Saturday, January 26, 2008

Baking From My Home To Yours -- Greenspan

I have been meaning to do this for a while -- write posts about my favorite cookbooks and why I like them. I browse the newspapers and the other blogs looking for reviews of cookbooks to add to my wish list, and I am frequently asked where I find all of my recipes. I try to include the source of my recipes in the individual blogs, but these posts will be focused on the books themselves rather than on individual recipes.

I figured it would be appropriate to start with the book that I have used the most over the past few months: Dorie Greenspan's Baking From My Home To Yours. It is a favorite book among the food blogging set, it's definitely among my favorites, and I recommend that anyone who likes to bake -- even if only occasionally, have this book on their shelf.

One of the great things is that it's huge -- hundreds of great recipes. Dozens of cookie recipes, several variations on brownies and bar cookies. Whole sections on bundt cakes, pound cakes, and party cakes. Scones, biscuits, muffins, yeast breads (the smallest section in the book), pies, puddings, tarts, and a whole section devoted to baking with apples. I find new recipes every time I flip through this book. Recipes that I have noted before but forgotten about since the last time I flipped through it (it doesn't help that I have the memory of a rather stupid gnat...) that I can get excited about all over again.

This book is also home to my favorite all time recipe: Pecan Sticky Rolls. I have made them several times since I have started blogging, but there are two rather long recipes and it's a two-day process to make them, so I have never typed it out. That recipe alone is worth the price of the book. Other favorites from the book include her All-In-One Holiday Bundt Cake, The Classic Banana Bundt Cake, any of her brownie or blondie recipes, her Cardamom Crumb Cake, the Gingered Carrot Cookies, Rum Drenched Vanilla Cakes, Cranberry Upside Down Cake... I could go on.

A lot of my fellow food bloggers seem to love her World Peace Cookies, but I was only so-so about them. I think part of that though is that they are shortbread based and I'm not a huge fan of shortbread. I also haven't had much luck with the muffin recipes in the book -- they tend to turn out dry no matter how carefully I mix the ingredients together. I made the Russian Grandmother's Apple Cake and it was a complete disaster. I'm not quite sure what I did wrong, but the dough was difficult to handle and the results were not worth any of the effort I put into it.

There have been a few other recipes I haven't been thrilled with, but I think most of that is personal taste. I wasn't a huge fan of the Coco-Nana Bread, but only because I like a better balance between chocolate and banana. The Cornmeal and Fruit Loaf didn't impress me that much, and her regular pound cake recipe was not my favorite. However, these are only a few of the recipes from the book and you can't expect every recipe to be a home run because everyone has different ideas of the perfect sweets.

The bottom line is go buy this book. It is well worth every penny. :)


beef jerkey spam said...

Yeah, even Donna Chen, the world's biggest food snob, gave it four stars on Facebook and described it as the "bible of baking" -- it's a great gift to give friends (especially friends who can cook immediately from it, which unfortunately wasn't the case with Donna).

burkie said...

although you may be right that my "short list" of favorites is getting rather long, the Pecan Sticky Rolls are certainly at the top. the cardamom crumb cake and the all-in-one holiday bundt cake are also on that list. it is huge book that when i paged through it, kept thinking "that looks good" and "that looks good" and "that looks good" and when i reached the end, so many looked good that i wasn't able to remember which i thought looked best, then had to go through the exercise again with the same result. not such a bad thing :)