Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Baking Basics and Beyond! Recipes and a Review!

Recently my friend Pat Sinclair  sent me a copy of her outstanding second edition  Baking Basics and Beyond ! Literally  it's the ultimate baking guide both for beginners and bakers looking to perfect their skills. It has more than 100 classic and updated recipes. I'm a huge fan!  Pat is also the author who wrote Scandinavian Classic Baking I adore that cookbook! This second edition  of Baking Basics and Beyond was presented with the "Baking Cookbook Award" by the Cordon d' Or--Gold Ribbon International Annual Cookbooks and Culinary Arts Program.

So, when I got this book I jumped in! Her recipes were so beautiful that I had a horrible time deciding what to bake! Thanks a lot Pat. You speak to my Baker's heart!  I bookmarked 12 recipes and poured over the wonderful descriptive pages. She does such a great job of describing baking skills. Her tips were perfect not only for beginners, but seasoned bakers as well. Here recipes, as always, made me drool. I finally settled on two recipes to whirl around. The first was one of the final recipes in the book. It was an Onion, Fig, and Asiago Focaccia. She described it so beautifully I couldn't resist! " A traditional Italian focaccia is sprinkled with herbs, usually rosemary, and drizzled with olive oil, making it a nice addition to an Italian Dinner...the contrast between the sweet figs and the caramelized onion is outstanding."   What more can I say?! Well, I can say, "Wow! This really is amazing!"  
 Onion, Fig, and Asiago Focaccia
 by Pat Sinclair from Baking Basics and Beyond  

2 3/4 cup (333g) All purpose flour
1 T (15 g) sugar
1 (1/4 oz[7g]) package active dry yeast
1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) course salt
1 cup (236 mL) very warm water (120-130 degrees Fahrenheit [49-54 degrees Celsius])
1/4 cup olive oil, divided
1 cup (150 g) sliced onion (1 medium) {I used red onion}
1 cup (90 g) grated Asiago Cheese
8 dried figs, coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons (10 ml) coarsely chopped fresh rosemary
Coarse salt

Combine flour, sugar, yeast, and salt in large bowl. Add water and 2 tablespoons (30 mL) Olive oil and mix until a sticky batter is formed. 

 Cover bowl and let batter rise in a warm place for 30 minutes. Dough will have risen, but may not be doubled. Punch down, forcing out any large air bubbles. Cover loosely and allow dough to rise 15 minutes. 
 While dough is rising, heat remaining olive in a  9 inch (22.5 cm) skillet over medium heat. Add sliced onions and cook until tender. You will need to stir occasionally so onions don't burn. When cooked through, onions will be transparent. Cool slightly before placing onions on the dough. They will brown during baking. 
Lightly spray a 12 inch (30 cm) pizza pan with non-stick cooking spray. Press dough in pan, pressing so it sticks to the pan sides. Use handle of a wooden spoon on your knuckles to press dimples in the dough. Place onion slices on top and sprinkle with cheese, figs, rosemary, and course salt. The oil will fill in the dimples. 
 Cover loosely and let rise 30 minutes.  Heat oven to 425 degrees (220 Celsius) with rack in the lower third of the oven. Bake 20-25 minutes or until focaccia edges are brown and cheese is melted. Cool to room temperature and cut into wedges before serving. 

The second recipe made me weep.  It was *that* beautiful.  It also made my husband get up at midnight and eat 6 bars and drink half a gallon of milk. It was a gorgeous lemon bar that Pat called the Sunny Citrus Bar!
Pat Sinclair's Sunny Citrus Bars
 Pat described, "Here's my favorite lemon bar recipe. I use orange juice, in addition to lemon juice, to balance the sharpness of the lemon juice..." I stopped reading after that description. I ran outside. As random as that seems, we have an orange tree in my backyard full of sweet beautiful oranges that have been begging for something like this.  I think that's the first time I've had that literal reaction to a baking book. I just dropped what I was doing and ran outside for an orange! Add the lemon from a friend's tree and I was ready to run with these bars! Run and hide! Run and not share! Run...and run for 5 miles so I could burn enough calories to eat a couple more! I really loved these. Pat called for a 9 by 13 baking pan, but I did use a 10 by 10. My filling and crust are a little thicker than they would be if you used a 9 by keep that in mind. However...these bars are going to taste divine. They were a perfect balance of tart and sweet with the buttery shortbread-like crust that melts in your mouth. Pat also uses a glaze for her bars. Remarkable. 
Sunny Citrus Bars
by Pat Sinclair from Baking Basics and Beyond 
Yield 36 bars

