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Savory Baking: Warm and Inspiring Recipes for Crisp, Crumbly, Flaky Pastries by Mary Cech, photographs by Noel Barnhurst

As it gets colder this autumn, what could be lovelier than a leisurely weekend day in a warm kitchen? Baking at home is fun and rewarding, but there are only so many cookies and cakes you and your family can take. All that prep time and careful attention should yield a delicious and healthy meal with which to feed your family or guests, not just a guilty pleasure! I don’t have a big sweet tooth, but I love to bake, which is why Savory Baking by Mary Cech is the perfect addition to my cookbook collection. The book starts out with an overview of ingredients, equipment, and techniques specific to baking, to ensure your success. More so than stove top dishes, it’s important to know what to expect in a baking recipe, so the overview of crepe, souffle, and doughs techniques is empowering.

This book is full of inspiring dishes, broken down more by what type of pastry they use than what course they’re for: quick breads, flaky pastry, rustic cobblers and betties, puff pastries, cookies, and, finally, sides and sauces. The gorgeous photos tend to draw focus to those particular recipes, but, really, every dish sounds delicious. Baking can be a time-intensive endeavor, so while I wish the book included time estimates for each recipe, I loved reading through the 75 delectable possibilities for this review.

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The best part of reviewing a recipe book is the cooking (and subsequent eating), clearly. I decided to make the Cambozola Pear Cream Tart, and enlisted the help of a foodie friend. Read the full article for the free recipe! Baking is a great team-cooking activity, since there are usually different concurrent tasks to be done. It’s a great time of year to make this recipe, since the pears at the market will be close to ripe enough already. We used Gorgonzola dolce instead of the suggested Camembert-Gorgonzola hybrid, Cambozola, since it looked really good at the Italian market, and both of us love the flavor. We used slightly more than the recipe called for, and the flavor came out delicate and subtle. I think next time I might try a little more cheese, even, to balance with the delicious walnut crust. The most challenging part of this recipe is working with the dough, which is crumbly and delicate, making it easy to overwork, and hard to get into the shell. Tarts are forgiving, though, so perfect placement in the pan isn’t critical, as patching up cracks and holes is much easier than with a flaky pastry dough. Besides licking the filling-covered spatula afterward, my favorite part of this recipe was laying out the pear slice in the shell in a sunflower pattern. It’s like a pretty little secret hidden under the cheesy filling.

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This is great for the intermediately skilled home cook looking to expand his/her repertoire of favorites. The tart I made required that I know how to toast walnuts (dry in a pan is how we did it), separate eggs (crack the whole thing into a bowl and pick up the yolk with your fingers), handle fancy cheese (remove the foil but let the food processor handle the rind), and work with delicate dough (I used a big cake mover to transfer it to the tart pan). Many of the recipes in Savory Baking are sure to become family holiday favorites, and this book would make a fantastic gift for the foodie in your life who’s looking for a new set of ideas to tackle. It’s inspiring because of the clever ingredient combinations and “why didn’t I think of that?” touches that really satisfy the itch to make something lovely and delicious. Check out my Flickr set with more pictures from the making of this recipe.

Book Giveaway Time!

Three lucky CRAFT winners will win a copy of this book, Savory Baking! Leave a comment on this post telling us why you want this book. Make sure to enter your email address in the form field (won’t be published). All comments will be closed Wednesday, October 28th at noon PDT. The winners will be announced on the CRAFT Twitter feed later this week. Good luck!

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Cambozola Pear Cream Tart

Ripe pears and the flavor of Cambozola cheese meld together in a delicate, melt-in-your-mouth toasted walnut-crust tart. Most pears will be very firm when purchased from the market and can take up to 2 weeks to soften. To accelerate ripening, place them in a brown paper bag and set them on a countertop for a day or two; they will undergo a noticeable change quickly. Use pears that have a slight yield to pressure and start to become fragrant; they should slice easily. I love this elegant tart served with a small salad as a first course or for a light lunch.

