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


rjwong
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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 agree to use the dry measuring cups if you're not weighing, simply because you can scoop it in and level off the top, which you can't do with most liquid measuring cups.

"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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I guess I never really thought about how many recipes reviewers actually tried before they did reviews. Now that I know that they don't do what I would consider to be the level of research needed to truly give a book a reliable review, I will certainly look at those reviews with a more critical eye.

Jean

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I guess I never really thought about how many recipes reviewers actually tried before they did reviews.  Now that I know that they don't do what I would consider to be the level of research needed to truly give a book a reliable review, I will certainly look at those reviews with a more critical eye.

Jean

That's true. Of course, you can learn a lot about a cookbook by reading it. I have seen several that just at a glance you know some recipes won't work. Bad flour/butter ratios, incomplete instuctions etc. I wouldn't have to try them to form an opinion.

Edited by coconutlime (log)

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

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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.

Thanks Patrick. I've already put the cake in the oven. But I did take the time to weigh out the pumpkin to make a note for future reference. For flour, I used 150g/cup. That's what Dorie uses in her Herme books, so I figured that was a safe call.

Do you know if there's a website that gives weight equivalents for the volume of different ingredients?

I really, really, really, really wish American writers/publishers would use weight measurements in baking books (at least). It takes so much of the guesswork out of most ingredients. I understand all the arguments about time, money for production, but what of making the cakes. When baking, I like to follow a recipe exactly the first time, though I may play about the next time. For example Dorie calls for 1 large apple. How much simpler if it were x grams or ozs. Also, in a cake like this, one wonders, does her recipe expect an apple that will tend to mush right into the batter like a Mac or hold it's shape like the Gold Rush I used. And then, too, how finely were them apples to be chopped if we are to replicate her result?

OK, I'm off my hobby horse now.

edited for typo

Edited by Mottmott (log)

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

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. . .

Do you know if there's a website that gives weight equivalents for the volume of different ingredients?

. . .

Something like this?

food weight and equivlence chart.

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)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

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Couldn't access NutritionData.com, so I don't know if that fits the bill.

As for th Southern Food site, I've bookmarked it as it will be useful, but it doesn't do what I'm lookling for which is a conversion from volume/cup measurements to weight measurements. For example, a cup of flour, a cup of sugar, a cup of pumpkin puree will all have diffrerent weights even though they have the same volume. As discussed elsewhere, a cup of table salt, a cup of Morton's salt, and a cup of Diamond salt will all have different weights. Etc.

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

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Wow! I just had my first taste of the Holiday Bundt cake. Just what I like in a cake. Wonderfully full flavor, light, even texture, not too sweet, but with bursts of sweet/tart cranberry. It's all I can do from cutting another piece right now. This recipe is a keeper. Well, er, um, I don't think it will keep tooo long. :laugh:

edited to add: I didn't glaze this, just gave it a decorative dusting of confectrioners.

Edited by Mottmott (log)

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

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I made the oatmeal peanut butter chocolate chip cookies today. And while they puffed up beautifully in the oven, by the time they were ready to take out they had spread and flattened out. I'm not blaming the recipe though, because I used a regular pan instead of my usual insulated, and I also used a different flour than I usually do (I broke my leg this summer and am still on crutches so have someone else buying groceries for me). So I'll try it again and see what happens next time. Because I will try this recipe again. Flat or no, these are delicious cookies! :wub:

I'm gonna go bake something…

wanna come with?

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First off has to be a big BRAVO to juliachildish -- what a spread!  And, I repeat the question:  How did you do this in a dorm kitchen???

When I was first married -- which is the first time I baked -- our kitchen was a converted linen closet.  It was awfully tight, but I was so excited about learning to bake that I just went ahead and baked, but I don't think I ever did more than two things in a day!  You must be the world's most organized person.

Well, for a dorm kitchen, it's not terrible, because I've dragged a lot of my supplies up from home. And okay, the burners are unreliable and the oven fluctuates a lot, but I just check on things constantly! And I have such an addiction to cooking that a dorm kitchen is far better than no kitchen at all. And even though I've been baking/cooking for a few years now, of course I'm still trying new things and am still really excited about it every time.

