Fearless Baking: Over 100 Recipes That Anyone Can Make


With recipes organized by technique and step-by-step instruction, Fearless Baking is the antidote to years of crumbly cookies, tasteless tarts, and burnt biscuits. If you're a first-time baker, you'll be amazed at the ease and speed with which you can turn out the same kinds of quality homemade treats you've envied in others' homes. If you're an experienced baker, you'll find focused instructions on each aspect of baking, and original fail-safe recipes that can broaden your ...

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With recipes organized by technique and step-by-step instruction, Fearless Baking is the antidote to years of crumbly cookies, tasteless tarts, and burnt biscuits. If you're a first-time baker, you'll be amazed at the ease and speed with which you can turn out the same kinds of quality homemade treats you've envied in others' homes. If you're an experienced baker, you'll find focused instructions on each aspect of baking, and original fail-safe recipes that can broaden your repertoire.

Introductory chapters detail the basic ingredients used throughout the book, along with the appropriate pans and utensils. Each recipe begins with a helpful "Baking Answers" section to anticipate questions or problems and explain the baking ideas or techniques that the recipe introduces or emphasizes. In addition, the directions not only include tips for visual measurement but also often provide descriptive instructions for recognizing when a batter is properly mixed or an item is done.

Each chapter builds on skills and techniques that have been previously explained. Beginning with the simplest recipe (for Perfectly Easy Chocolate Chip Butterscotch Blondies) in "Just Stir and Bake," you progress to Glazed Fresh Raspberry Pie in "No-Roll Crusts with Simple Fillings," Butter Shortbread Cut-outs in "Mixing a Smooth Dough," and Deep South Pound Cake in "Mixing a Smooth Batter." Now go on to Cranberry Eggnog Cake with Bourbon Butter Frosting in "Putting the Frosting with the Cake," Apple and Hazelnut Macaroon Tart in "Rolled Crusts for Pies and Tarts," Orange Meringue Ice Cream Cake in "Whipping Eggs for Cakes and Meringues," and Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Fudge Frosting in "Baking with Chocolate." Finally, wow family and friends with Aunt Elaine's Mocha Whipped Cream Shadow Cake from "Whipping Cream for Cakes, Pies, and Pastries," and the Pumpkin Pecan Praline Cheesecake from "Melting Sugar for Caramel and Praline."

This surefire guide to turning out delicious home-made treats should be on every baker's bookshelf.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
Are your cake pans gathering dust? Are you leery of turning the oven to Bake when flour and butter are involved? There are plenty of good cooks who feel that baking is beyond them, demanding a certain mix of patience, precision, and artistry that mere mortals do not possess. For this food group (and for experienced bakers looking for more good recipes), Elinor Klivans's cookbook is the answer.

Klivans assumes your baking knowledge is just about nil, and your baking confidence even lower. She understands that you don't know how to test for doneness and that you won't automatically know to bring butter to room temperature before mixing. By the end of the first real chapter, titled “Just Stir and Bake,” she'll have you turning out Peanut Butter and Milk Chocolate Brownies; Big, Easy Popovers; and Toasted Hazelnut Peach Crisp just by stirring ingredients together in a bowl with a spoon (and baking).

Subsequent chapters, again based on technique (“Mixing a Smooth Batter,” “Whipping Eggs for Cakes and Meringues,” for example), introduce Fifty-Fifty Crumb Buns, Pear and Gingerbread Upside-Down Cake, Chocolate Chiffon Cake, and Tiramisû Ice Cream Loaf, to name a few. The "Baking Answers" section of each recipe anticipates any questions and points out possible pitfalls. This step-by-step approach can make a few recipes seem much too long, but will nicely ease any baking-phobes into the fast lane.

