ANGELA GARBACZ HAD had a busy spring planned: A second Lincoln, Nebraska, location of her bakery, Goldenrod Pastries, opened March 9, and her cookbook “Perfectly Golden” was published April 28. As is true for all of us, very little in those weeks went as planned.
For now, both locations are closed for normal operations, but she’s hung on to about one-third of her staff, mainly for shipping cookie boxes across the country. A speaking engagement planned for June 4 at Book Larder, a Seattle cookbook store in the Fremont neighborhood, was canceled.
Meanwhile, her book is a wonderful asset to all of us baking at home — it’s packed with carefully tested, fantastically adaptable recipes so everyone can tweak them to their dietary needs.
Goldenrod Pastries’ menu includes vegan, gluten-free and dairy-free items, along with traditional butter- and flour-packed treats. Every recipe in the book has a “you do you” key at the top, with checkboxes that instantly show which recipes can be baked with which adaptations. In many cases, the default version needs no adaptation — the “snow on plowed ground” chocolate cookies contain neither dairy nor gluten, and the bun chapter is built on two yeast doughs, one of which is vegan (with gluten), and the other gluten-free (with eggs). The design keeps these adaptations friendly and approachable, which suits Garbacz perfectly.
“Even as a person who’s been baking professionally for 16 years, I still mess up recipes that are new to me, and I still make mistakes on recipes I’ve been making for years. Now especially, grant yourself a little grace — in the kitchen, and in life. Your cinnamon rolls might look different than the ones I picture in my book the first time or two you make them, but you’ll get used to the process, and the notes in the recipe will start to make more sense to you each time you make the recipe.”
Garbacz’s biggest tip when it comes to baking? Add salt. She says, “You can really push the limits of a reasonable amount of salt in your sweets. It enriches the flavor of buns, cakes, cookies — really almost everything.” A notable exception is her barely sweet almond cookie. Even a tiny amount made it almost savory, so the final recipe is just three ingredients: egg whites, sugar and almond flour.
Almond flour is sometimes sold as almond meal. Some brands leave the dark almond skins in place, and while the cookies will bake the same, the look of them is distinctly more rustic. So rustic, in fact, that my husband asked what I’d done to the potatoes when he saw them cooling on the baking sheet. Potato-like or not, they were delicious.
Chewy Almond Cookies
Makes 15 to 20 cookies
These are really humble-looking cookies, but once people try them, they can’t resist the slightly crunchy-chewy edge and crust that surround the fluffy, light, slightly sweet almond center.
5 large egg whites
1 1/2 cups (300 grams) granulated sugar
4 1/2 cups (432 grams) almond flour
1. Preheat your oven to 350° F, and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. You can mix these cookies with a stand mixer or by hand. Whisk the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Add the sugar and almond flour. If you’re using a stand mixer, whisk in the sugar and almond flour with the mixer. If you are mixing by hand, fold in the sugar and almond flour.
3. We recommend using the #20 scoop for these cookies, about 3 tablespoons. You also can scoop the dough with a large soup spoon and roll it into a ball between the palms of your hands. Scoop into balls, and place 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets.
4. Bake right away, or freeze for up to 24 hours. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the cookies are golden brown around the entire cookie and just barely soft to the touch when you gently press on the top.
5. Remove from the oven, and let cool completely on the baking sheets before transferring to a storage container or serving tray. These adhere to the parchment paper a little during baking, so you need to wait until they are fully cool to transfer.
Excerpted from “Perfectly Golden: Adaptable Recipes for Sweet and Simple Treats.” Copyright 2020 by Angela Garbacz. Photography by Daniel Muller. Reproduced by permission of The Countryman Press. All rights reserved.