No one is trying to hang on to 2020 any longer than is absolutely necessary. But even at the end of this strange, strange year I wanted to take a moment to remember a few bright spots. More than ever this year, I got messages, comments, and emails about how recipes on this site helped you to pass time, to find comfort, to learn a new skill. As a food blogger I can’t ask for anything more, so thank you for making this little hobby of mine even more rewarding through your kind words and recipe remakes. See you in 2021!
While it was a notoriously challenging year to release a book (ingredient shortages, printing and mailing delays, no in-person events or book signings), I smile every time I see Baked to Order in another kitchen somewhere in the world. Thank you for supporting me by supporting Baked to Order — I am truly humbled by your kindness, and I look forward to seeing more of your bakes from it in the new year.
Remember when flour and yeast was scarce and everyone made a sourdough starter? Yeah, me neither. But while the intense sourdough craze of spring 2020 has cooled, your love for sourdough hasn’t. My sourdough discard post was the most popular page on the blog in 2020, and I published a few new sourdough recipes this year:
Cookies were my ideal 2020 baked good: perfect for socially-distanced drop-offs and easy to freeze for later. I published more cookie recipes this year than ever before, because I made more cookies this year than ever before!
This year, we all looked for ways to celebrate in scaled-down fashion. I absolutely cannot wait for the day I can make and share a big old layer cake with my friends, but will enjoy these small-batch treats for years to come.
My first cookbook, Baked to Order, comes out in just a few short days! One of my main takeaways from the cookbook writing experience is that it takes a village. I could not have written this book without the help of SO MANY people! In particular I wanted to give a shout-out to my wonderful cookbook photography partner Diana Muresan.
Diana took photos for all sixty main recipes in the book, plus chapter openers and step-by-step photos for some of the more intricate processes. COVID lockdowns hit when we were about a third done with the photos, which prevented us from working in the same room as much as we had planned (not to mention it threw a major wrench into our childcare/school routines!). In retrospect, I’m still not entirely sure how we pulled it off. There were a lot of spreadsheets, socially distanced food drop-offs, and FaceTime consultations involved. But challenges were made to be conquered! I personally learned so much from watching Diana in action — she has an incredible eye for light and detail. I can’t wait for you all to enjoy her beautiful photos!
At Ruth’s invitation, I am sharing my favourite images from Baked to Order, and a bit about the photography and styling process behind them. It was a fantastic project, and like all worthwhile life experiences, it had its ups and downs (hello, lockdown). The best thing about creating the photography was working with Ruth, whose skill, patience, and optimism seemed endless, even amidst the challenges of finding ingredients during food staple shortages, or transporting ready-made baked masterpieces to my studio to be photographed. If you ever took a cake to a party, sweating bullets at every turn or pothole, and praying your cake makes it in one piece, unscathed, then you know what those weeks looked like for us. But amazingly, not a single crumb was harmed during transportation, and all the goodies made it to my studio in one piece, ready for their moment of glory. Working “together but apart” on the book wasn’t exactly how Ruth or I had envisioned our collaboration at the start, but I am really proud of this book and I hope that you enjoy it too.
Braided sourdough challah
We were experienced baked goods transporters by the day when I opened the door and Ruth was standing there, holding a baking sheet with this braided challah on it. It looked stunning, and was still warm. My jaw dropped and I could not look away – it is one of the easiest subjects I’ve ever photographed. I literally just placed it down on set and started clicking. It’s one of my favourite images in the book, with its appealing simplicity of a beautiful bread hugged by gentle light.
Earl Grey bundt cake
This is one of the more propped shots in the book, as I made an effort to hint to the bundt’s tea flavouring by adding props that supported the story. In the interest of creating an image with nice glaze drips, we decided to glaze the bundt after it was already on set. If you are styling a bundt with a glaze, adjust its consistency carefully, so the drips flow slowly and you have plenty of opportunity to capture them in crisp detail.
If there is powdered sugar to be photographed, I’ll make it a priority to photograph it in motion – it is one of the most beautiful food gestures that can be captured, in my opinion. So I decided to capture a motion shot for the bostock. The difficulty was creating an action shot in horizontal orientation, which does not naturally lend itself to food action images. We normally drip, drizzle, sprinkle or pour vertically – so fitting that into a horizontal frame was challenging. I still think it is beautiful, and definitely learned a few tricks while shooting it.
