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Baked Elements: Our 10 Favorite Ingredients

Baked Elements: Our 10 Favorite Ingredients

Baked Elements: Our 10 Favorite Ingredients

Baked Elements: Our 10 Favorite Ingredients


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In their third cookbook, Baked Elements: Our 10 Favorite Ingredients, acclaimed authors Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito present 75 inventive new recipes revolving solely around their 10 most-loved ingredients—from peanut butter and caramel to malt and booze. Lewis and Poliafito celebrate these favorite elements—chocolate, for instance, or bananas—baking each one into a variety of delicious cookies, bars, cakes, milkshakes, and more, sweets perfect for everyday cravings, special occasions, late-night celebrations, and weekend get-togethers. Complete with the signature stories and commentary that fans adore, chapters also include feature-ingredient infographics with quirky facts and charts and helpful Baked notes that make creating these desserts as easy as pie.

Praise for Baked Elements:

“From the writers of my favorite baking books of all time, a must-own for any baking enthusiast.” —Zoe Deschanel

“Lewis and Poliafito approach their recipes with enthusiasm and dedication.” —Boston Globe

“It’s official. I’m a goner. I love this cookbook. . . . While many restaurant pastry chefs around the country are out there pushing the envelope and falling off the cutting edge adding savory ingredients to deconstructed molecular gastronomy masterpieces, Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito have delivered another collection of uniquely approachable and delicious baked creations to satisfy any craving.” —Austin Chronicle

“Nobody, nobody has a better grasp on the kinds of recipes that make people happily gum up the pages of a book with cookie dough or retire their grandmother’s famous recipe for cinnamon rolls (because it didn’t include pumpkin) than the Baked guys. This book is full of the stuff of American bakery-case dreams.” —Deb Perelman, creator of Smitten Kitchen

“Not a page goes by without some personal anecdote, tip, or bit of advice that makes every recipe feel personal, well-tested, and well-loved. The book itself is gorgeous, with drool-worthy photos and an elegant layout that makes finding old favorites easy and choosing new treats a breeze.” —Serious Eats

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781584799856
Publisher: ABRAMS
Publication date: 09/01/2012
Pages: 224
Product dimensions: 9.00(w) x 9.40(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito left their day jobs in advertising to open their bakery, Baked, in Brooklyn to immediate praise from fans across the country. They have been featured on Oprah, the TODAY show, the Food Network, and the Martha Stewart Show. Their previous books include Baked and Baked Explorations. Lewis and Poliafito live in New York City.

Read an Excerpt



If you have ever woken up with a slight hangover and a dubious, half-remembered, half-eaten jar of peanut butter at your side, we can empathize. We have lived this shame. Peanut butter is a surprisingly nimble comfort food, able to combine with almost any form of dessert (cakes, cookies, icings, macaroons, ice cream) in a beautiful all-encompassing embrace. We take its comfort often. Of course, there are naysayers, and we ignore them. If you dislike peanut butter, chances are you also dislike angels and puppies and we pity you. We are fans of both the nostalgia brands like Skippy and Peter Pan and the all-natural stuff (we are finally getting used to stirring the oil back into the paste). Slow, restful weekends were virtually invented for peanut butter snack time — whether directly from the jar or as part of a cookie — and in our lazy daydreams, the rivers are alive with smooth, crunchy, and toasty peanut butter.


WE RARELY IDENTIFY our "favorite" recipes for the simple reason that they change all the time based on mood, environment, and time of year. Therefore, we consider it a slightly big deal to induct this recipe into the rarefied kingdom of "Matt and Renato's All-Time Favorite Recipes," which is neither a book nor a file nor a thing, but just a place in our collective minds. The recipe itself is embarrassingly simple — really, just cereal (therefore making these bars a perfectly plausible breakfast solution), peanut butter, peanuts, and chocolate. Combined, these ingredients make a bar that is absurdly transcendental — salty, sweet, crunchy, and addictive, with nods to some purer form of childhood nostalgia (think bake sales and campfire tales) — yet uniquely current, like an Eames chair. We make them for afternoon snacks, for parties, for romantic dates, for large events. In fact, there is rarely an occasion not to make these bars. We actually prefer them in the morning, with a hearty cup of coffee. The world just seems like a better place when you wake up with our Good Morning Sunshine Bars.

Yield: 24 bars

BAKED NOTE:Though it might be tempting to cover the entire surface of the bar in chocolate as opposed to making just a few chocolate stripes or zigzags, we encourage you to refrain. Too much chocolate obscures some of the peanut flavor and crunch, thereby diluting the whole Good Morning Sunshine Bar experience.

