diary

Dec 16 2014

buttery and gently floral

If the mixing bowl is my playground, then flours and flavorings are my toys.

A few years ago, I had a load of fun working some interesting flours and meals into a griddled batter for the FOOD section of the Washington Post (waffle-lovers, this one’s for you), and well before then began to substitute one or another flour–such as amaranth, kamut, buckwheat, spelt–for a given amount of all-purpose flour into well-loved batters and doughs. A very buttery, soft shortbread dough, developed, tweaked, and obsessed over for more than a decade (and possibly longer), turned into prime territory for incorporating another sort of flour. In the end, the dough was responsive to so many types that I’ve practically overwhelmed my baking file with a range of new recipes.

The rose shortbread that you have here, quietly enhanced with kamut flour, is a long-standing favorite of my working foray into creating specialty shortbread. Some time ago, I was the lucky recipient of a bottle of rose extract gel, brought to me from France by tea educator, Laurie Bell. I added the gel to the dough and the flavor gently blossomed,Another batch was highlighted with rose flower essence, and this is a fine substitute for the gel flavoring.

Shortbread is a passion of mine. Cookie confidential: The recipe passes along all the details for a perfect batch from me to you.

recipe from the baking kitchen rose-scented shortbread
Dec 14 2014

cookies, adored

In my cookie-baking pantheon, the distinguished chocolate chip rules supreme. Nearly any twist or turn of the recipe intrigues me–chewy, crispy, thick, thin, jumbo, regulation-size, or petite. Petite? Did I say petite? Teensy two-bite cookies may suffice for some, I guess.

Here’s the latest, a dreamy cookie with a caramelly profile, one that’s loaded with chips and a full three teaspoons of vanilla extract. The texture? Chewy, with crispy edges. The cookies are just a little thick. Using cool eggs and cool butter creates a firm dough that scoops into high mounds. On baking, the hillocks of dough slump (perfectly!) and collapse into shapely cookies with wonderfully crinkled edges: I love The Slump.

I think of these brown sugar chippers as Saturday Afternoon Cookies because baking them on a weekend afternoon has long been a household tradition–a custom worth passing along.

recipe from the baking kitchen brown sugar chippers

sweet and savory baking notes

delicious bites of baking information

Dec 22 -

My recipe for Cinnamon-Swirl Sour-Cream Coffee Cake, a baking delight if there every was one, was published in the FOOD pages of the Boston GLOBE. You can view the recipe here. What a splendid cake to have on hand to serve to a crowd at brunch. Enjoy!

Dec 21 -

Baking Style Tracker: My blondie cake appeared within Project Foodie, and it’s certainly one fun-and-easy sweet to make–part cake, part bar cookie. A whisk-in-the-bowl batter, so deliciously simple, and a favorite recipe from Baking Style: Art, Craft, Recipes.

Dec 20 -

One of my contributions to the food pages of the Boston GLOBE, a lovely Bundt cake, is a holiday must-bake. The Chocolate-chip Brown-sugar Bundt Cake is a real dream, and superb for having around on the weekend to slice-and-serve. You can access the recipe here. Enjoy!

i have a baking question

ask Lisa a baking-related question

Q:

What are your favorite cookie recipes for holiday baking from Baking Style: Art, Craft, Recipes? Also, what is your favorite holiday baking flavor?

A:

There are some wonderful cookie recipes in Baking Style: Art, Craft, Recipes so perfect for baking during the holiday season. I particularly love the molasses crinkles (page 77), roll out those cookies (page 88), confection brownies (page 178), butter and sugar cookies (page 347, and following page), when chocolate chip cookies go butterscotch (page 475), and wild ones (page 477)–among other recipes. The recipe for wild ones appears here. Actually, I have two favorite flavors which frequently find their way into my holiday baked goods: chocolate and vanilla. Having spent years and years surrounded by chocolate in all forms and intensities, I never tire of its flavor–witness my mega-book on the subject of baking with chocolate published several years ago, ChocolateChocolate. Vanilla, floral and demure, is a very versatile compoent of many of my dough and batter-based recipes.

Q:

From your books, can you offer a list of recipes for two autumn baking ingredients–apples and pumpkin?

A:

Both the windfall of cooking apples and spice-friendly pumpkin does indeed create luscious baked goods. Generally, you can look forward to moist treats, full of flavor (some subtle, others a bit bolder) and, occasionally, pleasantly spiced.

