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Testing a New Baking Ingredient

Jul 19, 2014 | From the kitchen of Rose in Epicurious

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When I read on the internet that there was a new product called a cake enhancer, that was purported to produce cakes that would be softer, moister, more fluffy and stay fresh longer, I couldn't resist trying it, especially when it consisted of familiar ingredients such as rice starch and fatty acids derived from vegetable fats, which act as emulsifiers, allowing fats and liquids to combine more easily and also serve as stabilizers and texture enhancers.

I made two identical cakes, with all ingredients weighed, and at the same temperature, mixed for the same amount of time at the same speeds, and baked in the same size pans. I added the recommended 1 tablespoon of cake enhancer per cup of cake flour to one of the cakes. This batter was promisingly smoother and spread more easily but the baked cake was disappointing. It rose significantly more than the control cake but cracked a lot on the surface. It was sweeter, less flavorful, fluffier, and more dissolving, but rather than being moister, had a slightly dry aftertaste, though becoming pasty on chewing.

Farmers' Market Book Signing

Jul 19, 2014 | From the kitchen of Rose in Special Stories

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Country living is wonderful, especially spring through fall as it includes farmers' markets offering locally grown organic produce, dairy products, and meats. My dear friend Maria Menegus is chairperson for the Belvidere Farmers' Market as well as selling her family's great organic produce and eggs at the market. We did a book signing last summer and this past June we were invited to do a second one.

Woody and I made a batch of our Fudgy Pudgy Brownies from Rose's Heavenly Cakes for market goers to taste. Woody and Elliott set up our table and display. We greatly enjoyed talking to many of the shoppers. One came all the way from Kansas accompanied by a local friend. I was pleased thinking about Rose's Heavenly soon to be in a kitchen in Kansas.

Woody and I will be at the Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania Farmers' Market on July 26 from 8 to noon. It is located at the town's square, one block north of Main Street, on North 7th Street. Bring your books for signing and we will have more brownie samples and books from Rose's stock for sale as well.


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Our 39th Anniversary Dinner

Jul 12, 2014 | From the kitchen of Rose in Special Stories

We decided to try a restaurant in NJ highly recommended by my cousins who live nearby in Flemington. The Harvest Moon in Ringoes was indeed a great recommendation. Our favorite courses were the avocado and lump crab appetizer and the perfectly creamy and flavorful lavender ice cream. And as a special treat, as we were leaving, the full moon just emerged from the clouds--perfect synergy!

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A Flour by Any Other Name...!

Jul 12, 2014 | From the kitchen of Rose in Epicurious

Just under the wire--12 days before The Baking Bible was ready to ship to the printer--Woody bought a new bag of "Gold Medal Better for Bread Flour" and to our shock, the name of the flour on the bag had changed to "Gold Medal Bread Flour."

I raced over to the computer to see how many instances the flour was mentioned in the book with the old name and there were 17. Then I put in a call to my editor, Stephanie, telling her what had happened and asking if it were possible to make this one last change. She called Jamie, the production editor who said it was possible. Whew!

When I first started working as a spokesperson for Gold Medal, several years ago, the name of the flour had been changed to "Harvest King Flour." Apparently many people were confused, thinking it was no longer the same bread flour. Some years later, after I was no longer the spokesperson, the name of the flour went back to "Better for Bread Flour." I'm so glad I can now make the change to refer it to in print as its latest name: Gold Medal Bread Flour, as it won't matter what the name may be changed to in the future, it will always be just that.

I use this flour for most of my breads as it has a slightly lower protein content than other bread flours and has the ideal extensibility, giving it the best rise and texture.

I recommend that if using other brands of bread flour, most of which have a higher protein content, to use half bread flour and half unbleached all-purpose flour.

For a soft white bread I prefer unbleached all-purpose flour which has a lower protein content.

And to achieve a high gluten flour, using Gold Medal bread flour, I add 3.7% vital wheat gluten or about 2 tablespoons per cup of flour.

My Best Bagels with Step by Step Photos Part 1

Jul 5, 2014 | From the kitchen of Rose in Epicurious

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This is the first in a series of 5 by monthly postings on my favorite breads complete with step by step photos. The photos will come at the end of the recipe and as there are so many, I will be dividing them into two postings, one immediately following the other, to make downloading faster and easier.

