Let me just start with…That biscuit on the cover… I think I missed a winner and will definitely be going back to that recipe. Welcome to another week of Friday Food Reads. This week we have the pleasure of reading The Good Book of Southern Baking by Kelly Fields.
About the Author
Kelly Fields grew up in South Carolina with a long line of baking in her family. It seems everyone in town knew of the baking skills this family possessed and stopped by frequently for fresh baked goods. She worked in many bakeries before deciding it was time to go to culinary school after a restaurant she had been working at closed.
Kelly’s time in pastry school gave her a taste of the world outside Louisiana. But it was Hurricane Katrina that made her want to take advantage of every travel opportunity she could. The book only scratches the surface on Kelly’s travels, but I’d love to see all those stamps in her passport.
Travel and Food
Her travels allowed her to learn hands on about seasonings and spices and different flavors that she would have never learned if she stayed home. There is something to be said for experiencing other flavors and how things are done compared to home. Now if you know any chefs, you know we can not live without our notebooks. Those little gold mines hold all our ideas and our recipes. Kelly lost all of hers in Hurricane Katrina. She slowly started to rebuild from memory but now has a new updated one with all her travel changes in it. This combination of old recipes with modern international twists is what made me want to read The Good Book of Southern Baking.
Recipe for Success
The book does a great job of giving you an overview of ingredients, techniques and equipment that are important for successful baking. One of my favorites is:
“Delicious butter imparts a delicious butter flavor”
I don’t know how many times a day I say this, bake with ingredients you really want to eat.
How the Book is Broken Down
The chapters are broken down into categories. For instance, quick breads, cookies and bars, puddings and custards, cakes. You get the idea. There is also lots of photography which I’m a fan of. I always like to know what I’m striving for in the end.
Good Book of Southern Baking Banana Bread
I made two recipes from the book. We always go with two, just in case we hate one, I try to be fair. The first recipe was Banana Bread. Now this is where I got to a part of the book I hated. I know Kelly is a chef and has worked in multiple restaurants and is a culinary school grad. So why in the heck would she write a book without actually weighing the ingredients, which I know is what she does every day of her life. I’m preaching to the choir here, but all cups are not created equal. So once I climbed off my podium, I setout to start baking.
The banana bread made two loaves. Or you could have done one loaf and a dozen muffins. She stressed multiple times the need to have room temperature ingredients to prevent the batter from breaking. All in all it was a nice banana bread with a shelf life of about 7 days, even though she said 4. I also believe it would have frozen well, although she didn’t mention that in the recipe.
Dark Chocolate Espresso Crinkle Cookies
The second recipe we tried was the Dark Chocolate Espresso Crinkle Cookies. Now I’m not going to lie, I have a serious love for Crinkle Cookies. When I worked at America’s Test Kitchen I was there for the development of their Crinkle Cookies. It took about a month of daily Crinkle Cookie tests. Yes…every darn day. One would think I’d be over those cookies, but I just love them more and more. So my expectations are high when I see a recipe for these cookies.
Now I’ll just hop back on my podium for one more minute to talk about weighing ingredients. How many of you have a 1/3 teaspoon at home? Well I don’t either. But the recipe calls for 2/3 teaspoon baking powder.
I’m also going to say, this recipe is “high maintenance.” But the final product was worth it. I’ll just tell you it involved multiple steps in the fridge/freezer over a few days before being able to bake. I do love that this dough is freezable. Because just before writing this post, I pulled out a log of dough and baked up my last dozen of these little beauties.
The recipe called for 2 tablespoons of espresso, but with using such a dark chocolate in the recipe, you really don’t get the espresso flavor. I think that was a missed opportunity.
Should You Buy the Good Book of Southern Baking?
So with all that, would I continue to use The Good Book of Southern Baking? Yes, most definitely. I would just advise you that a few of the ingredients are not always easy to find. And be prepared for multiple steps or even days to complete some things. But I have to say, I’m really looking forward to trying the biscuits. And if you want to know more about Kelly or her restaurant you can find her website here.
Other Friday Food Reads
Now if you are looking for other Friday Food Reads you can find a few here. We do two of these a month so the list is always being updated.
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