diary

Jun 25 2015

olive oil + corn meal = cake

The underpinning of fruity olive oil plus corn meal, buttermilk, and whole eggs fashions a luscious cake.

Cake, you say?

Yes, and I say this resoundingly (exclamation point).

A lightly sweetened wedge of the cake pairs off superbly with all kinds of summer berries or slices of mixed stone fruit, especially peaches (in cooler weather, poached pears), in a composed compote. The absence of a flavoring agent (overt or in the muted background) lets the slightly gritty wedges form a blank canvas for soaking up spoonfuls of the accompaniment. Or have a slice just by itself, with good coffee.

Thinking out-of-the-bread-box (so to speak) is a fine way to plan out a casual dessert.

recipe from the baking kitchen olive oil-corn meal cake
Jun 6 2015

mix and crunch

The fruit-and-nut Crunching Mix Crave strikes me routinely. Sometimes, I even let chocolate sneak into the mix–but not at this time. Right now, all I want is a nice combination of seeds, nuts, and dried fruit. Purveyors of already-composed mixtures, generally, leave me flat. Sorry. (Well, I’m not that sorry.) Typically, when reaching for one of those bags on the shelf of your local market, you’re buying into (literally) a preordained selection of elements. No thank you! It’s only a simple matter of deciding the elements that appeal to you the most and composing your own mixture. A homemade blend seems to taste fresher and look a lot more vibrant. You can assign your own quantity of each goody, but do portion out each with some balance in mind. Now, go forth and assemble.

recipe from the baking kitchen fruit, nut, and seed mix

sweet and savory baking notes

delicious bites of baking information

Jul 4 -

What to bake? Mega-fudgy deep-dish brownies or brilliantly-chocolate brownies? Or what about brownie blondies? Choices, choices, choices…

Jul 3 -

My favorite treat at the end-of-power-walking is a little dip into a bag of this fruit and nut mix-up.

Jul 2 -

My recipe for Triple-Vanilla Crumb Cake appeared in the Boston GLOBE Food section. It’s just lovely, and a delight to have on hand for serving at brunch to weekend guests. The recipe can be accessed here. Happy baking!

i have a baking question

ask Lisa a baking-related question

Q:

I have made your “forever brownies” many times from Baking Style. If I wanted to make this recipe as a “party cake” how could this be done?

A:

The recipe for forever brownies (page 37) in my new book, Baking Style, Art, Craft, Recipes, is not only one of my favorite recipes, it’s a recipe that seems to have captivated both avocational and professional bakers alike. The brownie batter can be customized to include a generous stir-in of chopped nuts (walnuts or pecans), flaked coconut, chunks of candy, semisweet chocolate chips, bittersweet chocolate chips, or white chocolate chips. My sense is what you mean by “fancy up” the recipe is to offer the confection in an alternate shape other than a bar cookie. To do this, film a 9 to 10-inch round layer cake pan (2 inces deep) with nonstick oil spray, then spoon and scrape the batter into the prepared pan. (Any other single-layer ovenproof cake pan can be used, but be sure to choose one without too much detail otherwise the cake will be challenging to unmold.) Smooth over the top with a narrow offset metal spatula or flexible palette knife. Bake the sweet for 30 to 33 minutes, or until just set, and cool according to the procedure described in the body of the recipe. For serving, cut the dessert into pretty pie-shaped wedges. Serve  quite plain, with a tumble of fresh raspberries, vanilla ice cream, or softly whipped cream.

Q:

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.

A:

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.

about the author

Lisa Yockelson is a baking journalist and three-time award-winning author of Baking by Flavor, ChocolateChocolate, and Baking Style: Art, Craft, Recipes. Baking Style: Art, Craft, Recipes received the 2012 IACP cookbook award for the best baking book in New York City on April 2, 2012.


book report

read about noteworthy cookbooks

Fika: The Art of the Swedish Coffee Break, by Anna Brones and Johanna Kindvall (Berkeley: Ten Speed Press, 20015), $17.99

The Swedish tradition of fika, described as the cultural custom of taking a break in the a.m. or p.m. to enjoy coffee and a sweet (or savory) accompaniment singly or with friends, is a tradition worth embracing. This is not an on-the-run, grab-and-go event, but one which encompasses more than a few minutes to savor the present.
In Fika: The Art of the Swedish Coffee Break, authors Anna Brones and Johanna Kindvall  reveal the way to relax and enjoy–by learning about the history and recipes that support the occasion of sharing food and drink. What a delight it is to be reminded of this simple pleasure and, most of all, learn that one of the cornerstones of the experience evolves from a goody you bake yourself (very wise).
In five charming chapters (“a history of Swedish coffee,” “modern-day fika,” “the outdoor season,” “celebrating more than the everyday,” and “bread, sandwiches, and fika as a snack”) Fika points the way and, in short order, will have you assembling ingredients and setting out the china coffee cups. Of particular interest is the recipe for semlor, the luscious Swedish cream buns–cardamon-scented and almondy, and sure to set the mood to celebrate the spirit of the day.

Cowgirl Creamery Cooks by Sue Conley and Peggy Smith (San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2013), $35.00

So you think you know how to make a first-rate grilled cheese sandwich? Do you thoughtfully combine three types of cheese? Choose bread that heightens the cheese? Select the correct weight of pan? Are you, overall, cheese-savvy? For all of that, and more, Cowgirl Creamery Cooks by Sue Conley and Peggy Smith should rest on your cookbook shelf, if only for the full menu of recipes, then to be educated in the art and science of cheese.
Cowgirl Creamery, in the business of producing artisanal cheeses, turns their collective spirit into a stunning volume of recipes: For the record, Cowgirl Creamery Cooks will have you sighing over and bookmarking the “Simple, Classic Grilled Cheese” (made of Fromage Blanc, Cheddar, and Monterey Jack), Mary Loh’s Cheese Wafers (buttery, flavorful), and “Rustic Cheese and Onion Galettes, Two Ways” (pastry cloaked in an oniony tangle of grated cheese)–as well as upping your selection of cheese at home.
The personal history of how Cowgirl Creamery came to be, discovered in “Go West, Young Cowgirls,” will, at the very least, offer insight into the depth, cooking style, and determination of the individuals. The reader/cook will be fully brought into the picture, from the relationship with the dairy farmers and “milk animals” along with a fascinating understanding about seasonal dairy flavors impacting the resulting cheeses.
At first, you might not get drawn into the story of the synergy of cheesemakers and dairy farmers, because, well, the recipes are so resplendent. Then, having devoured “Cantina Salami Sandwich with Sautéed Greens and Aged Gouda,” surely there will be time to dip into such educating text (equally rich, but in information) as “Understanding Butterfat on Labels.”