It's Fall: Baking Season!

I have spent the summer living on cold soups, smoothies, and salads. Sometimes, in the hot weather, the idea of turning on even my stove felt crazy. And my oven? You must be kidding. Forget it!
Modern Art Baking
All it takes to remind me of my love of baking, though, is one crisp fall day. My long-neglected oven is now back to working overtime, churning out muffins, cobblers, cookies, and cakes.
Baking Cake Dorrie
I love to cook, but there is a special satisfaction I get from baking. It is soothing to have to follow a recipe with real precision—scraping perfectly level teaspoons and tablespoons with a knife, beating egg-whites into just-so soft peaks, and sifting-sifting-sifting for that light, melt-in-your-mouth texture. And there is nothing cozier than the aroma of a fresh pie or pan of cupcakes wafting through your home.
Maida Martha Milk
If you, too, are ready to fire up your oven for a new season, here are a few cookbooks available right here at the library for your baking pleasure and inspiration:
Souths Desserts
Classics, Old and New: The Cake BibleThe New York Times Dessert Cookbook (I have included the recipe for the scrumptious Granny's Chocolate Cake below, and I also recommend the Original Plum Torte!); Maida Heatter's Book of Great Chocolate Desserts; Martha Stewart's Cookies: The Very Best Treats to Bake and to Share; Dorie's Cookies; Baking: From My Home to Yours; Baking Chez Moi: Recipes from My Paris Home to Your Home Anywhere; Art of the Pie: A Practical Guide to Homemade Crusts, Fillings, and Life; Momofuku Milk Bar; How to Celebrate Everything: Recipes and Rituals for Birthdays, Holidays, Family Dinners, and Every Day in Between.
Scandi Sweet Tartine
Healthy(-ier): Good to the Grain: Baking with Whole-Grain Flours; Tartine Book No. 3: Modern, Ancient, Classic, Whole; A Modern Way to Eat: 200+ Satisfying Vegetarian Recipes (That Will Make You Feel Amazing).

International: Scandikitchen: Fika & Hygge: Comforting Cakes and Bakes from Scandinavia with Love; Great British Baking Show (on DVD or hoopla!); Sweet: Desserts from London's Ottolenghi; My Two Souths: Blending the Flavors of India into a Southern Kitchen.

Here, as promised, is my favorite cake recipe. It comes from Chef Larry Forgione via The New York Times, and you can find it in The New York Times Dessert Cookbook.

Granny's Chocolate Cake


12 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, plus 1 1/2 tablespoons for pans
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus flour for dusting pans
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted
Your favorite chocolate frosting


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Use about 1 tablespoon of butter to grease 3 9-inch round cake pans, and line the bottoms with waxed or parchment paper. Lightly butter the paper with another 1/2 tablespoon butter. Dust pans with flour, and shake out excess.
2. Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In a small bowl, combine buttermilk and vanilla.
3. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer set at medium-high speed, cream the remaining butter. Slowly add the sugar, and continue beating until well blended and light colored. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk mixture in two or three additions, beating well after each addition. Mix in the melted chocolate until well blended. Spoon batter into prepared pans, and smooth tops with a rubber spatula.
4. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cake layer comes out clean. Let cake layers cool in the pans on wire racks for 10 minutes, then invert onto other racks and peel off the paper. Invert again, and let cool completely on the racks. Frost with chocolate frosting.

—Mimi Chubb, West Windsor Branch


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