6 cups crunchy, plain cereal (Rice Chex or something similar works best)
Butter the bottom and sides of a 9-by-13- inch baking pan. Line the pan with parchment paper so that the paper overhangs the pan on two sides. Butter the parchment.

Place the cereal and peanuts in a large bowl and use your hands to toss together until mixed well.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, stir together the sugar and corn syrup. Bring the mixture to a boil for one full minute. Remove from the heat and stir in the peanut butter, vanilla, and salt. Stir until the mixture is combined.

Pour the sugar mixture over the cereal mixture and use a spoon or well-greased hands (be careful as the liquid may still be very hot) to toss until the cereal is completely coated with the sugar mixture.

Turn the mixture out into the prepared pan. Grease your hands and press the mixture into the bottom of the pan, being careful not to crush the cereal. Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature (if you wish to speed this process, you may place the entire pan in the refrigerator for 15 to 20 minutes).

Melt the chocolate in a microwave or double boiler. Use a spoon or piping bag to decorate the tops of the bars in a stripe or zigzag pattern. Allow the chocolate to set.

Lift the bars out of the pan using the parchment paper overhang, cut them into approximately 3-by-1½-inch rectangles (i.e., candy bars).

The bars can be stored at room temperature, in an airtight container, for up to 3 days. If the weather is hot and humid, you might want to keep them in the refrigerator instead.


ALL THINGS CONSIDERED, we are still waiting for a loaf craze to take hold. We think the simple yet versatile loaf cake or bread (as in "banana bread," "zucchini bread," etc.) deserves the same kind of mania usually reserved for cupcakes and French macaroons. Though not as naturally attractive as some of the other more popular baked goods, loaf cakes have a lot going for them. They are almost always easy to prepare, simple enough to scale up for multiples, and effortless to cart around (have you ever tried to drive a three-layer buttercream-filled cake forty-three miles in an un-air-conditioned car?). This loaf is really the culmination of our favorite things: peanut butter, bananas, and chocolate. It's moist and nicely textured and we think it is one of those anytime, anywhere snacks that make life seem a little kinder.

Yield: One 9-by-5-inch loaf

BAKED NOTE:We suppose you could substitute smooth peanut butter for the crunchy peanut butter in this recipe, but we would rather you stick with the crunchy. It provides a lovely texture. In fact, if you crave even more texture, we suggest adding about ¼ cup chopped and salted peanuts to the batter.

1 ½ cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, divided
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and position the rack in the center. Butter a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan, dust it with flour, and knock out the excess flour.

In a large bowl, whisk together 1 ½ cups flour, the sugar, salt, and baking soda.

In another large bowl, whisk together the bananas, oil, eggs, milk, and peanut butter. Toss the chocolate chips in the remaining 1 tablespoon of flour, then stir the chocolate chips into the banana mixture.

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour the wet mixture into it. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ever so gently until just combined. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a few moist crumbs.

Let the loaf cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then turn out onto a rack to cool completely.

The loaf can be stored at room temperature, in an airtight container or wrapped tightly, for up to 3 days.


HOMEMADE PEANUT BUTTER is delightful. It is uncomplicated in a way that feels charming and wholesome without seeming precious or twee. It is also quick, requiring just a few spins around the food processor, and exceedingly adaptable — smooth or chunky, salty or subtle, skins or no skins. And lastly, of course, it makes a great base that plays well with others like cayenne, cocoa powder, and chocolate (white, milk, or dark). Of course, homemade peanut butter is only going to be as good as the peanuts you start with, so taste test with gusto. Great-tasting peanuts make great-tasting peanut butter, with a brightness and zing that most jarred varieties cannot match.

Yield: Approximately 2 cups

BAKED NOTE:We like our homemade peanut butter a multitude of ways, but we highly recommend a "skins-on" approach. The skins add a subtle flavor, are visually appealing (to us anyway), and are supposedly healthier.

2 ½ cups (about 14 ounces) home-roasted or store-bought roasted peanuts (see Note)
Place the peanuts in a food processor. Sprinkle the salt and drizzle the honey over the peanuts. Pulse in 30-second bursts 4 to 5 times until the peanuts are reduced to a thick, pastelike consistency. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, replace the lid, and process while slowly adding 1 teaspoon of the peanut oil through the feed tube. Continue processing for another minute or two until you reach the desired consistency. If the peanut butter is too thick, slowly add more peanut oil while pulsing. Once the preferred consistency is reached, sprinkle ¼ teaspoon fleur de sel (if using) over the peanut butter and process again for 5 seconds. Taste, and add more fleur de sel if necessary.

Homemade peanut butter can be stored in the refrigerator, tightly covered, for up to 45 days.

VARIATION: For chunky peanut butter, reserve ¼ cup of the nuts, chop them very coarsely, and fold them into the smooth peanut butter after you've added and processed the fleur de sel.


