21 September 2009

The Art Of Fine Baking



In the early 60’s The Art Of Fine Baking by Paula Peck was the bible of baking. Even today, the book holds up to the onslaught of baking books. While the recipes are very traditional, they offer the classical techniques that form the basics of baking. There is a good list of equipment that a baker will need and a very dated and funny looking list of sources for baking needs with shops listed, (most of them in New York) and an assurance that they offer mail order. The last entry on the list:

Williams-Sonoma, 576 Sutter Street, San Francisco, California. Imported aids to the baker and cook. Descriptive price list available.

To this day you can get a “descriptive price list” from Williams-Sonoma. It is funny to think of them as being a little store in San Francisco. Now days, of course, one just looks online for any baking need.



Peck taught at the James Beard School for many years and Beard would say of her:

“She is an outstanding juggler with rolling pin and mixing bowl, and the magic results fill her larder and freezer to overflowing. Her home is an oasis for hungry travelers and guests, for there is always enough delectable food in her kitchen to serve a good-sized party.”


Here is a fun and flourless cookie:

Nut Crisps

1 1/2 cups nuts (almonds, walnuts, filberts)
1/2 cup butter
1/3 cup sugar
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla

Grate or grind the nuts fine.
Cream butter and sugar. Stir in the ground nits, salt and vanilla. Form dough into a long roll, I inch in diameter. Wrap in wax paper. Chill until firm.
Set oven to 350 degrees.
Cut into thin slices. Place slices on ungreased baking sheet.
Bake about 7 minutes, or until cookies are lightly brown. Watch carefully to prevent burning.
Place cookies on paper towels to absorb excess fat, if any.

Generally, I am not that fond of nuts, but I am thinking of putting aside my prejudice for this cookie!

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