Thursday, July 20, 2017

175 Best Small Batch Baking Recipes

175 Best Small Batch Baking Recipes
Author: Jill Snider
Publisher: (2017)

My family is not huge on sweet things. Sure, they’ll have the occasional cookie or slice of pie on a special occasion, but “dessert” most nights is a bowl of yogurt with honey, cocoa and berries. That said, I love to bake more than anything else – and finding a compromise between assuaging my desires and having the freezer overflow is tricky. That’s why I was excited to try out Jill Snider’s book 175 Best Small Batch Baking Recipes, which claims it makes “[t]reats for 1 or 2”.

Gluten Free Chocolate Banana Cake
Gluten Free Chocolate Banana Cake (p. 246)
Small Batch Baking has everything a “sweet kitchen” baker could ask for in a cookbook. Myriads of cookies, from biscotti to shortbread, no bake bars to brownies and fruit squares, muffins and loaves are all part and parcel here. There are also mini pies and crumbles, gluten free options, and even cheesecakes are presented in adorable miniature. For the most part, Snider does not ask for specialty baking pans (the cheesecakes, however, need a 6” springform) and the ingredients are common and generally inexpensive. I enjoyed the fact that brownies, bars and cakes here use loaf pans for form, making slicing even easier and making everything look like a “Bûche de Noël” when frosted. The ability to make just 6 or 8 cookies, instead of 40, was also greatly appreciated – and it allowed me to offer more than one variety in a gift basket!

The first treat I made from this book played highly to my love of cooking and baking for specialty diets. The last recipe in the book, Gluten Free Chocolate Banana Cake (p. 246), was easy to put together (even for my mom, a novice in allergy-free baking) and didn’t call for specific flour mixtures that can be tricky to find. Snider even gives a tip on substitution in the sidebar (and experienced gluten free bakers will be able to swap things in and out on their own). Many such sidebars are peppered throughout the book, and are always worth a read. The cake was, in a word, decadent – perfectly chocolatey, with a hint of banana flavour (if I wanted more of the fruit to shine I would roast the banana first) and a moisture that survived freezing, thawing and traveling for hours in the car. I opted not to frost the cake since I was transporting it, but the Banana Butter Frosting (p. 186) that was suggested (again in the sidebar) sounded divine. That frosting was just one of the six frostings and glazes offered in the book, again scaled down to practical use size.

I also tried another unique recipe from Small Batch Baking – Judie’s Chocolate Chip Cookies (p. 63). The recipe called for lard, which I substituted for home-rendered tallow, giving the cookies a slightly “doughnutty” aroma. The author states that the cookies are “soft”, but I found that even at the minimum bake time they spread and became crispy, almost wafer-like. The recipe never called for chilling the dough, as most cookie recipes do these days, and in retrospect I should have given the oats that were also in the batter. The flavour, however, was delicious and rich, if a tad greasy, and they were a hit with both adults and kids alike.

"Judie's Chocolate Chip Cookies"
Judie’s Chocolate Chip Cookies (p. 63)

I’m happy that a baking book exists for small families and people who (like me) just can’t stay out of the kitchen. 175 Best Small Batch Baking Recipes will definitely be put to use during the holiday gift-giving and potluck season, and I look forward to picking out some favourites for my household in the meantime.

Available on Amazon