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I've been a fan of Israeli-British chef Yotam Ottolenghi ever since I first opened Plenty, and I've bought most of his cookbooks ever since (Jerusalem is my favorite). I also have a huge sweet tooth and baking is probably my favorite pastime. So when I heard a few months ago that Ottolenghi was coming up with a cookbook focused on baking and desserts, I lost my shit and started counting down the days.
The book, written with Helen Goh, a pastry chef and longtime collaborator, met all my expectations. It's filled with beautiful, inspired recipes, some satisfyingly challenging, others very easy to execute. If you love baking and want to spice up your game a little bit, this one is for you.
I picked this recipe to try first because I had most ingredients at home already, and it seemed like an easy one to start with. I usually don't care for cupcakes (the cake is always meh and I'm not a huge fan of the traditional cream cheese frosting), but these ones have a mascarpone-lemon curd frosting (aka two of my favorite things) and that changes everything.
The cake was super light, moist, and fluffy, filled with fresh raspberries. And the frosting was on point. The process was also super easy and straightforward. All in all, a great success! —Marie Telling
Get the recipe here.
I made this recipe from a Sun Basket meal kit, but I will absolutely be bookmarking the recipe and making it over and over again.
I thought making ~fancy~ ramen (aka not just the packaged stuff) would be really difficult. But it actually required little more than chopping veggies and boiling noodles. Don't let the ingredients — dashi seasoning, gochujang sauce — intimidate you: You can buy mostly everything from any Asian grocery store. And knowing that I can make this comforting and hearty soup at home rather than ordering it in or spending $15 for a bowl at a restaurant is a total game-changer for me. You can also substitute whatever protein or veggies you want so you can constantly change up the recipe. —Hannah Loewentheil
George Washington, our very first president*, ate this cake on British Evacuation Day in 1783, according to one of my favorite cookbooks, American Cake. That day, he rode his horse down Broadway in Manhattan to the Fraunces Tavern, where he gave 13 symbolic toasts at a huge feast. Then, he ate this cake: It's a carrot cake, but not that cream-cheese-frosting-clogged concoction we know and love today. Instead, it's a perfectly-spiced, just-sweet-enough, all-you-need-is-some-fresh-whipped-cream dream of a cake.
Its secret lies in the carrots: it uses a little less sugar than cakes today, and relies on cooked, grated carrots to add that extra sweetness. It ends up sweet, but not ~overpoweringly~ so. It's also a quick cake to prep: I had it in the oven in about 30 minutes. Because I don't have the recommended 10-inch springform, I used a 13x9 pan lined with parchment paper, which took the baking time from 45 minutes to 35 minutes. The result? Everything I could want in a dessert, topped with fresh whipped cream and a little tidbit of history.
*While he wasn't quite president yet (that happened in 1789), he was the great general who ate cake while the Brits got their butts out of the new country. —Natalie Brown
For some reason, omelettes have always intimidated me. I'd try to make one, would completely fail the folding, give up, scramble the whole thing, and call it a day. But not anymore!
Omelettes are now my best friends, something I'm famous for among my friends, and the one dish my boyfriend requests from me the most. What happened? Well, I actually took a minute, read about how to make a good omelette, and found this Bon Appétit video that just walks you through it. I then bought a good (but cheap) nonstick pan, took my time, used a good dose of butter, and followed actual instructions instead of winging it and hoping for the best.
The result is actually magical and legit the best omelette I've ever had. I usually fill it with sharp cheddar instead of the Boursin they use in the original recipe. Next step is getting more ambitious with my fillings, even though cheddar is really awesome in it. —Marie Telling
'Tis the season for all things pumpkin, and these cookies blow every other pumpkin treat out of the water. I've been making them for years and they are a huge hit with friends and coworkers every time. I think it's because of the butterscotch morsels, a supremely underrated ingredient. Their appearance here really takes these cookies to the next level.
Don't believe me? Here are some comments from a few of my coworkers who tried them:
"Rachel, I've been thinking about your cookies non-stop!"
"Eat one of these incredible pumpkin butterscotch cookies and every other cookie will just taste like betrayal. That's how I feel. I never want to eat another type of cookie again."
—Rachel Wilkerson Miller
This recipe (on the right of the photo) was fantastic, like a grown-up version of the rectangular-frozen-broccoli-with-melted-Kraft-singles that I was raised on. Bonus: It's romanesco season at the farmer's market! —Dan Wagner
Over the past two years I've made countless loaves of babka and EVERY. DAMN. TIME. I have been disappointed! The loaves would come out dry, overcooked, not browned enough ― I was always underwhelmed. This month, I tried a new recipe from Bon Appétit that was the babka of my dreams.
