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A Note from Marcy


Dear Bakers and Friends of Betterbaking,

Due to the request (nice pleading from latecomers!), we have extended the Recipe Archive Membership to the end of the month. Again, we do not know how/if we will offer recipes in the future. We can only confirm that Archive members will continue to have access and the free recipe a month for all continues. Some recipes, again, will appear (even for members) briefly – due to copyright and print publishing issues.  If you wanted to join, you still have a bit of time.

The High Holidays are coming and the nice but cooler weather on such a weekend is a fine time to have some recipes to think about.
Here are a few I am making myself – before launching into the full holiday menus of fall.

Happy Baking and Cooking!
Marcy Goldman
Editor and Host

Recipes for the Weekend

If you hate pesto, you will now love it. A jar of store-bought pesto makes this pizza dough bread into something you will never tire of. Serve it with a great minestrone.

Hungarian Apple Strudel
No stretching, no fuss, no muss – just heavenly pastry-like apple strudel for now or next week.

Walnut Cinnamon Biscotti
FREE! *Make theses tiny bites and serve with strong tea or espresso. People love to nibble not gnaw away on a yardstick of biscotti. Or do they?
All free recipes appear for a limited time.

Three batters: honey/spice, gold cake and chocolate – all non-dairy, all spectacular in one twisted, tiger striped cake

Some Extra September Recipes

Caramel Swirl Hunks 
What else is there to describe? What else could you want?

Oatmeal Brown Sugar and Sweet Apple Scones
Crusty, tender, sweet with all the best stuff.

Weekender's Big and Crumbly Sugar Cookies 
Having a garage sale, company or lawn work detail? Cue the cookies

 Fall Classic Cinnamon Raisin Bread 
Ah……the weekend is here. Settle down with a magazine, a cuppa tea and a slice of cinnamon raisin bread and take the phone off the hook. All of them: land phone, cell phone and….’dry’ phone.

 Golden Popover Chicken 
One of my first recipes I ever had published. Unbelievably unique and easy and totally satisfying. A blue ribbon, mother-in-law-asks-you-for-the-recipe classic.

My Favorite Cream of Leek Soup
To market, to market you went and what did you come home with? A passel of leeks. Now you have your work cut out for you. This is one amazing soup.

 Pizza Blanca with Fresh Herbs and Garlic Bechamel 
Over 3500 people downloaded this recipe in 15 days. Do they know something the BB test kitchen doesn’t? Nope. We always knew it was dynamite. Bit of béchamel, tons of garlic and a quite hot bake. Find a green salad and a friend or two.

Baking by the Code, Grainy & Good Baking

Baking A La (Da Vinci) Code !!!FREE!!!
Benefits of Baking With Whole Grains !!!FREE!!!
Baking With Whole Grains, Tricks of the Trade !!!FREE!!!
Twelve Grain Bread !!!FREE!!!

Granola bars circa Abraham , Lot or Noah? These are complex carbs with attitude - the sort of nutty/fruity things travelers, then and now, would have taken with them on any journey where you need something compact, and packed with flavor and energy.

Chocolate Almond Paneforte From Siena
Our Test Kitchen Manager came home with a gift for me from her trip to Italy with real paneforte – spiced and chocolate-ed up, and studded with whole almonds.  This is not a sacrifice –it is an indulgence and different than anything you ever snacked on (unless you are a paesan).

Honey Nut Infused Cookies
Small rounds of buttery shortbread anointed with baklava syrup turn these cookies into pastry.

Breakfast Scones II
A bounty of good things rolled into one little scone.

Whole Wheat and Honey Pizza Dough
Everyone loves this dough. It is uncompromised pizzeria style dough with an added bolt of grain. White Whole-Wheat is more ‘in’ than brown velvet blazers and Fry Cowboy boots this fall. Stock up at Hodgson Mills or King Arthur Flour.

Stir up a batch of this rustic, moist flatbread that won’t leave you parched as the desert. Have some hummus, olives, feta and marinated salads nearby and you have a feast.

Plus Some Seasonal Treats…..

Apple Honey Cake
A mellow beginning for what’s up ahead

Blue Ribbon Zucchini Raisin Walnut Cinnamon Loaf
Who doesn’t remember their first time? I made this way back when carrot and zucchini breads were considered avante guard baking. Isn’t it time you tasted it again for the first time?