Fearless Baking provides more than 100 recipes, many showcased with full-color photographs. Klivans also offers her thoughts on essential pantry ingredients, appropriate pans and utensils, and a basic baking glossary. (Ginger Curwen)

Publishers Weekly
Klivans, the no-nonsense author of, among others, 125 Cookies to Bake, Nibble and Savor, expertly provides recipes that will be easy for the most novice baker to follow but will also appeal to more experienced readers. Klivans has attempted to foresee and forestall any mistakes that could be made in following these recipes. In a recipe for Peanut Butter and Milk Chocolate Brownies, for example, she patiently explains how using chocolate chips rather than chopped milk chocolate will alter the results, and also mentions that they're cut smaller than might be expected because of their unusual richness. Background information on basic utensils and ingredients is very complete, and the recipes are extremely clear. In fact, if this book has one flaw, it's that Klivans occasionally provides so much information in the name of clarity that some recipes become quite lengthy. Each chapter is based around a technique: "Putting the Frosting with the Cake" includes Chocolate Texas Sheet Cake and Cranberry Eggnog Cake with Bourbon Butter Frosting. Savory dishes are included as well: Deep Dish Wild Mushroom Pie and Roasted Tomato, Basil and Parmesan Pie appear alongside Sticky Walnut Pie. Klivans understands that beginners may want to make more sophisticated treats than the traditional chocolate chip cookies (although Jumbo Chocolate Chip Cookies do appear), so she offers Tiramis? Ice Cream Loaf and Almond Crunch and Chocolate Confetti Chiffon Cake. 8 pages of color photos not seen by PW. (Sept.) Forecast: With Klivans's already significant following, and this book's adaptability to a wide range of skill levels, strong sales are likely. Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Food writer Klivans here includes all sorts of baked goods, most sweet but a few savory, organized by technique and generally moving from simple to more complicated. The recipes are painstakingly detailed, and each one includes "Baking Answers," which deal with any questions beginners may have. Although some of the recipes are quick and easy, others call for long ingredients lists and a fair amount of time, and some are quite demanding, such as Coconut, Fig, and Pecan Cake, which includes both a cooked custard filling and a cooked frosting. Readers who want a collection of quick and easy desserts may prefer Lora Brody's Basic Baking (LJ 10/15/00) or Lauren Chatmen's Instant Gratification (LJ 5/15/00). More ambitious bakers, however, will welcome Klivans's book. For most baking collections. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780684872599
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • Publication date: 8/28/2001
  • Pages: 400
  • Product dimensions: 7.82 (w) x 9.40 (h) x 1.38 (d)

Meet the Author

Elinor Klivans is an award-winning pastry chef trained in France and the United States. She is the author of several cookbooks, including Big Fat Cookies and Bake and Freeze Desserts, a Julia Child Cookbook Award nominee, and a coauthor of Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Baking. Based in Maine, Klivans is also a frequent guest on radio and television and has written for numerous national magazines.

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Read an Excerpt

Introduction to Hummingbird Cake

My husband Jeff thinks that the purpose of cake is to hold cream cheese frosting, but even he admits that this moist banana, pineapple, and toasted pecan cake is good enough to serve without any frosting at all. The cake is a Southern specialty with a name that may suggest the sweet nectar that hummingbirds gather.

Copyright © 2001 by Elinor Klivans

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Table of Contents









Perfectly Easy Chocolate Chip Butterscotch Blondies
• Peanut Butter and Milk Chocolate Brownies
• Banana Butterscotch Blondie Sundae
• Any-Season Fruit Crumble
• Toasted Hazelnut Peach Crisp
• Apple Crumble Bars
• Deep-Dish Apple Strudel Pie
• Big-Top Corn Muffins
• Maple Muffins with Carrots, Pineapple, and Pecans
• Big, Easy Popovers
• Green Tomato and Cornmeal Pecan Crisp
• Baked Blintz
• Layered Cheddar, Vegetable, and Cashew Nut Pie
• Zucchini Bread Pudding