David’s chocolate raspberry cake
The way light interacts with the different textures of chocolate is so interesting, and this cake gave me the chance to observe that. I took some images of the whole cake, but the magic was missing: I wanted the readers to see what the inside looked like. I knew from Ruth’s briefing on the recipe that the layers were sandwiched together with juicy raspberries in between, and also knew the layers would look perfect when cut. Grouping several plated slices in the shot hints at a celebratory gathering, and it’s as if we are just waiting to be handed a plate so we could, with a satisfied smile, finally dig in.
Mango strawberry tart
The fantastic thing about a tart is that it can be styled in so many ways: whole with sparse garnishes for a flatlay, or with lots of garnish, sliced once, or with many slices, as I’ve done here. To achieve the clean cuts, I made sure to not place garnishes where the cuts were going to be, as garnishes get pulled down into your tart if you are trying to cut through them when slicing. So after taking a few shots of the uncut tart with the strawberry garnish, I removed the strawberry halves, then sliced it, and finally re-positioned the strawberries. Another thing to keep in mind is to keep the garnish as fresh-looking as possible, since “tired” garnishes would make even the best-looking tart look… well, tired.
I have so many other favourites, and I hope you will have some of your own once you hold the book in your hands. Ruth put her heart into it, and we both strived to create something you would enjoy and use often in your own kitchen. Happy baking!
Baked to Order comes out November 17, 2020. Preorder wherever books are sold!
I’ve been obsessed with making ice cream for the past year or so, ever since one of our friends kindly gave us her ice cream maker. I grew up in an ice-cream loving household; birthday cakes were often boxes of ice cream decorated with candy (even though more than half of us are lactose intolerant).
I’d hemmed and hawed for a couple summers about getting an ice cream maker — was it worth the space? Would I really use it? And now that I have one, I honestly can say I only regret not having one sooner!
(Side note: Yes, there are lots of “no churn” ice cream recipes out there. And ways to get around not having an ice cream maker. If you can’t or don’t want to invest in a machine, might I suggest you explore semifreddo recipes? They have a beautiful smooth and mousse-like texture, and aren’t as sweet/heavy compared to typical no-churn recipes involving sweetened condensed milk and whipped cream.)
Once you find some base recipes you like, homemade ice cream is all about experimenting and creating your own flavors. Try flavoring the base with an infusion or addition, add a mix-in or three, or both! For this chocolate-frecked coffee and rye whisky batch, I infused the dairy with whole coffee beans, mixed in a little rye whisky before churning, then added in some melted chocolate at the end of churning to create chocolate “freckles.” So. Delicious. I can’t wait to make this one again!
A few notes:
The base here is adapted from my go-to Philadelphia-style (eggless) ice cream base from Salt and Straw. It’s super easy to make, but it does require xanthan gum, corn syrup/glucose, and milk powder. I don’t recommend skipping these ingredients because they work together to create a beautifully smooth, non-icy ice cream that lasts well in a home freezer. I can easily source all three ingredients at my local bulk food stores and supermarket.
There are a lot of ways to flavor ice cream with coffee, but what I particularly liked about this cold infusion method was that the coffee flavor is super clean and not bitter at all. (You also don’t end up with a brown-colored ice cream that screams “COFFEE” which I thought was kind of nice.) I recommend weighing out the coffee beans before you add them, and then weighing them after they’re strained out. The coffee beans will inevitably soak up some of the liquid, so you’ll want to replace it before churning. Weighing the coffee beans will tell you exactly how much liquid to add back.
For best results, use fresh coffee beans. They don’t need to be super fancy or single origin, but fresh beans will impart the most flavor. I like to use an espresso roast, but use whatever you like.
Chocolate-freckled coffee and rye whisky ice cream
Makes about 1 quart/liter
100g (½ c) granulated sugar
15g (2 Tbsp) milk powder
¼ tsp xanthan gum
¼ tsp kosher salt
330g (1 1/3 c) whole milk, plus more as needed (divided)
40g (2 Tbsp) corn syrup or glucose
113g (1/2 c) whole coffee beans
330g (1 1/3 c) heavy cream, plus more as needed (divided)
30-45g (2-3 Tbsp) rye whisky
90g (1/2 c) bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 1/2 tsp neutral vegetable oil
Make the coffee ice cream base: In a medium saucepan, whisk together the sugar, milk powder, xanthan gum, and salt. Whisk in 330g milk and the corn syrup.
