diary

Sep 27 2014

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 14 2014

spiced, stuffed, and baked

 

Activity, baked apple-style: There are more complex, flavor-involved ways to stuff an apple destined to be baked, but at the end of a chicken-roasting Sunday afternoon, I was sleuthing for a reasonably simple–but luscious–expression of this homestyle dessert.

So, with a few spoonfuls of goji berries and uncrystallized candied ginger lumps left in the pantry from a previous baking foray plus applejack at the ready, I was set to stuff, moisten, and bake some beautiful Empire apples.

When baked, the flesh of an apple turns yielding and rather custardy. Contrast this textural quality to the lightly sweetened, cinnamon-scented liquid which thickens nicely as the fruit bakes, turning wonderfully syrupy at the end. Tied into this balmy flavor is the dusky taste of dried fruit and spark of ginger–in all, a formula for capturing autumn in a bowl.

recipe from the baking kitchen gingery baked apples

sweet and savory baking notes

delicious bites of baking information

Sep 30 -

Baking Style Tracker: A big, enthusiastic favorite still, the Lush Whole Wheat Soda Bread from Baking Style: Art, Craft, Recipes continues to be enjoyed in its many variations (and yes, all kinds of fruit and/or nuts can be added to the dough, making it a fine bread for serving at breakfast, brunch, or with soup–hot or cold).

Sep 29 -

What to bake? Mega-fudgy deep-dish brownies or brilliantly-chocolate brownies? Or what about brownie blondies? Choices, choices, choices…

Sep 28 -

My favorite treat at the end-of-power-walking is a little dip into a bag of this fruit and nut mix-up.

i have a baking question

ask Lisa a baking-related question

Q:

Can you recommend dessert recipes from your baking books for bringing to potluck dinners? Also, what is the best way to transport them?

A:

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).

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

Tartine Book No. 3: Modern, Ancient, Classic, Whole, by Chad Robertson (San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2013), $40.00

In Tartine Book Nº3: Modern, Ancient, Classic, Whole, Chad Robertson dives deep into baking with whole grains (including ancient grains), turning the tables on classic pastries (take a good, tasty look at his Chamomile-Kamut Shortbread on page 251 and Buckwheat-Hazelnut Sables on page 261) and reinvigorating traditional breads with blended grains (a spectacular example of this is the author’s recipe for Spelt & Toasted Corn-Flour Baguettes on page 59, and following pages, and a veritable textbook on how to achieve the best “crumb” and flavor in a creation based on a multi-layered process and likely appealing to only the most passionate–and possibly advanced–of bakers). Even if you only put together Robertson’s 50/50 Sablé Cookies (page 258, and following page) and read through this work at leisure, you would come away deeply admiring the scope of the topic and love of the art Roberston conveys.
This is an exciting book. It may shake up some time-honored formulas and techniques–but only if you are not wedded to exploration.
The dynamic quality of Tartine Book Nº3 is evident throughout many distinctive chapters, like “Hearth Loaves with Sprouted Grains” or “Pastry.” Expect to add to your baking education–and the pantry–significantly by creating perfect crispbreads, scones, or tarts. And prepare to take your notion of the peanut butter cookie and have it turned completely upside-down (hint: Robertson’s take is made with oat flour and the cookies make one huge jump into confection immortality).
My suggestion: With a copy of Tartine Book Nº3 in hand, travel into this author’s mixing bowl to learn his philosophy and methods. It may take several reads to absorb the material. Even if bread is not your thing, perhaps he can lure you with Salted-Chocolate Rye Cookies (page 248, and following page). Unlike his Golden Brioche (which uses four different flours and a poolish, in addition to kefir butter), the cookie-making is a way-briefer, easier event, makes you rethink rye flour entirely, and produces swoon-worthy results.
All bakers beware. This book enchants.

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.