Summer’s End Blueberry Bread Pudding
Don’t be blue, bake yourself a bit of summer in this sumptuous bread pudding. Serve with blueberry syrup and yogurt and a good book

Dear Fellow Bakers and Friends of

Welcome to the September 2005 Issue of BB

Important Notice From BetterBaking.Com:

No More Full Membership and Complete Recipe Archive Access Subscriptions Available After September 19th.  (Current subscribers and Free Memberships are not affected - read more below)

I hope summer is over only because the calendar says so. I could welcome the fall if the weather stays mellow for despite the heat, it has been a beautiful couple of summer months, already passed, as summers tend to, in a gentle breeze. For me, there is little time to wave goodbye for it is a busy start to September, what with back to school, my third son's barmitzvah (did I really say I would bake 100 gift honey cakes?), Rosh Hashanah and apple baking season just up the road and a whole new season of

Please be advised that this is our last issue (wait, don’t panic) wherein we can accept new Recipe Archive Members or the $39.99 subscription plan. We are closing the Recipe Archives Subscription service on September 19th. After that,  you will not be able to purchase a full membership subscription. Regular subscriptions of my newsletter and free recipe remain the same. Due to incredibly flagrant, pervasive, and inevitable copyright infringement as well as significant indications of subscriber password sharing (which are, for the most part, trackable), that  era of BB, wherein you could pay a flat fee ($39.99) for all the recipes, all the time, has ended. BB remains a vital baking resource but we are reassessing how we will proceed re: offering  unique, special recipes and in what format and at what costs. This is a technical issue, as all electronic publishing is, but also about intellectual copyright, rights and realities. This decision is also impacted on by the very velocity of the Internet evolution and electronic community of which most of us, in a variety of ways, are a part.  For writers, authors and publishers, there are new challenges almost every day, as the Internet and our user habits evolve. At any rate ,for all current subscribers, your subscription status remains as is and you can access the archives until your subscription runs out. For those who sign on for Recipe Archives now, or before September 19th your subscriptions will also be honored. 

Copyright infringement is the bane of any creative person or endeavor. Unlike musicians, composers, artists, photographers, software inventors, recipe creators are the least protected, because not only pros create recipes, everyone does, by act or design, and recipes, being part of food and the daily table, are lively, real things. They are our culture and our social history. But recipes, (and I like to think mine figure in this category) can be art and are a craft unto themselves. They are a fusion of literacy, imagination, baking chemistry, expertise and training, and so much more, all distilled down into nuggets of gold: recipes. Recipes that are constructed in a way that breaks the code, so to speak, are priceless. Exceptional recipes that inspire another person to gather ingredients, go into the kitchen and actual 'act' and move and create something themselves has always been my goal. I have always wanted to conceive and construct recipes that are identifiable;  recipes that have a style, brand and heritage that make it stand out.  Can you copyright a recipe? Yes.  Can someone else or another website still take it, claim it, publish it online, and pretend its theirs? Yes. They just do or they fiddle with your words but leave the intrinsic recipe 'code', its magic, intact. In the end, it is a collision of what is legal, what is moral, and what you can do about it.  In fact, there is little protection save the honor, awareness, respect and ethnics of people (consumers, home bakers and pros alike) who view and use your recipes. Thousands of people are wonderful about it but it only takes a few transgressions and voila – one’s recipes fly around the globe in clicks and seconds. To those that have been supportive and appreciate what my work and is about, I thank you.  For those who were debating subscribing and would like a final opportunity to partake of the one-time flat rate for one year of all the recipes in the Recipe Archive, this is the last month, last chance to do so.  Please stay tuned. We will let you know how new recipes will be offered as we assess.

Marcy Goldman
Editor and Host

Baking With Da Vinci Ingenuity – the Passion for the Crust Continues…

Admittedly, a food feature that calls itself ‘baking by the (Da Vinci) Code’ shamelessly surfs on the Dan Brown’s best-selling novel, The Da Vinci Code

If you’ve read the book, no doubt you’ve come to appreciate the code refers to more than one thing from a centuries-old cover up, shrouded in undecipherable clues and secrets, tucked away through in time and caught in a web of contemporary espionage. It also refers, on other levels, to mythical, sacred things, labyrinthed in foggy clues, as compelling as Mona Lisa’s smile.

For those who have read the The Da Vinci Code, the ‘code’ is all these things and more. As a baking professional, the ‘code’, partly inspired by the famed book but more, my own passion for the crust. It is a love affair with wheat and baking which in turn became the premise of another sort of code.

