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


rjwong
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Welcome to eGullet, sugarsugar!

This may be a stupid question, but did you try whisking the clumps into the batter? I mean, when beans are exceptionally moist, and you split them and scape out the beans, the beans come out all stuck together in pea-sized clumps, and you have to use a whisk to break up the clumps and evenly distribute the beans in the batter.

Hi Patrick - thanks for the welcome!

What I did was kind of mush the beans around in the sugar as the recipe instructs -a lot of the beans did distribute through the sugar, but these weird clumps remained, even when I tried to mash them with some sugar to break them up. They just became gelatinous blobs coated in sugar, and just wouldn't break up or dissolve even once the liquid ingredients were added. Really odd. Because they stayed so claggy even after all I had tried to get rid of them, I just figured the cakes would be better without them.

If I encounter this again I might try adding the beans to the liquids instead, and try whisking them in without any dry ingredients - maybe that would make a difference.

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I haven't been too impressed. I made the allspice muffins (posted results here ) and the brrrrr-ownies and while the brownies were better than the tasteless muffins, I still was not impressed. I know I followed the instuctions perfectly and the muffins were pretty, just lacking in any sort of flavor. Any one else underwhelmed?

Check out my food blog: Coconut & Lime and my cooking review and tip site Food Maven

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It sounds like you might have too much butter. Maybe you are getting confused between tablespoons and ounces? 1 tbsp=1/2 oz. Here in Canada our butter doesn't come in those neat little sticks, so I always have to stop and convert, and then do it again to make sure I'm right. 8tbsp is not the same as 8 oz.

I'm also in Canada and I always have to stop and think of the conversion of sticks to cups too. Another way of looking at it is 1 stick = 1/2 cup.

I'm gonna go bake something…

wanna come with?

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Thanks, Patrick for advice on flaky turnovers. Normally, I would just have dumped the results and started over, but no time that day. I will conquer this pastry, just a project for another day. Knowing what it's supposed to feel like will help me next time.

Dorie, thanks for your compassion. As I said, will try again. I turned right around and made the Good for Everything Pie Crust, and love it so, all other mishaps are a remote memory, lol. The taste and flakiness of that crust is awesome. My best pie crust ever. Thanks. I'm making more today to freeze for the holidays. Apple pies, pumpkin pies, yum.

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coconutlime-concerning the allspice muffins, are you sure your allspice was fresh? How old was it? Although I haven't made these specific muffins, in my experience, 1/2 teaspoon of allspice would certainly be potent enough to add significant flavor, especially if you had another 1/2 teaspoon in the topping. But spices do expire and fade with age (quite a bit in some cases), so that might be the culprit.

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coconutlime-concerning the allspice muffins, are you sure your allspice was fresh? How old was it? Although I haven't made these specific muffins, in my experience, 1/2 teaspoon of allspice would certainly be potent enough to add significant flavor, especially if you had another 1/2 teaspoon in the topping. But spices do expire and fade with age (quite a bit in some cases), so that might be the culprit.

The allspice was quite fresh. Recently purchased and used. I even used whole allspice and ground it myself. I don't think it was the allspice's fault. I think the recipe was a dud. The muffins were pretty but flavorless. Also: even though there was a 1/2 teaspoon in the topping, the recipe made a huge amount of topic. Way too much for the muffins so some of the allspice might have been "wasted" but I still should have tasted SOMETHING in the base muffin.

Edited by coconutlime (log)

Check out my food blog: Coconut & Lime and my cooking review and tip site Food Maven

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coconutlime-concerning the allspice muffins, are you sure your allspice was fresh? How old was it? Although I haven't made these specific muffins, in my experience, 1/2 teaspoon of allspice would certainly be potent enough to add significant flavor, especially if you had another 1/2 teaspoon in the topping. But spices do expire and fade with age (quite a bit in some cases), so that might be the culprit.

The all spice was quite fresh. Recently purchased and used. I even used whole nutmeg and ground it myself. I don't think it was the allspice's fault. I think the recipe was a dud. The muffins were pretty but flavorless. Also: even though there was a 1/2 teaspoon in the topping, the recipe made a huge amount of topic. Way too much for the muffins so some of the allspice might have been "wasted" but I still should have tasted SOMETHING in the base muffin.

Have you had any better luck with other recipes from the book?

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I haven't been too impressed. I made the allspice muffins (posted results here ) and the brrrrr-ownies and while the brownies were better than the tasteless muffins, I still was not impressed. I know I followed the instuctions perfectly and the muffins were pretty, just lacking in any sort of flavor. Any one else underwhelmed?

I haven't made the muffins but have made the brrr-ownies. I really liked them. Nice fudgy texture lightened up by the peppermint. I've gotten more requests for copies of that recipe then the others I made. People thought it seemed simple enough for them to try out even though they were box-mix bakers. I'd encourage you to try a few more recipes from the book.

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Have you had any better luck with other recipes from the book?

