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"Baking: From My Home to Yours" (Part 1)


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#571 Pam R

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Posted 09 December 2006 - 03:39 PM

I gently pressed the streusel into the top of the muffins and had only a little left over. The flavour developed after they cooled and sat for a little while - but more streusel on top would equal more flavour. I'm of the 'never too much streusel' camp. :laugh: Easy remedy would to be to add some more allspice to suit your personal tastes.

#572 mamagotcha

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Posted 09 December 2006 - 04:32 PM

Greetings! I heard about Dorie's new book as she was swinging through town on a promo tour, so I got hold of the book and met her on the same day. (Please Click Here for more about meeting Dorie in person!)

The next day, I tried the Pecan Sour Cream Biscuits, and they were truly fantastic... and dead easy. It was a great start to a wonderful baking relationship! The next morning, my husband had requested biscuits and gravy, so I tried the Basic Biscuits... as good or better than my old Cook's Illustrated standby recipe (I'll have to try a head-to-head bake-off; fortunately we're a family of six, and no baked good goes uneaten for very long). I've never heard that tip about not twisting the biscuit cutter (a glass, in my case)... I'll have to try that!

I needed something quick to send off to distant relatives, so I tried the Chunky Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chipsters. Two thumbs way, way up on this one! I loved the more elegant freshly grated nutmeg against the rustic oats and nuts, and the relatives raved up and down too. Wouldn't change a thing!

Next up was the Blueberry Crumb Cake. I was not terribly thrilled with this one, but I did have to use zest from an orange that wasn't very interesting (a navel)... maybe I should have stuck with lemon. I love the part where you mix in the zest with the sugar... it smells sooo good, it's a treat on its own (even with the weak zest). This too was quickly devoured.

I neglected to take any pictures of those previous goodies, but I happened to have the next three still at hand today:

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The first I made were the Orange-Currant Sunshine Muffins. Of all the things I've made out of this book, this was the first that didn't go over well here. I don't know, the flavor was a little flat and weak (or maybe I'm just picky about oranges, being from California but currently living in Kansas City... not exactly a citrus zone). We've slowly gone through them by toasting them and spreading them with butter (this treatment improves everything) but I don't think this recipe will make it into my regular rotation. They sure are pretty, though!

Yesterday I made the Lenox Almond Biscotti, with the added anise variation (I upped the anise to 2 tsp., and ground it into the sugar, oh man the kitchen smelled sooo good!). I think I didn't bake it long enough the first time (so they squished down a little when I sliced them) and baked 'em too long the second time (some of the ones on the edges were definitely browned), but that was my own darned fault. The biscotti were just right in the flavor department, even if they're not the prettiest things around. I will DEFINITELY make more of these, and I think they've earned a position on my annual Christmas Cookie Tray.

Finally, I got the nerve up to make the World Peace Cookies. Everyone has raved about them so much, and I tried one at Dorie's signing party (and it was knock-out good) that I must admit I was a little bit intimidated: could I possibly pull this off? After tracking down the fleur-de-sel, and hacking up five ounces of my hoarded Scharffenberger bittersweet, I finally took the plunge. The dough was indeed very dry and crumbly, as Dorie mentions in the recipe, but when it was warmed by my hands during the brief gathering-into-logs process, it managed to stick together. I let it rest overnight, and this morning heated my oven (I have a husband who bakes too, and he insists on leaving the pizza stone in the oven, so after reading what you folks said way back early in this thread, I made sure to preheat well before putting in the single sheet).

I am bursting with pride to say that even a dopey amateur like me can pull off these cookies! They are intense, rich, crumbly but not falling-apart, everything that was promised. The only drawback is that this recipe doesn't make very many (I think I got 30 cookies out of it), so I'll try doubling the recipe next time.

Check the calendar; if Dorie's coming to town, you should make an effort to meet her. She's got an amazing way of somehow making you feel like she's all excited to meet YOU, instead of the other way 'round.

How wonderful to read all your stories, and I look forward to further sharing ideas, tweaks and adventures as we cook our way through this book. I hope Dorie drops back in soon... and I second the motion to have Patrick lead a photography session. ALL his pictures are soooo yummy, and about as sexy as food can get!

What's next? That Far Breton is pretty tempting... the brioche (and the Bostock) sound great... and those pecan rolls... decisions, decisions!
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#573 Lindacakes

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Posted 09 December 2006 - 05:53 PM

Mottmott, I do have a suggestion for baking with a ten-year-old:

Betty Crocker's Cooky Book. It's a facsimile of the 1960 original, has fun pictures and easy recipes. I learned from it when I was a kid, and I still make some of the recipes -- the butterscotch brownies and toffee squares are tops and very easy.

