Bravetart - Review, recipe and giveaway

Stella Parks, pastry genius at Serious Eats, delivers a book that has eliminated all the guess work from the baking equation. Honestly, if you can't bake after reading and following the advice and recipes in BraveTart: Iconic American Desserts - you might want to hang up your apron and retire your flour sifter. 

These are not just basic recipes - these are the basic recipes that will be your go-tos from here forward - carefully tested, all scenarios played out and planned for, variations to give a twist to the recipes and more - much, much more. This is one of the titles I had been waiting for (read stalking) Stella about for years. BraveTart will surely be shining at the cookbook awards this year - Stella's baking book is the equivalent of Kenji's The Food Lab - both books must be in your collection.

Little touches throughout the book make it spectacular - cutting out pineapple stars for the Upside Down Pineapple Cake, Homemade Sprinkles - chocolate and rainbow, Five Minute Muffins using Stella's Top Shelf Muffin Mix, recipes for all our childhood favorites - Thin Mints, Twinkies, Heath Bars - you name it, Stella has re-invented it for us.

BraveTart goes the extra mile in this complete textbook to American classic desserts, for instance:

  • setting forth precautions
  • thinking ahead as to what mistakes one might make - i.e. is it safe to add an extract to an angel food cake recipe (see recipe below)
  • what to look for in batter consistency, beating egg whites, etc.
  • what to avoid
  • what setting the mixer should be on and for how long
  • why we need to weigh everything 
  • instructing what temperature butter should be for a particular recipe
  • should eggs be room temperature or cold 
  • providing step-by-step game plans for celebration planning, decorating cakes and more 

The only thing that would be better than owning this book - is having Stella in your kitchen actually making the recipes for you with Idris Elba pouring you a glass of ice cold milk. The mix it up! section of each recipe provides a wealth of options to alter the recipe and experience new flavors and textures including gluten-free options. The woman has thought of it all.

The butter is currently coming to 65 degrees on my counter so that I can make the Chopped Chocolate Chip Cookies (recipe one) and I'll upload my photo  later. I've made many a Stella Parks' recipe and they are all golden - she even has me foregoing my beautiful Emile Henry pie plates for grandma's plain glass pie plates that I donated years ago and had to rebuy - just doing my part for the economy - one pie plate at a time.

Special thanks to W.W. Norton for sharing this heavenly (I couldn't help myself) Angel Food Cake with variations to boot. Scroll below to enter our giveaway for two copies of this book. Stella's packed book tour is available on our calendar - be sure to check if she is in your area.



Effortless Angel's Food Cake

Add this recipe to your Bookshelf (click the blue +Bookshelf button).

This is probably the easiest meringue you'll ever make. Just put some cold egg whites and sugar in a bowl, start whipping, and then stop before they're stiff. With a squeeze of lemon for stability, this seemingly underwhipped meringue puffs the angel's food until it's as light as cotton candy. The lemon disappears in the oven, leaving behind a soft, tender vanilla cake.

Aside from my unusual treatment of the meringue, the success of this angel's food hinges on bleached cake flour. It has a super-low protein content that can't be faked with cornstarch or replaced by pastry flour. Look for brands like Swans Down or Softasilk in the baking aisle, and avoid anything marked self-rising or unbleached.

Because this recipe may present a couple of new techniques for the uninitiated, give yourself room to learn. Like a kiss, angel's food only gets better with experience. That's not to say your first time won't be deliciously sweet, only that half the fun is in perfecting your technique.

Yield: one 10-inch cake; 10 to 12 servings | Active time: 30 minutes | Downtime: 2 hours to cool

  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons | 5 ounces bleached cake flour, such as Swans Down
  • 2 cups | 15 ounces egg whites (from a dozen large eggs), straight from the fridge
  • 2 cups | 15 ounces sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons | 1 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt (half as much if iodized)

Key Point: The unique behavior of bleached cake flour is vital to this recipe's success; unbleached cake flour will cause the angel's food cake to collapse.

Get ready:

Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat to 350°F. Have ready an aluminum tube pan with a removable bottom, roughly 10 inches across and 4 inches deep. Nonstick pans will not work. If the pan doesn't have stilts, set out a bottle with a slender neck that will fit into the mouth of  the tube.

