Cookbook Review: The New Best of BetterBaking.com

Don’t you just love it when a new book arrives in the mail and it exceeds your expectation THREEFOLD!? That is what happened to me today when I opened up The New Best of BetterBaking.com by Marcy Goldman. To be honest, I was pretty surprised to see that it didn’t have a gazillion 5-star reviews on Amazon. It should, it’s a gorgeous book and the author obviously knows what she is doing (she has a very successful website). It’s possible this book is flying a little low on the radar at the moment but I think that over time this will become one of those baking cookbooks we all refer to in conversation.

I opened this book and set out to do what I do with each of my new cookbooks which is to sit down with a pack of Post-it Flags (I think these are actually made less than a block from our house but anyway. . .) and mark all the recipes that I categorize as “must try immediately”. Usually I mark 4 or 5 recipes. I just counted 15 for the BB book! I’m not sure how I will fit all this baking in but I can’t wait to get started.

First on my list? Triple Butter Cream Buns. I wanted to make The Underground Baker’s Secret-Formula Carrot Cake but I gotta lay off the sweets for a while so I think I might make that for my daughter’s first birthday. Perhaps Woolworth’s Fudge Cake for Valentine’s day? I most definitely have to make Double-Cheddar Scones for my neighbor the scone expert.

I’ll be the first to admit that I do judge a book by it’s cover and this cover appealed to me. The book is designed by Five Seventeen and the photography is by Ryan Szulc (check out Book 2 under Food and be ready to be blown away). I only have one complaint about the book and that is that it needs MORE photos. Something tells me Ryan Szulc isn’t exactly cheap. I imagine publishers weigh things like that. Maybe the conversations go something like this: “Well we could get Ryan Szulc but then our budget will only allow for 50 photos. Or we could get Joe Schmo and have 100 mediocre photos. . .” Yeah, I don’t know what I would choose. It’s definitely a tough call. Or I could be totally wrong. I know nothing about the publishing world.

Anyway, back to Marcy Goldman. I can’t imagine the amount of time she put into this book. She doesn’t look 80 in her bio pic so the woman must not sleep. To have gone through all these recipes (not to mention the thousands on her site) and perfect them is just amazing to me. Such creativity, such passion. I want to read cookbooks from women (and men) that are passionate about what they do. I do NOT want to read a cookbook from someone who is trying to make a quick buck. You can tell Ms. Goldman is beyond passionate. There is serious creativity and passion here.

I’m confident I will be going back to this cookbook several times, year after year. There are recipes for beginners and some for seasoned pros. This would make a great gift for somebody just learning how to bake or for someone who already bakes on a weekly basis like myself. It’s just the right size too.

Last night I mixed up the dough for the Triple Butter Cream Buns. I’m a little afraid to make and eat something with “triple butter” in the title but Goldman has a great quote in the introduction. She says, “Moderation (as difficult as it may be to exercise at times) tastes best.” I’m with her 100%. What would you rather eat- 1 cream bun or 2 regular buns? I’m going for the cream buns myself. I chose to make these first because I have been craving a good croissant and Goldman says in her description that these are “like croissants” and “easy as pie” not to mention “bakes up as fast as Pillsbury crescent rolls”. I’m all over it. . .

The dough did mix up fast. While kneading I just knew they were going to turn out good. The dough felt so supple- not at all like it feels when you know a recipe called for too much flour and you wish you would have played it by ear rather than just dumped it all in. I started to get a little worried when I started putting in the second call for butter. I was going to halve it, but I thought I better stick to what she calls for to give an fair review of the recipe. After eating one though I wish I would have cut back on some of the butter. They were good but wow. . . that’s a lot of butter. I suppose it’s no different from eating a butter cream frosting or something but yes, moderation is definitely the key with these. They are what you would make for a special occasion.

Triple Butter Cream Buns

Marcy Goldman

Ingredients

Dough:

4 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast

1 1/2 cups warm water

2 cups bread flour

5 teaspoons sugar

1 egg

1/2 cup (4 ounces) unsalted butter, softened

3/4 cup whipping cream at room temperature

1/4 cup milk at room temperature

4 cups all-purpose flour

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 3/4 teaspoons salt

Butter Roll-In

2 cups (1 pound) unsalted butter

1/2 cup (4 ounces) salted butter, melted, for brushing

Egg Wash

2 eggs, whisked

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and stack each one inside another baking sheet (you will have 4 sheets altogether, each double-stacked).

In a large mixing bowl fitted with a dough hook (or use a bread machine), whisk together the yeast and water and let stand for 1 minute. Whisk in the bread flour, and then the sugar, egg, and softened butter. Stir in the cream, milk, most of the all-purpose flour, the baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir to make a soft dough. Attach the dough hook and knead for 8 to 10 minutes to make a soft, supple dough, adding more flour as required. Remove the dough hook, spray the dough with nonstick cooking spray, and cover the entire mixer, dough and all, with a large plastic bag. Let rise for 45 to 60 minutes, until almost doubled in size (or refrigerate overnight).

Gently deflate the dough and divide it in 2. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out one section at a time into a 16-inch circle. Using a cheese slicer or potato peeler, scatter 1 cup of unsalted butter slivers over the surface of the dough. Using a pastry wheel, cut the dough into 8 to 12 wedges (depending on how big you want the rolls; larger is better, but smaller is better for dinner rolls). Roll each wedge into a croissant shape. Place in the baking sheet. Repeat with the second section of dough.

Place the crescents on the prepared stacked baking sheets. Brush each one very generously with the Egg Wash. Lightly cover with a large plastic sheet or bag and let rise until almost doubled in size, 45 to 60 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375 F. Place the buns n the oven. After 30 minutes, lower the oven temperature to 350 F and continue baking until the rolls are deeply browned. Remove from the oven and brush each roll several times with the melted, salted butter.

2 Comments

  1. Posted February 4, 2010 at 11:26 pm | Permalink

    These look really yummy and my first thought was to make them tomorrow. Then I got to the 2 cups of butter and the 1/2 cup and wondered what this would do to counteract my high cholesterol pill. I will have to be happy with looking at your photo and imagining how happy my tongue could be…

  2. Posted February 5, 2010 at 8:45 am | Permalink

    I think these would be just as good if you cut the amount of butter in half!