Nick Malgieri's Supernatural Brownies (you can Google it, it's posted online) are supernaturally easy and delicious.
I like to bake nice things. And then I eat them. Then I can bake some more.

#574 Mottmott

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Posted 09 December 2006 - 10:13 PM

Mottmott, I do have a suggestion for baking with a ten-year-old:

Betty Crocker's Cooky Book.  It's a facsimile of the 1960 original, has fun pictures and easy recipes.  I learned from it when I was a kid, and I still make some of the recipes -- the butterscotch brownies and toffee squares are tops and very easy.

Nick Malgieri's Supernatural Brownies (you can Google it, it's posted online) are supernaturally easy and delicious.

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Thanks for the suggestions. As it happens I have the Supernat'l brownies recipe. As for cookies, I don't like making them much. All that shaping, shifting trays about, timing, timing. They have to be pretty special cookies to warrant all that fiddly stuff. No, I'm not granny of the year. :laugh:
"Half of cooking is thinking about cooking." ---Michael Roberts

#575 coconutlime

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Posted 10 December 2006 - 08:16 AM

I gently pressed the streusel into the top of the muffins and had only a little left over.  The flavour developed after they cooled and sat for a little while - but more streusel on top would equal more flavour.  I'm of the 'never too much streusel' camp. :laugh:  Easy remedy would to be to add some more allspice to suit your personal tastes.

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Of course we could add more allspice but I always feel that a truly good recipe shouldn't have to be altered unless you are changing a significant flavor. It isn't too much to think that an allspice muffin would taste of allspice. We did allow them to sit but they were still bland and as it was, there was so much struesel on the muffin it was falling off and caramelizing on the pan!
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#576 Pam R

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Posted 10 December 2006 - 11:28 AM

Of course we could add more allspice but I always feel that a truly good recipe shouldn't have to be altered unless you are changing a significant flavor. It isn't too much to think that an allspice muffin would taste of allspice.

We'll have to agree to disagree. I really liked them and got the allspice flavour. And I also think that a recipe can be really good, but not to my taste (or somebody else's). It's all about personal taste I guess. :smile:

#577 Mottmott

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Posted 10 December 2006 - 12:10 PM

What’s the big deal about tweaking some spice or other. Recipes are not magic formulas. They’re merely guides to achieving a certain kind of result. When we don’t get the result we want, it may be as much our fault as the recipe.

Many variables can get you there - or somewhere else. Some elements of a recipe are what I consider essential: ratios of flour, butter, sugar, eggs, liquid and the order in which you combine them and the technique you use to do so. What and how much of various flavorings are peripheral to the recipe and can often be altered without changing the basic outcome even though the effect may be quite different. For example. I made the All In One Holiday Bundt Cake. Loved it. Everyone loved it. Last night I made the Double Apple Bundt Cake. It was only while I was making it that deja vu struck. When I checked, sure enough: the basic ingredient ratios, technique were the same, all the flavoring ingredients were not. Result? Two different delicious cake.

Now, truth to tell, the Apple Cake was not as successful. Both recipes called for 1 or 2 medium apples. No volume or weight measurement. The apple cake was a touch too moist and slightly undercooked in the bottom of the pan. Maybe because my medium apples the second time were actually a bit bigger? Maybe because grating them instead of chopping them made them more juicy? We’ve discussed to death the dearth of weight measurement in US recipes, so in their absence I say suck it up, make a note and correct it next time if all else satisfies you. (Though I confess to grumbling about their absence under my breath.)

Don’t like the level of spice in a recipe? Ditto. My taste for spice or sweetness and yours may be quite different. What one person finds bland may strike another as subtle and restrained. My own preference runs to spicy, so I often up the amount of cinnamon or ginger in a recipe, throw in some lemon zest, etc. None of those things will do more than tweak the flavor.

