Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook: Simple Baked Goods; Cookies; & Cakes (Chapters 1, 2, and 3)
December 2007 Cookbooks of the Month, Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook AND Martha Stewart’s Hors d’Oeuvres Handbook.
Please post your full-length reviews of simple baked goods, cookies, and cakes (Chapters 1, 2, and 3) here. Please mention the name of the recipe you are reviewing as well as any modifications you made to the recipe.
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Sugar Cookies (pg. 82)
I made these over the Christmas holidays. The cookies had a great flavor but were very hard. But, there were a number of factors that could have contributed to this (through no fault of the recipe).
1. I made these cookies with a 7 year old and an almost 4 year old. This is not a good recipe to do with kids because of the waiting factors (dough has to be chilled for a couple of hours, rolled out, cut, chilled again, then decorated).
2. The kids were anxious so I rolled dough out at exactly 2 hours. That wasn't enough time. The almost 4 year old loved making the shapes and would always plop the cutter smack in the middle of the dough. The 7 yo was much better. Regardless, I had to re-chill and re-roll, numerous times.
3. After the shapes were cut out, there was a L - O - N - G time before I could get them into the oven. The kids took a (I want to poke a finger in my eye while I wait) time to decorate the shaped cookies. We're talking, put one red eye on the cookie, eat a handful of sprinkles slow. So, the cookies had softened and warmed up prior to being placed in the oven.
4. I wasn't used to this oven and it probably ran hot. The sheets were also really dark which would have contributed to the overbrowning of the cookies. The baking time was stated to be 15 minutes. I was pulling them out at 10-11 and they were still slightly overdone.
But, the flavor of the cookies were delicious and the crunchiness was fine (kids preferred much softer cookies) but they weren't as pretty because of the overbrowning.
For the holidays, one of the things I made was the marble pound cake. I wanted these for gifts, so I double the recipe and baked them in little loaves (3x5 inch disposible pans?). Came out wonderfully! Very easy to make, beautiful presentation with the swirls, and it was not a problem getting them out of the little tins (sprayed with pam baking spray with flour). Will make these again.
Cream cheese chive biscuits -- I should write that I don't have a pastry cutter, so I started to rub in the butter and cheese by hand but realized that's what food processors are for. So into the fp went the batter. I also used dry buttermilk (which usually is completely interchangeable), and I may have added 1/4 c. too many of water (Screaming 3 month old distracted me - I thought I counted, but I may not have). Because the dough was completely, totally impossible to roll out. "A little sticky' was the understatement of the year. So I made drop biscuits, no chilling, which were not flaky and layered but were tender and delicious, and baked up perfectly in 18 minutes.
Classic Crumb Cake
This is meant to be made in a 9x13 pan. I didn't have enough sour cream to make the full size, so I halved the recipe, which worked out fine. This cake is delicious. The crumb topping is amazing, very cinnamony - I used my new Penzey's cinnamon. You can't even say its a crumb topping because there is so much of it, its more like a crumb layer. Wonderful while still warm from the oven.
Pear Spice Bundt Cake.
First of all, I have to laugh at Martha including this in the simple baked goods chapter -- it involves making a caramel based pear sauce (which I did twice -- looked away at the wrong moment the first time, resulting in ohsoburnt caramel), which is not my idea of a simple cake (and so many cakes ARE simple). Still, the cake came together fairly easily once the pear sauce was made -- I'd leave the sauce very chunky, as the pear chunks were one of the best parts of the finished cake. To taste, the cake was a nice spice cake with some of that lovely graininess of pear. I made the cream cheese glaze but with goat cheese instead (got the idea from the apple cake with goat cheese icing later in the book) which was a nice counterpoint, and I even made the pear crisps (with seckel pears instead of Bartlett, and they took longer to harden in the oven than she suggested, and caramelized a lot more than the picture. Still, they did look nice on the finished cake).
re: Amuse Bouches
That's beautiful. I've been eyeing this cake as well. Question about the pear sauce though. Well, the caramel part. My recipe states to put the sugar in a saucepan and heat until the edges melts and turns golden. Stir until the sugar has melted.
Is that plain sugar with NO water? Seems counter intuitive to me.
Lemon Sugar Snaps (pg. 93)
I made these last year and loved them. So, I repeated these for my christmas cookie giveaway. These are just chock full of lemony goodness. The only pain to this recipe is zesting three lemons. But, luckily, C took pity on me and zested while I went for a run, post blizzard. For some reason, I love rolling the cookies in the sugar, pre-baking and this year, I knew that they would spread so made the balls smaller and better spaced. Unfortunately, they cooked a little faster so my first dozen were a bit too brown. As I put more batches into the oven, I probably baked them for a total of 10-11 minutes v. 12-15 minutes as specified in the book.
