A day in the life of a contest winner!

When Elain Evans & her three year old daughter Sophie teamed up to make a home cooking show for our contest, they got two yummy outcomes: the delicious Peach Upside Down Cake they made together and a $1000 gift certificate to spend at Cookworks! We were captivated by the pair, who demonstrated all the key ingredients we were looking for in the contest...having fun together while cooking, team work, and a fab recipe. Their good old fashion trip to the farm for eggs and peaches didn’t hurt either! (Check out their winning video.) Here we reach Elain at her home, to find out more about a day in the life of this adorable duo.

BT: Congratulations to you both! So, how did you hear about the contest and what motivated you to enter?

EE: We were friends of the Better Together group on FB, which is where we heard about the contest. We had received a video camera for Christmas but rarely used it so the contest was a great opportunity to take the camera and film our favourite foodie place – UBC Farm! It was the first iMovie I’ve made, and it was so much fun I think that I am going to trade in traditional scrapbooking (which can take over the dining room table) for web video editing!

BT: Tell us about a typical week in the life of you & Sophie. What are your fave routines & traditions, where do you like to go for groceries, etc?

EE: Like most families, it is pretty hectic during the weekdays with work, daycare, swimming lessons, gymnastics and life administration. We usually eat together around the table five nights a week. I write for health magazines and spend a lot of time reading about nutrition research and am struck by the fact that “4-year-olds were 40 percent less likely to be obese if their parents kept them to no more than two hours of TV time daily, if the family ate dinner together at least six nights a week, and if the preschooler slept at least 10 1/2 hours on weekdays”. (*According to the Journal of Pediatrics.)

We love to shop for our groceries all over Vancouver. We go to the UBC Farm every Saturday in the summer, the Main Street or Kitsilano Farmers Markets, Santa Barbara on Commercial Drive, T&T, Persia Market in Little India and Save-on–Foods for everyday goods. My favourite routine is everyone pitching in to make the meals, setting the table and cleaning up afterwards. I also love the tradition of canning food in the fall. This year we canned peaches and sockeye salmon.

BT: Yum. What would you describe as your home cooking style?

EE: I am a cookbook collector and our family loves to travel. Even though Sophie is just three years old she has already been to England, Thailand and Japan; we like to eat a variety of types of food. Sophie is in a noodle phase right now so it seems like we have been eating a lot of Italian food recently but mostly our meals match the seasons. We had shepherd’s pie the other night, the perfect meal to eat on a chilly autumn evening.

BT: Sound delicious. Can you share one of your favourite recipes with us?

EE: I grew up in Sointula off of Vancouver Island which was settled by Finns, and my all time favourite recipe is Pulla, a Scandinavian cardamom coffee bread. I developed this recipe so that I could make the traditional dough in my Kitchenaid mixer:

  • 1 package (2 1/2 teaspoons) of traditional dry yeast (not rapid rise)
  • 1 teaspoon of brown sugar 
  • 1 1/2 cups of warm water (115 degrees F / 46 C) 
  • 2 1/2 cups of bread flour* and then another 2 cups (*not all purpose flour) 
  • 1/5 oz can of evaporated milk 
  • 1/4 cup crushed ice - add cold water to fill up 1/4 cup
  • 1 teaspoon of sea salt 
  • 4 tablespoon light brown sugar (packed) 
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 teaspoons of cardamom seeds, freshly ground
  • 1/2 cup of very soft butter 
  • 1 tablespoon of oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons of water
  • 1 splash of coffee
  • 1/4 cup of coarse sugar (Rae Sokeri imported by Viking Foods)


Directions: In the bowl of a standing mixer, add warm water (I use a thermometre to ensure the water is the correct temperature) then sprinkle in 1 teaspoon of brown sugar and yeast. Let the mixture sit for about two minutes and the yeast will begin to bubble - if it doesn't your yeast is old and won't work. With the paddle attachment of the mixer on low/medium speed, beat in 2 1/2 cups of bread flour and the evaporated milk. Beat for a further 5 minutes. Let the mixture sit for 30 minutes. Change the mixer paddle for the dough hook. Add the ice and water, sea salt, 4 tablespoons of brown sugar and egg yolk. With the mixer on a low setting, combine the ingredients and add the remaining 2 cups of bread flour. Mix for 5 minutes. While the machine is working the dough, combine the ground cardamom seeds with the soft butter. On the mixer’s lowest setting, add the butter. This bit can get messy. You may need to stop the machine to stop the dough from lurching out of the bowl. Sprinkling some flour over the dough helps the butter combine and avoids spillage. The dough will just come together, yet still soft. Add some more flour if needed to bring the ball together. Oil around the bowl and dough. Cover the bowl with saran wrap and leave in a warm place to rise for about 1 1/2 hours. When the dough has doubled in size, punch down and knead in once. Place the dough on a counter top dusted with flour, divide dough in 3 pieces. Cover with saran wrap and let rest a further 15 minutes. Roll the three pieces out and braid. Brush the dough with the egg, water and coffee that have been beaten together. Grease a baking sheet or if you like a taller loaf, a very wide bread pan. Leave the dough on the baking sheet for about an hour or until doubled in size. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees - put a pizza stone, on the middle shelf of the oven. After 10 minutes, decrease the heat to 375 degrees then place the pan on the pizza stone in the oven. Spray the oven door with a fine mist of water before closing. Bake for 30 minutes, remove and baste again with egg mixture then sprinkle on the rock sugar. Bake a further 15 or 20 minutes until done. Loaves will sound hollow when tapped. Cool loaves. If desired, drizzle a thin mixture of icing sugar and milk over the loaves once cool.

BT: That sounds amazing! We’ll be trying that for sure. And what is little Sophie’s favourite recipe?

EE: Sophie’s favourite recipe is a simple one! A basket of cherry tomatoes (cut in half), 2 cloves of garlic crushed, a handful of basil torn up, covered with olive oil - mix and let rest a few hours. Top over spaghetti, then sprinkle on salt and pepper plus some grated Parmesan cheese. Yum! I think her new favourite recipe is the peach upside down cake that won her the Better Together contest!

BT: And finally, when you’re desperate for an inspiring meal idea, where do you turn?

EE: For inspiring meal ideas I turn to The Art of Sooke Harbour House cookbook. I have eaten some of the most amazing meals of my life at Sooke Harbour House. I think every house should have The Good Housekeeping Illustrated Cookbook. There is a recipe for everything in that book with fantastic drawings that go with the detailed instructions. And two of my fave blogs are Steamykitchen.com and Island Eat

Thanks Elain, for an inside peak at your life! Again, congrats to you and Sophie! We thoroughly enjoyed your video and hope you’ll submit again the next time the contest runs (stay tuned!). To our community, we want to know more about what cookbooks you are reading, and your favourite recipes. Share your tips on FB, for a chance to win The Good Housekeeping Illustrated Cookbook this week.

Leave a comment. All fields required.



  • My friend asked me why I would put ice water in the Pulla recipe, and I thought I would explain for anyone else making the recipe: You start with warm liquid for the yeast as usual to get the yeast activated, but just before kneading adding ice water lowers the dough temperature, as dough makes ideal gluten at 75 degrees but kneading (especially when using a machine) raises the temperature 8 or 9 degrees (and the average kitchen is already at the mid 70s) so by lowering the temperature before kneading means you will finish at the perfect temperature. Ice water ensures better water absorption and gluten development, more so than chilling the dough in the fridge would. Happy baking. Elain

    Elain Evans 26 October 2010, at 9:05 pm