I'm not a big baker. I don't have a stand-up mixer, I rarely sift, I can't remember the last time I bought shortening, and I don't even own cake or bread tins. It's not that I don't enjoy baking it's just I've never gotten into the habit of doing it. Not like some people I know. A couple months ago though something happened that might have an influence on that.
I interviewed Piper Davis of Grand Central Bakery in the spring for my book and shortly after spending an afternoon with her at the Fremont Grand Central, The Grand Central Baking Book hit the shelves. Piper wrote the book with local food writer Ellen Jackson and a couple months ago their publisher Ten Speed Press sent me a copy.
I've been reading various sections of the book since then and I really like the simple and straightforward approach they've taken. It's a really nice all-level bake book because there are step by step photos for the amateur as well as more complicated techniques and recipes for the more advanced baker.
I decided to bake the chocolate shortbread, mint ganache sandwich cookies from it for Christmas and I'm so freakishly happy that I did. They were incredible.
First I made a batch of chocolate shortbread and chilled it in the fridge for a couple hours:
After the shortbread had chilled I sliced and baked it:
Then I baked the shortbread while preparing the chocolate mint ganache:
After 15 minutes in the oven the shortbread was ready:
The melt in your mouth chocolate shortbread combined with the creamy dark chocolate minty ganache was knee buckling good. These are definitely a new annual holiday cookie in my books. The only thing I'd change with the recipe would be to cut the ganache in half. It was a lot. That said, it never hurts to have a little extra ganache hanging around.
I'm really looking forward to trying Grand Central's pizza dough next. I love homemade pizza and I've used the same dough recipe for awhile now. It'll be nice to switch it up.
Even though I've only baked one recipe from the book so far -- the success of that combined with reading through techniques and other recipes -- I stand behind my loud and proud recommendation of The Grand Central Baking Book.
The Grand Central Baking Book by Piper Davis and Ellen Jackson Ten Speed Press