I hear people quite often say, “Do you like to cook or bake?” It seems to be commonly an if/then statement. Either someone has the personality of doing things on a whim, inserting creativity, tasting as they go, and expressing themselves in a unique way. Or, they like to follow things by the book, knowing that every time the dish will come out the same.
Perhaps because my personality seems to span the two spectrums, I love to cook AND bake. They are different, sure, but they each have their own unique pleasures.
But I truly believe that even though baking does have a specific formula – there IS room for creativity. Granted, you do have to make sure you have the correct egg count, put in a levening agent, etc. But, if you know the purpose of each ingredient, you can start seeing the options. Spices can be added, you can alter white vs. brown sugar, butter vs. shortening – all to get different results.
The following recipe is a great baking example of following by the book but also being creative. The recipe came verbatim from Bon Appetit, but if you are more into orange bread than lemon bread, you could alter it a bit – using orange zest instead of lemon zest and orange juice instead of lemon juice.
This bread is great for breakfast, a snack, dessert and also makes a beautiful and delicious gift.
The glaze is the best part, so make a point to take the extra step of making it, as well as puncturing the bread with a toothpick to let the glaze permeate into the bread. It forms a sweet and tart glaze that truly makes the bread unique.
Glazed Lemon Bread (one loaf)
1 2/3 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups sugar, divided
1/2 cup (one stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon peel
1/2 cup whole milk
1/4 cup lemon juice
Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly butter/spray a standard size loaf pan. Whisk flour, baking powder and salt in medium bowl to blend. Using an electric mixer, beat one cup sugar and butter in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time. Mix in lemon peel. Beat in dry ingredients alternately with milk in 3 additions each. Transfer batter to prepared pan. Bake until tester inserted into center of bread comes out clear, about one hour.
Meanwhile, combine remaining 1/2 cup sugar and lemon juice in heavy small saucepan and stir over low heat until sugar dissolves.
Transfer bread in pan to rack. Pierce top of bread all over with a wooden skewer. Gradually spoon lemon glaze over hot bread, adding more as glaze is absorbed. Cool lemon bread completely in pan on rack.