September 2009 Baker's Stash
(Don't forget, September lst is a 6 Month Sign On Time)
Dear Friends and Bakers,
Welcome to September; welcome back to the hearth and home and a whole new season of amazing baking and sharing. It's Labor Day and Back to School, New Year's (for some), and take stock of life time. Or maybe it's just me - but September seems to feature a unique mood fusion of new starts with nostalgia. How does September do it? Hmmmm....
Just a little business note – the big BB Fall Subscriber sign-on (6 months, or 3, if you prefer) is upon us. So if you would like to re-subscribe, just head to the To Subscribe page.
My two new print editions of my cookbooks should just about be out. I hear September 7th is when stores should be starting to receive their shipments. The Tenth Anniversary Edition of Jewish Holiday Baking and The New Best of BetterBaking.com, both with Whitecap Books, both with photos and new recipes (and the Jewish Holiday Baking cookbook has all my best Jewish Holiday cooking recipes to boot) are gorgeous. They are also pretty heavy – almost 4 pounds each! When you add photos and more recipes it adds up. These are very substantial books in all ways! I will also be doing book signings in Toronto in November and Montreal. I will keep you posted.
Of course, as the Jewish New Year’s holidays are upon us, and you can search for recipes in my Recipe Archives or just have it all in one place in the new edition of the cookbook. Honey cake (including my legendary Majestic Moist Honey Cake), strudels, sweet challah – you name it, my best of the best is in the book which is now truly classic. There are also tons of additional high holiday baking recipes on the site in the Complete Recipe Archives.
Don’t forget to sign up for BetterBaking.com on Twitter so that you get the latest free Twitter recipe, (a sweet tweet) or baker’s trick or tip. The BB Twitter link is on the BB main page.
This month, I offer some simple things to gently bring you into Fall, such as tender fresh apple quick bread, apple sourdough, Tollhouse Apple Cookies, apple tarts and of course, some pastry treats, something in chocolate (always!) and a couple of warming savory things like Apple Cider Chicken and a bean soup for those chilly mornings. There is also a couple of worth-the-whole-issue recipes such as the Carrot Millet Muffins. Honestly, these are the best muffins in the world (this week). For your reading pleasure, I share my baker’s tips for choosing the best apples for baking, and the same savvy, when it comes to friends in another sort of orchard. And if you prefer to skip to the recipes, just visit www.betterbaking.com.
I confess, I cannot say I am unhappy to see summer go - it was a most challenging summer; for reasons too myriad to go into. But moreover, the baker in me simply prefers the cooler climes. I feel back in my skin in fall. know where I am in fall and what I need to do. The air resurrects my spirit and resets my inner compass. Plus there is a structure and order to my days in fall that no amount of balmy summer weather can compete with. The very scent in the air inspires me to create, bake and write. I invest in new pens and paper, refill printer cartridges and start pickling cukes and stalking up on pie dough, sugar and spice. Fall suits me - it heralds the true baking season ahead. I don't cotton to those early sunsets or dark mornings but I do feel welcomed back home the minute the temperature dips down. I bundle up the lawnmower (Goldman Brothers Lawn Care celebrate their first successful season), load the car with window washer fluid, and haul out the LL Bean quilt. I crave wrap sweaters and leggings and retro leather hobo bags. Don't get me started - there is no end to what I like about Fall but I offer my apologies to those who are sad to see summer go.
I am however, saddened to see Sheila Lutkins, of Silver Palate fame, leave us. She passed on August 30th and she, as many colleagues, inspired me greatly. Her books, which have sold millions, have stood the test of time. She will be missed by all of us.
Now, without further ado, I offer warm wishes always, for a new year, and a new season.
There are recipes galore and even a poem - a windfall as it were. Enjoy.
Choosing Apples, Choosing Friends….
There’s always the perfect one for the occasion (or recipe)
I choose my friends like I choose apples for baking.
Maybe choose is the wrong word. I gravitate to friends, both new and of longer vintage, who, like the apples I select for my recipes complement the occasion. In baking, the occasion is based on a triumvirate of my baker’s touch, spice and sweetness. These three things are ever a part of the mix in a great apple recipe. The right apples for the apple occasion, just like my friends, are, if you pardon the pun: core.
