May 2009 Baker's Stash
Strawberries and Photo Shoots and Spring Survival
Fresh French Strawberry Tart Free and Fabulous. Get hullin'.......
Dear Fellow Bakers and Friends of BetterBaking.com,
Phew. I’m still here or at least, a virtual version of me. I am teetering in place but, essentially still standing. Why the drama? I made it through the recent double cookbook photo shoot held on premise. I am amazed I prevailed. Quite the work out. Lest you think it is too glamour, week long food shoots are as rigorous as the winter Olympic decathlon. Sure, they are interesting, fascinating and not a little bit Hollywood (get a camera and some fabulous food and the charisma ‘n what’s happen’ factor goes through the roof) but they are incredibly hard work.
Just before this May Issue of BB, in-between Passover, Easter, taxes, and regular writing and this website I share with you, the 6 day photo shoot for two cookbook relaunches of mine came to pass. On a semi-sunny Saturday morning, photographer Ryan Szulc of http://ryanszulc.ca and his assistant Madeleine Johari, one of the best prop stylists I’ve ever seen, pulled into my driveway, armed with a Mac, cameras, and maybe 25 trunks of props, all in service to shooting 30 new photos for over 60 new recipes for both cookbooks. I suppose I could have Twittered or blogged or Face-booked the event as it unrolled but I could not spare a minute nor ounce of energy. Fortunately, Ellen, my test kitchen manager was there to help, as well as my friends and testers, Marla Gottlieb and Wendy Serfaty.
Before this all happened, I prepared ahead for the baking frenzy. From a wedding cake decorator friend, I rented a freezer and then set to baking until the cows came home. In fact, I heard the freezer go moo one night; the freezer was set up in my home office (aka den garage). I baked daily for weeks – not only making finished cakes and cookies (the recipes of which are in the new cookbooks), but also a supply of doughs (strudel, pie, cookie, scone, pastry and bubka) that would enable me to do technique or process shots of the recipes. Such a food shoot is very much like preparing for a TV show; you have to have all your recipes ready to go and in various states of baking existence to show the process and capture some added vignette shots for the cookbooks.
You will be incredulous when you see the results.
For my part, seeing my recipes done my way, in my fashion, and captured for the cookbook is like having lyrics in your heart, and then someone with a great voice, finally articulates and performs them. Now you will see my recipes, how I do them.
For the New Best of BetterBaking.com cookbook, this means the new edition has 30 or so photos to go with the added recipes. You will finally see my famous Tango Cookies and Underground Baker’s Secret Formula Carrot Cake done as I intended.
For the 10th Anniversary Issue of A Treasury of Jewish Holiday Baking, it is the FIRST time this classic book will have photos altogether (aside from the book jacket cover) at all. Now you will actually see my babka, my famed Caramel Matzoh Buttercrunch, my challah and more; again, done my way and photographed in a style like no other Jewish cookbook you’ve ever seen. Ryan made even poppy seed cookies look like art. But he was magical about including the warmth and flavour in each recipe so that it leaps off the page and into your baker’s heart. This is not your bubbie’s baking book – this is Jewish baking for the new millennium and it is baking for everyone – unless you don’t like coffeecakes, cheesecakes and fabulous easy pastries and making your own authentic bagels. This book has all the classics I shared before but have refreshed in a brand new book. Oh! I forgot – I added in four more hamantashen filling recipes so you have about nine fillings (from classic poppy, apricot and prune to Strawberry Mango, Apple Pie Filling and Blueberry and more).
But there’s more and it comes on the heels of a little confession. I always wanted my Jewish cooking recipes in a book but didn’t feel up to writing a 300 page Jewish cookbook just to essentially capture my own most definitive Jewish holiday cooking recipes. I have 30 or so cooking favourites I use – my go-to wardrobe of my best brisket, best sweet-and-sour meatballs, chicken soup, and kugels, etc. to use from Rosh Hashanah, Passover, to a mid-summer Friday night supper. These are my own recipes that I’ve spent years perfecting and happily, to rave reviews of family and friends. My publisher Whitecap Books and I decided to offer a bonus 10th chapter in this new edition of those cooking essentials. So now my favourites can be your favourites and all in one place. It makes Jewish Holiday Baking a complete holiday book.
On this birthday month of mine, with Spring never more welcome, I wishi you happy May and to many of you, Happy Mother’s Day. Look for some amazing Mother’s Day gift reviews, in products, music, film and books. And in the meanwhile, I offer a couple of strawberry recipes and thank-goodness-we-can-have bread again (post Passover) loaves, to start your lunch-in-the-park sandwiches with.
With warm wishes,
Master Baker and Author
!!FREE!! Fresh French Strawberry Tart
Three simple elements combine elegantly in a chilled summer pie. Pre-baked pastry, a simple custard, fresh berries and a slick of currant jelly make this special. Can be made early in the day and refrigerated until ready to serve. Add 1 1/2 cups whipped cream to the pastry cream for a variation that makes for a slightly lighter filling.
Bursts of fresh strawberries, tucked into a vanilla batter, and glazed with a Krispie Kreme style glaze. Hint: choose tiny berries, and semi-freeze them before dicing and tossing into the batter. These are luscious, summery and satisfying.
Country Style Buttermilk Bread
A bread for all seasons but perfect for spring and summer when the best dining is al fresco, aka walking in the park, near the fountain, before heading back to work or the home office.
A great traveling and keeping cake with all your favourite elements of shortcake but in a stand-up, slice and serve cake.