It's funny, because outside of cooking I'm terribly unorganized. But my sophomore year in high school I decided to throw a dinner party for 10 people. I got really ambitious with the planning and I think we ended up sitting down for the meal three hours later than planned. But I learned my lesson, and I love throwing parties where I can stuff people full of food, so...my senior year in high school I did one dinner party for 20 people and a dessert-only party (but not buffet-style, still sit-down courses) for 25 people, and so after that a brunch buffet seems like a snap. It really really helps that you give suggestions for all kinds of things to be made in advance. I made the toppings for the crisp and blueberry crumb cake a couple days in advance, made the banana bread and rugelach the night before, and started cooking three hours before people were supposed to arrive, and things turned out very nicely.

Anyway, since my last post, I've made the Russian Grandmother's Apple Cake and the best Chocolate Chip Cookies. The apple cake was a little plain, but satisfying nonethless, and even though I thought initially that I wasn't wowed by it, I couldn't help sneaking back for little extra pieces constantly. I added pecans to the apple filling because I didn't have enough raisins, and I think the little crunch was really nice.

The Chocolate Chip Cookies really were quite good-I usually prefer mine a little more gooey than crisp, but I undercooked them a bit deliberately, and they had a delicious chocolatey and buttery flavor. It's always hard for me to pick a number one chocolate-chip cookie recipe, but these rank up there.

I don't have pictures of either of those, but I do have pictures of the chocolate cupcakes I made for a friend's birthday. I filled them with chocolate ganache, and did about half with the chocolate glaze in the recipe, and about half with a basic American vanilla powdered-sugar frosting, as requested by my boyfriend. The cupcakes themselves definitely aren't as sweet as most cupcakes, but they complement the frosting really nicely. Everyone I served them to oohed and aahed, and I thought the chocolate frosting/glaze was particularly delicious-denser than typical frosting, but not the same flavor as a ganache. I also think they benefited a lot from being filled, but then, I always like the frosting better than the cake part anyway. I had a lot of fun using up leftover sprinkles on them, as you can see:

gallery_26574_3683_146226.jpg

gallery_26574_3683_275460.jpg

gallery_26574_3683_203947.jpg

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juliachildish, the sprinkles on your cupcakes are so cute! I especially love the shiny pearls :smile: Does your dorm have an oven? Or are there portable ovens?

I have been making so many of the recipes in this book, but my neighbors all love me now :laugh: They especially like the chocolate chunkers and bittersweet brownies, and so did I.

I bake as a hobby, and the system of tablespoons and cups is so much more convenient for me, as I don't have a scale. Maybe that's why American cookbooks don't include the weights all of the time? I really only eyeball the chocolate that I use (I can't count 9 oz worth of Ghirardelli!!), but I haven't had a major disaster yet. I wonder though, in complex baking, I'm sure that a scale would be necessary!

Edited by Chihiran (log)
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gallery_29268_3740_839739.jpg

I made the Mango Bread (p.45) this afternoon. I only own a glass pyrex loaf pan so I baked it at lower temperature to compensate. Was this a correct assumption? I tried to search on the site for the cooking time difference between metal and glass baking pans and couldn't find anything on the topic. I should have just used the recommended 350 degrees as it took forever to finally set in the middle. I think it was in the oven for over 2 hours. It's definately overbaked and dry on the ends.

I lined my loaf pan with parchment paper with some overhang. I find it makes the removal from the pan much, much, much easier.

Very tasty loaf. I love the unique combination of the fruit/spices/lime. Definately a nice change from the usual banana bread.

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I just made the Cinnamon Squares, and they are truly fantastic. I didn't make the glaze, but I must say, the cake stood beautifully on its own. Next time I'll try it with the glaze. Thank you so much, Dorie!

There's nothing better than a good friend, except a good friend with CHOCOLATE.
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I just made the thumbprints and while they taste great, I didn't make a large enough well for the jelly and the cookies don't work as nicely as they could. They are nutty, crumbly and would be perfect with a touch more fruit. I think they'd work really well with a hit of spice (ginger, lemongrass, cardamon, etc) in the cookie as well.

Edited by laniloa (log)
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...I bake as a hobby, and the system of tablespoons and cups is so much more convenient for me, as I don't have a scale. Maybe that's why American cookbooks don't include the weights all of the time? I really only eyeball the chocolate that I use (I can't count 9 oz worth of Ghirardelli!!), but I haven't had a major disaster yet. I wonder though, in complex baking, I'm sure that a scale would be necessary!

Chihiran, I'm a home baker, too, but I find using a scale a great help in getting consistently satisfactory results. It saves me time, money, and anxiety. Given the price of some baking ingredients, my scale has paid for itself even though I don't bake as often as many here do. Our American publishing practice of using only volume measurement creates needless ambiguity.

