Secrets of Baking
Simple Techniques for Sophisticated Desserts
Sherry Yard (Houghton Mifflin Company)
award-winning executive pastry chef Sherry Yard spent more
than five years putting together her debut book, The
Secrets of Baking: Simple Techniques for Sophisticated Desserts.
Her efforts shine in every page of this must-have new cookbook.
For anyone even remotely interested in dessert making, it
has the right balance of realistic challenge, subtle inspiration
and expert instruction.
In every chapter, Yard first teaches how
to master the basics and then build upon them. She begins
with ganache—a simple combination of chocolate and
hot cream. From there she shows how easy it is to enhance
with Earl Grey or lavender-infused cream. Then it’s
on to medium and firm ganaches, and how to use them as bases
for perfect truffles, chocolate soufflés and even
gianduja candy bars. Financiers? Get the basics right and
soon you’ll be turning out chocolate, gingerbread
and pumpkin versions (not to mention the only carrot cake
you’ll ever need to know).
provides concise and easy-to-understand instructions for
making everything from caramel and brioche to lemon curd
and lemon pound cake. Background stories for every recipe
are so thoughtful and relevant that even two-ingredient
basics are compelling. While the master recipes are reason
enough to celebrate, the last chapter is an indulgence of
irresistible “master combinations.” Anyone yearning
to venture from merely impressive to spectacular will find
success with the likes of Nectarine Tarte Tatin with Verbena
Ice Cream or Boysenberry Brioche Pudding.
the best thing about The Secrets of Baking is that
it is user-friendly; equal parts learning tool and cookbook.
Yes, it’s possible to make incredible desserts that
look as good as the delicious full-page photographs. Yard
supplements recipes and lessons with time-saving tips, historical
footnotes and thoughtful commentary. She includes complete
glossaries of baking terms, tools and ingredients, and a
list of essential suppliers.
loves her craft and she’s one of the best. Her generosity
of sharing years of learning, experience and success makes
The Secrets of Baking a mandatory companion for
Lemon Pound Cake
(From The Secrets of Baking by Sherry Yard, Houghton Mifflin
Company, November 2003)
YIELD: Two 9-inch loaf cakes
Parchment paper (for loaf cakes)
Standing electric mixer with a paddle attachment (optional)
FOR THE CAKE
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened if using a
2 cups sugar
¼ cup finely grated or chopped lemon zest
4 large eggs
FOR THE LEMON SYRUP
½ cup plus 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
¾ cup sugar
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Adjust the rack to the
center of the oven. Spray two
9-x5-x3-inch loaf pans with pan spray and line with a strip
of parchment paper running along the length of the pan.
Spray the paper.
2. Triple-sift the flours, baking powder, and salt into
a medium bowl and set aside. Combine the buttermilk and
lemon juice in a small bowl and set aside.
3. Using a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment
of a hand mixer beat the butter on high speed until it is
soft and creamy, about 1 minute. Slowly add the sugar and
lemon zest and beat on high speed until fully incorporated
and the mixture is fluffy, light, and a creamy white color,
about 10 minutes. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides
of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
4. Add the eggs, one at a time. Be sure each egg is completely
incorporated and scrape down the sides of the bowl before
adding the next.
5. Add one third of the sifted dry ingredients to the batter
and mix on low speed until just incorporated. Add one third
of the buttermilk mixture and mix until just incorporated.
Repeat with the remaining two thirds of the dry and wet
ingredients, in two additions. Be sure each addition is
completely absorbed before adding the next.
6. Pour the batter into the prepared pans. Bake for 1 hour
and 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center
comes out clean. Let cool in the pans on a rack for 5 to
10 minutes, then carefully remove them from the pans and
set on the rack to cool.
1. Meanwhile, bring the lemon juice and sugar to a boil
in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring. Cook until
the sugar has dissolved, about 3 minutes.
2. While the cakes are still warm, poke holes all over the
tops with a skewer or a fork. Use a pastry brush to apply
the lemon syrup. The holes help the syrup penetrate into
the center of the cake. Serve warm or a room temperature.
The pound cake will last for up to 2 days at room temperature
or 3 weeks in the freezer if wrapped airtight.
Review by Kevin Schoeler
(Updated: 12/23/08 SB)