A Cookbook Worthy of a Place on Your Overflowing Shelf

I’m always interested in new cookbooks. But I’ll be honest; I’m looking for something more in a cookbook these days. That word, more, can refer to a number of things actually —these things are always very subjective, yes? What I can tell you is that one of the things which fits my more list is what Michael Ruhlman suggests makes the difference between a recipe book and a cookbook: the ability of the reader to learn, as well as follow a recipe. So when BloggerAid offered the chance to review the book, The Craft of Baking, subtitled Cakes, Cookies and Other Sweets with Ideas for Inventing Your Own and published by Clarkson Potter, I was very excited. Of course, there’s the gorgeous cover, which doesn’t hurt in the least, either!

The Craft of Baking is written by Karen DeMasco and co-authored Mindy Fox, both respected names in the baking industry. Ms. DeMasco, James Beard Award winner and former pastry chef for Craft —yes, that Craft!—, brings her considerable knowledge to the book and makes it accessible to home bakers. She begins with a short and personal introduction, then takes a few pages to talk about ingredients, naming each and offering hints for good products, choosing less expensive options and their properties. The book also has a section that talks concisely about various techniques, useful for many bakers. 

Small sections throughout the book, such as Building Your Craft and Varying Your Craft, offer advice on adjusting ingredients and flavorings to make recipes your own. For instance, in the scone section, DeMasco offers, “Use the Chocolate Chip Scone recipe… as your base. By maintaining the proportion of the dry ingredients (…) to liquid (…) and fats(…) you can let your imagination and palate guide you in creating your own flavors.” She then proceeds to talk about varying amounts of sugar, salt, and liquids to create a new product. These sections, combined with the beautiful abundance of photos, are inspiring!

We tried several of the many recipes in the book, including the Ultimate Chocolate Brownies (nice mix of cakey and fudgy and flecked with chocolate chips), Coffee Cake Muffins with Pecan Streusel (enjoyed by not only us, but my husband’s work buddies, too), and the Pine Nut Tart with Rosemary Cream. A grownup version of Pecan Pie, the Pine Nut Tart is delicious and nutty when served alone. But the Rosemary Cream complements the pine nuts and makes the dessert really shine! So here it is, the recipe for an elegant ending to a meal:

Pine Nut Tart with Rosemary Cream
adapted from The Craft of Baking
Makes one 9-1/2 inch tart

Filling and Cream Ingredients:
1 1/4 cups Pine Nuts
Unbleached All-Purpose Flour, for rolling
1/2 recipe Almond Sablé Dough (below)
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup packed Dark Brown Sugar
1 cup Light Corn Syrup
1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1 teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract
3 large Eggs
1 1/2 cups Heavy Cream
2 sprigs Rosemary
2 teaspoons Confectioners’ Sugar

Almond Sablé Dough ingredients:
2 1/4 cups Unbleached All-Purpose Flour, plus more for dusting
3/4 cup Almond Flour
1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt
14 tablespoons (1 3/4 sticks) chilled Unsalted Butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon Confectioners’ Sugar
1 large Egg
1 large Egg Yolk

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350F

To make the tart shell, whisk together the flours and salt. To another bowl, or bowl of stand mixer, add butter and confectioners’ sugar. Mix until well combined, about 4 minutes. To butter add egg, then yolk, incorporating the egg well before adding the yolk. Add half the flour mixture and mix well, scraping down the sides of the bowl. Repeat with the second half of the flour.

Divide the dough in two, shaping each into a flattened disk of 11 inches. Wrap one in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour or overnight. You can also freeze this for up to a month. Place the second round of Almond Sablé Dough into a 9 1/2 inch tart pan with removable bottom. Trim the excess dough, prick the bottom all over with a fork and freeze for 10 minutes.

Line the dough with parchment or aluminum foil and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake 15-20 minutes, or until the edges begin to turn golden. Remove lining and pie weights and bake for another 5 minutes until dry. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool.

As the shell cools, spread pine nuts on a baking sheet and toast for 5 minutes. Let them cool on a wire rack. Leave oven on!

In a small saucepan, melt butter until golden brown and nutty. Remove from the heat and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together brown sugar, corn syrup, salt, and vanilla. To mixture, add eggs and combine. Add brown butter, stirring well, then fold in pine nuts just until combined. Pour the filling into the tart shell and place on baking sheet to catch any that may bubble over during baking.

Bake, rotating the sheet halfway through to ensure evenness, for about 45 minutes. If the crust browns too quickly, cover loosely with foil. The tart should be first about the outside edge, but still a bit loose in the center.

To make the rosemary cream, bring 3/4 cup of cream just to a boil in a small saucepan. Remove from the heat and add the rosemary sprigs. Cover and let sit for 10 minutes. Strain and cool in a bowl over an ice bath for about 5 minutes. Combine rosemary cream with remainder of cream and confectioners’ sugar and whisk until the cream forms soft peaks.

Serve the tart by removing the outer ring of the pan and garnishing with cream.

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15 responses to “A Cookbook Worthy of a Place on Your Overflowing Shelf

  1. Great review Alyssa – I’ve never thought of making a pie with pine nuts – this looks incredible – really – I also love the look of the book – entirely appealing.

  2. How unique! Pine nuts instead of pecans… I’m impressed. It certainly looks delicious.

  3. This is pure dessert nirvana. Love the marriage of flavours. Does take dessert to a totally new level…bring it on!! I’ve rarely seen pine nuts in dessert & looking as luscious as this. What a great book. Loved your review.

  4. This is the kind of book I certainly want on my overflowing cookbook collection.

    That pine nut with rosemary cream tart looks divine!

    Great review!

    • My feeling exactly (says the bibliophile with half a dozen overstuffed bookshelves!). My 16-yr. old daughter has been reading through the book, and she’s really enjoying all the little tips. Of course, the delicious sounding recipes and photos don’t hurt at all!

  5. Nice review. I can tell this cookbook has that “something more” you were talking about. The pine nut tart recipe looks original and delicious!

  6. A pine nut tart? Oh my. That sounds amazing!

  7. Your tart is original and it looks delicious! thanks for sharing :)

  8. What a delicious review! And that PineNut tart looks amazing…I thought it was a baked bean pie at first glance, LOL!! But this is one I’m definitely going to make :D

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