Tag: Baking

Banana Snack Cake with Coconut, Chocolate and Pecan Streusel — Bake-Ahead Batches

by in Recipes, September 29th, 2015

You know what drives me nuts? Bananas. Have you noticed how a whole bunch of bananas will always become ready to eat on the same day? I fight a losing battle with my bananas every week. I want to eat one every day. But it never works out that way. Inevitably I end up having to down five ripe ones in one afternoon. I’ve tried to rip apart bunches of varying ripeness and assemble the perfect hybrid bunch at the store. But I don’t think supermarkets condone that kind of behavior. And I’m a timid rule breaker.

Thankfully, the overripe banana is the baker’s best friend. Unlike wilted lettuce and mealy apples, squishy brown bananas make for fabulous baked goods. I keep them in a big plastic bag in the freezer, adding super-soft specimens weekly. They can hang out there for months, just waiting for their opportunity to shine.

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Spice Up Your Sweet Tooth with Maple Sticky Buns

by in Books, September 24th, 2015

Maple Sticky BunsThe first telltale chill of the onset of autumn is swirling around in the air, and it’s time to think ahead to the joys of fall baking. Just in time for the cooler weather is Samantha Seneviratne’s The New Sugar and Spice. This book takes you on a tour of your spice cabinet like you’ve never experienced before, teasing out bold new flavors in the classic baked goods you already know and love, like the cinnamon-infused Maple Sticky Buns pictured above (recipe after the jump for you to try at home).

We asked Seneviratne to detail for us her top do’s and don’t’s for weaving new and exciting spices into baking recipes:

  • Do taste everything! Even if you don’t think you like a certain spice, give it a new look every now and then. You never know how a new preparation may change your perspective.
  • Don’t let your spices languish in the pantry for too long. Make sure they’re fresh before you use them.
  • Do grate nutmeg fresh. It’s much tastier than the preground spice. I like freshly ground cardamom best, too.
  • Don’t use imitation vanilla. Your cakes will thank you.
  • Do use a spice grinder with a removable basin. Washing the basin in between uses keeps flavors fresh and clean.
  • Don’t forget the salt! It’s one of the most-important spices in baking.

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Overnight Blueberry Buns — Bake-Ahead Batches

by in Recipes, September 16th, 2015

What’s better than enjoying a warm, buttery sweet bun fresh from the oven? Eating a warm bun while still in your pajamas. In order to have that luxury you might think you need to start baking at 4 a.m., but that’s not true at all. These overnight blueberry babies look complicated, but they take only about 20 minutes of active work to put together, and they’re perfect for breakfast.

You start by making a simple enriched dough. With a stand mixer, the whole process takes about 10 minutes. Without one, you’ll have to do the kneading by hand, but this pillowy dough is easy to work with. The first rise should take about an hour. Then all you have to do is shape the dough and pop it in your fridge. The rolls rest overnight; this makes the recipe simpler and develops delicious yeasty flavor in the dough. The buns actually get tastier in the fridge while you sleep.

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Where to Get the Best Baked Goods from Coast to Coast

by in Restaurants, September 15th, 2015

When it comes to baked goods, some people are adamant that there’s nothing like homemade. Still, it’s hard to compete with cookies, cakes, breads and pies crafted from scratch by a top-notch professional baker or pastry chef. Then there are the one-of-a-kind creations dreamed up by creative pastry wizards across the country. These often spawn copycats (hello, Cronut®!), but biting into the original is still the real deal. These bakeries are worth a trip — even for the accomplished home bakers among us. Read more

How to Make Milk Bar’s Famous Birthday Cake

by in How-to, Restaurants, September 13th, 2015

Milk Bar was founded in 2008 by James Beard Outstanding Pastry Chef award-winner Christina Tosi; you may have heard of some of the bakery’s more popular items, like Cereal Milk ice cream, Compost Cookies and Crack Pie. With five locations in New York, one in Toronto and another opening in Washington, D.C., later this year, Milk Bar is becoming its own dessert empire. But it’s the eatery’s Birthday Cake that has won my heart and my stomach. It’s a modern take on the classic Funfetti cake, and it makes an appearance every year when it’s my birthday (and also when it’s not). The key to the moist cake layers in this towering treat? A soak of whole milk and clear vanilla extract. That’s right: It’s like a tres leches cake gone birthday bonkers, in the best way possible. We stopped by Milk Bar’s test kitchen location in Brooklyn to see how the masterpiece comes together.

