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Friday, November 03, 2006

Spotlight on Baking: From My Home To Yours by Dorie Greenspan

I'm not going to say too much about Baking: From My Home To Yours because I don't want my knack for going on and on about something (keep scrolling - it really does eventually end) to overshadow the simple truth about Dorie's latest book.

I'm not a big baker. I feel I am a novice in the kitchen when it comes to baking anything more complicated than a simply frosted cake or an apple crisp. There are a lot of baking books out there that don't take into consideration the average home cook and his/her lack of experience or knowledge of baking. This book is the exception. There are some complicated recipes included in the pages of Baking, but not one of them looks as if it couldn't be accomplished by an average home cook as well as someone who has lots of experience in baking. It is for that simple reason and not the pretty pictures or the large variety of baked goodie recipes, that has me loving this book so very much. This is a book that I will buy for friends and family so they can enjoy it as much as I have. This is a book that I will continue to refer back to when I want to make something special. This is a cookbook that I thoroughly enjoyed reading as opposed to just searching for a recipe and following the instructions.

My last go at one of the recipes from this book was Dorie's Brown Sugar Bundt Cake. As much of a lover of all that is chocolate and all that is apples that I am, this was my favorite recipe by far. It was super easy to put together and the end result was a very moist caramel tasting cake loaded with plump golden raisins and sweet bosc pear chunks throughout.

I'll be making this cake again, and often. I found it to be perfect for breakfast! I think that next time, I'll be baking the batter in muffin tins and maybe changing up the fruit. Caramel and bananas sound good!

Brown Sugar Bundt Cake
Brown Sugar Bundt Cake
Adapted from Baking: From My Home To Yours by Dorie Greenspan, Houghton Mifflin Company, November 2006

2 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. ground hazelnuts or walnuts (or 1/4 c. more all-purpose flour)
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
2 sticks (8 oz.) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 c. (packed) light brown sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. pure almond extract (only if you're using the ground nuts)
1 c. buttermilk, at room temperature
2 medium pears, peeled, cored and cut into 1/4-inch dice.
1/2 c. moist, plump prunes, snipped into 1/4-inch pieces, or 1/2 c. moist, plump raisins (dark or golden)

Confectioners' sugar, for dusting

Getting Ready:
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350ยบ F. Butter a 9- to 10-inch (12 cup) Bundt pan, dust the inside with flour and tap out the excess. If your pan is not nonstick, dust the interior of the pan with flour, then tap out the excess. (If you've got a silicone Bundt pan, there's no need to butter or flour it.) Don't place the pan on a baking sheet - you want the oven's heat to circulate through the Bundt's inner tube.

Whisk together the flour, nuts, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with the paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each addition. Beat in the vanilla and the almond extract, if you're using it. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour mixture and the buttermilk alternately - add the flour in 3 additions and the buttermilk in 2 (begin and end with the dry ingredients). Mix only until the ingredients are incorporated and scrape down the bowl as needed. With a rubber spatula, stir in the pears and prunes. Scrape the batter into the pan and smooth the top with the spatula.

Bake for 60 to 65 minutes, or until a thin knife inserted deep into the center of the cake comes out clean. (If the cake looks as if it's browning too fast, cover the top loosely with a foil tent.) Transfer the cake to a rack and cool for 10 minutes before unmolding, then cool to room temperature on the rack.

When you are ready to serve, dust the top of the cake with confectioners' sugar.

*Dorie's Note 1: Dorie suggests, if you have the time, to wrap the cake well and leave it on the counter to ripen the flavors for a day before serving.

*Dorie's Note 2: This cake will keep well for about 5 days wrapped well and at room temperature and can be frozen for up to 2 months, defrost still wrapped.

*Playing Around: For a nuttier cake, use 2 cups all-purpose flour and 3/4 c. ground nuts - hazelnuts, walnuts or almonds. Decrease the vanilla extract to 1 1/4 tsp., and use the almond extract. Omit the pears and prunes and stir in 1 cup of chopped toasted nuts - use the same nut as the one you ground.

*Lisa's Notes: I can't have nuts, so I omitted the ground and the almond extract, which gave me a very caramel tasting cake. I also substituted golden raisins in lieu of the prunes just because it's what I had on hand. I did eat this cake the day of baking as well as every freaking day after (5 days!) and it did get better with each passing day. *swoon*

Brown Sugar Bundt slice

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Comments on "Spotlight on Baking: From My Home To Yours by Dorie Greenspan"

 

Blogger gattina said ... (11/03/2006 9:33 AM) : 

oh gorgeous! Caramel and banana... you're my type of guy, Lis!

 

Blogger Rachel said ... (11/03/2006 10:16 AM) : 

yum! I am impressed~

 

Blogger Acme Instant Food said ... (11/03/2006 11:59 AM) : 

That sounds like a great Thanksgiving dessert option--very warm and homey. :)

 

Blogger Callipygia said ... (11/03/2006 2:42 PM) : 

Lisa this sounds so good with or without the nuts/extracts. But wow, with the prunes and the pears...I also agree with finding good baking books that are accessible to people w/o advanced degrees in pastry making.

 

Anonymous peabody said ... (11/03/2006 2:56 PM) : 

You mentioned baking this for breaskfast as muffins. I say keep it a a bundt cake but then dip the slices of pound cake in egg batter and make french toast out of it.

 

Anonymous Helen said ... (11/03/2006 6:14 PM) : 

This looks so good! I have been eying it for a while and now I got your seal of approval!
Can't have nuts? Dang, and I was gonna send you macarons...I need to find something else now!

 

Blogger Lis said ... (11/04/2006 6:14 AM) : 

Gattina - I know! And I'm so going to try your deep fried banana with caramel!! :D

rachel - I was impressed too.

Kev - Oh yeah.. maybe apples instead of pears with a lil cinnamon added to the mix as well. :D

Callipygia - I have so many books with recipes that I am just terrified of trying because I don't feel I'd be successful. This one was perfect :D

peabody - Gawd. That is a wonderful idea! I'll try that some weekend! I was thinking the muffins because they'd be easier to take to work. Your idea is great - especially if I'm having company over - I could bake the cake ahead of time, freeze the slices and then pull them out for french toast when they come. Perfect!

Helen - thanks sweetie! I wrote you about the nuts.. I just can't do whole nuts anymore, but ground is fine - macarons - send! send! send! haha :D

 

Anonymous Ivonne said ... (11/04/2006 11:09 PM) : 

Oh!

I was going to make this one too! Yours looks beautiful!

 

Blogger Lis said ... (11/05/2006 8:45 AM) : 

Ivonne - Thanks sweetie!! I haven't checked out my favorite blogs yet this morning - but I was hoping I'd see if you've posted about what you made yet.. can't wait to go check it out :D

 

Blogger Jasmine said ... (11/08/2006 9:20 PM) : 

How beautiful. I'm sure it's very yummy--the recipes I tried were lovely...


j

 

Anonymous Kristen said ... (2/22/2007 9:42 PM) : 

You say you aren't a baker? Well, my dear, you most definitely are a baker! That looks so good!

I love this cookbook too. So good!

 

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