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MS Baking Handbook - Anyone Baking from this Book?

Has anyone baked from the Martha Stewart Baking Handbook yet? What have you tried & what do you recommend/not recommend? What do you plan to make from it?
I baked the blackberry roulade last December. It was good, but too creamy for me. Also the presentation wasn't pretty enough for a 'special' dessert.
Last week I made the oat & apricot scones from MS book. I sub. chopped prunes for the apricots. At the same time I made cranberry scones from Whole Grain Cookbook. The first day the cranberry scones were better, oat ones were just good. Very surprisingly, the following day the oat scones were terrific-actually better (not dry), whilst the cranberry ones weren't as appealing (dry).
The book has a couple of recipes that use sour cherries that look interesting to me which I may try. Incidentally, I'm Not a fan of Martha, but her recipes are good.
What are you making from the book?

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  1. I love this book! Love the pictures and the detailed instructions.

    So far, I've made the brioche (my first). It was easy to make and the end product was awesome.

    Honestly, 99.9% of the recipes are appealing to me. I am undecided what to make next but am leaning toward the peanut butter sandwich cookies (Mr. Dumptruck is a PB fiend).

    1. I've made (I may not get all the names exact):
      - the double chocolate brownie cookies (THE BEST chocolate cookie ever!)
      - Chocolate chunk cookies (I prefer a chewy cookie, but my dad loves crispy ones, especially with extra chocolate, and he loved these.)
      - the lime slice and bake cookies (I'm not a huge citrusy fan usually, but made these for loved ones, and they all loved these. They are really crumbly and DO NOT mail well, but were still voted second best in my aunt's cookie of the month club... she got some different cookies than grandma did!)
      - the brown sugar and white chocolate chunk cookies (I liked the flavor, but were too hard for me, you really had to dip them in something, like hot tea or hot chocolate, to eat comfortably.)
      - Strawberry Shortcakes (these were good, again, not my favorite dessert and I think I mixed/ kneaded for too long and they were a little tough.)

      I think that's all I've made so far, but I probably need to check again!

      Just remembered one other one... the pumpkin bread, I ran out of buttermilk so I used half sour cream... very good recipe, extremely moist!

      Oh shoot! And another one, the banana bread... LOVED this recipe! Moist inside, crispy top, so good!

      1. Funny you should post this query. I checked both this and the Dorie Greenspan book (the 12/06 cookbook) out of the library, so have also been thinking about recipes in this book. I posted here


        about my chocolate babka experience this weekend. I would definitely do this recipe again if I wanted to make chocolate babka. I'm not sure how much I'll want to make it, honestly, but it's nice to have a solid recipe. It's very rich, and I have no idea how authentic it is. But, I could easily see both changing up the filling to match my desires, and, possibly, reducing the amount of butter in the dough.

        After reading over the MS book and comparing to the DG book, I ended up being disappointed we didn't chose MS (and, like you, I am NOT an MS fan, so this surprised me). C'est la vie.

        Thanks for starting this thread. You're giving me some good ideas for what else to try in this book. Interesting that you didn't like the blackberry roulade. I was tempted by that. The mocha roulade on the next page was another one I was tempted by. What were the sour cherry recipes that you were interested in, and what is your source of sour cherries? Outside of the couple of weeks in June that I can get them at my local farmer's market, I don't have any good sources...

        1. I also have the MS book from the library and plan on baking from it because DG still hasn't come in for me. But, there is one more DG intenet recipe I want to try before I move to MS.

          Thanks for starting the thread. Glad I am not alone.

          1 Reply
          1. re: beetlebug

            I'm in the same boat as you. Requested both books from my library; got Martha but am still waiting on Dorie. I've been drooling over all the recipes and photos in the Martha book, and I'm finding myself very tempted by the savory items. I've got all the ingredients for the chive and cream cheese biscuits so those will be made very soon. The pignoli cookies and Seville olive oil crackers (or cookies?) look really good to me as well. Want to also try the financiers and canneles if I break down to get the special pans. Would financiers work in muffin tins?

          2. Glad to see other are baking from this book too. Love the photos, I could (almost) eat them! And I have to agree that 99% or so of the recipes in this book look great to me.
            Katie Nell, great going, appreciate your reviews!

