I have two good things to share today. One is a raspberry white-chocolate bread pudding, and the second is a very special giveaway. Imagine my delighted surprise last week when I opened an email from Blog-2-Print, inquiring if I'd have any interest in sponsoring the giveaway of a $35 gift certificate! It will come as no surprise to you that I responded in the affirmative. Yes! Yes!
Are you familiar with Blog-2-Print? If you have a blog yourself (or perhaps you have a friend who does?), you owe it to yourself to getfamiliar. Blog-2-Print is a service that allows you to make a bound book from a range of your blog's posts, in paperback or hardcover, via their incredibly easy-to-use website. The entire assembly process, from the blogger's standpoint, takes just a few minutes and it literally could not be more user-friendly. Anyone can give the blog-to-book assembly process a free trial run by visiting B2P's website. It's extremely fun to see what your blog would look like as a book, and to flip through it virtually, page by page, with no commitment at all.
Okay, so let's say you decide to actually make a book and place your order. Then what? Well, before you know it your shiny new volume is delivered to you, safe and sound. Expect your heart to skip a beat as you slide it out of the package, inhale that classic new-book aroma, and reverently page through your very own creation. I can tell you this with first-hand certainty because a couple of years ago I gave Blog2Print a whirl myself, using their service to compile a sleek volume covering three months' worth of my own blog's entries. I was especially pleased with the bright color and clarity of the photos, the quality of the paper, and the strong, tight binding. According to Julie, my friendly contact person at Blog2Print, a $35 gift certificate will allow for the production of a paperback book of about 77 pages or a 48 page hardcover. (I'm looking forward to making a new book, too, since Blog2Print generously offered to provide me, as well as our winner, with a $35 gift certificate--woo hoo! Thank you so very much, B2P!)
To enter this giveaway . . .
All you have to do to enter this giveaway is leave a comment on this post telling me why you'd like to make your blog into an actual book. And, please leave a name of some sort in your comment, okay? (Don't just call yourself "anonymous," because I know you're not really anonymous anyway--you're most definitely someone worth knowing.) Entrants can be from any country--there are no geographic restrictions, so I've been told by Blog2Print. I will announce the winner on Friday, May 4th, and ask that person to contact me via email. I will then provide that lucky individual with instructions so they can retrieve their $35 gift certificate from B2P. So simple . . . yes? Okay, then, we're good to go.
About this recipe . . .
This is an original, non-adapted recipe. I made it using day old Italian bread from a little local bakery, but if you prefer to use a homemade loaf, here's the link to my own favorite Italian bread recipe from a past post; if you use it to make your own bread for the bread pudding, just be sure to leave out the herbs and garlic, and consider substituting melted butter for the olive oil.
I suggest you indulge in a warm serving of this bread pudding topped with a soft dollop of whipped cream. As my dad always used to say, after eating something especially satisfying that my mom had served him, this humble dessert "really hits the spot."
Preheat oven to 350, and generously butter a small casserole dish (mine was about 9" x 9" and 2" deep; I recommend using a clear glass dish so you can easily tell if the bottom of the pudding is fully baked before removing it from the oven).
12 oz. frozen raspberries, or about two cups fresh
1/2 cup granulated sugar
In a sauce pan, stir together the raspberries, sugar, and water. Cook over a medium flame until the mixture just comes to a gentle boil; lower the heat, stirring periodically, and let it simmer until it thickens and has reduced by about one third. It should look like raspberry jam that's not terribly thick when it's ready. Remove the pan from the heat and set it aside while you prepare the other ingredients.
6 to 7 large slices of day-old Italian bread, cut into large bite-size chunks (I left the crust on. If you prefer not to use the crust, you'll need a couple of more slices and you may want to consider reducing the amount of milk in the recipe a bit.)
1 cup half & half
2/3 cup milk
3 large eggs
1 and 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 pinch kosher salt
3/4 of grated/shredded white chocolate, or 1/2 cup of mini-white chocolate chips
In a large bowl, whisk together the half & half, milk, vanilla, eggs, sugar, and salt.
Spread half of the bread chunks in your buttered dish. Drizzle half of the milk mixture evenly over the bread, and then pour half of the raspberry sauce evenly over that. Sprinkle with half of the shredded white chocolate. Using the rest of the bread chunks, spread another layer on top. Drizzle with the remaining liquid, and pour the rest of the raspberry sauce over that. Sprinkle with the rest of the shredded white chocolate.