First of all, using a scale makes for greater consistency and control of variables. I find, for example, that when I measure out 4 cups of flour, the first and last cups don't weigh the same as I'm not scooping into the same bag each time. (Yes, I've dorkishly checked it out.) But a 150g of a-p flour is 150g of a-p flour.

Second, to complicate it even more, what a cup of a-p flour weighs varies among authors (4.5-5 oz). Or for a particular author, a given weight per cup may even vary from book to book or recipe to recipe (perhaps depending upon its original source). As discussed above, In Baking... Dorie measures a cup at 4.8 - 5 oz. In her Herme books, 1 cup=150g. but in Paris Sweets 1 cup=140g. By presenting the ingredients by both weight and volume, her intention is clear in all cases.. I try to note in each of my ckbks that author's standard measurement of a cup of flour, etc.

Third, weighing out multiple cups of an ingredient is easier, I can simply put a bowl on the scale, tare it, then pour the flour, sugar, etc. to the desired total weight. Some bakers will add dry ingredients to the same bowl when appropriate, using the tare to return the bowl's weight to zero between the ingredients. (I confess I don't feel confident enough to do this.)

Fourth, if using someting solid that needs dividing, like a 1 lb block of Plugra butter which I like to use for pastry, it would be a nightmare to measure out 10 Tbs, but is simple to weigh out 5 oz. For chocolate, I find it both cheaper and more convenient to buy it by it in a block or in feves; these would be difficult to measure accurately by volume. Recently I made a plum and fig kuchen similar to Dorie's plum cake. It called for 7 small prune plums (7-8 oz) As luck had it, I found some wonderful plums at the farmers market that were not the Italian plums called for in the recipe - a similar shape but much larger. Using the weight given in the recipe I could easily make the substitution. If I choose to do this with other fruits in other seasons, no problem figuring out how many apples or cherries I need.

I have a bunch of small pouches of leftover egg whites in my freezer, not necessarily from the same size eggs. No problem when I want to make an angel food cake. I can weigh out the amount needed.

Fifth, some recipes are given in weights, not measures. The world is now at our webbed fingertips. For example, this recipe for a plum cake (http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/database/ggg_80532.shtml) requires a scale.

Lastly, a scale is useful in general cooking, both for the process of cooking and for portion control. Professional chefs may use it for controlling the bottom line, but I find it invaluable in controlling the waist line.

edited for typos

Edited by Mottmott (log)

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

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BTW -- when you guys made these, if you picked up a bar in your hand would it fall apart, or would you be able to eat it like that, or would you absolutely have to have a plate and a fork? IOW -- what should the texture be like? So a good 9x13 pan is next on my list I guess.

When I made them, they were indeed very soft and moist, but still sturdy enough to pick and and eat out of hand.

Thanks Patrick. I just bought a new 9x13 pan, so I guess I'll have to make these again and see what sort of difference the pan makes.

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I made the oatmeal peanut butter chocolate chip cookies today. And while they puffed up beautifully in the oven, by the time they were ready to take out they had spread and flattened out. I'm not blaming the recipe though, because I used a regular pan instead of my usual insulated, and I also used a different flour than I usually do (I broke my leg this summer and am still on crutches so have someone else buying groceries for me). So I'll try it again and see what happens next time. Because I will try this recipe again. Flat or no, these are delicious cookies!  :wub:

These were a BIG hit in my house. Did you chill the dough before baking them up? I baked off one sheet of cookies pre-chilling and the rest after an overnight rest in the fridge; the chilled ones retained more of their "puff" than the unchilled (but both were wonderful, 'specially dunked in milk).

Hope your leg heals quickly!

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First of all, using a scale makes for greater consistency and control of variables. I find, for example, that when I measure out 4 cups of flour, the first and last cups don't weigh the same as I'm not scooping into the same bag each time. (Yes, I've dorkishly checked it out.) But a 150g of a-p flour is 150g of a-p flour.

Second, to complicate it even more, what a cup of a-p flour weighs varies among authors (4.5-5 oz). Or for a particular author, a given weight per cup may even vary from book to book or recipe to recipe (perhaps depending upon its original source). As discussed above, In Baking... Dorie measures a cup at 4.8 - 5 oz. In her Herme books, 1 cup=150g. but in Paris Sweets 1 cup=140g. By presenting the ingredients by both weight and volume, her intention is clear in all cases.. I try to note in each of my ckbks that author's standard measurement of a cup of flour, etc.