The peanut butter aisle at your local grocery store is probably awash in choices — a lot more choices than we were confronted with during our formative (read: high school) years. This is a good thing. But it also means you need to make some difficult decisions and you need to read a lot of labels very closely. Though we remain loyal to our nostalgia brands, we also try to avoid anything with either added sugar (a bit of molasses is okay) or trans fats. Thankfully, a lot of less-expensive mass-market brands make trans fat–free or "natural" versions.

You can use homemade (we fancy our own version, opposite) or natural peanut butter for every peanut butter recipe in this book. That said, you need to make sure it is stirred together extremely well (not oily or runny) before adding it to the recipe. Also, you should be aware that these homemade and natural peanut butters differ greatly when it comes to salt — some are extremely salty and others are salt free. Saltier peanut butter makes for a saltier dessert. If you are using a heavily salted peanut butter, you might want to decrease the amount of salt per recipe, as we wrote each recipe in this book for a medium-salted peanut butter. If you are using an unsalted or salt-free peanut butter, you might want to increase the salt just a tad, but that is entirely up to you.

Ultimately, peanut butters taste vastly different from brand to brand. We've found that price is not a great indicator of a great peanut butter, as some really inexpensive brands taste much better than their pricey competitors. So if you have the wherewithal, we suggest taste testing across the crowded field. If the peanut butter is delicious to eat, it will be perfect for your baked goods.


AT OUR BAKERY, the staff churns through many tons of butter, eggs, flour, chocolate, and sugar. They are nimble, efficient, and focused, and they always — even under extreme pressure — produce spectacular and bountiful baked goods. Occasionally, in the midst of so many ingredients and recipes passing so quickly through so many skilled hands, errors occur. On even rarer occasions, these errors produce something worth preserving. Our Oopsy Daisy Cake began life as one of those odd kitchen accidents — when Blair Van Sant mistakenly swapped milk chocolate for dark chocolate. Not only did the "accident" work, it became a signature cake. The Oopsy sponge is paler and sweeter than its dark chocolate cousin and is practically engineered (even if accidentally) to be filled with a sweet dose of peanut butter filling and swathed in our light and fluffy vanilla peanut butter frosting. It is the kind of cake you want for your birthday and hope that there are many leftovers for late-night snacking.

Yield: One 8-inch, 2-layer cake

BAKED NOTE:Milk chocolate is sexy all of a sudden, and the selection and quality keep improving. We wholly encourage you to try some of the newer, more exciting brands available (we currently love TCHO) — taste testing is fun. Please do avoid using a run-of-the-mill, chalky, overly sweet milk chocolate in this cake. Aim for something without any artificial ingredients and a high cocoa liquor content.

For the Milk Chocolate Layers

2 ounces good-quality milk chocolate, coarsely chopped
For the Peanut Butter Filling

2 ounces (½ stick) unsalted butter, softened, cut into
For the Vanilla Peanut Butter Frosting

1 cup granulated sugar
For the Assembly

¼ cup roasted salted peanuts, chopped

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Butter two 8-inch round cake pans, line the bottoms with parchment paper, and butter the parchment. Dust with flour and knock out the excess flour.

Place the chocolate and cocoa powder in a medium-size heatproof bowl. Pour the hot coffee directly over the chocolate and cocoa and whisk until combined. Add the milk and whisk until smooth.

In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and both sugars on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition, then add the vanilla and beat until incorporated. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and mix again for 30 seconds.

Add the flour mixture in three parts, alternating with the chocolate mixture, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.

Divide the batter between the prepared pans and smooth the tops. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through the baking time, until a toothpick inserted in the center of each cake comes out clean. Transfer the pans to a wire rack and let cool for 20 minutes. Invert the cakes onto the rack, remove the pans, and let cool completely. Remove the parchment.


In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on high speed until smooth. Add the peanut butter and beat on medium-low speed until just combined. Add the confectioners' sugar and the vanilla and beat until smooth. Set aside.


In a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk the sugar and flour together. Add the milk and cream and cook over medium heat, whisking occasionally, until the mixture comes to a boil and has thickened, 10 to 15 minutes.

Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on high speed until cool, at least 7 minutes. (You can speed up the process by pressing bags of frozen berries or frozen corn against the sides and bottom of the mixing bowl.) Reduce the speed to low and add the butter; mix until thoroughly incorporated. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until the frosting is light and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes.

Add 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon of reserved peanut butter filling and the vanilla and continue mixing until combined. If the frosting is too soft, put the bowl in the refrigerator to chill slightly, then beat again until it is the proper consistency. If the frosting is too firm, set the bowl over a pot of simmering water and beat with a wooden spoon until it is the proper consistency.