Cover the dish with plastic wrap and let it sit for about twenty minutes before baking; this will allow the bread to absorb some of the liquid. (If you want to delay baking your pudding, you can refrigerate it at this point and bake it within a few hours.)
Bake on the middle rack of your oven for about 35 to 40 minutes, until the top and bottom look lightly golden and no longer obviously wet. Check it at about 25 minutes; if the pudding seems to be browning on the top too quickly, cover it loosely with foil.
While the baked pudding is cooling on a rack, whip some cream to serve along with it. The pudding is best served warm, not steaming hot. Be sure to refrigerate any leftovers.
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My son Nathan has a pal named Gabe, who was at our house one afternoon this week after school. The two of them were in the kitchen foraging for snacks when Gabe spotted a small container of what looked to be Barbie-doll sized oranges on the kitchen counter. According to Nathan, who was the only witness to his comment, Gabe said in mock amazement, "No. Nooo. You mean kumquats really exist??"
Yes, Gabe, they really do. And though you might not want to just pop one in your mouth and chomp down on it unless you're seriously into puckering, they are awfully good after being sliced, seeded, and undergoing a leisurely simmer in sugar water. Plus, they're so darn cute. A petite box of kumquats is about as appealing as a basket of warm kittens. You just can't resist picking one up and gently examining it. You won't want to put it down, and you'll definitely feel compelled to show it to someone else. Yes, a kumquat is its own little conversation piece.
A relatively scarce fruit around here, as far as common usage goes, I have to admit I've never before used a recipe that featured them, and never even particularly bothered to find out what the heck to do with them until now. But, I think it's safe to say I'm a newly minted member of the tiny fruit's fan club.
About this recipe . . .
Adapted from a gluten-free formula found on Tartelette--without question one of the loveliest food blogs around--I made a few minor changes. Note, though, that my version is not gluten-free. (As my favorite cake-decorating teacher, Chef Lois, recently remarked, "I'm all about gluten." Quite obviously, I share that sentiment.)
Tartelette's recipe called for millet flour and almond flour. Mine, instead, uses a combo of all-purpose flour, a bit of spelt flour, and almond flour. Tartelette baked her cakes in financier pans, a muffin-type pan with rectangular cavities shaped like gold ingots (thus the moneyed name). I have no financier pans, so I baked mine in twelve small brioche tins.
These little cakes are moist, just sweet enough, and the flavor of the kumquats is definitely present without being overwhelming. My husband, who I thought might show lukewarm interest, gave these two enthusiastic thumbs up.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and lightly flour (or use baking spray on) twelve small brioche, financier, or muffin tins.
Ingredients for batter:
1/4 cup all-purpose flour, unbleached
1/4 cup spelt flour (if you don't have spelt, just use all-purpose)
1 cup almond flour (aka almond meal/finely ground blanched almonds)
1 pinch of kosher salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 and 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar (not necessary to sift, but I'd whisk/pinch out any big lumps)
4 large eggs
1/3 to 1/2 cup kumquat compote (recipe below)
About 2 Tbsp. sanding sugar or granulated sugar, if you prefer, to sprinkle atop the unbaked cakes
Ingredients for kumquat compote:
1 cup of clean, ripe kumquats, seeded and sliced
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup water
To make the compote:
Heat the sliced, seeded kumquats slowly in a medium sauce-pan with the sugar and water over medium heat, stirring periodically, until the mixture just comes to a boil and the sugar is dissolved. Lower the heat and simmer until the kumquats appear translucent (you'll know it when you see it); this might take 15 minutes or so.
Put all of the kumquats into a small bowl with only about 1/4 cup of the sugar syrup (the rest of the syrup can be discarded or saved in the fridge to use for another project). Refrigerate until cool, then puree by pulsing in the small bowl of your food processor. The puree will still contain visible pieces of peel and that's what you want, sort of like marmalade. Set this aside as you begin to prepare the batter.
To make the batter:
In a medium bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour, spelt flour, almond flour, salt, and baking powder. Set aside.
In the large bowl of your mixer, using the paddle attachment, beat the butter and confectioners' sugar on medium speed for a few minutes (start on low for several seconds so the sugar doesn't fly all over), until just fluffy. Pour the eggs in one at a time, mixing thoroughly for a minute or so after each addition and stopping to scrape as needed.
