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January 2015 A Note from Marcy

 

 
Good morning 2015! It's a new day and we're baking bread and making heart-warming soup. Enjoy Free Old Fashioned English Muffins, Deli Style Mushroom, Bean and Barley Soup, Apple Buttermilk Bundt Cake and other great recipes like Mac and Cheese Bread and Rustic Tuscan Vegetable Soup and more!

Dear Bakers and Friends,


Good morning everyone, welcome to 2015!  It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new year. Sleepy? Still stuck in winter-cave, holiday slow-mo? You’ve come to the right place. This is Number One Baker’s Place, an unassuming nook where the oven light is always on. It’s where the world turns at a different pace, courtesy of a different drummer and a drum roll provided by slow-rise yeast, ancient spices and lazily-aged, unbleached wheat flour.

In short, this is the land where that old credo ‘time is of the essence’ is meant in the best of ways: the slower you go, the better the baking. The more you rush…well, I don’t have to explain the basics. Slow is good, less is more, and unplugged (a trend to everyone but people who hand-knead bread) is the way to go. But please don’t go thinking baking is therapy. Nora Ephron complained about that in her book, Heartburn and I agree. Baking is however, meditative and mindful. You have to be present because if you’re not, well, you’re burn things. It’s really pretty simple, although probably there’s an oven APP for that these days.

The minute I bake, I am flushed with a sense of pure-grounded-ness. Stress melts away and even feeling capable (and at the counter baking, I am indeed: capable), breeds well-being. When I bake, I remember who I am – how good, how strong, how solid. What about you? Can you say the same? Probably. Plus, at the end of this down-to-earth experience, I have both something to show and something to share. Why the whole world is not baking, given the pay-back (and flour is what, 22 cents a pound?), I don’t know.  Maybe it’s like the best B&B: you don’t want the whole world wise to the sheer pleasure lest we ruin this amazing secret past time.

Soup and Bread Issue of BB
As is a BB tradition, January is the bread-and-soup issue. With that in mind, I’ve provided some inspirations to get you started. Seeing as new dawns usually imply good intentions for better nutrition, these recipes are somewhat healthier than sweet-and-decadent (which is what February and Valentine’s Day is for). But do check the BB Recipe Archives – it’s filled with more soups, healthy teas, salads, sides and mains to help you with those good intentions. (And meet me at the gym, yoga studio, tango dance hall or come take a walk in the park to work off the caramel layer cake)

Food Trends 2015
What’s on the menu in food these days? Fresh juices (I’m a convert), but I just toss the fruit and vegetables of the day in a blender. Nothing punctures your appetite like fresh juices (a great weigh loss strategy).  Brussel sprouts and rapini are upstaging kale (baby or otherwise), along with cooked grain salads (go quinoa), Ramen (it’s a second go-round), globally-inspired sandwiches (like Cuban pressed sandwiches) brunch as well as grilled cheese sandwiches, make-your-own salads, and customized food (even McDonald’s is trying to be accommodating), drip coffee (move over Latte, Espresso and Café au Lait) along with fancy copper drip coffee filter holders (check out Hario Coffee or Kalita).

Leaf tea (both black, herbals and anything you can soak and still call tea) is still hot with new tea companies on the rise and legacy ones (Harney’s Tea, Upton and Teavana) working overtime to expand their tea offerings. Brown rice and Green Tea is the toast of Asian food markets (it’s green tea with a marvellous, malty, mellow taste). In the spice part of things, these are some hallmarks: Sriracha, Ancho, Sumac and Wasabi – flavors that go nicely with another trend: Bowl Food. Also, Clementines replace regular oranges,  Meyer Lemon is the lemon of the moment; tropical fruit is having a reign of its own and (oddly) vintage candy is back in. Artisanal coffee is a constant, growing surge that just keeps getting better as more and more roasters pop up from Christ Church (New Zealand), to Calgary and Portland (try respectively Phil and Sebastien Coffee in Calgary and Heart Roasters out of Portland for coffees that will make you bark in pleasure). In baking, American, as well as Euro Jewish baking is in (Cronuts, where for art thou?), fanciful (both) yeast and cake style donuts (although more people would sooner buy than fry donuts at home) and multi grain baguettes have steam-rolled over sourdough.  Hangover trends from last year include gluten-free, organic, locally-grown stuff, heirloom vegetables, pressure cookers, crock pots, overhauled comfort food (less fat, more flavor) along with anything caramel (especially salted caramel), pumpkin, fig and balsamic vinegar (yes, again). I forgot: coconut oil is still hot and I should use it more but somehow I can’t seem to love it anymore than I can embrace stevia and tofu ice-cream.

What am I eating lately? Vegetarian lunches, fresh juices, tons of water, lean protein and a shot of day (usually breakfast) of multi-grain bread from one of two of my Montreal favorite bakeries: Pains dans les Voiles or Guillaume.

