Cookbook Club: The Farmer's Daughter Bakes
Step onto the farm with author Kelsey Siemens and bake through the seasons with 'The Farmer's Daughter Bakes'
You can take the girl out of the farm, but can’t take the farm life out of the girl. After studying geographical bio-geoscience at university and starting her food blog, The Farmer’s Daughter, author Kelsey Siemens quickly returned home to where it all started.
Growing up on a beautiful, family-run farm nestled in the Fraser Valley of British Columbia (near the the Canada-US border), Kelsey began with collecting eggs and weeding the garden, as most children of farmers do. She learned to eat with the seasons as she worked along with her parents to maintain the 20 acres of 10,000 dwarf apple trees, 50 varieties of pumpkins, squash, Saskatoon berries, rhubarb, and more that make up Willow View Farms.
Willow View Farms is about an hour from where we live in downtown Vancouver, and my family and I have been lucky enough to witness the hustle and bustle and joy of apple picking season for the last 5 years. The kids love walking through the orchard and picking their own apples, petting the goats, and sipping apple cider slushies (the best!). We never come home with anything short of a half-dozen bags of apples that I happily turn into pies, crisps, and apple butter. While fall might appear to be peak busy season, working on the farm is a full-time, year-round job for the Siemens. While I won’t pretend to know just how much work goes into maintaining a farm, each season has its own instrumental tasks to prepare for the harvest.
In The Farmer’s Daughter Bakes, Kelsey is inspired by the literal fruits of her labor to bring us recipes starring the fresh produce from her farm. As Kelsey writes, “Few things can top a perfectly ripe berry plucked straight from the field, the crunch of an apple on a cool fall morning or homemade pumpkin puree.” From spring to summer, autumn to winter, you can find recipes like Rhubarb-Lemon Layer Cake, Bumbleberry Lattice Pie, Apple Cider Donuts, and Gingerbread Loaf with Chai-Spiced Poached Pears. If you can’t escape to the orchards, come experience a slice of farm life by baking through this beautiful book.
Follow Kelsey on Instagram for more recipes, farm life, and baby goats.
Tessa Huff: Why did you decide to write this book?
Kelsey Siemens: I've always been inspired by the seasonal nature of our farm (Willow View Farms), and the abundance of produce that we are able to grow. Apples, pears, plums, pumpkins, and more! I also feel so lucky to live in an area with a great number of farms, and growing things has been a huge part of my life. I knew I wanted to share a little piece of farm life with the world, and the snippets of stories I was able to share with each recipe felt really special.
TH: Which recipe should readers try first? Or which has become a stand-out recipe with readers so far?
KS: The apple crisp cheesecake with caramel drizzle has definitely been the most popular! It's the star of the cover, and has been a huge hit. A personal favourite of mine is also the raspberry almond cake (made with homemade almond paste!). It's perfect for summer, as berry season is right around the corner.
TH: Can you name a must-have ingredient or signature flavor that you use in your recipes often? Or do you think there is special quality about your recipes or writing that readers can identify as being uniquely yours?
KS: Rhubarb is perhaps my most loved ingredient. I have quite a number of rhubarb recipes in the book, including a beloved rhubarb cake recipe from my great grandmother. Overall, I am always inspired by what's in season, so fresh fruit is the common thread throughout my book. I also include seasonal swaps for nearly every recipe to encourage folks to experiment with what's available to them at any given time!
TH: What keeps you inspired and creative in the kitchen?
KS: Traveling! Exploring new cities, bakeries, and restaurants is a great love of mine. I always come home bursting with ideas.
TH: What were you listening to or reading at the time of writing this book?
KS: I listened to Kina Grannis for the entirety of writing the book. Her music is wonderfully soothing, but doesn't put me to sleep!
TH: Walk into a reader’s home and where can you find your book? Displayed on a coffee table, next to the bed for late-night studying, or splattered with batter in the kitchen? What is the main takeaway you want readers to get from your book?
KS: My greatest wish is for it to be splattered with batter in the kitchen! I encourage readers to connect with their local farmers and markets, and to be brave in the kitchen. Make messes, share with friends, and start new traditions. Nothing would make me happier!
TH: What is one important key to success for home bakers wanting to try new recipes?
KS: Read the whole recipe before you start! It sounds so boring...but that's the most important thing you can do to be fully prepared for what the recipe will bring. Ingredients, timing, and new techniques can all trip you up if you don't read through everything carefully. I like to YouTube unfamiliar steps whenever I'm trying something totally new too! Other than that....I say to just jump right in. My biggest learning experiences have always been when I make mistakes, so don't be afraid to try something that intimidates you!
This tender, single-layer cake is packed full of flavor and incredible textures. The tart, jammy pockets of raspberries pair perfectly with the nutty almond paste that keeps this snacking cake unbelievably moist. Cut off a slice to enjoy with your morning coffee or serve it at the end of a celebration dinner with a dusting of confectioners’ sugar or scoop of Lemon Curd Ice Cream (page 168). - Tessa Huff
Raspberry Almond Cake
Serves 8 - 10
1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
1 cup (227 g) almond paste (store-bought or homemade)
¾ cup (170 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon almond extract
4 large eggs
1 ½ cups (188 g) all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
2 cups (246 g) fresh or frozen raspberries, divided
⅓ cup (36 g) slivered almonds
Confectioners’ sugar for dusting
Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Grease a 9-inch springform pan or line a 9-inch cake pan with parchment paper and set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, mix together the sugar and almond paste on low speed until completely combined and sandy, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the butter and increase the speed to medium-high. Mix for about 2 minutes or until well combined and fluffy.
With the mixer on low speed, add the vanilla, almond extract, and eggs, one at a time. Allow each egg to nearly combine before adding the next. When done, stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl.
In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the batter and mix on low speed until just combined.
Stop the mixer. Tumble in about 1 ½ cups (185 g) of the raspberries and gently fold. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and spread until smooth. Top the batter with the remaining raspberries and slivered almonds.
Bake the cake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until the center is set. Remove the cake from the oven and loosen it from the sides of the pan by carefully running a thin knife around the edges of the cake. Allow the cake to almost completely cool before removing the collar of the springform pan.
Dust the top of the cake with confectioners’ sugar just before serving.
Store leftover cake in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Allow the cake to come to room temperature before serving.
Kelsey is all about baking with the seasons, but she won’t let that stop you from enjoying this cake all year long. Try substituting the fresh raspberries with blueberry, blackberry, or diced apples in the fall. I personally used frozen raspberries for this cake and they worked out perfectly! To keep the berries from bleeding into the batter, do not thaw before mixing.
I loved reading about Kelsey’s life growing up on a farm. These are great posts.