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


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#91 cookman

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Posted 25 September 2006 - 08:28 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.

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I agree. I'm delighted when a new cookbook I pick up gives measurements in cups and grams. It gives me greater faith in the author and the recipes. The last breadbook I purchased lists ingredients in the following format:

1/3 cup (80 grams/2.6 ounces) warm water

I can't understand why publishers remain so reluctant to adopt this simple format.

#92 kitwilliams

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Posted 26 September 2006 - 12:00 AM

I LOVE Lesley C and cookman!
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#93 Anna N

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Posted 26 September 2006 - 12:45 AM

. . .
I can't understand why publishers remain so reluctant to adopt this simple format.

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Having worked with authors and publishers of cookbooks, I can tell you that it's not so simple and can be daunting in terms of time and cost. All those conversions must be checked and double-checked for accuracy and if the author and publisher are reputable, recipes must be tested with all those different measurements.
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#94 Dorie Greenspan

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Posted 26 September 2006 - 05:57 AM

Anna, you summed up the problem of adding measurements very neatly -- time and money. Interestingly, one of the money problems is the extra pages two sets of measurements adds to the book.

When I wrote Desserts by Pierre Herme, I included both volume and metric measurements and, at some point (I think it might have been after copy-editing) the metric measurements were deleted for space. The consensus on the publishing side was that the measurements made the book too long and made it look too scary.

It is complicated to add weights to a cookbook whether they are metric or "our" weights and, while Lesley's suggestion that authors could help things along by adding the weights to their books is a good one, it is not practical for many books.

#95 Lesley C

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Posted 26 September 2006 - 06:41 AM

It's worth having a glance at the new pastry book Tartine to see how this can be done without things looking too "scary" for readers.

I review cookbooks, and I've come accross so many mistakes in even regular measurements that I think an extra set may indeed be asking too much.

I do, however, dream of a day when I can show my grandchildren a measuring cup and tablespoon and tell them:

"Look children, don't laugh, but these are the tools we used to use to measure ingredients."

#96 MelissaH

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Posted 26 September 2006 - 06:44 AM

I made a Dimply Plum Cake last night, using some of the Italian prune plums from Thursday night's farmer's market. I didn't take a picture because it looked remarkably like the one in the book. :biggrin: I left it in the pan for the 15 minutes described in the book, and the cake unmolded perfectly and without a single drip of plummy juice.

Taste-wise: pretty good last night, although the texture had dryness issues because I probably baked it about two minutes longer than it really needed. The combination of plum, orange, and cardamom is a winner. This morning the texture was better, although still a tad dry right around the edges because of my goof. Whipped cream probably would have fixed everything, but I didn't have any on hand.

My bigger issue is that the plums, although very ripe and dripping with juice, were not quite sweet enough to play well with the very sweet cake. I think that next time (and I have enough plums left to try again) I'll probably take some of the brown sugar out of the cake batter, spread it on a plate, and dip the cut sides of the plums in before applying to the top of the cake. I'm hoping the added sweetness there will take some of the jolt out.

I'm also starting to think about baking individual cakes in a muffin tin, to give it the potential to get a little fancier but without too much more work.

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#97 choux

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Posted 26 September 2006 - 03:22 PM

I made the Brown Sugar Bundt cake last night and it is sooooo good. I used pears and raisins, and no ground nuts. My pears were pretty juicy, so they ended up sinking a bit, but it didn't make one bit of difference to how yummy it tasted.
Next up: Snickery Squares.

Edited by choux, 26 September 2006 - 03:22 PM.


#98 Dorie Greenspan

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Posted 26 September 2006 - 03:31 PM

Reading Choux's line about not using nuts reminded me that I never answered SweetSide's question about nuts in recipes. I have never had the experience that you had, SweetSide, making a cookie without nuts and not having it work. I usually think of chopped nuts in cakes, brownies and cookies (like chocolate chip cookies) as optional -- unnless they're the main ingredient.

