NEW BAKING BOOK by Better Homes and Gardens (2004)

PUBLISHER: Better Homes and Gardens, 9/2004
GENRE: Cookbooks/Baking
PURCHASE: link
MY GRADE: A

FROM PUBLISHER: Baking Basics chapter provides short course for novices and a good refresher for experienced cooks.

Includes chapters on baking reliables: Cakes, Pies and Tarts, Yeast Breads, Quick Breads, and Cookies.

Specialty chapters such as Baking with Kids, Holiday Classics, Spectacular Desserts, and Old-Fashioned Desserts meet the needs of a variety of readers.

Provides extensive baking tips and question-and-answer boxes throughout.





THINGS I'VE MADE

TRILEVEL BROWNIES


I'm very happy with how these turned out. This is a chocolate frosted brownie that's on top of a thin oatmeal layer. It uses a small amount of melted unsweetened chocolate in both the brownies and frosting as well as melted butter in both.

The oatmeal crust is made from oats, brown sugar, melted butter, and a few other ingredients and gets pressed into the pan and is prebaked. The cake-like brownie mixture gets poured over the partially baked crust and mine baked in 24 minutes. The brownie is extremely moist. The mixture used no salt so I added 3/8 teaspoon and I think it could have used more. I added ground pecans to the batter and sprinkled some on top of the frosting.

I used just half of the chocolate called for in the frosting and it was perfect. I doubled the vanilla and added a sprinkling of salt.

These are easiest to eat if you cut them into small bars and hold them because the crust crumbles slightly when you cut into it with a fork.

The recipe is here on their site.




COUNTRY PEAR AND CHERRY CRISP


I'd never combined pear and cherry before. I'm glad I tried this because they go really well together. This recipe used two tablespoons of flour in the filling (four pears and one can of drained tart pitted cherries) but it wasn't nearly enough to bind the fruit together. It just fell apart and needed at least two more tablespoons. I omitted the 1/2c. liquid too because it made no sense to add it. Cooked fruit produces its own juice so there was no need at all to add water/reserved cherry juice to it. Had I done that it would have been a real disaster.

The topping is made from store-bought granola (oats, brown sugar, oil) and melted butter. I forgot to check for overbrowning at the fifteen minute mark so my topping burned slightly. My fault. It need more because 1.5c. wasn't enough to even cover the top of the dish.

This was very good and I'd make it again using 1/4c. flour mixed in with the fruit and use more topping...and not overbrown it.





CLASSIC CHOCOLATE CAKE


This turned out to be very moist. It's made with melted unsweetened chocolate. I can't really explain the flavor. It's not bitter but flavorwise it would probably taste better if made with bittersweet or semisweet chocolate. This tastes the way unsweetened chocolate/semisweet chocolate smells, if that makes any sense. I wouldn't make it again.

I made half the recipe in an 8.5"/2qt. baking dish. I made my own buttercream frosting for it.




MILK CHOCOLATE CREAM PIE


This is the milk chocolate version of Vanilla Cream Pie and is made with semisweet chocolate. It's very easy to make and is cooked on the stove and poured into a pre-cooked or pre-made crust. It's a little bitter, so it's not like milk chocolate at all.

I made half the recipe and that took 1.5oz semisweet chocolate. I used a store-bought 6oz. graham cracker crust. This pie is nearly identical to one called Epic Chocolate Pudding Pie from The Cookies & Cups Cookbook, published eleven years after this one, that used unsweetened chocolate...and was very bitter. I've come to the conclusion that this would be best made with milk chocolate. The pie is very firm and holds it's shape when sliced.



CHEESY BATTER BREAD


This yeast bread is very good, moist (made with shortening), and couldn't have been easier to make. The recipe's actually called Sweet Pepper-Cheese Batter Bread. I left out the sweet peppers because I don't like them, and left out thyme and onion. I used dried chives and pepper instead. I used 1/2c. shredded cheddar, as called for, but I can't taste it very much.

The top was as brown as I wanted it after just fifteen minutes so I covered it loosely with a piece of foil. This baked in five minutes less than the maximum time suggested. It's lightweight and very good. I made compound butter to spread on each slice after toasting.





SOUR CREAM-CHERRY MUFFINS


I made half the recipe and got 23 mini muffins, not 18 like stated in the recipe. They have good flavor but need more salt. I also added 1/2t. vanilla extract. I don't care for the texture. They're very firm, tough, not moist, and seem like they were overmixed but they weren't. These were to bake on 400 degrees F for 12-15 minutes. Mine were overcooked at 10 minutes. Because of the texture, I wouldn't make these again.





PEACH AND ALMOND CRISP


This is nothing special because of the crumb topping. I made half the recipe in a 1.5qt baking dish. I used canned peach chunks in place of fresh or frozen slices, about 4.5c. The topping (flour, rolled oats, butter, white sugar, brown sugar) is a little too sweet and strange-tasting from all the brown sugar. It's made with a lot more brown sugar than white sugar, which is very common for crumb toppings. Definitely wouldn't make this topping again or if I did, I'd use very little brown sugar.




GIANT RASPBERRY MUFFINS


These may be the moistest muffins I've ever made. They're made with your choice of melted butter or vegetable oil. I used oil. The actual name of the recipe is Giant Blueberry Muffins but since I don't like blueberries I used frozen raspberries instead. I made half the recipe and got four jumbo muffins. They baked in 27 minutes. The recipe didn't call for salt so I added 1/4t. but that wasn't enough. I also added a little vanilla extract. I made my own glaze for these (powdered sugar, melted butter, almond extract, vanilla extract, water).