            Smokey, I'm not into anything too rich either. That was one problem I had with the blackberry roulade. The whipped cream was a bit much for me (I have a thing about 'fat' mouthfeel...)
            The other detail with this cake is that as you roll it, it cracks a bit - even the photo, p.185, shows cracking, which is all covered up as much as one can by icing sugar. Didn't like that so much. There's nothing wrong with the recipe, it's good (just me & not liking too much whipped cream). The Mocha Roulade does look awesome!
            In summer I get sour cherries from a friend's tree. Right now I have frozen sour cherries I get from a local wholesaler. There are a few sour cherry recipes in the book. One that I have earmarked is Cherry Streusel Coffee Cake p.55, cherries are layered in the middle in a tube pan. Another one is a Slab Pie (makes a l5 x 10-inch pie) p.238; yet another one is the Sour-Cherry Lattice Cobbler which has balsamic vinegar and the Cherry-Cheese Strudel p.383.
            I haven't even started to narrow down my choices under savory treats, but the Individual Potato & Onion Tartes Tatin look good. Then there are the breads (olive bread & roasted tomato bread look great) and Parmesan-Rosemary Crackers...I could go on.
            Let us know what you all choose & how it turns out!

            5 Replies
            1. re: morebubbles

              Here's some of the things that Becca recommended in a previous thread: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/... I swear she's made everything in that book! ;-)

              1. re: morebubbles

                I sort of accept cracking on a roulade cake as being a fact of life, so that didn't dissuade me too much.

                I'm jealous of your source of local sour cherries (both off the tree and the wholesaler!). I've never seen them for sale frozen near me. I love them, but they're totally a seasonal treat for me (although the last time I bought them I did freeze a bunch).

                1. re: Smokey

                  I'm being too picky about the roulade, I know! The cake did have a wonderful taste. About the cherries, for some reason I can't find frozen sweet cherries here, I guess there's more local demand for sour cherries.
                  Did you pit the sour cherries before freezing them? Lots of work, that! From my friend's tree we've had fun making jam, juice and cherries in rhum or pisco. The juice is delicious mixed with some sparkling wine!

                  1. re: morebubbles

                    Wow, where are you located? I would love to trade in the bags of sweet cherries (totally useless IMO) for some sour ones!

                    Yep, spent quite a bit of time pitting sour cherries (and subsequently washing my hands of cherry staining!).

                    1. re: Smokey

                      I'm in Montreal. When you come over, we can trade, bring a cooler! ;)
                      Happy baking!!

              2. That slab pie is THE BEST pie I have ever made, and I bake alot of pies. I like it even better when I stir in a cup of Just Cherries. Their yummy.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Becca Porter

                  Oh wow, hadn't seen your Feb. post, lots of good choices. Thanks to Katie for pointing that out. btw I'm just eating a (defrosted) oat scone-it's delicious still!
                  What are Just Cherries please? The slab pie did catch my attention.

                2. I don't know if this recipe is from the Handbook specifically, but my friend made a ginerbread and ganache dessert from MS that was delicious...and he used Jacques Torres chocolate for the ganache.

                  1. I just made the multigrain rolls (page 321).

                    They are excellent!

                    1. Lemon Sugar Snaps (pg. 93) and Mexican Wedding Cookies (page 96)

                      I loved both these cookies. They weren't labor intensive, but they did require work.

                      The Lemon Sugar Snaps required the zest of the three lemons which totally brought out the lemony goodness. They were crispy and light. They also spread a lot more than I though they would. I actually followed the directions and spaced the cookies out 3 inches apart. But, when I put them in the oven, the cookie balls rolled towards each other a little bit so they ran into each other.

                      The Mexican Wedding Cookies were also great. These are also light and buttery with the hint of pecans. For some reason, I really like rolling cookies in sugar. And, both these cookies required it. LSS pre-baking and MWC post-baking.

                      My only quibble with the book so far is the layout. The recipes often start on the bottom of the page, causing me to flip back and forth. Usually my hands are wet or dirty so I have to wipe them off so I don't dirty the library book.

                      The world peace cookies are the dark ones on the back of the plate. I posted about these in the DG cookie thread. The LSS are the flat ones on the right and the MWC are the powdered sugared ones. The ugly lumpy ones are pumpkin chocolate chip cookies, which are one my faves.


                      5 Replies
                      1. re: beetlebug

                        Your cookie plate looks great! The ones from the Martha book esp. have me salivating. I know what you mean about the recipes starting in the middle or bottom of the page. Seems like an efficient use of space but could be a pain in the midst of baking.

                        1. re: beetlebug

                          >>>My only quibble with the book so far is the layout. The recipes often start on the bottom of the page, causing me to flip back and forth. Usually my hands are wet or dirty so I have to wipe them off so I don't dirty the library book.

