Before I dig in, let’s review the Three Commandments of cooking from this or any other recipe collection. Those of you with the first BabyCakes book are hopefully keeping your loved ones awake at night trumpeting the following chorus:
1. Read the recipe all the way through before you begin.
2. Identify and prepare necessary ingredients.
3. Be precise! Follow the instructions as closely as possible.
I want to note right here at the beginning that baking—at least the way we do it at BabyCakes NYC—requires premium ingredients just like they use in any of your favorite restaurants. Everything we use in the bakery today came at the great expense of unbalanced checkbooks, misfired online orders, and tireless scouring of fine food markets. Yes, you’ll occasionally endure a costliness you might not find in more conventional baking methods, and, sure, I could probably use lesser substitutions in some of the recipes. But I’m not going to. You’d hate me for it in the end. Now, all that said: When we opened the Los Angeles BabyCakes NYC outpost, we had to adapt some of the recipes owing to differences in the water supplies and oven temperatures, and even variants in the ingredients our providers were delivering (shipping tends to powder up and over-pack ingredients, I learned!). Even these incredibly tightly tested recipes may need slight tweaking in, say, Denver, Colorado. (Altitude is another variable, I’m told.) But then they may not! Let’s all agree we’ll stick to the rules but also be nimble in our baking boots.
One important thing that warrants highlighting: For each and every recipe included here, you will need only dry-measurement cups. Those are most often the neat stainless-steel kind that fit handsomely inside one another and have a long flat handle for max scooping. So that beautiful Pyrex measuring cup you usually use for oil, water, liqueur, and other wet measurements? Please put it as far out of reach as your kitchen, house, or storage unit allows. Here are a few other crucial notes and tidbits you’ll need to read before soldiering on:
1. MANY OF THESE RECIPES CALL FOR REFINED COCONUT OIL. Please make sure to melt your coconut oil before measuring it to the recipe guidelines.
2. BE PRECISE WITH YOUR MEASUREMENTS. Scoop up flour with your dry cup measure and level it off. When measuring oils, milks, or agave nectar, fill it to the tip-top and make sure to get every last drop out of the cup. The same goes for fruit purees and anything else wet enough to pour.
3. DO NOT GO SUBSTITUTING INGREDIENTS (unless you are abiding by these guidelines!) or fussing with off-brand ingredients. If you do, you are asking for trouble. Try to locate and use the brands I suggest on the pages that follow and in the longer list in the previous book, which can also be found on the bakery Web site.
4. I’VE LEARNED THE HARD WAY THAT EVERY OVEN BAKES AT A DIFFERENT RATE. Make sure you have a proper oven thermometer inside your oven for the most accurate baking temperature, and before removing anything from the oven insert a toothpick into the center and make sure it comes out clean.
5. DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES TOUCH YOUR CAKES before they are halfway done or they will fall.
6. USE CULINARY MEASURING SPOONS, not the kind you use to stir your coffee or eat ice cream.
7. IF YOU LOSE HOPE, call some friends in for support.Download Cookbook