Fudgy brownies do not skimp on the butter or chocolate.
A cocoa-intense batter, bolstered by a set of dry ingredients, drenched in butter and two intensities of melted chocolate (plus a basketful of whole eggs), develop the dreamiest batch of bar cookies ever. Or at least to date.
This is a seriously deep-dish, pure chocolate adventure. Though the flavor of chocolate dominates through-and-through, the taste is multi-dimensional and the texture is uninterrupted by nuts or chips.
Molasses-scented and bran-flecked. Moistened with buttermilk. Touched with white whole wheat flour.
This is a breakfast cake for baking now, in anticipation of early autumn when the temperature shifts and thoughts of baking in an earthy mode arise. Mixed in a bowl and turned into an 8-inch square pan, the batter rises into a moist, tender, yet gently rugged cake.
Sections of cake beam when served with coffee alone, but are equally at home in the brunch bread basket, paired with eggs (any which way), smoky bacon, and baked apples (yes indeed, at breakfast, rather than for dessert, and doused with just enough maple syrup to sweeten).
If a cake batter can be crafted for serving in the a.m., can a cookie dough be far behind? Perhaps. In the meantime…
sweet and savory baking notes
delicious bites of baking information
Dec 9 -
ChocolateChocolate Tracker: My Coca-Cola Cake (page 285, and following page) with its Coca-Cola Frosting (page 286) is a well-baked treat from my sweet ChocolateChocolate. The cake is exceptionally moist, bakes up easily, and feeds a crowd.
Dec 8 -
Big in the Department of Must-Bake, my popular extra-crisp and flaky granola is a favorite to keep on hand for crunching throughout the day–as a topping for yogurt, warming poached or roasted fruit, or dried fruit compotes. Packaged prettily, the granola makes a lovely handmade gift.
Dec 7 -
Baking by Flavor Tracker: Baking favorites from the Butter chapter include Butter Biscuits, Butter Shortbread, and Golden Butter Cake.
i have a baking question
ask Lisa a baking-related question
The appetizer bread in Baking Style is delicious. If I want to customize it with other items, rather than salami (or pepperoni), what ingredients would you suggest? Even though you say that the bread should be served on baking day, it was also wonderful the next day.
This savory bread (page 440, and following page) from Baking Style: Art, Craft, Recipes is casual and so good with a glass of wine, or a leafy, herb-flecked salad. The salami (or pepperoni), Provolone, and Pecorino Romano may be replaced by other items, though it is preferable to either use cheese plus a charcuterie ingredient or cheese alone (one or a mix of two or three varieties). Either smoked ham or smoked turkey–cut into cubes–would be a good substitute for the salami; minced fresh herbs can be worked into the dough with the cheese; or diced onions pan-fried until golden in a little olive oil would make a tasty addition. And don’t forget to use the oil and cheese finish–it’s lovely.
Can you recommend dessert recipes from your baking books for bringing to potluck dinners? Also, what is the best way to transport them?
Bake-ahead sheet or one-layer cakes and fairly sturdy bar cookies are ideal for preparing in advance and transporting to an event. Bar cookies can be cut into squares or rectangles, and gently layered between sheets of waxed paper or cooking parchment paper within sturdy containers. Sweets baked in rectangular, square, or round pans (each single, not multiple-layer) are easy travellers, whether frosted or not–leave the dessert in the pan, cover, and place the baking pan in a larger pan for safe delivery.