Makes 6 to 8 servings

Tart dough

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 egg white

1/4 cup dry bread crumbs

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 1/4 cups walnut pieces, toasted

Filling

4 ounces Cambozola cheese (see Note)

3 egg yolks

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy (whipping) cream

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 medium pear, firm but ripe

To prepare the tart dough, put the butter and salt together in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a blade attachment and process for 30 seconds. Scrape the bowl with a rubber spatula, add the egg white, and process for another 30 seconds. The egg white should be thoroughly emulsified into the butter and look smooth. Add the bread crumbs, flour, and walnut pieces all at once. Pulse until the walnuts are fine and the dough comes together into a ball, about 1 minute. Turn the dough out on a floured surface and knead briefly. Press into a disc about 1″ thick, and wrap in plastic film. Refrigerate for 15 minutes while preparing the filling.

Preheat the oven to 350°F and place a 9″ fluted tart pan with a removable bottom on a flat baking sheet.

Prepare the filling: Put the cheese, egg yolks, cream, and pepper in the bowl of a food processor. Process until smooth, about 30 seconds. Pour the filling into a container with a spout to make it easy for pouring.

Remove the tart dough from the refrigerator and place on a well-floured surface. Dust the top of the dough generously with flour. Using a rolling pin, carefully roll the dough into a 12″ circle about 1/8″ thick. Dust more flour under and on top of the dough to keep it from sticking to the surface while rolling, if needed. Slide a flat, rimless baking sheet under the dough and transfer it to the tart pan. Center the dough and press it gently into the bottom and sides of the pan. Patch any tears with dough scraps. Trim the top edge of the crust with your fingers or a small knife. Bake until the crust is medium golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Set the pan on a rack to cool.

Reduce the oven temperature to 300°F. Stand the pear upright on a cutting board. With a small paring knife, cut off one side of the pear close to the core. Turn the pear around to the opposite side and cut off the other side. Then cut off the 2 small sides of the pear and discard the core. Lay the cut sides on the cutting board and cut each piece of pear into 1/4″ slices. Place the slices on the bottom of the baked shell, overlapping them like shingles. Carefully pour the custard over the pears and return the pan to the center of the oven. Bake until the custard is set, about 25 minutes. The top should just start to turn light golden and the filling will jiggle slightly in the center. Remove it to a cooling rack and let cool slightly. Remove the tart from the ring, transfer to a serving platter, and serve warm or at room temperature. Leftovers can be wrapped in plastic film and refrigerated for up to 3 days. Remove the tart from the refrigerator, place on a baking sheet, and warm for 15 minutes at 300°F.

Note: Cambozola cheese has a creamy white interior with a white rind. It is a soft-ripened cheese that tastes like a cross between Camembert and Gorgonzola.

Becky Stern

Becky Stern is head of wearable electronics at Adafruit Industries. Her personal site: sternlab.org


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Comments

  1. Erika says:

    I would love this cookbook because I love anything in a crust and I am more of a savory then a sweet person anyhow. It all sounds amazing.

  2. Katie @ goodLife {eats} says:

    I would love to win this book because the cover looks delicious! It’d be a great addition to my kitchen a a nice companion to the many sweet baking books I own.

  3. Margaret A says:

    I have a bucket full of pears from my aunts tree. I’ll be trying this recipe for sure this week.

  4. Kristin A says:

    I’d love this cookbook because I have a lot of sweet baking recipes and not very many savory ones. I’d love to try out some savory baking recipes for the upcoming holidays.

  5. Chelsea S says:

    I would love to win this book because I love baking and these recipes look great!

  6. kaitlyn says:

    i need this book- my apt is overflowing with sweet baked goods and i need some savory to balance it out :)

  7. ducksRfriends says:

    I’m always on the look-out for a new set of good recipes and inspirations… I especially like the ‘why didn’t I think of that’ touches in the description. I’d love to have this book for the upcoming holiday baking I’m planning on doing!