Sift flour (if using a cup measure, spoon into the cup and level with a knife before sifting).

Make the cake:

Combine egg whites, sugar, and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Mix on low speed to moisten, about 1 minute, then increase to medium-low (4 on a KitchenAid) and whip for 3 minutes; the whites will look very dense, and dark from the vanilla. Add the lemon juice and salt, increase speed to medium (6 on a KitchenAid), and whip for 3 minutes; the meringue will be light but thin, not foamy. Increase to medium-high (8 on a KitchenAid), and continue whipping until the wires leave a distinct vortex pattern in the thick, glossy meringue, another 3 minutes or so, depending on the freshness of the whites. To check the meringue, detach the whisk; when whipped to very soft peaks, the meringue will run off the wires but retain enough body to pile up on itself in a soft mound.

Sprinkle cake flour over the meringue and stir gently with a flexible spatula to disperse. Switch to a folding motion and work from the bottom up, cutting through the middle, until no pockets of flour remain. Pour the batter into the pan; if you notice a small patch of unmixed flour as you pour, incorporate it into the surrounding batter with a gentle wiggle of your spatula. The pan should be about two-thirds full.

Bake until the cake has risen well above the rim of the pan, with a firm, golden blonde crust, about 45 minutes (206°F). Immediately invert the pan on its stilts, or over the neck of the bottle, and cool upside down until no trace of warmth remains, at least 2 hours.

Serve:

Turn the cooled cake right side up and loosen the outer edges with a metal spatula. Lift the center tube to remove the cake, then loosen it from the bottom too. Invert onto a serving plate; the cake will slide right off the tube. With a chef's knife or serrated bread knife, cut into 10 or 12 servings with a gentle sawing motion, applying very little downward pressure. Angel's food is mostly air, so the big slices will be less filling than they look.

Wrapped tightly in plastic, leftovers will keep for up to a week at room temperature. You can also drop thin slices of angel's food into a toaster to crisp like a campfire marshmallow.

Troubleshooting

If a speck of yolk slips into the whites, fish it out with an eggshell. If the yolk can't be removed, save those whites for Tahitian Vanilla Pudding (page 225) or White Mountain Layer Cake (page 110) and start fresh.

Extracts like peppermint and orange, made from essential oils, may cause the meringue to collapse; take care when experimenting with flavorings.

In a kitchen below 68°F, cold air may cause the cake to contract and fall from the pan before its crumb has set. As a workaround, open the oven door and place the inverted cake on the stovetop, where drafts of warm air will stabilize its temperature.

Through trial and error, I've discovered that the highly polished sides of stainless steel angel's food cake pans may cause the cake to fall from the pan as it cools. For best results, use an untreated aluminum tube pan.

Mix it up! 

Brown Sugar Cinnamon: A cozy flavor for fall, or to end a heavy holiday meal. Sift the cake flour with 4 teaspoons ground cinnamon, and replace the sugar with an equal amount of light brown sugar (dark will not work as well).

Chocolate: However angelic its texture, this variation turns out as dark as devil's food. Reduce the cake flour to 3 ounces (2/3 cup), sifted with 2 ounces (2/3 cup) Dutch-process cocoa powder, such as Cacao Barry Extra Brute. After cooling the cake, use a slender knife or bamboo skewer to loosen it from the center tube too, as this version tends to stick.

Creamsicle: Pulse the cake flour with 2 tablespoons orange zest in a food processor for 1 minute. Replace the vanilla extract with 2 teaspoons orange flower water and the seeds from 1 Tahitian vanilla bean (split and scraped). Trade the lemon juice for 11/2 ounces (3 tablespoons) freshly squeezed orange juice.

Green Tea: The sweetness of angel's food mellows the bitterness of Japanese matcha, for a mossy-green cake with an earthy but aromatic flavor. Sift the cake flour with 2 tablespoons matcha (see page 22). I love to serve slices alongside Whipped Chocolate Crémeux (page 263) with a scattering of Cocoa Nib Crunch (page 321).

