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Baking by Flavor
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Baking by Flavor

3.5 2
by Lisa Yockelson, Ben Fink (Photographer), Flo Braker (Foreword by)

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Flavor is the very essence of fine baking, the source of wonderful tastes and aromas that tempt the palate and delight the senses. In Baking by Flavor, Lisa Yockelson shares exciting new ideas for building flavor in baked goods that can make virtually any recipe burst with new vigor and freshness. Chapter by chapter, Baking by Flavor reveals techniques for creating


Flavor is the very essence of fine baking, the source of wonderful tastes and aromas that tempt the palate and delight the senses. In Baking by Flavor, Lisa Yockelson shares exciting new ideas for building flavor in baked goods that can make virtually any recipe burst with new vigor and freshness. Chapter by chapter, Baking by Flavor reveals techniques for creating luscious sweets in eighteen flavors -- including chocolate, vanilla, lemon, almond, and buttercrunch. These techniques can be used to add depth and definition to both classic and original desserts.

The book features 260 carefully selected recipes, which include many inspiring ideas for bringing new life to favorite recipes. See how a pound cake springs to life when sugar is scented with vanilla, butter is creamed with vanilla bean scrapings, and egg yolks are beaten with a double-strength vanilla extract... Discover how dark chocolate brownies become richly sensuous when chopped nuts, lightly coated with cocoa powder and confectioners' sugar, are added to a creamy batter. From Cocoa-Chocolate Chip Pillows and Buttercrunch Melt-a-Ways to Apricot Oatmeal Breakfast Scones and Spice Ripple Keeping Cake, each delectable dessert sings with flavor.

Throughout, Yockelson's clearly written, easy-to-follow instructions make this book a joy to read and to use in the kitchen, while dozens of photographs beautifully illustrate select ingredients, equipment, and finished presentations. With a host of exciting new ways to make flavor-rich cakes, cookies, muffins, tea breads, scones, sweet rolls, and more, Baking by Flavor will forever revolutionize every cook's approach to baking -- with delicious results.

Editorial Reviews

The Barnes & Noble Review
Attention, all home bakers: Lisa Yockelson has developed a new technique for baking that can invigorate your favorite recipes. In addition, she will give you 260 new recipes, all based on the concept of packing as much flavor intensity into baked goods as possible. This is quite a deal.

Take lemon cake (please). Yockelson scoffs at those who would add lemon extract to pound cake batter and call it a lemon cake. Her version marinates grated lemon rind in lemon extract and lemon juice before adding it to the batter; uses buttermilk and lemon-flavored granulated sugar to play up the acid taste of lemon; and finishes it off with a soaking glaze and a buttery sweet-sharp lemon topping. Her chocolatey brownies become richer still when chopped nuts (lightly tossed in melted butter and vanilla extract, then coated with cocoa powder and confectioner's sugar) are added.

The theory, then, is to build tiers of similar and compatible flavors within a cake or a batch of scones or cookies. Yockelson boosts batters and dough with extracts, seasoned sugars, nut flours, spices, dried and glazed fruit, citrus juice, and chopped candy. She gilds the lily with icings, frostings, melted butter and spice dips, or brush-on washes. She even intensifies her own store-bought vanilla extract by scraping in the seeds from half a small vanilla bean. I bet that if you analyze the structure of some of your own favorite recipes, you'll realize that they use some of these techniques (and could use even more).

Yockelson's book is divided into 18 flavors, arranged alphabetically: almond, apricot, banana, blueberry, butter, buttercrunch, caramel and butterscotch, chocolate, cinnamon, coconut, coffee and mocha, ginger, lemon, peanut and peanut butter, rum, spice, sweet cheese, and vanilla. Within each flavor section are recipes for cakes, muffins, brownies, cookies, and so forth. Preceding the parade of flavors are charts with flavor-compatible keys, and dominant flavoring agents/ingredients, plus recipes for new basics for your flavor pantry like vanilla- or lemon-scented sugar, almond and mocha syrup. Yockelson has really done her homework, and you will enjoy giving her techniques a workout.

