Today is Julia Child’s birthday; she would have been ninety-nine years old. This year also marks the fiftieth anniversary of Mastering the Art of French Cooking.
Julia Child taught people so much through her cookbooks and television shows; she constantly inspired. I bought her autobiography My Life in France about two years ago and I loved reading it as well as looking at her artist husband Paul’s photographs, which greatly adds to the reading experience and charm (especially their own holiday cards and that were depicted in Julie and Julia).
My Life in France covers the period from when Julia first went to Paris, France, tagging along with her husband who had been offered a job to run the Visual Presentation Department for the United States Information Service (USIS) in Paris. Determined to be a better cook – years later, Paul would tell an interview that “Her first attempts were not altogether successful”; growing up, she had had “zero interest in the stove” and was not encouraged to cook – she enrolled herself at Le Cordon Bleu and the rest is considered history.
Click after the jump for more images and info.
These snickerdoodles were made with a cake mix. Yesterday I reviewed The Cake Mix Doctor Bakes Gluten-Free and I said that there’d be a follow-up post with photos of the recipe I made from that cookbook. Here it is.
For these cookies I used Bob’s Red Mill vanilla cake mix. The original recipe uses yellow cake mix (in the cookbook Anne Byrn explains she narrowed down the kinds of cake mixes to yellow and chocolate for convenience and flexibility), which I tried looking for at all my local stores and could not find one. Vanilla was the closest I could get and to be honest, it took care of the tablespoon of vanilla extract originally called for; I ended up using 1/2 teaspoon, though in retrospect I think I could have even left it out and the cookies would still taste good. I also replaced the sugar in the recipe with 2 tablespoons of honey.
Update: I used a quarter amount of the butter (8 tablespoons or 1 stick) called for in the recipe, as I noted on Twitter, and the cookies still worked out beautifully. I weighed the amount I used, which was 2.4 ounces or 68 to 70 grams (my scale kept fluctuating between those numbers).
The dough was quickly pulled together using a food processor. I make nearly everything by hand, without the use of appliances, but for once I followed a recipe to use a food processor and it was blissful to just put everything in and pulse it until dough formed.
May I mention also that this recipe, as I’m sure with all the other recipes in The Cake Mix Doctor Bakes Gluten-Free, is very child friendly. My brother helped scoop the dough and space the balls on the pan (with a new cookie scoop my grandmother gave me for my birthday) and prompted me to take photos. Those are his hands you see in the photos above. He was also an eager participant to eat the cookies once they had cooled. I’m sure he ate most of them – which is quite something, considering that this recipe made about 3 dozen cookies!
Last year, before the holidays, I was contacted about reviewing The Cake Mix Doctor Bakes Gluten-Free and I said yes. A copy was sent to me, arriving on Christmas Eve.
The author, Anne Byrn, is the mastermind behind The Cake Mix Doctor series. It all started when she was baking for her children and, being a busy mother, didn’t always have time to bake from scratch and she would use cake mixes. This would eventually cumulate into a cookbook idea that used cake mixes as the basis for recipes. For this new cake mix book, the focus is gluten-free and it is a timely release as gluten-free cake mixes are increasingly becoming better in quality and more available.
I don’t ordinarily use cake mixes – mixes have never been a big thing with my family – and nowadays I make everything from scratch, but I still recognize the importance and convenience of cake mixes. Using gluten-free cake mixes also helps eliminates a lot of the thinking and guess-work for people who are new to gluten-free baking and helping ease the transition until they are confident enough to work with a variety of flours and perhaps eventually make their own recipes with ease.
Although a cake mix cookbook, this are recipes for more than just cake. There are recipes for cookies, bars and brownies, and muffins as well – all using cake mix! There is even a recipe for fruit crumble. Included for all the recipes are quantities that the recipe yield, prep, baking, and cooling times as well as a space in the sidebar for recipe reminders for any observations the baker may have made, including variations (“special touches”) not mentioned in the cookbook. Throughout the book dairy-free options are also suggested.