Loving Nancy Silverton: Pastries from the La Brea Bakery

by Susan Salzman
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I have purchased a lot of cookbooks over the years and most of them are worn out.  I have all sorts of books; baking (obviously), lots of ethnic books, books by famous chefs, including Nancy Silverton.  I used to frequent her “grilled cheese” nights at Campanelli, back in the early 90′s and oh do I miss those early morning breakfast’s before heading off to create in my first furniture studio.  Tartine in S.F. reminds me of what Campanelli used to be; intimate, delicious and casual.  

I like the food at Mozza (not the wait or the crowd) and I have saved every Food and Wine Magazine that she contributed to (a particular Thanksgiving meal in 1994(?) was one of my all time favorites).  My most favorite marinade for flank steak is in her book Mark Peel and Nancy Silverton at Home.  Also in that book is one of the BEST Meyer Lemon Tarts, ever!!!!  I have a meyer lemon tree for this very recipe.

I recently got Nancy Silverton's Pastries from the La Brea Bakery.  I read it cover to cover before deciding on what to make first.  I started with her scone recipe.  I love making scones and have made all kinds.  I like to make lots of different flavors at once and then flash freeze.  This way, my kids have scones on any given morning and scones are only good when right out of the oven.  

Her recipe calls for pastry flour.  I made one batch with pastry flour and one with cake flour.  The batch with  cake flour won. This is now my base for the perfect scone recipe.  Eli was going to a friends on a Saturday morning so I decided to try her brownies.  DELICIOUS.  2 for 2!

labreabreadI have started the Nancy Silverton challenge.  I have challenged myself to make EVERYTHING in her book. Had some disgusting looking bananas.  Made her Banana Nut Bread (pg 15).  I am not a banana person, but everyone who ate it said it was great.

Both kids were having friends over for playdates today.  Made Crotin de Chocolat (pg. 203).  As they were baking my house smelled like chocolaty goodness!  

It permeated the house and the smell lasted for hours. These are a cross between a muffin and a bread (made with yeast), but they are laced with chunks of really, really good bittersweet chocolate.  

The only thing I would change is that I would not dust them with cocoa powder, I would dust them with powdered sugar instead.  A scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side wouldn’t hurt either!  They were well received. Be on the look out for more deliciousness.

 

Susan Salzman writes The Urban Baker blog to explore her dedication to good food in the hope of adding beauty to the lives of her family and friends.   

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