Place one cake layer on a serving platter. Trim the top to create a flat surface and evenly spread with the peanut butter filling, then spread about ¼ cup vanilla peanut butter frosting on top of the filling. Add the next layer, trim it, and frost the top and sides with the remaining vanilla peanut butter frosting. Sprinkle peanuts and shaved chocolate around the perimeter of the cake.

The cake can be stored at room temperature, covered with a cake dome or in a cake saver, for up to 3 days.


WE HAVE NOTHING against dainty scones — the sort you might find on pricey china in quaint, library-quiet tearooms. We believe every dessert (as long as it's tasty) has a purpose — even small, tiny, crumbly scones. We just happen to like large, dense, intensely flavored scones much, much better. Actually, we really go crazy for the idea of a scone masquerading as an oatmeal peanut butter chocolate chip cookie. The following recipe is our preferred breakfast scone/cookie hybrid. As with most scone recipes, the dough comes together quickly and does not require a mixer — perfect for hassle-free morning pastry — and it pairs extremely well with coffee. Our only request: make sure to use a crunchy peanut butter — it is essential for texture.


Excerpted from "Baked Elements"
by .
Copyright © 2012 Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito.
Excerpted by permission of Abrams Books.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Introduction: A Tale of Two Kitchens,
Everything You Need to Know to Get Baked,
Good Morning Sunshine Bars,
Crunchy Peanut Butter Banana Bread,
Homemade Peanut Butter,
Oopsy Daisy Cake,
Oatmeal Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Scones,
Peanut Butter Chocolate Whirligigs,
Bale Bars,
Lime Angel Food Cake with Lime Glaze,
Sunrise Key Lime Tarts,
Lemon Lime Champagne Granita,
Lime Tarragon Cookies with White Chocolate Lime Topping,
Lemon Shaker Pie,
Lemon Pistachio Cornmeal Muffins,
Caramel: Variations on a Theme,
Dulce de Leche,
Classic Caramel Sauce,
Sweet and Salty Caramel Sauce,
Antique Caramel Cake,
Caramel Coconut Cluster Bars,
Classic Crème Brûlée with Caramelized Brown Sugar,
Easy Candy Bar Tart,
Turtle Thumbprint Cookies,
Bourbon, Vanilla, and Chocolate Milk Shakes,
Lacy Panty Cakes with Whiskey Sauce,
Triple Rum Black Pepper Cake,
Simple Chocolate Whiskey Tart with Whiskey Whipped Cream,
Whiskey Peach Upside-Down Cake,
S'more-Style Chocolate Whiskey Pudding with Whiskey Marshmallow Topping,
Toasted Pumpkin Seed Brittle,
Pumpkin Almond Cake with Almond Butter Frosting,
Homemade Pumpkin Puree,
Chocolate-Chunk Pumpkin Bread Pudding,
Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls,
Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars,
Pumpkin Harvest Dunking Cookies,
Devil Dogs with Malted Buttercream Filling,
Malted Vanilla Milk Shakes,
Malted Milk Chocolate Pots de Crème,
Milk Chocolate Malt Semifreddo with Chocolate Syrup,
Malted Madeleines,
Vanilla Bean Malt Cake,
Classic Carrot Cake with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting,
Whole-Wheat Cinnamon Sugar Pretzels,
Spicy Brownies,
Brown Butter Snickerdoodles,
Cinnamon Chocolate Soufflés,
Holiday Spice Cake with Eggnog Buttercream,
Cinnamon Spritz Sandwich Cookies,
Orange Almond Ricotta Cheesecake,
Cheddar Corn Soufflé,
Poppy Seed Pound Cake with Brown Butter Glaze,
Lemon and Black Pepper Quiche,
Lemon Pecorino Pepper Icebox Cookies,
Chocolate Cheesecake Muffins,
Cream Cheese Chocolate Snacking Cookies,
Cheesy Focaccia with Caramelized Onions and Sautéed Spinach,
Chocolate Mayonnaise Cupcakes,
Mile-High Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Buttercream,
Candy Bar Cookies,
Chocolate-Chip Orange Panettone,
Chewy Chocolate Mint Cookies with Chocolate Chunks,
Tunnel of Hazelnut Fudge Cake,
Simple Chocolate Syrup,
Chocolate Velvet Walnut Fudge with Olive Oil and Fleur de Sel,
Bananas Cake,
Banana Mousse Parfaits,
Banana Whoopie Pies,
Chocolate Banana Tart,
Banana Caramel Pudding with Meringue Topping,
Banana in a Blanket,
Honey Banana Poppy Seed Bread,
Conversion Charts,
Infographic Source Notes,

Customer Reviews