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Levy's Bagels

If you've never had a homemade bagel you are in for a great surprise. Most commercial bagels lack the delicious complexity of flavor and the pleasant degree of chewiness. The chewiness is a result of using high gluten flour but as this is not readily available in supermarkets I decided to make my own by using Gold Medal Better for Bread flour and adding gluten. It worked perfectly.

The dough is quick to make and then can stored overnight before shaping, making it an ideal weekend project. Authentic bagels need to be boiled before baking. The shaping, boiling, and baking are somewhat time consuming, therefore it behooves you to make a batch of an adequate size and power. This is only possible with a heavy duty mixer and the Ankarsrum is ideal.

Bagels are very much a part of my heritage. My first bread memory and my first teething ring are one and the same. My mother, who was a dentist, considered the bagel an ideal natural teething ring because of its firm yet forgiving texture. But it was my father who brought us freshly-baked bagels on a string every Friday afternoon after he made his weekly delivery of bagel peels. In the 1940's after the war and the early 1950's, when times were hard, my father Robert Levy, a skilled cabinet maker, turned to bagel peel production and laid claim to the exclusive bagel peel business in the greater New York area which included the five boroughs and all of New Jersey. This did not make us rich, but we had all the bagels we could eat.

A peel is a flat wooden pallet with a long pole as handle, designed for transferring bread to and from the oven in commercial bread bakeries. Peels used for bagels are only slightly wider than the bagel itself. In traditional bagel production, the bagels, after being boiled in salted water, are placed on a wooden board and set in the oven, often as deep as 20 feet. When the tops of the bagels are firm, a piece of string is run under the bagels to release them and they are inverted onto the hot oven shelf. The peel is used to move them about so that they bake evenly and to remove them from the oven. Making my bagel recipe in a home oven, however, does not require a bagel peel, however, I regret that my father did not save one of his for me to put up in my kitchen as decoration.

Recipe Follows

Continue reading "My Best Bagels with Step by Step Photos Part 1" »

My Best Bagels with Step by Step Photos Part 2

Jul 5, 2014 | From the kitchen of Rose in Epicurious

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CUTTING THE DOUGH

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ROLLING THE DOUGH BALLS

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BRINGING UP THE EDGES

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PINCHING THE DOUGH TOGETHER


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ROUNDING THE DOUGH BALLS

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MAKING THE HOLE

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STRETCHING THE OPENING

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LETTING THE DOUGH RISE

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BOILING THE BAGELS

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SETTING THE BAGELS ON TOP OF THE POPPYSEEDS

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FIRST BATCH READY TO GLAZE AND TOP

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GLAZING THE BAGELS WITH EGG WHITE

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TOPPING WITH POPPYSEEDS

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THE BAKED BAGLES

Special Tips for Using the Ankarsrum Stand Mixer

Jul 2, 2014 | From the kitchen of Rose in Epicurious

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This coming Saturday will be the first of five special bread recipes with specific details relating to the Ankarsrum stand mixer. I'm delighted to report that this sturdy mixer can knead a larger than usual amount of stiff bread dough so my first recipe offering is for a double batch of bagels!

There will also be step by step photos of all recipes. Here are a few ideas and tips for using this excellent heavy duty mixer.

When using the Ankarsrum for mixing bread, I start on low speed, which is the space between the first and second marking, to mix the dough just until the ingredients are incorporated and all the flour is moistened--1 to 2 minutes. When kneading the dough, I then choose the space between the second and third space.

Unless doing a very large amount of dough I use the roller/scraper attachment set at about 1/2 inch from the side of the bowl. The adjustment knob will hold firmly in place so in order to remove the roller easily, all you have to do is move the arm that holds the roller forward very slightly and then the knob will turn easily.

People have asked how the Ankarsrum functions for cakes and cookies. We plan to experiment in the near future but in the meantime I asked advice from Ashley McCord whose family is the long time US distributor. The following is her helpful hints:

"The Ankarsrum does a wonderful job using the plastic beater bowl with the batter whips for cakes and icing. You MUST always use softened butter or cream cheese though. The black plastic gear that the balloon whisks and the batter/cookie whips attach to on the double whisk bowl are not designed for hard, cold butter, or very stiff batters. I will also use the batter whips for small, light batches of cookie dough. If you are wanting to make a large batch of triple chocolate chunk or oatmeal cranberry cookies with the extras (nuts, dried fruit), then use the stainless steel bowl and roller/scraper to mix that up. For creaming the butter and sugar, I like a higher speed. Then when I start adding my dry ingredients, I like the slowest speed so that the flour doesn't poof out all over my counter."

