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Everything posted by Lindacakes

  1. Kerry, thank you for the reply -- excellent information to know. I have quite a few of these books, I just find them attractive. And thanks for the encouragement, I'll give it a try. There seems to be a whole resurgence of marshmallow appreciation going on, which I greatly approve of. I'm a big fan of delicious homemade toffees, so maybe I'll start there.
  2. I actually thought this subject was a witty twist on Torquemada -- that the original poster had somehow been tormented by milk cake . . . I need to step away from the computer now.
  3. This is an old topic, but timeless. I have to record my own hated meal. Whenever I visit (about once a year) my brother's wife will invite me over for dinner. And I know exactly the menu I am going to get: city chicken, on little wooden skewers a casserole made of white rice, broccoli and cheese salad with bottled Italian dressing either "yellow stuff" or "green stuff" The "stuffs" are a jello and whipped topping mix, the recipe clipped from a women's magazine during my nephew's childhood. Apparently they like this. Perhaps the first time I was fed this, I remarked favorably on it. She believes that I look forward to it.
  4. OK, I'll play. Except it would be more fun if I disagreed with you. I am a cake lover (note name). More than that, I am a frosting lover. This I believe: that cake is a mere support system for frosting. I believe that frosting tastes best when it's thick and fluffy and swirled onto the top of the cake in undulating whorls. I believe that few people can create gorgeous, sensuous, undulating whorls and thus, rolled fondant was invented. Some uptight person invented it, so a cake would look smooth. Perfect. Flawless. And then cakes looked so flawless that it was someone's idea to get creative and tip them all to an angle so they didn't look so uptight. It matters more how the cake looks than how it tastes. (Except at the Magnolia Bakery in New York City, where the cake tastes crappy and looks crappy!) There is an exception to this: cassata. I like cassata. I like the taste of almond fondant on the cassata. I like the smooth glassy surface in which glaced fruits are reflected.
  5. This is sketchy advice, but big cookie fans might look to Maida Heatter -- she often specifys that a cookie needs to be baked large. On account of explicit cookie size instructions, I bought a set of graduated round cookie cutters!
  6. All of you guys are making exquisite candies -- thank you for taking the time to upload the pictures! I have a candy book question -- I make candy rarely, but for some reason I love collecting old-fashioned candy books. I like the pictures, and the depictions of homey simplicity. Question -- are the recipes in these worthwhile? Or are they just really behind the times as far as technique and flavor? I heartily applaud your efforts to make non-chocolate candies -- whereas there's a lot of high quality chocolate that is readily available, it's tough to get a nice piece of really good marshmallow or peanut brittle, etc.
  7. Kerry, your nougats are absolutely stunning. I had some torrone in Italy, from San Gimigiano that was so fresh, so soft, so delicious that I continued eating it long after my jaws ached. It was the most tied together experience of both pain and pleasure . . . I don't remember now what all the nuts were, but I was impressed by the great variety. Hazelnuts, almonds and pistachio certainly, but I think another. Anyway, a question -- this torrone did not have the wafer paper, and I prefer it that way (bad childhood experiences with torrone) -- is there a reason why it is called for? Non stick issues or uniformity issues? This celestrial torrone was also irregular, which added to its charm for me.
  8. Actually, I don't think there is any such thing. Not exhaustive. As has been said before, there are a lot of threads. King Arthur is a good source. I own the Martha Stewart book, but for the pictures only. All sorts of books are arguably the best for different things. I would highly recommend any Maida Heatter book. Her books cover a broad range of desserts, although the republished versions focus on cakes, pies and cookies separately. The chocolate book has just been re-released.
  9. I like Willy Wonka. His chocolates are of the mind, exploratory, and created with the intention to transport to joy. He's timeless, he's an equal opportunity employer, and he wants to make good people happy and bad people regret it. What's not to like?
  10. This has been very interesting to read. Sexism is a fact of human life, like ageism and racism. I agree with those who have said that we do our best to ignore it and move forward. I had my aptitudes tested at the Johnson O'Connor Research Foundation in an effort to make a career change. The tester there told me something interesting. Once in a while they call in a group of people with the same profession and test them, and plot which aptitudes together signal a certain career. Those in the culinary professions have absolutely nothing in common except finger dexterity. That's it. The rest is in our attitudes. Both individual attitude and collective attitude. That being said, any individual can be smothered by a collective attitude. I'm thinking racism here. Bring to mind any example of racism, and then tell yourself the victim just didn't promote himself hard enough. If you're going to throw pies, make mine key lime.
