian Tea Cookies & a 2 inch wide log for Crusted Shortbread Cookies. Take the pecans and cinnamon and spread them onto on your workspace and roll a log through the pecans so that their sides are coated.

Wrap in plastic; chill until cold, about 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350°F.


Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

With a sharp knife, cut 1/4 inch thick slices off of the log and place on the prepared baking sheets and place in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes. (This will firm up the dough so the cookies will maintain their shape when baked.) Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until cookies are very lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack.


Working with half of chilled dough, roll dough by 2 teaspoonfuls between palms into balls. Arrange balls on heavy large baking sheet, spacing 1/2 inch apart. Bake cookies until golden brown on bottom and just pale golden on top, about 20-25 minutes. Cool cookies 5 minutes on baking sheet. Gently toss warm cookies in powdered sugar to coat completely. Transfer coated cookies to rack and cool completely. Repeat procedure with remaining half of dough. (Cookies can be prepared 2 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature; reserve remaining cinnamon sugar.)