Third, weighing out multiple cups of an ingredient is easier, I can simply put a bowl on the scale, tare it, then pour the flour, sugar, etc. to the desired total weight. Some bakers will add dry ingredients to the same bowl when appropriate, using the tare to return the bowl's weight to zero between the ingredients. (I confess I don't feel confident enough to do this.)

Fourth, if using someting solid that needs dividing, like a 1 lb block of Plugra butter which I like to use for pastry, it would be a nightmare to measure out 10 Tbs, but is simple to weigh out 5 oz. For chocolate, I find it both cheaper and more convenient to buy it by it in a block or in feves; these would be difficult to measure accurately by volume. Recently I made a plum and fig kuchen similar to Dorie's plum cake. It called for 7 small prune plums (7-8 oz) As luck had it, I found some wonderful plums at the farmers market that were not the Italian plums called for in the recipe - a similar shape but much larger. Using the weight given in the recipe I could easily make the substitution. If I choose to do this with other fruits in other seasons, no problem figuring out how many apples or cherries I need.

I have a bunch of small pouches of leftover egg whites in my freezer, not necessarily from the same size eggs. No problem when I want to make an angel food cake. I can weigh out the amount needed.

Fifth, some recipes are given in weights, not measures. The world is now at our webbed fingertips. For example, this recipe for a plum cake (http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/database/ggg_80532.shtml) requires a scale.

Lastly, a scale is useful in general cooking, both for the process of cooking and for portion control. Professional chefs may use it for controlling the bottom line, but I find it invaluable in controlling the waist line.

edited for typos

That was a very persuasive argument. It looks like I'll be looking into digital scales.

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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First of all, using a scale makes for greater consistency and control of variables. I find, for example, that when I measure out 4 cups of flour, the first and last cups don't weigh the same as I'm not scooping into the same bag each time. (Yes, I've dorkishly checked it out.) But a 150g of a-p flour is 150g of a-p flour.

Second, to complicate it even more, what a cup of a-p flour weighs varies among authors (4.5-5 oz). Or for a particular author, a given weight per cup may even vary from book to book or recipe to recipe (perhaps depending upon its original source). As discussed above, In Baking... Dorie measures a cup at 4.8 - 5 oz. In her Herme books, 1 cup=150g. but in Paris Sweets 1 cup=140g. By presenting the ingredients by both weight and volume, her intention is clear in all cases.. I try to note in each of my ckbks that author's standard measurement of a cup of flour, etc.

Third, weighing out multiple cups of an ingredient is easier, I can simply put a bowl on the scale, tare it, then pour the flour, sugar, etc. to the desired total weight. Some bakers will add dry ingredients to the same bowl when appropriate, using the tare to return the bowl's weight to zero between the ingredients. (I confess I don't feel confident enough to do this.)

Fourth, if using someting solid that needs dividing, like a 1 lb block of Plugra butter which I like to use for pastry, it would be a nightmare to measure out 10 Tbs, but is simple to weigh out 5 oz. For chocolate, I find it both cheaper and more convenient to buy it by it in a block or in feves; these would be difficult to measure accurately by volume. Recently I made a plum and fig kuchen similar to Dorie's plum cake. It called for 7 small prune plums (7-8 oz) As luck had it, I found some wonderful plums at the farmers market that were not the Italian plums called for in the recipe - a similar shape but much larger. Using the weight given in the recipe I could easily make the substitution. If I choose to do this with other fruits in other seasons, no problem figuring out how many apples or cherries I need.

I have a bunch of small pouches of leftover egg whites in my freezer, not necessarily from the same size eggs. No problem when I want to make an angel food cake. I can weigh out the amount needed.

Fifth, some recipes are given in weights, not measures. The world is now at our webbed fingertips. For example, this recipe for a plum cake (http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/database/ggg_80532.shtml) requires a scale.

Lastly, a scale is useful in general cooking, both for the process of cooking and for portion control. Professional chefs may use it for controlling the bottom line, but I find it invaluable in controlling the waist line.

edited for typos

That was a very persuasive argument. It looks like I'll be looking into digital scales.

pat w.

Mine has a tare function, 5 gram and 1/4 oz increments and weighs to 11 lb. If getting a new one, I'd look for smaller increments. I have a Salton, but as I recall, there have been threads in the past suggesting others that might be better.

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

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Couldn't access NutritionData.com, so I don't know if that fits the bill.