  11. I haven't read the thread linked above, which might mention it, but if you like nutella you'll like the gianduja spread made by Guido Gubbino imported by Zingerman's. If you're one of the ones who does a jar or two of Nutella a year, it might be worth the splurge. I was eating Nutella every day during a recent trip to Italy -- they provide it in the hotel breakfast rooms everywhere in a little packet much like jelly is served up here. Got quite addicted. But hated it when I got back home -- the imported version is pumped full of a lot more chemicals than the European version. I recommend either buying it at an import store, or getting the primo stuff from Zingerman's. The difference is remarkable. You'll probably combust and leave burned shoes behind.
  12. Thank you for bringing this thread up, I hadn't seen it before. I love fruitcake dearly and have been thinking lately that it's time to get the fruit for my Jamaican black cake macerating. I'm a big believer in quality ingredients, I order fruit and nuts from either Vine Tree Orchards or Sunnyland Farms. I use port and dark rum in my black cake; last year I used Myer's dark rum and am interested if anyone has any ideas for a better quality rum. I used a port recommended by the wine store, it wasn't expensive, but I think I'd like to upgrade the port this year. Advice for anyone making a black cake: they get better and better as they age. I started eating mine at two months but thought it tasted much better at four months, when I finally ate the last of it. I don't feed a cake because I don't like the boozy taste -- the boozy taste finally completely transmorgrifies at four months. For my more traditional fruitcake I use both candied cherries and glace pineapple. I like both, I like to eat the glace pineapple just plain. But I'm thinking this year maybe I'll try making a better cherry and a better pineapple. But I don't want to veer too far from what I'm used to, any ideas are welcome.
  13. I have to second the motion on Dolores Casella. I love her Mexican Spoon Bread, which is not a yeast bread, but I can eat too much of it anyway. And I second the motion on paring down and relying on classics (prehistoric? ouch!) that work for you. Baking is in the hands, and if you find someone with hands like yours, you're going to want to walk with them. Or some other mixed metaphor . . .
  14. The cord, I think, is a Polder thermometer, the kind you insert in meat? There's a question at the top about What's Buttermilk? Here's some information on buttermilk -- http://biology.clc.uc.edu/fankhauser/Cheese/BUTTERMILK.HTM Often folks do sub yogurt for buttermilk, but I think buttermilk is unique and delicious. I can't find enough recipes to display it's fine qualities . . . Give it a try.
  15. I made the rhubarb cake I posted above, again. It was ungodly good. Just cut it in four pieces, why mess with going back and forth? Decided rhubarb cake was the perfect Mother's Day cake and vow to make it every year. Compelling, yet sour, especially full strength.
  16. I'm not a professional, but for me it has everything to do with who asks. People in the baking community who share to learn deserve all the information they can get. If no one shared, baking would stagnate. Who benefits from that? I was once asked for a recipe by someone at work who I despise. I couldn't possibly. The perfectly tasty recipe for mocha icing is in the Joy of Cooking. I also did a ton of research on blueberry muffins for another co-worker who wanted to make them for her boyfriend. She didn't. That cheesed me off. It took me about an hour to do the research. So, when she asked me again for a recipe for her I-need-to-make-something-for-a-dinner-party-on-Saturday, I told her it was best to stick with a tried-and-true recipe rather than get involved in that again. My mother once told me that she made a pie for a bake sale when we were kids. Her own pastry, lard crust, pecan. A perfectly delightful pie of hers that I still make. Well, she went and cut cardboard and wrapped the whole thing in Saran Wrap, just perfect. And she shows up at the bake sale and they have a sign -- 50 Cents -- on her pie. Her heart was broken and she never baked for the bake sales again. The story sort of sums it up for me -- make an investment where you're going to get a return. Time and money for the best ingredients aside, baking is an investment of love (and sanity).
  17. I am very pro rosewater, but you have to be very careful. Most recently, I had a rose doughnut from the Doughnut Plant. It had rose glaze and three full rose petals on top. I dug it. Served only on "ladies" holidays, like Valentine's and Mother's Day. I have made an angel food cake with rosewater -- subtle, but intriguing. I think I got the recipe from Epicurious. I am in constant search to find a taste from my childhood -- my mother once made rose petal jam when I was a child, and I loved it, absolutely adored it, and I keep trying to replicate that experience. Short of making it myself, which is the next step, obviously. It was an amazing clear pink jelly studded with crunchewy candied rose petals. I've purchased a lot of absolutely horrible products, mostly from Indian markets (like electric pink rose ice cream) in my elusive search for rose perfection. The only thing that's come close if beach plum jelly, which isn't the same, but somehow captures the exoticness of the color, the taste, the source.
