Baking with Dorie

(Edited from an eGullet posting)

Greetings! I heard about Dorie’s new book as she was swinging through town on a promo tour, so I got hold of the book and met her on the same day. (Please click here for more about meeting Dorie in person!)

The next day, I tried the Pecan Sour Cream Biscuits, and they were truly fantastic… and dead easy. It was a great start to a wonderful baking relationship! The next morning, my husband had requested biscuits and gravy, so I tried the Basic Biscuits… as good or better than my old Cook’s Illustrated standby recipe (I’ll have to try a head-to-head bake-off; fortunately we’re a family of six, and no baked good goes uneaten for very long).

I needed something quick to send off to distant relatives, so I tried the Chunky Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chipsters. Two thumbs way, way up on this one! I loved the more elegant freshly grated nutmeg against the rustic oats and nuts, and the relatives raved up and down too. Wouldn’t change a thing!

Next up was the Blueberry Crumb Cake. I was not terribly thrilled with this one, but I did have to use zest from an orange that wasn’t very interesting (a navel)… maybe I should have stuck with lemon. I love the part where you mix in the zest with the sugar… it smells sooo good, it’s a treat on its own (even with the weak zest). This too was quickly devoured.

I neglected to take any pictures of those previous goodies, but I happened to have the next three still at hand today:

The first I made were the Orange-Currant Sunshine Muffins. Of all the things I’ve made out of this book, this was the first that didn’t go over well here. I don’t know, the flavor was a little flat and weak (or maybe I’m just picky about oranges, being from California but currently living in Kansas City… not exactly a citrus zone). We’ve slowly gone through them by toasting them and spreading them with butter (this treatment improves everything) but I don’t think this recipe will make it into my regular rotation. They sure are pretty, though!

Yesterday I made the Lenox Almond Biscotti, with the added anise variation (I upped the anise to 2 tsp., and ground it into the sugar, oh man the kitchen smelled sooo good!). I think I didn’t bake it long enough the first time (so they squished down a little when I sliced them) and baked ’em too long the second time (some of the ones on the edges were definitely browned), but that was my own darned fault. The biscotti were just right in the flavor department, even if they’re not the prettiest things around. I will DEFINITELY make more of these, and I think they’ve earned a position on my annual Christmas Cookie Tray.

Finally, I got the nerve up to make the World Peace Cookies. Everyone has raved about them so much, and I tried one at Dorie’s signing party (and it was knock-out good) that I must admit I was a little bit intimidated: could I possibly pull this off? After tracking down the fleur-de-sel, and hacking up five ounces of my hoarded Scharffenberger bittersweet, I finally took the plunge. The dough was indeed very dry and crumbly, as Dorie mentions in the recipe, but when it was warmed by my hands during the brief gathering-into-logs process, it managed to stick together. I let it rest overnight, and this morning heated my oven (I have a husband who bakes too, and he insists on leaving the pizza stone in the oven, so I made sure to preheat well before putting in the single sheet).

I am bursting with pride to say that even a dopey amateur like me can pull off these cookies! They are intense, rich, crumbly but not falling-apart, everything that was promised. The only drawback is that this recipe doesn’t make very many (I think I got 30 cookies out of it), so I’ll try doubling the recipe next time.

Check the calendar; if Dorie’s coming to town, you should make an effort to meet her. She’s got an amazing way of somehow making you feel like she’s all excited to meet YOU, instead of the other way ’round.

What’s next? That Far Breton is pretty tempting… the brioche (and the Bostock) sound great… and those pecan rolls… decisions, decisions!

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