The last time I baked bread, I was in junior high school, which is more years ago than I care to count. I started with plain white bread, baked up in a loaf pan, and then went on to experiment a bit with different recipes. My Waterloo, if my memory is correct, was a pumpernickel rye. I can’t exactly recall what went wrong, but I know for sure that something did! Continue reading
I’d really like to know what folks think about this video, which is the second (the first is here) in a series I did with my friend Ricardo Salvador (@cadwego), who heads the Food and Environment team at Union of Concerned Scientists, of which I’m happy to be a part. The series combines cooking—in this case an apple crisp, more on which in a second—with a discussion of the production of food and the policies that guide it (often mis-guide, of course). I hope the main points are clear. (I also discussed the election and the future of food policy with Mother Jones.) Continue reading
The first thing that hit me when I saw Mark’s recipe for No-Bake Fruit and Cereal Bars in his new book How to Bake Everything was that it sounded a lot like Rice Krispies Treats®, only with fruit and juice instead of the sticky marshmallow sauce for glue. If I went with a puffed whole grain—Khorasan wheat to be exact—the bars would have a similar texture and, with the fiber and small bit of honey for sweetener, they’d actually be a healthy and satisfying snack. Continue reading
In case anyone ever asks me what my favorite dessert flavors are (no one has yet), I have that answer ready, in descending order: lemon, caramel, almond.
If your list doesn’t look like mine, the Lemon Tart from How to Bake Everything is still worth trying. It’s also super easy to put together. It’s actually three different recipes from HTBE, which can all be made ahead of time and assembled right before you serve: Sweet Tart Crust, Lemon Curd, and Whipped Cream. Continue reading
Mark’s new book, How to Bake Everything, got me thinking about what makes a full-on go-to recipe. Topmost, it’s flavor—you take a bite and your first thought is WOW! Adaptability is also important; I like when you can simply swap ingredients in and out and the result is still delicious, only now in a totally different way. Easy changes are at the core of how Mark thinks about food and he’s extended this approach to develop variations for baking. Lastly, recipes I make again and again are always forgiving, even when I need to go rogue.
A perfect example is the book’s Lemon Cornmeal Cake. I absolutely love this cake: it goes together in less than 15 minutes, bakes up in 30, and you can serve it right out of the pan or flip it out onto a plate. It’s intensely citrusy and not too sweet, making it wonderful for snacking (meaning I don’t feel guilty when I eat most of it myself in a series of small slivers). The first time I made it just as written—well, not quite. I used my cast iron skillet as the pan and I “baked” it on my gas grill. It was fantastic. Continue reading
How to Bake Everything hit stores this week. Here’s a round up of the press coverage for this week and pre-publication:
Publishers Weekly, review, July 15
Library Journal, Editors’ Fall Picks, Aug. 19
Epicurious, included in fall cookbook preview, Sept. 9
Jewish Journal, review, Sept. 30
Redbook, two-page cookie feature, Sept. issue
Booklist, starred review, Oct. 1
People, apple pie recipe featured, Oct. 3
WNYC The Leonard Lopate Show, interview, Oct. 3
The TODAY Show, interview, Oct. 5
Boulder Weekly, feature, Oct. 6
NPR’s On Point, interview, Oct. 7
O, The Oprah Magazine, recipe featured, Oct. issue
When asked the defining question “Stones or Beatles?” I say Kinks. Given the choice between Oatmeal and Chocolate Chip, the answer is “Fig Bittmans.” So that’s the first recipe we’re featuring from Mark’s newest cookbook How to Bake Everything.
For such fancy-looking cookies, the scenario is supernaturally simple: Make the dough (which calls for brown sugar to give the crust a lovely caramel color and flavor). While it rests in the fridge, soften dried figs (I used a mixture of Black Mission and Turkish) in orange juice; purée. Mark has you divide the dough into four pieces so it’s easy to handle, then roll and fill.
Transfer each folded log to an ungreased baking sheet—seam side down—and into a 375dgF. When you open the oven door to check on them the first time, you’ll be amazed at how they’ve puffed up. And the fragrance! Cut them into “Bittmans” while they’re still a little warm and you can hear the crunch.
For a pro-like look I trimmed most of the ends (and ate them!). The combination of fig, orange, and vanilla is way better than anything out of a box. And you get at least two-dozen cookies in one batch so they’re hardly any more time consuming than other cookies. They’ll keep for a week in an airtight container but won’t last that long. So if you want to pace yourself, wrap a few in sheets of wax paper and freeze them in a bag. Then you can defrost a package in the microwave and eat them warm for breakfast. Just saying.
The recipe follows so you can try a batch, too. They’d be terrific for a Halloween party.
You can find the recipe here.
How to Bake Everything is now on sale, you can buy it here.
No one likes to waste incredible bread, especially me and my neighborhood baker Taylor Petrehn. Since he and his brother Reagan opened 1900 Barker in Lawrence, Kansas, last year—dangerously just two blocks down the street—my husband, Sean, and I have been enjoying perfect croissants, meticulously sourced and brewed coffee, and at least a loaf of bread a week. And I find ways to use every crumb.
When I started writing How to Cook Everything in 1994, I had no idea it would become a franchise. Now, 20-plus years, many thousands of recipes, and five doorstopper books later, I realize the initial title—which was sort of tongue in cheek—should have told me something.
With How to Bake Everything, the newest installment, I’ve taken what has become my expected (one could say “well-known”) approach—flexibility, improvisation, and variations—and applied it to over 1,000 sweet and savory recipes. Modesty aside, if you want to learn how to bake, this is the place.
Many people believe that you’re either a cook or a baker, that cooking is an art and baking a science, that one is left brain and one is right brain. Nah. Even if you identify as a “cook” and have never considered yourself a baker, baking has plenty to offer you, and, with the exception of a few fancy pastries, its rules aren’t nearly as ironclad as all that. Besides, baking is, at its very core, communal; you don’t make a cake unless you’re planning to share, and we celebrate almost every one of life’s milestones with one.
It is true that the skill sets are slightly different, but if you can cook, you can bake, and that means everything, from real puff pastry to chocolate soufflés to vegan brownies to whole grain pancakes. And, with just a little experience under your belt, you can decide for yourself which baking rules to follow, which to break, and how to put together a sweet or savory treat to fit with your diet, timeline, or whatever you happen to have in the house at that very moment.
How to Bake Everything comes out October 4th, but you can pre-order your copy now.
Thanks for all of your support over the years, and happy baking.