Baking

Gingersnap Lesson

The best gingersnap you’ll ever eat is homemade from a recipe in old editions of the Joy of Cooking. The recipe in the oldest of my four editions of Joy contains cayenne and makes a freakishly huge batch of almost 120 cookies. It changed just a little by the 1972 edition. The batch is still huge, but the cayenne is gone. Big change for the 1997 edition. The batch size is down to 6 dozen. Instead of vinegar, the recipe is formulated with lemon juice, and includes lemon zest and orange zest. The flavors are very distracting–it’s not a gingersnap, it’s a citrus snap. For the 75th anniversary edition, the editors finally reduced the yield, but they left in the lemon and orange flavors. I use the old recipe, which I’m reprinting here. 1953 Joy of Cooking Gingersnaps 2015-01-10 10:46:21 The original recipe yields more than 120 cookies, so this recipe is a half batch. Write a review Save Recipe Print Ingredients 6 tablespoons butter, softened 1 cup sugar 1 egg, beaten 1/4 cup molasses 1 teaspoon vinegar Scant 2 cups all-purpose flour 3/4 teaspoon baking soda 1/4 teaspoon salt 1 tablespoon ground ginger 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves Sugar for rolling, optional Instructions Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Beat the butter and sugar until fluffy. Stir in the egg, molasses and vinegar. Sift the flour, soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon and cloves into a bowl. Add to the butter mixture and beat or stir until combined. Form into 3/4-inch dough balls. At this point, you can roll them in sugar before baking--it's a pretty touch. Or skip it and just arrange about 2 inches apart on a baking sheet. Bake for about 12 minutes. Let cool on the sheet for 1 to 2 minutes. Remove to a rack to cool completely. Notes The dough keeps well in the refrigerator for up to a week. The cookies freeze well and ship well. By Irma Rombauer Adapted from 1953 Joy of Cooking Adapted from 1953 Joy of Cooking The Project Kitchen...

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Concord Grape Bread

Concord Grape Bread

The book’s I’ve edited, I love them like children. Beautiful Breads & Fabulous Fillings by Margaux Sky (Rutledge Hill Press, 2006) was my quirky child, full of odd recipes like roasted red pepper-brie-mint bread and creamy viognier and pineapple sauce. At the same time I’m trying to clear out the cabinets and freezer of the various bit and bottles, I flip through the book and, behold, Concord Grape Bread! Just what I need to use I have a jar of concord grape syrup from summer 2013! It’s a strange recipe: boysenberry yogurt, powdered sugar, grape jam, soy milk. At least there’s a reason for the soy milk: unlike cow milk, it doesn’t have to be scalded and cooled before using. (Something about lactose inhibits yeast growth.) The ingredient list sounds as if the author flung open the cabinets, rounded up all the stray ingredients, and made something. In other words, my kind of recipe. The dough was very damp, so knowing when the bread was done was challenging. I used a probe thermometer and let the bread bake to 200 degrees. That temperature middle of the range for yeast bread doneness, 190 to 210. The taste? Grapey, soft, a little doughy. Delicious with almond butter. It even toasted reasonably well. Will I make it again? Only if I have soy milk, boysenberry yogurt and grape jam on hand.    Concord Grape Bread 2015-01-14 10:58:51 Yields 1 The original made 2 loaves & I halved it. So obviously this recipe will double successfully. Write a review Save Recipe Print Cook Time 1 hr Cook Time 1 hr Ingredients 1 envelope dry yeast 1 cup warm vanilla soy milk 1/2 cup boysenberry or blackberry yogurt 1 cup grape jelly 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar 4 tablespoons butter 4 to 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 1 1/2 teaspoons salt Instructions Grease a large mixing bowl and a loaf pan. Dissolve the yeast in the warm milk. Let stand 5 minutes, or until foamy. Add the yogurt, jelly, confectioners' sugar and mix well. Stir together the flour and salt in another large bowl. Gradually add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, mixing with your hands or a wooden spoon. The dough will be damp and heavy, but shouldn't be too sticky. Transfer the dough to the greased bowl. Let rise in a warm place for 1 hour. Press the dough into the prepared loaf pan. Let rise for 1 hour. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Bake the bread for about 1 hour until the internal temperature is about 195 degrees and the loaf sounds hollow when thumped on the bottom. Let cool for 30 minutes in the pan. Remove and cool for 30...