On low speed, add in the flours and mix only until combined--about 30 seconds or so.
Take the bowl off the mixer and use a spatula to fold in three quarters of the kumquat compote; reserve one quarter of the compote.
Portion the batter evenly into your prepared tins and dab a bit of the reserved compote on top of each one. If you like, sprinkle a generous pinch of sanding sugar or granulated sugar over that.
Bake the cakes for about 15 minutes, or until they're lightly golden and the sides have begun to pull away from the tins. Let them cool a few minutes in their tins before removing them from the pans to a cooling rack.
Sprinkle the cakes lightly with confectioners' sugar when cool. Best if eaten the first two days.
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My bakery merchandising class, which just ended last week, was interesting, fun, and a lot of work. One of my final projects involved baking, packaging, displaying, and promoting a selection of madeleines to be sold in the culinary school's retail bakery. We were allowed to make just about anything we wanted to, with our teacher's approval, and most of the items we created sold really well. There were neopolitan marshmallows, chocolate dipped meringue cookies, coconut macaroons, small decorated layer cakes, three-dimensional cookies that looked like the Eiffel tower, mocha brownie whoopie pies, petit fours, and mini-tarts. Along with all of that was the usual bakery fare--breads, pies, pastries, cookie bars, you name it. In light of all that was offered, I was astonished that the madeleines, which were packed in small boxes of six, sold out in a couple of hours. Because of their out of the ordinary flavor profiles I expected they might not fly off the shelf, but luckily that wasn't the case.
I made three varieties--honey and lavender (made with dried culinary lavender and mild clover honey), orange blossom (made with orange blossom honey, orange flower water, and orange zest), and vanilla rose petal. After baking about 150 of the petite and tender cakes, I lightly glazed them and, once dry, carefully tucked them into boxes atop a frilly paper doily. The boxes were tied with narrow organdy ribbon (lavender, pale orange, or pink, depending on the flavor) and each was given a pretty label. They were on sale in conjunction with a festive Paris-themed dinner that was open to the public.
Have you ever made madeleines? They're simple to prepare but have their own idiosyncrasies and, contrary to what one might think, the assortment of recipes available to make them is pretty diverse. Some formulas make a big point of requiring that you chill the batter for hours, while others don't bother with this step at all. Some emphasize egg yolks, while others may require beaten egg whites. Some say that almond flour is de rigeur, others don't even bring the topic up.
And then there's the controversial hump on the back of the madeleine: does its presence signal a better madeleine, or is the debate just a tempest in a teapot? I guess it's cute . . . as bumps, humps, and lumps on cakes or cookies go . . . but why all the hoopla? I cranked out many experimental batches of madeleines over the last several weeks and, as far as I can tell, that little hump--present or not--doesn't impact taste or texture one iota. In my humble opinion, you haven't failed if your madeleines don't emerge looking pregnant on one side, so don't worry. (Today's recipe is non-hump, just fyi.)
About this recipe . . .
Adapted from a plain madeleine recipe found in the Cook's Illustrated website, this gives you a soft little cake. The use of dried rose petals, along with rose water, was my idea; I am crazy about them. They both smell so beautiful. I ordered these dried culinary roses from an organic farm in Ohio, and they were remarkably inexpensive. To grind them finely, I pulsed them in a clean, small, coffee grinder that I often use as a spice grinder.
Have you ever baked with roses or rose water? No doubt about it, they don't show up in typical American baking very often, but they're absolutely worth a try. To the uninitiated, their perfume may seem startling. And it feels strange, at first, to put something that smells so floral into food (also true for orange flower water, or lavender), but it's the purity of the scent that wins you over. They smell like the genuine essence of the flower itself, not soapy or synthetic. Use each sparingly, as a little of either ingredient goes an extremely long way.
Carefully butter and flour a 12-cavity madeleine pan. (I use inexpensive pans from a company called Fox Run; they work just fine. I butter and flour more than just the cavities. To be entirely on the safe side I prep the entire top of the pan. Biggest potential problem with madeleines is getting them out of the pan. Take no chances!)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Ingredients for batter:
2 large egg yolks, not cold
1 large whole egg, not cold
1/4 granulated sugar
3/4 tsp. rose water
3/4 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cake flour
1 pinch kosher salt
3/4 tsp. crushed or ground culinary rose petals (dried)
1/4 cup melted butter, not hot
Ingredients for glaze:
Approximately 1 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted
1 to 2 tsp. crushed rose petals
1 tsp. rose water, or adjust amount to taste
About 2 Tbsp. plain water (more or less depending on how thick you want your glaze)
To make the batter:
In a medium bowl, sift together the flours, salt, and ground rose petals. Set aside.
