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.
Who put the brownies in the blondies? Confession: I did. Sneaky, right?
A buttery and chewy blondie batter/dough, laden with brownie chunks, turns out the best bar cookie ever. Of course, you’ll need to have a few bars of my brilliantly-chocolate brownies or your house-favorite equivalent lounging in the freezer to begin this confection journey. The mixture is handmade–in a bowl, with a spoon or spatula.
Travel with me into The Land of the Mixed Up Blondie. You’ll be steered in the right–sweet and luscious, that is–direction.
sweet and savory baking notes
delicious bites of baking information
Jan 13 -
My recipe for Four-Chocolate Brownies appeared in the food pages of the Boston GLOBE. The brownies are deep-dishlike, radiate chocolate and, to say the least, memorable. (You can access the recipe here.)
Jan 12 -
Baking by Flavor Tracker: Still the all-time, must-bake recipe from Baking by Flavor, my Kitchen Sink Buttercrunch Bars leads the pack for chewy, caramelly, buttercrunch candy-smacked bar cookies. Oh my. The praise continues (for such an easy recipe, I admit).
Jan 11 -
My oh my. Vanilla buttermilk cake. A recipe I developed for the food pages of the Boston GLOBE is perfect for serving with a compote of fruit, with ice cream, or just a cup of tea. You can find the recipe right here. It’s a wonderful cake, to be sure.
i have a baking question
ask Lisa a baking-related question
What was the most difficult recipe to develop in Baking Style?
Every single recipe In Baking Style: Art, Craft, Recipes has a story attached, oftentimes relating to its development. Over the years, a handful of recipes challenged me and presented sticky problems to be worked through for creating a baked good that sang with flavor and charmed with texture. A yeast dough became “over-anxious” and burst through its wrappings; a drop cookie dough puddled–mercilessly–on the baking pan; a tray of scones rose beautifully then flattened mysteriously. Such is the life of a baker. The recipe that tormented me until I got it right was almond macaroons in an embrace of flavor and texture (page 254): My goal was to arrive at moist, flavorful, and plump cookies–it took some some to achieve all three charateristics in one dough.
What are your favorite cookie recipes for holiday baking from Baking Style: Art, Craft, Recipes? Also, what is your favorite holiday baking flavor?
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), and when chocolate chip cookies go butterscotch (page 475). 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. As well, vanilla, floral and demure, is a versatile component of many of my dough and batter-based recipes.
read about noteworthy cookbooks
Very Merry Cookie Party: How to Plan and Host a Christmas Cookie Exchange, by Barbara Grunes and Virginia Van Vynckt (San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2010), $19.95
The two words, “Christmas” and “cookies,” inextricably and so sweetly linked together in the month of December, mean that both occasional and I-bake-all-the-time bakers think about stockpiling the butter, flour, eggs, and assorted embellishments. Collect the cookie tins and baking sheets, rally one or many pairs of hands, let the sugar sprinkle, and turn the cookie-a-thon into a party with the help of Very Merry Cookie Party: How to Plan and Host a Christmas Cookie Exchange.
Embedded in Very Merry Cookie Party you’ll find chapters that cover “Planning and Hosting a Cookie Exchange,” “Cookies to Build a Party Around,” and “Cookies by Technique.” The ways and means of designing a collaborative cookie-sharing party involve learning and setting up your own template for organizing the event, including deciding on the type and number of cookies each participant will provide, the sharing of recipes, packaging for the cookies and, perhaps, a cookie theme. The material then offers recipes inviting all to participate in the act of making Xmas M & M’s Cookies (page 43), Old Salem Molasses Ginger Cookies (page 52), Fudgy Brownie Bites (page 71), and Sugar Pretzels (page 95). Beneath each head note, a recipe contains a “Cookie Exchange Tip“–a dollop of information offering a serving suggestion, watchpoint for success, or tidbit of decorating advice.
While your own favorite recipe–heirloom or brand-new-to-you–is the one you’re most likely to share, many ideas are available for discovery in Very Merry Cookie Party, providing the launching off point for a favorite holiday tradition.
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, occasionally 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. I believe this to be an essential element of life, especially now, in this uncertain world.
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.