                          Totally agree with you on this. I know it's already a big book, and doing this would only make it bigger. But the pages are large enough that they could just make many of the recipes fit on one page. Rgh!

                          1. re: Smokey

                            Re; the large pages: I think they could have made the recipes on one page. Have you noticed that the type is small? And, there are absurdly big margins? Especially on the right side? I guess the thought is that people can make notes, but honestly, put the entire recipe on one page. There is plenty of space for notes elsewhere. Rgh is right.

                            1. re: Smokey

                              I agree with you, Smokey. This is *very* annoying.

                            2. re: beetlebug

                              The Lemon Sugar Snaps are incredible!

                            3. The dobos torte recipe is fantastic. It's a lot of work, but any good dobos torte is. Before I made the cake, I tested the recipe by using the cake batter to make cupcakes and the chocolate swiss merengue buttercream to frost them. Delicious! When I actually made the full cake for my uncle's birthday (dobos torte is his favorite) it was much less intimidating.

                              I will say, though, that I didn't go for the dots and sticks made out of caramel, intstead of the traditional layer of crispy caramel on top. I made both, and decided to go the traditional route. My family didn't mind; they just ate the dots and sticks.

                              1. I just made the Classic Pound Cake yesterday - very good.

                                I plan on making the Mexican Wedding Cookies soon.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: hummingbird

                                  Becca Porter posted a wonderful pound cake recipe here that I loved, so I don't want to try out her traditional pound cake recipe. But, that brown sugar pound cake recipe, mmmmmm

                                2. Has anyone made the big 10" cookie w/ the crumb topping? There's an Italian name for it that I'm forgetting. It looks like my kind of cookie!

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Carb Lover

                                    I've really been wanting to make both that and the Breton cookies (those are SO pretty!) but haven't gotten around to it!

                                    I was thinking about making the lemon snaps for Christmas too beetlebug- my grandma loves lemon!

                                  2. Banana Nut Bread (pg. 49)

                                    This was great. One of the best things is that I had everything in the kitchen, so no special trips to the store. What makes this bread different is the cup of unsweetened coconut in it. It gives this bread a little extra oomph. The coconut is not easily discerable and just adds a subtle flavor and texture to the bread. My bread doesn't look like the one in the picture. My coconut was significantly smaller. I used TJ's unsweetened shredded coconut.

                                    I didn't toast the nuts and I overcooked the bread by a minute or so. When I first pulled it out of the oven (after 60 minutes), the middle was still really gooey. So I put it in for another 3 minutes, which was too much. The sides are a little dark but it still tastes pretty good. The house and hallway also smelled wonderful. This banana bread was especially fragrant.

                                    Next time, I will probably throw some chocolate chips in with the nuts. I think the chocolate will go well with the coconut.

                                    Here are some pics. I had some trouble slicing the bread. I was overly eager and kind of hacked it.



                                    4 Replies
                                    1. re: beetlebug

                                      Funny you should post this, I was looking at her quick breads last night and thinking that I wished I had tried her pumpkin bread instead of the DG pumpkin muffins. Her pumpkin bread looks REALLY good.

                                      1. re: Smokey

                                        I was going to make the pumpkin bread because I have a lot of leftover canned pumpkin. I ran out of nutmeg which is why this bread got put on the back burner.

                                        Next on the list though.

                                        1. re: Smokey

                                          It is REALLY good! I really liked the banana bread the best, but had to omit the coconut and nuts for the husband!

                                          1. re: Katie Nell

                                            I made the Fig Walnut bread this morning. It's rich & moist. Not to my liking though, guess I'm hard to please! Too rich (buttery), a bit (too) sweet for my palate. There's the fig crunch in there, which I'd prefer in a cookie.
                                            marthadumptruck-your baking sounds good! The multi-grain rolls do look inviting in the book & I love peanut butter cookies, never made them as sandwich cookies though..

                                      2. This weekend, I made the peanut butter sandwich cookies. Deeelish! I didn't cut the cookies with a knife but used a small rectangular tupperware-esque container to cut the cookies, and this worked well. I also used crunch PB, though the recipe called for creamy. Hey, it's all I had, and I liked the peanutty texture.

                                        Also made the buttermilk biscuits, which were the perfect accompaniment to the ATK Fried Chicken.

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: marthadumptruck

                                          Marthadumptruck--Have you made the baking soda (baking powder?) biscuits as well, or just the buttermilk? I'm getting a set of biscuit cutters for xmas, and have been thinking about which biscuit recipe I'm going to make on that morn'! Also, do you think the buttermilk biscuits were better in a savory context, or would do just fine in a sweet (read here, slathered with honey!) context? Thanks!

