Are you one of those bakers who inadvertently uses an inordinate amount of mixing bowls, baking implements, the odd saucepan or double boiler and too many baking pans just to make one cake? Or are you space constrained and have to alternate precious counter space with a mixer, a food processor, a mise en place of ingredients and a baking pan? Or somewhere in between and you end up defaulting to that refrigerated roll of ready-made cookie dough because you don’t want all the fuss and bother of too much prep and cleanup but still crave warm, freshly baked cookies?
Well, you may want to put that store-bought cookie dough back in the refrigerator and reach for One Bowl Baking by Yvonne Ruperti instead. Whether you’re a novice baker just looking to make a pan of brownies or an experienced one intending to bake multiple, crowd-pleasing treats, "One Bowl Baking" rises to the occasion.
As the title suggests, the premise is you can make a variety of desserts without using every baking implement in your kitchen and without needing massive amounts of space. Simple is best but simple doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice flavor. The recipes are straightforward and very easy to follow, regardless of your baking level. All the recipes contain weight measurements as well as volume measurements. As a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, Ruperti knows that weight measurements are more accurate than volume measurements. One cup of brown sugar does not always equal 1 cup of brown sugar, depending on how firmly you packed it in the measuring cup each time. But 4 ounces of brown sugar is always 4 ounces of brown sugar when using a food scale. Still, many baking books only use volume measurements and their recipes come out just fine.
But what sets "One Bowl Baking" apart from the crowd isn’t just having weight measurements and, oddly enough, it isn’t just that it keeps its promise of offering a variety of recipes that can be made using one bowl. For me, it’s the recipes themselves that make this book a gem.
Just reading through the book shows the variety of desserts that can be made, from Strawberry Cheesecake Muffins and Toasted Coconut Lime Bars to Warm Apple Pudding Cake and Satiny Chocolate Tart with Sea Salt. I’ve personally tested several recipes and they’ve all turned out well. I did one find weight/volume measurement error in the Lunchbox Chewy Peanut Butter Cookies (the volume measurement is the right one) but even done correctly and incorrectly, both versions of the cookie were delicious. If you’ve been searching for the ultimate chocolate chip cookie that doesn’t spread, has crisp edges and a chewy middle, then the Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies aren’t to be missed. The Fluffy Yellow Sheet Cake is for the vanilla lovers in your life who want something delicious while you want little cleanup and fast prep time. The Fudgy Walnut Brownies are just that: fudgy. Bonus is they’re easy to make and definitely only in one bowl.
There are some recipes where you don’t even need a bowl but just a mug, such as the Warm Mix-in-a- Mug Chocolate Cake where you can mix, microwave and eat a decadent one-serving dessert, all in one mug. The same concept goes for the Warm Mix-in-a-Mug Chocolate Chip Cookie for those single-serving impulse desserts you want to make in 5 minutes or less and still only have a mug and a spoon to wash And it isn’t just cookies, cupcakes and brownies that can be simplified into being made in one bowl.
The book also offers more fancy desserts such as Triple Chocolate Blackout Cake with Espresso Ganache and Pumpkin Cheesecake with Gingersnap Crust, all with the same easy mixing, baking and clean up process as their more traditionally-one-bowl-anyway counterparts. So don’t think you’ll be limited to just "easy” desserts. They’re there too but one bowl only means simple mixing, not simple desserts. You can turn out something fancy and still brag how easy it was to make.
I’ve earmarked this book as a present for two friends on opposite ends of the baking spectrum: one is an expert baker who I’ve baked with over the years and the other is a less experienced baker who has a busy work/home schedule and has been known to text me pictures of cookies in the oven to ask if they were done and whether she should take them out then. There’s something for both of them in One Bowl Baking and for all the bakers in between.
Lunchbox chewy peanut butter cookies
From "One Bowl Baking" by Yvonne Ruperti
6 tablespoons (3 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup (7 ounces) packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-1/3 cups (12 ounces) creamy peanut butter
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
[1 cup peanut butter cups, chopped, optional]
1. Place oven racks in the upper-middle and lower-middle positions. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line two sheet pans with parchment paper.
2. In a large bowl, stir the butter, sugar and salt until creamy. Stir in the peanut butter and then the egg and vanilla.
3. Add the flour and baking soda to the bowl, then stir until combined. Add chopped peanut butter cups, if desired.
4. Scoop the dough into 18 balls, spacing evenly on the sheet pan (9 per pan). Using a fork, press a crosshatch onto each cookie, pressing to about 1-inch thick.
5. Bake until light golden, puffed and just beginning to crack, 8 to 10 minutes, rotating pans halfway through baking.
6. Let the cookies cool on the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool.
Carol Ramos tests dessert recipes on her blog The Pastry Chef's Baking.