One of us considers herself a baker; the other does not. Yet we both bake frequently at home. Amanda has had more formal training (the idea of rolling out pie dough or making a yeast bread doesn’t give her the shakes), but Merrill also grew up enjoying homemade baked goods. So while only one of us could assemble a croquembouche without breaking a sweat, we both believe in a more uncommitted style of day-to-day baking.
When we talk about “uncommitted baking” (that was actually the first title for this book, which went over like rain at a beach party), we mean the kind of baking you can do on a weeknight, once the dinner dishes are cleared away and the kids are asleep—without having to stay up so late that you’re bleary-eyed the next day. It’s the kind of baking you can take on, like Amanda does, as a fun activity with her eight-year-old twins; each weekend, they make a simple cake to have around the house for packed lunches and after-dinner dessert during the week ahead.
We’re talking about one-bowl cakes, cookies that don’t require dipping or finishing, slumps, crisps, quick breads, galettes, puddings, and muffins. This is the sort of baking your grandmother did—unpretentious and comforting. Each recipe comes with tips and tricks learned from years of practice, in the voice of one home baker speaking to another. None of these recipes will keep you in the kitchen for hours just for the sake of it, and each produces consistently delicious results. We wanted to create a book that would be your right hand whenever a baked good beckoned.
The recipes come from our readers, contributors, and team members. Many are treasured family recipes that have never appeared on the site; others are from Food52 and have become legends in our office. Our former editor Marian Bull introduced us to her family’s beloved schlumpf, an even more relaxed version of a crumble; with a name like schlumpf how could it not make it into this book? There are light-as-air berry scones from longtime Food52er mrslarkin, whose professional nickname is The Scone Lady. And we included Merrill’s mother’s recipe for cream cheese cookies, which have earned a bit of a cult following over the years among those addicted to their crisp, caramelized edges and chewy, slightly tangy centers.
All of these memorable recipes were expertly herded and curated by our editor Sarah Jampel. Sarah is like a whirling dervish, editing, styling, and coordinating—she’d complete a chapter or two before we finished our morning coffee. She left no stone unturned, and even pilfered many of her mom’s own baking pans for this book’s photo shoots. Under her careful direction, a baking book took shape that we hope will be an indispensable resource for bakers and nonbakers alike.
—Amanda Hesser & Merrill Stubbs
Copyright © 2015 by Editors of Food52, Foreword by Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.