                                          1. re: Smokey

                                            Whoops! Sorry to be getting this now, but . . .

                                            I have only made the buttermilk. I think they could go sweet or savory. Honey would be an excellent accompaniment.

                                            1. re: marthadumptruck

                                              You know, it's funny, I finally made those buttermilk biscuits this weekend. They were great with honey, but somehow, they just weren't the biscuit for me. i continue to search for my perfect biscuit (and I hate to say it, but I think there may be some blame for the cook in this ongoing search!).

                                        2. I LOVE the oatmeal cookies. They have coconut, which is an interesting touch. They are really chewy/gooey, just the way I like them.

                                          I tried the pumpkin bread, but was suspicious that it would turn out well because it only has 2 tablespoons of oil. It was just OK - good if you're watching your fat intake - but there are many better recipes out there.

                                          1. Spicy Cheese Biscuits (pg. 36)

                                            I whipped these up for NY day breakfast today. They were very good and much more filling than I would have thought. This was my first time making biscuits of any kind and I was quite pleased with the results.

                                            I bought 6 oz of manchego cheese (per recipe specifications) and used about half. That's because the recipe stated 6 oz which was about 1 cup grated. I must have grated the cheese too finely because my half piece quickly became a cup. Next time, I will use the whole piece because the cheesy flavor didn't come through. I did use the sweet paprika but I want to try it with hot paprika instead. I like things with a bit more spice.

                                            The biscuits themselves were very light and flaky. I had doubts as I was placing them on the cookie sheet. They were very crumbly and didn't look like any batter that I had made in the past. But, I forged on and when I did the tray switch, I felt much better because they started to resemble biscuits.

                                            Picture of biscuits:


                                            1. So before being forced to return the book to the library (which I was very sad to have to do!), I made the cream cheese and chive biscuits and linzertorte as part of Christmas dinner.

                                              Cream Cheese & Chive Biscuits
                                              These were pretty easy to make, although the dough was pretty sticky. I followed the instructions exactly, which call for the "envelope folding" techniques used for making puff pastry. About 4-6 total turns are made w/ a couple of chilling times, so you do have to plan ahead a bit. I was excited to see if my biscuits would have that flaky, layered look depicted in the book's photo.

                                              I baked them for about 18-20 min., a couple min. longer than the book specifies. Unfortunately, they didn't puff up like the ones in the book and they seemed to exude some of the fat from butter and cream cheese during baking. The parchment paper underneath was soaked w/ grease, which I've never experienced before when making biscuits of any kind. I used fresh leavening agents, and the dough was well-chilled before baking so I'm not sure what happened...

                                              I tasted one while still warm and it was pretty tasty, if not as puffed and light as I would have liked. The flavors were really nice and balanced--a little tang from cream cheese, golden richness from Plugra, and the subtle onion bite of chives. Put in plastic bag when cooled and reheated in oven next day for dinner at my in-laws. Everyone seemed to really like them, although I wasn't so crazy about them that I was eager to make them again.

                                              Photo of biscuit served w/ curried pumpkin soup:

                                              I've never made this kind of tart before, but it was relatively easy to put together. The sandy, cookie-like crust is made w/ a blend of almonds, hazelnuts, sugar, flour, butter, and a hint of cinnamon. It was easy to hand press into my springform pan, but the lattice top that you have to roll out and cut was a little tricky and delicate. I didn't have a pretty, fluted cutter, so used my pizza cutter for the lattice ribbons. There was a good amount of dough left over from the top crust, so I made about 5 thumbprint-style cookies w/ those.

                                              I didn't make the raspberry jam recipe and used a storebought jam from Bon Maman. Recipe calls for about 1.25 c. of jam, but I used the whole 12 oz. jar since it seemed like the former was on the skimpy side. It was done in the time suggested.

                                              Overall, I thought this tart was good but def. sweet; you only need a small slice. The crust was really nice; I loved the addition of cinnamon w/ the nuts. It was flaky but held together nicely when cut. The lattice ribbons spread out during baking, so the jam didn't peek out as much as I would have liked. My family appreciated my efforts, but I think most people found it too sweet as I didn't get the usual raves. I guess I prefer tarts w/ fresh fruit or custard/curd.

                                              Unfortunately, my in-laws didn't have any powdered sugar in their pantry so I wasn't able to sprinkle that on for a snowy effect before serving. I also hated the serving plate we used, but that's the compromise I make for baking in someone else's kitchen! Photo of linzertorte:

                                              Even though I wasn't crazy about either of these recipes, I can't wait to get the book from the library again to try those Seville wafers and that 10" cookie.

