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