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


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#61 Patrick S

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Posted 18 September 2006 - 04:59 PM

It is absolutly awsome but I did like it more slightly chilled rather than at room temperature as recommended by the book. A little cool the tart does not feel as rich and the peanut-caramel layer gets nice and chewy and a little crunchy. Also I rolled the dough instead of pressing it in the pan which in my experience takes longer and is never even. Rolling it was a breeze between two lightly floured wax papers and took no more than 4 or 5 minutes.

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That looks great, Elie! This is one of the first recipes that caught my attention when I first looked through the book, and even though I just made a recipe with the caramel/peanut/chocolate, seeing your tart makes me want more. . .
"If you are irritated by every rub, how will you be polished?" - Rumi

#62 Lori in PA

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Posted 21 September 2006 - 05:27 AM

Yesterday afternoon I spent some time with my new book (Sam's Club) and decided to mix up the Brown Sugar-Pecan Shortbread Cookies. I must insert a disclaimer here: My friends and family often make comments like, "You know, that Lori is a good cook, but her cookies..." I'm known for my spread-out cookies, I'm afraid.

I was seduced by the lovely photo on pg. 126 -- sharply squared cookies with their homey little fork prick marks marching across each one. Dorie's baking instructions were comfortingly precise -- "bake for 18-20 minutes, rotating the sheets from top to bottom and front to back at the mid-way point. The shortbreads will be very pale -- they shouldn't take on much color." They spurred me on to unwarranted cookie confidence.

So, yesterday I mixed and rolled them in their clever zippered bag -- "This is fun," I thought, because I hate rolling out cookie dough the traditional way -- and moved them to the fridge for their overnight sojourn. Bright and early this morning I carefully preheated my oven and nursed my first cup of coffee while I waited for the official ding of proper baking temperature reached. I used my ruler and bench scraper to cut precise 1 1/2" squares of dough. I pricked lovingly, whisked my baking sheets into the oven, and set my trusty timer. Nine minutes, rotate and switch pans, nine more minutes. I eagerly opened the oven door to find...

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...not beautifully square, just-kissed-with-golden-color cookies, oh no! It was the old story -- my careful quadrilaterals had oozed into vague, slope-sided, over-browned short-thins. Some were merely medium tawny, but here and there were decidedly dark cookies.

I’m ok. I don’t need your pity. Really. One of my sons tasted a homelier specimen and said, “Wow, Mom. This is good!” It just goes to prove what I’ve always believed – some of us must be content to produce a lifetime of cookies with unfortunate complexions and figures who turn out to be beautiful on the inside, after all. In my case, I’m blaming it on the oven.
~ Lori in PA
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#63 Jean Blanchard

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Posted 21 September 2006 - 06:19 AM

I made the coconut tea cake last night (sorry, no pictures yet). Very simple to put together. Moist, very coconutty, sort of like a coconut pound cake. Drizzled with a little chocolate sauce, it's even better. Another winner!

#64 ludja

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Posted 21 September 2006 - 08:20 AM

...

I was seduced by the lovely photo on pg. 126 -- sharply squared cookies with their homey little fork prick marks marching across each one. Dorie's baking instructions were comfortingly precise -- "bake for 18-20 minutes, rotating the sheets from top to bottom and front to back at the mid-way point. The shortbreads will be very pale -- they shouldn't take on much color." They spurred me on to unwarranted cookie confidence.
...

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The Brown Sugar Pecan Shortbread sound good and I think they look pretty nice as well.

Whenever I bake cookies, even a recipe I've made before, I take extra care with the first batch to check on the timing that day with the dough and oven rather than relying on any written instructions. I'll set the timer to go off *five minutes* before the recommended time in order to check visually how the cookies are looking.

Then I'll stay at the oven and check periodically to get them just right. Usually the subsequent batches can be baked pretty much according to the time needed in the first batch.

Thanks for sharing your results on these cookies; I really like brown sugar/pecan combos.
"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"


#65 SusanGiff

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Posted 22 September 2006 - 05:51 AM

Hi. I've been hitting the book off and on for the last week. I started with the World Peace cookies, which were pretty easy to make and came out nearly as described in the book. Warning: they are INTENSELY chocolatey, too much so for my family (although not for me), so I still have half a batch in the freezer. If you're baking for a crowd, be aware that most people will not want to eat more than one at one sitting. Seriously. They're that rich. On the other hand, if you're serving a group of die-hard chocoholics, this is the one.

