In my culinary library, there are over a hundred books on baking. Many are well-worn, splattered with vanilla and dusted with flour. The books seem to know what I’m looking for as their trained spines automatically open to the most-used pages. I also have hundreds of bookmarked recipes from the web divided into cakes, cookies, bread and pies. And there are websites I use so frequently that I have them on my bookmark bar for quick access.
One of these webpages is from King Arthur Flour, and it is a chart that helps you turn volume measurements into ounces and grams. These days, I only ever bake using weights rather than measures since using weights gives you the most reliable results time after time. Weighing right into your mixing bowl is particularly helpful for sticky ingredients like honey or peanut butter or molasses. Simply put the bowl you’re using on a scale and add the exact amount of the ingredient. There’s no scraping out of measuring cups or having to stop to wash them. And if you have access to a kitchen scale, try weighing what you think is a cup of flour, for example. You’ll be surprised by the variations each time you measure.
Another of my favorite websites is Serious Eats. The guru of SE is a man by the name of J. Kenji López-Alt. His recent book, The Food Lab, is a collection of his amazingly detail-oriented studies of cooking science, which are mostly available on SE. Want to know how to boil an egg so that the shell comes off every time and the egg is perfectly cooked? Kenji obsessively details how to achieve these results. And Kenji’s counterpart in the baking area of SE is Stella Parks, also known as BraveTart. On August 15th, publication day, BraveTart’s first book was on my doorstep.
I spend a lot of time baking for my son’s varsity team, whom I find to have remarkably unadventurous tastes. As a result, I have spent no little time trying to perfect recipes for things like chocolate chip cookies (always the answer to the question, “What would the team like me to bake?”), homemade Oreos and Hostess Cupcakes. I was thrilled to find recipes for all these in Stella Parks’s book. And she goes further with recipes for things like homemade milk duds, Cheez-its, Hostess Sno-Balls and the like. Except, unlike the originals, these twins are made using ingredients of no more than three syllables. Like Kenji, Stella has done some serious work on making certain that the science of her recipes work.
This looks to be an enormously fun cookbook to bake from, and I plan on trying my first recipe this weekend…that is, unless the weather is too hot to turn on the oven!
What are your favorite go-to baking recipes?