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A Note from Marcy

Hello Fellow Bakers and Friends of BetterBaking.Com,

Welcome to the ‘Ovenbird’, Spring Baking Issue of BB! Or, Birds of a Feather bake together.....

Our beautiful, commissioned cover art is by Lissi Kaplan.
(Reprints of Heavenly Wheat are available at

Bonus Recipes for April

Farm House Rhubarb Bread FREE!!! 
Bits of sugared rhubarb peak out of this slightly sweet, orange ‘n vanilla bread.Makes two loaves, one as a gift or freeze one. This is also French Toast bread, bread pudding bread, and coffee klatch heaven.

Yes, Victoria, there is a scone version of the Breakfast Cookie! This was an inspired idea from one of our visitors those email subject line was simply: Loved the Breakfast Cookies; Begging for A Scone! So here it is, still warm and fragrant in the BB Test Kitchen, by request for Victoria and for everyone else. Why ‘famous’ scones?  It’s the power of positive thinking or baking with Wayne Dyer. And please don’t tell everyone these are good for them.  They are really and truly ‘great baking’ first and foremost. Nicely crusty on the outside, amber colored within, and bursting with good things that are all pulled together in a mindful way, these are, despite their healthy and rustic grains pedigree, rather delicate (and absolutely wonderful!). 
The Featured Recipes for April 2005

Bistro Asparagus and Herb Quiche !!!Free!!!!
April in Paris is more like it, with this classic outdoor café fare. Welcome spring!

Sour Cream Devil's Food Cake
This is a Devil may care cake. So old-fashioned, so good. Pour yourself a tall, cold one. And make it 2%. Works as a layer cake too for an upcoming, spring birthday.

Maple mood with a Latin beat. Eggs are for spring; flan is for anytime.
This is crème caramel Cuban style. Pure maple syrup instead of burnt caramel makes a sumptuous bottom.

On the run, need nutrition with staying power? Cookie up.
Clip this recipe now! You’ll be making these a lot, especially if you are in any marathons, walking or running.

Belgium Sugar Yeast Apricot Tart 
A lean but tender yeasted pastry dough, touch of sugar, smidge of butter, topped with diced apricots and wow! If this is Tuesday, this must be Belgium all right.

Strawberry Raspberry Rhubarb Pie Root for rhubarb and berries in this country fair treat that would take the blue ribbon from coast to coast.

Famed Jordan Marsh Blueberry Muffins Department stores used to have bakeries. Can you imagine?
A nice, moist, simple, vanilla-free muffin. 
The BB Passover Collection

Cola Brisket, Chicken Soup, Homemade Horseradish, Gefilte Fish  and tons more in Recipe Index…….

Paradise or Eat-It-As-A-Main-Dish Haroses !!!Free!!! 
Passover Layered Salad 
My Famous Matzoh Caramel Buttercrunch !!!Free!!!! 
Passover Molten Chocolate Baby Cakes 
Quick and Easy Passover Banana Chocolate Chip Cake 
Passover Chocolate Walnut Truffle Torte 
Passover Apple Cherry Crisp 

When Harry Met Salad……the monthly essay from Marcy

Spring IS sprung and, this from a person who loves to cozy up and bake, did it not seem like the most endless winter on record?  Maybe it was the blitz of testing soda breads while munching on both hamantashen and hot cross buns at the same time. It’s all a blur that is fading fast as the snow is melting. Montreal at least, is finally waking up, as evidenced by the outdoor cafes, chock full of café-sipping, people watching patrons. In these parts, we take the first sign of sun and post-frost to head out to the many bistros in town. We cling to our coffee cups as much for liquid refreshment as a heat source. Heck, it’s still only 40 F but we’ll take it.

This April Fool’s Day features a BB spring bouquet of great baking, along with some Passover recipes. Take a look at  for some unique and beautiful Passover gifts and serving pieces. The matzoh plate is a kick, but the artful haroses dish and Seder plates are riveting.

Spring is also wake-up time in terms of appetite, don’t you find? You have to coax your tastes and make that transition to another bill of fare. Salmon, asparagus, maple and rhubarb are nice forays into April. I confess – spring notwithstanding, I am fussy on some things I eat – a veritable high maintenance kind of gal or maybe it is a chef thing. Speaking of which, as a chef and host, I always make sure everyone gets what they want, and I am particularly attuned to who likes what or prefers this or that. I pride myself perceiving other people’s taste. As to their own food, most chefs are not difficult but we are….particular. Give us anything someone else made, cooked or baked and we are totally grateful and accepting –unless it is something another chef made and then we are impossible.

I would not have thought I was particular myself until recently, when it was pointed out to me I am indeed, a pain, as a diner. Are you? Do you know others who are? Actually, I am not so much fussy; actually, as akin to, Meg Ryan/Sally Albright in When Harry Met Sally, I just want things as I want them, just simple things, done well, for the most part. Like….for instance…….

I am probably worst when it comes to coffee. You know that ‘orangutans are skeptical of changes in their cages’ lyric from the Simon and Garfunkle At the Zoo? I can hear someone futzing about and ruin coffee from a planet away.  For starters, I cannot abide instant coffee and if that is all there is, I will take tea but only if there is milk and not half-in-half or heavens, coffee mate and only if there is real sugar and not….sugar substitutes in which case I will have only water or nothing.

I pretty well despise flavored coffees (hazelnut almond vanilla cappuccino) but adore flavored teas (Apple Cinnamon Lemon Sunset). Go figure. But if it is a flavored tea, then hold the milk. And if it is coffee we are having, then I request light cream and can tolerate half-in-half but only because as a Canadian being polite to American friends and hosts (we Canucks just cannot get what half-in-half is. Half what?).

