NEW! Google Custom Search

Loading

Cookbook for baking disabled

annieqst's picture

I try, but it's pretty much a joke...I'm just not a baker. At 52, I tried shortcakes this past weekend and although edible (after copious quantities of wine and lots of sweetened strawberries and whipped cream on top), they were flat. I know I worked the dough too much although I felt like I barely touched it. I fairly competent with easy cookies, but beyond that, I never bake cakes (and would love to), nor bread, nor scones and rely on Pillsbury pie dough for pies. Does anyone recommend a baking cookbook with great directions for people like me?

CHandGreeson's picture

(post #63498, reply #1 of 97)

While I try to think about cookbooks to try...
What's the state of your ingredients? If you don't do a lot of baking, your baking powder might have gone off, your flour might be stale, etc, and that might be part of the problem.

I know this is going to sound really dorky, but I BELIEVE I can do whatever recipe is in front of me, and that usually pulls me through. And I follow recipes religiously, if I haven't tried them before.

Li's picture

(post #63498, reply #2 of 97)

Abby Dodge's The Weekend Baker has very clear instructions. I'm not a great baker, and I've had excellent results with her recipes.

And I agree: check the freshness of your pantry items. Stale baking powder, old yeast, etc., will guarantee bad results.

Central Scrutinizer; Cooks Talk moderator

Only connect.

deejeh's picture

(post #63498, reply #4 of 97)

I'm with Li on recommending The Weekend Baker.  Abby Dodge writes clearly, and the recipes are well laid-out and easy to understand and execute.  I've made a half-dozen or so things from this book and haven't been disappointed in any of them.


deej

annieqst's picture

(post #63498, reply #5 of 97)

Thanks for the advise and way to test baking soda and powder. Does it matter how long they bubble? Both did, so I'm afraid it might be ME! How depressing. There's only my hubby and me at home and we don't eat very many sweets (perhaps because I don't bake?!?), but I would so love to be able to make something and have it turn out! I'll try to hunt out Abby's book.


Edited 4/21/2005 9:58 am ET by annieqst

Meryl's picture

(post #63498, reply #3 of 97)

I agree with the others about checking the freshness of your ingredients. However, don't go by the expiration dates, especially when it comes to baking powder. The expiration dates are way off, and I find that baking powder needs to be replaced about every 4 -6  months. Also, one time I opened a brand new baking powder that was flat to begin with! So, you need to test it by  mixing 1 teaspoon (5 grams) baking powder with 1/2 cup (120 ml) hot water and the mixture should bubble immediately. Store it in a cool, dry place.

To test baking soda, mix 1/4 teaspoon baking soda with 2 teaspoons of vinegar and the mixture should also bubble immediately.

 

Strength is the capacity to break a chocolate bar into four pieces with your bare hands - and then eat just one of the pieces. --Judith Viorst

There's nothing better than a good friend, except a good friend with CHOCOLATE.

Meryl's picture

(post #63498, reply #6 of 97)

I wouldn't give up on your baking skills so fast - after all, you said you never bake cakes, bread, etc., and everything improves with experience, plus it could be a flaw in the recipe. Try something else besides shortcakes. I can recommend some simple cake recipes for you to try out if you wish.


Strength is the capacity to break a chocolate bar into four pieces with your bare hands - and then eat just one of the pieces. --Judith Viorst

There's nothing better than a good friend, except a good friend with CHOCOLATE.

annieqst's picture

(post #63498, reply #9 of 97)

Meryl, I'd love some recipe recommendations and you're right...it just takes practise. I guess it's a combination of 'why do it when you can predict the outcome' and hating to waste good ingredients!


Rhea, thanks for the Julia recommendation. I don't know if her baking book is as long winded as her book, but I do love her directions. I've got a couple of her cookbooks already.


Bethany--ha! Had to laugh. You are so right about the feeling of victory. If something turns out well, I'm so happy you'd think I'd just completed a marathon--or baked a cake!

CHandGreeson's picture

(post #63498, reply #10 of 97)

I really like Greg Patent's book, and it has enough science in it to help you understand why you are supposed to do what the recipe calls for.

What are you most wanting to make?

annieqst's picture

(post #63498, reply #12 of 97)

ChandGreeson: I guess what I'd like to make most is good pie dough, scones, a simple cake (that has no frosting or just a simple glaze--I've always hated frosting) and a type of cookie that... Shoot! I don't even know what it's called. My mom used to make them and my recollection is they had a lot of cornstarch in them. The ingredients were very dry and I never got the dough to stick together. A friend makes a little sandwich cookie and it's the same deal. The ingredients include very little liquid and I just can't master it.

Li's picture

(post #63498, reply #16 of 97)

Good pie dough:

I am a terrible pie maker, but I made this one perfectly.

http://www.taunton.com/finecooking/pages/c00119_rec02.asp

Well, OK, I do need to practice fluting the edges, but other than that, the dough was a dream to handle.

Edited to add: Be sure to watch the videos on the page I just linked to.


Edited 4/22/2005 10:27 am ET by Li

Only connect.