Using the whip attachment on your mixer, beat the egg yolks, whole egg, vanilla, and rose water on medium-high speed until frothy and fluffy, about three minutes. Slowly pour in the sugar, beating on medium-high speed for about five minutes or more, until you can see a ribbon of batter in the bowl when you stop the mixer and and lift the whip attachment. The batter should be very light and fluffy.
Take the bowl off the mixer. Gradually fold in the dry ingredients using a spatula. Fold very gently and carefully.
Then do the same with the melted butter.
Spoon the batter evenly into the madeleine pan, filling the cavities all the way. It's okay if the batter mounds over the top a bit. Don't bother smoothing the batter; you don't want to deflate it, and it will smooth out on its own in the oven.
Place the pan on the middle rack and bake for about 10 minutes, or until golden and the madeleines spring back when lightly pressed.
Spread out a clean dishcloth on your work surface. When the madeleines come out of the oven, turn them out right onto the dishcloth. You need to get them out of the pans while they're still very hot. Do not let them cool in the pans.
While they're still warm, glaze them. Make the glaze by whisking the sifted confectioners' sugar with the crushed rose petals. Stir in rose water and plain water and keep stirring until the glaze is lump free. I think it's best to make the glaze pretty thin. The madeleines are delicate when warm, so they're easily broken. The heavier the glaze, the more likely they'll be damaged. I glaze mine by holding some glaze in a large spoon over a small bowl of glaze, and I dip just the shell-shaped top in the glaze.
Let the glazed madeleines dry on the dishcloth. Store them tightly covered after they're dry and fully cooled. They're best when very fresh, but are pretty good for about the first two days.
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Yesterday morning I opened the fridge and found myself face to face with a hefty container of homemade oatmeal raisin cookie dough, pretty much thawed. I'd mixed the dough about a month ago, frozen it the same day, and had taken it out of the freezer a few days ago. I removed the lid and looked at the dough with limited enthusiasm. It peered back at me blankly, as if to say, "Well? You're the one who took us out of the freezer. Now you have to bake us. Honey, we're defrosted, so get moving." Okay, I thought, point taken.
But, you know how some days the very notion of scooping a zillion individual cookies just seems like too much effort, even if your dough is all ready and rarin' to go? That was my mood. You really have to be in the right frame of mind for mass cookie production to be joyful, and I guess I just wasn't feelin' it. So I began browsing the cupboards, wondering how I could transform this dough into something that would only require about 15 minutes of my time start-to-finish. Nothing fancy or exotic. I just needed to get the job done in a tasty way. Prowling around, I pulled out a quarter-sheet pan, lined it with parchment, and set the oven to 350. Then I grabbed a dinner fork and started breaking off rough chunks of the frigid dough, scattering them over the parchment.
Still not knowing exactly what would evolve, I discovered a little bag of sweetened coconut, about 3/4 of a cup of the stuff leftover from who-knows-what Christmas cookie project, and sprinkled that over the top of the dough. Same thing with a small pouch of leftover chopped pecans, maybe 1/3 of a cup, max. Then, behind a box of baking soda, I found a sandwich bag holding a random mixture of dark- and semisweet chocolate chips, and sprinkled that--perhaps 1/2 a cup of chips or less--over it all.
And finally, I grabbed a cellophane wrapper filled with several remarkably soft and completely adorable homemade marshmallows, prepared by one of my fellow culinary-students from my bakery merchandising class this spring (they're her specialty, and boy are they divine; she makes them in strawberry and chocolate too!). I cut several of the marshmallows into small chunks with kitchen scissors and scattered them over everything else. They sealed the deal. Problem solved. Anything else thrown on there would have been overkill.
Into the oven the whole thing went. I baked it until the dough layer seemed kind of firm in the middle, and the top was golden all over. I used up all those little bags of leftover stuff, did it super fast, and ended up with really good cookie bars. Can't ask for more than that!