Lemonade: Grinding lemon zest into the flour helps release its essential oil, making this variation particularly aromatic. Pulse the cake flour with 2 tablespoons lemon zest in a food processor for about 1 minute. Omit the vanilla extract and salt. Increase the lemon juice to 11/2 ounces (3 tablespoons). Also lovely with lime juice and zest instead.

Roasted Sugar and Vanilla Bean: This is, without a doubt, my favorite way to make Angel's Food. It's not my "basic" recipe, because the process of roasting sugar is time-consuming, and not everyone keeps a vanilla bean on hand, but these two upgrades make the cake even more extraordinary. Replace the sugar with 15 ounces (2 cups) Roasted Sugar (page 102). Along with the vanilla extract, use the seeds from 1 Mexican vanilla bean, split and  scraped.

Gluten-Free: Sift 2 ounces (1/2 cup) arrowroot, 11/2 ounces (1/3 cup) white rice flour, 11/2 ounces (1/3 cup) cornstarch, 1 ounce (1/4 cup) coconut flour, and 1 teaspoon baking powder into a medium bowl, then whisk to combine.

 

The publisher is offering two copies of this title to EYB Members in the US. One of the entry options is to answer the following question in the comments section of this blog post.

Which recipe in the index are you excited to try first?

Please note that you must be logged into the Rafflecopter contest before posting or your entry won't be counted. Please be sure to check your spam filters to make sure you receive our email notifications. Prizes can take up to 6 weeks to arrive from the publishers. If you are not already a Member, you can join at no cost. The contest ends at midnight on October 16th, 2017. 

 

118 Comments

  • lindsayjean  on  9/11/2017 at 3:40 PM

    I'd like to start with the green tea cheesecake!

  • Chowyunfood  on  9/11/2017 at 3:44 PM

    Snickers!! The review NAILS it! This is THE best all around book of the year!

  • rchesser  on  9/11/2017 at 3:51 PM

    Graham cracker crunch marshmallows, it sounds fantastic.

  • lpatterson412  on  9/11/2017 at 4:08 PM

    The first thing I saw sounded amazing, so I would love to make chopped chocolate chip cookies!!

  • mpdeb98  on  9/11/2017 at 4:11 PM

    Oatmeal streusel snickerdoodles

  • KytchWytch  on  9/11/2017 at 4:17 PM

    Homemade Oreos yummmm

  • Laura64  on  9/11/2017 at 4:33 PM

    One Bowl Devil's Food Layer Cake

  • skipeterson  on  9/11/2017 at 4:59 PM

    Boozy Boston cream pie

  • Joy001  on  9/11/2017 at 5:33 PM

    Probably trail mix cookies

  • kpoole  on  9/11/2017 at 6:15 PM

    Coconut white chocolate peanut butter cookies!

  • heyjude  on  9/11/2017 at 6:36 PM

    I'm going to finally master all the frosting S.

  • NorCalTexan  on  9/11/2017 at 7:42 PM

    White Mountain Layer Cake with Marshmallow Buttercream. "Light, fluffy, and never, ever dry." I think I'm in love!

  • lgroom  on  9/11/2017 at 8:27 PM

    Coconut lemongrass pie.

  • DarcyVaughn  on  9/11/2017 at 9:24 PM

    Caramel apple cake

  • jr0717  on  9/11/2017 at 10:12 PM

    The chocolate orange oreos....to start with!

  • cjross  on  9/11/2017 at 10:17 PM

    Vegan toffee!

  • cookshelf58  on  9/11/2017 at 11:59 PM

    Trail mix cookies

  • Livmichelle  on  9/12/2017 at 1:02 AM

    I could say one of the many pies but most likely I'll make Oreos for my kiddos

  • madamepince  on  9/12/2017 at 6:44 AM

    I'm excited about the angel food -- for long periods in our childhoods, my partner & had it as our birthday cake every year. I haven't had one since!

  • Hucles  on  9/12/2017 at 10:58 AM

    I LOVE basic recipe cook books. I have a tendency to go off script and make up as i go along. It's extremely helpful to have a foundation. I also appreciate the explanations that enable to consider what unexpected tangents may occur when I take the untraveled road.

