Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Cookbook review

At an auction recently I obtained The King Arthur Flour Baker's Companion: The All-Purpose Baking Cookbook. Am I ever glad I did!

I was going through the book to mark the recipes I wanted to copy to my personal files, and 8 out of 10 recipes sounded good. After a few pages I gave up and decided I just had to keep the whole book. Not only does it have some delicious-sounding recipes like "The simple but perfect pancake," "Stuffed French toast," "Parisian Street Vendor Crepes," there are also weight/measure charts (very handy for my British recipes), and nice tidbits on the history of the recipes, and some explanations of the effect of various ingredients.

Did you know that there are two kinds of croissant? One kind is made by a pastry chef, without yeast, and one is made by a baker, with yeast. I made the recipe with yeast, and we liked it very much. But it was that recipe that prompted my complaint with the book. The recipe clearly states the recipe makes 24 croissants, but when you get to the cutting instructions it says to take a whole recipe and cut it to 12. I checked the no yeast version and it said to roll out a 1/2 batch at a time, as it should have here. There was also a typo on the amount of butter, stating that 1 3/4 c butter is equal to 3 3/4 sticks when it is actually 3 1/2 sticks. (For those crazy Americans who measure butter in "sticks".)

Another recipe I tried turned out delicious. As it's a bit easier than the croissant, I thought I'd share it with you all.

Apple Dumpling Slices
10 Tablespoons butter (5 ounces)
2 cups water (16 ounces)
2 cups sugar (14 ounces)
2 cups all-purpose flour (8 1/2 ounces)
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup milk (2 5/8 ounces) (I used a bit more than this)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups peeled, diced apple (I reconstituted 1 cup of dried apples that we happened to have)

Preheat oven to 350* (180*C). Melt 4 T of butter in 9x13" dish (glass or ceramic is preferable); set aside.
In saucepan, heat the water and sugar until sugar melts.
Combine flour, powder, and salt; cut in remaining 6 T butter. Stir in the milk just until dough comes together. Chill the dough while preparing apples.
Turn dough onto floured surface and knead it gently until it's somewhat cohesive. Roll it gently into a 10x15-inch rectangle. Mix together the apples and cinnamon and spread them over the dough. Carefully roll the dough into a log, sticky-bun style. It may tear, but don't worry; mend it as best you can.
Cut the log into 16 slices; arrange over the butter in the dish. Pour the sugar syrup over the slices and place in the oven. Bake 40-45 minutes. The dumplings will be lightly browned on top of a still-very-liquid syrup. Be careful moving the dish.
Serve the slices with the syrup poured over the top.


Anonymous said...

The Apple Dumpling recipe sounds good; I'll have to try it sometime. Thanks for sharing. mums

Wil said...

A good recipe book is hard to find. I was surprised to hear you report the 8-of-10 figure, but glad for you.

Most cookbooks that Marline and I try, we can eliminate over half of them just by reading the titles or ingredients lists...

(Even the ones we do like, Marline will cross stuff out and rewrite parts of the recipe before making them; her way is always better. :-)

MamaOlive said...

Mom, you really should try it; heavenly!

I'm like you; most books have a lot of things I won't ever try, which is why I copy the recipes out rather than keep the whole book. And the best recipe is one that you customize. :-)