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COOK'S CORNER NEW COOKBOOKS GET A RISE OUT OF BAKERS.

Byline: Natalie Haughton Food Editor

Just in time for holiday bakers or those on your gift list who have a passion for baking are two new cookbooks on the theme. Both are filled with all kinds of tempting creations - American and international.

``A Baker's Tour: Nick Malgieri's Favorite Baking Recipes From Around the World'' (HarperCollins; $34.95) takes bakers globe-trotting around the world. The more than 100 recipes, all from outside the United States, reflect excellence of flavor and texture and come from a variety of sources including home cooks, friends, chefs and the like, notes Malgieri.

Included are items like Povetica (Walnut-Filled Coffee Cake) from Croatia, Mamoul (Pistachio-Filled Butter Cookies) from Lebanon, Prinsessens Kramkake (Princess Cream Cake) from Norway, Naan (Grill- or Griddle-Baked Flatbread) from India and much more. While recipes range from casual to sophisticated, and from easy to complex, the author has adapted and tested them with American ingredients and equipment. Chapters run the gamut, including Breads; Yeast-Risen Cakes and Pastries; Cookies; Cakes; Pies and Tarts; Puff Pastry, Strudel and Filo Dough; and more. Particularly interesting are Malgieri's recipe notes, including historical factoids. Malgieri is no stranger to baking and has written numerous books on the subject, including ``Perfect Cakes,'' ``Chocolate, ``Cookies Unlimited'' and ``How to Bake.'' Currently, he directs the baking program at the Institute of Culinary Education in New York.

The hefty new 415-page ``Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook'' (Clarkson Potter/Publishers; $40) is filled with more than 200 recipes. Stewart guides bakers and cooks through irresistible baked goods (yeast and otherwise), cookies, cakes, pies, tarts, cobblers, crisps, pastries and more, a few with international origins. Lots of classics are included.

Many are among her favorite baked goods - and now they are compiled here for all to enjoy, she says. ``Baking, you will find, as you indulge in this home art, offers comfort and joy and something tangible to taste and savor,'' she writes. ``As much as any other culinary activity, it can bring countless smiles and much laughter into your home.'' She hopes that's what her recipes will do. And now is a good time to give them a whirl.

YEAST-RISEN CHRISTMAS CAKE FROM DRESDEN

(DRESDNER STOLLEN)

Stollen is a popular Christmas treat throughout the German-speaking

world. Though many fancy and filled versions have appeared recently, this is a recipe for the classic version.

SPONGE:

1 cup milk

4 teaspoons active dry yeast

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour (spoon flour into dry-measure cup and level off)

DOUGH:

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons dark rum

2 teaspoons vanilla

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (spoon flour into dry-measure cup and level off)

1/2 cup raisins

1/2 cup 1/4-inch-dice candied orange peel

1/2 cup whole almonds, blanched or unblanched, coarsely chopped

FINISHING:

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1/4 cup granulated sugar

Powdered sugar for dusting

For Sponge, warm milk in a small saucepan over low heat until it is just lukewarm, about 110 degrees F. Pour milk into a medium bowl and whisk in yeast. Stir in flour with a rubber spatula. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let sponge rise until it is very puffy, about 30 minutes.

For Dough, beat butter with brown sugar and salt in bowl of an electric mixer with paddle attachment on medium speed until it is soft and light, about 2 to 3 minutes. Beat in rum and vanilla.

Stop mixer and scrape Sponge into mixing bowl. Add flour. Beat dough on lowest speed about 2 minutes, then stop mixer and let dough rest 10 minutes.

Beat dough on medium speed until it is smooth and elastic, about 2 additional minutes. Beat in raisins, candied peel and almonds, beating only until evenly distributed throughout dough.

Scrape dough into a buttered bowl and turn dough over so that top is buttered. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let dough rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours.

To shape stollen, scrape dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and press into a rectangle about 5x12 inches. With handle of a wooden spoon or a dowel, make an indentation 1 inch from right edge of long side of the dough. Use a rolling pin to make a 2-inch-wide trough 1 inch from left side of dough. Fold thick edge of left side into indentation on right side of dough.

Slide your hand under stollen and transfer to a cookie sheet or jelly-roll pan lined with parchment paper or foil. Once stollen is on pan, neaten edges so it is an even rectangle.

Cover stollen with a towel or buttered plastic wrap and let rise until it just begins to puff, about 30 minutes.

About 15 minutes before you are ready to bake stollen, set a rack in the middle level of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees F.

Bake stollen about 30 to 40 minutes, until it is well risen and deep golden and a toothpick inserted in the thickest part emerges dry.

Immediately after removing stollen from oven, use a pastry brush to paint it with melted butter, then sprinkle granulated sugar on it. Slide paper from the pan to a rack to cool stollen.

Serving: Stollen is a great coffee cake. Dust with powdered sugar and cut into 1/2-inch slices just before serving. In Germany, people often butter the slices, though we would probably find stollen rich enough without added butter. Makes 2 (12-inch long) loaves, about 40 slices.

STORAGE: Stollen keeps well. Double-wrap it in plastic wrap and a sheet of aluminum foil and keep in a cool place for a couple of weeks.

From ``A Baker's Tour,'' by Nick Malgieri.

DRIED-FRUIT FOCACCIA

Try this bread toasted in the morning for breakfast.

2 cups dried cherries

1 cup golden raisins

3 cups boiling water

1 cup extra-virgin olive oil

5 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 tablespoon instant yeast

1 tablespoon coarse salt

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 cup sanding OR granulated sugar

In a large bowl, combine cherries and raisins with boiling water; let soak 10 to 15 minutes. Drain fruit, reserving 2 cups soaking liquid; set fruit aside. Add 1/4 cup olive oil to soaking liquid.

In bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine flour, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, yeast, salt and cinnamon; mix just to combine. With mixer on low speed, add reserved fruit and soaking liquid. Mix until fruit is evenly distributed but dough is still tacky, about 3 minutes.

Turn out dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead 1 minute. Pour 1/2 cup olive oil onto a 17x12-inch rimmed baking sheet, coating bottom completely. Place dough on top of oil and use your hands to spread it out as much as possible without tearing (it doesn't have to fill the pan). Cover dough loosely with plastic wrap, and continue to pat and press dough toward edges. Set pan in a warm place and let rest, pressing out dough every 10 minutes until it fills pan, about 45 minutes. Let rest until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

Meanwhile, place a baking stone on the floor of the oven and preheat to 425 degrees F.

Drizzle dough with remaining 1/4 cup olive oil, and sprinkle evenly with sanding sugar. Set baking sheet directly on the stone. Bake, rotating sheet halfway through, until focaccia is deep golden brown on top and bottom, 35 to 40 minutes. Immediately slide focaccia onto a cutting board to cool. Use a pizza wheel or serrated knife to cut bread into thick strips, and serve warm. Focaccia can be kept at room temperature, wrapped in plastic, 2 to 3 days. Makes 1 (17x12-inch) bread.

From ``Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook,'' by Martha Stewart.

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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Article Type:Recipe
Date:Dec 20, 2005
Words:1325
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