From Baking by Flavor, the following items are ideal for contributing to a potluck dinner: Kitchen Sink Buttercrunch Bars (page 209), Caramel, Nougat, and Walnut Candy Bar Cake (page 235, and following page), Sour Cream Fudge Cake (page 260, and following pages), Simply Intense Chocolate Brownies (page 280, and following page), or Cream Cheese-Swirled Brownies (page 492, and following page). From ChocolateChocolate: Bittersweet Chocolate Brownies (page 76), Supremely Fudgy Brownies (page 81), White Chocolate Chip and Chunk Blondies (page 145), Layered Toffee Bars (page 176), or Buttery and Soft Chocolate Cake for a Crowd (page 403, and following page). From Baking Style: Art, Craft, Recipes, A Noble Marzipan Cake (page 41, and following page), A Gentle Banana Cake (page 118), Date Bars, Big and Crazy Chewy (page 163), Confection Brownies (page 178), Moist and Chewy Fruit Slice (page 322, and following page), Blondie Cake (page 409), or A Decadent Streusel Coffee Cake (page 467).
read about noteworthy cookbooks
Bakers looking for A Project should look no further than Pretzel Making at Home by Andrea Stonecker, for a good pretzel is a treat, and a homemade pretzel a rare treat. Making a batch is an exercise in patience and, ultimately, refining your culinary experience over a pot housing a simmering (alkaline) solution. That is, once you’ve put together a yeast dough and moved anyone in the vicinity of the kitchen out of the way, in order to manage the twisting, dipping, and baking–quietly and without intrusion. This is not an exercise in speed, though your efforts will be appreciated by one and all.
Book in hand, I mentally signed up for The Experience. In the end, and hours later, I arrived at a small batch of Traditional Soft Pretzels (page 26, and following pages), having digested, several times over, the section titled “Pretzel Basics” (page 12, and following pages). The author takes you through the process which is actually a lot of fun–once a certain rhythm is developed. While I may not yet swing a rope of dough into a twist like the pros do (one early–and enthusiastic–attempt actually turned it into a hair band of sorts, and another dropped it directly into the–ahem!–scoop neck of my shirt), the dough lengths were easy to reshape once rested. (Baking note: Pin back your hair and button that shirt right up to the neck.) After dipping, topping, then baking the pretzels, The Experience ended–deliciously.
In Pretzel Making at Home, Stonecker moves the baker in all of us into the territory of Hard Pretzels, and further to integrating your precious stash into the likes of bread pudding. If I ever have three soft pretzels left, I’ll be sure to make the pudding, but odds are they’re just too good to steep in custard (even if a beloved item in my kitchen).
Food Styling: The Art of Preparing Food for the Camera, by Delores Custer (Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2010), $75.00
Delores Custer, a food stylist, built a career on fine-tuning the look of food for television and publication, culminating in an instructional volume titled Food Styling: The Art of Preparing Food for the Camera.
In our visual culture, the audience for Food Styling is not only for professionals whose job it is to cook, bake, or otherwise fashion food-based items to be photographed. Any individual who needs to capture a pleasing food-related image should consider using this book as a reference for composing camera-ready food.
Taking a trip through the contents of Food Styling reveals the author’s range, with chapters devoted to all of the preliminaries (“The Medium is Everything,” and “Prepping the Assignment”), then moves on to cover aspects from advance preparation and working with a photographer to assembling the equipment necessary to actualize the job. All of this is a prelude to the meatiest section of the volume titled “Working with the Food: Overcoming Challenges”: This is a comprehensive view of styling in a range of categories, including food for breakfast, sandwiches, dairy products, main course proteins, sauces, and garnishes. The concluding chapters in this section concern “baked goods” and they are valuable reading for visitors of baking style diary.
In the baked goods sections (“Cakes: the pleasures and pitfalls,” Cookies: aiming for consistencies,” and “Chocolate: the problem child for the food stylist” among them), you will learn viable solutions for preparing beautiful bar cookies; creating just the right look for drop cookies; baking and presenting a flawless pie; ways to bake, assemble, and stage layer cakes; and how to form the best-looking dollop of whipped cream. One of the most intriguing sections is the information regarding the baking, styling, and presentation of chocolate chip cookies (page 266, and following pages). On those pages, we learn how certain ingredients, baking techniques, and background materials contribute to a different end result.
Food Styling is a resource book that is destined to become the industry standard of its genre.