100 Essential Recipes, with More Than 600 Step-by-Step Photos
From the publisher:
The ultimate baking book for everyone from best-selling author and “diva of desserts” Rose Levy Beranbaum
In this book of no-fuss recipes everyone should know, trusted baking expert Rose Levy Beranbaum guides you through every recipe for can’t-fail results—with a streamlined, simplified approach and more than 600 mouthwatering and instructive photos. Whether you’re a baking enthusiast or just want to whip up the occasional treat, you will be able to easily make perfect brownies, banana bread, holiday pies, birthday cakes, homemade bread, and more, with recipes including: Chocolate Sheet Cake with Ganache Frosting, Peanut Butter and Jelly Thumbprints, Beer Bread, Apple Walnut Muffins, Peach Cobbler, Milk Chocolate Caramel Tart, and more. Throughout, Rose shares her unique tips and methods for unlocking the secrets to the best flavors and foolproof results, for a treasury of essential recipes you’ll use forever.
I love Beranbaum’s cookbooks. I already owned The Cake Bible, The Pie & Pastry Bible, and The Bread Bible, and I treasure them. So why would I need this new cookbook? I’ll tell you – read on.
A while back, I started weeding my books. Weeding, for the non-librarians reading this, is library lingo for going through and discarding books that are too old, damaged, have out of date information, etc. In my case, I had to add other limitations, like cookbooks that didn’t have more than a couple of recipes that I use. I owned hundreds of cookbooks, including a collection of self-published cookbooks by various charitable organizations like the Junior League, churches, B’Nai Brith, and so on. I was running out of room, or rather I was definitely out of room, so I dedicated one bookcase just for cookbooks and whatever didn’t fit, had to go. That was about half of my cookbooks, so I had to be brutal. Why am I telling you all this? Because those Beranbaum cookbooks I already own are big and take up a lot of room on my cookbook bookshelves but I would not get rid of them. I ended up with a little over 200 cookbooks (please don’t judge!) and I can’t really add anything new unless something old goes. Discipline is required!
This new cookbook is only 400 pages, and yes, I said only. The Cake Bible, for example, clocks in at just under 600 pages and it only includes cake recipes and their acoutrements, like frosting. Also, this new book is on my Kindle. If you have never cooked from a digital cookbook, let me tell you that once you do, it is hard to go back to paper. For example, looking at the table of contents, everything is a link. You want cookies? Click on it. And the first thing I noticed about this TOC is that first thing on the page just says “recipe list” – yep, click on that and it takes you to a simple list of recipes divided by type: Cookies, Cakes, Pies and Tarts, Bread, and finally Toppings and Fillings. Then you just click away!
I don’t really know what Beranbaum’s background is, but I suspect she is something of a chemist. The biggest difference between cooking and baking is science. Everything that happens in baking is based on chemical reactions, and that’s why there is not a lot of room for experimentation. You can’t just swap out baking powder for yeast, the recipe won’t work. You can change up the flavor profile on most baked goods, but that’s about it. That’s why the kitchen world is divided into baking and cooking. People who like to freestyle it generally prefer cooking, where substituting ingredients may change the flavor but it won’t usually destroy a recipe.
I was curious about this new cookbook – would Beranbaum update her recipes? Yes indeedy! I’ve been making her apple pie with the cream cheese crust for just over 20 years. This newer version keeps the original recipe intact, but reorganizes the recipe. One of my complaints about the Pie & Pastry Bible is the recipe for the apple pie, for example, is one of those recipes with recipes within it. So go to one place for the crust, another for the filling, and so on. I have it post-it notes stuck all over the place in that book. This new books has the entire recipe all together.
I also like the addition of “mise en place” to the recipes. This comes between the ingredients and the directions, and is very helpful in organizing the recipe. A lot of her recipes are complicated, but still very doable. Trust me, when I first started baking this pie I didn’t really have a clue what I was doing. But there were enough instructions to give me the confidence to tackle it anyway. This newer version has simplified the process even further.
The publisher offered up the Bundt cake recipe so you can see what I’m talking about. Coming before the ingredients is the baking equipment you need. I love that it’s right up front, so I can dig that out before I go any further. In my teeny, tiny 9’x9′ kitchen with the horrible builder’s special cabinets (from 30 years ago!) that is no joke. It often takes crawling around with a flashlight to find the pans I don’t use that often.