Most people, alas, even chefs, take apples for granted. Red, green, yellow apples of indifferent taste, regardless of hue, both in and out of season, are cut, diced and unceremoniously dispatched into a cake, pie, cobbler or pie. I used to say that for my money, I could hardly tell the different between an unexceptional Granny Smith from a raw potato. This perfect green orb, so oft relied on in recipes, the Granny Smith, is stalwart and reliable although hardly l’experience au pomme. That said, Granny Smith is a serviceable fruit, a go-to apple as it were. I trust this apple. (And lately, the Granny Smith apples from Chile are rocking my world with their sweetness …so there!)
My friend Beth is like a Granny Smith apple. We’ve been friends since our (collective) six sons were in nursery. Despite a distinct lack of essential sensibility we stayed the connection. I think we chose to choose each other because there is some bottom line of having the same values and being strong in different versions of strength. Beth, like a Granny Smith, prides herself in being no nonsense, dependable, while (and she is the first to admit this) not terribly empathetic. “I must be missing that gene’ she tells me. But she has been known to turn up in my garden at 7 am, planting perennials. An avid green thumb, she bemoans my untended ferns ’n rhubarb garden. Her brand of caring is in the pragmatics she generously offers. When I need to know the weather, where Campbell’s Tomato soup is on sale, or when taxes are due – Beth is my girl. Beth is to the point, briskly warm, and can be counted on, like a Granny Smith. With so little to be sure of, that is a quality I treasure.
When I need rosy sweetness in a pie, I reach for Melba apples. Melba apples debut and disappear almost in one breath – so short is their season but they are uniquely memorable. Delicately red-veined, soft, thin-skinned apples with the very same riveting taste so drew Eve. Similarly, when I need tea and sympathy, my ‘Melba’ apple friend is Annalie. But like the Melba apples that come and go and are the more so precious, Annalie has things that call her away- both inner and outer squalls. She is oh-so-present but for so-brief but precious an oasis. I appreciate Melba’s and Annalie both – knowing the sweetness is brief but brief.
With children, they say, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. With friends, the apples may come from far but stay, creating a new tree, with branches that extend and grow, forming a special embrace. Friends, like apples, bring sweetness with light. Sometimes their advice is tart but it is fused to the tireless flavor of loyalty and solace; the endurance of a harvest that ever evolves. There are lean harvests and troublesome blemishes at times, on apples and friendships, but there is always something. And some friends, I am glad to say, I can mix with other friends, as I do apples with cinnamon, or a hint of lemon or a lashing of vanilla, opening up the orchard of my friend circle to each other. The longevity of friendship, in apple style, is like an unbroken peel you sometimes are rewarded with when you patiently pare an apple. It coils and twirls and almost- almost breaks at points of the spiral but somehow, manages to stay intact.
As a baker in autumn, I am ever mindful about the right apple for the job. The right mix and match of apples can result in the most sumptuous apple desserts. Dedicated apples, like dedicated friends, can make a recipe, or life, sing.
Complete New Baker’s Batch of Recipes at www.BetterBaking.com including some special freebies and a host of apple delights and more….
Chocolate Velvet Honey Cake
Tender, chocolaty, and kissed with honey and the lightest hint of spice – this cake is queenly. Most honey cake recipes call for tea or coffee but coca-cola is my secret ingredient. The fusion of mellow honey, pure cocoa, coca-cola, and a gentle wave of spice makes this sublime. This is a tall, moist, dark and wondrous cake. A dusting of cocoa or confectioners’ sugar is fine or a drizzle of melted bittersweet chocolate works well.
Apple Fritters with Warm Toffee Maple Sauce
Serve warm with a maple syrup or warm caramel sundae sauce (or make your own sticky toffee sauce). Big chunks of apple in a golden batter with a touch of spice. Great for breakfast, brunch or a summery, post BBQ dessert.
Fresh Granny Smith Apple Bread
Quick bread time and what a nice version of a fall classic! Apples and pecans in a buttery little loaf that bakes up golden. A dusting of sugar before baking and some slivers of green or red apple inset in the batter makes this Cape Cod vacation pretty. Make two of these and wrap one up as a gift in a new tea-towel in a basket of apples.