Banana Nut Bread (pg. 49)
this is a favorite of mine. I add a cup of chocolate chips to it since I love the banana/chocolate/coconut aspect of it. What makes this recipe different is the addition of one cup dried coconut. It gives the bread a lovely texture and subtle flavor. The bread has a slight crunch to it and that is contrasted to the natural softness of the dough. Unfortunately, I ran out of nuts and it made a significant difference in the taste.
These also store well in the freezer.
No pics because I forgot to take them.
Spicy Cheese Biscuits (pg. 36)
I made these last weekend and I don't know why I haven't made these since last year. But these are easy and quick to throw together for an impromptu gathering. I use spicy paprika and probably a bit more cheese than called for. But, these smell great in the oven and the warm biscuit is just perfect for a cold winter's day.
I recently made the gingerbread cakes with chocolate ganache... minus the ganache. I made a few changes... I omitted the ganache and made one big loaf rather than twelve mini cakes.
The taste was OK but I was hoping for a denser cake. It was very crumbly and airy. Very hard to cut. Next time (if there is a next time) I'd probably do the ganache and make them smaller to see if that solves my problem. It lacked a little something without any frosting.
I wrote about it here and with a photo: http://whatsonmyplate.wordpress.com/2...
Will probably try a few other things for the holidays!
I made the lemon curd cake. Its very easy to make - but it has three components. The cake part is very good, I would use this recipe for a plain unfrosted cake like a bundt cake. There was a lot of batter - too much for the 9" round pans - and some spilled over the edge onto the oven floor. The filling is lemon curd. The recipe calls for a double recipe of lemon curd, however I had about half left over so its safe to say you could get by with a single recipe. The cake gets cut into four layers, so there are three layers of lemon curd. The frosting is a basic swiss meringue buttercream, but very delicious.
This cake is extremely lemony. People either love it or hate it, depending on how much they like lemon. Not only is there lemon curd, but there is lemon in the cake itself. I think leaving that out and using vanilla instead would make a less lemony cake. Also keeping the cake two layers instead of 4 would reduce the amount of lemon curd, and therefore the lemoniness.
I liked it, and it looked great.
I made the white chocolate butterscotch cookies. DELICIOUS. But they browned WAY too quickly. I would definitely make them again but turn down the temperature and watch them closely.
I wrote about these cookies here: http://whatsonmyplate.wordpress.com/2...
I love this book and plan on cooking my way through it... as long as i don't gain 100lbs!
The first thing I made were the Blueberry Muffins pg 37/ last July promptly after purchasing the book. I'm working through reading the book first, (Yes I know-slowly) But I am not a ambitious baker, I am learning, so I will whimp out more often...
Anyway, these muffins I think were quite good I really liked the cakey muffin which is sweet, moist with a wonderful texture. I was fortunate to have very fresh blueberries from our Farmer's market which also were nice and sweet.
I followed her steps except, since I've never experienced a problem with sunken berries in my Blueberry muffin recipes and the thought of flouring them didn't sound good to me, I did not flour the berries, and they did not sink. I folded them before baking, had the oven ready, and did not peek. I did turn them halfway through the baking time as she suggests.
The only problem I had was that I did not get an even 12 muffins, as you can see from the photos, it is my error in judging how far up to fill the tin with batter.the second batch, the one on top, has a higher dome (and I baked them longer 35 mins in a gas oven). I would rather get 10 taller muffins than 12 smaller.
I also didn't use liners, used Trader Joe's Baker's spray with flour.
It's my opinion they are the best so far of the recipes I've tried. http://www.flickr.com/photos/7220939@...
I made the Rugelach (p. 85). I made this recipe last year and it went over very well with my friends, as it did this time. I used the jelly and (probably) a largish cup each of currants and mini semisweet chocolate chips - I scattered them in handfuls until it looked nice and full.
They cooked a little longer than the 25 minutes, in my oven, but I wanted them a bit browner than in the book's picture.
When I first got the book I immediately had to make the Mocha Roulade on pages 186-187. It came out tasting wonderful, but looking disastrous. The cake would not roll up like it is pictured, it just broke apart. So I put the cake and mousse into a bowl and served it as a trifle. It was delicious, but not a roulade.