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Compost Cookies — Bake-Ahead Batches

by in How-to, Recipes, September 8th, 2015

The compost cookie has nothing to do with garbage. It’s a butter-and-brown sugar cookie loaded with bits of candy and snack food. It sounds strange but it tastes divine. Invented by Christina Tosi, the sugar genius behind Momofuku Milk Bar, the cookie has become an Internet sensation. It’s no wonder. It’s a brilliant idea and a truly decadent dessert.

But what if you want to put your own spin on it? What if you don’t like the butterscotch chips that Tosi recommends, or you have some leftovers treats that you’d like to use up? The compost cookie can be your edible canvas. The recipe is easy to alter to any specifications or cravings. But do take care — a loaded compost cookie can go from delicious to disgusting in a flash. Here are my six tips for compost cookie success:

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A Pie by Any Other Name: How to Spot the Differences Between Cobblers, Crisps & More

by in Recipes, August 12th, 2015

If you’ve ever been to a holiday party, a cookout or a Thanksgiving feast, chances are you know a pie when you see one. But if you were asked to differentiate a cobbler from a crumble, crisp or brown betty, how do you think you’d fare? True, these pie sub-categories are all very similar in that they’re based on the same two ingredients: fruit and dough. But a few key details distinguish one from the other. If you have a strong preference for a crisp and crumbly topping or one made up of soft biscuits — or perhaps something that falls between the two — then these details matter a whole lot. Broaden your knowledge of classic fruit desserts (and find the one that appeals most to your palate) by following this visual guide featuring top recipes for crumbles, crisps and more.

This old-fashioned fruit dessert is the star of many a picnic spread and features a fruit filling (peach is popular, but nectarines and berries work just as well) baked with a crust — either a solid sheet or biscuits “cobbled” together. Usually the crust is placed over the fruit, but it can also go underneath — or, for true crust lovers, on both top and bottom. For a traditional take on this classic dessert, try the Neelys’ Peach Cobbler (pictured at top).

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Bakers’ Dozens: All the Baked Fruit Desserts

by in Recipes, July 10th, 2015

Throughout our culinary history, people have baked fruit in one form of vessel or another. Lots of versions, many contestants and several commonalities: fresh or frozen fruit; some sort of sugar, whether it’s light brown, dark brown, muscovado sugar or molasses, or even honey. Add butter plus some sort of flour and there you have it.

Start with the most common of all baked desserts, the classic cobbler. Many say the cobbler is simply a pie without the crust. Well, that is partially correct. A true cobbler is topped off with individually dropped biscuits. The biscuits are made with heavy cream, adding a real rich flavor and tenderness to the biscuit. Did you know the baked biscuits on top of the cobblers were said to look similar to the cobblestone streets of Boston or Philadelphia? Philly girl here, don’t forget.

Now for the variations:

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Bakers’ Dozens: Corn Desserts

by in How-to, Recipes, June 5th, 2015

I am always up for a challenge. That’s exactly why I chose corn as a focus. Baking with something other than fruit, chocolate or the usual sweet ingredients may be new to some and old hat to others.

Let’s talk about corn. It contains natural sweetener, has a buttery and sometimes creamy texture, and is seasonal and local for many of us, even just picked! Sounds like the perfect dessert ingredient.

My love for bread pudding gave me the perfect starting point. Here is a way to make a simple and totally unique corn flavor. Strip away all the husks and silks (give that job to the kids), and toss the kernels and cobs in cream with sugar, salt and vanilla. Simmer until all the sugar is melted and the corn is tender. Steep for 2 1/2 hours to infuse. Remove the cobs and the vanilla bean. In a blender or using a hand immersion blender, puree at high speed and then strain through a fine-mesh screen. Ta-da! You have just made delicious corn cream. Read more

Confetti Monkey Bread, Because Everything Is Better with Sprinkles

by in Recipes, May 29th, 2015

Confetti Monkey BreadIf you love monkey bread as much as I do, you are not going to want to miss this delicious from-scratch recipe. Imagine the delight and awe of a birthday boy or girl waking up to this delicious and beautiful treat.

You can make this from-scratch monkey bread in the morning or the night before, but if you are planning on making it the morning, be sure to get up early or plan on having it for brunch. When making bread from scratch there is a proofing period in addition to the baking, and this can add considerable time to the process.

If you read through the recipe, one thing you may have noticed is that I used cinnamon extract (commonly found in most grocery stores) in place of cinnamon. This was purely for aesthetic purposes, as I wanted to create a beautifully light and colorful monkey bread. If you are not opposed to a dark brown confetti bread, feel free to omit the extract and substitute 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon.

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