The 260 recipes are illustrated by more than 100 photographs, and the last chapter about freezing baked goods is especially useful. (Ginger Curwen)

Publishers Weekly
This excellent roundup of all kinds of delicious deserts is organized by flavor (chocolate, banana, cinnamon, rum, etc.) rather than type of baked good. Yockelson lays out her flavor theory: "Flavor-layering is accomplished by using a combination of compatible ingredients in one recipe." She also talks specifically about methods for enhancing the flavors of various batters and doughs, and provides several charts illustrating flavor compatibility and flavoring agents. Additional chapters on equipment, key ingredients (with instructions for making Clarified Butter, Coconut Streusel and other components) and techniques are invaluable to the serious baker. After all that preparation, Yockelson thankfully writes solid, inventive recipes that clearly illustrate her theory. In the almond chapter, Fallen Chocolate Almond Cake contains almond liqueur, almond extract and almond flour; the lemon chapter offers Lemon-Lime Cake with Glazed Citrus Threads pumped up with juice and zest, and in the chapter on coffee and mocha, Espresso and Bittersweet Chocolate Chunk Torte has espresso powder, bittersweet chocolate and unsweetened chocolate. Even chapters on butter and vanilla, two flavors that are rarely considered as such, boast such strong selections as Grandma Lilly's Butter Pound Cake, Buttercrunch Flats with toffee, Vanilla Crumb Buns and Vanilla Cream Waffles. Many of the 260 recipes offer variations, which means one could spend many happy days testing Yockelson's theory. (Mar.) Forecast: Joining the recent spate of "big" baking and desert books, this certainly deserves a spot on the dedicated baker's shelf. Yockelson, author of 10 books and frequent contributor to many cooking magazines, has a gimmick, but it's one with substance that should work to push sales. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Yockelson is the author of a dozen or so other cookbooks (Layer Cakes and Sheet Cakes, A Country Baking Treasury), but this impressive work is far more ambitious than any of her previous efforts. A dedicated baker and an obvious perfectionist, she developed more than 250 recipes designed to highlight specific flavors, from almond to coffee and mocha to vanilla. She refers to the process that resulted in her intensely flavorful, irresistible desserts as "flavor layering," and most of the recipes use her chosen ingredient in more than one form or in more than one of the several components involved. Almond Pull-Aparts, for example, are made with a buttery dough that contains almond extract as well as almond flour, a creamy almond filling in addition to an almond paste and an almond crumb topping. Many of the recipes also offer options for adding "an extra surge of flavor" (e.g., adding dried blueberries to Blueberry Coffee Cake) or "an aromatic topknot of flavor" (such as using her "intensified vanilla"). The painstakingly detailed recipe instructions include both what she calls "observations," reassuring tips for success, and sidebars providing her "Best Baking Advice." The chapters devoted to buttercrunch or to caramel and butterscotch (not to mention the ones on peanut butter, chocolate, and coconut) would be reason enough to buy the book, but Yockelson's unusual approach, knowledge, and passion make this more than just a collection of delectable recipes. Essential for all collections. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

Product Details

Wiley, John & Sons, Incorporated
Publication date:
Edition description:
First Edition
Product dimensions:
8.00(w) x 9.08(h) x 1.26(d)

Read an Excerpt

The Focus and Purpose of Baking by Flavor

In many ways Baking by Flavor is a personal baking memoir, a recipe journal that records the way that my own baking style has taken shape. It's also a detailed look into how recipes that underscore specific flavors can be highlighted, then uplifted, intensified, and invigorated. It's important to put these recipes in an evolutionary time frame: a good number of them have evolved in my kitchen over the last 12 years, and many well before then. Although the exact concept had not been codified in my kitchen until a certain time, the idea for packing as much flavor as possible into baked goods has always been a significant consideration in my baking and work in recipe development.

The focus of this book is threefold: (1) to explore how a particular flavor is best developed in a recipe and then imparted to a certain sweet; (2) to elevate the flavor in traditional baking recipes that primarily use doughs and batters, and to deliver them into an up-to-date setting; and (3) to chronicle my research into flavor-baking. Baking by Flavor is both a baking cookbook about the hows and whys of bringing out flavor in baked goods and a compendium of recipes that spotlight many appealing flavors.

In researching and formulating the concept of flavor-baking, I found myself sifting through, and ultimately challenging, traditional formulas, procedures, and approaches, and finding ways to introduce taste into baked sweets and their accompanying fillings, glazes, frostings, and sauces. In the beginning I began to inspect recipes through a "taste magnifying glass." As a result, some old recipes seemed quaint. The recipefor Essence of Chocolate Squares on page 282 is a good example of that process. The squares are composed of two layers: a dense and fudgy chocolate cake layer covered completely by a creamy chocolate frosting. My goal was to create, in one bar cookie, an intense chocolate flavor with a bittersweet edge, a moist denseness, a buttery "crumb," and a thick swath of frosting that sweetly contrasts to and merges with the layer beneath. Actually, I was going after something that was part brownie, part confection. Over many months, the composition of this sweet was fine-tuned and ultimately revised to my taste. Many more of my recipes went the route of cultivation and revision, and I worked in this area to satisfy my own contemporary tastes, and to rescue and improve upon recipes that seemed, quite honestly, boring.