My second foray was the blueberry cake with cinnamon crumb topping--fantastic! I substituted pecans for the walnuts, in part because I was feeling too lazy to chop my walnut halves, in part because I really like the blueberry/pecan combo. I used frozen blueberries that we'd picked earlier in the summer, and they worked fine. Dorie writes that this cake is best on the day it's made, which is true, but that led me to believe that it'd be only so-so by day two. Wrong--it was still good, and still very moist, on day four! (The fact that it was still around on day four shouldn't be taken as a sign of resistibility--it's just that my husband and I are the only ones who were eating it, and much as I love to bake and LOVE to eat baked goods, I have to resist for the sake of my wardrobe, self-esteem, etc.)

Yesterday I made the double-apple bundt cake for a Rosh Hashona dinner tonight. I used pecans (recipe recommends pecans or walnuts), and toasted them for extra crunch. For some reason (maybe Dorie can explain here?), the recipe recommends removing it from the pan after five minutes. When I did that, half the darned thing stayed in the pan. Distinct silver lining here: I got to dig in, and it was very tasty. I made another one last night, this time buttering and flouring the pan (which was non-stick) and leaving the finished cake in for more like 10-15 minutes. It dropped out like a dream, and if it's as good as the first effort, should be a big hit.

I'll try to post a picture after I've drizzled a bit of frosting on tonight.

So far, I'm three for three with these recipes, with many, many more on my list to try. An excellent addition to the cookbook shelf.

Susan

#66 Dorie Greenspan

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Posted 22 September 2006 - 07:32 AM

I'm going to try to play catch-up with this post.

Elie -- I love that you made the Chocolate Crunched Caramel Tart, it's one of my favorites. In fact, there was a moment when the tart was going to be on the book's cover. I'm also glad that you played with the temperature of the tart and found the one you liked best. I like the tart at room temperature, because that's the temp at which I enjoy the chocolate ganache the most, but I get what you're saying about the chewiness of the caramel when it's a little chilled. Actually, as you probably discovered, the tart's not so bad cold either -- really, when could chocolate, caramel and peanuts not be good?

Lori -- I thought your shortbread cookies looked eminently munchable, but I think you've got hot spots in your oven. See how some cookies are so much darker than others? That's not you -- that's your oven. What you might do, is bake one sheet of cookies at a time, rotate the sheet midway through the baking and, if you see that some cookies are browning way ahead of others, pull those cookies off the sheet when they're done and keep baking the others. (The darker ones are probably the cookies in the back of the oven, yes?) The other solution is to keep doing what you're doing and to send the really dark ones to my husband -- those are the ones he likes best. One other thing -- don't worry about getting precision-straight sides on the cookies. If you take a closer look at the picture in the book, you'll see that, as pretty as the cookies are, their sides aren't really sharply straight.

Susan -- I'm thrilled that you're three-for-three -- I can't wait for you to be fifty-for-fifty! About unmolding your Bundt cake -- hmmm. I work with three different kinds of Bundt pans -- one that's pretty lightweight that I bought 100 years ago, a spiffy, heavy, nonstick Bundt from NordicWare (the people who make most of the traditional and fancifully shaped pans we see these days) and a silicone pan that I use for smaller cakes -- and the only time I've had the problem you had unmolding a cake after 5 minutes of cooling was 1) when the cake wasn't fully baked; or 2) when I didn't thoroughly butter and flour the pan. Here's a good rule for unmolding any kind of cake -- wait until the cake has shrunk a little from the sides of the pan. I hope your Double Apple Bundt Cake will make your Rosh Hashona even sweeter.

Lesley -- I can't tell you how delighted I am that you, a practiced Tarte Tatiner, liked mine. I wish I could go on a Tarte Tatin campaign and get more people to make the dessert. So many people -- even experienced home bakers -- are intimidated by the tarte when, in fact, it's easier to make than most desserts many bakers feel comfortable doing. Thanks for posting on it.

Jean -- If you've got some of the Coconut Tea Cake left over, toast it -- I think it's terrific like that.

#67 FoodMan

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Posted 22 September 2006 - 07:57 AM

Dorie-

Chocolates, caramel and peanuts can never be bad. I hate to sound like Bobby Flay (everything seems to be his favorite flavor/ingredient/cuisine/...), but this has to be one of my favorite flavor combination. Add to that banana and I'm in heaven. I actually have a banana cream pie recipe that does just that, has a chocolate glazed crust on the bottom, then a layer of peanut butter, then banana and banana pastry cream and whipped cream. Some Bourbon fudge tops the whole thing when served!

and

Warning: they are INTENSELY chocolatey, too much so for my family (although not for me),


means that I absolutly have to make those. Your other experiments sound fabulous as well. I just might have to finally buy me a bundt pan.

