Sarabeth Levine never imagined that one treasured family recipe would launch a career change, a bakery, a jam factory, and several cozy New York restaurants. With the long-awaited release of Sarabeth's Bakery: From My Hands to Yours, she now adds "cookbook author" to her list of accomplishments.
This is a hefty hardcover tome, with 100 clearly written recipes spread over 11 chapters. Leaf through Morning Pastries and discover many fine-baking classics, such as Croissants, Cheese and Raisin Danish, and to-die-for Chocolate Babka. Plain and Fancy Cookies feature buttery delights like Pecan Moons, Chocolate Marmalade Cookies, and Rugelach. Everyday Cakes keeps it simple with things like Sir Francis's Crumb Cakes; while Party Cakes and Company gets fancy with sweet showstoppers like Hazelnut-Espresso Roulade. Dip into Spoon Desserts for Creamy Rice Pudding and crackling Crème Brûlée; or flip to Spreadable Fruits and learn the secrets to jewel-like jams and preserves.
Levine is essentially a self-taught chef, though she humbly showers credit on her many mentors along way. With the help of cookbook author and professional recipe tester Rick Rodgers, she has meticulously scaled-down her signature recipes to manageable yields for the home cook. Detailed instructions, paired with 185 lush photos by Quentin Bacon, make this book suitable for reference, gift giving, or, for that matter, coffee-table placement…if one is so inclined. (Though few could resist lugging it into the kitchen periodically for a baking tutorial.)
For years I've had at least one jar of Sarabeth's Legendary Spreadable Fruit in my pantry at all times. Now I can expand my appreciation of Sarabeth's sweet point of view while I practice her simple approach to exceptional baking.
Recipe from Sarabeth’s Bakery by Sarabeth Levin (Rizzoli, 2010)
Makes 12 to 14 muffins
Bakers Note: If you use generous scoops of batter, the yield will be 12 muffins. For smaller muffins, use 7 muffin cups in each of 2 muffin pans. Distribute the batter in a random pattern (not in rows) in each pan so the muffins bake evenly. Butter only the cups that you are going to use, or the butter in the empty cups will burn.
- Softened unsalted butter, for the pan
- 3 2/3 cups pastry flour, sifted
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into ½-inch cubes
- 1 1/3cups superfine sugar
- 4 large eggs, at room temperature, beaten
- One 15-ounce can solid-pack pumpkin
- 1 cup seedless golden or dark raisins
- ¼ cup hulled unsalted sunflower seeds
1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 400?F. Brush the insides of 12 to 14 muffin cups with softened butter, then brush the top of the pan.
2. Sift the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and salt together into a medium bowl. Beat the butter in the bowl of a heavy-duty stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on high speed until creamy, about I minute. Gradually beat in the sugar and continue beating, scraping the sides of the bowl often with a silicone spatula, until the mixture is very light in color and texture, about 5 minutes. Gradually beat in the eggs. Reduce the mixture speed to low. Beat in the pumpkin; the mixture may look curdled. In thirds, beat in the flour mixture, scraping down the sides of the bowl often, and mix until smooth. Add the raisins. Increase the speed to high and beat until the batter has a slight sheen, about 15 seconds, no longer.
3. Using a 2½ inch-diameter ice-cream scoop, portion the batter, rounded side up, into the prepared cups. Sprinkle the tops with the sunflower seeds.
4. Bake for 10 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 375?F and continue baking until the tops of the muffins are golden brown and a wire cake tester inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean, about 15 minutes more.
5. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Remove the muffins from the pan and cool completely.
Recipe from Sarabeth’s Bakery by Sarabeth Levin (Rizzoli, 2010)Makes about 2 dozen cookies
In my opinion, these are the moistest, most intensely chocolate chocolate-chip cookies in the world. These are based on a recipe given to me many years ago from the SoHo Charcuterie, a restaurant that helped establish that Manhattan neighborhood as the place to go for anything chic and trendy, from art to food. For the best-looking cookies, a 2-inch ice-cream scoop is a must.
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch cubes
- 9 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate (no more than 62 percent cacao), finely
- 3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
- ½ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 3 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 ¼ cups superfine sugar
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 2 cups (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
- 1 ½ cups (5 ½ ounces) coarsely chopped pecans
- 1 ¼ cups (4 ½ ounces) coarsely chopped walnuts
1. Position racks in the center and top third of the oven and preheat to 350°F. Line two half-sheet pans with parchment paper.
2. Bring 1 inch of water to a simmer in a medium saucepan over low heat. Put the butter in a wide, heatproof bowl, and melt the butter over the hot water in the saucepan. Add the semisweet and unsweetened chocolate, stirring often, until melted and the mixture is smooth. Remove the bowl from the heat and let stand, stirring occasionally, until cooled slightly but still warm, about 5 minutes.
3. Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together into a medium bowl. Whip the eggs in the bowl of a heavy-duty stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment on medium-high speed until the eggs are foamy and lightly thickened, about 30 seconds. Increase the speed to high and gradually add the sugar, then the vanilla. Whip until the eggs are very thick and pale yellow, about 3 minutes. Reduce the mixer speed to medium and beat in the tepid chocolate, making sure it is completely incorporated. Change to the paddle attachment and reduce the mixer speed to low. Gradually add the flour mixture. Remove the bowl from the mixer. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the chocolate chips, pecans, and walnuts, making sure the chunky ingredients are evenly distributed at the bottom of the bowl.The dough will be somewhat soft.
4. Using a 2-inch ice-cream scoop, portion the batter onto the prepared pans, placing the cookies about 1 ½ inches apart. Bake the cookies immediately-if you wait, they won't be shiny after baking. Bake, switching the position of the pans from top to bottom and front to back about halfway through baking, until the cookies are set around the edges (if you lift a cookie from the pan, the edges should release easily, even if the center of the cookie seems underdone), 17 to 20 minutes. Do not overbake. Cool completely on the baking pans. (The cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature, with the layers separated by parchment paper, for up to 3 days.)
Disclosure: Review copies of books discussed in this post may have been provided to Project Foodie by publicists and/or publishers.