BB Trending?
This is my 18th year online and I’ve gone from plucky baker-girl, single-mother of three sons, and entrepreneur to the wise (and still saucy) woman of the wheat fields. I’ve survived a transition in publishing (I think, I hope) and am moving on to more books as well as doing more bakery and restaurant consulting. Some days, given my energy level, I can almost hear Matthew Wilder’s Break My Stride, the tune that was my theme song, when, pregnant with my eldest son, I delivered carrot cakes throughout the city.  Then, as now, I did indeed march to that different drummer and I am still doing that same happy dance. There have been hurdles and dark places galore over the years, as life is wont to offer all of us, but, like a Broadway veteran, I’m still here - baking and writing. Doing what you love as your day job (however uncertain it can be) provides a glow which I love sharing with you via recipes. I am tango-ing more, upping the pretty (I’ve cleared out EBay of the best vintage slips and re-invested in my perfumes) and growing indoor citrus and reading, writing and falling in love with life, a little more each day. One of my secrets btw, is meditation, especially Jon Kabat Zin's Body Scan available on You Tube.

Please buy the book. There, I said it.
The Baker’s Four Seasons and When Bakers Cook Cookbooks




Please check out my cookbooks on Amazon (Google, Itunes, Barnes and Noble, etc.). All my books are available in print and digitally. I really chafe at self-promoting but the PR crew from Random House et al seems missing in action (which is probably because I’m now with River Heart Press). I can only tell you I have created huge, chunky books, flush with recipes I know you will love that are also all about ease, elegance and more flavor than you can imagine. That’s my trademark and I love passing it onto you. Don’t forget, each purchase garners you 4 months free of BB All Recipe Access.

Bake Along? https://www.facebook.com/groups/BakersFourSeasons/?fref=nf
You can also join a fabulous Facebook group that is baking the recipes from my newest cookbook. It's https://www.facebook.com/groups/BakersFourSeasons/?fref=nf As an author, it's amazing for me to see people choose recipes, bake them and post comments and photos. It makes the book come alive in a totally new way.

Without further ado, and on the bright, clear January 1st morning, I am pleased to offer this month’s recipes. I wish you a happy year ahead and as always, happy baking,

Marcy Goldman
Master Baker, Author, Publisher
www.BetterBaking.com
Est. 1997

Old Fashioned English Muffins Free (Over 1500 downloads)
This recipe makes for impressive, crusty, cornmeal-coated English muffins that uses a 4-hour starter (or overnight). Don't overlook these just because they use a starter. It's child's play and this recipe makes grainy, rustic, amazing English Muffins (versus the commercial ones at the drive-thru). All you need is a nice, large cast iron pan to bake them on. They freeze beautifully.

Mac and Cheese Bread (Over 2422 downloads)


This bread is good fresh, toasted, or lightly toasted. Schraff's in New York and Logan's Bakery in Montreal both made excellent cheese breads. Now you can bake your own landmark cheese bread but just use the best, sharpest orange cheddar you can find. For extra zing (with an appealing orange neon brightness), add in some Kraft powdered orange cheese. It ups the orange hue and offers extra bite and kids go wild when you tell them it's in the bread (otherwise - leave it out ).
 

Terre Etoile Cafe Famous Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread

 One of my first jobs as a professional baker was as head baker for a health food holistic café and restaurant in Montreal called Terre Etoile. My desserts were only outdone by the sandwiches that Terre Etoile made their reputation on. Massive towering affairs of sprouts and fillings were packed on a throne of fluffy, moist, whole-wheaty bread that I recreated in my own recipe.  I use organic stone-ground whole-wheat in this bread along with a bit of unbleached white bread flour. This recipe is in The Best of BetterBaking.com and is one of my all-time best breads. It’s a perfect all-season, sandwich bread.


Cinnamon Toast Bread Free Over 1250 Downloads
Comforting, fresh or toasted and proof that simple things endure.

Ramen Soup With Attitude Free
Spruced up, this is a whole new round of Ramen.

Rustic Tuscan Vegetable Soup Over 2900 downloads Rustic Tuscan Vegetable Soup
This is peasant soup, aka Ribolitta, and is in the Soup chapter of my cookbook, When Bakers Cook. It is pure sunshine and comes with a grandmother's love in each spoonful. This is not just vegetable soup – this is a legend; you will find versions of it all over Italy but certainly on the Internet which shows that we all know a good thing when we see it. In the kitchen, borders just don't count when it comes to good taste. When I featured it last year online, the site almost went down with the deluge of traffic.

Deli Style Mushroom, Bean and Barley Soup Free Over 2811 downloads
You can soak the beans in spring water overnight to make the soup cook faster (the beans will soften sooner) or just let the soup simmer for a few hours in the afternoon for a perfect soup by supper. This is a soul-soother.

Apple Buttermilk Bundt Cake Free
Over 5133 downloads
Who doesn't need a simple, sweet apple cake onhand?

Double Chocolate Chunk Cookies Over 500 Downloads


Pretty as a picture and just as decadent - I should save this for Valentine's Day but chocolate is always welcome.

Fat Albert Bars
Outrageous bars, (called Brownie Fantasy Bars when they were first retired into A Passion for Baking) that renders you speechless with one bite.


  

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Previous Monthly Essays from A Note From Marcy:

Essays to tickle your funny bone, wake up your inner baker, twinge on your heartstrings, or make you smile and say, ‘I’ve know the feeling; I know the place”. If you missed an essay, or a season in baking or inner sensibility, we invite you to stroll through our archived Notes From Marcy.

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