Jean's picture

(post #63498, reply #19 of 97)

I'm going to have to try that recipe. All butter scares me though, maybe I'll try it with 1/2 shortening the first time. I learned a lot from watching all of her videos though. One tip is refrigerating the assembled pie while your oven heats. That would be a help with all that butter.  She makes handling the dough look so easy. Maybe after 20 years of practice it will be. LOL I should live that long!  Another quick comment.. Beautiful long fingernails are a definite hindrance to making beautifully fluted pie crusts. ;-/

Veni, vidi, velcro        I came,  I  saw,  I stuck around.


http://www.thebreastcancersite.com

A  clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory.
http://www.thebreastcancersite.com/
help to provide free mammograms for women in need
Li's picture

(post #63498, reply #20 of 97)

I did all butter and it worked fine for me. I don't think it was a hot day, though.

Are you saying your nails or mine? Mine never get very long (otherwise, I can't type), so maybe I'll eventually get the knack of fluting.

Central Scrutinizer; Cooks Talk moderator

Only connect.

Jean's picture

(post #63498, reply #21 of 97)

Not yours, mine. My fluting always has the addition of little half   moon indentations all around the pie. So far no one has complained, but I know they're there.

Veni, vidi, velcro        I came,  I  saw,  I stuck around.


http://www.thebreastcancersite.com

A  clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory.
http://www.thebreastcancersite.com/
help to provide free mammograms for women in need
Billll's picture

(post #63498, reply #75 of 97)

I clicked on the breast cancer site after being told its purpose by a friend.  I also learned that the visits are way down----to all,  everytime you visit and see a posting by Jean, click on the website and let's catch it up!! Free mamograms.

Jean's picture

(post #63498, reply #76 of 97)

Thanks, Bill.  I have it there as a reminder, but it would be nice if everyone bookmarked the site and clicked on it every day. :)


Veni, vidi, velcro        I came,  I  saw,  I stuck around.


http://www.thebreastcancersite.com

A  clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory.
http://www.thebreastcancersite.com/
help to provide free mammograms for women in need
KathiM's picture

(post #63498, reply #57 of 97)

I ususally like pe dough recipes with a blaance of shortening and butter.  It makes it nice and flaky.

CHandGreeson's picture

(post #63498, reply #17 of 97)

I like the pie crust recipe Li linked, but I would warn against using an all-butter recipe to start with. Butter has such a rapid melting point that it becomes very soft very quickly! I would recommend using half crisco (I use the sticks) or stick margarine. I almost always err on the side of adding too much liquid, as I have found sticking less aggravating than not combining properly. And waxed paper will be your friend! I have a large silpat on which I roll out, with the wax paper on top, or just wax paper on top and bottom. I use a french pin, the kind without handles, as I feel it gives me more control. I have been baking pies pretty much since I could stand at the counter and roll, and I have yet to achieve a pretty crust. No one seems to mind LOL

As for cakes, go with a butter cake, the butter holds the structure up without the anxiety of whipped egg whites and will taste awesome even if it falls in the oven. Just make sure you really cream the butter and sugar.

Finally, I love my library! Okay, my present library doesn't have a very good selection, but every other library I've lived near has been a great source of cookbooks. If your library has it, I recommend Rose Levy Birnbaum's Cake Bible, not to follow the recipes, but to read about the science behind cakes: in every recipe she describes how it is like/unlike the other recipes.

KathiM's picture

(post #63498, reply #56 of 97)

I've got an easy applesauce cake recipe thats been a standby for years.  You just throw all the ingrediants in together in bowl, pour in the pan and bake.  No frosting needed.  When I get wild I cream the butter and shortening.

annieqst's picture

(post #63498, reply #63 of 97)

Kathi--it sounds like your apple sauce cake would be very moist. Would you mind posting the recipe?

KathiM's picture

(post #63498, reply #78 of 97)

GLad to Annie.  Here it is from the good housekeeping coookbook my mom gave to me when I was a new grad.


APPLESAUCE CAKE:


2 1/4 c all purpose flour


15 oz applesauce (1 1/2 cups)  (Note: i like to use the chunky or chop up an apple     


                                                      and add it in)


1 1/4 cups sugar


2/3 cup shortening


1/3 cup milk


2 eggs


2 tsp baking soda


1 tsp cinnimon


1/2 tsp salt


1/2 tsp nutmeg


1/2 tsp ground cloves


1 cup raisins


1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)


Preheat oven to 350.  Grease and flour 9x13"baking pan.  Into large bowl measure all ingredients except raisins and nuts.  With mixer at low speed beat till well mixed, constantly scraping bowl. Beat at high speed for 3 minutes. Stir in raisins and nuts.


Pour batter into pan and bake 40-45 minutes till toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool pan on wire rack.  If you like you can sprinkle top with confectionaers sugar. Makes 12 servings.


Cooks notes:  I tend to be generous with the spices as I like a spicy cake.  It is very moist.  Frosting would not be appropriate.  I usually make this cake by hand with a bowl and a spoon. Nothing could be easier.  Sometimes I cream the shortening and sugar together first.  It isnt necessary though.

annieqst's picture

(post #63498, reply #84 of 97)

Kathi: That looks like my kinda cake. I have the pan, I can use a spoon, there's no frosting (never liked it), chunks of apple...what could be finer?! Thanks! Question...it sounds very moist...does it freeze well if we can't eat the whole thing?

