Summer bread: Quick, grainy, full of character.
For passionate cooks, the challenge in outdoor grilled, salad, and sandwich weather is baking homemade bread that’s not a many-hour labor of love. For some reason, I’m drawn to soda bread right now (and frequently) because the dough, which can sweep up a range of flours, nuts, seeds, and such, comes together quickly and finishes in the oven in under an hour. This one wraps around the idea and won’t disappoint. Before placing on the baking sheet, the round is rolled in oats, producing a rugged surface. And once the bread cools completely–try not to be tempted before!–cut into thin or thick slices, using a serrated knife.
Quick-to-mix. Quick-to-enjoy. Quick-to-leave-just-the-crumbs.
So here I am, thinking/baking like it’s November, eyeing those holiday bar cookie recipes I’m planning out. Planning? No, baking. Cutting rich, moist dates into chunks. Breaking walnuts into pieces. It may be the end of May, but I’m in a holiday-bar-cookie state-of-mind. (I just stopped short of collecting ingredients for fruitcake of all things.) I see an empty tin and, whoa!, it’s a late autumn bake-a-thon in my mixing bowls.
So be it.
Who would even try to argue with tucking a moist, blondie-like treat to the side of a cold, sweaty glass of limemade or sparkly iced tea? Not me. The bar: made from an easy-bake batter. Chewy, caramel-y, rich. Irresistible while cooling. With a pan of date and walnut bars perfected, you’ll have one new recipe on file for Santa’s arrival.
sweet and savory baking notes
delicious bites of baking information
Jun 18 -
“Classic Egg Salad” is worth re-remembering. It’s a wonderful summertime–or anytime–savory spread or filling. Here’s the recipe. My open-face sandwich=lunch, and a recipe I perfected for the FOOD pages of the Washington Post.
Jun 18 -
“Egg salad days are here” is my latest article for the FOOD section of the Washington Post and it is a delight!
Jun 18 -
ChocolateChocolate Tracker: My Coca-Cola Cake (page 285, and following page) with its Coca-Cola Frosting (page 286) is a well-baked treat from my sweet ChocolateChocolate. The cake is exceptionally moist, bakes up easily, and feeds a sweet-loving crowd.
i have a baking question
ask Lisa a baking-related question
Can you recommend a few recipes to bake from Baking Style to serve at a bridal shower? The only ingredients to be avoided (accounting for personal taste) are peanut butter and ginger. It would be preferable to be able to make the sweets in advance. Thank you!
There are many recipes in Baking Style: Art, Craft, Recipes that take well to serving in small portions. A rich bar cookie is ideal for serving at a bridal shower as a pickup-style dessert, or cake, plated in slices for offering with a dollop of mousse or scoop of ice cream. In particular, the following can be made in advance and remain fresh when assembled within frilly paper cups (if you like) on doily-lined trays: Little Almond Cakes (page 42, and following page), a gentle blueberry buckle (page 45), brown sugar-coconut cookies (page 97), banana tea loaf (page 119), exquisite cake (page 140), edge-o-darkness bars (page 176), confection brownies (page 178), chocolate chip sablés (page 249, and following page), lemon melties (page 265), and wildly lush hint-of-salt lavender shortbread, the unrestrained version (page 303, and following page).
Many readers have asked about the design details for Baking Style. This query was presented to my publisher (Natalie Chapman) and editor (Pamela Chirls) for commenting on the particulars. Please welcome both experts.
From Natalie Chapman: “Baking Style is a voluptuous book. The design is elegant, distinctive, stylish, and very pink. Curlicued rules and candy-stripes on the edges of text pages accentuate the allure of the recipes and photographs while complementing the cleanness of the design. The splendid full-page photographs show Lisa’s cookies, cakes, breads, muffins, and other baked creations aglow against a variety of pink and patterned backgrounds, and the endpapers dazzle the reader with eighty thumbnail-sized photographs of baking-related equipment and ingredients. The abundance of the interior is perfectly contained within a cover that’s at once understated and sensual. Unjacketed, printed on linen-textured material, the cover makes use of the same cursive but clean lines in the interior and adds some shimmer with silver metallic ink. The background color is, of course, a deep, almost shocking, pink. The overall effect is at once substantial and intimate, as only a printed book can be.” From Pam Chirls: “From pink to purple, a rich range of textures and tones became the showcase for Lisa Yockelson’s collection of cakes, cookies, and breads in Baking Style. Along with 80 four-color photographs of ingredients and equipment from Lisa’s pantry and cupboards printed on the book’s endpapers, the cover was designed to make a quiet statement of elegance, borrowing the fuchsia color, the graphic pattern, and the strong typography from the interior. The title is part of a creative seal, promising a personal baking journey for the reader.”