I did make the brrrr-ownies and they were okay. A little sticky-chewy and hard to cut but fairly tasty. I am just surprised to hear of some much excitment over the book when I have been so underwhelmed. I wasn't even going to try another recipe but I had received the cookbook to review from the publishers and thought I owed it another try.

Check out my food blog: Coconut & Lime and my cooking review and tip site Food Maven

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Have you had any better luck with other recipes from the book?

I did make the brrrr-ownies and they were okay. A little sticky-chewy and hard to cut but fairly tasty. I am just surprised to hear of some much excitment over the book when I have been so underwhelmed. I wasn't even going to try another recipe but I had received the cookbook to review from the publishers and thought I owed it another try.

And you were going to do a review on the basis of trying two recipes? :huh::unsure::huh::rolleyes::rolleyes::rolleyes:

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

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Have you had any better luck with other recipes from the book?

I did make the brrrr-ownies and they were okay. A little sticky-chewy and hard to cut but fairly tasty. I am just surprised to hear of some much excitment over the book when I have been so underwhelmed. I wasn't even going to try another recipe but I had received the cookbook to review from the publishers and thought I owed it another try.

And you were going to do a review on the basis of trying two recipes? :huh::unsure::huh::rolleyes::rolleyes::rolleyes:

Well, sure. Two recipes out of like 230 is a sufficient sample from which to make an overall judgement, right?

"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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Though I certainly have a long way to go as I work my way through this book, lack of flavor has never been an issue with any of the recipes I've made. Fpr me, Dorie's flavors are right on.

Perhaps you could try one of the popular ones here, and see if it is to your taste.

PS. It is easy to get lumps out of brown sugar. It helps to use it when it is fresh, and to store it right, so you dont have hard little lumps. Then just rub it between your fingers.

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 guess I approach baking and cook books very differently (just to continue the recent suggestions that experimenting with only two recipes from any given book may not be quite the thing).

Julia Child's books, for example, or Pierre Herme's or Jeffrey Hamelman's, or really any baking or cooking book I've gotten over the years, it's my experience that they work best as jumping off points, for the most part, and that while any one of them might hold only a small handful of recipes that I find I really connect to, I appreciate so many of them for contributing to my bank of knowledge, or for giving me just one or two things I really love. And "a small handful," as far as I'm concerned anymore, is way more than I've come to expect is really reasonable. One or two good things from one source, even one sometimes, is more than enough. I consider even one good thing a treasure.

I think the breakthrough in that thinking came from watching Nigella Lawson a few years ago when she'd go into her small library (crammed with books, despite the space), pull a book off the shelf and find a bookmarked recipe, maybe the only thing she really loved from that one resource, but the best of its kind (at least as far as she'd been able to discover so far), and that was enough. At this point in my learning and career, I figure it's my responsibility to take what I know and make a good thing, and so while I take advantage of other people's knowledge and their own recipes or formulas, if I think I might like the basic premise of a thing, I'll work on it til it's a thing I like or give it up as a thing simply not to my particular tastes.

I might be prejudiced already in Dorie's favor, though, having enjoyed her writing and food knowledge over the years.

Just my two cents.

[edited for screwy spelling]

Edited by devlin (log)
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Patrick S, your photographs are incredible! They make a great sales tool for the book (It's on my Xmas list  :wink: ).

Thank you, Toliver!

Patrick, you're obviously a very talented baker. My favorite post of yours is the squaring off

the corners demo! Brilliant.

You may want to kill me, but, have you & the egullet people ever thought about a demo

on food photograhy? For those of us who photo our products for websites, etc., you

could offer a wealth of information.

I'm RUNNING to get Dorie Greenspan's new book! I'm drooling over every single post in this thread!

www.onetoughcookienyc.com

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I'm nibbling an applesauce spice bar as I sit here typing. Very good. I didn't use parchment and unpan them before glazing, so no cookbook-worthy pictures, and I had to sub evaporated milk for the cream in the glaze because I'm home with a sick child and "fresh" out of cream, but in spite of these changes I'm pleased. I was curious about how they would compare with an old autumn standby of our family's called Fresh Apple Cake. They are similar and I'm sure both will be part of my repertoir from now on.

I was concerned when I stirred the eggs into the brown sugar/butter mixture, because I had a small amount of curdling happen. Has anyone else noticed the same? It didn't seem to cause a problem with the finished product, though.

~ 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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Have you had any better luck with other recipes from the book?

I did make the brrrr-ownies and they were okay. A little sticky-chewy and hard to cut but fairly tasty. I am just surprised to hear of some much excitment over the book when I have been so underwhelmed. I wasn't even going to try another recipe but I had received the cookbook to review from the publishers and thought I owed it another try.

And you were going to do a review on the basis of trying two recipes? :huh::unsure::huh::rolleyes::rolleyes::rolleyes:

Well, sure. Two recipes out of like 230 is a sufficient sample from which to make an overall judgement, right?

For the event, I was supposed to publicly test and review only 2 recipes. I could of course make more, but I could only post 2. Since I was so disappointed, I was only going to make the 2 before the deadline and then try the rest at my leisure.

