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Everything posted by Lindacakes

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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 . . .
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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).
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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).
  12. 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.
  13. All confections mentioned above come in milk, dark and white. I, also, eat dark chocolate.
  14. 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.
  15. 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 . . .
  16. Couple of thoughts after reading everyone's wonderful replies: Betty Crocker has a re-issued cookbook from the 60's you might enjoy -- Betty Crocker's Cooky Book. The pictures are what you describe. In our house, strawberry shortcake was made with the recipe on the back of the Bisquick box -- a sweetened biscuit. The biscuit is supreme for soaking up the strawberry juice. Maida Heatter! She's the queen. JeanneCake, from one 'Cake to another, if you want some good Maida Heatter, try her lemon squares or the pecan sour cream dreams. I have all of Maida Heatter's original books. Not hard to find on eBay, etc. My mom liked to do lime jello with grated carrots. I've always been fascinated by the more complicated jello desserts with melon balls floating in them and elaborate colors and layers. You could do something fabulous with that. As for whoopie pies, there are recipes out there, but Williams Sonoma was selling a pan that made Twinkies (they avoided using the name, but it was a Twinkie) and a recipe came with the pan. Those who know report that the recipe for the Twinkie cream was exact. I went to college at O.U. There was a bakery in that time and place that made whoopie pies. Dark chocolatey, cocoa cakes, about 3/4 inch thick, glued together with copious amounts of that fluffy cream. They were highly delicious and not for the feint of heart. Very filling. One other thing I think would be fun, but wasn't part of my childhood repetoire -- brownie sundaes. I never ever eat this, because it just seems too decadent, but if done with quality ingredients -- ooo la la. Imagine the Nick Malgieri brownie with a scoop of homemade coffee ice cream (high quality beans), covered with a thick hot fudge sauce and freshly whipped cream. Everything top of the line. Salted pecans. A person could die and go immediately to heaven.
  17. Interesting replies . . . the infusion of grocery-store items into the consciousness of American Regional Classic Desserts. You might look to Marion Cunningham's Lost Recipes. If we are talking about commercially-made products, I would appreciate if someone could replicate the Mickey's Flip. Basically, a whoopie pie. But made from about a six inch in diameter circle of spongey cake, covered with about a half inch of that incredible creamy filling snack cakes sport, and then folded in half. The result is a half circle with a giant gob of white deliciousness hanging out. I was extremely fond of the banana version, which was probably a yellow cake with a banana-flavored cream. Also, Lawson's featured half gallons of ice cream with their own brand. They had a unique flavor called banana split that had streaks of fudge through it, bananas, and chunks of maraschino cherries. It was delicious. However, when I think of regional classics (I grew up in Ohio), I think: cherry pie with a lattice crust -- made from the sour cherry tree in the back yard strawberry shortcake -- made from the pick-your-own strawberry farm blueberry pie -- ditto As a current New Yorker, rice pudding or black and white cookies are the two classics. The best rice pudding comes from a Polish coffee shop. The only good black and white cookie I ever ate came from the student cafeteria at the Rochester Institute of Technology.
  18. Before that booger eats Memphis, I want some grapefruit curd. Pink grapefruit curd, that sounds delicious. K8, you are going to do just fine. Smart to do so much market research. For your little bowls, how about the mis en place bowls that come rather small? Little glass ones? I've seen them at Williams Sonoma, six for something. Of course, you don't want to buy them from WS, you'll pay more, but that's what I mean. Ginger tea is a popular one. Yorkshire Gold.
  19. Ah, Chef Rubber, well, that gives a person ideas, all sorts of ideas. I was thinking make, but truly, I'd prefer to buy. But I get these ideas in my head, of how it could be. I was disappointed to go to the chocolate show. In my mind, there were fountains of chocolate burbling away, and everything a deep mysterious dark brown, and Sophia Loren-like women with mesmeric cleavage would offer you trays of the most delicate and exquisite chocolates. And, of course, it wasn't like that at all. Flower shaped fruit jellies would be beautiful.
  20. Has anyone tried Shirley Corriher's yellow cake from Cookwise? It's one I've always wanted to try.
  21. I love rhubarb pie, but I really like this, too: Rhubard Cake with Candied Ginger • 1 pound rhubarb cut into 1 inch chunks • 1/2 cup (3 ounces) of crystallized ginger • 1/2 to 3/4 cup maple syrup • 1 cup flour • 2 teaspoons baking powder • 1/2 teaspoon salt • 1/2 cup (4 ounces buttermilk) • 1 egg • 1/3 cup sugar • 1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted Preheat oven to 350. Put cut rhubarb in an 8 x 8 glass baking pan. Add ginger and mix together. Pour maple syrup over the mixture. Bake, uncovered, for 25 to 30 minutes. Stir gently. Blend flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. In another bowl, beat buttermilk, egg and sugar. Whisk gently into dry ingredients and stir in the butter. Spoon this batter over the rhubarb, and bake for about 30 minutes. Serve upside down with whipped cream and diced ginger sprinkled on top.
