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rjwong

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

598 posts in this topic

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


"Half of cooking is thinking about cooking." ---Michael Roberts

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

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

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

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

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

Well said.


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

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

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

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

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

Zoe

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

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


I like to bake nice things. And then I eat them. Then I can bake some more.

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

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

I've never had any problem doing this.


~ Lori in PA

My blog: http://inmykitcheninmylife.blogspot.com/

My egullet blog: http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=89647&hl=

"Cooking is not a chore, it is a joy."

- Julia Child

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

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


I'm gonna go bake something…

wanna come with?

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

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

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

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

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

Richard-

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


E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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


I like to bake nice things. And then I eat them. Then I can bake some more.

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

It does. I absolutely hate white chocolate - I find it tastes like sweet wax. But El Rey's is an exception. I don't care for their dark chocolate, but when I need white chocolate for a recipe, I go for El Rey.

Check this out:

http://www.chocophile.com/index.php/chocop...ents/elreyicoa/


Edited by merstar (log)

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

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

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

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

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


"If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced" - Vincent Van Gogh
 

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Mmmmmmm. Hepburn goo-ey Brownies.


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

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

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

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

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


"Half of cooking is thinking about cooking." ---Michael Roberts

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

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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.

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:

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

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

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



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

 

 

 

 

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


Edited by Mjx Host note added. (log)

~ Lori in PA

My blog: http://inmykitcheninmylife.blogspot.com/

My egullet blog: http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=89647&hl=

"Cooking is not a chore, it is a joy."

- Julia Child

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