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rjwong

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

598 posts in this topic

Dorie,

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

MelissaH

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

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

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 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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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 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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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.

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

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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??

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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

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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

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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


MelissaH

Oswego, NY

Chemist, writer, hired gun

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

foodblog1 | kitchen reno | foodblog2

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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!

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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.

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"

“Are you making a statement, or are you making dinner?” Mario Batali

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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:


kit

"I'm bringing pastry back"

Weebl

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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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E. Nassar
Houston, TX

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

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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.

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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. 

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.

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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.

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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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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.

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.

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I LOVE Lesley C and cookman!


kit

"I'm bringing pastry back"

Weebl

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. . .

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

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.


Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Never call a stomach a tummy without good reason.” William Strunk Jr., The Elements of Style

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

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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.

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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."

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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.

MelissaH


MelissaH

Oswego, NY

Chemist, writer, hired gun

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

foodblog1 | kitchen reno | foodblog2

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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 (log)

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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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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.

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...


Cheryl, The Sweet Side

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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:

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