                                              1. I recently made the pissaldiere, which was excellent.

                                                Nice crispy crust! I used whole wheat flour for 1/3 of the requested flour with good effect.

                                                I will make this again.

                                                1. I can't remember the exact name of them and I can't remember if there is more than one lemon bar recipe, but has anyone tried the lemon bars with wheat germ in the crust and the addition of lime? I'm making American classics for my friend's party this weekend- chocolate chip cookies, brownies, and lemon bars, and am wondering if this would be a good lemon bar recipe choice?

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: Katie Nell

                                                    They are called "Citrus Bars" and I made them this weekend. I am not really a huge lemon fan, it would probably be my last dessert choice... well, maybe a raisin pie would be last, but you get the idea... anyway, I thought these turned out really, really great! Mine were a little soft cutting them for the party, but I rushed that process a bit. I put a few in the fridge and after the party, they were just the right texture. They do take A LOT of ingredients- 8 eggs, 4 cups of sugar, 3/4 cup lemon juice, 3/4 cup lime juice, etc., and that's just in the custard part! 3/4 cup lime juice doesn't sound like a whole lot to squeeze, but those little suckers were a pain!! But, it doesn't really matter- they were very good and everyone seemed to like them a lot. I also made brownies (from MSL) and chocolate chip cookies (from CI). FYI for anyone wanting to make these- it took me almost 7 very small limes to get 3/4 cup and about 4 large lemons to get 3/4 cup.

                                                  2. I've the the following from the book:

                                                    1. Mexican wedding cookies - almost perfect! I baked half and froze half the dough "balls" so I can have some whenever I need a cookie fix.

                                                    2. Oatmeal raisin cookies - very good, not the best I've had, but still very good

                                                    3. Torta Sbrisolana (? name, don't the book with me right now) - This is the big italian cookie with the crumbly top. This was a hit at work! It was hard to make it look excatly like the picture. I think the butter should be a bit cool and not room temp in order to get that crumbly texture. But the cookie itself was excellent! I subbed walnuts for the almonds, because that's what I had on hand. The texture of the cookie is great. Slightly chewy edges with a crubly shortbread texture in the middle. Definitely will make this again.

                                                    4. Ice box cookies - Very good. Crisp and delicate. I made one with clementines and poppy seeds. Excellent with afternoon tea.

                                                    1. I made the Cream Cheese and Chive Biscuits tonight (sans chives... my regular grocery stores have been really lacking on herbs lately, and I haven't bought my growing herbs yet for this year) to go with a Shrimp and Green Chile Bisque... both were FANTASTIC!!! Yay- huge success with biscuits... finally!! So light and fluffy with all the layers- just perfect! (Sorry, I'm proud of myself on this one!) I really restrained myself from kneading them, and they just worked this time! The Shrimp and Green Chile Bisque was supposed to be with lobster, but being too expensive for my blood, I used shrimp. This recipe is in Bobby Flay Cooks American, and I bow down to Bobby- it was amazing! Went great with the biscuits! Total success tonight!

                                                      3 Replies
                                                      1. re: Katie Nell

                                                        I decided to take a picture last night! (My camera just does not do close-ups well at all!)

                                                        1. re: Katie Nell

                                                          Katie-- I'm considering those biscuits as I try a bunch of her cheese crackers and breads. :) Thanks for the description, and the cute pic. The bisque sounds DELIGHTFUL. I know this was a while ago but -- Any chance you might paraphrase that recipe for me?? I really like Flay's recipes. He's got a grilled potato salad that is awesome.

                                                          1. re: foxy fairy

                                                            This is the original recipe: http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/cda/r... but... I'm afraid I took a lot of liberties with the original! I used shrimp, which obviously is a major change. I omitted the cilantro as I'm not usually a huge fan. And I did not use tarragon in the relish- I used parsley all around. I'm sure I used garlic in the relish too, as I can never have too much garlic! Since I didn't have the lobster to make a stock, I used some lobster soup base. I just sauteed the veggies, and then added the soup base to it. Bobby would probably kill me for butchering his recipe, but it was still damn good!! I just think the hint of honey at the end is genius!

                                                      2. The date bran muffins are out of this world (and should be, with 1 1/2 cups sour cream and a lot of butter in them).
                                                        Wholemeal shortbread is excellent, reminds me of really good digestive biscuits.
                                                        Torta Sbrisolona is also a treat.
                                                        Am a very recent Martha convert - love this book, it's at the top of my list right now.