As for th Southern Food site, I've bookmarked it as it will  be useful, but it doesn't do what I'm lookling for which is a conversion  from volume/cup measurements to weight measurements. For example, a cup of flour, a cup of sugar, a cup of pumpkin puree will all have diffrerent weights even though they have the same volume. As discussed elsewhere, a cup of table salt, a cup of Morton's salt, and a cup of Diamond salt will all have different weights. Etc.

I think this is more along the lines of what you are looking for: Gourmet Sleuth

I've used it quite a lot and compared to my own volume weight conversions (where I actually fill a cup with sugar then weigh it, etc.) -- very accurate.

Cheryl, The Sweet Side
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Couldn't access NutritionData.com, so I don't know if that fits the bill.

As for th Southern Food site, I've bookmarked it as it will  be useful, but it doesn't do what I'm lookling for which is a conversion  from volume/cup measurements to weight measurements. For example, a cup of flour, a cup of sugar, a cup of pumpkin puree will all have diffrerent weights even though they have the same volume. As discussed elsewhere, a cup of table salt, a cup of Morton's salt, and a cup of Diamond salt will all have different weights. Etc.

I think this is more along the lines of what you are looking for: Gourmet Sleuth

I've used it quite a lot and compared to my own volume weight conversions (where I actually fill a cup with sugar then weigh it, etc.) -- very accurate.

Perfect. Thanks

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

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I made the Cranberry Upside-Downer yesterday using the almond flavor variation. Once again, the flavor was spot on. It has a lovely buttery, slightly sweet flavor with a perfume of almond essence, punctuated by tart cranberry power.

But I did have a problem. The cake is designed as an upside-down cake--fruit is placed on the bottom of the pan in a butter-sugar mixture, batter spread on top, then baked. When you unmold it, the bottom becomes the top. It is supposed to end up as a fruit layer on top of the cake layer, but in my case, the fruit sunk into the batter. Tastes great. Looks ugly.

I could fix it by making a cranberry compote topping, but I am trying to figure out what went wrong. I used a springform pan instead of a cake pan, because that was all I had in the correct size. It is a dark color, so not a favorite. Here are my theories:

1. The cranberries I used were fresh, and quite large. Bigger than any I've seen before. Maybe my cranberries produced more liquid than the recipe intended, and this made them mush in. This theory is supported by the fact that there was a lot of goo when I unmolded the pan (no berries left ont he pan though). Or,

2. My oven temp wasn't hot enough, so the batter didn't quite set. In support of this theory, my cake is not nearly as tall as the photo. It is maybe 1" high. Or,

3. I unmolded the cake too soon, and should have left it sitting bottom-side down for while to cool. The instructions dont actually say "let cool", and I took that as meaning unmold forthwith. Maybe I was wrong.

4. I could've coated the berry bottom/top with a dusting of flour like you do with blueberry muffins to stop them sinking, or perhaps set the bottom/top by baking it briefly before adding the batter. This is not in the instructions, but maybe it would help keep the layers separate.

Your thoughts and diagnoses are most welcome. I always learn more from "failures" than from easy successes. Meanwhile, I'll have another bite.

Edited by tamiam (log)
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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These were a BIG hit in my house.  Did you chill the dough before baking them up?  I baked off one sheet of cookies pre-chilling and the rest after an overnight rest in the fridge; the chilled ones retained more of their "puff" than the unchilled (but both were wonderful, 'specially dunked in milk).

Hope your leg heals quickly!

Thanks Ruth! The break happened way back at the beginning of August (I had to be completely off it for 2-1/2 months!) and I'm trying to relearn how to walk now. I'll be on crutches or using a cane for awhile yet. It sucks. :angry:

As for the cookies, I refrigerated the dough overnight too. I'm sure it's either the weird pan or the different flour. This is the first thing I tried baking with the new package of flour, so I'm leaning towards blaming that.

On a happier note, I brought them in to work and everyone loves them. It's barely noon here and there are very few left already – and there are only 10 of us in the office today!

I'm gonna go bake something…

wanna come with?

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Hello All-

This week we are having Dorie for an eG Spotlight Conversation. Dorie is there right now discussing everything from baking to collaborating with Julia and Pierre as well as any other subject that relates to her books and career. This is why she is not posting in this thread this week.

Please join us in the eG Spotlight Conversation with Dorie Greenspan forum and post your questions or post followups to Dorie's answers. Remember this is a "Conversation" so followup posts AFTER Dorie posts are very much encouraged.

See you there.

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

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

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