25 other people are also trying and posting 2 recipes. You can check it out here.

I do a lot of developing of original recipes so I prefer to concetrate on that, rather than endlessly cook from a book I didn't really enjoy.

Also: do you think people who review cookbooks in newspapers have time to make dozens of recipes before they review the book? There is no reason to be snarky, I was instructed to make and review two recipes and I did. I didn't say it made me an expert, but that's what I had to do. I think making 2 recipes and being underwhelmed is fine. I picked 2 very different recipes and did not find them special.

I also only reviewed the recipes I made, not the book as a whole, a distinction that perhaps you will appreciate.

Edited by coconutlime (log)

Check out my food blog: Coconut & Lime and my cooking review and tip site Food Maven

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I had another go at the rum-soaked vanilla cakes. This time I actually used the heavy cream called for in the recipe, rather than my milk kludge. End result: it looks prettier than before: humps and cracks on both cakes, rather than a flat top with bubbles. I haven't cut into either cake yet; that will happen tonight for dessert, after we teach a couple of students how to make a roast chicken dinner fit to impress a date.

I also did the Peanuttiest Blondies. No 9-inch square pan in my house, and the only 7-by-11 pan is Pyrex and not so great for baked goods, so I used an 8-inch pan instead. The end result was fine nonetheless (but it did take the long end of the given time range to bake), and the most troublesome part was cleaning my plunger measuring cup after using it for the peanut butter. (I'd normally toss it in the dishwasher, but we were going away for a couple of days and the DW was already halfway through a cycle so I washed it by hand.) I chopped the peanuts more finely than I should have, because I'd prefer a chunkier cookie, but the taste was divine. They came along for the trip with us, and traveled well without crumbling.

Is anyone else finding that their household butter consumption has skyrocketed in the last few weeks? :biggrin:

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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Help! help! Help needed. I'm making the holiday bundt cake which calls for canned pumpkin. My febrile brain can't decide. Which measuring cup to use? I can see pro/con arguments each for liquid or volume measurement cups.

.

Yes, I know, it probably won't make a big difference either way. But this is just another instance where a weight measurement would resolve ambiguity.

I admit to a serious case of baking high anxiety. When I cook? no recipes, a handful of this or that, taste, adjust, and just keep going til it tastes as it should. When I bake? parse each word and comma: sifted flour, flour sifted; a cup of chopped pecans, a cup of pecans, chopped. And is that a plastic, glass, or stainless cup? Must my cups be Atco cups? :rolleyes::rolleyes::unsure::unsure::unsure:

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

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Help! help! Help needed. I'm making the holiday bundt cake which calls for canned pumpkin. My febrile brain can't decide. Which measuring cup to use? I can see pro/con arguments each for liquid or volume measurement cups.

.

...

I'm interested in the replies of other, but if the ingredient is not self-leveling (liquid), I use the dry measure cup, pack it on in and scrape the top. So, since the pumpkin will not level on its own, I vote for dry measure....

Cheryl, The Sweet Side
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Help! help! Help needed. I'm making the holiday bundt cake which calls for canned pumpkin. My febrile brain can't decide. Which measuring cup to use? I can see pro/con arguments each for liquid or volume measurement cups.

I debated about the same thing when I made this a couple of days ago. I settled on the measuring cups I use for dry ingredients & the cake was perfect.

pat w.

I would live all my life in nonchalance and insouciance

Were it not for making a living, which is rather a nouciance.

-- Ogden Nash

http://bluestembooks.com/

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I think making 2 recipes and being underwhelmed is fine. I picked 2 very different recipes and did not find them special.

That's too bad, coconutlime. I hope you have better luck with any recipes you might try in the future. Personally, I have tried somewhere in the neighborhood of ten recipes from the book, and there was only one that I didnt care for (the tartest lemon tart), and several that I loved and will definitely make again (applesauce bars, vanilla pound cake and caramel peanut brownie cake, in particular).

"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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Also: do you think people who review cookbooks in newspapers have time to make dozens of recipes before they review the book?

No of course not, and that's one reason why I would find such reviews, based on a small number of trials, to be pretty much completely worthless from a cookbook-buyer's perspective. Especially if the cookbook in question has, say, hundreds of recipes. I mean, I'm still discovering recipes I love in cookbooks that I've had for 5 years, so, no, I would tend not to give much weight to reviews based on a couple of recipes tried over a couple of weeks. But that's just me, and other people are certainly entitled to make their own judgements however they see fit.

Edited by Patrick S (log)

"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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Help! help! Help needed. I'm making the holiday bundt cake which calls for canned pumpkin. My febrile brain can't decide. Which measuring cup to use? I can see pro/con arguments each for liquid or volume measurement cups.

.

Yes, I know, it probably won't make a big difference either way. But this is just another instance where a weight measurement would resolve ambiguity.

1C pumpkin weighs 244 grams, so if you have scale, use that.

"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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