Apple Country Sourdough Bread
My unique apple sourdough starter is what you start with. It ends up as a sourdough bread with an amazing taste, beautifully textured crumb and a great crust - and a nice salute to the apple orchards.
Apple Country Sourdough Starter
Grape starters become Sonoma County, and potato starters are renown. This apple starter makes culinary sense in the North East, especially in autumn, with the bounty and variety of wonderful new apples. Take care to feed this starter lest it get vinegary.
Apple Buttermilk Bundt Cake
This is a statuesque cake is impressive enough but the flavor is so astonishing flavorful. This is a great keeping cake; slice off a hunk or modest slice and just plunk a glass cake dome.
Carrot Millet Muffins
Ok - this is the ringer recipe. These honey-tinged, healthy multi-flour muffins are simply resplendent in orange hue and wholesome goodness. Every crumb of these muffins is delectable.
Rustic Oatmeal, Kaumut and Dried Strawberry Health Scones
Homey, easy, staying. Cue some English Breakfast tea and warm the pot.
Big'N Bold Apple Spice Crumb Pie
In this recipe, the topping is incredibly generous and the filling mounded extra high for a pie that commands attention.
Adam & Eve Apple Pudding FREE !!!
A lovely take on individual apple desserts.
Easy to make and delicious, little apple desserts in their own custard cups. A baker's trick here is to poach the apples a tiny bit (in a little water and sugar) just to soften them before using them in the recipe.
Alsatian Apple Tart
The perfect early autumn, outdoor cafe dessert.
Apple Baba Muffins
The most unique muffins around – golden, puffy, and totally café bistro professional looking.
Yeasted Apple Rugulah
If you enjoyed Montreal landmark bakery Cheskie’s Cinnamon Bubka, you will swoon for these. Puffy, yeasted Rugulah that taste like Zabar’s whipped them up. So good, so easy, so different. I make these partly with Cinnamon Sugar. Sometimes, I fill pastries with diced up apple pie filling and some raisins for yet another flavor rugulah. Heavenly.
Apple Cider Chicken
Coq au vin in an apple rendition. This is more seasonally correct anyhow. A bottle of bubbly cider, and a mix of apples help braise plump pieces of browned chicken. A brief oven sojourn and 45 minutes later – heaven. Use a mix of soft and tart apples or whatever is ‘in’ at the market. Change the apples as the season progresses.
Sweet Paprika Smokey Bean Soup or Bableves
A hearty pinto bean soup that sticks to your ribs. You can use almost any sort of dried beans for this soup and add 1-2 tablespoons of barley to make it a bit more rustic.
Oven Fried Buffalo Wings FREE!!
No time? Fear of frying? Ah ha - these wings will set you free on both counts. I love Buffalo Wings but hate the prep, flinch around hot oil, and hedge at the expense of deep fat frying (it goes through 4-6 cups of canola oil) and the fattiness factor. Here’s a solution that worked perfectly. It is also ideal if you are feeding a crowd. This is the most ridiculously easy recipe in the world. It gives you food court/sport bar wings with no effort at all. Next? Teriyaki style wings in the same vein. Stay tuned. Serve Oven Buffalo Wings with celery and carrot sticks, and a herbed sour cream dipping sauce, and Ranch Style Potato Wedges.
You can’t go back to school without some chocolate to soothe the student soul. This is one amazing cake – much like the Indie, now-famous band it was created for. Imagine a dark, dense chocolate cake – a hunk of cake, all topped with an old-fashioned white, butter-based icing like Woolworth’s and diner’s used to sell. Don’t bother washing the knife you cut this with; just leave it in the cake pan. It’s going to get quick a work-out. This is one fabulous and ridiculously easy cake. If you always frost chocolate cake with chocolate frosting, you will be totally blown away by the visual refreshment of white-on-chocolate cake and the amazing taste contrast, not to mention the unique finish of whipped white icing, chocolate shavings and an anointing of warmed marshmallow cream over the whole affair. These is a crowd cake but it also freezes well. It cuts in huge slabs, and each one is delectably statuesque.
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