Soft, chocolaty, browned, and shiny ― this babka was literally perfect! The recipes does take some time due to the rising and shaping of the dough, but the end result is totally worth it. I decided to skip the streusel topping and wasn't disappointed at all (the loaf was perfect all on it's own). If you love cinnamon rolls, try making a babka to take your baking to a whole new level. —Jesse Szewczyk
This recipe uses the French meringue technique, AKA the easiest way to make meringue. You only have to beat your egg whites and gradually add fine caster sugar. You then scoop in some melted chocolate and stir a couple times (not too much as you want to preserve those swirls). Scoop the mixture onto a paper-lined baking tray and bake those babies until they don't stick to the paper anymore.
French bakeries usually sell big baked meringues like these ones, and growing up, I was obsessed with them. I'd never thought it'd be so easy to make them at home, and the result is just as delicious. Will definitely make again! —Marie Telling
Julia Turshen's trick for cooking eggs (straight out of her cookbook Small Victories) is LEGIT a game changer. The technique solves that dreaded problem of wanting runny yolks but HATING snotty, undercooked whites.
Her trick? As you fry your eggs, add a few drops of water to the pan and immediately cover them with a lid. This will create just enough steam to set the whites while maintaining that beautiful runny yolk. Julia serves them with lemony Greek yogurt and fresh herbs for an unexpected (and delicious) breakfast, but this simple trick is perfect for a simple fried egg toast. Try it out next time you make breakfast for the perfect fried egg. —Jesse Szewczyk
I tried the "Everyday Sourdough" recipe from The Clever Carrot's new book. I was excited to try a new recipe/process, since I've been making a ton of sourdough bread recently. The instructions were clear and concise, and I was really happy with how the final loaf turned out. The flavor was nice and tangy, like a sourdough should be! —Cates Holderness
Cake is my super-duper, very favorite of all time food and one of my favorite things to bake. I don't make it as often as I'd like, but my go-to recipe is a devil's food cake from the now out-of-print Kathleen's Bake Shop Cookbook. It's a foolproof, from-scratch recipe, and it delivers a perfectly moist and light-as-air cake every single time. I usually switch up the frostings whenever I make it — I love a true, silky vanilla buttercream, but those always seem like a lot of effort. So when I came across this The Kitchn article, which says that marshmallow fluff makes the easiest buttercream frosting, I obviously had to try it. A lot of silky buttercream recipes call for sugar syrup (which requires a candy thermometer) or corn syrup, so when I read the fluff ingredients and saw corn syrup is a main one, this recipe started to make a lot of sense.
It uses a one to one to one ratio — one small (7.9 oz.) jar of fluff, one cup of powdered sugar, one cup of butter, and one teaspoon vanilla extract. It took about five minutes total to make. That's it! And the result was incredibly silky vanilla frosting. Just perfectly creamy and spreadable, not like those sugary frostings that feel gritty and develop a crust after sitting for a while.
Yes, it's quite sweet, so if you like a frosting that tastes more like butter than sugar, this may not be for you. But I was surprised at how perfectly not-too-sweet it tasted when paired with the cake itself. As you can see from the photos, I ended up making a naked cake. That's because it was ~definitely~ not enough frosting to cover three eight-inch layers. But the naked cake ended up super pretty and a perfect ratio anyway! Next time I'd just double the ingredients.
Super easy but seems like it took a lot of effort? That's my favorite kind of recipe. I will absolutely will be baking this exact combination again. —Maitland Quitmeyer
My favorite thing about this Gordon Ramsay recipe is that I don't need any fresh ingredients — it's all canned items and spices. The heat and smokiness of the chiles make this the perfect treat on the first truly chilly day of the season. I definitely plan on making a big batch of this soup and freezing it to stock up in time for winter!
The clean-up was so quick because everything cooked in the pan. Plus, I learned how to make tortilla chips which made for the perfect pairing. (Check out the video, you just bake tortillas in oil and paprika.) —Emily Shwake
OK, so I know we're past Halloween, but these are so good I'd eat them year-round. I've never cooked a hand pie in my life and not only did I find this recipe super easy, but it was also incredibly delicious. The pumpkin filling was really sweet, and it only took me an hour to prepare the whole thing.
If you are not that into pumpkin, it's pretty easy to substitute it for Nutella or strawberry jam — just get creative! Oh, and it doesn't matter if you don't have a pumpkin cookie cutter, a knife and some first grade-level drawing skills will have you ready to make the coolest hand pies ever. —Karla Agis
I was working on a project for work where I had to bake a bunch of double-crust pies. I didn't want to make apple pies because slicing apples is a pain in the ass, so I went for blueberry pies, which is actually not something I ever had before.
For the crust, I used Ina Garten's recipe, which may be the best pie crust recipe I've ever made (super easy to handle when you're decorating, but also deliciously flaky once cooked). And for the filling, I used this recipe.
The pies came out delicious. I made four of them, and after three days spent eating blueberry pies nonstop, I'm still not tired of them. If that's not a sign of greatness, I don't know what is. —Marie Telling
Get the pie crust recipe here and the blueberry filling recipe here.
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