If for you, like us, the name Dorie Greenspan invokes the tender embrace of an old friend, or the aroma of a still-warm chocolate chip cookie snapped in two, then word of the baker’s new cookbook will leave you preheating the oven before you even know what recipe you’ll try first.
As the title (released last month) implies, “Baking With Dorie: Sweet, Salty & Simple” contains a range of desserts, breakfasts, and anytime treats that will feel both inviting to non-bakers and exciting to pros. No matter your comfort level in the kitchen, don’t expect to flip through this book without dog-earing every page.
There are the Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies and the Rye-Cranberry Chocolate Chunk ones from Mokonuts in Paris, the S’mores Ice Cream Cake, and the Cheese-Swirl Babka Buns. There’s the chapter on “two perfect little pastries,” cream puffs and meringues, where you’ll find Dorie’s påte à choux Pocky sticks.
Then there are the clever tips and surprises. They might form the basis of a recipe, like the Morning Bundt Cake, which calls for baking muesli in a bundt pan. Or, they might be tucked inside, unassuming yet unmistakable, like the jam in a layer cake—or, as Dorie writes, like “the sassy brightness of fresh cranberries in spice bars reminiscent of gingerbread.”
In true Dorie fashion, she invites you into her inner circle with the personal memories that drive headnotes and a category of pet recipes called “sweethearts” because they were must-haves when she was developing the book. Also true to the cookie queen’s style, the gratitude flows—to the people and places that inspired the recipes and those who have been part of her team for the 30 years of writing cookbooks that the October release of “Baking with Dorie” marked.
Don’t think that anniversary is cause to slow down, though. Dorie just launched a twice-weekly newsletter called XOXODorie that features recipes and stories; she still embodies all of our dreams by living in Paris part-time; and if you’re lucky enough to catch her for a chat, she’ll make you feel like you’re the only person in the room.
Below are three of our favorite tips from “Baking with Dorie: Sweet, Salty, & Simple,” as well as a recipe for her Crumb-Topped Ricotta Coffee Cake, a favorite from the book. Let them serve as a palate-teaser for the rest of the enticing recipes and clever tips within.
Tip #1: For an Extra-Crunchy Crumble, Use Cornmeal
Dorie describes her Crumb-Topped Ricotta Coffee Cake as a treat that reminds people of the go-to bakery or boxed coffee cake they grew up with. What’s different, however, is a secret ingredient she uses to lend extra crunch to the crumb topping: cornmeal.
It’s a brilliant addition that really gives your teeth something to hold onto, and it provides a great contrast to the fluffy cake and bursts of berries. Plus, the crumb topping-to-cake ratio is correct–which is to say almost one-to-one.
“I love cornmeal. I love the sweetness of it, I love it for texture, of course, but I think I fell in love with it making the Torta Sbrisolona,” Dorie says of a break-apart cookie you’ll find in Dorie’s Cookies. “You take crumbs and press into a pan and break the cookie into odd shapes and jagged pieces, and it’s made with cornmeal,” she explains. “It’s a terrific ingredient to use for a crumb topping.”
Dorie also uses cornmeal in poundcakes, biscotti, and other cookies when she’s looking for a lot of texture and natural sweetness. One word of caution, however: “My worst cornmeal mistake was thinking that I could use coarse ground cornmeal—the kind you use for polenta—in a dessert. Don’t do it. You don’t have enough liquid.” Noted!
Tip #2: Bake Cookies in a Muffin Tin for Extra Caramel Flavor
Love caramel flavor but fear making it? Dorie’s Caramel Crunch Chocolate Chunklet Cookies don’t contain any caramel in the ingredients list but boast all the caramel flavor that the name implies. That’s because these slice-and-bake cookies bake in muffin tins, which serve as individual vehicles for extra browned edges where butter and sugar turn nutty and golden.
“I started doing this—it was a friend who suggested doing this with me—years ago,” Dorie says. “My son, Joshua, and I had a shortbread cookie business. We baked in cookie rings, so everything came out perfect: the size, the sides had a beautiful golden color... When I wanted to translate these cookies for a home baker, muffin tins turned out to be perfect.”
Can you use this winning idea for other cookies? “It’s a technique, tool, trick, I don’t know what to call it other than a really good idea for shortbread cookies. I love the way they look when they come out of the tin.” Sold.
Before you start experimenting, however, consider the leavening in your recipe. It’s not a definitive rule, Dorie says, but you may want to cut down or leave out the leavening in cookies you try in a muffin tin, otherwise they might come out concave.
Tip #3: Always Add Salt to Chocolate Chip Cookies, But Not When You Think
“Baking with Dorie” contains two whole pages of pointers for chocolate chip cookies, and each one is worth studying. But one you might overlook if you’re not reading carefully is to add the salt in with the wet ingredients, not the dry, because it blends in more evenly. Dorie says she doesn’t follow this all the time, but she’s got a good reason to try it.
“I live part time in Paris, and when I’m baking in Paris, I often bake with salt butter, and the butter is very salty,” Dorie says. “But I never use it in my American baking because you never know how much salt there is.” So she calls for unsalted butter and fine sea salt—her “standard baking salt.”
Instead of waiting to add in the salt with the flour and leaveners, though, she recommends throwing it in with the sugar and butter at the beginning. Combining the salt at this stage recalls the salted butters that Dorie loves. (Leave it to Dorie to give us a new, perfectly subtle way to channel Paris that we’ve never thought of.)
“When I think about it, I think about the salt and sugar having similar textures,” she says. “It just makes sense.” As most Paris exports do.