No-Roll Crusts with Simple Fillings

Lemon Chess Bars
• Three-Layer Walnut Bars
• Lemon Icebox Pie
• Orange Cream Cheese Pie with Shiny Strawberries
• Glazed Fresh Raspberry Pie
• Vanilla Cheesecake
• Strawberry Vanilla Cheesecake
• Cherry Custard Tart with Pouring Crust
• Ham and Swiss Potato Pie
• Savory Lemon, Sage, Parsley, and Thyme Cheesecake

Mixing a Smooth Dough

Jumbo Chocolate Chip Cookies
• Buttery Brown Sugar and Oatmeal Shortbread
• My Best Butter Buttons
• Double Walnut Meltaways
• Maple Butter Pecan Wafers
• Chocolate Hazelnut Snowballs
• Lemon Cream Cookie Sandwiches
• Soft and Crunchy Golden Raisin and Apricot Oatmeal Bars
• Open-Face Summer Peach Tart
• All-American Peach Cobbler
• Flying Cloud Biscuits
• Orange Spice Scones
• Butter Shortbread Cutouts

Mixing a Smooth Batter

Fifty-Fifty Crumb Buns
• Peanut Butter Crumb Cake
• Cranberry-Walnut Butterscotch Bars
• Blueberry Crumb Cake
• Sticky-Top Gingerbread with Brown Sugar Toffee Sauce
• Deep South Pound Cake
• French Pear and Almond Cake
• Crushed Pineapple Upside-Down Cake
• Pear and Gingerbread Upside-Down Cake
• Black-and-White Cheesecake Cake

Putting the Frosting with the Cake

Carrot Cake Coconut Snowballs
• Whoopie Pies
• Texas Chocolate Sheet Cake
• Cranberry Eggnog Cake with Bourbon Butter Frosting
• Lemon-Glazed Lemon Pound Cake
• Pumpkin Cake with Brown Sugar Icing
• Rolling Pin Glazed Almond Cake
• Hummingbird Cake
• Chocolate-Covered Banana-Chocolate Chip Cake
• Ebinger's Orange-Glazed Layer Cake with Orange Butter Filling

Rolled Crusts for Pies and Tarts

Fearless Piecrust
• Butter Cookie Tart Crust
• Sticky Walnut Pie
• Pecan-Chocolate Chip Pie
• Pear and Cranberry Cream Crunch-Top Pie
• Bountiful Apricot, Cranberry, and Walnut Pie
• Farmhouse Apple Pie
• A Well-Filled Two-Crust Apple Pie
• A Pair of Apple Dumplings Baked in Cinnamon Sauce
• Especially Crumbly Rhubarb Tart
• Apple and Hazelnut Macaroon Tart
• Shimmering Fresh Berry Tart
• Chile, Cheese, and Chorizo Quiche
• Roasted Tomato, Basil, and Parmesan Pie
• Deep-Dish Wild Mushroom Pie

Whipping Eggs for Cakes and Meringues

Cinnamon Pecan Swirl Coffee Cake
• Lemon Ripple Crunch Cake
• Italian Cream Cake
• The Groom's Lemon Cake
• Almond Angel Cake
• Chocolate Chiffon Cake
• Almond Crunch and Chocolate Confetti Chiffon Cake
• Coffee Lover's Layer Cake
• Tiramisù Ice Cream Loaf
• Coconut, Fig, and Pecan Cake with Fluffy White Frosting
• Orange Meringue Ice Cream Cake
• Mom's Lemon Meringue Pie

Baking with Chocolate

Double Fudge Brownies
• Half-Baked Brownie Ice Cream Pie
• Chocolate Chip Cookie and Fudge Brownie Pie
• Chocolate Chip Fudge Cake
• Hot Chocolate Cake
• Chocolate Cookie Sandwiches
• Chocolate Cake and Ice Cream Roll
• Reverse Chocolate Marble Cake
• Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Fudge Frosting
• Go for the Chocolate Cake
• Chocolate Pound Cake with Chocolate Marshmallow Frosting
• Chocolate Bride's Cake

