After 30 years of teaching and 8 cookbooks, Nick Malgieri is finally writing the book he's meant to―a collection of 20 essential techniques, with 3 to 5 variations thereof-outlining the easiest way to learn the essentials of baking. The 20 chapters cover all the main techniques of fine baking, starting with simple pastry dough and moving through puff pastry and Danish pastry, all sorts of breads, quick breads, cakes, and cookies.
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Lemon Ginger Bars
These are about as gingery as you can get, so consider yourself forewarned if you're not a ginger lover. Actually these bar cookies make a lot of converts to the pleasures of ginger, because they have a strong ginger flavor but, since they're made with dried ground ginger and crystallized ginger, they have little of the burning spiciness that fresh ginger can impart. Lemon zest in the bars and lemon juice in the glaze add a note of contrast.
Makes 24 bars
21/2 cups all-purpose flour (spoon into a dry-measure cup and level off)
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons baking powder
8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger
2 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted after measuring
3 tablespoons lemon juice, strained before measuring
One 9 x 13 x 2-inch pan lined with buttered foil
1 Set a rack in the middle level of the oven and preheat to 375˚F.
2 Mix the flour, sugar, ground ginger, and baking powder in a medium bowl.
3 Melt the butter over medium heat and immediately add to the dry ingredients; use a large rubber spatula to stir to a smooth, shiny dough. Add the egg, crystallized ginger, honey, and lemon zest and beat vigorously to make a smooth dough.
4 Scrape the dough into the prepared pan and use the palm of your hand to press it evenly over the bottom of the pan.
5 Bake the bars until well risen, firm, and lightly golden, 20 to 25 minutes.
6 While the bars are baking, use a small rubber spatula to beat the confectioners' sugar and lemon juice together. If it's too thick to spread, thin by adding 1/2 teaspoon water at a time until it's right.
7 As soon as the bars are baked, place a cutting board on the pan and use oven mitts to invert the hot bars to the board. Remove the pan and foil and replace with another board. Turn right side up and remove the top board. Immediately brush the lemon glaze on the bars so that it sets as the bars cool.
8 Use a ruler to mark, then cut 2-inch squares.
Serving: Arrange the bars on a platter; the icing is dry, so they can be stacked.
Storage: Keep the bars in a tin or plastic container with a tight-fitting lid between sheets of wax paper.
NICK MALGIERI, former Executive Pastry Chef at Windows on the World and 1996 inductee into Who's Who of Food and Beverage in America, is currently director of the baking program at the Institute of Culinary Education. The author of nine other cookbooks, including the James Beard winner How to Bake and the IACP/Julia Child Cookbook award-winner Chocolate, Nick's recipes have been published widely, including in The New York Times, The Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, Food & Wine, Gourmet, and Bon Appetit. He is a contributing editor of Dessert Professional and writes a monthly column for Tribune Media Services. Nick has appeared on national morning shows and local television throughout the United States, as well Food Network and Martha Stewart.
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