  • matag  on  9/12/2017 at 11:06 AM

    Red wine velvet cookies

  • kmn4  on  9/12/2017 at 11:40 AM

    Malted spice tres leches

  • Lace  on  9/12/2017 at 11:57 AM

    Homemade Snickers, if I had to pick just one

  • josephinetomato  on  9/12/2017 at 1:01 PM

    german chocolate cookies

  • Lrosaly  on  9/12/2017 at 2:22 PM

    Homemade Nutter Butter cookies I’ve already ordered the cookie cutter.

  • RoseMGenuine  on  9/12/2017 at 2:23 PM

    This book looks really fun. I'd like to try the apple cinnamon upside down cake.

  • sgump  on  9/12/2017 at 3:12 PM

    The German chocolate oatmeal cookies sound really nice!

  • kimtrev  on  9/12/2017 at 4:34 PM

    I want to try her graham crackers & many of the variations

  • Siegal  on  9/12/2017 at 6:32 PM

    I want to make the green tea angel food cake

  • ebs  on  9/12/2017 at 8:31 PM

    One-bowl devil's food layer cake with milk chocolate frosting

  • Nancith  on  9/13/2017 at 3:36 PM

    The oreo cookies would be fun to make.

  • echilt5  on  9/14/2017 at 1:15 AM

    Homemade Famous Amos cookies

  • lhudson  on  9/14/2017 at 7:14 AM

    Malted milk chocolate chip cookies

  • sarahawker  on  9/14/2017 at 7:24 AM

    Apple cider spice cake

  • motherofpearl81  on  9/14/2017 at 9:56 AM

    Cookies and cream snickerdoodles

  • kitchenclimbers  on  9/14/2017 at 10:20 AM

    green tea cheesecake

  • Alexandria2  on  9/14/2017 at 6:25 PM

    omg the White Mountain Layer Cake with Marshmallow Buttercream. sounds so good would love to try that . i love baking yum

  • ljkish  on  9/14/2017 at 6:47 PM

    I would have to make some Fluffy white cupcakes for sure.

  • shines5  on  9/15/2017 at 7:49 AM

    5 minute muffins or Thin Mints

  • ladybrooke  on  9/15/2017 at 12:28 PM

    Apple cider spice cake

  • Mjminarich  on  9/15/2017 at 8:09 PM

    Bacon-bacon snickerdoodles

  • RSW  on  9/16/2017 at 6:08 AM

    Brownbutter marshmallows

  • rrwrites  on  9/16/2017 at 6:20 PM

    hazelnut brownies

  • t.t  on  9/17/2017 at 1:08 AM

    No-stress all-butter pastry crust

  • Sakurajima  on  9/17/2017 at 7:56 PM

    Would love to try the green tea cheesecake

  • Julia  on  9/17/2017 at 9:02 PM

    Triple Oatmeal Cookies. I've heard great things about this book.

  • linseysowa  on  9/18/2017 at 12:35 PM

    The White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies!!! Oh, and Danger Blondies...and cookie crumb cheesecake... Ok- fine- I basically want to make everything...

  • jennycooks1971  on  9/18/2017 at 4:09 PM

    Danger Brownies - love dark chocolate!

  • FireRunner2379  on  9/18/2017 at 5:33 PM

    I'd like to make the Honey-roasted peanut butter cookies!

  • hirsheys  on  9/18/2017 at 10:05 PM

    Malted milk chocolate chip cookies - I love malt so much!

  • debbielovesbooks  on  9/19/2017 at 5:45 AM

    Can't wait to try the Apple Cider Spice Cake

  • rivergait  on  9/19/2017 at 3:35 PM

    How about brown-butter carrot cupcakes. Since I don't like chocolate, I searched minus chocolate, and came up with a surprising number of good-looking recipes.

  • leilx  on  9/20/2017 at 11:50 PM

    I'm torn...german chocolate oatmeal cookies because german chocolate is my favorite cake, and also my partner is a big fan of that and oatmeal cookies so it sounds like a perfect marriage. I'd also be interested in the buttercreams; I've had issues before trying to get flavored buttercreams to work right.

  • PeteM  on  9/21/2017 at 3:11 PM

    I want to try those cinnamon rolls.