  18. Cowtown, eh? Where's your bakery? What about lil' cake pans? You won't have the waste mentioned. Or use a rectangular cutter (the sort that fits around a springerle mold, or for petit fours) so that you don't have waste. And why not "frost" the tops? I'm seeing something like a gingerbread with a poured glaze, dripping down the sides. But I see this won't work with the acetate strips, which is the point. I have a slew of lil heart shaped pans that I want to be buried with.
  19. Congratulations and welcome! Another Chicago fan here. I have Pyrex and Chicago in all the major sizes. And then some. You may never have to replace them. Do not take a hot pan and put it in cold water -- it will warp. Allow the pan to cool, wash it, and then allow it to sit for a while in a warm oven. This will make sure no rust forms. Then let it cool before you put it away. In restaurant supply stores you can get lovely 3" tall baking pans -- if you see these, pick up a couple of 7-inch ones. They're indespensible and hard to find. On another baking discussion board, we went through the whole silicone question. Most people really didn't like it. Hard to get stuff out of the pans, the stuff doesn't brown right. Everyone kind of hated the new cupcake "papers" that are made of silicone. I think you are smart for eschewing non-stick. I'm a bird owner, and we can't have non-stick, when overheated, the fumes are fatal to birds. Says something about the general safety of it to me. Some more recommended pans: All Clad (get a pot with a steamer insert, indespensible), cast iron fry pan, Le Creuset dutch oven.
  20. Regarding sifting -- if a recipe calls for it, you should do it. Sifted flour is more aerated that whisked flour. Beware, though, that there's a difference between 1 cup of flour, sifted (measured and then sifted) and 1 cup of sifted flour (sifted and then measured). I once took a class with Carole Walter and she did a demo of measuring differences -- dipping the cup into the flour gives you more flour than spooning the flour into the cup. Often the author of the cookbook will say in the preface which method was used, and that's the one you should use. I tend to stick with spooning, because I'm not likely to err on the side of heaviness. Whisking dry ingredients together to mix them is good. Maida Heatter is a nut for sifting, and I've started to sift everything -- sugar, brown sugar, confectioner's sugar when I transfer it from paper bag to plastic bin. I don't sift the flour, it's going to settle back. Sifting the sugar products keeps weird lumps out of them. Sifted brown sugar is gorgeous. I would not cool a cake in the fridge, it will effect the moisture content of the cake. I just tried freezing baked goods this Christmas, because of the calendar and when I was going to visit my parents. I was very unhappy with the results. I layered each baked cookie with waxed paper, wrapped in foil, and then bagged. Defrosted in the wrappings. Cookies were ruined -- not crisp enough, although no one had a problem eating them. I also have the clip on thermometer for candy and the KA instant read fold-in-half thermometer. Showed up in my Christmas stocking, and boy, is that thing cool. And I have the probe thingy with the magnetic timer that adheres to the oven door. I like all of them for different things. Baking would be about half as fun without the cool tools.
  21. One more blither! I'm a King Arthur flour person -- and I recently bought two five pound bags of Gold Medal because RLB endorses Gold Medal on her Web site and recommends it for her recipes. Man, did I not like the Gold Medal! It behaved just fine, everything I made was basically the same, but there was something so missing. Something about the density (and I'm talking a very small difference, but discernable) and the taste. There was a sort of refined, chemically taste to the Gold Medal. Even in the flour bucket, the Gold Medal seemed anemic, shlumpy. I keep KA cake flour on hand and when I want a "lighter" flour, I mix the two. Always mix for pie pastry (another RLB tip).