Whipping Cream for Cakes, Pies, and Pastries

Deep-Dish Strawberry Whipped Cream Cake
• Deep-Dish Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake
• New England Maple Pumpkin Pie
• Strawberry Shortcake
• Chocolate Icebox Pie
• Deluxe Coconut Cream Pie
• Orange-and-White Chocolate Truffle Cake
• Raspberries and Cream Macaroon Tart
• Aunt Elaine's Mocha Whipped Cream Shadow Cake
• Chocolate Whipped Cream Truffle Cake
• Pecan Meringues Stacked with Whipped Cream and Strawberry Sauce
• Zuccotto — Italian Chocolate and Vanilla Cream Cake

Melting Sugar for Caramel and Praline

Cranberry Caramel Buckle
• Fantasy Bars
• Caramel Milky Way Ice Cream Pie
• Caramel Pecan Cookie Sandwich Hearts
• Two-for-One Hazelnut Lace Cookie Sandwiches or Stacks
• Pumpkin Pecan Praline Cheesecake
• Double-Decker Raspberry and Almond Praline Cheesecake
• Pear and Almond Cake with Caramel Frosting
• Banoffee Pie
• Caramel Cream Pie
• Blaze of Glory Chocolate Cake





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Baking can result in a grand success or a total disaster. Fearless Baking is a recipe-by-recipe course in baking that will guarantee you success cookie by cookie and cake by cake. Even first-time bakers will be surprised at the ease and speed with which they'll turn out the same kinds of quality homemade treats they've envied in others' homes. Experienced bakers will find focused instruction on each aspect of baking, and original fail-safe recipes that can broaden your repertoire.

Several years ago my husband and I visited our son Peter, who was living in Japan. Since Peter was busy at work all day and we were unfamiliar with the territory, each night he would write out specific directions for the next day's sightseeing. Aside from names and locations, he also wrote helpful hints and little warnings to us. He would caution us to check that we took the up stairs rather than the down stairs in a train station, or note to watch out for different train lines coming in on the same track. Appreciative of the careful directions, I suddenly had a realization and asked him, "Peter, you've made all of these mistakes already, haven't you? That's how you know where to tell us to be so careful!"

I was right, and it inspired me to provide the same sort of detailed instruction for bakers. Whenever I try a recipe for the first time, I often either have a question or make a mistake. With that in mind, I have included a "baking answers" section at the beginning of every recipe to anticipate questions or problems, and explain the baking ideas that the recipe introduces or emphasizes. In a recipe for a butter cake, for example, the "baking answers" section explains the specific cake-mixing process; in a recipe for an angel food cake, it gives a detailed description of how to whip egg whites. In addition, the directions in each recipe not only include visual measurements, but also often provide descriptive instructions for recognizing when a batter is properly mixed or an item is done. We never got on the wrong train in Japan, and I believe that my directions will help you take the right turns with your baking, developing the confidence to make baking natural, comfortable, and a whole lot of fun.

The early chapters of Fearless Baking lay out and explain the basic baking terms and methods, and the equipment and ingredients that you should have on hand. Then, beginning with recipes that require nothing more difficult than stirring ingredients together, the chapters follow a natural order of slowly adding new skills and ingredients and building on what has been previously explained. I was surprised at how many recipes required nothing but stirring, and you'll be amazed at your scrumptious results on the first try. Muffins, crumbles, and brownies are just a few examples. Because I wanted Fearless Baking to be accessible to all, the rest of the chapters require no equipment more expensive than a handheld electric mixer—a $20 to $25 investment.

As you bake your way through, you'll notice that the simplest recipes are at the beginning of each chapter. As the chapter progresses, techniques or variations on techniques and new ways of using ingredients are added. I haven't isolated every possible idea in the baking world, but the ten I have covered provide a broad range of recipes to get you started and keep you baking for years to come. Bakers at all levels can choose recipes that they are comfortable making, while bakers with some experience can skip around and choose a new technique to try or a recipe that appeals to them.