  • Shelley.b  on  9/21/2017 at 3:31 PM

    Oreo cookies

  • JJWong  on  9/21/2017 at 3:40 PM

    If I made the white chocolate macadamia nut cookies, I'd be a hero! We had a family friend who would make these for us every Christmas when we were kids. She stopped years ago because it became too difficult for her to make so many cookies for her crowds of fans!

  • ravensfan  on  9/21/2017 at 5:18 PM

    Homemade Famous Amos cookies

  • Mariarosa  on  9/21/2017 at 6:59 PM

    Lemon mousse....mmmmm.

  • lindyjane  on  9/21/2017 at 7:41 PM

    Brown butter carrot cake with cream cheese frosting

  • lcomer  on  9/21/2017 at 7:47 PM

    Any of the snikerdoodle recipes!

  • JMelnick  on  9/21/2017 at 8:18 PM

    The homemade Oreo cookies!

  • fiarose  on  9/21/2017 at 10:31 PM

    triple oatmeal, oatmeal streusel snickerdoodles, green tea cheesecake, basil qhipped cream, cherry pit whipped cream, apple cider spice cake, brown butter carrot cake, butternut pumpkin pie, fig and blueberry lime newtons...awesome!

  • mpdeb98  on  9/22/2017 at 8:25 PM

    White chocolate macadamia nut cookies

  • LaurenE  on  9/22/2017 at 8:41 PM

    Caramel apple cake

  • Dmartin997  on  9/22/2017 at 9:48 PM

    Boozy Boston cream pie

  • rexxtigger  on  9/22/2017 at 10:42 PM

    White choc. macad. nut cookies!

  • sequoia55  on  9/23/2017 at 12:06 AM

    trail mix cookies

  • two2babykitties  on  9/23/2017 at 1:08 AM

    Roasted Sugar and Vanilla Bean Angel food Cake

  • Lafauvette  on  9/23/2017 at 4:31 AM

    red (wine) velvet cake

  • lisambb  on  9/23/2017 at 6:09 AM

    The brownies. They're phenomenal.

  • amandacooks  on  9/23/2017 at 6:39 AM

    Snickerdoodle style peanut butter cookies

  • mcrimmins  on  9/23/2017 at 7:33 AM

    Tahitian Coconut Snickerdoodles

  • tararr  on  9/23/2017 at 8:33 AM

    Apple Cider spice cake

  • br22  on  9/23/2017 at 11:38 AM

    maple walnut chocolate chip cookies sound intriguing!

  • CCF4  on  9/23/2017 at 11:52 AM

    Homemade Oreos

  • intrepid9923  on  9/23/2017 at 11:57 AM

    I would love to try the Brown Butter Chopped Chocolate Chip Cookies!

  • joyosity  on  9/23/2017 at 2:45 PM

    I can't decide what I'd start with! Maybe the green tea angel's food cake or the homemade Oreos....

  • Pkovach  on  9/23/2017 at 2:47 PM

    German chocolate cookies sound delicious.

  • elysek  on  9/23/2017 at 5:19 PM

    Souffléed cheesecake sounds intriguing.

  • Jbolze  on  9/23/2017 at 6:43 PM

    Thin mints are a favorite and would love to make all year....

  • JaneC  on  9/23/2017 at 7:24 PM

    Chocolate cherry cake

  • Patoliv1312  on  9/23/2017 at 7:31 PM

    The maple walnut Chocolate chip cookies sound like a winner to me.

  • Jostlori  on  9/23/2017 at 7:34 PM

    Coconut Lemongrass Pie. Sounds amazingly tropical!

  • kelliwinter  on  9/24/2017 at 5:56 AM

    I need cinnamon rolls!!!

  • dna  on  9/24/2017 at 5:57 AM

    Home-made oreos!

  • GiselleMarie  on  9/24/2017 at 8:59 AM

    Green tea cheesecake, definitely.

  • RickPearson54  on  9/25/2017 at 8:37 AM

    Oatmeal streusel snickerdoodles

  • Scotsman61  on  9/27/2017 at 12:37 AM

    Coconut white chocolate peanut butter cookies

  • AnneOther  on  9/27/2017 at 9:09 PM

    So many tempting cookies in Bravetart, but my heart says "make the homemade Thin Mints." And I must follow my heart.

