Author Archives: lisa

gingerbread gone pumpkin

Mellow, with just the right level of spice. Pumpkin puree-shaded. Moist and nicely close-textured. Dappled with a mosaic of candied ginger.

I’ll take gingerbread this way at any time, may I say. My (newest) favorite earthy-cake glows in the fall kitchen, and likely I’ll be baking this one throughout winter as well. It’s that good.

Superb served just as is (with a cup of tea) or dressed up with poufs of whipped cream streaked with a ribbon of molasses (as a plated dessert), this cake charms–every which way.

continue reading

Comments Off

a pumpkin morning

A pumpkin morning centers around something fresh and warm from the griddle–a cakelike, spice-scented waffle, that is.

A soft, thick batter, pressed between the grids of an iron emerges tender and fragrant with the flavors of autumn.

Have the waffle with, perhaps, a pour of warm maple syrup or swipe of honey-butter. Or a compote of gently baked pear or apple slices. But I’m content to have mine with a dusting of cinnamon-confectioners’ sugar as fast as I can get it from iron to plate.

continue reading

Posted in diary entries | Comments Off

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.

continue reading

Posted in baking questions and answers | Comments Off

Cinnamon toast. I love it more than ever. Simple, aromatic, crunchy, and buttery–all wrapped up in one crispy package.

continue reading

Posted in baking notes | Comments Off

I have made your “forever brownies” many times from Baking Style. If I wanted to make this recipe as a “party cake” how could this be done?

The recipe for forever brownies (page 37) in Baking Style, Art, Craft, Recipes, is not only one of my favorite recipes, it’s a recipe that seems to have captivated both avocational and professional bakers alike. The brownie batter can be customized to include a stir-in of chopped nuts, flaked coconut, chunks of candy, or semisweet/bittersweet chocolate chips. If what you mean by “fancy up” the recipe is to offer the confection in an alternate shape other than a bar cookie, film a 9 to 10-inch round layer cake pan (2 inces deep) with nonstick oil spray, then spoon and scrape the batter into the prepared pan. (Any other single-layer ovenproof cake pan can be used, but be sure to choose one without too much detail otherwise the cake will be challenging to unmold.) Bake the sweet for 30 to 33 minutes, or until just set, and cool according to the procedure described in the recipe. For serving, cut the dessert into pretty pie-shaped wedges.

continue reading

Posted in baking questions and answers | Comments Off

My recipe for Cinnamon-Swirl Sour-Cream Coffee Cake, a baking delight if there every was one, was published in the FOOD pages of the Boston GLOBE. You can view the recipe here. What a splendid cake to have on hand to serve to a crowd at brunch. Enjoy!

continue reading

Posted in baking notes | Comments Off

dark, intense, and dreamy

Fudgy brownies do not skimp on the butter or chocolate.

A cocoa-intense batter, bolstered by a set of dry ingredients, drenched in butter and two intensities of melted chocolate (plus a basketful of whole eggs), develop the dreamiest batch of bar cookies ever. Or at least to date.

This is a seriously deep-dish, pure chocolate adventure. Though the flavor of chocolate dominates through-and-through, the taste is multi-dimensional and the texture is uninterrupted by nuts or chips.

Dive in.

continue reading

Posted in diary entries | Comments Off

Baking by Flavor Tracker: The well-loved and repeatedly-baked kitchen sink buttercrunch bars (page 209) from Baking by Flavor have filled cookie tins far and wide–year in, year out. Easy. Rich and chewy. A raging favorite.

continue reading

Posted in baking notes | Comments Off

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.

continue reading

Posted in book reports | Comments Off

Sweet Maria’s Italian Cookie Tray, by Maria Bruscino Sanchez (New York: St. Martin’s Griffin, 1997), $13.95

Oftentimes, a cookie-baking collection becomes a historical bookmark on a certain trend–hopefully, in a positive way. Moving well beyond the beloved brownie and chocolate chip cookie, cooks love to explore the sweet interpretations of various cultures.

Biscotti notwithstanding, bakers in this country are fond of embracing cookies of all forms and flavors. I am so one of them. The tradition of creating a cookie tray, a layered edifice of multiple varieties, continued to be a tradition for Ms. Sanchez and she has devoted a slim–but festive–volume to offering recipes for constructing one. She even describes the concept of “traying” a mound of cookies–what fun! But back to the kitchen, where you can take the author’s lead and bake all kinds of cookies to architecturally assemble on that big doily-lined platter or plate you’ll need to have on hand: molded, drop, rolled and filled–all of these are enthusiastically offered in Sweet Maria’s Italian Cookie Tray.

Multi-layered cookies (and yes, there is an art to composing and positioning them–hint: shape, structure, and color all go into the building equation) look so appealing and, perhaps best of all, become their own edible art form.

continue reading

Posted in book reports | Comments Off