From Baking by Flavor: Caramel Upside-Down Apple Tart (page 233, and following pages), Spiced Apple Waffles (page 473), Pumpkin-Almond Keeping Cake (page 112, and following page), Pumpkin Ginger Cake (page 378, and following page), Gingery Pumpkin Muffins with Ginger-Sugar Sprinkle (page 398, and following page). From ChocolateChocolate: Chocolate-Chocolate Chip Applesauce Scones (page 257). From Baking Style: Art, Craft, Recipes: Apple Cake, Maple Butter Glaze (page 55, and following page), Pumpkin Cake, with Chips (page 360), Gingered Pumpkin Squares for the Breadbasket (page 462).

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

Eat Pretty: Nutrition for Beauty, Inside and Out, by Jolene Hart, CHC, AADP (San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2014), $16.95

In the personal lifestyle arena of material (the plethora of books, magazine articles, newspaper columns, and such) that works inwardly to arrive at outward manifestations of goodness, Eat Pretty: Nutrition for Beauty, Inside and Out is a gentle, thoughtful, and inspirational (without the lecture!) guide for ladies to retrieve their collective “glow.”
I’m in.
Eat Pretty, in three major sections and 208 tidy pages, sets out a big grocery cart of ingredients (and some recipes) that, while outfitting your refrigerator and pantry, might help to “…spark a major change in the way you look and feel.” In Part 2, “Four Seasons to Eat Pretty,” Hart reveals the (edible) elements to turn to for becoming a “beautiful eater.” Even if you pick and choose among the food suggestions, you will have successfully rethought adding (or subtracting) certain components from your meal plan. According to the author, coconut oil is a “metabolism booster,” popcorn an “antioxidant-rich snack,” arugula “a spicy sexy green,” and cherries an “inflammation defender.” In Part 3, “Beauty Beyond Your Plate,” the author explores proper digestion, the dynamics of stress, “food combining,” balance, and exercise. A list of “intentions” for each of the four seasons assists with a bits of advice which help to set goals.
The overall tone of this book is at once caring and instructional and, like all guidebooks, should be used according to one’s own well-being needs (personal health concerns should be addressed by a medical professional). A kind of beauty nutrition advice, not a dictum for a strict overall per se, is the feeling you’ll get from this volume.
Bottom line: Prepare to dine well and thrive.

Flavor Flours: A New Way to Bake with Teff, Buckwheat, Sorghum, Other Whole & Ancient Grains, Nuts & Non-Wheat Flours, by Alice Medrich with Maya Klein (New York: Artisan, 2014), $35.00

The calming, subtle-but-persuasive, and thoughtful of guidance of Alice Medrich suffuses the recipes she develops and, by extension, the follow-through contents of the baking cookbooks which embrace them.
Those who admire the creative approach that Medrich has brought to using basic baking ingredients (chocolate, especially, as the main element in previous books) will appreciate her fresh and personally comprehensive exploration of non-wheat flours in Flavor Flours: A New Way to Bake with Teff, Buckwheat, Sorghum, Other Whole & Ancient Grains, Nuts & Non-Wheat Flours. The book houses many recipes arranged by the primary component: rice flour; oat flour; corn flour and cornmeal; buckwheat flour; chestnut flour; teff flour; sorghum flour; and, lastly, nut and coconut flours. Chocolate sablés, for example, eschew cake or all-purpose flour in favor of a combination of teff and white rice flour, in addition to cocoa powder, butter, sugar, and a small amount of leavening; the presence of cream cheese, while something of a surprise in this shortbread-styled dough, purposely keeps the dough manageable while also acting as an enriching, tenderizing agent. In the recipe for oat sablés, cream cheese is repeated, but a mix of oat and white rice flour dominates, producing a slice-and-bake sweet that could possibly rival the traditional sablé made with wheat flour; simple to put together, nicely balanced flavor, lovely to eat, these cookies. Other recipes taunt you with their traditional names, only to surprise later on with unusually delightful results (I’m thinking specifically of the “New Classic Blondies,” “Chocolate Chip Cookies,” and “Chocolate Layer Cake”).
Reaching out to the new/old world of highly nuanced flours requires significant adaptation and a revised mental adjustment to taste and texture. No matter, Medrich and Klein have figured out what has surely puzzled loads of bakers aiming to reconfigure a formula to a finish of overall goodness while developing it as gluten-free: that is, recipes can derive their excellence from the properties of the flours, not by “…treating them as wheat flour substitutes” and demonstrate it all beautifully within the pages of Flavor Flours.