Ever hear the expression “easy as pie”? In Your Time to Bake, best-selling author and expert baker Robert Blakeslee shows you just how easy it is. With its comprehensive, reader-friendly, highly visual approach, this book is designed to turn even the most inexperienced bakers into successful creators of all sorts of delectable baked goods.
To help establish a firm foundation, the book opens with three primer chapters that provide essential baking information—staple ingredients, basic equipment, and common baking terms and techniques. What follows next is a fantastic array of easy-to-prepare recipes, including a delectable assortment of cookies, brownies, pies and tarts, cakes and cupcakes, cheesecakes, muffins, quick breads, and flaky puff pastry creations, as well as luscious frostings, fillings, and toppings. Over 1,500 full-color photos and illustrations help make the step-by-step instructions clear and accessible—whether they are showing you how to separate an egg, test a cake for doneness, or add a top crust to a pie. Rounding out the book is a chapter devoted entirely to decorating your delicious baked goods. It presents simple instructions for putting the frosting on the cake—as well as beautiful borders, edible fondant flowers, and much, much more.
Your Time to Bake offers the perfect blend of instruction, advice, and humor to make the art of baking both easy and enjoyable. Now you can become the baker you want to be—and have fun in the process.
Robert L. Blakeslee earned his bachelor’s degree in fine arts at the California College of the Arts (CCA) in Northern California. He has been a college professor at the International Fine Arts College in Miami, Florida, and is an internationally published award-winning graphic designer, art director, and creative director. The author is also a gourmet cook and a cookbook illustrator and photographer.
Words from the Author, xii
The What’s & How To’s of Baking
1. Essential Ingredients, 5
2. T ’n T (Tools ’n Terms), 31
3. This Is How to Do It, 49
Cookies, Cakes, Pies & More
4. Frostings, Fillings & Toppings, 73
5. Cookie Mania!, 103
6. Brownies, Squares ’n Bars, 135
7. Easy as Pie, 159
8. Cheesecake Shots, 205
9. Quick Breads, Biscuits & Muffins, 225
10. Coffeecake Break, 257
11. Big ’n Little Cakes, 279
12. Puff the Magic Pastry, 309
13. Sweet Holidays, 329
14. Decorating with Taste, 357
Metric Conversion Chart, 376
How exciting that you've decided to try your hand at baking! With just a few ingredients, some basic techniques, and little practice, you'll be amazed at what you can create with a bowl, a wooden spoon, a baking pan, and an oven.
Your Time to Bake is the perfect starting place for the novice baker. With its comprehensive, reader-friendly, eye-catching approach, anyone can develop the skills to become a successful creator of all sorts of delectable baked goods. What makes this book especially helpful lies in how it guides you visually through full-color photos and illustrations (there are more than 1,500!), which are designed to make all of the information clear and accessible, whether it is showing you how to separate an egg, frost a cake, or add a top crust to a pie.
Kicking off the book are three "primer" chapters that provide helpful information on baking essentials—ingredients, equipment, and common baking terms and techniques. What follows next is a fantastic array of easy-to-prepare recipes, including a delectable assortment of cookies, brownies, pies and tarts, cakes and cupcakes, muffins, cheesecakes, quick breads, and puff pastry creations, as well as luscious frostings, fillings, sauces, and toppings. Each recipe includes clear, step-by-step instructions—and each step is accompanied by a full-color photo to ensure that even inexperienced bakers will enjoy success every time. Rounding out the book is a chapter devoted entirely to decorating your delicious baked goods. Simple instructions will guide you in putting the frosting on the cake—as well as beautiful borders, edible fondant flowers, and much, much more.
With Your Time to Bake in hand, you will quickly discover how easy it is to become the baker you want to be—and have fun in the process. So grab your whisks and mixing bowls, ladies and gentlemen, and let's get started . . .
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BEFORE YOU BAKE, READ THIS
When learning any new craft, whether it’s baking a pie or riding a bike, most people learn through experience . . . and by making mistakes. To help keep your baking experiences enjoyable and to minimize those inevitable errors, keep the following advice in mind:
You must follow orders!
When it comes to cooking, you can usually let yourself get creative and make changes to a recipe and still wind up with a great dish. Baking, however, doesn’t allow such freedom. Think of recipes for baked goods as formulas that must be followed exactly. They rely on the chemical interactions of ingredients for successful results.
For this reason, it is important to prepare the recipes exactly as written. This means using the specified ingredient amounts and carefully following the given instructions. It also means using the recommended baking pans, and paying attention to factors like oven temperature, timing, testing, and ingredient preparations as described in the recipe.
Read before you start
Before you start preparing a recipe, read through it first. Start by taking out all the ingredients you need. (You don’t want to realize you’re out of something while in the middle of the preparation.) And familiarize yourself with the instructions—make sure you are aware of any advanced prepping that may be required.
Hot, warm, and cold
Ingredient temperature is an important factor when preparing baked goods. Butter, for example, will bind to flour differently when it’s cold, softened, or melted. Unless otherwise specified, ingredients like eggs, dairy products, and most liquids should be at room temperature. Eggs at room temperature blend better with other ingredients.
A few words about eggs
When raw eggs are used in a recipe, choose pasteurized varieties. Whipped raw egg whites, for instance, are used in a number of recipes, including no-bake pie fillings. Like milk, eggs that are pasteurized have been heated to reduce the risk of causing a food-borne illness.
Egg size also matters. Always use large eggs unless the recipe calls for a specific size.
Never crack an egg directly into a batter or other mixture. Crack it into a clear bowl or glass, and then carefully inspect for broken shells.
If you drop a raw egg on the floor or counter, sprinkle it liberally with salt, which will make it clump and become easier to clean up.
Use the parchment
When a recipe recommends lining the pan or baking sheet with parchment paper, be sure to do it. This moisture- and grease-resistant paper, which is able to withstand high oven temperatures, prevents food from sticking to it, so it is especially helpful to use when baking certain cakes and sticky cookies. And it makes cleanup a snap!
Testing, testing . . .
Temperatures can vary from one oven to another by a few degrees. This means baking times can vary as well. To avoid overbaking or underbaking those cakes, cookies, or other baked goods, always begin checking on them for doneness a few minutes before the time indicated in the recipe. And be sure to check for the visual signs of doneness (page 66), which vary from recipe to recipe.
Altitude is everything
Unlike cooking, successful baking relies on air pressure, which has a dramatic effect on the way baked goods rise (and fall!). Air pressure varies depending on where you live—the higher the elevation, the lower the air pressure. For basic formulas and helpful tips on high-altitude baking, see page 70.
Keep ahead of “boilovers”
Because pie fillings (especially fruit pies) sometimes boil over during baking, it’s a good idea to place the pan on a cookie sheet to catch any drippings before they land on the oven floor and create a burnt-on mess. I also recommend covering the cookie sheet with foil, which both protects it (the boiling hot sugar and fruit juice can cause it to discolor) and makes cleanup easier. This is also a good idea for cheesecakes, fruit cobblers, and other baked goods that may rise too high and spill over the sides of the pan.
Have no fear
Remember to have fun with your baking experiences. Enjoy your successes and learn from (and laugh at) your mistakes.
How to Read the Recipes
The recipes in this book all contain common elements that are arranged for easy reading. The “Stuff You’ll Need” box shows the utensils and cooking vessels you’ll need to create the recipe. An ingredient list, yield information, and clear step-by-step instructions with photos are also included. Then all you have to do is follow the instructions. If you do it right, the finished product should like the finished recipe photo. Many of the recipes also have helpful Important Tips—these pointers will help you make better baked goods or save you from making mistakes that could ruin them.