The purpose of Baking by Flavor is to offer to all cooks whose passion is baking—whether at home or in a restaurant kitchen—some challenging ways to look at and improve recipes in particular flavor categories.

The Organization of the Chapters

PART I of this book "The Art of Baking by Flavor," is for the conceptual baker, while Part II, "The Flavors," is for the passionate, in-the-kitchen baker. The first four chapters in the book (" The Way to Bake by Flavor," "An Inventory of Baking Equipment," "Creating a Baking Pantry," and "Craft and Technique") illustrate the way you go about making a particular flavor taste dynamic, show you how to make pantry staples that brighten the recipes, survey the kind of equipment used throughout the book, and explain fundamental methods for working with the batters and doughs that are an important element of the recipes. Chapters 5 through 22 (Part II) put all of those notions into recipe form.

The recipes are organized by specific flavor.

The five charts in Part I provide important background material. They've been designed so that home bakers and professionals alike can obtain a range of detailed information about flavors, batters, and doughs at a glance.

Chapter 23, "About Freezing Baked Goods," details the range of baked goods in this book that can be frozen either in their completed state or in dough form, gives recommendations for freezer storage time, and offers suggestions for reheating what you defrost.

About the Recipes

In my experience, batters and doughs are the most flexible and responsive to high-intensity flavoring. As a result, the recipes in this book have been developed around specific baked goods that are styled with them: butter cakes, pound cakes, coffee cakes, keeping cakes, tea cakes and loaves, tortes, bar cookies, drop cookies, rolled cookies, press-in-the-pan cookies (such as shortbread), biscuits and scones, muffins, all kinds of yeasted sweet rolls (sticky buns, crumb and streusel buns, and schnecken), pancakes (both flapjacks and crêpes) and waffles. All the fillings, icings, frostings, and glazes that flatter what you bake are included, too.

A typical recipe is composed of an introduction, a list of ingredients, a notation of the bakeware used, and the procedure. Sometimes an "observation line" will appear in the procedure at a critical point in the recipe. The observation line reveals what the dough or batter looks like at a particular (or critical) moment, explains a mixture's consistency or texture, or gives the reason for a certain technique. Essentially, inserting that observation line is my way of hovering over you as you bake.

The recipes are written in some detail, so that an act, function, and process—even a basic one—are defined and described. Each recipe concludes with information on removing the sweet from the baking pan and cooling, and, as appropriate, details about storage.

A variation (or two) is included at the end of selected recipes. Some recipes conclude with a line that begins with "For an extra surge of flavor." This last fillip, which is optional, shows you the way to add a burst of taste to a particular sweet. The extra ingredient may be a scented sugar, a flurry of flavored baking chips, or a topping that would enhance the recipe further. Some recipes also end with the line, "For an aromatic top-note of flavor," or with the line "For a textural contrast." A refined, often subtle, top-note of flavor can be added to a batter or dough, for example, in the form of a scented sugar or dash of liqueur; while dispensable, this ingredient would contribute to the over-all taste and flavor aroma of the sweet. And texturally, the crunch of nuts (or splatter of chips) fluttering through a batter or dough would also provide a lively, welcome contrast.

Many recipes contain a note about how long a specific bakery product keeps after baking. The phrase "Freshly baked, the cookies keep for 3 to 4 days" (for example) appears only when the bakery product has sound room-temperature storage life (and can be reheated, as necessary, with good results during that time). For guidance and directions on freezer storage, consult Chapter 23. If the "freshly baked" phrase does not appear at the end of a recipe, plan to use the particular sweet on the day it's made. To keep baked goods at room temperature, store them in an airtight cookie tin or cake keeper. And many recipes conclude with "Best baking advice," a tag line that explains the reason for a certain ingredient, method, or baking strategy.