#99 SweetSide

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Posted 26 September 2006 - 05:35 PM

Reading Choux's line about not using nuts reminded me that I never answered SweetSide's question about nuts in recipes.  I have never had the experience that you had, SweetSide, making a cookie without nuts and not having it work.  I usually think of chopped nuts in cakes, brownies and cookies (like chocolate chip cookies) as optional -- unnless they're the main ingredient.

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Thanks Dorie! Good to know. In the past I always thought the same way. But I think in the recipe that this happened, the nuts provided quite a bit of the structure. And if you hadn't answered, I would have "winged" it anyway. What's the worst that could have happened?! Fudge in pan? I'm a die hard batter tester anyway...
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#100 cakewalk

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Posted 26 September 2006 - 08:43 PM

I just got the book (how could I not?) and made the corniest corn muffins, which are wonderful. I gave some to the doormen in my building and some to my neighbors. (Otherwise I could easily -- very easily -- have finished all 12 myself.) They were so moist and really so corny. Mmmm. Next up for me is the cardamom crumb cake, it sounds like a wonderful cake to break the fast with after Yom Kippur, with a cup of coffee. The hell with the rest of the food.

I want to try the translucent maple tuiles, they look so delicate and delicious. But I have a general question (no laughing) -- how do they bake with that lacey, honeycomb pattern? I was surprised to read your recipe and see that, well, they just sort of get like that on their own steam (so to speak), I imagined some sort of complicated, time consuming process. Is there a simple explanation? :unsure:

#101 SweetSide

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Posted 27 September 2006 - 03:21 AM

...
I want to try the translucent maple tuiles, they look so delicate and delicious. But I have a general question (no laughing) -- how do they bake with that lacey, honeycomb pattern? I was surprised to read your recipe and see that, well, they just sort of get like that on their own steam (so to speak), I imagined some sort of complicated, time consuming process.  Is there a simple explanation?  :unsure:

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Non-technical terms -- they melt, spread out, bubble around, and make their own lace. The bubbles make the thin sections. Watch them do their thing when you make them!
Cheryl, The Sweet Side

#102 cakewalk

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Posted 27 September 2006 - 09:18 AM

Thanks, SweetSide, that does make sense. And I will watch them as they bake! (Reminds me of something I haven't thought of since I was a kid -- the commercials on TV for Pillsbury cookies and dinner rolls, on TV they would show a speeded up version of these things baking and rising in the oven, and I always loved to watch that happen; so now I'll watch it in slow motion in my own kitchen.)

#103 Marlene

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Posted 28 September 2006 - 04:37 PM

I've reviewed this thread and I don't think this has been asked yet. I just got Dorie's book today. Now, many of you know that I'm extremely biscuit challenged, but I'm being encouraged to try Dorie's recipe in the book. Dorie says that the biscuits can be made ahead and frozen, then baked. I have two questions:

1. Does freezing them before baking change the texture in any way?

2. If I make them ahead the same day, can I just refridgerate them instead of freezing before baking that night?
Marlene
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#104 prasantrin

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Posted 28 September 2006 - 05:26 PM

I've reviewed this thread and I don't think this has been asked yet.  I just got Dorie's book today.   

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This won't answer your question, but...

you got the book? In Canada? Did you get it from Amazon or Costco? I'm going home for Christmas, and I'm planning on bringing this book back with me!

#105 Marlene

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Posted 28 September 2006 - 05:33 PM

I've reviewed this thread and I don't think this has been asked yet.  I just got Dorie's book today.   

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This won't answer your question, but...

you got the book? In Canada? Did you get it from Amazon or Costco? I'm going home for Christmas, and I'm planning on bringing this book back with me!

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I got it at Chapters actually. I ordered it online and it was here in a couple of days, even though the website said it wasn't available yet.
Marlene
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Practice. Do it over. Get it right.
Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

#106 FoodMan

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Posted 29 September 2006 - 07:46 AM

Speaking of biscuits, I made the Sour Cream Pecan Biscuits for breakfast a couple of days ago. You'll notice we are not big milk and cereal people in my household, so breakfast breads are a favorite of ours. Dorie thankfully seems to share that passion and has quiet a selection of lovely breakfast treats.