  8. Erin says:

    I don’t only want this book, but I need it. I have severe baking addiction and felt that I’ve exhausted the list of good baking recipes (and I say good because there are some not good ones floating around out there). I need this book so I don’t starve due to the fact that I’m out of recipes!
    We don’t want me to starve… right? :)

  9. Kathleen says:

    I’d love to learn how to improve my baking and the combination of pastry with savory is a wonderful idea.

  10. Wehaf says:

    My boyfriend and I have committed to cooking one new dish every week; we’d love to add savory baked goods to our list, especially with fall here and winter coming. Baked goods are extremely satisfying in cold weather!

  11. pinxy says:

    my two oldest sons just moved back in with me and i desperately need something nice to happen to me. please please choose me.
    signed, crazy desperate mother

  12. Phoebe says:

    I live in an apartment–white walls and all the usual complaints that come with city living. While I await approval of wall colors and other projects, I find myself turning to baking as one way of making that space feel like I live there rather than just stay there. I’ve never tried savory cooking before–but I did just purchase my first tart pan! This book would be a lot of fun for me!

  13. junie12e says:

    I love sweet and savory baked goods. I would love to win this cookbook to try more savory recipes. Thank you for the great giveaway!

  14. Annie says:

    I’ve been working for a while now to improve my pastry skills. This books looks so interesting and like it will make the whole process more fun!

  15. Lora says:

    I would love to receive this book. I love nothing more than a hot chicken pot pie in the winter and I would love to try something new! thanks, Lora (imnstitches@hotmail.com)

  16. Bridget says:

    I’m in the boat you described – the person who wants to learn all sorts of new interesting recipes but can deal with a bit of a challenge. :)

  17. bekee says:

    i don’t bake, by nature, cuz i don’t like sweets! :x this cookbook might be just the thing to get me into the awesome craft of baking. thanks for maintaining such a cool blog, too!

  18. Megan says:

    Here’s what: fall has been late coming in my wee little part of the San Joaquin valley. It’s yet to reach the temperature that requires long sleeves, let alone the lovely grey sweater I knit so carefully this summer. I’ve been keeping a jug of apple cider in my fridge in the hopes that it will get chilly enough for cider one afternoon, but the highs remain in the eighties. I’m tired of sweating under my quilt at night, tired of t-shirts and flip-flops, tired of wistfully gazing upon my winter wardrobe without any hope of wearing it. And I’m thinking that if this cookbook is half as magical as it looks, I can use those recipes to coax Autumn out of hiding before it’s January.
    Please oh please?

  19. Janel says:

    I love the challenges of baking, but don’t like having sweets around the house to constantly tempt me! Baking something savory that I can serve for a meal, instead of dessert, always makes me happy.

  20. Nicole says:

    This book looks amazing! I once had the opportunity to enjoy the most scrumptious savory bread pudding, but it never occurred to me that other savory baked goods were happening in the world. I don’t have much of a book-buying budget at present (near-zero, in fact) but I’d love to try my hand at some of these recipes and then try them on all my friends!

  21. Jennifer says:

    I’d like to win the reviewed book because I LOVE to bake – and savory is right up my alley – I have a seriously salty tooth!
    Thanks for the chance to win.
    Jennifer in Kansas

  22. Naomi says:

    This sounds like it would be a wonderful complement to my cookbook library. I never think of savory baking and I would love to try this tart!

  23. HANNAH says:

    This looks like the perfect cookbook to cook through, during a long Minnesota winter. Yum!

  24. Amanda says:

    I’m trying to expand my cooking repertoire beyond pasta and this book would be perfect for that.

  25. allisence says:

    I grew up in New England where fall was the best season of the year. I’ve recently moved to Phoenix and here it’s almost never cold enough to experience a real fall. The leaves don’t turn rich shades of red, orange and yellow. Nobody pulls out the gloves and scarves to go pumpkin picking. I need this book to experience some fall!