2 cups (242 g) all purpose flour
1 cup (115 g) powdered sugar
3/4 cup (170 g) butter

1 1/2 cups (300 g) sugar
3 tablespoons (23 g) all purpose flour 
1 teaspoon (5 mL) baking powder
1/8 teaspoon (.7 mL) salt
4 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup (118 mL) freshly squeezed lemon juice (1-2 lemons)
1/4 cup (59 mL) freshly squeezed orange juice (1 orange)
1/4 cup (57 g) melted butter
1 teaspoon (5  mL) grated lemon peel
1 teaspoon (5 mL) grated orange peel 

Glaze: 1 1/2 cups (171 g) powdered sugar
           2-4 tablespoons (30-60 mL) orange juice

Heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius) with oven rack in middle.  Lightly spray the bottom of a 13 by 9 -inch (33 X 22.5 cm) baking pan with non-stick cooking spray. 

Crust: Mix flour and powdered sugar in a medium bowl. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender until mixture resembles course crumbs with some pea-sized pieces. Press crust evenly in bottom and slightly up sides of baking pan. Bake 20-25 minutes or until edges begin to brown. Reduce heat to 325 degrees (165 Celsius).

Filling: Combine sugar, flour, baking powder, and salt in medium bowl. Beat in egss using a wire whisk. When smooth, stir in lemon juice, orange juice, butter, lemon peel and orange peel and mix well. Pour over hot crust.
Bake 20-25 minutes or until filling is set in the center and a knife comes out clean, although it will still be wet. Cool on a wire cooling rack to room temperature. 
Glaze: Combine powdered sugar and 2 tablespoon (30 mL) orange juice in a small bowl and beat with a small whisk until smooth. Spread glaze over cooled bars. Store bars in refrigerator. 
Thank you Pat Sinclair for sharing this "baking bible"! It's a masterpiece full of timeless baking wisdom, well tested recipes, and just down-right good advice. It's made understandable to not only the beginner, but the experienced baker as well. Pat is a food consultant and cooking teacher with a master's degree in foods and more than twenty-five years of professional experience. Throughout her career she has worked with high profile clients such as Land O'Lakes, General Mills, and Pillsbury.  She lives in Minneapolis...but visits Arizona often in the winter. In fact, it was on one such visit, that we had the chance to meet in person just outside the NBC studio as I was heading in for a segment! She's just a doll. That is of course, how I've come to share this book and her last book Scandinavian Classic Baking with you. Oh the kindred spirits!  I'm certain I'll use this Baking Basics and Beyond with great joy for years to come.  I highly recommend it!  

There you go! Baking Basics and Beyond  now in it's second edition.  A beautiful book by a wonderful lady!

Always My Very Best,
Your Friend Chef Tess


ChefJohn said...

It is just before 7 a.m. and I have finished my first cup of coffee. I am now wishing I had not used my lemon for other purposes yesterday as it is the only ingredient I do not have in the house for the lemon bars. They would be in the oven if I had one. And with a fresh coating of snow in Maine running outside to pick them from a tree is not an option. These will be made this weekend.


Chef Tess said...

Oh John...I realize how horrid it is that I can go outside, barefoot in March without getting frost bite. Bhwahaaha! In July I won't be as happy about where I live (just based on weather) but March is beautiful here...sorry to rub it in. Xoxo. Maybe I should come to Maine in July!

Holly said...

Going to go try these Lemon bars...I had a physical reaction to reading the recipe stomach growled!! Wish I had an orange or lemon tree growing outside, but they'd never survive the winter here in Virginia. Thanks for the book review, I will most likely be adding these to my growing collection. o_0

ChefJohn said...

Tess, you should come to Maine now to pick lemons and oranges. Seriously, I just took them out of the oven. I am looking forward to breakfast with great anticipation now.

Chef Tess said...

Oh that does my heart good John!