read about noteworthy cookbooks
Crackers & Dips: More than 50 Handmade Snacks by Ivy Manning (San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2013), $19.95
Summer perfect: Crackers & Dips: More than 50 Handmade Snacks by Ivy Manning is a gift to all bakers and cooks wanting (and willing) to upgrade their snack offerings. Suggesting to some cooks that they create, say, Paper-Thin Semolina Cracker Sheets (page 45, and following page) to accompany, perhaps, the Rosemary Cannellini Dip (page 114) might be a stretch but would be rewarded with two lovely, handmade somethings to serve with cocktails or simply as a savory snack.
If you think of a cracker as a cookie of sorts, then you’d likely be interested in baking a batch of flatbread, crisps, or shortbread (savory)–to name a few categories. Crackers & Dips will inspire you to do just this by looking over the chapter headings: “Light and Crunchy Classic Crackers,” “The Global Cracker: Crispy Snacks from Around the World,” “Healthful Snacks and Wheat-Free Crackers,” “Quick anmd Crunchy: Easy Crackerd to Make in Minutes,” “Sweet Treats: Dessert Crackers,” and “Dips, Spreads, and Schmears: Delicious Ways to Dress Your Crackers.” Introductory material reads upbeat and the chapter titled “Techniques for Perfect Cracker Baking” is thoughtfully put together and helpful in its content (like learning how to thin dough with a rolling pin or a pasta machine).
On baking, I found Caesar’s Sablés (page 48, and following page) to be a delight. The shortbreadlike slice-and-bake cookie dough contains olive oil as the dominant fat and is flavored with ingredients found in versions of Caesar salad–garlic, anchovies, Parmesan cheese. The dough can be made in advance and, in fact, cuts neatly if prepared at least a day ahead of baking. Other recipes worth exploring include Irish Blue Cheese and Walnut Shortbread (page 55), Brown Butter-Hazelnut Crackers (page 63, and following page), and Skinny Mint Chocolate Grahams (page 96, and following page).
The solution to boring, everyday crackers? Crackers & Dips: More than 50 Handmade Snacks.
Bakers looking for A Project should look no further than Pretzel Making at Home by Andrea Stonecker, for a good pretzel is a treat, and a homemade pretzel a rare treat. Making a batch is an exercise in patience and, ultimately, refining your culinary experience over a pot housing a simmering (alkaline) solution. That is, once you’ve put together a yeast dough and moved anyone in the vicinity of the kitchen out of the way, in order to manage the twisting, dipping, and baking–quietly and without intrusion.
Book in hand, I mentally signed up for The Experience. In the end, and hours later, I arrived at a small batch of Traditional Soft Pretzels (page 26, and following pages), having digested, several times over, the section titled “Pretzel Basics” (page 12, and following pages). The author takes you through the process which is actually a lot of fun–once a certain rhythm is developed. While I may not yet swing a rope of dough into a twist like the pros do (one early–and enthusiastic–attempt actually turned it into a hair band of sorts, and another dropped it directly into the–ahem!–scoop neck of my shirt), the dough lengths were easy to reshape once rested. (Baking note: Pin back your hair and button that shirt right up to the neck.) After dipping, topping, then baking the pretzels, The Experience ended–deliciously.
In Pretzel Making at Home, Stonecker moves the baker in all of us into the territory of Hard Pretzels, and further to integrating your precious stash into the likes of bread pudding. If I ever have three soft pretzels left, I’ll make the pudding, but odds are they’re just too good to steep in custard (even if a beloved item in my kitchen).