These biscuits to say it bluntly are phenomenal! They are absolutly amazing with a fluffy interior, a slightly crusty exterior and the best pecan flavor throughout. I had the last of them last night, that's about 2 days after baking. After a quick trip in the toaster it was still delicious on its own.

Peach and pecans are a match made in heaven so it was natural to serve these with good butter and some homemade peach preserves.

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random thought about biscuits: I always make my biscuits using all butter and sometimes lard. Dorie also likes butter in the biscuits as well. Shortening, IMHO, makes for a nice fluffy biscuit, but it's flavor to me is just bordering on nasty/bland/dead and I can taste it in my mouth long after the biscuit is consumed. I've pretty much phased out using shortning in any form of cooking, I only use it currently to sometimes season my cast iron skillets.

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#107 SweetSide

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Posted 29 September 2006 - 10:41 AM

Made the World Peace Cookies yesterday... No pictures as they are gone already. We may not have world peace, but we have household peace. Great cookie!
Cheryl, The Sweet Side

#108 Patrick S

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Posted 29 September 2006 - 12:09 PM

I made the rum-soaked vanilla cakes, minus the rum soak. These cakes are fantastic -- exactly would pound cake should be like.

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

#109 Jean Blanchard

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Posted 29 September 2006 - 12:53 PM

Patrick, I can't tell you how excited I get every time I see that you've posted again! Your pictures make me drool. Why didn't you do the rum soak?

Jean

#110 Dorie Greenspan

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Posted 29 September 2006 - 02:29 PM

As always, Ellie and Patrick your pictures are terrific! Patrick, is that natural light on the vanilla cake or do you light the food? It's so appealing.

Marlene, you shouldn't lose the biscuits' basic texture if you freeze them. However, I don't think you should refrigerate the biscuits and then bake them. I say this without ever having tried it, but it seems to me that the baking powder would lose some of its ooomph if it cooled down slowly in the fridge. If you decide to refrigerate then bake the biscuits, I hope you'll let us know how it works.

#111 FoodMan

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Posted 29 September 2006 - 02:34 PM

As always, Ellie and Patrick your pictures are terrific! Patrick, is that natural light on the vanilla cake or do you light the food?  It's so appealing.

Marlene, you shouldn't lose the biscuits' basic texture if you freeze them.  However, I don't think you should refrigerate the biscuits and then bake them.  I say this without ever having tried it, but it seems to me that the baking powder would lose some of its ooomph if it cooled down slowly in the fridge.  If you decide to refrigerate then bake the biscuits, I hope you'll let us know how it works.

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Actually most of the time I prepare and cut the biscuits and put them on the baking sheet the night before I want them for breakfast and put the whole thing in the fridge. I never noticed any difference in texture, they come out just fine. I do that mainly because I do not want to mess with a whole lot of stuff early in the morning right before heading to work. All I want to do is pop them in the oven!

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#112 Marlene

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Posted 29 September 2006 - 04:41 PM

As always, Ellie and Patrick your pictures are terrific! Patrick, is that natural light on the vanilla cake or do you light the food?  It's so appealing.

Marlene, you shouldn't lose the biscuits' basic texture if you freeze them.  However, I don't think you should refrigerate the biscuits and then bake them.  I say this without ever having tried it, but it seems to me that the baking powder would lose some of its ooomph if it cooled down slowly in the fridge.  If you decide to refrigerate then bake the biscuits, I hope you'll let us know how it works.