CUSTARD PIE



This is your basic sweet custard (eggs, milk, sugar, salt, vanilla) that's to be poured into an unbaked pie shell. I skipped the pie crust, made half the recipe and poured the mixture over a drained 14.5oz. can of pitted tart red cherries (1.5c.) that I'd placed in the bottom of a deep dish 8.5"/1qt. pie plate. I added 1/8t. almond extract to the mixture. This needed a lot more salt than half the recipe called for so I used 1/4t., not 1/16t.

This tastes very good but the custard doesn't look at all right because of all the water that cooked out of the cherries into it. Completely my fault. I should have cut back on the milk or used just half a can of cherries. It must have been severely overbaked too because overbaked custard will curdle and this was definitely curdled. It's ugly but it tastes good!



BLACKBERRY BUCKLE


This isn't a good cake recipe at all. It's actually called Blueberry Buckle. I used blackberries because I don't like blueberries one bit. I added 1/4t. vanilla extract. Though it tastes good it's very dry. I didn't overmix or overbake this. I made half the recipe (thank goodness) in an 8"x2" pan. It took 36 minutes to bake. I used 3/4c. frozen berries that were naturally 'slightly sweet'. They were huge so I cut each into thirds. I sprinkled the top with about 2t. sugar instead of making a crumb topping. I definitely wouldn't make this again.



BAKED CUSTARD


This is basic custard that consists of milk, eggs, sugar, and vanilla. I used half and half cream instead of milk. The recipe didn't call for any salt so I added a scant 1/4t. and it was perfect. I also added a small amount of melted semisweet chocolate but it wasn't really enough to notice. I baked mine in three 10oz. bowls in a water bath for 32 minutes. This turned out great and I'd make it again.



PUMPKIN PIE


This turned out well. The recipe is very similar to that on the can of Libby's 100% Pure Pumpkin except this uses an extra egg, part evaporated milk/part whole milk, and nutmeg in place of cloves. I used cloves as I don't like nutmeg at all. This recipe called for no salt at all so I added 1/2t., which wasn't nearly enough.

This was too much mixture for a 9"/1qt. pie dish. I had to fill my dish with more mixture than I was comfortable with and I poured out about 1/2c. that definitely wouldn't have fit in the dish, so at least 3/4c. got wasted. This took 58 minutes to bake. Next time I make any pumpkin pie I'll use my 10"/1.5qt. dish.

This pie is not quite as firm as I'm used to but it does taste good. I think I'll just stick to Libby's recipe.



PIE CRUST

This is almost the same recipe as the classic one from Crisco. It's very easy to work with and roll out. It's flaky and doesn't have a strong flavor once baked. I made two and froze them both. I rolled each out between two sheets of wax paper, rolled them up, folded the ends over and wrapped each one in plastic wrap and froze. I thawed each one in the refrigerator then left it on the counter for ten minutes before rolling out to put into the pie plate. I used this crust in the pumpkin pie recipe from this book.


TRIPLE-CHOCOLATE CHUNK COOKIES


I made half the recipe and got 26 doughballs using a 1T./1.5" diameter scoop. The cookies taste good but they didn't spread out quite as much as I'd have liked and they're cakelike, which I don't like. The recipe had no salt in it so I added 1/4t. but it needs more. I added a lot more vanilla too. I left out the semisweet chocolate chunks and white chocolate chunks and used ground pecans instead of chopped. I used a small amount of mini semisweet chips.


BROWNIE PUDDING CAKE


This is one of those 'magic' cakes that makes its own pudding on the bottom. It uses no egg and just 1T. oil. It turned out good but was a little bitter. The cake part was dry even though it was baked in less time than the recipe stated. There's a little too much cocoa powder in both the pudding and cake part. I added a little vanilla to the pudding mixture and I added 1/8t. each to both the pudding and the cake.



OATMEAL-CARAMEL BARS


These oat bars have a layer of chocolate and caramel in between. You take caramels (I used Kraft Bits), add a little milk to them and melt them in the microwave, 50 seconds. You press 2/3 of your creamed mixture into the baking pan, sprinkle semisweet chocolate chips over it evenly then pour your melted caramel mixture over that. You drop the remaining 1/3 of your creamed mixture evenly over the top and bake it a short time, 25 minutes.

I added 2T. unsweetened cocoa powder to the dry ingredients. I used equal parts brown and white sugar instead of all brown. The recipe used no salt so I added 3/8t. I left out the nuts. If you use salted butter you'll still need to add probably 1/4t. salt. I used an extra 1/4c. mini semisweet chocolate chips because 1/2c. wasn't enough to cover the surface.

I made half the recipe in an 8" foil-lined pan and baked them for 25 minutes. After they cooled I trimmed the edges because the caramel got too chewy where it cooked out onto the edges of the foil for my liking. I cut them into six bars then cut each of those in half.

The recipe is here.




MY THOUGHTS: This is truly a great book. I don't care for the binding because you have to turn the pages carefully so you don't rip them. Everything I baked didn't turn out perfectly but you can learn from each and every thing you've made, decide what to do differently the next time. There's not a photo for every recipe but there are a lot.

I purchased this book myself in 2004.





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