E. Nassar
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#68 ludja

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Posted 22 September 2006 - 08:03 AM

...

Warning: they are INTENSELY chocolatey, too much so for my family (although not for me),


means that I absolutly have to make those. Your other experiments sound fabulous as well. I just might have to finally buy me a bundt pan.

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I have to admit, SusanGiff's description draws me to these cookies as well. It's exactly the way I like chocolate--in occasional, small, intense doses!

Thanks for sharing the detailed description of your efforts, SusanGiff! And of course, thank you also to Ms. Greenspan. This learning experience is very special.
"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"


#69 MelissaH

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Posted 22 September 2006 - 09:47 AM

Dorie,

For those of us who bake by weight: when you measure out a cup of flour by volume, what does it weigh?

MelissaH
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Say this five times fast: "A big blue bucket of blue blueberries."

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#70 Patrick S

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Posted 22 September 2006 - 12:46 PM

Dorie,

For those of us who bake by weight: when you measure out a cup of flour by volume, what does it weigh?

MelissaH

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1C of AP measured by dip-and-sweep method is about 5oz.
"If you are irritated by every rub, how will you be polished?" - Rumi

#71 MelissaH

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Posted 22 September 2006 - 12:50 PM

Dorie,

For those of us who bake by weight: when you measure out a cup of flour by volume, what does it weigh?

MelissaH

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1C of AP measured by dip-and-sweep method is about 5oz.

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Patrick,
I realize this. But presumably, the author of any cookbook measures out the flour in some way, and consistently uses this method throughout the cookbook. For me, anyway, it would be useful to know what a cup of flour weighs, as measured by the person who wrote the recipe.

MelissaH
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Say this five times fast: "A big blue bucket of blue blueberries."

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#72 Dorie Greenspan

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Posted 22 September 2006 - 02:43 PM

Melissa -- I'm a dip-and-sweep-er -- that's the method I used for the recipes in the book. I always aerate the flour before I dip and -- I just measured -- the weight is 4.8 ounces or, as Patrick said, about 5 ounces. Hope this helps -- Dorie

#73 laniloa

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Posted 22 September 2006 - 02:50 PM

I made the cinnamon squares this week. They were unbelievably easy and quite tasty. The texture reminded me more of a light quick bread then a cake. I'm not a coffee fan so I stuck with just chocolate for the middle swirl. I was concerned that the frosting (chocolate thinned with butter) might be too heavy for such a light cake but I was glad to be wrong. This may have been the office treat that disappeared the quickest even with several folks out!

#74 SweetSide

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Posted 22 September 2006 - 04:18 PM

Melissa -- I'm a dip-and-sweep-er -- that's the method I used for the recipes in the book.  I always aerate the flour before I dip and -- I just measured -- the weight is 4.8 ounces or, as Patrick said, about 5 ounces.  Hope this helps -- Dorie

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Perfect -- I'm a die hard "weigher" too, and it isn't often you get to ask the author exactly how she does it! Just got my book this afternoon, have three days off and am anxious to join in on the baking! This is my fourth of your books and the other three are staples to me.
Cheryl, The Sweet Side

#75 Dorie Greenspan

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Posted 22 September 2006 - 04:28 PM

Melissa and SweetSide and other "weighers" -- I'll be interested to hear from you after you make some of the recipes by weighing out the ingredients. Unlike the Pierre Herme recipes -- which were given to me in metric and which I converted to volume measures -- all of these recipes were tested using good old American cups and spoons.

#76 Patrick S

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Posted 22 September 2006 - 05:15 PM

Dorie,

For those of us who bake by weight: when you measure out a cup of flour by volume, what does it weigh?

MelissaH

View Post


1C of AP measured by dip-and-sweep method is about 5oz.

View Post


Patrick,
I realize this. But presumably, the author of any cookbook measures out the flour in some way, and consistently uses this method throughout the cookbook. For me, anyway, it would be useful to know what a cup of flour weighs, as measured by the person who wrote the recipe.

MelissaH

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I agree, and Dorie does makes it clear, on p. 482, that the flour in all of her recipes should be measured by the "scoop and sweep" method, which is why I cited the 5oz weight.
"If you are irritated by every rub, how will you be polished?" - Rumi

#77 Patrick S

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Posted 22 September 2006 - 05:33 PM

The third recipe I tried is the tartest lemon tart. Of course, lemon tarts are some of my favorite things, and my all-time favorite lemon tart is probably Herme's lemon tart, a version of which is in Baking, but which I first found in Dorie's Desserts by Pierre Herme. The tartest lemon tart caught my attention because it uses whole lemons, and though I've tried a lot of lemon tart recipes, I've never tried one that uses whole lemons. While this tart was not my favorite, I thought it was pretty good, and enjoyed trying something different.

