Harriet gave me not one but two new baking cookbooks for Mothers Day – and both are fantastic.
First off: Baking At Home with The Culinary Institute of America: Essential Techniques and Recipes for Creating Great Breads and Desserts. This hefty, beautiful book is full of great step-by-step techniques, illustrations and tempting photos. When I unwrapped it, I opened it to a recipe for Smoked Provolone and Thyme Muffins. They’re in my very near future. Same goes for Eclairs, which I think would be a hit with the Bake Sale crowd — come to think of it, there’s a bake sale Saturday…
This book is beautiful, worthy of coffee table status, well on my coffee table, anyway. There are SO many new things to try. And if something goes awry, there’s a “What went wrong?” appendix of common baking problems. (Hmm, I don’t see “didn’t follow the directions” as a common problem; clearly the CIA Chefs aren’t familiar with the root of my problems!)
Next up: The Bread Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum, who I’ve used before when she contributed a bread baking primer to Epicurious. This book is also full of great illustrations, photos and recipes for every kind of bread you could want to bake – from quickbreads and crumpets to sourdough and stud muffins. (Yes, stud muffins, which I’m going to have to bake just so I can say, “Oh, my weekend was great, I had some superb stud muffins!” )
So thanks again, Harriet, for the absolutely perfect presents.
A belated Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers, wanna be mothers and mothers in spirit.
Happy Valentines Day!
I don’t really think Valentines Day is for the birds …. but my first post-divorce Valentines Day seemed a perfect time to be baking for the birds. Besides, the birds are arriving in Maine and emptying my feeders daily, and I want to repay them for reminding me that winter isn’t going to go on forever.
I saw the recipe for these cute bird seed biscuits in Family Fun magazine. They are so easy and baked at 170 for an hour.
I’m a little late on this, but I have already admitted that I’ll be baking Christmas cookies for months in an effort to make up for not baking them ever before.
More than one person asked me if I baked a fruitcake this holiday season. In a word, no. The video above, which is absolutely wonderful, will explain why.
Besides, not only do you risk that nobody will eat your fruitcake, but there’s something in the way back of my mind that says in order to make fruitcake, you have to start soaking fruit in liquor months ahead of time. I didn’t start Learning to Bake early enough for that. And I don’t much like liquor-soaked fruit.
I have had fruitcake that I liked. If it doesn’t have those candied green and red things that don’t really look like fruit at all – I’m all for it! Next holiday season, I may make it my mission to make a likeable fruitcake. I think the secret may be to not call it a fruitcake. Maybe I’ll call it an nut-spice cake and not mention of the fruit.By the time the recipient realizes they’re eating fruitcake, it’ll be too late, they’ll already like it! (Yes, I’m on a flight of confidence.)
Anyway, watch the video. It’s worth it. Even if the holidays are long gone in your oven.
Plans are in high gear for a 12th birthday slumber party, and I’ve been thinking about Birthday Cake. I think a beautiful chocolate cake will/would do, but for some reason I Googled “Twilight Birthday Cake” since the girl and her friends are obsessed with Bella, Edward and all things Twilight.
Boy, there are some impressive Twilight cakes out there! As you can see, many look like a book (How do they get that title font in icing? I can barely print in icing!) while others go with the chessboard theme, with an apple, chess pieces or red ribbon on them. (Bad mother confession: I have yet to read any of these books. The girl raced through all four.)
So I wonder, does fondant taste any good? Some of these seem to use a lot of it. I don’t think I’ll tackle an entire fondant cake for my first cake. But I might pull off the ribbon.
I may try a mini practice cake… Have I mentioned I’ve never baked a cake? (Other than the Apple Cake, which was wonderful but wasn’t a birthday cake.)
Ever confident in my cake-baking ability, Harriet suggested we just get the cake at the supermarket. It may come to that!