diary

Jul 14 2014

crunch, crunch, crunch

Do you delight in The Crunch? What about The Crispy? Or The Oaty?

Right now, baking-wise, I’m a very oaty, nutty, seedy, and crunchy person. And, as usual, itching for coconut. So, the decision was made to join it all in caramelly clusters, with one self-imposed critical requirement–that the treat be batter-free, just a happy conspiracy of ingredients stuck together in a vanilla-seasoned mixture.

Inspired by trail mix, the clusters have been on my planning board for longer than a year. Over the last several months, I’ve made many, many types. As I chased my idea of a wonderfully crispy confection housing all kinds of things, a potpourri of results ensued–messy, crumbly lumps; too-sweet or too-bland nuggets; overly sticky clumps; impossible-to-bake-evenly mixtures (don’t ask). Finally, on the edge of the proverbial baking cliff, a midnight kitchen romp rewarded me with a recipe I’ll be making in many more years to come: a beautifully and deeply golden block of stuck-together components, ready to break up into small and rugged pieces. On February 27th, crunch rules. Politely, of course. (Or, maybe, not quite politely because it’s my day–live with it, people.)

recipe from the baking kitchen oat clusters
Jun 15 2014

when blueberries meet corn meal

Corn meal plus blueberries equals summertime baking.

It had to come to this, stirring blueberries into a corn meal-enriched quick bread batter–the two ingredients that frequently win over in my mixing bowl. When a corn muffin is not enough and a square of blueberry cake is, somehow, too dessert-y, then you need this recipe. Once baked and sliced, I think you’ll agree: Here’s a spunky bread, gritty enough to please, with berries locked into the “crumb.” It’s a whisk-and-stir batter, easily and nimbly handmade. Need I say any more?

recipe from the baking kitchen favorite blueberry cornbread

sweet and savory baking notes

delicious bites of baking information

Jul 28 -

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.

Jul 27 -

With the launch of my new baking series for the FOOD section of the Washington POST, called TREATS, I will be participating in the POST chat, Free Range on Food, on Wednesday, July 30th at 12:00 noon EST. The chat lasts for one hour and is an opportunity for all cooks to ask me baking questions in real time. TREATS, launched with my recipe for Blueberry Cake Squares, already has its baking fans. You can access the recipe here. As usual, do touch base with me on Twitter @sweetpinkbaker to follow my baking adventures and the occasional misadventure.

Jul 26 -

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 and  tossed over roasted fruit, baked, and dried fruit compotes. Packaged prettily, the granola makes a lovely handmade gift.

i have a baking question

ask Lisa a baking-related question

Q:

In your latest cookbook, Baking Style, how did you style the baked goods to appear so natural and appealing, yet so “perfect” looking?

A:

While developing the look of the images (in addition to the selection of background materials and the massive amount of tableware–all from my own collection), it was important to me, as both author and baker/stylist of Baking Style: Art, Craft, Recipes, to reveal the core expression of my baking in a visual way. It was my great fortune to have a marvelously sensitive photographer, Ben Fink, chosen for this project–his camera lens acted as an extension of his art, and a very supportive editor (Pamela Chirls) and publisher (Natalie Chapman) at John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Hand-in-hand with Ben’s ability to somehow capture the essence of my work in baking, I developed a way to arrange and present the variety of sweets and savories to show off their natural goodness. Jagged edges, crumbs, and broken pieces appear visually against architecturally-correct borders, perfect scalloped exteriors and lacy edges, and very clean cuts. Most times, I simply let the baked good “control” the way it needed to be placed and, occasionally, a wayward bit of something let loose and I just let it be.

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

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.

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.