Cook the Book: 'Baked Explorations'

20101210-128212-cook-the-book-baked-explorations.jpgIf you've ever trekked out to
Baked in the Red Hook section of Brooklyn, you've realized that a taste of one of Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito's unique confections makes the trip (a train-bus combo ride for many New Yorkers) worth it.

These two former admen left their day jobs to open a bakery specializing in reinvented American classics. Cupcakes, cookies, layer cakes, and sweet-and-salty brownies caught on quick, earning the novice bakers national recognition and soon a book deal. Lewis and Poliafito's first cookbook, Baked: New Frontiers in Baking shared the recipes that made up the best-sellers at their bakery, enabling folks outside of the New York area to enjoy the magic that is Baked.

Now Lewis and Poliafito are back with a second cookbook, this time delving deeper into a fresh batch of classic American desserts. The index of Baked Explorations reads strikingly similarly to the dessert section of Betty Crocker or Fanny Farmer from the mid-60s with recipes like griddle cakes, devil's food cake, and buttermilk pie. Lewis and Poliafito have tweaked these classics, modernizing them by adding a twist here and there, maybe a touch of salt to a fudgy brownie recipe, caramel to an apple cake, or a little bit of white pepper to chocolate sandwich cookies.

We are continuing our monthlong cookie extravaganza with a week's worth of cookies from Baked Explorations. Having sampled more than our fair share of goodies from Baked, we're pretty confident this will be an exciting week of baking. Here's a little taste of what's coming: Chocolate Mint Thumbprints, Grasshopper Bars, Malted Milk Sandwich Cookies, and Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars.

Win 'Baked Explorations'

Thanks to the generous folks over at Stewart, Tabori & Chang, we are giving away five (5) copies of Baked Explorations this week. All you have to do is tell us about the best bakery you've ever been to in the comments section below.

The standard Serious Eats contest rules apply.