Fall always ushers in the new group of cookbooks from top authors and chefs and this fall is especially rich in high quality baking books. Alison Pray and Tara Smith of the Standard Baking Company in Portland, Maine, have just come out with their first cookbook, Pastries, and anyone who has ever visited the bakery will want to have it. I met Alison and her husband Matt James, who does the bread baking, on my first trip to Portland and was deeply impressed by both of them and all of their baked goods. On my second trip, I also visited her other bakery, Two Fat Cats, where I discovered the best Whoopie Pie ever and put it in my most recent book (Rose's Heavenly Cakes). photo credit: ©2012, Sean Alonzo Harris, from Standard Baking Co. Pastries, Down East Books Pastries is filled with enticing photos of the pastries but they are not on fancy glossy paper. Rather they appear as warm, rustic and highly approachable. The recipes are very clearly written in a friendly voice. Yes, Alison is a professional baker but Tara, as she writes in her introduction, is also a joyful home baker. Between the two of them, they know what home bakers need to know. Standard Baking Co. Pastries The first recipe I couldn't resist trying was the luscious apricot and cream cheese babka filling. SInce Maine is known for its extraordinary wild blueberries which are tiny and intense in flavor, next will be the Wild Blueberry Oat Scones. Luckily Whole Foods market has the frozen Maine blueberries! I know that Alison would love to have had weights in the book but having lost that battle with the publisher (as so many of us do) she made sure to tell how she measures flour (dip and sweep method--dip the measuring cup with an unbroken rim into the flour bin and without shaking or tapping the cup level it off with a straight edge spatula or knife.) Now that they know first hand how much fun it is to write a cookbook, let us all hope that there will be Standard Bread Baking book next!
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