One reason I know this book works is that many brave and "fearless testers" tested the techniques in each recipe. Whenever friends or family mentioned that they were afraid of a particular baking task, I asked them to test a recipe that used it. When my son-in-law, Michael, mentioned that he had never baked a cake, I whizzed the Lemon-Glazed Lemon Pound Cake off for him to try. My nonbaking friends and my daughter's young-baker friends all joined the group of brave testers as well. In fact, I have yet to meet some of my testers. When an amazing cookie baker from North Carolina sent me a letter about her love of cookie baking, she promptly became one of the cake testers. Clearly, the only reason I still have any friends left is that the recipes resulted in delicious treats and lots of fun for all. Of course, I learned a lot in the process. I now try not to assume anything about what I think people know. I also realize that a pastry brush or a wire rack is not necessarily found in everyone's kitchen, or that telling people to line a tube pan with paper could stop them in their tracks if I don't explain how to cut the paper. Surprisingly, I discovered that many people do not read a recipe through before beginning to bake, and I cannot encourage you strongly enough to read and shop before starting to bake.

Friends and family taste-tested many of the recipes, but I must thank my husband Jeff for faithfully tasting every version of every single recipe in this book. Finally, my daughter Laura and my son Peter earn my gratitude for reading every recipe for clarity, even though they loved finding my errors and delighted in telling stories about my recipe titled "currant scones" that had no currants, or my misplaced modifiers that implied I had married my friend Sue Chase.

But even with all that support, what really kept me going was the thought of helping others bake. Whenever I mentioned to a friend or relative that I was writing a book called Fearless Baking, they all had the same response—it was uncanny. "You must have been inspired by me," or "That is the book that I need!" I hope that I have written the book you need. I know that this is the baking book that I wish I had had to help me learn to bake.

Copyright © 2001 by Elinor Klivans

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Peanut Butter and Milk Chocolate Brownies
Makes 16 brownies

These brownies are like inside-out peanut butter cups: peanut butter brownies enclose a milk chocolate center. The generous quantity of peanut butter in these bars makes them especially dense and fudgey.

Baking Answers:
Using chopped milk chocolate rather than milk chocolate chips produces the middle layer of milk chocolate in these brownies. Milk chocolate chips hold their shape when baked, but chopped milk chocolate melts and forms the desirable unbroken milk chocolate layer throughout the middle of the brownies. Milk chocolate chips wouldn't ruin the brownies, but chopped chocolate is preferable here.

Use a clean meat pounder or hammer to break large bars of milk chocolate into small pieces. Leave the chocolate in its wrapper to prevent flying chocolate pieces. Six ounces of milk chocolate pieces measure about 1 cup.

Soft peanut butter blends easily with soft butter. If the peanut butter has been refrigerated, soften it to room temperature. I use the regular or the low-sodium, but not the low-fat peanut butter. Use a rubber spatula to scrape peanut butter out of a jar or measuring cup easily.

These are rich brownies so I cut them into 16 pieces rather than the usual 12.

One 9-inch square baking pan or one 11 x 7-inch baking pan, both with 2-inch-high sides

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 pound (1 stick) soft unsalted butter
1 cup smooth peanut butter, room temperature
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 ounces milk chocolate, such as Lindt or Dove Bar, broken into about
1/2-inch pieces

Mix the Batter:
Position a rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 325° F. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9 x 9 (or 11 x 7) x 2-inch baking pan.

Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt onto a piece of wax paper or into a small bowl and set aside.