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Thanks Dorie! I ended up making them today so I did stick them in the freezer for tomorrow. Elie, I'll try sticking them in the fridge next weekend for our Thanksgiving and see if I can tell the difference.
Marlene
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Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

#113 Lori in PA

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Posted 30 September 2006 - 05:50 AM

I made another round of the Brown Sugar-Pecan Shortbread, a batch of Espresso-Chocolate Shortbread, and another of Chunky Oatmeal and Peanut Butter Chocolate Chipsters. Some of the shortbread accompanied us on a day in Washington, DC and was just what was needed -- packable and the perfect pick-me-up mid-morning with a cup of coffee while we watched the zoo elephants getting their pedicures and as a nibbly sweet after lunch. We raced home to find a bunch of teens waiting on our porch, ready to begin a weekly Bible study. The Peanut Butter/Oatmeal/Chip cookies were also ready and waiting. As many of you know, teens will devour just about anything, so that isn't necessarily an indicator of a great cookie, but I pronounce them very good.

Again, I had issues with cookie beauty with the shortbreads, but I'm pleased to say my drop cookies were the "thickest" I've ever made -- cooling those baking sheets between batches may be the ticket. Thanks, Dorie.
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#114 Patrick S

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Posted 30 September 2006 - 07:27 AM

Patrick,  I can't tell you how excited I get every time I see that you've posted again!  Your pictures make me drool.  Why didn't you do the rum soak? 

Jean

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Thanks, Jean! I skipped the rum syrup as a concession to the Little One, who loves pound cake but is not fond of rum.
"If you are irritated by every rub, how will you be polished?" - Rumi

#115 Patrick S

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Posted 30 September 2006 - 07:36 AM

As always, Ellie and Patrick your pictures are terrific! Patrick, is that natural light on the vanilla cake or do you light the food?  It's so appealing.

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The photo of the cake in the pan was taken using a simple tungsten light. The photo of the sliced cake was taken using a hotshoe-mounted flash -- the flash head was pointed about 90 degrees to the right and bounced off of a reflector.
"If you are irritated by every rub, how will you be polished?" - Rumi

#116 SondraG

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Posted 30 September 2006 - 10:13 AM

I was thrilled to find this book at Costco, snapped it up, and have made the Peanut Butter cookies so far. No pics, sorry, but they are the quintessential peanut butter cookie. Beautiful instructions.

The double apple cake is next on my list. Hope to do this weekend.

I SO love this thread.

#117 Patrick S

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Posted 30 September 2006 - 11:53 AM

I mad the oatmeal peanut butter chocolate chip cookies the other day, and they turned out great. If you can't decide between oatmeal, peanut butter, or chocolate chip cookie, these are a perfect compromise.

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

#118 KMPickard

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Posted 30 September 2006 - 02:56 PM

My copy arrived just in time for me to nab the very last of the fresh corn for the corniest corn muffins. :smile:

I could tell, as I mixed the batter, that things were coming together well. The muffins baked up with a nice firm crumb but were surprisingly light, almost delicate. I had expected them to be on the heavy side considering the corn kernals, but not so. And the aroma was wonderful - it brought the last of summer into the kitchen on a dark rainy day.

One was not enough. We each ate two, dripping with butter.

The diet can wait.

Kathy

PS: My husband said "make sure that you thank Dorie". So, thank you, Dorie.

#119 Marlene

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Posted 30 September 2006 - 08:50 PM

So I made the basic biscuit recipe from Dorie's book. I used buttermilk and added the baking soda as directed. I didn't have any parchment, so I used my silipat and I froze them.

After baking:
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They were good. They were damn good. They're the best biscuits I've ever made. But I don't think they rose to the fluffy biscuit height that I've seen others achieve. I worked the butter in with my fingers, and I had all the requisite chunks and pebbles. I think I did everything right. So I'm thinking maybe I patted the dough out too thin to begin with?
Marlene
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Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

#120 Pat W

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Posted 30 September 2006 - 09:19 PM

So I made the basic biscuit recipe from Dorie's book. 
They were good.  They were damn good.  They're the best biscuits I've ever made. 

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Oh dear, I find myself seduced once again by an eGullet thread. I just placed my order on Amazon. Those biscuits may not be as high as you had hoped, but between your photos and your description, there is no doubt that I'll be dreaming about them tonight... along with the world Peace cookies and anything Patrick has ever photographed.

I can't wait to jump in.

pat w.
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