BAKING WITH THE BRASS SISTERS: Over 125 Recipes for Classic Cakes, Pies, Cookies, Breads, Desserts, and Savories from America’s Favorite Home Bakers by Marilynn Brass and Sheila Brass

brasssistersPUBLISHER: St. Martin’s Griffin 10/6/15
GENRE: Cookbook/Baking
PURCHASE: link
AUTHORS SITE: link
MY GRADE: B

FROM PUBLISHER: In their new book, Marilynn and Sheila have gone to their collection of trusted manuscript cookbooks and handwritten recipes that number in the thousands to rediscover the home-baked treats that were brought to America from around the world – Russia, The Ukraine, Germany, Austria, France, Greece, India, Costa Rica, Armenia, Italy, England, Ireland, Norway, Canada, as well as many created here the US. They have listened to the stories of recipes that have been passed down by family and friends and interpreted them for the home kitchen. They’ve even included some of their own recipes created over 126 years of combined home baking experience.

Readers will find wonderful recipes for treats like Grandma Goldberg’s Honey Cake, Chocolate Walnut Banana Muffins, Billy Goat Cookies, Cobblestone Apple Tart, Mother Carleton’s Black Walnut Layer Cake, Nana May’s Irish Yeast Bread, Jack’s Chocolate Caramel Walnut Tart and many more. “Baking with the Brass Sisters is “a classic baking book that people will keep on their shelves, bake from, and cherish for years to come.

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RECIPE CATEGORIES (typed by me)

RISE AND SHINE– A Little Girl’s Blueberry Cake, Breakfast Corn Cake, Buckwheat Pancakes, Chocolate Walnut Banana Muffins, Cowboy Coffee Cake, Grandma Woodward’s Whole Wheat Date Muffins, Harriet’s Bran Muffin Bread, Irish Soda Bread, Mango Corn Muffins, Mary’s Pumpkin Bread, New England Baked Maple French Toast Casserole, Sweet Potato Drop Scones, Vatrushki (Russian Cheese Pastries)

A PIECE OF CAKE- ABC Cake (apple, banana, coconut cake), Almond Chiffon Cake, Aunt Ida’s French Apple Cake, Brandy Alexander Cheesecake, Edith’s “Very Good” Orange Sponge Cake, Husband’s Cake (Tomato Soup Cake), Macaroon Cupcakes, Mama’s Jelly Roll, Mother Carleton’s Black Walnut Bundt Cake, Muriel’s Banana Walnut Cake with Burbon Frosting, New England Maple Walnut Cake, Orange Pecan Olive Oil Cake, Pink Velvet Cake, Shivani’s Hazelnut Cake, Worcester Pound Cake

THE COOKIE EXCHANGE– Alison’s Speculatius, Aunt Minnie’s Date and Oat Bars, Bernice’s Irregular Raisin Cookies, Billy Goat Cookies, Hazelnut Espresso Cookies, Lemon Clove Cookies, Mary Messer’s Vanilla Coat Buttons, Cousin Helen’s Greek Cookies (Koulourakia), Mom’s Coconut Cornflake Cookies, Norwegian Spice Hearts, Polka Dot Chocolate Bars

FILLING THE BREAD BASKET– Aunt Minnie’s Butterhorn Dinner Rolls, Brown Soda Bread with Dried Cherries and Toasted Walnuts, Chocolate Walnut Yeast Bread, Honey Molasses Bread (Weetabix), Coconut Banana Bread, Lise Zimmer’s Sweet Banana Yeast Bread, Nana May’s Irish Yeast Bread, Quick Oatmeal Bread (Yeast Batter Bread), Orange Pecan Yeast Bread, Aunt Eller’s Apple Nut Bread, Salt and Pepper Potato Bread