Put the butter and peanut butter in a large bowl and stir with a large spoon until they are blended together. You may see a few specks of butter. Stir in the brown sugar and granulated sugar, mixing until they are incorporated and there is no loose sugar. Stirring vigorously, beat in the eggs and vanilla until the mixture looks smooth. Add the flour mixture and stir just until it is incorporated and there is no loose flour. Spread about two thirds of the batter into the pan, spreading evenly with a thin metal spatula or a nonsharp table knife. Scatter the milk chocolate pieces evenly over the batter. Drop spoonfuls of the remaining batter over the milk chocolate, using a rubber spatula to scrape all of the batter from the bowl. Use a thin metal spatula or the table knife to spread the batter evenly over the chocolate. The chocolate will be covered, but may show through the batter.

Bake and Serve the Brownies:
Bake for about 35 minutes until the top feels firm when gently touches and the edges are light brown. Inserting a toothpick as a test doesn't work because the warm milk chocolate clings to the toothpick. Cool the brownies thoroughly in the pan for about 1 hour. Cut the brownies into 16 pieces and use a thin metal spatula to remove them from the pan. Wrap individual brownies in plastic wrap and store at room temperature up to 3 days. Wrapped brownies are ready to pack in lunch boxes or picnic baskets. These brownies can be served with a scoop of chocolate or peanut butter fudge ice cream.

Individual brownies can be wrapped in plastic wrap then heavy aluminum foil and stored in the freezer for up to 3 months. Defrost the wrapped brownies as needed.

Lemon Icebox Pie
Serves 8

Refreshing Lemon Icebox Pie makes a sweet way to cool off on a hot day. With only 4 ingredients and a cookie crumb crust, it's just what you might feel like making on a lazy summer day. As with all lemon desserts, I prefer to serve this pie cold, but this particular pie has a special feature if it's frozen. Since the pie never freezes rock hard, it can be prepared ahead of time, frozen, and served icy cold after only a few minutes of softening.

Baking Answers:
Graham cracker crust can be found in the baking section of supermarkets, but whole graham crackers can be used. Put graham crackers between 2 sheets of wax paper and use a rolling pin to crush them into fine crumbs, or process the cookies in a food processor until crumbs form. This graham cracker crust is slightly thicker than the one for the Glazed Fresh Raspberry Pie.

Sweetened condensed milk is found in the canned milk section of supermarkets, near the evaporated milk.

Remember to grate the lemon zest from the lemon before squeezing the juice. For the zest, grate only the yellow skin of the lemon. The white pitch is bitter and has no lemon flavor.

To prevent a plastic wrap covering from sticking to the top of the pie, chill the pie until the top is form, then cover it.

A Step Ahead:
The pie can be frozen for up to 1 month. After refrigerating the pie until the top is firm, wrap the pie tightly with plastic wrap then heavy aluminum foil. Label with the date and contents. Let the wrapped frozen pie sit at room temperature for 15 minutes, then serve it.

One 9-inch shiny metal or ovenproof glass pie pan and a grater for the lemon zest.

Graham Cracker Crumb Crust:
1-1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Two 14-ounce cans sweetened condensed milk
1 cup fresh lemon juice
5 large egg yolks
2 teaspoons grated fresh lemon zest

Prepare the Crust:
Position an oven rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Butter the inside of a 9-inch pie pan.

Put the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and cinnamon in a medium bowl and stir them together. Add the melted butter, stirring until the crumbs are evenly moistened with the butter. Put the crumb mixture in the prepared pan and use the back of your fingers or the back of a spoon to press the crumb mixture evenly over the bottom and sides of the pie pan. Bake for 6 minutes. Set aside. Leave the oven on.

Mix the Filling:
Put the condensed milk and lemon juice in a large bowl. Use a large spoon or rubber spatula to blend them thoroughly. Add the egg yolks and lemon zest and stir until the yolks are incorporated and you see no yellow yolk. Pour the mixture into the prepared crust.

