Joy Wilson translated her professional baking career into a wildly popular and award-winning baking blog called Joy the Baker. And now there is the Joy the Baker Cookbook, which calls itself "a celebration of sugar and spice and everything nice." Wilson's wit and wisdom infuses the book. She compares coffee cake to the perfect husband, thinks chocolate pudding can most definitely mend a broken heart and includes a recipe for "single lady" pancakes.
In the book's introduction, Wilson includes baking tips and kitchen wisdom all with a dose of humor. There are tips for how to season a cast iron skillet and make browned butter, plus how to make your own brown sugar, buttermilk and cake flour substitutes in a pinch. There are confessions too, like "I'll be honest, I have neither the time, not the desire to sift flour for every recipe I bake," that let's you too off the hook with some recipes. Some recipes include shortcuts like frozen puff pastry dough, but most are straightforward for favorite baked goods such as bread pudding, cookies, layer cakes, ice cream, scones, and pancakes.
Chapters include titles like Pancakes, pancakes, pancakes. And less breakfast items; I need a hug, or a brownie. Maybe both; Oh, happy day; I think I just ate chocolate for dinner; and Have dessert, will travel. The 100 or so recipes include sweet and savory breakfast items, cakes and other desserts for special occasions and range from everything from cinnamon rolls, zucchini pancakes and brown butter chocolate chip cookies, to sweet potato pie, banana rum cake with brown butter frosting, and chocolate malt bread pudding.
Many of the recipe headnotes and chapter introductions are laugh-out-loud funny. The recipe for whole wheat honey and goat cheese drop biscuits starts out "You know those mornings when your cat wakes you up at 4:30 a.m., and you stub your toe trying to fill his food bowl...and you have company coming over for an early brunch." Joy knows those mornings and has the perfect recipe for them. Or her "man bait" apple crisp recipe that includes a thick streusel topping.
It's not all sugar laden baked goods in Joy the Baker. There are a couple recipes for smoothies, oatmeal pancakes, and savory items like a leek and asparagus quiche and cracked pepper crackers. Avocados make an appearance a few times, in vegan cupcakes, avocado pound cake and avocado fries. There are also scaled down recipes for just one serving, like the single girl melty chocolate cake, and the single lady pancakes. Who says you need to be single to enjoy dessert for one? It's nice to have a baking book with recipes for a crowd or for a small treat.
Joy Wilson will be in Seattle this month to promote the Joy the Baker Cookbook on the following dates:
March 15, 6:30-8 p.m. at Book Larder in Fremont.
March 16, 6:30 p.m. at Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park.
March 17, 3 p.m. at the CakeSpy Shop on Capitol Hill.