EASY AS PIE– Kahlúa Pie, Black and White Cheese Pie, Buttery Maple Walnut Pie, Cheese Crumble Apple Pie with Cheddar Cheese Crust, Cobblestone Apple Tart, Chocolate Chess Pie, Dang Good Pie, Lemon Rio Pie, Mama Ruth’s Georgia Pecan Pie, Rhubarb Streusel Pie, Sheila’s Perfect Piecrust, Chocolate Piecrust

WE GATHER TOGETHER– Brown Sugar Brownies, Chocolate Bûche de Noël, Cranberry Raisin Pie (Mock Cherry Pie), Grandma Rometo’s Torte, Hot Cross Buns, Italian Cream Cake, Joyce’s Basbousa Cake (Armenian Farina Cake), June’s Pumpkin Cookies, Lemon Almond Biscotti, Central Squares (Lemon Cream Cheese Squares), Lemon Curd, Old-Fashioned Soft Gingerbread, Passover Sponge Cake, Peanut Butter “Hermits”

TEATIMES AND COFFEE HOURS– Big Mama’s Lemon-Lime Tassies, Almond Jam Clothespin Cookies, Evelyn’s Strawberry Blondies, Edna’s Feather Gingerbread, Irish Sweet Bread with Bourbon Glaze, Lemon Drizzle Tea Cake, Maria’s Alfajores (South American Jam-Filled Cookies), Mary Frances’s Brown Sugar Tea Cake, Pumpkin Tea Cake with Toasted Walnut Sugar Topping, Soft Molasses Cookies, Tutti Frutti Biscotti, Ukrainian Prune and Walnut Cake (Prune and Walnut Bars)

SUMMERTIME TREATS– Lemon Chess Pie, Marilynn’s Fresh Cherry Tart, Crisp Vanilla Butter Wafers, Summertime Blueberry Kugel, Green Tomato Chocolate Cake, Merry’s Upside Down Plum Squares, Rhubarb Royalle (Rhubarb Upside-Down Cake), Nanall Alleman’s Sand Cookies, Rustic Ginger Peach Pie (Peach Galette), Rolled Peanut Butter Cookies, Washington Apple Crisp

MAKE MINE CHOCOLATE– Chocolate Guinness Bread Pudding, Chocolate Tea Cake, Dark Chocolate Butter Cookies, Fran’s Sour Cream Espresso Brownies, Gloria’s “Glorious” Chocolate Pound Cake, Jack’s Chocolate Walnut Caramel Tart, Julia’s Chocolate Coconut Bars, Mocha Truffle Tart, Mrs. Finkelstein’s Marble Cake, Palma Snarskis’s Cranberry, White Chocolate, and Walnut Squares, Shirle Broner’s Fudge Squares (Chocolate Tea Brownies), Sue’s Buttermilk Chocolate Cake

SOMETHING SAVORY– Cheddar Poppy Seed Biscotti, Aunt Grace’s Rhubarb-Walnut Conserve, Blue Cheese and Pear Tart, Caraway Seed Cookies, Curried Cashew Rounds, Sun-Dried Tomato Parmesan Cocktail Crackers, Savory Cornmeal Parmesan Biscotti, Vidalia Onion Marmalede

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THINGS I’VE MADE

AUNT ELLER’S APPLE NUT BREAD

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This is incredibly moist. There’s no milk in the batter so the batter’s thick and has to be spooned into the pan. I made half the recipe and baked it in a 1qt. loaf pan for 32 minutes. I omitted the ginger and cloves from the batter. The nut and brown sugar topping wasn’t really necessary. Though I pressed the mixture into the batter before baking, before spooning my own glaze over the top (glaze isn’t part of the recipe), I brushed the nuts off the top since they were falling off anyway. A very good basic cake. I don’t know why it’s called bread.