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"If you are irritated by every rub, how will you be polished?" - Rumi

#78 SweetSide

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Posted 22 September 2006 - 07:22 PM

Melissa and SweetSide and other "weighers" -- I'll be interested to hear from you after you make some of the recipes by weighing out the ingredients.  Unlike the Pierre Herme recipes -- which were given to me in metric and which I converted to volume measures -- all of these recipes were tested using good old American cups and spoons.

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Me too, because by nature I'm a fluff, spoon in, and level person and you said you are a fluff, dip, and sweep person. For my method, I almost always get 4.5 oz AP flour per cup. Personally, I'm thinking of automatically using your 4.8 oz of flour when it says "cup".

Now, if I could only decide where to start.....
Cheryl, The Sweet Side

#79 apronstrings

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Posted 22 September 2006 - 09:10 PM

Just got back from our family Rosh Hashonah meal. I prepared Dorie's Devil's Food White Out Cake and her Russian Grandmother's Apple Pie Cake.
:biggrin: The chocolate cake was devoured in a flash. It was a spectacular cake, and made a beautiful presentation. Creamy, chocolaty and quite lush. I DID gild the lily by throwing a handful of caramelized cocoa nibs ( I'm caramelizing the nibs for another dessert) into the chocolate batter. They added a gentle crunchiness, which I think, added a nice contrast to smooth fudginess of each slice.
:blink: The group consensus ( myself included) for the apple pie cake was not as glowing. Without telling anyone I "switched recipes", they all knew this apple cake was different from the one I always bake. Russian Grandma's dough, though made with butter, wasn't as satisfying. My oil based dough recipe was enjoyed more. More hamantascheny, I would say. And the filling I have been using ( for 30 years) is juicier and more flavorful. I've been mixing Macs with Grannies, using more sugar, spices, and some flour.
Next week I will be making the Lemon Cream Tart... I am always tempted to lick the computer screen after looking at Patrick's photos. How DOES he do that??

#80 SweetSide

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Posted 23 September 2006 - 12:02 PM

Alright -- one down, many more to go..... With all the wonderful things in the book I started with brownies because they are my daughters favorite and I tend to bake for customers, husbands coworkers, etc. and never "simple" for her.

The Bittersweet Brownies are out of the pan and cool. Consensu (family) is that they are too fudgy (I know, not possible for some people) for our palate. But, they do hold true to the intro of the recipe that they are extremely moist, much like a dense mousse. We just like ours with more "chew", but not cakey.

I used about a 50/50 split of Valrhona Guanaja and Callebaut semisweet because my daughter doesn't like things that are too dark. But, this recipe could have handled all Guanaja -- it is a recipe for truely bittersweet chocolate. Because the chocolate does stand out, use the best as Dorie says.

Question for Dorie -- I chose this brownie recipe to start with because my family doesn't like nuts in their brownies. Phoo on them, but... does not including the nuts listed in the other brownie recipes affect their outcome at all? That is, other than, well, just not having nuts? I have a cookie recipe that if you don't include the nuts, they just spread too much.
Cheryl, The Sweet Side

#81 tamiam

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Posted 24 September 2006 - 07:07 AM

One thing I love doing is waking up earlier than everybody on the weekend (not hard to do in a house full of teenagers), and bake quickbreads. It is such an easy thing to do, the house smells so good, and even though it is not the least bit fancy, that kind of baking really appeals to my senses. Yesterday morning, I made the Coffee Break Muffins.

With a whole stick of butter, I was concerned that they might be heavy or greasy, but they came out great. My favorite part is that the crust is crunchy and thin, an dhas great contrast with the light cakey insides. Love the edges! The coffee flavor is buttery, yet still "clean" and true, plus it is kind of a surprise since it isn't a common muffin flavor. Definite do-agains.

Dorie, if you are still out there, the book is a treat. Nice layout, crisp and modern, but still welcoming. The part where you dumped a boyfriend because he ordered blueberries and chocolate together cracked me up :biggrin: And, I especially like that you titled the variations as "playing around". It is good to know that we are allowed to play--something I almost always do when cooking, and somehow dont feel free to do when baking. Thanks for that.
Oil and potatoes both grow underground so french fries may have eventually invented themselves had they not been invented -- J. Esther

#82 MelissaH

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Posted 24 September 2006 - 08:26 AM

I kind-of sort-of made a Russian Grandmother's Apple Cake on Friday. Except that because the farmer's market in town had beautiful little Seckel pears last Thursday, I used them instead of apples. And then because I thought that ginger would go nicely with pears, I used that instead of cinnamon.

