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November 19, 2014 at 8:55 PM

Baking tips from expert Rose Levy Beranbaum

Rose Levy Beranbaum photo courtesy of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Rose Levy Beranbaum photo courtesy of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

We’ve been in cookbook heaven since adding a weekly “Books for Cooks” feature in The Seattle Times. Never mind all the online recipes available (we use plenty of those too), there’s clearly still plenty of room in the kitchen for traditional titles.

Rose Levy Beranbaum’s “The Baking Bible,” which we recommended Wednesday, is the sort of treasure that reminded me that the best cookbooks are more than a collection of recipes. They’re instructors and storytellers and reference guides, with personalities as distinct as different friends. While it’s helpful to get Beranbaum’s expert take on basic pie crust and bakery-quality kouign amann, it’s also inspiring to tap so many “gotta try that” recipes while paging through the tome, including a “fudge pudgy brownie” in a cookie crust and a praline pecan meringue ice cream sandwich.

Beranbaum will present cooking demonstration and lunch at the Hot Stove Society at 11:30 a.m. on Thursday, Nov. 20. (Cost: $90, including the $40 book, a light lunch, and desserts.) For a quick look at some of her book’s advice, though, we’ve compiled some Bible tips:

Preheat the oven for a minimum of 20 minutes ahead of baking at 350 degrees, 30 minutes if baking at a higher temperature. If using a baking stone or baking sheet, preheat for a minimum of 45 minutes.

Weighing ingredients with a scale for baking is “faster, easier, and more reliable” than measuring.

Freezing cookies keeps them almost as fresh as the day they were baked. If you want to freeze cookies, use reclosable freezer bags, expelling as much air as possible, or airtight containers, filling any airspace at the top with crumpled plastic wrap or wax paper. Fragile cookies can be flash frozen in single layers on cookie sheets and, once frozen solid, packed in airtight containers. Bar cookies can be frozen whole, before cutting, wrapped in plastic wrap and then heavy-duty aluminum foil.

When baking cakes, bake as close to the center of the oven as possible, and allow for proper air circulation. Cake pans should be no closer than 1 inch from the walls of the oven and each other.

All cream whips best if it is as cold as possible, so it helps to refrigerate the mixing bowl or mixer bowl and the mixer’s beaters along with the cream… If you are whipping 1 1/2 cups (355 ml) or less of cream, a handheld mixer works better than a stand mixer.

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