Preheat oven to 350. Line bottom and sides of a 9" x 12" x 1" (that's a quarter sheet pan) pan with parchment paper.
1 and 1/2 sticks of unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
1 Tbsp. milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/8 tsp. almond extract
1 and 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, unbleached
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 pinch ground nutmeg (optional)
3 cups uncooked oats (old fashioned or quick)
3/4 cup raisins
About 3/4 cup sweetened flaked coconut, loosely packed
About 1/3 cup pecans, chopped small
About 1/2 cup mixed chocolate chips (mine were dark and semisweet)
About 1/2 cup chopped marshmallows (If you want to use homemade marshmallows, go for it; try this reliable recipe!)
Combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg (if using) in a medium bowl with a whisk. Set aside.
In the large bowl of your mixer, cream together the butter, shortening, and the two sugars on medium speed. Add in the eggs, milk, and the two extracts; beat on medium speed until very well combined.
On the lowest speed, add in the flour mixture. Beat just until combined. Add in the oats and the raisins, again beating only until combined.
Roughly plop chunks of the dough more or less evenly atop your parchment lined baking pan. Sprinkle atop the dough first the coconut, then the pecans, then the chocolate chips, and then the marshmallows.
Bake for at least 25 minutes, until golden all over and no longer jiggly in the middle. Let the bars cool on a rack before cutting them with a sharp knife.
Just click on that slice of brie cheesecake with strawberries, above, to get to the Recipe Index!
Jane's Sweets & Baking Journalwas born of my ever increasing desire to learn more about the baking and pastry arts, and of my love for anything and everything related to baking. Just as food is meant to be shared, so is knowledge among bakers and among those who enjoy delicious foods prepared from scratch. So, please partake, and feel free to share your thoughts and comments. I'd love to hear from you.
If you'd like to know a bit about me please click here, or look for the tiny photo of a pink cupcake topped by a strawberry, further down, in the "About me"section. You can also reach me by email at email@example.com . . .
. . . Michigan style, with Montmorency cherries. (Yeah, we know pie.)
Learn How to Make Whimsical Tuile Cookies . . .
. . . using your own handmade stencils in any shapes you like! A photo tutorial.
Chocolate Mousse Dream Cake
. . . you won't want to awaken from this dream!
Glazed Black Cocoa Brownies
. . . made with a bit of coconut and a splash of rum!
Fluffy pumpkin muffins . . .
. . . made with coconut and pecans. A wintery treat!
Cream Cheese Blondies with Milk- and Dark-Chocolate Chips, and Honey Roasted Almonds . . .
. . . . they're so lovable.
Need a great Italian bread recipe?
This one has a crust that's fragrant with herbs and garlic . . . it's easy, reliable, and really tasty.
Leave the bagel . . .
. . . take the bialy!
Marble Mint Milano Cake
. . . made with those famous, fabulous cookies! (You know the ones.)
All year long, lazy mornings require . . .
. . . big, warm, blueberry muffins.
Espresso Chocolate Chip Pound Cake . . .
. . . is always in style.
An interesting variation on cherries jubilee . . .
. . . made with Grand Marnier, sweet black cherries, pomegranate juice, and homemade vanilla ice cream.
Dutch apple cake . . .
. . . it's divine!
What We Talk About . . .
. . . When We Talk About Banana Cake!
JANE'S FAVORITE BAKING BOOKS
About Professional Baking: The Essentials, by Gail Sokol. This is a textbook, but not one that's intimidating. It contains lots of useful info, including interesting personal profiles of professional chefs.
All-American Cookie Book, by Nancy Baggett. Another winner of the IACP award. Loads of good looking cookie recipes with lots of very appetizing photos. (Don't you love cookbooks with tons of pictures? I do.)
All-American Dessert Book, by Nancy Baggett. Wonderfully detailed, with very reliable recipes, Baggett does it again in this valuable cookbook. Definitely worth your time!
Art & Soul of Baking, by Cindy Mushet. This large Gourmet Cook Book Club Selection is a feast for the eyes. I love the page layout, the photos, and the author's reassuring tone. Recipes range from the quotidian ("classic sugar cookies") to the ridiculous ("Moroccan-spiced sweet-potato tiropetes") to the absolute sublime ("duo-tone chocolate pots de creme"). Worth acquiring.