To bake from this book to its best advantage, be sure to read the introduction to the recipe, which should give you some sense of what to expect: Will the cake be dense or fine-grained and feathery textured? Are the cookies chewy or crispy, thin or chunky? Are the sweet rolls gooey, sticky, and nutty, or are they silky within and topped with a rough and crunchy streusel? Is this a genteel, coffee cake kind of sweet or a mega-chocolate dessert? Then, read through the recipe in its entirety. Preheat the oven, prepare the baking pan, and measure each ingredient as the recipe indicates (allowing enough time for the butter to soften or the chocolate to melt, for example). Set out the important pieces of equipment you'll be using.

Generally, the recipes in this book begin with a batter or dough, but oftentimes include a filling, topping, icing, glaze, or frosting. A multidimensional recipe can be made in stages, with one or more of the elements prepared a day or two ahead of baking. Other recipes can be put together in the time it takes to preheat the oven.

So much of what we use in our daily lives has a consistent, occasionally regimented, almost cookie-cutter style. It's no wonder that we crave a craggy oatmeal cookie, a towering cinnamon bun, or a softly textured slice of chocolate cake, for these are heartening and satisfying. And they look so appealing. Although there's no substitute for the clean lines of an elegant cookie or a beautifully domed loaf cake, the occasional mark of what's handcrafted is welcome in the best of kitchens. While all the recipes in Baking by Flavor are about taste, they also demonstrate good design and sound technique. A luxurious slice of pound cake, a jagged dipping cookie, or a crumbly scone may look a bit rustic, but the natural, genuine quality of each is always seductive.

Meet the Author

LISA YOCKELSON is a food writer for both the Washington Post, the Boston Globe, and the New York Times and has contributed recipes and essays to publications including Gastronomica: The Journal of Food and Culture, Chocolatier, Pastry Art & Design, and Cook's Illustrated. Her Gastronomica article "Brownies: A Memoir" was included in Best Food Writing 2002. Yockelson is the author of ten cookbooks, including ChocolateChocolate (2005), which won The International Association of Culinary Professionals' (IACP) Award for Bread, Other Baking and Sweets category and was nominated for a James Beard Award in 2006, and Baking by Flavor (2002), which won the IACP Award for Bread, Other Baking and Sweets category and was nominated for a James Beard Foundation prestigious award in 2003. She is a graduate of the London Cordon Bleu.

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Baking by Flavor 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I've owned a copy of this book for several years, and it's consistently reliable. A few years ago I made the Ultra-Lemon Cake on page 402, with the lemon soaking glaze and the lemon pouring topping, recipes directly following the cake recipe. My dad and I ate it so fast we embarrassed ourselves. Three days after baking, it was GONE, with just the two of us having snacked on it. I don't think I made another cake for weeks after that. Truly irresistible. I've made several of the Ultra Lemon Cakes since then, but tend to plan them so we can share the extra calories, instead of eating them all ourselves. The book's first section talks about various ways to give any recipe a flavor boost how to layer a flavor throughout to intensify the result. I've loved learning from this section, since it helps me figure out how to give recipes I already use a bit of a flavor boost without much hassle, and the techniques work in general cookery, not just in baking. After that, Part II, the recipes, divided by flavors. Here are the categories: Almond, apricot, banana, blueberry, butter, buttercrunch, caramel and butterscotch, chocolate, cinnamon, coconut, coffee and mocha, ginger, lemon, peanut and peanut butter, rum, spice, sweet cheese, vanilla. Lots of good flavors, lots of great recipes. I've literally never made a dud from this cookbook, even though I've adapted them, for example, to make use of the baking pans I already have, instead of the sizes mentioned in the book.
NoLa18 More than 1 year ago
I wanted this book because I was eager to learn some new techniques for ramping up the flavor of baked goods. I read through the preliminary information and found a couple of modestly intriguing ideas, such as creating your own extra-strength vanilla by adding a vanilla bean to a bottle of commercial vanilla extract and making your own vanilla sugar to use in recipes. There is also a section containing various charts showing what flavors tend to go well together. I can't say I've gotten any earth-shattering ideas (in fact, I have a few ideas of my own that the author either doesn't know or chose not to share). But my low rating is based on the one recipe I've tried so far: mud cake. Far from being an intensely flavored chocolate cake, I found the taste pretty anemic. I discovered that when I tasted the batter before the cake went into the oven, but I didn't dare add anything at that point. However, I did decide to increase the chocolate content of the frosting by 50%. That turned out OK, but overall the cake was nothing special—not as good as my standby, the chocolate sheet cake recipe from Cook's Illustrated. I will try a few other recipes, and I hope that they will pack more of a punch; if so, I will change my rating.