SUE’S BUTTERMILK CHOCOLATE CAKE

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This cake alone is worth the price of the book. I made an almost identical version of this one before. It uses cocoa powder and has hot water added to it at the very end. I chose to make jumbo cupcakes out of it instead of one big cake. It’s extremely moist and is moister the next day. I made two different frostings for it, including the chocolate one that went with the recipe, only I made a few changes to it, like heating the milk and butter together and used less cocoa. This cake tastes a lot like a boxed devil’s food cake but more moist. I love the flavor and this cake, and the other similar versions, and is my favorite homemade chocolate cake.

FRAN’S SOUR CREAM ESPRESSO BROWNIES

These are the best flavored homemade brownies I’ve ever made. They’re cake-like. I made half the recipe in a 1.5 qt. square pan, which is typically 8″. I omitted the espresso powder, since I don’t like it. The batter tasted like it needed more cocoa powder so I added an extra tablespoon (making it 3 total) and I doubled the vanilla to 1 teaspoon. I didn’t make the frosting for them but did dust them with powdered sugar. Excellent.

MRS. FINKELSTEIN’S MARBLE CAKE

Very good and very moist. The flavor’s nice, especially on the bottom where it got golden in color. This cake uses chocolate syrup, the kind you put in chocolate milk, in half the batter. It seems the weight of the top layer causes the batter to sink down into the bottom layer, causing a marbled effect. That explains why we weren’t to swirl the batters together with a knife. The chocolate flavor is very very mild and I’m a bit disappointed in that. I made half in a 9″ square pan and baked it for 31 minutes. I didn’t sprinkle nuts and chopped chocolate on top of the batter but I did make my own powdered sugar glaze for the top. Next time I’ll make a chocolate glaze for it. This would also be good without the chocolate syrup.

PINK VELVET CAKE

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This cake is pictured on the cover, bottom left. The full recipe makes a three-layer 7″ round cake. I made half the recipe in an 8″ square pan. I used sour cherry jam in the cake and frosting instead of raspberry. The cake had good flavor before adding the flour, then the cherry flavor sort of disappeared. Adding jam to the frosting ( I used my own recipe for that) didn’t really do much for it except give it a bit of tang, which I could have done without. I added almond extract to the frosting and that made it better. I toasted a heaping half cup of sweetened flaked coconut and ground that in the food processor with 1/4 c. lightly toasted sliced almonds. Nuts weren’t part of the recipe. The recipe had you put untoasted coconut around the sides of the cake but I just put my nut mixture around the four sides on the top and boy, is it good. I also added 1/4 c. of the ground coconut/almond mixture to the frosting before spreading it on the cake. Free recipe here.

The cake itself is very moist and a bit delicate. It has a slightly wet look to it. If you do use raspberry jam I suggest you add a bit of raspberry extract to both the cake and frosting. I’d definitely make this again but I would just frost the top with my own vanilla buttercream frosting, omitting the jam, and make my coconut/almond mixture and sprinkle it evenly over the top. I don’t think I’d make this into a layer cake.

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MY THOUGHTS: I’m happy with everything I’ve made out of this book. There are several more things I’m going to bake from this in the future, like chocolate pound cake and lemon drizzle cake.

There are some categories with recipes that don’t interest me, like The Cookie Exchange, Filling the Bread Basket, We Gather Together, Teatimes and Coffee Hours, Summertime Treats, and Something Savory. There’s only one recipe in those categories that I’d make and quite a few of those cookie recipes are very old fashioned and unappealing. There aren’t any basic recipes like peanut butter cookies, sugar cookies, chocolate chip cookies. No peanut butter cake or frosting, no basic white or yellow cake, no muffins, basic biscuits, and so on.

There aren’t many photos either, which is always a huge disappointment. I wish publishers would realize the importance of photos, especially when it comes to cookies. I rarely try a new cookie recipe if I haven’t seen a photo of it. I’m sure you’ve heard the saying ‘We eat with our eyes first’, meaning if we see something that looks good, we may be more likely to make it before making something without a photo, since we already know what the finished product will look like.

See their live presentation on QVC.

I received this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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