KathiM's picture

(post #63498, reply #90 of 97)

Freeze?  I dont know. Its never lasted long enough.  I bake it for my bible study group and its usually gone the next day.  I have had one lone piece sit for as long as 3 days once and it was still moist.  Great for breakfast if you're feeling decadent.

Meryl's picture

(post #63498, reply #11 of 97)

Annie, I will try to remember to post a good beginner recipe or two later tonight or tomorrow. If I forget, just remind me! BTW, do you like chocolate cake?


Strength is the capacity to break a chocolate bar into four pieces with your bare hands - and then eat just one of the pieces. --Judith Viorst

There's nothing better than a good friend, except a good friend with CHOCOLATE.

annieqst's picture

(post #63498, reply #13 of 97)

Meryl, I'm glad you asked that! I am very allergic to both chocolate and nuts so that trims out a whole lot of baking possibilities.

Meryl's picture

(post #63498, reply #22 of 97)

Oh, too bad - one of the recipes I was thinking of is Black Magic Cake - very easy and delicious. Will check further for non-chocolate stuff. How about a Cinnamon bread, Cranberry Swirl Coffeecake, or Raspberry Cream Cheese Coffeecake?  Those are all pretty easy.


Strength is the capacity to break a chocolate bar into four pieces with your bare hands - and then eat just one of the pieces. --Judith Viorst


Edited 4/22/2005 2:21 pm ET by Meryl

There's nothing better than a good friend, except a good friend with CHOCOLATE.

Jean's picture

(post #63498, reply #23 of 97)

Black Magic Cake -- is that the one with the MilkyWay bars?
Would you post your recipe please?

Veni, vidi, velcro        I came,  I  saw,  I stuck around.


http://www.thebreastcancersite.com

A  clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory.
http://www.thebreastcancersite.com/
help to provide free mammograms for women in need
Meryl's picture

(post #63498, reply #25 of 97)

Jean, it's not the one with the Milky Ways. You still want me to post it?


Strength is the capacity to break a chocolate bar into four pieces with your bare hands - and then eat just one of the pieces. --Judith Viorst

There's nothing better than a good friend, except a good friend with CHOCOLATE.

Jean's picture

(post #63498, reply #26 of 97)

Yes, please do! (Glad it's not the MilkyWay one) :)

Veni, vidi, velcro        I came,  I  saw,  I stuck around.


http://www.thebreastcancersite.com

A  clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory.
http://www.thebreastcancersite.com/
help to provide free mammograms for women in need
Meryl's picture

(post #63498, reply #27 of 97)

Never heard of the Milky Way one - sounds gross. Anyway, here's the recipe  - Note: I use a lot less sugar than indicated.


Black Magic Cake


Makes 1 - 9x13 inch or 2 - 9 inch round pans (about 12 servings).


INGREDIENTS:


1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour


2 cups white sugar (I use 1 1/3 cups)


3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder


2 teaspoons baking soda


1 teaspoon baking powder


1 teaspoon salt (I use 1/2 tsp)


2 eggs


1 cup strong brewed coffee (I use brewed espresso)


1 cup buttermilk or sour milk* (I use nonfat plain yogurt)


1/2 cup vegetable oil


1 teaspoon vanilla extract


DIRECTIONS:


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). (Decrease temperature by 25 degrees for dark pans). Grease and flour (I use cocoa powder) one 9x13 inch pan (note: use parchment paper if removing from pan after baking) OR grease two 9-inch round pans and line with parchment paper; then grease the paper and dust with flour (or cocoa powder). Lightly tap out the excess.


2. In large bowl sift together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt.


3. Add eggs, coffee, buttermilk, oil and vanilla. Beat on medium speed of mixer for 2 minutes. (I beat by hand with a whisk). Batter will be thin. Pour into prepared pan(s).


4. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes for round pans, 35 to 40 minutes for rectangular pan, or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; then remove from pan(s), remove the parchment paper, and finish cooling on a wire rack. If using 9x13 pan without parchment paper, can cool cake in the pan.


Frost with chocolate or white frosting.


* To sour milk: Use 1 tablespoon white vinegar plus milk to equal 1 cup. Let stand 15 minutes.


Source: Hershey's - Edited by Meryl


(Note: one reviewer reduced the sugar to 1 cup and increased the flour to 2 cups).


 


 


 



Strength is the capacity to break a chocolate bar into four pieces with your bare hands - and then eat just one of the pieces. --Judith Viorst

There's nothing better than a good friend, except a good friend with CHOCOLATE.

Jean's picture

(post #63498, reply #28 of 97)

Thanks, I'm getting quite a pile of cake recipes from you. Looking for excuses to bake now. :)

Veni, vidi, velcro        I came,  I  saw,  I stuck around.


http://www.thebreastcancersite.com

A  clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory.
http://www.thebreastcancersite.com/
help to provide free mammograms for women in need