Sep 24 2015

loving molasses

A cake rich in molasses and a quartet of spices (ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, and cloves) is pure Autumn Baking Joy. ABJ can be found, too, in a batch of coconut clouds, grammies, loaded, sweet toffee bread, mega-fudgy deep-dish brownies, chocolate chip slabs, golden salted butter crisps, and such. Anything handmade, sweet (or savory), radiating butter, and baked-to-perfection will do, don’t you think?

The lightly wheaten batter, another one of my whisk-and-stir favorites, is tenderized with buttermilk and finished with a generous spattering of raw turbinado sugar, creating a crunchy top that contrasts kindly against the moist interior.

Serve generous triangles of this autumn lovely with fluffs of whipped cream (spice-scented, if you like), poached pear halves, a compote of dried fruit, or tiny date-stuffed baked apples.  As the cake bakes, the irresistible aroma makes cooling and unmolding seem a terribly long, yet worthwhile, wait.

recipe from the baking kitchen molasses cake
Sep 15 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

sweet and savory baking notes

delicious bites of baking information

Oct 4 -

Brownies never go out of style.

Oct 3 -

A purchase that enhances my collection of cast iron for cooking and baking is–adorably!–a 6 1/2-inch Lodge cast iron skillet. In it, I’ve already baked a tender corn meal-based quick bread. So, so good.

Oct 2 -

My recipe for almond-butter cake appeared in the food pages of the Boston GLOBE, and it is a delight. You can access the recipe here. Do serve it with sliced stone fruit or a compote of fresh berries, or simply plain with icy tumblers of tea or coffee.

i have a baking question

ask Lisa a baking-related question


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).


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.

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, 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.

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.”