Hand Made Baking — Off the Shelf
“If you can make a cake or a batch of cookies using a mix, you can surely bake something from scratch!” This is the premise of Kamran Siddiqi’s new cookbook, Hand Made Baking, and the simple, delightful, classic recipes in the book deliver on that promise. Siddiqi’s goal is to set even the most-timid home baker up for culinary success with easy-to-follow and fun-to-make dishes. Everything in Hand Made Baking, from the friendly headnotes to the luscious images, draws you in and compels you to head straight for the kitchen. Classic Cream Scones and Lemon-Poppy Seed Drizzle Cake (recipe linked below for you to try at home) dare you not to crave them. The Cinnamon-Raisin Granola wants to be your new go-to breakfast. Jammy Linzer Cookies are the perfect sweet treat to make this holiday season.
Siddiqi shared with us several tips to ensure success when baking from scratch. “My first tip, though quite obvious to most, is to read the recipe first; this helps any confusion later on.” He added, “Learn how to measure flour properly. Proper measurement of flour is crucial in baking, and not doing so can lead to lackluster baked goods. A pretty standard way to measure flour is the ‘fluff, pour, and sweep’ method, which I talk about in detail in the 'Before You Begin' chapter of my book.” If you’re just starting out baking from scratch, Siddiqi recommends his Nancy Drew Blondies, the Everyday Chocolate Cake and the New York-Style Bagels as a jumping-off point. And with the holidays coming up, Siddiqi said his family and friends always request the Pistachio Polvorones, the Molasses Spice Cookies, Forgetabout it Cinnamon Rolls (perfect on Christmas morning), Cranberry and Almond Coconut Macaroons, and the Chocolate Pudding Pie. The reality is there’s not a bad recipe in the book, and you’ll find yourself reaching for it again and again.
Overall the book feels lovely and personal, like you’re peering into the kitchen of a friend who’s invited you over for cake and coffee. From the dedication to the last headnote, a light air of charm and an apparent love of food permeate the writing. Siddiqi said of the book, “I wanted it to be something that a lot of people could relate to, whether they're a timeless romantic, a ravenous cookbookworm who salivates over beautiful food photos every day or a parent covered in frosting after making their kid's birthday cake for the next day. Baking, I feel, is an act of love, and sharing baked goods is part of that. There wasn't a specific person who set me on this path; my family is filled with amazing home cooks who center food around everything — something I'm so proud of, and I wanted to share that in my blog and my book.” Mission accomplished. You can order your own copy of Hand Made Baking here.
Four words: lemony lip-puckering goodness. This cake is for every card-toting lemon lover out there. It’s very bold and doesn’t skimp a bit on the citrus flavor. I make it for my sister, Sabrina, a picky eater and a disliker of chocolate in almost every form, but a true lover of lemons.
10 Tbsp/150 g unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into 1/2-in/12-mm cubes
TO MAKE THE CAKE: Position a rack in the upper third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F/180 degrees C. Butter and flour the entire inside of a 9-in/23-cm Bundt or tube pan; tap out the excess flour.
In a large bowl using a handheld mixer or in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, granulated sugar, poppy seeds, baking powder, and salt. Mix on low speed until combined, about 15 seconds. Add the butter, mixing until the pieces are just coated with flour. The mixture will be pebbly.
In a large bowl or measuring cup, whisk together the milk, eggs, and zest. With the mixer speed on medium, add the liquid to the flour in three parts, being sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Beat the mixture until the ingredients are incorporated, about 1 minute; be careful not to overbeat. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the cake is golden brown on top, pulls away from the sides, and a cake tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean or with a few stray crumbs attached.
Let the cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes on a wire rack.
TO MAKE THE SYRUP: In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, whisk together the confectioners’ sugar, lemon juice, and 1/3 cup/75 ml water until the sugar has dissolved and the entire mixture is liquid. Be careful that the mixture doesn’t come to a boil. Remove from the heat immediately.
After the cake has cooled in its pan, run a small spatula or butter knife around the inside of the cake and around the middle tube, and invert the cake onto a cake plate with a raised edge or small metal pizza pan. It should still be a bit warm.
Use a strand of dry spaghetti or a bamboo skewer to prick the entire top of the cake, then dribble the lemon syrup evenly over the cake.
Let the cake cool completely before serving. The cake will keep, covered, in the refrigerator, for up to 3 days.
Kamran Siddiqi, Hand Made Baking: Recipes to Warm the Heart, Chronicle Books (2014). Photographs courtesy of Kamran Siddiqi.