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Sweet, salty, simple: How New Englander Dorie Greenspan likes to bake19:53
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Cookbook author and baking guru Dorie Greenspan at WBUR. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)
Cookbook author and baking guru Dorie Greenspan at WBUR. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)

You know her, you love her: New Englander Dorie Greenspan. She's a five-time James Beard Award-winning author of 14 cookbooks, a New York Times magazine columnist, writer of the xoxo Dorie newsletter on Bulletin, and a friend of Radio Boston.
She's now out with a new cookbook, "Baking With Dorie: Sweet, Salty & Simple." It features new takes on some classics, switching salty and sweet flavors to create new masterpieces for every part of the day and the year.


Dorie Greenspan will be at WBUR's CitySpace on Dec. 9.


Recipes

World Peace Cookies 2.0

Makes about 30 cookies

Pierre Hermé, the famous Paris pastry chef, gave me his recipe for chocolate sablés, a recipe I renamed World Peace Cookies, more than twenty years ago. Over the years, I’ve made little tweaks that were fine, but none better than the original.

Then my friend the author Charlotte Druckman asked if I’d rethink the cookie for her book, Women on Food, and so I thought about the qualities that I admire in women, looked for ingredients that would highlight them and mixed them into the cookie. I added rye flour for groundedness; cocoa nibs to represent strength; pepper for a touch of unpredictability; and raspberries for sharpness and verve. The raspberries are freeze-dried and their flavor takes a little time to reveal itself. While you taste them soon after the cookies cool, they really come into their own a day later.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (136 grams) all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup (60 grams) rye flour
  • ⅓ cup (30 grams) Dutch-processed cocoa (I prefer Valrhona)
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 stick plus 3 tablespoons (11 tablespoons;
  • 5½ ounces; 155 grams) unsalted butter, cut into chunks, at cool room temperature
  • ⅔ cup (135 grams) packed brown sugar
  • ¼ cup (50 grams) sugar
  • ½ teaspoon fleur de sel or ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • Pinch of piment d’Espelette or a smaller pinch of cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 5 ounces (140 grams) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped (chip-size pieces)
  • ⅓ cup (45 grams) cocoa nibs
  • ½ cup (15 grams) freeze-dried raspberries, coarsely chopped or broken
  • Maldon or other flaky sea salt for sprinkling (optional)

A WORD ON THE DOUGH: Although making these cookies is easy, each batch seems to have its own quirks. It’s always easy, it’s just not always the same. Sometimes the differences have to do with the cocoa. (I usually use Valrhona Dutch-processed cocoa because I love its flavor and color, but I’ve made WPCs with many kinds of cocoa—they’re always good, not always the same.) Sometimes the differences have to do with the butter, and often the temperature of the butter—it’s best if it’s at cool room temperature, but sometimes I miss the moment when it’s just right. My advice is to mix the dough for as long as it takes to get big, moist curds that hold together when pressed. Often this happens quickly; just as often, it takes more time than you think it should. Go with it. Also, when you roll the dough into logs, check that they’re solid—squeeze the logs to see if there are hollow spots. If there are, ball up the dough and roll into logs again.

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PLAN AHEAD: The logs of dough need to be frozen for at least 2 hours or refrigerated for at least 3 hours.

Sift both flours, the cocoa and baking soda together into a bowl; whisk to blend.

Working in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the butter and both sugars together on medium speed until smooth, about 3 minutes. Beat in the salt, piment d’Espelette or cayenne and vanilla. Turn off the mixer, add the dry ingredients all at once and pulse to start the blending. When the risk of a flour storm has passed, beat on low speed until the dough forms big, moist curds—this can take a couple of minutes, so don’t be afraid to keep mixing. Toss in the chocolate pieces, nibs and raspberries and mix to incorporate. Sometimes the dough comes together and cleans the sides of the bowl and sometimes it crumbles—it’ll be fine no matter what.

Turn the dough out, gather it together and, if necessary, knead it a bit to bring it together. Divide the dough in half. Shape each half into a log that is 1½ inches in diameter. The length will be between 7 and 8 inches, but don’t worry about it—it’s the diameter that counts here. If you get a hollow in either of the logs, just start over. Wrap the logs and freeze them for at least 2 hours, or refrigerate for at least 3 hours. (If you’d like, you can freeze the logs for up to 2 months; let stand at room temperature for about 15 minutes before slicing and baking.)

WHEN YOU’RE READY TO BAKE: Center a rack in the oven and preheat it to 325 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a baking mat.