All this before we get into the issue of the quality of the ingredients, their source and type. When a particular flavor is the main player, I get a different result when I use Ceylon cinnamon (floral) or Vietnamese (spicy), or when I use a more floral Tahitian vanilla instead of Madagascar. Now that may not show up much in a spice cake, but makes all the difference in a custard. And that’s before we get into the question of how fresh they are, whether I used powdered out of the jar or ground my own, etc. Maybe the store bought apple butter was the culprit, a bit too liquidy? Or perhaps the difference between the two versions of what is essentially the same cake is that the first time I took the trouble to whizz the already granulated sugar into fine sugar. Or maybe it was because one cake used all granulated sugar, the other part brown sugar. Or maybe because, preferring a less sweet cake I slightly reduced the sugar in the apple cake. Or perhaps the more liquidy grated apples really called for an extra 5 minutes in the oven over the chopped apples in the holiday cake. None of these decisions reflect on the person who wrote the recipe unless one feels that every recipe dictate on all these issues.
"Half of cooking is thinking about cooking." ---Michael Roberts

#578 tamiam

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Posted 10 December 2006 - 12:56 PM

What’s the big deal about tweaking some spice or other. Recipes are not magic formulas. They’re merely guides to achieving a certain kind of result. When we don’t get the result we want, it may be as much our fault as the recipe.

Many variables can get you there - or somewhere else. Some elements of a recipe are what I consider essential: ratios of flour, butter, sugar, eggs, liquid and the order in which you combine them and the technique you use to do so. What and how much of various flavorings are peripheral to the recipe and can often be altered without changing the basic outcome even though the effect may be quite different. For example. I made the All In One Holiday Bundt Cake. Loved it. Everyone loved it. Last night I made the Double Apple Bundt Cake. It was only while I was making it that deja vu struck. When I checked, sure enough: the basic ingredient ratios, technique were the same, all the flavoring ingredients were not. Result? Two different delicious cake.

Now, truth to tell, the Apple Cake was not as successful. Both recipes called for 1 or 2 medium apples. No volume or weight measurement. The apple cake was a touch too moist and slightly undercooked in the bottom of the pan. Maybe because my medium apples the second time were actually a bit bigger? Maybe because grating them instead of chopping them made them more juicy? We’ve discussed to death the dearth of weight measurement in US recipes, so in their absence I  say suck it up, make a note and correct it next time if all else satisfies you. (Though I confess to grumbling about their absence under my breath.)

Don’t like the level of spice in a recipe? Ditto. My taste for spice or sweetness and yours may be quite different. What one person finds bland may strike another as subtle and restrained. My own preference runs to spicy, so I often up  the amount of cinnamon or ginger in a recipe, throw in some lemon zest, etc. None of those things will do more than tweak the flavor.

All this before we get into the issue of the quality of the ingredients, their source and type. When a particular flavor is the main player, I get a different result when I use Ceylon cinnamon (floral) or Vietnamese (spicy), or when I use a more floral Tahitian vanilla instead of Madagascar. Now that may not show up much in a spice cake, but makes all the difference in a custard. And that’s before we get into the question of how fresh they are, whether I used powdered out of the jar or ground my own, etc. Maybe the store bought apple butter was the culprit, a bit too liquidy? Or perhaps the difference between the two versions of what is essentially the same cake is that the first time I took the trouble to whizz the already granulated sugar into fine sugar. Or maybe it was because one cake used all granulated sugar, the other part brown sugar. Or maybe because, preferring a less sweet cake I slightly reduced the sugar in the apple cake. Or perhaps the more liquidy grated apples really called for an extra 5 minutes in the oven over the chopped apples in the holiday cake. None of these decisions reflect on the person who wrote the recipe unless one feels that every recipe dictate on all these issues.

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Well said.
Oil and potatoes both grow underground so french fries may have eventually invented themselves had they not been invented -- J. Esther

#579 Jean Blanchard

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Posted 10 December 2006 - 01:52 PM

Made the Katherine Hepburn brownies in small brioche tins (thanks for that idea, Ling) They did take about 17 min. The idea of baking in the little tins makes them look so much more special. I'm serving them tonight with vanilla ice cream from Emily Luchetti's ice cream book and my dulche le leche (sp) on a spoon. Of course, I HAD to test the brownies before serving and they're really spectacular.

#580 zoe b

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Posted 11 December 2006 - 08:33 AM

I made the cranberry lime galette to take to friends' yesterday for dessert--we all loved it--four people pretty much wiped it out--and this was after a very big dinner. I think she does such interesting combinations of flavors-- this very simple filling was outstanding--I was a little leery of adding lime zest to the already acidic cranberries but it absolutely made the galette. I also subbed plum jelly for the raspberry called for which I didn't have--i don't think this made a difference.

I plan to keep bags of cranberries in the freezer so i can make this often. Although it's not a kid pleaser--beware--it's plenty sweet enough for adults, but most kids wouldn't like it. Also, I served it with whipped cream--I think vanilla ice cream would be better.