My code starts with a basic, moderate and gentle foundation (no egg white cuisine, stevia, added doses of wheatgerm and flaxseed, and Splenderized recipe overhauls) of wholesome home baking. True, most home baking by its nature is wholesome by definition but baking by the ‘code’ is yet another context of what is possible. Is there a way to bake ‘a la code’? Yes there is - and you don’t have to buy the book to get the recipes. How my code evolved had to do with the war on bread of recent years that had consumers and nutritionists, once crazy for carbs, fleeing the very staff of life.

As a baking professional, I wondered how the wheat industry, nay the world of baking and eating, and would rebound from the Atkins era. I happened to catch a Good Morning American segment with a Portland, Maine baker, Stephen Lanzalotta who converted the notion of the Da Vinci code into his personal Da Vinci Diet.  After the TV interview aired, I called Lanzolotta to share some opinions. We chatted about how bread is not the evil indulgence carbo-crazed Madison Avenue suits and Atkins fans were hyping it was. We agreed that eventually, inevitably, the mainstream would conclude as we had knew all along that it is not wheat or other grains that are bad, per se. It is rather, the over reliance of refined flours and excess use of fat and sugar that is our undoing. In fact, old-fashioned, interesting grains are coming into their golden age as we fall in love with post Atkins -  making a real case of the positives, not to mention the endurance of love on the rebound –at least in the kitchen.

It is still taking time but the message about complex carbs which in essence is in about make the carbs we eat count, is getting through. Given the choice between pristine white flour and beigy ones, we would do well, at least a good deal of the time,  to choose the latter. It is not about more meat, less grain – it is about lean meat and better and/or varied grains. In fact, it is largely about, as the Renaissance table and centuries before both it and us knew. It is about broad-spectrum eating: simple, natural, available foods, well prepared, and all in balance and eaten with both leisure and decorum, however rustic

Lanzalotta, who has a biochemist’s background to add to his baker’s toque, created a formula for his dietary code, sparked by the value of phi. Phi was a number used by ancient mathematicians, and comes up often in Brown’s book. The value, 1.618 is also known as the ‘golden rule’. Still with me? To cut to the chase, Lanzalotta hinges much of his diet premise on the golden rule, giving talks on his own brand of the Da Vinci diet. The baker of Portland adheres to a common-sense daily diet that includes a predominance of ‘good’ grains (the whole grains) and fish, cheese, nuts, wine, all based on that core value, the ‘golden ratio’ aka 1.618, a series of numbers that has stirred the imagination of both the creative and scientific community for ages. 

I admire Lanzalotta’s melding of baking, history, math and archenemy for I too am smitten with fiction that stirs the baker’s pot. I like how literature, history, science, math, and history can converge in a mound of flour and airborne yeasts that have been around since time immortal. If I was perfectly honest, my real thought was: if I can court home bakers to the kitchen to experience some of this enlightened sort of baking by calling it Baking A La (Da Vinci) Code, borrowing from the proverbial cup of sugar from Dan Brown can be forgiven. Maybe you will be equally inspired by the hype and stay by merit of the taste.  A conspiracy born in sourdough starter started to froth.

A new world sensibility can induce a real sense of reverence in the kitchen: in a scone that is grainy, honey-laced and heavenly tasting; in a wheaten bread that shines with a symphony of multi-grains and seeds, or a flatbread that preens under a drizzle of olive oil and dusting of sea salt or a ‘traveler’s bar’, a granola bar with ancient roots that resounds with a multitude of good things.   Moreover, it is impossible to work with something like spelt, the grand daddy of our modern wheat, and not feel a responsive homage. In grain history, we are talking sacred ground.

My mission to create my baker’s code was one that took me trekking through Old Testament recipes (Ezekiel’s Bread, Bread of the Apostles), considering anew flatbreads such as matzoh and rustic pitas and trying to reconstruct their very rationale, and how they were made and baked, centuries ago. I read up on as well as made such things as Paneforte, a honey kissed sweet cake, generally associated with Siena, purportedly taken on the Crusades. I puddled through books such as A Biblical Feast (Kitty Morse, Ten Speed Press 1998) and dabbled in the history of foods mentioned in the bible, in references to the ancient Greeks and Romans (both Plato and Pliny put in their two cents worth on bread) and beyond. Elizabeth David’s treatise, English Bread and Yeast Cookery is one of the best sources for initiating an understanding of bread of earlier times but bread throughout history data abounds.

