With the Portland Comic Book Show dinner behind me and Thanksgiving around the corner, I’m thinking a lot about cooking right now. I’ll sort through endless recipes trying to figure out the perfect balance of flavors for a meal, but when it comes to dessert the first place I turn— and usually the only place I need to look— is Rustic Fruit Desserts by Cory Schreiber and Julie Richardson. There is no better dessert cookbook out there. Period.
This is a book filled with cobblers, crisps, pies, buckles, pandowdies, slumps, and such. The kind of simple, soul-satisfying sweets that our moms probably never really made, but we all like to think they did. Nothing fancy, but everything fantastically flavorful. I’ve made well over half the recipes— with my sights set on making every single one— and all have been wonderful, with most absolute Crowd Pleasers. I’m talking eyes-roll-back-when-you-take-a-bite. (Okay— the dreaded Jam Cake didn’t come out either time I made it, but that’s ’cause I didn’t have a bundt pan. I do now. So next time: different story.) The book’s divided by season— so you can use fruit at its most flavorful— and lists ingredients by volume and weight— essential when it comes to the science of baking. Just thinking of the Stone Fruit Upside-Down Cornmeal Cake… MMMMM— !
The topper— for me, at least— is that the two authors are Portland locals. Cory Schreiber founded Wildwood— one of the leading Portland restaurants the last 20 years— and Julie Richardson runs Baker and Spice— a bakery that started as a booth at the downtown Farmer’s Market. Portland’s a great food town, and these two are only the tip of the iceberg as to why.
We have friends coming over for dinner this weekend, and I think I’ll let them eat cake. That’s right: Jam Cake…