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May 18, 2005 11:59 AM

Opinions on Joy of Baking Website?

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Has anyone heard of or used Stephanie Jaworski's website I've linked it below.

The photos are amazing, and the website is well organized: cookies, cakes, tarts, scones, ice creams, breakfast foods, and English tea are just some of the categories. Items that fall into more than one category appear in each relevant section. Plus, she has a page of common cooking substitutions.

I'm not enough of a baker to evaluate the recipes in any kind of significant way just by reading them. If anyone else has used her recipes, please chime in! Otherwise, it's at least a website full of enticing photos that I encourage everyone go ogle.


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  1. Thanks, noooodles! A new one for me as well, but it looks extremely alluring...

    1. My mouth waters. The recipes do look good and they use good quality ingredients, so I'd definitely try some of them.

      1. Really extensive and fantastic substitutions list on that site - I got so caught up in that I haven't looked at the recipes yet. Thanks so much for this!

        1. On a whim, I printed out the banana bread recipe and tried it out last night. I had a few bananas at the overripe stage, and I'm not attached to any particular banana bread recipe. I've gotta say, this is a great banana bread. Now, it's hard to really screw up banana bread, but greatness is pretty rare, too. I'll confess, I made changes (can't leave quick breads alone). I subbed 1/4 cup dark brown sugar for 1/4 cup white, because I was running out of white and I thought a little molasses flavor would be helpful. I added 1/4 cup of Kretchner's toasted wheat germ to addd some fiber. (Why is Kretchner's so much better than all other wheat germ - and am I spelling it right?) I added about 2/3 cup of chopped dates, because I had them lying around. And I added 1/2 teaspoon of Frontier natural walnut flavoring, because it's good in anything with walnuts. But for all that, I think even left alone would be a very good recipe - moist and a bit dense, but not heavy, if that makes sense. So I will definitely try another recipe from the site.

          3 Replies
          1. re: curiousbaker

            frankly, I dont see how you can reach the conclusion that the website recipe is great - given all the modifications you made it seems as though your own creative variation is the one that sends you.

            1. re: jen kalb

              Well, it's certainly not hard to discount the touch of walnut flavoring and the addition of dates, since neither of those change the basic bread beneath, and as I usually add a bit of wheat germ to whatever banana bread recipe I use, I can discount that change as being significant, since I can make the comparison with other banana breads I've made. The only change I made that was structural was the change from all white sugar to part brown, whiich probably didn't make a big difference as it was only 1/4 cup. If you bake a lot and fiddle with recipes, you do get used to ignoring additions like fruit and nuts and extracts when making a judgement about a basic recipe. A good banana bread recipe is judged on sweetness (yes - I did have to try a bit that didn't have any dates to determine this), banana flavor, moisture, crumb, heaviness or lightness - none of which would be affected by the "cosmetic" changes I made to the recipe. Changing the proportion (or choice) of eggs, sugar, flour, leavener, fat or banana would make a significant difference in the recipe, and if I did that, I would not feel justified in making a judgment on the recipe.

              A long response to a short comment, I admit, but this issues ties into the question that seems to come up regularly about whether baking can be intuitive. A lot of non-bakers seem to feel that one is trapped into a recipe, and that baking is a matter of following a recipe like you're performing a chemical experiment, while cooking allows for leeway. There's a lot of latitude in baking for additions and subtractions - and that's before you consider the possibilities involved in actually changing the recipe, like substituting oil for the melted butter, or increasing the bananas or swapping applesauce for the banana. I guess the was I think of it is this: 1) if there are no structual changes, you've made the recipe, with a variation, 2) if you've changed a significant ingredient without changing the quantities (I like to make the chocolate chip cookie recipe from Cooks Illustrated with dark brown sugar and walnuts rather than light brown and chocolate chips), you've made something "based" on the recipe, 3) if you've changed both ingredients and quantities (if I decided to make an applesauce bread from the banana bread recipe, but found it needed a bit more sugar and flour), then you can call the recipe your own.

              All that said, I agree that I woould probably only consider a banana bread great if it included dates. Bananas and dates were meant to be together.

              1. re: curiousbaker

                This is definitely an ongoing and entertaining topic with a full range of opinions. I happen to be on the uptight end of the spectrum, so when I look at all your revisions, I think you have a completely different product! Somehow wheat germ, flavoring, dates, and sugars seem more like integral rather than trivial elements to me. But that's just me! The great thing is that you experiment and do things the way you like them and you get more enjoyment out of what you produce.

                I think it's just a matter of purpose at any given moment. For me, I take the approach of always sticking to the recipe the first time I make it because I'm really interested in the intention of the author. That helps me understand their palate, which in turn helps me understand mine. It also lets me know if I'm going to want to continue to look at their work. And it's helped me tremendously with the development process of my own recipes, which I admit is pretty structured. It's true that you can just look at a recipe and tell whether it's going to work or not, but when it comes to adding and subtracting, it's totally fascinating to me what can happen. We know that in this profession we are luckily exposed to all kinds of first-rate mentors, each one expressing a different approach and attitude. We learn from all of them and each other and from the products we use, which always keeps it incredibly interesting.