Using a chef’s knife, slice one log of dough into ½-inch-thick rounds. (Don’t worry if they crack, just pinch and squeeze the bits back into the cookie.) Arrange the rounds on the baking sheet, leaving about 2 inches between them. If you’d like, sprinkle the tops sparingly with flaky salt. Bake the cookies for 12 minutes—don’t open the oven door to check, just let them bake. They won’t look fully baked and they won’t be firm, but that’s the way they’re supposed to be. Transfer the sheet to a rack and let the cookies cool until they’re only just warm or at room temperature. Repeat with the remaining log of dough, using a cool baking sheet.

STORING: Packed airtight, the cookies will keep for 5 days at room temperature (they will get a little drier, but they’re still good) or for up to 2 months in the freezer.


Whip-It-Up-Quick Cornbread

Makes 8-10 servings 

Cornbread belongs to the quick-bread family, a clan of breads and muffins leavened with baking powder, but its name might just as well mean quick to mix and quick to bake. This bread, which I love alongside roast chicken, anything slow-simmered and saucy and almost everything grilled, particularly fish, is delicious, good-looking, made with ingredients I always have on hand and put together in minutes.

The bread is moist yet still showcases cornmeal’s crumbliness (a virtue). I use a fine-grain yellow cornmeal, but if you like gritty, you can try this with a slightly coarser grind. (Anything rougher is better for polenta or mush, where the cornmeal is cooked in liquid.) You can also add spices, herbs, corn kernels, crisp bacon and/or chopped scallions and, if you like, top the bread with grated cheese; see the suggestions below. My favorite pan for this is a cast iron skillet, but you’ll still get a satisfying bread if you use a baking pan or a pie pan. Whether you serve the cornbread straight from the oven or at room temperature, slathered with butter (and maybe a drizzle of honey) or plain as can be, you’ll find yourself marveling at how little effort it takes to make something so good.

Ingredients:

  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons; 4 ounces; 113 grams) unsalted butter (see below)
  • 1¾ cups (306 grams) fine-grain cornmeal (see headnote)
  • ¼ cup (34 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons sugar (optional)
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or more to taste
  • Pinch or more of cayenne pepper, to taste
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1¾ cups (420 ml) buttermilk (well shake before measuring)

Optional Add-ins

  • 4 to 6 strips cooked bacon, finely chopped
  • 1 cup (140 grams) corn kernels, frozen or canned, drained if necessary and patted dry
  • 1 small jalapeño pepper, trimmed, seeded and finely chopped
  • 4 scallions, trimmed and finely sliced
  • 3 or 4 tablespoons minced fresh herbs, such as parsley, cilantro, dill and/or rosemary
  • About ½ cup (about 45 grams) shredded cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese for topping (optional)

Center a rack in the oven and preheat it to 400 degrees F. If you’ve got a 9- to 10-inch cast-iron or other oven-going skillet, place it on the stovetop. If you’re using a 9-inch deep-dish pie pan or a 9-inch square baking pan, set it on the counter.

If you’re baking in the skillet, put the butter in the pan, turn the heat under the skillet to medium and melt the butter. Otherwise, melt the butter and pour it into your baking pan.

Working in a large bowl, whisk the cornmeal, flour, sugar, if using, baking powder, salt, baking soda and both peppers together. Beat the eggs in a medium bowl and whisk in the buttermilk. Switch to a flexible spatula, pour the eggs and buttermilk over the dry ingredients and stir, stopping before the batter is fully blended. Grab the skillet or baking pan and carefully swirl the melted butter around so that it coats the sides of the pan (or do this with a pastry brush). Pour the butter into the bowl with the batter and mix it in. If you want add-ins, stir them in now. Turn the batter into the skillet or baking pan and sprinkle the top with the cheese, if you’re using it.

Bake for 20 to 22 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the center of the bread comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack (or trivet) and serve now or later. The bread is good steaming-hot or at room temperature.

STORING: As with most quick breads, this one’s best the day it is made, although you can wrap it and keep it at room temperature overnight. You might want to reheat it or slice and toast it before serving. You can also wrap it airtight and freeze for up to 2 months; defrost in its wrapper and reheat or toast it.


Excerpted from Baking with Dorie © 2021 by Dorie Greenspan. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.

This segment aired on November 17, 2021.

Jamie Bologna Twitter Senior Producer/Director, Radio Boston
Jamie Bologna is senior producer and director of Radio Boston.

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