Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Cookbook Review: The SoNo Baking Company Cookbook

The SoNo Baking Company Cookbook
The Best Sweet and Savory Recipes for Every Occasion
by John Barricelli
(host of PBS's "Everyday Baking from Everyday Food")
Hardcover

Look how pretty that cover is. This is definitely a book that I judged by the cover. The foreward is by Martha Stewart so you know it is going to be good.

The book has almost 150 baking recipes from sweet to savoury. I immediately wanted to bake all of them. In fact I am pretty sure I gained five pounds doing this review. (Five, who am I kidding? Ten) I am attracted to high quality baking books and I love that this one has breads and savoury treats as well. A little of everything for the avid baker.

I would say it is not for the absolute beginner, although there are some easier recipes, this book is for the comfortable baker. Not expert, but with a reasonably good idea of what they are doing in the kitchen.

John starts off with a personal introduction, then a lesson on pantry essentials, then the eight chapters of the book divided into:
Chapter One
Muffins, Scones, Pastries, and Breakfast Cakes
Chapter Two
Cookies, Brownies, and Bars
Chapter Three
Pies and Tarts
Chapter Four
Cobblers, Crisps, and Buckles
Chapter Five
Trifles, Mousses, and Puddings
Chapter Six
Cakes
Chapter Seven
Breads and Focaccias
Chapter Eight
Savories: Tarts, Quiches, Pies, and Bites
So, what did I bake up this week?

I started with the Blueberry Sour Cream Muffins as I had some frozen wild Nova Scotia blueberries in the freezer waiting to be used in something special. Now, I don't know about you but I have trouble with muffins. For all the baking I have done I find muffins to be risky; it is so easy for them to be dry or dark. These ones came out so perfect, they are absolutely delicious. I sent a couple in to hubby's office-mate. They disappeared in seconds. This is my new favourite muffin. Even above Inas. (Don't tell Ina)

I was so excited to warm up my pastry making skills. When I saw Danish Dough in the book I knew I had to make some. When you spend three days making pastry you know you deserve it! Like making bread, the time is largely unattended. Mix the dough on day one - put in fridge. Day two is a series of folds involving a butter block.. every hour, then leave in the fridge overnight. Day three is shape and bake and... eat! Danish dough is made much like croissant dough.
The above ones are Raspberry Streusel Pinwheels - a shape I had never made before. Such fun and totally delicious! I brought some over for the new neighbour. (I have been showering her in treats in my joy of having a new neighbour - the last one cut down all the trees and mowed the gardens, 'nuff said)

And with the other half of the dough I made these Cheese Danish. The cream cheese filling tastes like light cheesecake wrapped in the lightest flaky pastry. It is given an eggwash, sprinkled with almonds, and baked - and then brushed with melted apricot jam when still warm for glaze. I may not even share these...
They do get folded closed.. I am not sure if they were supposed to open up like that or not, but they sure were delicious!

In the Savories section I made these Grissini - long Italian breadsticks. C'mon, what is more fun than an 18 inch breadstick? There are a few variations for these, I went with the herb one and made them with fresh dill. Mine took a little longer in the oven than the recipe stated, but I am okay with that.
They were perfect with the soup we had with dinner. Yum!
(Yes, there were swordfights at the table.. we have never really grown up)

And my own personal favourite, but curiously not hubby's, is the Kalamata Olive and Red Onion Tart. Get this - the kalamata olives are in the dough! It is not listed as a focaccia as the dough is very wet and slack - reminding me of working with ciabatta dough, and bakes up super crisp. All those onions, and olives, goat cheese and thyme.. I was in salty/savoury heaven. I could also see making minis for a cocktail party.

Tomorrow I am making the Cinnamon-Swirl Bread for my daughter. She comes every Tuesday for dinner and I like to send special treats back to university with her.

I think this is a wonderful book, I just knew it would be going in too. There are a few things I would change; the measurements are all in volume - I do like to see weights too, especially for bread. There are lots of beautiful glossy pictures but not of every recipe - I like to be able to see what the finished product is supposed to look like.
These are minor complaints though, the book is wonderful and diverse and sure to please any avid baker. It deserves pride of place with my other favourite baking books; Baking: from my home to yours, and The Art and Soul of Baking.

Happy Baking!