  26. Laura Stewart says:

    would love this for my MIL – she’s a great cook

  27. ashley says:

    My sister and I would have so much fun baking from this book! Right now she’s into savory cakes, this would be the perfect thing for her

  28. Adrienne says:

    I love baking, but am not a big fan of sweets. This cookbook sounds like it would be great for me! :)

  29. clwaller says:

    My father is not a sweets person; he likes a few cookies that aren’t particularly sweet but he definitely likes something to have with his afternoon coffee. I would love this cookbook to be able to make some lovely savory baked goods for him.

  30. Brianna Soloski says:

    I would love to win this!

  31. emmy jay says:

    To me, pie has always been the perfect dessert — I like my crusts a bit on the less sweet side, and my fillings a bit…overfilled. I would really love to win this book.

  32. Sarah says:

    I would love it because I love savoury food and I have a food blog!

  33. Jennalynn says:

    I love baking… and I love savory foods.
    Seems like a cookbook match!

  34. Emily says:

    I would love this book because I have been looking forward to fall cooking since, well, last fall. The book and recipies look amazing.

  35. Christina says:

    i’ve been craving a savoury tart all day. i’d love to make my own with this book :) mmmmmmmm!

  36. Cara says:

    I would love to win this cookbook because I love baking and I need more savory baking recipes to add to my arsenal (currently, I only have one).

  37. Ziona says:

    I want this book because I’m an aspiring pastry chef and I’m always looking to add a great book to my collection. Most of the pies I’ve been making are sweet and I’ve been wanting to try out savory crusts and fillings. This books seems to come at just the right time. I also want this book so I can fill up my holiday table with some really creative and scrumptious treats!

  38. Rycrafty says:

    I’d love this book because I love to bake, but have never been inspired to cook savoury things (I would live off cake without my boyfriend around!). This book looks inspiring. :)

  39. Thien-Kim says:

    THis book sounds perfect for me! I’m a savory eater (though my husband and kid have sweet tooths or is that teeth?). I love to bake too, so sounds like it’s right up my alley.

  40. Charmaine W. says:

    I have yet to make a flaky crust but I haven’t given up. I love cooking and in our tiny town without fine dining or any place to eat out – I enjoy serving my family and friends wonderful dishes. If I am not a winner, this is a book I will purchase. By the way, the pictures are just wonderful.

  41. sara says:

    This sounds like the perfect cookbook for me. I love savory pastries and treats. Yum.
    Thanks for the recipe. I was just given 3 pears and I can’t wait to try the recipe!

  42. Marsha says:

    I would love to win this book because I am always looking for new recipes for savory baked goods! This book looks just perfect for me!

  43. Theresa says:

    I would love to have this simply because I love baking all things sweet and savory!
    Keepin’ my fingers crossed.

  44. thea says:

    I love baking savory breads, but always forget about other savory baking goodness! This book would be a great reminder!

  45. Rachel Ann says:

    I love baking and trying new things, so I would absolutely love to have this cookbook (and I’m sure my husband would enjoy the resulting food.)

  46. kat says:

    I love love love baking – especially pies and tarts – and I think this book would really help me expand my savory repertoire since I usually focus on sweet!

  47. Leigh says:

    As a young woman, I’m coming into my own in the kitchen. Baking and cooking in my apartment is therapeutic for me on so many levels: goodies for friends to come and find, smells for my neighbors to breathe in and enjoy, warmth to keep my cat cozy, and a sense of satisfaction for myself. As much as I enjoy these things, my cookbook library contains a sad and lone copy of cooking for college students. I want to branch out and I always want to try something unique – I think this is the perfect book for me!

  48. Janet says:

    Savory baking? Just what I need for this time of year.

  49. lizziwhizz says:

    I want this book because baking is the only kind of cooking I can do, and I’m getting fat on all the sweets. So some savory baking would be much appreciated!

  50. trish says:

    I need this book because I have a savory pastry sweet tooth.

  51. Beth says:

    My fourteen year old daughter often bakes and decorates cakes for us, but she rarely eats sweet things herself. I would love to share this book with her so she could channel her creative energies toward the kind of food she loves! We have a long, cold winter coming here in the North, and this book would get some good use in our hungry house.