I love most types of coffee beans and blends but none that are flavored but rarely opt for the Big Coffee Drinks with the Berlitz graduate names. Secretly I want to become a Starbucks barrista just so I can tap coffee and do that coffee shorthand for the orders on the paper cups. When at Starbucks, or anywhere else that serves coffee, I tend to blend the drinks –like, half this, half that or one third their dark blend, and then one-third the Light Note and the final component is a smidge of Yukon Gold, in a mezzo cup. I like brewed coffee but mostly from a Melitta paper filter single cup drip, not keen on pod coffee, or Bodums, which are pretty and hospitable but better for tea, but even then, I would prefer a fine China teapot or Japanese iron one. I also like Jasmine tea but get carsick on green tea.  And heaven help you if you dump sugar and cream in my coffee or similarly address my tea! I will do it myself! I like it… I like it.

To continue with potables - while I cook and bake with alcohol, I am a tea-totaller. So, when at a bar or restaurant, I opt for bottled water, but preferably Pelligrino over Perrier but will take Perrier but either/or, in a wine glass and preferably mixed with Schweppes Bitter Lemon, on crushed ice with a lime twist. If there is no bitter lemon (and there rarely is), then I prefer grapefruit juice (it is an acid thing) and if not, fine, cranberry juice….unless they have mango juice in which case I will have half Perrier with half mango and a lime twist with crushed ice in a wine glass. Unless I am trying to look soignée and will order coffee in a bar which I think is pretty sophisticated for no reason I can offer. On a date, I am, in a word, hell. Only one guy was kind enough to order the Mango/Perrier/lime twist combo with me, not even blanching when I did so. I should have married that one.

At hotdog joints, I avoid the burgers and the hotdogs when I am out with the boys. Woefully, I insist on a BLT which fewer and fewer hotdog places make and when it is a BLT, I want it with cheese (need the extra protein or ‘sense of meat’) and no butter and no mayonnaise and preferably (there is that word again) on whole-wheat. The boys dread this……because often I, or one of them, does the whole BLT recitation only to find out they do not have it or won’t serve it after breakfast or whatever in which case….I will have a veggie burger until they are out of that or don’t offer it and then I will have  - yes, you guessed it - a burger….after all. I make the boys want to scream. “What?” I say, what IS it? (When I peruse other people’s shopping carts and ask them what they are baking with the packet of yeast I see in their order, the boys leave the store.)

Then there is my peccadillo over chopsticks. I prefer them to forks and while I do not travel with my own pair or have something from the PBS Gift collection in my handbag, I do use them at home for Asian cuisine, but also Caesar salad, and everything else almost but toast. Chopsticks make dining special and more refined. I like the pointed end ones, not the wood ones unless they are teak and well polished. While I do not carry chopsticks in my purse, I am thinking of getting a mini, stainless steel Peugeot pepper grinder and a portable hot sauce thingie for a mini hot sauce to take along. Well, come on –you only go ‘round once – why not?

I choose cheeses that smell like barns in spring, milk chocolate over dark chocolate (a professional lapse; most pastry chefs adore bittersweet), and stale chocolate covered marshmallows on a stick.  Other than all this, I am NOT fussy! If I am, I know I am not alone. Consider:

A few Aprils ago, fellow baking authors Elinor Klivans and Rose Levy Bernambaum, as well as food writer Judy Kancigor were in Montreal for a food conference we were all attending. It was like your own cookbook shelf coming to life, as authors we all know, strolled through belle Montreal. I invited many cookbook friends over to visit but the most memorable was the time spent with fellow bakers, Rose Levy Beranbaum and Elinor Klivans. We email during the years, talk occasionally but this was a rare time to sit down and just 'be'.

I live in the suburbs and Rose and Elinor endured an horrendous, taxi ride from hell to get to my place, early one Saturday morning. When I finally rescued them, mid-route, at a mall nearby (the cabbie simply could not find my place), they all but fell into my arms like long lost sisters fresh off a sea journey.

”Never mind, I said, “Forget it. At my house, we’ll have tea, coffee, chat and talk shop’.

The two of them, as well as cookbook author, happily piled into my car and we headed to my home, three bakers we. Talk about girl talk! We could barely finish arguing over silpats and gas versus convection and whether agents are worth it and how we all starting baking altogether when the subject would flit yet again.

And tea, we certainly did have:

For Elinor:  tea (Assam with a touch of English Breakfast for Elinor, brewed in a 3 cup China pot with a refresher pot of simmered spring water)

For Rose: scorching hot, in a small mug, no sugar, tiny bit cream…and

For me, coffee with an embarrassing amount of sugar (well it only is if someone else witnesses it), little cream, in a teacup and saucer.

We talked of food and what we all liked and how we were all fussy as anything and frankly, no one noticed because we were all just as bad to the point we were……normal.  That is how cookbook people are perhaps. At least we are excused via métier. I was in a Sisterhood of We Want It As We Want It. Last, I served a honey cake, which won raves from my esteemed guests. 

What’s the recipe? They asked. 

Uh uh, ladies, was the reply.  Buy the book, I said, to the sound of mirth, great chortles and requests for more hot tea (but with fresh water) and another coffee (but in a new mug) and one more slice of .

Happy spring to all you Oven Birds!
Peckishly Yours,

Marcy Goldman
Editor, Host, Head Baker

Previous Monthly Essays from A Note From Marcy:

Essays to tickle your funny bone, wake up your inner baker, twinge on your heartstrings, or make you smile and say, ‘I’ve know the feeling; I know the place”. If you missed an essay, or a season in baking or inner sensibility, we invite you to stroll through our archived Notes From Marcy.

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