Summer bread: Quick, grainy, full of character.
For passionate cooks, the challenge in outdoor grilled, salad, and sandwich weather is baking homemade bread that’s not a many-hour labor of love. For some reason, I’m drawn to soda bread right now (and frequently) because the dough, which can sweep up a range of flours, nuts, seeds, and such, comes together quickly and finishes in the oven in under an hour. This one wraps around the idea and won’t disappoint. Before placing on the baking sheet, the round is rolled in oats, producing a rugged surface. And once the bread cools completely–try not to be tempted before!–cut into thin or thick slices, using a serrated knife.
Quick-to-mix. Quick-to-enjoy. Quick-to-leave-just-the-crumbs.
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.
sweet and savory baking notes
delicious bites of baking information
Aug 4 -
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.
Aug 3 -
My mega-fudgy deep-dish brownies make good use of chocolate. To say the least.
Aug 2 -
My latest DoughLove~arepas–savory fried corn cakes, enriched with two types of cheese and chopped cilantro leaves.
i have a baking question
ask Lisa a baking-related question
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?
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.
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.
read about noteworthy cookbooks
Fika: The Art of the Swedish Coffee Break, by Anna Brones and Johanna Kindvall (Berkeley: Ten Speed Press, 2015), $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.
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.”