  52. Valerie says:

    I would love to win this book since I am not much of a baker and would like to be – in other words I need all the help I can get.
    Valerie

  53. Valerie says:

    I am not much of a baker and would love to be much better – and perhaps this book could help me get there.
    Valerie

  54. Kate says:

    I will definitely request my library to buy this one.

  55. Elli says:

    I love to bake, but my husband has no sweet tooth to speak of, so finding baking recipes to satisfy his picky tastes can get a little strenuous at times. This book looks great though! Savory for him, and it still allows me to bake to my heart’s content.

  56. Bladerunner says:

    It’s about time for more savory holiday treats! Too many sugary recipes out there. And honestly, the Gorgonzola/Cambozola Pear Tart sent me over the edge.

  57. Wendy says:

    I want this book because I need all kinds of help when it comes to making pastry.

  58. ikisti says:

    I think this would be a great book. I love baking but i’m really getting sugered out. Some more savory skills would be nice.

  59. Patricia Eddy says:

    I want this book because I bake all winter long and I love combining sweet and savory ingredients. Just last week we made a savory pumpkin pie!

  60. john.eddy.myopenid.com says:

    I love mixing the savory and the sweet, and need some new ideas.

  61. denise says:

    Wow! That looks amazing!!! If I win this I will be baking up a storm!

  62. Eleanor (undeadgoat) says:

    I’d like this book because I love to bake, but all too often get stuck in a “cookie” rut, with maybe the occasional pie to spice things up. It would be so great to be able to cook a meal!

  63. lissa says:

    Thanksgiving potluck! I want to take some savory tarts!

  64. mommymae says:

    i would love this cookbook b/c savory pies are to die for!

  65. jalphaiv says:

    Um, hello, Savory Baking?! That’s why I want to win…

  66. Al says:

    wow. i would buy this cookbook so when i visit my boyfriend, who moved 2000 miles away from me in august to go to grad school, i can bake him things that make him feel at home and taken care of. he would just die over that pear tart.

  67. noelle says:

    What a great giveaway. This is the first year our little family will be hosting everyone for the holidays. I would love to have this book on hand!

  68. malia says:

    I would love this book so I can break in my new kitchen! I finally moved into my own 1 bedroom apartment from my tiny studio. I want to celebrate not having the kitchen in the living room slash bedroom.
    Also I bet my friends would love to eat food from this book too. What is baking without sharing?

  69. Keiko says:

    This book looks amazing.
    If I would have this book I would like to give it to my brother for his birthday. He loves baking.

  70. Kat Klahn says:

    This book sounds soooooooooooo good. I enjoy savory foods more than sweets, so this book would be a perfect fit for me. Great giveaway, thanks

  71. Morgan says:

    This cookbook might finally give me some ideas as to what to bake for my roommate who doesn’t like sweets. When we pester her to try something we’ve baked she always replies that she prefers savory food. This would give me a chance to cook something she couldn’t argue against as it’s right in the title!

  72. Amy W. says:

    I would love to have this so that I can cook something a little different for my fiance’ and his family as they are British and, naturally, fans of savory pies (which are rather foreign to me). Thanks for the review!

  73. Camila F. says:

    I need this book because I must improve my cooking skills!!! I love to cook and this book will give me new ideas for the holidays!

  74. Nichola says:

    I want to start on the adventurous journey of baking from scratch. This book looks like a good place to start.

  75. littlebluehen.com says:

    My friend just got me two tart pans for a housewarming gift, and I would love to break them in! I’m also tryign to cut down on my ridiculous sugar intake, so a savory recipe book would be a helpful addition to my library.

  76. Cheryl S. says:

    I would love trying these recipes! I also, don’t have much of a sweet tooth so savory sounds great; especially as winter is coming on now. I don’t know why I associate baking with sweets; I’ll have to reprogram my thinking
    so as not to miss out on these type of great recipes. Thanks for the give-away!

