The goal behind Kim Laidlaw’s book, Williams-Sonoma’s “Home Baked Comfort” (Weldon Owen, $34.95, 224 pages), was simplicity and seduction.
The photographs, by Eric Wolfinger, woo the reader with gooey cinnamon rolls, whoopie pies and bacon and egg breakfast tarts, while Laidlaw’s recipes -- simple, straightforward and dotted with friendly tips -- make one lunge for the apron and whisk, secure in the knowledge that You. Can. Do. This.
Many of the recipes in the book-the third in her publisher’s “comfort food” series-are Laidlaw’s own, but the San Francisco writer recruited recipes and stories from a dozen other bakers, too, including Elisabeth Prueitt and Chad Robertson from San Francisco’s Tartine, and Bakerella’s Angie Dudley.
Here’s a sampling.
BITE-SIZE BACON AND CHEESE SCONES
These addictive scones are perfect for brunch, or to accompany a salad for lunch.
- 3 thick slices applewood-smoked bacon
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 cup grated Asiago or Gruyere
- Pinch of kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into chunks
- 1 large egg
- 3/4 cup cream or whole milk
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a rimmed baking pan with parchment.
Fry the bacon over medium-low heat until lightly crisp, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and finely chop bacon.
In a food processor, combine the flour, baking powder, cheese, salt and pepper, and pulse briefly to mix. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture looks like coarse meal.
Whisk together the egg and cream until blended. Pour the egg mixture into the food processor and pulse just until the dough comes together.
Dump the dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead in the bacon and bring the dough together into a ball. Using a floured rolling pin, roll the dough 1/2 inch thick. Using a 1 1/2-inch biscuit cutter, cut out as many scones as you can. Gather the scraps of dough, roll out and cut out more.
Space the scones evenly on the baking sheet. Bake until golden, about 12 minutes. Remove from pan; cool slightly on a wire rack before serving. Makes about 4 dozen.
- 1 cup unsalted butter
- 10 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
- 1 cup sugar
- 3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 1/3 cups cake flour
- 3 tablespoons natural cocoa powder
- About 6 graham crackers, roughly crushed with your hands
- About 12 jumbo marshmallows
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.
Melt butter and chocolate over low heat, stirring often, about 4 minutes. Off heat, whisk in sugars. Whisk in eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Whisk in vanilla and salt.
Sift the flour and cocoa over the chocolate mixture and, using a rubber spatula, stir until just blended. Stir in the graham crackers.
Pour into the prepared dish and spread evenly. Top evenly with marshmallows.
Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out almost completely clean, 30-35 minutes. Let cool in the dish on a wire rack, then cut into big, gooey squares. Makes 12.
THE MIDNIGHT GALETTE
Makes 1 large galette
Flaky pie dough:
- 1 1/4 cups flour
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 7 tablespoons very cold unsalted butter, cubed
- 5 tablespoons ice water
- 5-6 cups peeled, cored or pitted, and cut mixed seasonal fruit, such as peaches, cherries, berries or apricots
- Juice of 1/2 a lemon
- About 1/3 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1 large egg, beaten with 1 teaspoon water
- Turbinado sugar, for sprinkling
In a food processor, mix the flour, salt and sugar. Sprinkle butter over top and pulse for a few seconds, until the butter is slightly broken up but still visible. Evenly sprinkle water over the flour mixture, then process just until the mixture starts to come together. Dump dough into a large lock-top plastic bag and press into a flat disc. Refrigerate 30 minutes or up to 1 day, or freeze for 1 month.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment.
In a large bowl, toss the fruit with lemon juice. Add granulated sugar and the 2 tablespoons flour and toss to mix. Taste for sweetness and add more sugar, if needed.
On a lightly floured work surface, roll dough into a large oval about 1/8 inch thick, continuously rotating dough a quarter turn and sprinkling with flour. It’s also a good idea to flip the dough over. If it tears, press it back together and roll over it. Gently roll up the dough onto the rolling pin. Starting at one end of the baking sheet, unroll the dough so it is centered on the sheet. It’s fine if the dough is larger than the sheet.
Dump the fruit into the center of the dough and spread evenly with your hands, leaving a 3-inch border. Fold the edges of the dough up and over the filling, pleating the dough as you fold. Brush the pastry rim with egg wash and sprinkle with the turbinado sugar.
Bake until the fruit is tender, the juices are bubbling and the crust is golden brown, 45-60 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.