Have you been wanting to learn to bake? Do most of the baking books you've seen intimidate you? Take a look at this one. It's the simplest baking book I have ever seen.
I've been baking for more than forty years, but most of what I've learned about baking I had to learn by burning things and overmixing and making mistakes with yeast. This book can help with all those problems. I decided to test one recipe today, Cinnamon Swirl Bread. A quick bread like this is perfect for new bakers.
The prep time is only twenty minutes, so it's easy and quick. You start by preparing the topping by mixing together 1/2 cup light brown sugar with 2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon. (I like that Heather Perine, the cookbook author, tells you to use ground cinnamon. When you are just starting out, there's no such thing as too obvious.)
Then you preheat the oven at 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan. Combine the dry ingredients in a medium bowl: 2 cups all-purpose flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
Next, combine the wet ingredients in another medium bowl: 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 1/2 cup light brown sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1 large egg (at room temperature), 1 cup buttermilk (she explains how to make your own buttermilk from 1 cup of milk with 1 tablespoon of lemon juice in a footnote), and 1/4 cup vegetable oil.
Then you should combine the wet and dry ingredients by adding the dry to the wet and mixing together with a spatula. (Very clear directions...don't you love that?)
The last step is the only part that's a wee bit tricky. Pour half of the batter into the loaf pan. Sprinkle with half of the cinnamon and sugar mixture. Pour the remaining batter into the pan and top with the remaining cinnamon and sugar mixture. Draw a knife through the batter, swirling in circles, to marble.
Then bake for 50 to 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Set the pan on a wire rack and cool completely.
And that's it. Just about everything you might want to make is in this book. Lemon Bars. Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies. Easy Sugar Cookies. Fresh Cherry Pie. Banana Cream Pie. Blueberry Muffins. Banana Bread. Zucchini Bread. Carrot Sheet Cake. Basic French Bread. And lots more if you want to venture out a bit after you try these.
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