Sayonara, Sourdough

Esther Mobley at the San Francisco Chronicle is done with making sourdough bread:

“It’s not you, it’s me. Actually, who am I kidding? It’s you. You’re the worst. At this point, sourdough, you have left me crying alone in my kitchen one too many late nights, my sweatpants caked in flour, and I can’t justify putting myself through the agony any longer.”

Baking on the Cheap

Emma Barker at Bon Appétit describes how she makes bread using a $4 aluminum foil roasting pan:

“The foil pan has outlasted numerous other kitchen gadgets that took up too much space or were too annoying to pack and unpack. It’s had the same beneficial effect on my bread in each of the five different ovens I’ve baked in. I call it the Bread-erator 2015, and it has a place of honor in my kitchen.”

Sourdough Dreams

Joe McNamee at the Irish Examiner explains the appeal of home cooking during COVID lockdown:

“For some, it was a fleeting enthusiasm that soon grew as stale as the ubiquitous banana bread piling up in the bread bin but for many, many more, it marked a serious re-engagement with, or even brand new discovery of, what constitutes ‘real food’.”

Cooking As Therapy

Melinda Lavine explores how cooking can improve one’s mental health:

“Research concludes that cooking and baking can decrease symptoms of depression, anxiety and promote positive mood and self-confidence, said Annie Leusman, MSAW / social worker at St. Luke’s Mental Health Clinic.

“Cooking and baking call for cognitive, physical and socio-emotional processes. It completely immerses you, and it uses all the senses.

“‘When you’re cooking, maybe you’re smelling the garlic, sauteing olive oil. You might taste the soup to make sure you have the seasoning right. You can hear cooking, the chopping of vegetables, the knife on the cutting board,’ Leusman said.”

Bake and Switch

When preparing baked goods, we should try using olive oil instead of butter, says Sheela Prakash:

“Replacing butter with olive oil in cakes, cookies, and pie crust yields unexpected results. It lends a fruity, rich aroma to whatever it’s baked into. It also makes for an even moister finished product. The olive oil shines through, especially when used in simple desserts, giving them a slightly savory quality.”

Best Thing Since Sliced Bread

Maggie Hoffman goes behind the scenes at Tartine Bakery in San Francisco:

“There are, of course, standout bakeries all over the US, but to me, Tartine stands out above them all, baking up superlative pastry, cakes, and breads, and constantly pushing the boundaries to make each bite better. Tartine croissants are the type you dream about: shatteringly flaky outside, with swirls and swirls of interior layers, soft and pillowy but never gummy or dense. The flavor: butter, but better.”

“A True Treasure Trove”

Dale Berning Sawa profiles Annahita Kamali and Florian Böhm’s latest project: a book about cookbooks, which should appeal to “bibliophiles and cookery nerds alike, and anyone with an affinity for food blogs.” (I suppose that describes me in a nutshell.)

“Each book only gets a double-page spread (with recipe) and a tiny blurb at the end, yet it’s amazing how instantly you understand the vibe and why it’s so compelling.”

Is Sifting Flour Necessary?

Not usually, says Christine Gallary:

“There are times, however, when certain recipes actually benefit from sifted flour. The flour in cakes with a very light, delicate texture like genoise, angel food, or sponge should be sifted to eliminate and prevent lumps that would weigh down the batter.

“If your flour has been sitting around for awhile and seems very tightly packed, it might also be a good idea to sift it before using it so that you’re not measuring out overly packed cups.”

Drawing the Line

Kate Gagnon explains why she won’t prepare certain foods from scratch:

“In my mind, there are several things I’m perfectly okay with never making. I toss up my hands in defeat and say, ‘Let’s just leave it to the pros.’ Croissants, French macarons, baguettes. It’s probably no coincidence that these are all in the realm of baking, as that’s not my strong suit. While I find it gratifying to make a pie or shortbread, I tend to lose interest precisely measuring out more than a handful of ingredients or waiting for this or that to chill.”

Newton’s Law

Niki Achitoff-Gray shares a recipe for homemade fig rolls:

“Dried figs, of course, form the base of the filling, but the trick to that pliable, moist center is a combination of applesauce and honey. The bars are sliced after baking, so you can cut them into their traditional dimensions or make a big-kid, whole-box-size cookie all for yourself. They are totally good for you, right?”