  22. Thank you, John, the thread is very interesting. Your link to Payard doesn't work for me, but I'm sure it's the same thing -- I might go there this weekend and get some; just talking about them has made me hungry for them. The "tablet" form, though, is nothing like the delightful miniature fruit shapes found in Venice, but I suppose this is the tantilization that gives us hope -- just knowing that the idea exists, we can strive for it. Speaking of which, your chocolates are exquisite.
  23. Does anyone have a recipe or advice on tracking down the elusive delicious fruit jelly? I don't mean jelly in the jam sense . . . The best ones I ever had were bought in Venice -- shaped like the fruit they tasted like, about the size of a small plum, covered with a very fine coating of very fine sugar, so that they appeared . . . frosted. Beautiful transparent colors. And subtle flavors, nothing easily identified. I've searched the Internet for already made ones and came up with this -- http://www.payard.com/prodslist10.php Not a candy many people go for, I suppose, but I love them.
  24. You can buy a nice pie chain from King Arthur.
  25. If I were to give anyone who is opening a tea room advice, I would say wash your dishes carefully! Tea stains tea cups and pots very easily and it's not easy to get off. Someone mentioned Tea and Sympathy here in New York City. A place that I don't care for, for a variety of reasons which include gross teaware. Ditto for sugar pots. Some poeple put a used teaspoon into a sugar pot and make the sugar stained and clumped. Which is why food rules are nice, they make for a nicer world, and we could use more of that in America. Freedom for us too often means freedom to ignore someone else's feelings or a valid sense of esthetics. I would have to agree with everyone who recommended loose tea steeped for an appropriate time. Cream will clot in tea, which is why milk is used, and it should be whole milk. Regarding the mania for Earl Grey infused foods -- I can't imagine why this is a good idea since the tea itself seems to be the point, but I once had an Earl Grey infused creme brulee, and it was delicious. I am in agreement that the sandwiches should be cold, and delicately flavored. There are some nice recipes for tea sandwiches in the Two Fat Ladies' cookbooks. But to the point that truly interests me: what sweets to serve. I agree with the scone purists. There is a dandy recipe for scones in Joy of Cooking that is perfect. A Victoria Sandwich is always a good idea. With a nice lemon or lime curd, preferably homemade. I like a selection of not-too-flavorful cookies. Shortbread, sugar cookies, and the like. And something with a lot of cream to it. A cake, or a cream puff or a cream-filled merengue. The fresh clean taste and creamy texture is a good foil for tea. But my opinions are based on what is a good companion for a cup of tea, as I am a tea lover. For many people, tea is a pleasant experience that may have very little to do with tea itself. The important thing for me is that tea is a refreshing respite. The best tea I ever had was about seven courses, all you can eat, and the final course started with the question, "Would you care for dessert?" The tea itself included very interesting offerings in the courses, one of which was candied ginger slices. When I plan a tea myself, I try to include surprising extras like that. The atmosphere was also very nice, dark and quiet and sedate. One could easily imagine a man in the setting, whereas in most tea settings, one can't. Here's a recipe for clotted cream. 20 ounces heavy whipping cream 2 quarts or more of milk Choose a wide-mouthed bowl or stainless steel bowl with sloping sides. Fill it with milk, leaving a deep enough rim free to avoid spillage. Add 20 oz double cream. Leave in the refrigerator for at least several hours, and preferably overnight. Set the bowl over a pan of water kept at 82C (180F) and leave until the top of the milk is crusted with a nubbly yellowish-cream surface. This will take at least 1 1/2 hours, but it is prudent to allow much longer. Take the bowl from the pan and cool it rapidly in a bowl of ice water, then store in the refrigerator until very cold. Take the crust off with a skimmer, and put it into another bowl with a certain amount of the creamy liquid underneath; it is surprising how much the clotted part firms up--it needs the liquid. You can now put the milk back over the heat for a second crust to form, and add that in its turn to the first one. The milk left over makes the most delicious rice pudding, or can be used in baking, especially of yeast buns. Preferably extra-rich milk, if you can get it in your area. Makes 8 servings.
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