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Free Cookbook Friday: Tennessee Edition

Free Cookbook Friday: Tennessee Edition

Four cookbooks to give away this week–my biggest giveaway yet. Cooking from Nashville, Nashvillians and a certain boardinghouse near a certain whiskey distillery will find a new home this week. First up, a celebrity cookbook in every way: Southern Country Cooking from The Loveless Cafe by Jane and Michael Stern. That’s a double-barreled book right there. The world-famous Loveless (yes, the fried chicken recipe is in the book), Coconut Cream Pie by Alisa Huntsman, Loveless pastry chef and author of willgardenforcake.com, written by the well-known Roadfood duo. I could go on about how valuable and useful this cookbook will be for you, but there’s more! The Jack Daniel’s Cookbook. The recipes are from Jack Daniel’s organization (Honey Jack Bars, JD Bread Pudding) and Miss Mary Bobo’s Boarding House (spoon rolls, succotash salad with lemon dressing), vetted by Jack’s great-grandniece Lynne Tolley and food writer, author and Chopped winner Mindy Merrell. Culinary gold for the cook. And Ann Byrne! The Cake Mix Doctor is Nashville-born and we’re proud to know her. Food Gifts for All Seasons is as personal and useful as her Cake Mix Doctor, Dinner Doctor and What Can I Bring? books. Super recipes for taking to a new mother (chicken enchiladas), using wild persimmons, making quick pickles, and simple cocktail snacks (pickled asparagus, smoked trout pate). All desserts–nothing but sweetness and light in You Be Sweet, the fourth cookbook in this week’s giveaway. Goodies and drinks for a sip-and-see, low-sugar recipes for peach ice cream and cherry cheesecake bars, and sweet-tooth treats like whoopie pecan pies. Sheer bliss for the dessert baker. To be eligible, leave a comment here on what you baked/are planning to bake during this holiday season. On Monday, a random number generator will pick the winner. Good luck to everyone–I want you all to...

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47th Pillsbury Bake-Off Photo Gallery

Several recipes captured my imagination before the contest arrived in town. Vegetable samosas sounded so good. Triple Layer Cheesy Ham and Cauliflower Sandwiches was one of the first recipes out of the oven on Bake-Off day. The geometry and color of some entries was very appealing. Brentwood resident Tom Piantek is a second-generation Pillsbury finalist. Tell the truth: if you could have your photo made with the Pillsbury Dough Boy, you totally would. I got too busy and never tasted Salted Caramel Cashew Cookie Tarts. TV people owning the aisles…. The only Bundt shape at the contest, and a nicely retro flavor profile. For Orange-Glazed Biscones, the baker studded biscuit dough with cranberries and apricots. Another filled cup-shaped cookie. Mascarpone and chocolate were surprisingly light and not too sweet. The baker got the idea for a Hummingbird flavor profile from a very old Southern Living magazine. French bread dough rolled into ropes and sliced for “gnocchi.” Scene photographer sharing the spotlight with the Doughboy So many imaginative recipes, like this one, which combined sookie dough, Niblets and cornmeal for the corncakes. No kidding–cookie dough! The soft texture and buttery-coconut-pineapple filling were a real standout for me, a strong contender. Nashvillian Tom Piantek got a lot of attention as one of five men competing in the Bake-Off. Piantek’s Fiesta Baked Tamales had a filling of Chi-Chi’s seasoned meat and Niblets, plus queso for dipping. For me, this was pretty much the strongest contender for innovation, ease and...

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Butterscotch Bread

Butterscotch Bread

Let’s be honest: the last couple of squash in the vegetable drawer are looking a little forlorn right now. Turn them into quick bread greatness that’s excellent with coffee or milk, and freezes well for that bake sale or unexpected company. Obviously it’s not health food, but it gets a much better reception than a squash side dish. (Pro tip: peel the squash, especially zucchini, if your crew is super-observant. And definitely scoop the seeds out over overgrown, late-season squash) Butterscotch Bread 2014-10-23 11:30:18 Yields 2 Yellow squash or zucchini, well hidden in a quick bread. Write a review Save Recipe Print Ingredients 3 eggs 1 cup cooking oil 1 cup sugar 2 cups grated yellow squash or zucchini 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract 2 cups flour (all-purpose, white wheat, whole wheat) 1/2 cup oats 1 (3-ounce) package instant butterscotch pudding mix 1 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon baking soda 1/4 teaspoon baking powder 1 teaspoon cinnamon Instructions Beat the eggs, oil and sugar in a large bowl until light in color and somewhat thickened. Stir in the squash and vanilla. Combine the remaining ingredients and mix well. Add to the squash mixture; mix until no white streaks of flour remain. Spoon the mixture into two greased 8-inch loaf pans or a single 10-inch springform pan. Bake at 350 degrees for about 1 hour. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes; remove and cool completely. Makes 2 loaves or 1 cake. Notes Freezes well. A lemon-juice-butter-confectioners sugar glaze is nice. The Project Kitchen...

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Hello, I’m Nicki

I've written about food for a living since The Silver Palate was new. Discovering a new cookbook or technique is my idea of fun. And kitchen gear--I'm helpless to resist. Like kitchen projects, the posts here are occasional and open-ended, so please subscribe. You can read more about my work at the "About Nicki" page.

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