When you research wheat, bread and baking in general, a few things become abundantly clear: bread is more than food –it is noble, honorable and central to the diet. Two: those that make it are class acts, i.e. bakers- craftsman, artisans, nourishersof body and soul.  Three: historically, dark, mealy breads versus enriched (eggs, butter, oil, honey) ‘white’ breads were part of a richer diet or household. Which was better, under the umbrella of Gastronomy, was battle between the politics of nutrition versus the reality of economics and social class wars. Four: few foods and their manufacturer have so many codes, rules, and regulations bound to it. From the Old Testament it seems clear that bread was women’s work. But as time went on, societies grew more affluent and sophisticated, it was master bakers, not home bakers, who were responsible for the bread of villages and towns; and there were stringent rules to follow. To break such a  ‘code’ – there’s that word again – was one of the most uncool things you could do – probably the equivalent of credit card identity theft, circa 1200. Consider the Assize of Bread of 1266 (which is mere decades post Magna Carta!) is one of the most famous codes regarding bread; it regulated size and weight of loaves. To foul on the sizing of your loaves, dump in filler or water down your sourdough was at once dishonorable and resulted both nortoriety as well as a stringent fine, the proof of much of this is still a matter of (researchable) record, i.e. (Baker) John Doe made inferior bread and was fined such and such, on this day, in this year, in this town. For shame. Seriously. 

Fact is, if you want to know the history of man, follow the history of bread or as Leonardo or any true son of Italy might say, “La prima parola della Guerra e pronunciata dal cannone ma l’ultima e sempre detta dal pane’ (The announcement of war is given by cannons; but bread always has the last word’) Or, as a Jewish baker might say, ‘ Di libeh iz zis. Mit broit iz zi besser’ (Love is sweet but it’s nicer to have bread with it’)

As a reader of fiction, and a baker with both old soul and new age mentality, I forged my own spin and inspiration from The Da Vinci Code. The recipes I created are a distillation of baking expertise and notions of taste and nutrition. It is baking and eating within the context of a unique, nutritionally correct brand of fusion cuisine. Call it Old Testament Meets Renaissance Meets New Age Pastry Chef in Adele Davis’ in the Kitchen. In the end, it is recipes for baking not unlike the foods Da Vinci himself, Christ or Moses or heck, Adam and Eve might partaken. It is about using a variety of pivotal elements from more than one era along with some flours from grains that need to be coaxed to reveal their best tastes. Like The Da Vinci Code, with a little delving and baking ingenuity, the secret of complex grains, reveals itself, if you stay with the mystery.

In service of the ‘code’, I wandered health food baking aisles, thoughtfully pausing (and later buying) bags of teff, quinoa, kamut, and spelt. Middle Eastern food shops sent me home with pomegranate juice, gold bottles of olive oil, pine nuts, raw almonds, figs, slabs of feta cheese, rose water, sacks of barley flour, garlic infused sun-dried tomatoes, black and purple olives the size of plums, and huge hunks of halvah. These ingredients, like paints to an artist with a unique canvas, became the principals of my code. Instead of sun-dried cranberries and raisins, I considered dried dates and figs, both dried and fresh, dried mango and strawberries. Instead of habitually choosing walnuts and pecans, I opted for pine nuts, raw almonds, and pistachios. Honey, to a large extent, supplanted sugar or figured in the mix. It’s not too much of a stretch either, to make a grainy bread and feel noble. It is significantly more daunting, using a more pure, ‘baker’s code’  to make a toothsome cookie, scone, cake or muffin everyone finds pleasure in and no one groans, saying, “Is this supposed to be healthy because it happens to taste terrible”.

In the end, the whole concept of baking with simpler ingredients, whole-meal flours, a smidge of honey and a dab of patience inspired a journey into the pantry of the past, hauling it home to the kitchen of the present. I never left 2005, or ventured beyond the continent, and yet I feel I have been on a crusade of my own and have returned home victorious. It is a foray that resulted in my own baker’s code – an approach that should hit all the right notes with dieticians, readers of fiction and home bakers who want to bake with all the right stuff. The Da Vinci Code is a great read; baking by the code is a great munch.(For more on baking with whole grains check out Baking A La (Da Vinci) Code Benefits of Baking With Whole Grains  and Baking With Whole Grains, Tricks of the Trade ).

By the way, consider yourself lucky, there but for the grace of my baker/reader’s imagination, this could have been instead, a feature on food inspired from Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, by J.K. Rowlings. Hogwart’s Stew anyone?

Wishing you all the golden goodness of great grains. May we all enjoy the mystery of good taste and nutrition revealed.

Marcy Goldman
Editor and Host


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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