The pears were a PITA to prep compared to apples, because they're so tiny. And I wound up not using any lemon juice in the filling because I used my last lemon to make the crust. The individual components (crust dough and pears/ginger/sugar filling) tasted good, and the cake looked beautiful when it came out of the oven. Of course, I didn't think to take a picture because I was planning to have it around for a little while.

But shortly after the cake came out of the oven, the next-door neighbors invited us over for their night-before-their-wedding party. And since we couldn't go over empty-handed, I brought the pear cake. (My husband brought over homebrew.) The whole cake disappeared rapidly, to rave reviews, and I never got to taste a piece. My husband got some, though, and he assures me that pears and ginger work quite well. I liked that the Seckels didn't turn to mush, but there must be some other pear that holds its shape but is a reasonable size?

I actually felt just a little bit naughty messing around with this recipe, because it's one that I generally don't do much with. (It's also one of the few that I actually measure things by volume, because that's how it's always been done.) But then again, it's become MY recipe now, so why shouldn't I play around with it?

Note to self: must remember to retrieve deep-dish pie pan some time next week while we care for the honeymooners' cats.

MelissaH
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Say this five times fast: "A big blue bucket of blue blueberries."

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#83 juliachildish

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Posted 24 September 2006 - 11:11 AM

Okay, you all have convinced me. I mean, Baking With Julia and Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Herme are two of my most favorite cookbooks, so I guess it wasn't that hard of a decision...but I just ordered it off Amazon, and now can't wait for it to arrive!

#84 ruthcooks

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Posted 24 September 2006 - 12:28 PM

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.

I don't have my copy of the book yet, but am enjoying everyone else's reports. "Baking with Julia" is one of my all time favorites.
Ruth Dondanville aka "ruthcooks"

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#85 kitwilliams

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Posted 24 September 2006 - 01:15 PM

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:
kit

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#86 FoodMan

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Posted 24 September 2006 - 08:51 PM

The breakfast section in this book is quiet outstanding. It was very difficult to pick a breakfast goodie. In the end I settled on the "Great Grains Muffins" on page 9. It was very simple, I had all the ingredients on hand and it uses prunes, I mean "dried plums", another weakness of mine. The muffins were simple, not too sweet and very tasty with a great toothy crumb full of flavor from the cornmeal and oats and of course a lovely chew from the prunes. I used some almonds in them as well. Dorie is right, these are very good with a nice slice of Cheddar.

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#87 Jean Blanchard

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Posted 25 September 2006 - 06:35 AM

Made the World Peace cookies over the weekend. Really chocolately but I guess everybody knows that already.

One of the things I love about this cookbook is all of the "fooling around" tips. It has helped me give thought to "fooling around" with some of my old tried and true recipes too.

#88 beccaboo

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Posted 25 September 2006 - 07:12 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. 

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I don't think the dip-and-sweep method's really that new. I learned to cook from my mother's 1960s Betty Crocker cookbook, and that's what Betty told me to do. Now i have my own 1950s Betty crocker, and it uses the same method. I prefer to weigh now, but usually 'dip-level-pour' (that's what Betty Crocker calls it), fluffing the flour first, when measuring by volume. My cups weigh about 4.7 oz that way.

#89 Dorie Greenspan

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Posted 25 September 2006 - 12:41 PM

Nice looking muffins Elie. Like you, I've always liked prunes -- I like their chewiness and their sweet-tart flavor. I can't bring myself to call them dried plums.

More on measuring. I smiled when I read Beccaboo saying that she didn't think the dip-level-pour method was new. I hadn't really thought about it before, but I'm pretty sure that that's the method I used when I first went into the kitchen -- and that's more than 30 years ago. And, I know it's the method we used on the set for Baking with Julia.

Just now, I opened the new Bon Appetit Cookbook and read the following:

"one cup of all purpose flour is measured using the 'scoop and level' technique"

Yes, yes, it would be easier if we all measured, but, as I've said before, I don't think this will be happening in this country any time soon. In the meantime, the best we can do is read each cookbook to find out how the author measures.

#90 Lesley C

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Posted 25 September 2006 - 05:02 PM

Yes, but couldn't it happen soon if food writers educated the masses on how much more efficient the metric system is for baking? For instance, couldn't you have added metric measures in your book and dedicated a page in the introduction to using them?
As a former pastry chef it really gets me that this system is not being pushed. It is not only more precise, but easier and faster. If the French and British can handle it, why can't we? And scales are so easy to use now that they are digital.