Baking and Pastry: Mastering the Art and Craft, by the Culinary Institute of America. This is a heavy duty textbook, not for the faint of heart. Intimidating, sure, but also kind of fascinating if you're an obsessive bake-a-holic like me.
Baking with Julia, written by Dorie Greenspan and based on the PBS series hosted by Julia Child. Yet another hefty and dazzling coffee-table-worthy cookbook. Wonderful to have around. (My copy was autographed by Julia herself!)
Betty Crocker's Picture Cookbook, published in 1950 and available in a facsimile edition, holds a special place in my heart. This is the book my mom primarily used, or so it seemed, when I was a kid. The photos are such period pieces, and the little notations that accompany recipes are pricelessly cute and corny. I have an ancient copy that I still use. Every girl needs a copy of this in her house, for good karma if nothing else.
Bitter Sweet -- Recipes and Tales From a Life in Chocolate, by Alice Medrich. Much more than just a cookbook with a focus on fine dark chocolate, this is also a memoir of sorts from a legendary chocolate-dessert creator. Medrich is often credited with awakening American tastes to the finest aspects of superior chocolate. Very interesting read!
Bread: A Baker's Book of Techniques and Recipes,by Jeffrey Hamelman. An indispensable book for anyone who is seriously interested in learning to make fine yeast breads, Hamelman shares far more than just technical knowledge. Like fellow bread guru Peter Reinhart, his warmth of spirit and deep love for the tradition of bread baking shines through on every page.
Breakfast Book, by Marion Cunningham. Not to be confused with the character of the mom on Happy Days, the real Marion Cunningham has a long list of writing accomplishments, the most well known being that she completely revised The Fannie Farmer Cookbook. A contemporary of the late James Beard's, she is still held in high esteem.
Cake Bible, by Rose Levy Beranbaum. Rose is really into the science of baking, which can be helpful in some respects and off-putting in others. Like gardeners who talk mostly about soil components without conveying their joy in the plants themselves. Maybe I'm too sensitive? Probably so, as many consider this to be an invaluable classic. Despite my reservations, I wouldn't part with my copy. One of several highly detailed books by Rose. Her latest book, Heavenly Cakes, is much more down to earth, loaded with photos, and truly beautiful.
Cake Book, by Tish Boyle. I've called it a treasure trove before and please allow me to say it again here. This book is jam packed with wonderful stuff that's well explained. I used the Sacher-torte recipe in the fall of '09 for a culinary school project and it didn't let me down. I can endorse this book without reservation. I love it.
Complete Book of Pastry Sweet & Savory, by Bernard Clayton, Jr. When this book appeared in 1981, famed food editor Craig Claiborne praised it in the NYT as "one of the most important cookbooks of this year, if not of this decade." No photos, but don't let that dissuade you.
Craft of Baking, by Karen DeMasco & Mindy Fox. In 2009, some great new cookbooks were published and this was one of them. Down to earth, straightforward without being condescending, this smart guide offers creative and simple twists on dozens of diverse and well-proven "cakes, cookies, and other sweets."
Dessert University, by Roland Mesnier. As the White House executive pastry chef for over two decades, Mesnier has a lot of wisdom to impart. He does so well in this book, which is designed specifically for home bakers. A good book!
Grand Central Baking Book, by Piper Davis and Ellen Jackson. Readers are welcomed into these pages with a tone of warmth and familiarity. The photos alone will have you scribbling a grocery list. Try the berry kuchen recipe--simple and scrumptious.
Hershey's Chocolate Treasury, published in 1984 by Hershey Foods and chock full of old reliables. The recipe for Black Magic cake is one I've used again and again--invaluable!
How to Bake, by Nick Malgieri. The writing style is matter of fact and fairly informal. That's one of my favorite things about Malgieri's books.
Magical Art of Cake Decorating, by Carole Collier. Sometimes at a used book sale you find an old gem like this. Published in '84, I found it very encouraging when I first began decorating cakes. The recipes are rock solid reliable.
Maida Heatter's Book of Great Chocolate Desserts, by Maida Heatter. Famed baker (apparently her "Palm Beach Brownies" are known far and wide), whose work has centered on wondrous chocolate desserts, Heatter received a James Beard award for this book, one of many she's published over several active decades.
Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook, by Martha Stewart. Beautiful photos, but I must admit I've come to have reservations about the reliability of some of the recipes. Is it just me? Though I love flipping through the book for ideas, I'm a bit on the fence with this one when it comes to actual usage.
Martha Stewart's Wedding Cakes by Martha Stewart. Talk about a stunning and inspiring book! Chances are you may never decide to actually make one of the cakes from this glorious volume, but it's enough just to page through the gorgeous pictures and interesting recipes. Expensive? For sure, but worth it.
Passion for Baking, A by Marcy Goldman. If you're curious about how professional bakers manage to make things come out nicely every time, you'll appreciate this book. Goldman, in her highly approachable style, divulges many of their simple--but enormously helpful--tricks and techniques, and shows readers how to implement them throughout the wondrous array of down-to-earth recipes that pack this great book. Loads of enticing photos, too! I love this book!
Perfect Cakes, by Nick Malgieri. Can't say enough about Malgieri's books. Absolutely worth using, versus just reading! The white and dark chocolate cheesecake is to die for; I've made it a few times, along with many other recipes from this book, and it is superb.
Peter Reinhart's Artisan Breads Everyday, by Peter Reinhart. This book is a revelation for anyone who approaches yeast recipes like a vampire approaches the dawn. Talk about down to earth, encouraging, and flexible! This guy knows how to talk to rookie breadmakers. Well worth reading, and using, this volume will find a comfy place in your cookbook collection--a worthwhile purchase, undoubtedly!
Professional Cake Decorating, by Toba Garrett. I get the impression that this book is perceived as the most thorough and comprehensive text available for serious students of cake decorating. This is the text that we used for my culinary school Beginning Cake Decorarting class (which means I finally own my own copy!).
Sarabeth's Bakery: From My Hands to Yours, by Sarabeth Levine. Almost too pretty to use, but use it anyway! This big book is so appealing, and the photos so remarkably enticing, you'll want to pick it up like a sandwich and bite right into it. Fine recipes for updated classics, well explained, from the famous Manhattan bakery. Worth buying. (You'll love it!)
Secrets of Baking, by Sherry Yard. A must have, bakers! This cookbook's forte is the way it's organized; master recipes are presented with full explanations of how they can be used, and related recipes follow, section by section. An exceptional manual to refer to. Get your own copy!
Sky High: Irresistible Triple-Layer Cakes, by Alisa Huntsman and Peter Wynne. Huntsman is the professional pastry chef behind this beautiful book, filled with many tempting recipes, all designed specifically and scaled perfectly for three layers. I've made the Devil's food cake thus far, and it was exceptional--it rose well, was very moist, and had great depth of flavor. I'll be using this book more in the future, without a doubt. Love the photos also!
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Hey, Everybody Needs a Little Integrity . . .
I Pledge . . .
. . . to never endorse a product of any kind on Jane's Sweets & Baking Journal that I do not believe in. I've never done so thus far, and I vow never to do so. If I tell you I think something is great, or that I think it is worth spending real money on, then I mean it, rest assured. I promise. And, if I ever talk about a product that I've been given to review or try out, I will disclose that in the post.
I'm a mom with two great sons (both now in college), and a really nice husband. I left a long editorial career in reference publishing a few years ago and I've had nary a regret. I recently finished (after four part-time years!) a Baking & Pastry Arts Certificate program in the Culinary Studies Institute at a local community college. It was a lot of fun, a lot of work, and I am so glad I did it. These days, I do a lot of freelance editorial work, something that I really enjoy.
"Jane's Sweets" was the name of a very small baking enterprise that I started in late 2007. It bloomed a bit, for a little while, with encouragement from my husband, my aunt, and my first cake decorating teacher, Cindy. Because my Aunt Lydia was my most ardent female supporter in this baking endeavor (she was a lifelong independent business owner herself), this blog is dedicated to her memory. If heaven is real, then I know she's there with my mom, baking up a storm. Like Lydia said one day, just before her 80th birthday, while she and my mom and I were baking in my mom's kitchen, "It's been a fun ride. I'd do it all over again!"
If my house were on fire, I'd grab my family, then I'd grab my KitchenAid mixer.
Copyright 2009-2016, on original content and photos, Jane's Sweets & Baking Journal. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for permission if you'd like to reuse any of my photos or my content. Please consider informing me if you link to my blog--I'd love to know. --Thanks for visiting!