I love cooking and I’ve become quite proficient at making food in general, but baking remains a daunting task for me. There are so many reasons I’ve never quite given it a go – the precision and time required, the potential for failure, years of flirting with various low-carb diets has held me back from becoming the baker I now aspire to be. Thanks to brilliant friends like Grandbaby Cakes and my addiction to The Great British Baking Show, I want to step my baking game up. I recognize, respect and have so much more of an understanding of the creativity, the charm and the meditative, peaceful aspects to making breads, cakes and pastries.
Recently I was sent an incredible cookbook that’s inspiring me to get in the kitchen and give new recipes a try. And the publisher’s been kind enough to share two recipes, so you can try them too! Black Girl Baking by Jerrelle Guy belongs on your bookshelf if you’re a baking aficionado, if you’re a new and aspiring baker, and especially if you love trying new flavors and healthy recipes.
Click here to buy yourself a copy of Black Girl Baking – Wholesome Recipes Inspired by a Soulful Upbringing! It’s such a beautiful book, and a great addition to my cookbook collection.
Jerrelle Guy is the founder of a phenomenal site Chocolate for Basil – check out her Instagram for endless cooking inspiration! Their tagline is “the omnivore and the vegetarian.” The recipes in her cookbook definitely are healthy, plant based and unique. She doesn’t skimp on flavor and she draws from a rich cultural heritage. Her publisher kindly agreed to share two recipes of my choice, so I picked the two I plan to try – the super easy recipe for Kombucha Muffins and her slightly more advanced recipe for Brûléed Buttermilk Pie. Take it away, Jerrelle!
BRÛLÉED BUTTERMILK PIE
My great-aunt Doris recently shared her buttermilk pie recipe with me over the phone. I swore something got lost in translation when a cup of melted margarine pooled to the top, burning the sugar and eggs in the pie. It reminded me of crème brûlée. I remembered cracking the surface of my very first pot of crème brûlée. A gentle whack from my spoon’s edge, and the sugar split like an eggshell, revealing underneath it the smoothest custard I’d ever eaten. Now, great anticipation builds in me right before splitting hard sugar, right before I hear that subtle “tkkk … ” And I knew I needed to add that sound to this recipe.
Egg-free, vegan option
Makes one 9-inch (23-cm) pie
1 cup (120 g) whole wheat pastry flour, plus more for dusting
½ tsp salt
6 tbsp (84 g) cold butter, cut into ½" (1.3-cm) cubes
3 tbsp (45 ml) cold buttermilk
1½ cups (355 ml) buttermilk
1?3 cup (75 g) pure cane sugar
2 tsp (10 ml) vanilla extract
¼ tsp salt
¼ cup (30 g) flour
6 tbsp (72 g) pure cane sugar
Fresh berries, for serving (optional)
To make the crust, in a mixing bowl, stir together the flour and salt, then toss in the cubes of cold butter to coat. Using your thumb and index finger, squish the pieces of butter to flatten, and continue to break the butter up until 50 percent of the butter is crumbly, but not completely uniform in texture; you want there to be chickpea-size nuggets of butter still present. Add the cold buttermilk 1 tablespoon (15 ml) at a time, blending and gathering the mixture with your hands until a dough is formed. Shape the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. While the dough is chilling, prepare the filling.
To make the filling, add the buttermilk, sugar, vanilla, salt and flour to a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Let the filling rest while the dough chills. Have ready a 9-inch (23-cm) pie dish.
Once the dough is chilled, roll it out on a lightly floured surface or between 2 sheets of parchment paper into a 20-inch (50-cm) round. Wrap the dough around the rolling pin to help ease it into the pie dish, then crimp the edges into a pattern with your fingers or a fork. Place the crust in the freezer to harden for another 10 to 15 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C or gas mark 4) and position a rack in the center of the oven. Remove the unbaked crust from the freezer and bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the pie turns light golden brown.
Remove from the oven and pour in the filling mixture. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the center is set and doesn’t jiggle when shaken. Remove from the oven. I like to serve mine warm from the oven, but if you’d prefer it chilled, place it in the fridge for at least 2 hours or until ready to serve.
For the top layer, when it’s time to serve, add the sugar to a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat until the sugar begins to brown and bubble. Swirl the pan to help any uncooked sugar liquefy and cook for a few more seconds, then pour it out over the cold buttermilk pie. Working quickly, carefully tilt the pie dish to evenly distribute the browned sugar over the top. Allow to cool and harden for about 5 minutes, and serve immediately by cracking the top and slicing. Top with fresh berries, if desired.
VEGAN OPTION: Replace the butter with dairy-free butter.
I’m obsessed with kombucha, the fermented tea drink. I drink it like I used to drink soda as a kid: at least once a day. I crave the feeling of that cold, carbonated liquid hitting my chest, giving me the sensation it’s opening my lungs for the first time that day . . . it’s addicting. I love watching the agitated bubbles rise to the lip of the bottle, too. I can tell it’s going to be a gusher when the cap is bulging before I even open the bottle. I thought I could use the carbonation and acid to make some kind of quick bread or breakfast muffin. So this is my tea-twist on the Irish soda bread I come across so often here in Boston.
20 minutes or less, egg-free, vegan option, whole wheat
Makes 12 muffins
3 cups (360 g) white whole wheat flour or spelt flour
4 tsp (10 g) baking soda
½ tsp salt
½ cup (112 g) unsalted butter, melted, or neutral oil
¾ cup (180 ml) agave or honey
1 (16-oz [470-ml]) bottle plain kombucha
Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C or gas mark 7). Oil the wells of a muffin tin and have it nearby.
In a large bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda and salt. Pour the melted butter and agave over the dry ingredients, and then pour in the kombucha. Whisk the mixture until just combined. Don’t overmix or your muffins will be tough.
Immediately divide the mixture among the muffin wells, and bake in the oven for 5 minutes. Then reduce the oven temperature to 375°F (190°C or gas mark 5) and finish cooking for another 8 to 10 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. The initial high heat of the oven will make sure the muffins pop out over the edges of the pan. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly. Serve warm with more softened butter, if you like.
ALTERNATIVE FATS: You can use melted dairy-free butter or a neutral oil like grapeseed, safflower, sunflower or canola oil.