Heat over medium, whisking constantly, until the mixture is steaming and slightly thickened and the sugar is dissolved, about 3 minutes.
Remove the saucepan from the heat, add the 113g whole coffee beans, and cover. Infuse in the warm milk for 5-10 minutes. Pour the milk mixture and coffee beans into a heatproof container and stir in the 330g heavy cream. Cover and transfer to the refrigerator to infuse for 12 hours.
Churn the ice cream: When you are ready to churn your ice cream, strain out the coffee beans with a fine mesh sieve. Weigh the coffee beans and subtract 113g — this is how much liquid was absorbed by the beans, and how much liquid you need to add back to the strained base via the rye whisky and extra milk/cream. (My beans weighed 213g, so I needed to add about 100g of liquid back. I added 40g of rye whisky, 30g milk, and 30g cream.)
Churn the base according to the instructions for your machine, until the mixture has the texture of soft serve (for my machine this is about 20-25 minutes). While the ice cream is churning, melt the chocolate and oil together in the microwave or over a double boiler. During the last minute of churning, drizzle in the melted chocolate in a thin, steady stream.
Transfer ice cream to a freezer-friendly container (a loaf pan works well). Cover with parchment paper, pressing it to the surface of the ice cream so it adheres, then cover with a lid. Freeze until firm, at least 6 hours. Ice cream will keep for up to 3 months.
Hello, hi, it’s been a hot minute since I’ve posted here! I hope you all are staying safe and well during this crazy, confusing time. A lot of you are baking bread and making sourdough starters, which is certainly a bright spot amongst all the madness. As the days start to meld together, the rising and falling of my own starter provides a comforting rhythm to the days.
I’ve been baking a lot, though in smaller batches since I can’t give away extras as easily any more. Banana bread and brownies always, plus a lot of new recipes for my cookbook.
Sorry, I buried the lede there — I’m working on a baking cookbook! I can’t share too many details right now, except to say it’s a collection of 60+ recipes from cookies to cakes to yeasted and sourdough breads to pastries. It’s been a wild ride (I didn’t expect finding butter and eggs to be one of the challenges I’d face, but there you go) and I’ve questioned my sanity more than a few times. But now that the first draft of my manuscript is almost finished I’m starting to feel excited! There’s still a lot of work to do, but I can’t wait to see it all come together in the coming months.
I wanted to share a recipe for some funfetti rice krispie treats that I made a couple months back (pre-social distancing…) for a bake sale. These are a colorful variation of my brown butter rice krispie treats, and they never fail to put a smile on my face. If you want to add a sweet-salty kick you could sub some (or all) of the rice krispies with lightly crushed Ruffles potato chips. SO GOOD.
Funfetti Rice Krispie Treats
Makes one 8×8 or 9×9 pan
113g / 8 Tbsp unsalted butter
400g / 10 cups mini marshmallows, divided
1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher or sea salt
1 tsp vanilla extract (use artificial if you want to emphasize the funfetti flavor)
160g / 6 cups crispy rice cereal, such as Rice Krispies (about half a 12-ounce box)
40g / 1/4 c rainbow sprinkles, plus more for the top
Line an 8×8 or 9×9 pan with foil. Lightly butter or oil the foil for easy removal. Measure out all your ingredients — this is a quick and simple recipe, but once you start, you do need to move quickly!
In a large pot over medium-low heat, brown the butter. Place the cubed butter in a large, light-colored pot over low-medium heat. Once the butter has melted, turn the heat up to medium-high. Stir frequently with a heatproof spatula, scraping the sides and bottom of the pan as needed. The butter will crackle, foam, turn clear gold, then finally start browning. It’s done when the crackling subsides and you smell toasted nuts.
When the butter has browned, immediately take the pan off the heat and add the salt, vanilla, and 8 cups of marshmallows. Stir constantly until the marshmallows are melted and you have a smooth mixture. If the residual heat from the butter isn’t enough to melt the marshmallows completely, turn the heat back to low.
Add the cereal and stir until evenly coated with the marshmallow mixture. Stir in the remaining two cups of mini marshmallows, followed by the 1/4 c rainbow sprinkles. Don’t overmix once you add the sprinkles or the colors will bleed.
