Monday, January 18, 2010

Cookbook Review - The Craft of Baking

Tropical Nougat Closeup
Originally uploaded by watchjennybake.
I really like the perspective of Karen DeMasco and Mindy Fox in The Craft of Baking, where the baker is urged to make their own versions of the recipes they have provided. I took that idea and ran with it for two of the recipes in the book. The hardest part was narrowing down which recipes to start with!

In general, the recipes are creative and a little trendy, which is good for a baker like me who doesn't simply want one more chocolate chip cookie recipe. You will find 'salted' and 'browned butter' spins on recipes, as well as some custards that I can't wait to try making. Since the recipes are so varied, you might find yourself needing a different sized dish or an extra ingredient, but I think it goes along with the spirit of the book to adapt the recipes to fit your kitchen and your pantry.

Coffee Cake with Almond-Pecan Streusel
The first recipe I tried was for the Coffee Cake Muffins with Pecan Streusel. I didn't want to dig out my silicon muffin 'tins,' and didn't have enough pecans on hand, so the only adaptations I made were to bake it in a loaf pan and to use almonds. While coffee cake doesn't sound like something special, the crumb on this recipe was so light, and my husband said it was the best coffee cake he'd had.

Tropical Nougat
I was talking with a few friends a few days ago, and the pronunciation of the word "nougat" came up. Two of them were from Canada, and one from Australia, and while we never decided on the 'proper' way, I definitely pronounce it "NEW-gut." When I came across the recipe for Nut & Cherry Nougat, I knew I had to try it. I had the main ingredients on hand - sugar, corn syrup, cornstarch, powdered sugar - but not the cherries or pistachios. My Mom had recently sent me a huge bag of Oregon hazelnuts, so I roasted and peeled a bunch of those. Digging through my pantry I discovered some dried tropical fruits (papaya, mango, and pineapple), so I decided to make a tropical nougat! I added in the rest of the slivered almonds I had from the other day as well.

I have to admit I didn't really have the equipment called for to make this recipe - my smallest pan seems to be a fairly large saucepan. So instead of making two batches of sugar heated to different temperatures, I poured some in to the whipping egg white at one temperature, and then poured the rest at the higher temperature. Actually, it worked pretty well!

The end result was delicious. I hadn't ever made nougat before, and can see delicious versions of this in my future.

Other recipes I am excited about making in the near future - maple custard, chocolate babka, and I won't be able to resist the bittersweet chocolate tart.

Categories: Candy, Nougat


Daydreams of Baking said...

Hrm. I always pronounced it "new-gat". I wonder which way is actually correct. :)

Anyway, both the coffee cake and nougat look really good. I'll have to see if I can get my hands on a copy of the book!

Eliana said...

These treats look awesome. I have this book on my amazon wishlist and it just got bumped up :)

Keri said...

actually on my wishlist too, this book. nice looking photos and absolutely gorgeous end product. looks good enough to eat. nice blog too. Keri (a.k.a. Sam)

Jenny said...

The nougat looks an awful lot like marshmallows - did you find that to be the case?

Unknown said...

The texture was quite different from marshmallows - chewy instead of soft. But the technique is not that different!

Alli said...

I'm British and used to pronounce it nuh-gut, but the correct pronounciation is French and so it's noo-gah.

Your coffee cake looks gorgeous, I'm going to have to try making it, thanks for the inspiration.