  22. I just happened upon this thread and read the whole thing, so if I can add something non-egg white related, and non-yeast cake related, back to the "I'm a baking dumb ass" point -- I learned to bake by watching my mother, who was a very good baker. I'm a good baker, too. Most of what I know comes from either doing it (absolutely the best way) or reading about it (like we're doing here, and from cookbooks). There is something about baking that is about feel -- knowing textures, colors, consistencies, temperatures, etc. -- that is practically instinctual. Someone who is good can read a recipe and know pretty much what that baked good is going to taste like, or at least, whether the recipe is a good one or not. A good recipe is your best ally. Someone made the point that there are many horrible recipes out there, floating around. I've made recipes that other people ooh and ahh over and I think they stink. To find one, you've got to make a lot of the same thing. Then hang on to it for dear life. Because that one recipe represents an investment of a lot of time and effort on your part. Knowing who to trust is essential. Many people disagree about who to trust -- Rose Levy Berenbaum being the most controversial, in my experience. We all have different senses of taste, different sensibilities, so you need to find the baker who fits your style. For me, it is Maida Heatter. I can make any Maida Heatter recipe and like it. It's a degree to how much I'm crazy about it. I have every single one of her books. She's very much a buttery, French-style baking approach. To me, her stuff is classier without being overly concerned with style at the expense of taste. I personally have not found a RLB recipe that I like. I respect those who love her, though, because she's right for them. Once you are armed with a good recipe, it's about technique. There's a "right" way to do most of baking, and that is more or less appealing to individuals. I'm pretty anal, and I like the meditative quality of following a defined trajectory to a defined result. This would spell disaster for someone of another temperament. Regarding schooling - a short story: My mother made heavenly pie. I could not, for the longest time, replicate my mother's pie. I tried her recipe, other recipes, artisanal lards, you name it. No luck. Then I took a class with Carole Walter. I knew everything she told the class. Had done it before. We broke for lunch, I sat next to her, and told her my plight. Carole paid special attention to me, stood over me, and showed me the 2 degree difference in a couple of techniques. Then she told me to go home and make at least four pies in the next week. It took me two or three weeks, but I made the pies, and I dare say, I think mine is better than my mother's. One of the things I really, really enjoy about baking is that I can keep challenging myself and sort of moving along in surprising directions. It truly is a restorative, regenerating sort of thing for me, because I can apply the principles to other aspects of my life -- keeping an open mind, continual learning, practice, etc. I applaud anyone who says they are a baking dumb ass, and wants to learn more. That's a very positive position to be in. And to the person who take photographs of food -- embarassingly, I emptied my camera after Christmas and there were a few photographs of the tree and scores of photographs of everything I'd baked since Thanksgiving. Exceedingly shameful.
  23. All confections mentioned above come in milk, dark and white. I, also, eat dark chocolate.
  24. Or, you could consider that what makes New York fine in a very different way is the amazing mix of cultural influence here, and pick up a copy of Chowhound's Guide and take a walk on the wild side.
  25. What a pleasant question, thank you for asking it. My reply is strictly from the consumer side. My chocolate experience is in many ways based on my childhood experience. There was one shop in town that made their own chocolate and this was considered the best to be had. This was, of course, before the influx of design chocolate. The "works" was not visible in the retail area, but once a year, during Easter, you could take a tour. Someone dressed as the Easter bunny would be present with a basket, handing out chocolate eggs. Everything was beautifully wrapped and there were several signature items that I remember quite fondly. The building had iconic red and white stripped column supports outside, and they used the red and white stripe on a small box that held four pieces of chocolate. Kind of like the Russel Stover or Whitman's sampler tiny box, but completely square. I had one of these in my Christmas stocking every year. One of their signature items was an egg either the size of a softball or the size of a tennis ball (both elongated, of course). The interiors were a variety of things, but the all time favorites were a swirl of caramel and marshmallow or French chocolate (much like the Ice Cube). The owner, Charlie Faroh, was a very friendly guy and known by everyone in town. I live in New York City where I have my choice of chocolate shops and every once in a while I go into one of the high-end places and choose some nice chocolate, but it's always too sterile for me. No one knows you, the chocolates all look like tablets, it feels competitive and exclusive, there's nothing cute or holiday-oriented. What I prefer is an old-time local shop, Li-Lac. There are certain chocolates I can get there I can't get anywhere else. Everything sold by the piece. They have an endless supply of antique molds, and the ones available are constantly changing but ever available. Some of my favorites -- Every year or so the valentine heart changes. I have three of them in my dresser with jewelry in it. If a chocolate store doesn't sell a sumptuous heart-shaped box on the big day, why exist? They also make a heart-shaped chunk of chocolate, very thick. Fits in your mouth, yet is almost too much. Decadent. Alternatively, they sell chocolate heart shaped boxes filled with chocolate. A thick shamrock shaped chocolate covered marshmallow covered in green foil. The old-fashioned, natural, in profile, classique bunny de chocolat. With a satin bow around the neck. A chocolate coffin about the size of a box of matches with a white chocolate mummy in it. The cover is offset so that you can see the mummy inside. Autmun leaves in gold, green, red -- fruit jellies. Really pretty on display. So frequent visits are in order. I buy a lot of stuff there to send to my parents and my neice. And I stop in for a few pieces of my favorites -- fresh peanut brittle, French mints, almond bark, etc. This is a salt-of-the-earth chocolate shop. In a fantasy chocolate shop we're talking red roses, velvet drapes, a chocolate fountain, and Sophia Loren behind the counter . . .
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