I did the all purpose pie dough--I think that's the name--the first time I've tried a different pie dough recipe in an awful long time--it was good--softer and easier to work than my standard dough, although the bottom of the galette got soggy for a couple of reasons--first, I couldn't get it off the sheet to cool on a rack without breaking it--I should have used my silicone sheet, but didn't, and also, I had to make the galette Saturday night as I was going to be out all day Sunday doing a show.

Zoe

#581 Lindacakes

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Posted 11 December 2006 - 12:08 PM

This is sort of off topicish, but I bought a bunch of cranberries with intent to make Dorie's cranberry upside down cake. I'm not going to get to it before after Christmas, so I stuck the berries in the freezer, per the instructions on the back of the bag. Simply as is. I'm worried about those holes in the bag, though. Should I?

Or does it really work to just stick the bag in the freezer?
I like to bake nice things. And then I eat them. Then I can bake some more.

#582 Lori in PA

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Posted 11 December 2006 - 12:43 PM

This is sort of off topicish, but I bought a bunch of cranberries with intent to make Dorie's cranberry upside down cake.  I'm not going to get to it before after Christmas, so I stuck the berries in the freezer, per the instructions on the back of the bag.  Simply as is.  I'm worried about those holes in the bag, though.  Should I?

Or does it really work to just stick the bag in the freezer?

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I've never had any problem doing this.
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#583 jadenegro

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Posted 11 December 2006 - 06:50 PM

Ok, so I just ordered this book. Thanks to you all :biggrin: I hope DH doesn't intercept the package and wrap it. Everything looks so delicious. I can't decide what to make first and I don't even have the book yet.

#584 emmalish

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Posted 12 December 2006 - 12:25 AM

I made the chocolate swirl sour cream bundt again (not the proper name), and knowing now that it makes a fairly thick batter I think I did a better job spreading it into the bundt pan and layering the swirl ingredients. I took it to work this morning and there aren't even any crumbs left now. It was a huge hit and I got several requests for the recipe. I can see this becoming one of my trusty standards!

I'm gonna go bake something…

wanna come with?


#585 sugar plum

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Posted 12 December 2006 - 07:25 PM

Over the last week I've made the buttery jam cookies (p.80), linzer sables (p. 134) and the fresh ginger and chocolate gingerbread (p.212). The buttery jam cookies didn't turn out as well as I had expected. Mine were very dry. The linzer sables were fun to make and eat! Quite tasty. I don't usually bake this type of cookie as it's difficult to pack up and give away. The jam gets all over the place.

The chocolate gingerbread cake was a huge hit! I just loved the bittersweet chocolate frosting. So easy to prepare and it really "fancied up" this sheet cake. I was expecting over-done edges from Dorie's recipe description but mine were fine. It took much longer in my 350 degree oven to bake. Probably around 1 hour at least.

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#586 Richard Kilgore

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Posted 13 December 2006 - 09:27 AM

I attended Dorie's demo class at Central Market in Dallas last Friday. Dorie is a delightful presenter and I expected the Madeleines, the World Peace Cookies and the Lemon Cream Tarts to be wonderful...and they were.

The real startling, nay shocking, lesson-learned had to do with the White Chocolate Brownies. I simply do not care for white chocolate and have avoided baking with it. But Dorie's Piere Herme-influenced use of white chocolate is a revelation and I will be making them at home. These are sublime and you could even serve them with champaigne.

#587 FoodMan

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Posted 13 December 2006 - 10:22 AM

Sugarplum- These cookies look perfect, and the cake looks so moist and tasty with all these ginger bits in it.

Richard-
I also never eat/bake with white chocolate. I just never cared for it and always thought of it as an "impostor" smearing the chocolate name :smile:. After your describtion though, I might have to give it a shot in those brownies.

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#588 Lindacakes

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Posted 13 December 2006 - 11:11 AM

Public service announcement: picked up from another thread that El Rey has the best white chocolate.
I like to bake nice things. And then I eat them. Then I can bake some more.

#589 merstar

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Posted 13 December 2006 - 02:47 PM

Public service announcement:  picked up from another thread that El Rey has the best white chocolate.

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It does. I absolutely hate white chocolate - I find it tastes like sweet wax. But El Rey's is an exception. I don't care for their dark chocolate, but when I need white chocolate for a recipe, I go for El Rey.
Check this out:
http://www.chocophil...ents/elreyicoa/

Edited by merstar, 13 December 2006 - 02:54 PM.

There's nothing better than a good friend, except a good friend with CHOCOLATE.