Immediately scrape the mixture into the prepared pan and, using a greased silicone spatula or a piece of greased parchment/wax paper, press it firmly into an even layer. Garnish with extra sprinkles. Let cool completely at room temperature before cutting into squares.
Store in an airtight container and eat within 3 days. I’ve heard you can refrigerate or freeze them, well wrapped, for longer storage, though they haven’t lasted long enough around here for me to test that.
One of the questions I get most often is, “How do you find time to bake?” I’ll admit, it can be a bit of a juggling act. Since starting this blog, we’ve gone from zero to three children, ages 4 and under. Baking projects that I used to finish in an evening are now slo-o-o-o-wly pieced together over the course of several days. I could write a book about it, but thankfully, I don’t have to — Michelle Lopez’s new cookbook, Weeknight Baking will teach you everything you need to know about baking to fit your schedule.
I received Michelle’s book as a literal birth day present — it arrived the same day our third child, Isabelle, did! Weeknight Baking was actually the perfect cookbook to help ease me into the new reality of baking with another tiny human around, because each recipe is either quick to make OR broken down into 15-to-30 minute tasks that you can piece together over a few days. And, as my family will attest, the recipes are delicious! So far, we’ve easily polished off a pan of her cheesecake bars and a batch of these oatmeal cookies.
I have always been partial to a good old fashioned oatmeal cookie, and I’m delighted to add this recipe to our rotation. These babies take about half an hour from start to finish — no chilling required! I made a couple small changes — first, I used sifted spelt flour instead of all purpose; and second, I popped a mini pretzel on each cookie (before baking) because I’m all about that salty-sweet combo. Feel free to go traditional with just raisins, or play around with the mix-ins — Michelle gives several fantastic sounding options. Whatever you do, make these cookies! And congrats, Michelle, on your new book!
1 recipe Oatmeal Cookie Mix-In of your choice (I used raisins and mini pretzels)
1 1/4 c (5.65 oz) all-purpose flour (I used sifted spelt)
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp kosher salt
2/3 c (5 oz) tightly packed dark brown sugar (I used light)
1/3 c (2.35 oz) granulated sugar
3/4 c (6 oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 large egg
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 3/4 c (6.15 oz) old-fashioned rolled oats
Oatmeal cookie mix-ins
Classic oatmeal raisin: 1 c (5.5 oz) raisins
Oatmeal chocolate chip: 8 oz dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa), from whole feves or a high-quality chocolate bar, chopped into 1/2-to-1-inch pieces
Oatmeal, Cranberry, and White Chocolate: 1 c (6 oz) dried cranberries and 3 oz white chocolate, from whole feves or a high-quality chocolate bar, chopped into 1/2-to-1-inch pieces
Oatmeal, cherry, and pistachio: 1 c (5 oz) dried cherries and 1/2 c (2.5 oz) shelled pistachios
Oatmeal and crystallized ginger: 1/2 c (3.5 oz) crystallized ginger, chopped into 1/4-to-1/2-inch pieces
Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350F. Line two half-sheet pans with parchment paper.
Place the mix-in of your choice in a shallow bowl and toss to combine.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the sugars and butter. Beat on medium-high until light, fluffy, and doubled in volume, 2-3 minutes, using a rubber spatula to scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl as necessary. Reduce the mixer to low, add the egg and vanilla, and beat until combined. Scrape down bottom and sides of the bowl. With the mixer on low, gradually add the dry ingredients and beat until just combined. Add the oats all at once and beat on low until combined, scraping down the bottom and sides of the bowl as needed to fully incorporate oats. Add the mix-in all at once and beat on medium-low until the mix-in is evenly distributed throughout, about 1 minute.
Use a 3-tablespoon cookie dough scoop to portion the cookie dough into 20 balls (about 45 g each, but may vary depending on mix-ins), placing them at least 3 inches apart on the prepared sheet pans. Bake one pan at a time for 15 minutes, or until the edges have set but the centers are still gooey. Cool the cookies on the pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes, or until the edges and bottoms of the cookies have set and feel firm to the touch. Repeat with the remaining cookie dough (or freeze it to bake later). Serve warm or at room temperature. The cookies can be stored in an airtight container or zip-top bag at room temperature for up to 3 days.