Honestly, I have very few culinary books. Most of the things I know comes from studying on the internet. The books that I really think are worth it, I usually tell you guys when you e-mail me. The first – the best if you are a cake or cupcake baker – surely is “The Cake Bible”, by Rose Levy Beranbaum. It’s truly a bible, in size and teachings. Unfortunately, you can’t find it in Brazilian Portuguese. I had to buy it on one of my trips to USA.
I also love the “The Professional Chef”, from the Culinary Institute of America, and “Professional Baking”, by Wayne Gisslen of Le Cordon Bleu. They are both expensive and huge, but I got one as a gift and the other from a friend who had two editions and sold me the second for a bargain. They give you the fundamentals of the kitchen, food safety tips and basic kitchen chemistry. And when you know kitchen chemistry, not even the sky is your limit.
Another recente book I keep in my kitchen is the first written by Danielle Noce, the “Por Uma Vida Mais Doce”, which can be translated to “For a Sweeter Life”. It’s not because I write for her website, it’s just that the book is really well written, the recipes do work and the photos are superb. You don’t simply learn recipes, you actually understand why they work.
Another cool books to have are those from Jamie Oliver. Since he speaks from international cuisines to reasons to cook (like comfort food, or 15 minutes meals), you have a big list of books with good recipes to choose from. I learned how to make risotto with him.
I also got a nice book on my job’s Secret Santa: “Cozinhando sem Desperdício”, by Lisa Casali, which can be translated to “No Waste Cooking”. She teaches awesome recipes which use up all we would throw away in the kitchen. It’s very good and helps to get the mindset of using everything instead of discarding.
I’ve been crazy about Lisa’s Orange cake using the whole oranges, so today’s cupcake is a homage to that.
Yields: 12 cupcakes
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup (75g) butter
1 tablespoon orange zest
1/2 cup orange juice
1/3 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon orange extract (optional)
1 – Turn your oven on 180°C (350°F). In a big bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, mix the orange zest and the sugar, rubbing both together until it resembles wet sand and it’s fragrant.
2 – In your mixer, beat butter and sugar until you get a pale and fluffy mixture. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
3 – Add the vanilla and the orange extract, and beat well.
4 – Alternate the addition of the dry and the wet ingredients, like so: 1/3 of the dry, then the milk, then another 1/3 of the dry, then the juice, and finish it off with the rest of the dry.
5 – Divide the batter among the cupcake liners, filling only to 2/3, and bake for 17 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Bittersweet brigadeiro frosting
Yields: 20 classic swirls
1 can (395g) sweet condensed milk
200g heavy cream
120g bittersweet chocolate (at least 70% cocoa)
1 tablespoon powdered milk
1 tablespoon salted butter
1 – Bring all ingredientes to a boil on a heavy-duty saucepan, mixing every single second nonstop with a spatula. You need to cook this for about 30 minutes on low. It’s ready when you lift up the spatula and the mixture falls in drips and pieces, and not as ribbons. You can be adventurous and cook it on high for about 15 minutes, but after some time it starts to bubble vigorously and I myself have burned my arms many times by doing this. Not to mention you risk getting your brigadeiro crystalized, as it does have sugar crystals.
I used a 1M Wilton tip, made the perfect swirl and topped with some more orange zests. Simple and beautiful. I thought the brigadeiro was a nice complement to the orange, since this batter is quite sugary.
As for the books, yes, I do have a lot of other culinary books at home. But, most of them I got as gifts because people know I love to cook. Very few of those I actually went looking for them. Good thing is I live in a small space now and I don’t have anywhere to keep new books. For that, let’s all enjoy the wonders of the internet world, in which everything stays in virtual storages.
Which other books would you recommend?