  77. DianeQ3 says:

    I don’t usually try a new recipe especially when the end result looks like it would complicated to make. However, after reading through this recipe, it doesn’t seem that complicated at all. It seems that this book would be great in taking out the fear of baking beautiful looking and delicious tasting items.

  78. cmcmcmcm says:

    I love baking but my boyfriend never really eats my baked sweets. This cookbook looks like it would help me utilize my love of baking and my boyfriends love of savory foods. Can’t wait to see more recipes!

  79. Lynn says:

    I would love to win this cookbook because I love to bake, but sweets really don’t do it for me!

  80. Ryan says:

    I love pears, cheese, and walnuts, not necessarily in that order, and am about to move in with my girlfriend, so I could really use this book to help impress her with some baking in our new kitchen. If it makes it more enticing, the products will cool in our new sunroom; and we are starving artists in Toronto, so can’t afford new books!

  81. Becky says:

    My sweet Hubby is the “chef” around here but I am the designated baker! I love baking and am always striving to improve and make new, imaginative goodies. This book looks great!!

  82. Ivy says:

    I’ve recently conquered my fear of from-scratch crust and I’m ready to take it to the next level. Plus, nothing beats back the autumn/winter doldrums like a dinner party, and this book seems like it would yield perfect gather-round fare.

  83. Kathleen says:

    I’d love to win this because I am such a salt tooth. Most of my baking is done for the mister, who’s the sweet tooth (and a cereal tooth too, truth be told). I’m looking to add something salty to my baking repertoire other than cornbread and biscuits.

  84. polkaostrich says:

    I am trying to fatten up my roommates so I can eat them! These recipes will work perfectly!

  85. Debby says:

    I love to bake, but the cookies and cakes aren’t great for my family or me. One of my friends has totally given up eating anything with sugar, which is probably a healthy choice for all of us. Anyway, this book would let me pretend to be a pastry chef and still stay away from the sweets.

  86. Michelle says:

    I want to win this book because I haven’t felt much like cooking lately but the review and pictures are inspiring me to get my oven mitts on!

  87. Out2lunch says:

    Mmm, this looks so tasty. I can’t wait to try it out. I love to bake but no one wants me making irresistible sweets all the time. This is a great way to get my baking fix without all the sugar ^_^

  88. Diane says:

    I LOVE food!!! The pear tart looks amazing.

  89. Julia says:

    I would love to win this cookbook, because I’m tired of cooking sweets. I want something I can eat and not feel as guilty about!

  90. Ms. Lowman says:

    MY NEW BOY FRIEND LIKES SAVORY THINGS. IT IS ALL THAT HE TALKS ABOUT!
    “I have a savory palette.” He always hints when I’m preparing a meal. I suppose it is one of those get to know you sort of things he wants to be sure that I know about him.
    I have been perfecting my savory pie crust for just the occasion to impress him and just last week made a savory crust with a tart apple center that honestly TASTED HORRIBLE!!!
    This is a life lesson I suppose. We constantly focus on the outer image while the inner is wasting away.
    OH THE EXPRESSION ON MY NEW BOYFRIEND’S FACE WHEN HE BIT INTO IT! OH THE EMBARRASSMENT! “I like savory things” was his response. “But its still good!” He added like a good bf.
    “Maybe you should add caramel?” His sister added sweetly.
    Oh THE PAIN! If only I had followed a recipe!
    Please give me the means to impress my new boyfriend. I need to redeem myself! Give me the tools to focus on the inner as well as the outer!
    When the fall harvest comes in I hope to show him what can be done with loving hands, patience and a woman’s wisdom (that is your fabulous cookbook).
    Grant me the means! And I will be forever grateful!

  91. carrie says:

    I want this book because I am looking for some good savory tart recipes. I need to learn how to cook foods that aren’t in the dessert category!

  92. Denise Engel says:

    I would love to win this book. I’m always looking for new ways to add spice to my family’s eating and this book sounds like it would hit the spot.
    Thanks.