Ingredients are offered by volume and weight, you get to decide. Then the mise en place, which I find incredibly helpful. Then directions are last, and explicit. There are also a ton of pictures. which I also find helpful. You can see the finished Bundt cake, the slices taken from it, and there’s even a picture of the batter in the pan. You can see that this cake is loaded with apples!
There are not a ton of recipes here, but the ones included are all terrific and things you might actually want to make. Cookies include chocolate chip (of course!), brownies, thumbprint, shortbread, biscotti, and more. Your basic yellow, white, and chocolate cakes are here, both in sheet form and layers, chiffon and sponge cake, flourless cake, cheesecake, Whoopie pies, zucchini bread, and several different muffins. Pies include a variety of fruit pies, lemon meringue and it’s south Florida cousin, Key Lime, cream pies, cobblers, crisps, and more.
The bread chapter is a bit light, but includes biscuits, beer bread, no-knead bread, multigrain, pizza dough, a babka, and biga. Some people think biga is similar to sourdough starter, but Beranbaum calls it a dough enhancer rather than a starter, and several of her recipes benefit from it. The Toppings and Fillings chapter include buttercream, several kinds of ganache, glazes, whipped cream, cream cheese frosting, and meringue topping.
This is an all-around terrific baking cookbook that I think would be especially beneficial to beginning bakers. And if you haven’t tried cooking from a digital cookbook, this could be a great one to try.
Apple Walnut Bundt Cake from Rose’s Baking Basics
Serves 12 to 14 │ Oven Temperature: 350°F/175°C │ Baking Time: 50 to 60 minutes
This is the perfect apple cake for the fall season, but it can be enjoyed any time of the year. It is great to have this Bundt cake in your repertoire as it is easy to make and stays moist and flavorful for 5 days at room temperature, up to 10 days refrigerated. Because it is made with oil, it can be enjoyed at room temperature or cold. The caramel glaze is an optional but fabulous accompaniment.
The pan must be a minimum 12 cup capacity, such as a Nordic Ware Anniversary Bundt Pan with 10-15 cup capacity, or a 12 cup Bundt pan, coated with baking spray with flour; or a 16 cup two-piece angel food pan, bottom lined with parchment, then coated with baking spray with flour
· 3 large eggs (½ cup plus 1 ¼ tablespoons, or 150 g)
· 1 cup (100 g) walnut halves
· 2 ½ cups (300 g) flour, lightly spooned into the cup and leveled off
· 1 teaspoon (5.5 g) baking soda
· 1 teaspoon (6 g) sea salt
· 2 teaspoons (4.4 g) ground cinnamon
· 4 large tart apples, diced (4 cups/525 g)
· 1 ¼ cups (269 g) canola or safflower oil
· 1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
· ¾ cup (163 g) light brown sugar
· 2 teaspoons (10 ml) pure vanilla extract
Preheat the oven
• 20 minutes before toasting the walnuts, set an oven rack in the lower third of the oven. Set the oven at 350°F/175°C
Mise en place
• 30 minutes to 1 hour ahead, set the eggs on the counter at room temperature (65° to 75°F/19° to 24°C)
• Toast and chop the walnuts: Spread the walnuts evenly on a cookie sheet and bake for 5 minutes. Turn the walnuts onto a clean dish town and roll and rub them around to loosen the skins. Discard any loose skins and let the nuts cool completely. Chop medium coarse.
• In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.
• Peel, core, and cut the apples into ⅛ to ¼ inch dice.
Make the batter
1. Into the bowl of a stand mixer, weigh or measure the eggs. Add the oil, granulated and brown sugars, and the vanilla. With the flat beater, beat on medium for 1 minute, until blended
2. Add the flour mixture and beat on low for 20 seconds, just until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl
3. Detach the bowl from the stand and with a large spoon stir in the apples and walnuts. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan
Bake the cake
4. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until a wire cake tester inserted near the center comes out clean and the cake springs back when pressed lightly in the center
Cool the cake.
5. Let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack for 30 minutes. If using a straight-sided pan, run a metal spatula between the sides of the pan and the cake. Invert the cake onto a wire rack that has been lightly coated with nonstick cooking spray and cool completely for about 1½ hours
Store airtight. Room temperature, 5 days; refrigerated, 10 days; frozen, 2 months.
12/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™
ROSE’S BAKING BASICS by Rose Levy Beranbaum. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (September 25, 2018). ISBN 978-0544816220. 400p.