This is my first post as part of Virtual Potluck. Please click the tab above (labeled “Virtual Potluck”) to learn more about us and explore the rest of our group! Also check out Donna’s lovely site to see the rest of the posts from Virtual Potluck and enter all the great giveaways! I’m so excited about this group and the things we have planned for our readers.
What is the first thing you do when you pick up a new cookbook?
Do you read the information on the back?
Look at the pictures?
Check the table of contents?
I’m a flipper. I flip through the pages to see what catches my eye. Then I delve in deeper.
One of the first things I noticed about Baked Explorations by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito was the friendly layout, deep, rich colors and wide variety of recipes.
Other things I loved:
- There are sections about kitchen tools/equipment and terms/brand recommendations. Both include very educational and helpful information, especially if you are a new baker.
- The authors have a sense of humor which makes the cookbook really enjoyable to read.
- Each recipe includes a “Baked Note,” which is helpful information about the recipe or an educational/interesting tidbit about that particular dessert. I love this feature. It makes this book different than any other baking cookbook.
- Huge variety of recipes from Black and White Cookies to Monkey Bread to Strawberry Jello Salad.
Things I wished were different (because I’m always going to give you my honest opinion!):
- I wish there was more pictures. I’m a very visual person and I love my cookbooks to be jam packed with color photographs. I’m greedy–I want a picture of every recipe. However, the photos definitely make up in quality what they lack in quantity–they are gorgeous. (Photos by Tina Rupp.)
- That’s all I have. It’s a good book!
The book’s stats:
- Complete Title: Baked Explorations: Classic American Desserts Reinvented
- Authors: Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito
- Photos by: Tina Rupp
- Publisher: Stewart, Tabori & Chang
- ISBN: 978-1-58479-850-7
- 35 color photographs/75 recipes/208 pages
- Authors’ bio (from publisher): “Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito left their day jobs in advertising five years ago to open their bakery, Baked, in Brooklyn, NY, to immediate praise from fans across the country. The authors have been featured on Oprah, the Today show, the Food Network, and Martha Stewart. Their first book, Baked, was an IACP award nominee. Lewis and Poliafito live in New York City.”
Some recipes that I really want to try:
- Whiskey Pear Tart
- Chocolate Mint Thumbprints
- Orange Creamsicle Tart
- Sweet and Salty Brownie
- Maple Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
I mean, really. How good do those all sound? In reality, I should just say that I want to try:
So, if you even have the smallest sweet tooth, make sure you order the book. I mean, you can try and win it (please do!), but you’re going to want this one no matter what. For reals.
The recipe I tried was Pumpkin Cheddar Muffins and they did not disappoint. They are positioned in the breakfast portion of the book, and let me tell you–they are good. Especially if you’re someone who doesn’t love super sweet breakfasts. They have the perfect balance of sweet and savory with a touch of cayenne to keep things interesting.
The authors suggest topping with pumpkin seeds which would look beautiful and add a great crunch, but I used all mine for these recipes and didn’t have any left.
Pumpkin Cheddar Muffins
Recipe from Baked Explorations by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito
1 cup canned solid-pack pumpkin purée
3 tablespoons sour cream
2 large eggs
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 cups all-purpose flour
1.5 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1.5 teaspoons salt
1.5 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 1/4 cups (about 4 ounces) grated sharp cheddar
2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds, optional
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly spray each cup of a standard 12-cup muffin pan with a little bit of vegetable spray and use a paper towel to spread the oil evenly along the bottom and up the sides of each cup.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together the pumpkin and sour cream. Add the eggs and butter and whisk until combined.
3. In another large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cayenne pepper, salt, black pepper, and brown sugar. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients. Pour the wet ingredients into the well, and fold until just combined. Fold in three-quarters of the cheese.
4. Dive the batter among the muffin cups. Sprinkle the remaining cheddar and the pumpkin seeds on top of the muffins. Bake them for 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Let the muffin pan cool on a rack for 10 minutes before turning out the muffins. Serve them warm.
5. Muffins taste best when eaten fresh, but they can be made ahead of time and reheated in a 200-degree oven.
Verdict: So tasty! I loved the flavor complexity of these muffins. They would be really great with the pumpkin seeds on top to add some textural variety.
Husband’s take: He never tried them. I
think know he was a little freaked out by the cheddar-pumpkin combination. My parents were visiting and tried the muffins though and loved them. My mom asked for the recipe. Here it is mom!
Changes I would make: Not a single one. These aren’t low-fat, with a whole stick of butter plus the cheese, but they are a great treat. They would be fantastic for a brunch. Also–I have a good helping of butter on them for the pictures, but they really don’t need it. They are very moist and delicious without it. But…a little extra butter is never a bad thing.
UPDATE: GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED. THE WINNER IS BIG FAT BAKER. CONGRATS! I contacted you via email.
GIVEAWAY DETAILS: One winner with receive a copy of Baked Explorations. BUT THAT’S NOT ALL! I contacted the authors, and guess what? They are some really nice dudes. They offered to throw in a boxed mix of their fabulous Deep Dark Chocolate Brownies (SERIOUSLY–perhaps the best brownies EVER). Sorry, only open to US residents. To learn more about the authors, check out their website (they own a bakery in NYC): http://bakednyc.com/. To Enter: Comment on this post. For Extra Entries (MAKE SURE to leave an extra comment for each or they won’t count!): 1. Follow @not_rachaelray on Twitter
2. “Like” Not Rachael Ray on Facebook
3. Subscribe to my RSS feed or add your name to my email list (please confirm when you get the email asking you to do so).
4. Tweet about this giveaway! You can use this if you want: “Enter to win Baked Explorations from @brooklynbaker & @not_rachaelray! http://wp.me/p1AwA6-vY #virtualpotluck #giveaway”
5. Share this giveaway on your Facebook page.
6. “Like” BAKED on Facebook.
7. Visit any other Virtual Potluck blogger (see all the posts here) and enter at least one other giveaway. Everyone participating is giving away a different book! Come back and let me know which one you entered.
That’s up to eight chances to win! Enter by Friday morning and I’ll choose a random winner on that same morning–probably around 8 EST (11/18). Winner will have 48 hours to respond to my email before I choose another winner. Prize will be shipped by me. Good luck!
Disclosure: I was sent a free book to review and free brownies to try. However, all opinions expressed in this post are, as always, 100% my own. I was not compensated for this post other than the free book/brownies.