#590 Dorie Greenspan

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Posted 13 December 2006 - 07:50 PM

I'm still not a white-chocolate fan -- I'd never think of eating it out of hand the way I eat dark chocolate -- but I've come to understand that it has a real place in the dessert world, mostly as a carrier of other flavors. The real important thing about white chocolate is that it must be chocolate. So much of what passes as white chocolate is confectionery chocolate, meaning it has no cacao, or real chocolate, in it. Since, by law, European white chocolates must contain cacao, they're your best bet. I've been using Valhrona's Jivara and the El Rey white chocolate, which, as was mentioned, is really good. I've also been using E. Guittard white chocolate, which is American and really good as well.

#591 Patrick S

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Posted 14 December 2006 - 11:19 AM

So much of what passes as white chocolate is confectionery chocolate, meaning it has no cacao, or real chocolate, in it.  Since, by law, European white chocolates must contain cacao, they're your best bet.

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My understanding is that since 2004, when the US Standard of Identity for white chocolate was established, anything labelled as white chocolate sold in the US must contain 20% cocoa butter.

El Rey is my favorite, but I like Lindt almost as well.
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#592 tamiam

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Posted 15 December 2006 - 12:22 AM

Mmmmmmm. Hepburn goo-ey Brownies.
Oil and potatoes both grow underground so french fries may have eventually invented themselves had they not been invented -- J. Esther

#593 Jean Blanchard

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Posted 17 December 2006 - 07:15 AM

Made the cranberry upside downer cake for a dinner party last night. For anyone who hasn't tried this yet, it's a beautiful cake to make for the holiday buffet. Also, quite tasty!

#594 Lesley C

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Posted 17 December 2006 - 07:26 AM

I always thought the only chocolate Callebaut really nailed was their white couverture. It's the white chocolate that got me into eating white chocolate.

#595 Mottmott

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Posted 17 December 2006 - 09:33 AM

I just made the Apple Spice Bars and agree that they're terrific. I took them to a meeting where they were complimented by everyone.

As one of the "less sweet is more" camp, my single dissent is the glaze. I think the bars are already quite sweet and at most need a dusting of confectioners' for the look of it. And if I were to glaze them again, I'll use something that does not stay so gooey. They're a bit messy as finger food. Question. Would omitting the corn syrup be enough to tighten up the glaze?
"Half of cooking is thinking about cooking." ---Michael Roberts

#596 Pam R

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Posted 17 December 2006 - 11:17 AM

I was putting together a basket for a friend - full of coffees and teas, mugs, etc. It was missing something - so I baked a batch of the chocolate biscotti (subbing hazelnuts for the almonds, because I had them) - they were fantastic. Crunchy, not too sweet with a hint of coffee.

#597 Abbey

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Posted 17 December 2006 - 11:50 AM

I just don't understand what happened to flour weights/measurements.  Back in the 50's and 60's when I was learning to cook, I was told "A cup of flour weighs 4 ounces, which means that each 1/4 cup weighs one ounce."  I have used that rule for 50 years without problems until people started using the dip and sweep method and calling 5 ounces a cup.  You really need each book author to tell you how he/she measures, as Dorie has done.

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Which brings me back to my pet peeve: 1) why don't all American cookbook authors get on the metric (may as well go metric as it is even more accurate than ounces/pounds) bandwagon; and 2) why don't the rest of us get with it, buy scales, weigh our ingredients and this problem will just go away!

Sorry gang. It makes me insane! :wacko:

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I have a question for you. I want to use dried cherries in a recipe, but the recipe recommends fresh cherries. How do I estimate how many dried to use in place of fresh?

#598 Lori in PA

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Posted 17 December 2006 - 05:38 PM

I just made the Apple Spice Bars and agree that they're terrific. I took them to a meeting where they were complimented by everyone.

As one of the "less sweet is more" camp, my single dissent is the glaze. I think the bars are already quite sweet and at most need a dusting of confectioners' for the look of it. And if I were to glaze them again, I'll use something that does not stay so gooey. They're a bit messy as finger food. Question. Would omitting the corn syrup be enough to tighten up the glaze?

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I'm sorry -- can't help you at all. When it comes to things like caramel glaze, I'm in the "more sweet is more" camp. biggrin.gif

 

 

 

 

[Moderator note: This topic continues here, Baking: From My Home to Yours” (Part 2)]


Edited by Mjx, 04 August 2014 - 03:31 AM.
Host note added.

~ Lori in PA
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- Julia Child