Bake and Serve the Pie:
Bake for 30 minutes. The top looks firm and set when you give the pan a gentle shake. Let the pie cool at room temperature for 1 hour. Refrigerate, uncovered, until the top is firm if you touch it gently, about 1-1/2 hours. Cover the pie with plastic wrap and chill it thoroughly in the refrigerator for at least 5 hours or overnight. Store the pie in the refrigerator up to 3 days. Or, wrap the pie with plastic wrap and heavy aluminum foil and freeze it for up to 1 month.

Serve the pie with sweetened fresh strawberries. Slice 1 pint of cleaned strawberries. Put them in a bowl and stir in 1 tablespoon sugar. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour or up to 6 hours. Serve slices of pie with spoonfuls of the strawberries and their juice.

Pear and Gingerbread Upside-Down Cake
Serves 8

Pears and spice cake make a comforting fall idea for an upside-down cake. The sliced pears become coated with butter, honey, and brown sugar as they bake under the ginger-scented cake. When the cake is inverted, the honey-lacquered pear slices form a beautiful pattern over the top. Apple slices can be substituted for the pears.

Baking Answers:
Remember to remove the cake from its pan when the glaze and pears are warm, so they release easily and do not stick to the pan. If any pear slices do stick, replace them on the cake.

Cold honey sometimes becomes opaque and hard after long refrigeration. Warming the honey returns it to a clear liquid. Either spoon out some of the honey and warm it in a pan over low heat or let the open jar sit in hot water until the honey softens.

One 9-inch-diameter cake pan with 2-inch-high sides and 2 wire racks for inverting and cooling the cake.

Glaze and Pears:
3 tablespoons soft unsalted butter
2 tablespoons honey
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
2 pears, peeled, halved, cored, and cut into 1/4-inch slices

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1-1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
6 ounces (1-1/2 sticks) soft unsalted butter
3/4 cup sugar
3 large eggs
2 tablespoons unsulphured molasses
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Mix the Glaze and Arrange the Pears:
Position a rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 325° F. Have ready one 9-inch round cake pan that is 2 inches long.

Heat the butter, honey and brown sugar in a small saucepan over low heat until the butter and brown sugar melt and the mixture is smooth, stirring constantly. Pour the honey mixture into the cake pan and spread it evenly. Beginning at the edge of the pan, arrange the pear slices over the honey mixture in overlapping concentric circles to cover the bottom of the pan. You will have 2 rows of pear circles. Arrange the pears neatly, as this will become the top of the cake.

Mix the Cake:
Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves together onto a piece of wax paper or into a medium bowl and set aside.

Put the butter and sugar in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until lightened in color and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Move the beaters around the bowl if using a handheld electric mixer. Stop the mixer and scrape the mixture from the sides of the bowl and any that becomes caught in the beaters as needed throughout the mixing process. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each addition. Stir in the molasses and vanilla, mixing just to incorporate them. The batter may look curdled. Decrease the speed to low and add the flour mixture, mixing just until it is incorporated and the batter looks smooth. Spread the batter evenly over the pear slices, spreading it carefully so as not to disturb the pears.

Bake and Serve the Cake:
Bake for about 45 minutes until the top feels firm when touched lightly and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Be sure to insert the toothpick into the cake, not into the pears.

Cool the cake in the pan for 5 minutes. Use a small sharp knife to loosen the sides of the cake from the pan. Place a wire rack against the top of the cake and invert it onto a wire rack to cool. The cake can be cooled for 20 minutes and served warm, or it can be cooled thoroughly and served at room temperature. Vanilla toffee, caramel, or caramel swirl ice cream makes a good accompaniment. Store the covered cake at room temperature for up to 2 days and serve at room temperature.

Three apples peeled, halved, cored, and cut into 1/4-inch slices can be substituted for the pears.

Copyright © 2001 by Elinor Klivans.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 17, 2004

    great book!

    I got this book for Chrsitmas, and have been using it ever since then. the book is wonderful and there is only one recipe that has turned out badly. Everything else is wonderful!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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