  • mattyjaco  on  9/28/2017 at 10:27 AM

    oreos!

  • Shanthz  on  9/28/2017 at 7:43 PM

    Brown butter carrot cupcakes

  • kbiggs  on  9/30/2017 at 4:17 PM

    Honey-roasted peanut butter cookies

  • allthatsleftarethecrumbs  on  10/1/2017 at 4:54 PM

    I want to bake every recipe, but I'd start with the cashew shortbread.

  • puddlemere  on  10/2/2017 at 9:03 AM

    S'mores pie

  • hae1123  on  10/3/2017 at 2:12 AM

    Two of my favorite things together - Maple Walnut Chocolate Chip Cookies!

  • bibliophile02  on  10/3/2017 at 9:45 AM

    White chocolate macadamia nut cookies

  • linmin  on  10/4/2017 at 6:39 PM

    Almond Brittle

  • jluvs2bake  on  10/5/2017 at 2:01 AM

    homemade nutter butters for my daughter, pecan sandies and cashew shortbread for my husband, butternut pumpkin pie for my son, and eggnog layer cake for me!

  • MmeFleiss  on  10/5/2017 at 9:33 AM

    Homemade oreos.

  • KarenDel  on  10/7/2017 at 10:39 AM

    I want to try the Cookies and cream snickerdoodles

  • infotrop  on  10/7/2017 at 7:22 PM

    Gluten-free oatmeal cookies...I've just haven't found a gluten free cookie recipe that satisfies.

  • cecrofts  on  10/8/2017 at 10:36 AM

    Apple cider spice cake

  • stargirl  on  10/9/2017 at 10:01 AM

    Snickerstreusel

  • bstewart  on  10/10/2017 at 12:59 PM

    Definitely the homemade Famous Amos cookies!

  • betsyp  on  10/14/2017 at 4:30 PM

    It's apple season, so Caramel Apple Cake!

  • Katiefayhutson  on  10/15/2017 at 8:06 AM

    Homemade butter butter

  • kalex426  on  10/15/2017 at 10:36 AM

    An "easy" angel food cake has me intrigued. I'll try that and every variation.

  • cheftina888  on  10/15/2017 at 11:33 AM

    definitely the green tea cheesecake and for the cookies, the Famous amos chocolate chip cookies

  • JenJoLa  on  10/15/2017 at 1:13 PM

    Hazelnut brownies

  • AnnaZed  on  10/15/2017 at 10:21 PM

    Honey-roasted peanut butter cookies

  • orchidlady01  on  10/15/2017 at 11:34 PM

    Double chocolate chopped chocolate chip cookies

  • annieski  on  10/16/2017 at 6:19 AM

    I think I'd like to make and have on hand: Stella's top shelf muffin mix...

  • lebarron2001  on  10/16/2017 at 9:48 AM

    Brown-butter carrot cake with cream cheese frosting

  • laffersk  on  10/16/2017 at 9:51 AM

    White chocolate macadamia nut cookies

  • Prufrock  on  10/16/2017 at 10:37 AM

    I am honestly most excited to try some of her unusual buttercreams, where she is incorporating things like brown sugar and honey... to see how she gets ample flavor without them getting too runny to frost with, texturally. Also intrigued by her marshmallow recipes that incorporate butter. I have been a fan of Stella Parks since she got a Best New Pastry Chef nod from Food & Wine Magazine, and her bravetart blog has been a go to for me. Can't wait to get some further insight on how she makes her magic.

  • Littlebearfuzz  on  10/16/2017 at 11:57 AM

    Banana bread snickerdoodles! I have made many things of hers and they have always been amazing <3

  • Nasus  on  10/16/2017 at 3:05 PM

    Brown butter chopped chocolate chip cookies

  • Teruska  on  10/16/2017 at 7:33 PM

    Cranberry upside-down cake for the holidays!

Post a comment

You may only comment on the blog if you are signed in. Sign In

Seen anything interesting? Let us know & we'll share it!

Archives