The Baking Bible's First Review!

Jul 1, 2014 | From the kitchen of Rose in Epicurious

from the July issue of The Library Journal:

Readers expect perfection from ­Beranbaum (Rose's Heavenly Cakes; The Cake Bible), whose award-winning cookbooks are known for their foolproof recipes and rigorous testing and development. Her tenth cookbook--a timeless collection of all-new cakes, pastries, cookies, candies, and breads--blends American and European traditions and thoroughly explains the hows and whys of baking through commandment-like "golden rules" and meticulous instructions. Novice bakers can start out with easy choices (blueberry buckle) and work their way up to more complex recipes (prune preserves and caramel cream cake roll) that can have as many as five homemade components. Like Flo Braker's Baking for All Occasions, the book contains some unique desserts (pomegranate winter chiffon meringue pie) that won't be found elsewhere. The ingredient glossary, equipment list, resources, and appendixes are excellent. VERDICT Beranbaum successfully bridges the gap between popular home baking collections and professional texts, and her recipes will endure long after novelty baking trends have tired.

A Visiting Pigeon!

Jul 1, 2014 | From the kitchen of Rose in Special Stories

When I was growing up on Central Park West in New York City, my grandmother saved all bits of stale bread to bring to the pigeons in the park. Often I would accompany her as she tossed the crumbs from the crumpled brown page, and watched how the pigeons flocked to her. So the pigeons were my friends, and I thought of them as quite ordinary until I visited Italy at 16 and saw how the pigeons in St. Marks square were a national tourist attraction. I must admit that when they took flight at sunset, and the golden sun burnished their wings, they seemed a lot more magical than my old friends in Central Park!

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Years later, when I dated a french chef, he encouraged me to order the pigeon one night at dinner. When I recounted my attachment to pigeons he assured me that the pigeon on the menu was an entirely different breed, so I succumbed. It was quite delicious. I've longed wondered if he had been lying though.

Moving from New York City a year ago I thought I was leaving pigeons behind but low and behold: on a recent trip to the local ice cream store one evening after dinner the pigeon pictured above landed on the ledge right near me and proceeded to walk toward me. He wasn't going for my ice cream but rather for the fall out from other orders, such as tiny little sprinkles which he managed top peck up one at a time.

I admired the pigeon's courage to come so close to a stranger and not even flinch when I took the picture. But then he had to have been a New York bird--I've never seen a pigeon in our area of New Jersey before. And New York birds have attitude.

My Beautiful New Dentist

Jun 29, 2014 | From the kitchen of Rose in Special Stories

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I realize that you may find it odd to post about teeth on a baking blog but when you stop to consider you surely will realize that when it comes to appreciation of eating, there is little more important.

My mother certainly drove this impression home because she was my first and long-time dentist. In the 1930's, there were very few women in this profession, in fact, she was the only one in her entire dental school. She had been inspired by her aunt Beck who came to New York from Russia with her older brother Saul, both of whom then earned money to bring over the rest of the family. (Beck became a dentist and Sol became the youngest chief of pediatrics at Mount Sinai hospital.)

My mother often reminded me when I was young that my teeth were pearls and that it would be great blessing to have full possession of them one day when I would be old. Of course I had no interest in this message and resisted the four glasses of daily milk she forced upon me. Now I am grateful. I'm also grateful that she married a man who at thirty did not have a single filling. (Between the milk and that man I have very strong bones and teeth.)

As a child It was not a pleasant experience to have my mother work on my teeth but as I got older I realized the virtue of having a dentist who had so much integrity, loved her profession, and also loved me. When she retired, her mission was to find me a replacement. Dr. Stanley Darrow, her excellent choice, became my dentist and eventually my cherished friend for over 25 years.

I had been toying with the idea of finding a dentist closer to where I now live when Dr. Darrow retired though I fully intended to continue going to the wonderful technician Georgia Klamson. Sadly, a week ago today, Dr. Darrow passed away. He had been ill for several months, during which time I chanced to meet Dr. Kellen Mori, one of the members of his dental practice, while having my bi-annual prophylaxis (tooth cleaning--I always giggled when my mother called it by its technical name.) It took all of three seconds to decide that she would be my next dentist.

Dr. Mori told me that she loves to bake and that her favorite cake is the red velvet. So for my first appointment I made her this cake from my upcoming Baking Bible. I feel once again in skilled hands and heart I trust. And I'm certain my mother would have approved.

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