The New York Times
The Craft of Baking: Cakes, Cookies, and Other Sweets with Ideas for Inventing Your Ownby Karen DeMasco, Mindy Fox
James Beard Award—winner Karen DeMasco, who first came to national attention as the pastry chef of Tom Colicchio’s Craft, Craftbar, and ’wichcraft restaurants from 2001 to 2008, approaches the art of baking in a unique way. Building on the savory cooking philosophy of using seasonal ingredients to create dishes with pure flavors, Karen makes acclaimed desserts that are both simple and elegant. Now, she shares her secrets and techniques in her first cookbook, The Craft of Baking, designed to help home bakers think imaginatively in order to expand their repertoires with new and fresh combinations.
Using the bounty of the seasons as inspiration and Karen’s clear instructions, both beginners and experienced bakers will find it easy to let their creativity take the reins. Learn how to make Karen’s celebrated sweets, such as Apple Fritters with Caramel Ice Cream and Apple Caramel Sauce, White Chocolate Cupcakes with White Chocolate Cream Cheese Buttercream, and Raised Cinnamon-Sugar Doughnuts. Then check out the tips on "varying your craft" to transform Grandma Rankin’s Cashew Brittle into Pumpkin Seed Brittle and to alter a cobbler recipe to make Rhubarb Rose Cobbler in the spring or Mixed Berry Cobbler in the summer, for example. Karen’s suggestions for "combining your craft"–such as serving Almond Pound Cake with Apricot Compote and Lillet Sabayon–reveal how easy it is to take desserts to the next level.
Karen’s ingenuity is boundless. All types of sweets, from muffins and scones to pies and cakes to ice creams and custards, are her mediums for exploring flavors. With Karen’s simple techniques, unique flavor combinations, and inventive ideas, The Craft of Baking will change the way you think about baking and equip any home cook with the skills and creativity to create amazing, one-of-a-kind desserts.
The New York Times
"The Craft of Baking is the kind of book you will use endlessly in the kitchen. With grace and ease, Karen DeMasco shares the secrets to her deft and delectable desserts. My only question is which sweet to try first!"
"Karen DeMasco may be a professional baker, but she’s a home baker at heart. In this book she has transformed all the pastry techniques and tricks she has learned over the years into accessible and delicious desserts."
"Karen DeMasco’s brilliant work encompasses the best of classic French and Italian techniques in playful and delicious recipes that feel new and are delightfully American. I want to have the brown butter waffles for breakfast tonight!"
"I have always admired Karen’s ability to craft the simplest of desserts into the most sublime. Nobody does it better! We all have a great deal to learn from her."
"For the past few years, pastry chefs have wowed us with esoteric creations. But Karen DeMasco reminds us that, really, nothing is better than a piece of cake."
"It’s the rare cookbook that manages to make the didactic delicious, but The Craft of Baking succeeds effortlessly. Karen DeMasco not only places her mouthwatering recipes in your hands, she actually encourages you to tinker with them, leaving room for inspiration as it strikes. Smart, innovative, and endlessly delectable, this is a cookbook that entertains as it instructs: read it and learn."
"DeMasco makes you eager to turn on the oven"
- Associated Press
"DeMasco is a master at her craft"
- Charleston Post & Courier
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Read an Excerpt
Back-to-School Raspberry Granola Bars
Makes 16 bars
These nutty fruit cookies are perfect for a lunch sack, last-minute bake sale, or early autumn picnic. They are quick to put together with pantry staples and everyone seems to love them.
12 tablespoons (11/2 sticks)
unsalted butter, plus more for the pan
1 cup pecans, roughly chopped
11/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
11/4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
⅓ cup granulated sugar
⅓ cup packed dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup raspberry preserves
Preheat the oven to 350oF. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan and line the bottom with parchment.
In a small saucepan, melt the butter. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature.
Spread the pecans on a baking sheet. Bake until lightly golden and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Cool the sheet completely on a wire rack.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, oats, granulated sugar, brown sugar, salt, baking soda, and pecans. Pour in the melted butter, and using a wooden spoon, mix together until well combined.
Transfer about two thirds of the dough to the prepared baking pan. Press the dough evenly into the pan, forming a firmly packed layer.
Using an offset or rubber spatula, spread the preserves over the dough. Evenly sprinkle the remaining dough over the preserves.
Bake, rotating the pan halfway through, until the top is golden brown and fragrant, about 40 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let it cool completely. Then cut into 2-inch squares.
The bars can be kept in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.
Grandma Rankin's Cashew Brittle
My Grandma Rankin started making what became her famous cashew brittle as a young adult, using a recipe passed down by her mother. Years later, she decided to give the salty-sweet candy as Christmas gifts. Before long she was sending my grandfather to the nut factory to buy nuts in bulk. For years she made 150 pounds of the candy every holiday season!
Makes 1 3/4 pounds
Nonstick cooking spray
2 cups sugar
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/3 cup light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 1/2 cups (12 ounces) salted roasted cashews
Lightly coat a rimmed baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray; set it aside.
Combine the sugar, butter, corn syrup, and ½ cup water in a large saucepan. Stir together so that all of the sugar is wet. Cook the mixture over high heat without stirring until it turns a dark amber color, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat. Carefully whisk in the baking soda, followed by the salt; the caramel will rise and bubble. Using a wooden or metal spoon, fold in the cashews. Pour the brittle onto the prepared baking sheet, and using the back of the spoon, spread it out into a layer about ½ inch thick. Let it cool completely. Break the brittle into bite-size pieces, using a mallet or the back of a heavy knife.
The brittle can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.
Varying Your Craft: Pumpkin Seed Brittle
Replace the cashews with 1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) toasted pumpkin seeds.
Meet the Author
KAREN DeMASCO was the pastry chef overseeing the desserts at Craft, Craftbar, and ’wichcraft from their opening in 2001 until 2008. The winner of the 2005 James Beard Award for Best Pastry Chef, DeMasco has worked in many of America’s most illustrious pastry kitchens, including Chanterelle and Gramercy Tavern of New York City and Fore Street restaurant of Portland, Maine. She is the pastry chef of Robert De Niro’s restaurant Locanda Verde in New York City.
MINDY FOX is the food editor of the magazine La Cucina Italiana and a former editor at Saveur. She has written for many magazines, including Saveur, Every Day with Rachael Ray, and Prevention, and she has collaborated on a number of cookbooks, including Olives & Oranges.
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