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FORUMS will be discontinued by end of October. If one of you is interested in hosting the Forums please contact Woody at: woody@ptd.net

My New Breville Oven & an Exciting New Technique for Melting Chocolate

Oct 08, 2017 | From the kitchen of Rose in Equipment

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It's been over five years since I wrote about my first Breville oven, calling it the perfectly even oven. My test was to pipe a spiral of cream puff pastry to see how it browned and it was perfectly even.

I have been so enamored of this oven, I have since purchased one as a wedding gift and another to have in my weekend home.

A few weeks ago, I discovered the latest model, the Smart Oven Air. When I learned about the extra features this newer slightly larger model offers I had to have it. And I'm totally smitten! I've even put it to use for a newly developed terrific technique, which I will share at the end of this posting. First: here are the new features that I most value:

  • An oven light that can be turned off or on at will (oh joy!)
  • Two oven racks
  • A dehydrating setting and mesh basket (I'll be using this for my citrus powder)
  • A proofing setting for bread dough between 80°F/27°C and 100°F°/38°C
(I tested it and it holds true to temperature with no more than 3°F fluctuation.)

Now here is my great new discovery: Anyone who has ever tried to melt white or milk chocolate without stirring it constantly, has learned the hard way that it will seed. This is caused by the milk solids in the chocolate. And there is no way of restoring the little specks of hardened milk solids. But, if you heat the chocolate at 100°F/38°C it will melt gradually to be as smooth as silk. In short, you can place it in a container in the Breville, turn it to the proofing setting, set the temperature to 100°F/38°C, and leave it to melt on its own.

Breville BOV900BSS The Smart Oven Air, Silver

Pastry Chef Par Excellence Randy Eastman

Oct 07, 2017 | From the kitchen of Rose in Special Stories 2017

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The last time I saw my friend Randy, was almost 20 years ago, when he volunteered to make all the desserts for the launch of my book The Pie and Pastry Bible. I never forgot his sweetness, generosity, and incredible skill.

For the past 17 years, prior to being pastry chef at the Metropolitan Opera Dining Room, Randy has been pastry chef at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Growing up in New York, I spent many a Sunday with my cousin Joan and uncle Bernard, either at the Museum of Natural History or the Met. So it was a very sentimental visit, sitting in the main dining room, with a spectacular view of the obelisk, the park, and the dearly familiar Central Park West skyline. But the best part was when Randy came to the table.

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Woody and I had shared a light lunch to ensure that we would have plenty of room to enjoy the sampling of desserts which Randy presented to us. My top favorite was the caramel glazed banana sundae

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but a close second was the perfectly silky and delicious chocolate Gianduja custard.

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Randy and I had an equally delicious catch up, exchanging news of mutual friends and family. We promised each other that we would not let so many years go by again without reconnecting.

An Upcoming Change for the Blog

Oct 04, 2017 | From the kitchen of Rose in Announcements

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Photo Credit: Matthew Septimus

Dear Fellow Blog Members and Bakers,

We are in the process of changing the platform of our 12 year old blog to SquareSpace. We will keep you informed as it progresses. The URL will still be the same but we will no longer have the Forums and the monthly newsletter.

This gives us the chance to do some much needed "housekeeping," making sure everything is current and up to date.

Thank you for your loyalty and interest. We are here for you.

Bake with Love,

Rose & Woody

The Chinese Baking Bible

Oct 04, 2017 | From the kitchen of Rose in Book Review

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Never has my book, The Baking Bible, looked more beautiful. The Chinese characters transform it into a true work of art.

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A Wonderful New Sandwich Loaf

Oct 01, 2017 | From the kitchen of Rose in Recipes

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18.5% PANE NERO FLOUR


I fell in love with durum flour years ago on a trip to Sicily when I discovered that it was responsible for the golden color and sweet nutty flavor of the bread. I had been using it for pasta, adding a little bread flour to give it more elasticity and loved the firm al dente texture and delicious flavor. So when Beatrice Ughi of Gustiamo sent me a bag of the Pane Nero flour they just started to import I couldn't wait to try it for bread baking. (Gustiamo is a terrific site for many wonderful products from Italy)

This flour, called Pane Nero, is a blend of 30% Tumminia, a whole ancient grain, and 70% durum semolina. It has a heavenly aroma and is the color of golden sand. I jumped right in and tried my recipe for no knead bread using 100% of this flour. I added 75 grams of my old sour dough starter to give it more structure and I needed to add 50 grams -almost 1/4 cup more water and the resulting loaf, though it rose well, had no oven spring and was too dense and hard.

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100% PANE NERO FLOUR NO KNEAD BREAD

So I tried it with my favorite whole wheat loaf, which uses bread flour and 18.5% whole wheat flour. You can see in the photo below how much less dense the whole wheat flour is than the pane nero flour at the top of this posting.

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18.5% WHOLE WHEAT

I replaced the whole wheat flour with equal weight pane nero. I also added my usual firm sour dough starter (I freeze the leftover starter every week after feeding it, so it is not replacing commercial yeast but rather it contributes to the structure, shelf life and flavor). A whole new bread was born--a new favorite!

Not only is this bread exceptionally flavorful, it has the perfect degree of density, making it possible to accommodate spreads without tearing, and not squishing down when making a grilled cheese sandwich on a panini press.

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GRILLED CHEESE PANINI ON 18.5% PANE NERO FLOUR

Continue reading "A Wonderful New Sandwich Loaf" »

Over the Moon

Sep 30, 2017 | From the kitchen of Rose in Book Review

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What a wonderful small world this can be. My dear friend and colleague, Reiko Okehi, who lives in New York City, but is right now in Tokyo, just emailed me this link to this article which lists The Cake Bible. It is a great honor to be appreciated by people whom I admire so much.

The Artful Baker

Sep 29, 2017 | From the kitchen of Rose in Book Review

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The Artful Baker: Extraordinary Desserts From an Obsessive Home Baker

I'm delighted to introduce you to someone you will be so happy to know--my new kindred spirit: Cenk Sonmezsoy, (pronounced Jenk) from Turkey. You may be familiar with his blog Café Fernando, and that is how I first met him. What captured my attention several years ago, in one of those rare "why didn't I think of it" moments, was when I noticed a posting about how to line a round pan with a flat sheet of parchment. He simply crumpled the parchment and, of course, it readily conformed to the shape of the pan--brilliant--a man with imagination in his fingertips.
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Proof to me of our being on the same page: from the head note of Cenk's Double Chocolate Bundt Cake:
"It's just my nature to continually retest until I've explored every nook and cranny, which sometimes results in my preferring a new version. I have yet to decide whether this compulsion is a blessing or curse, but knowing that I have done everything I can to perfect a recipe is the only way I find comfort and peace." I could have written this exactly the same way.

In addition to being a skillfull technician of his trade, Cenk is an artist of exquisite taste, and an excellent and informative writer. His instructions are precise and complete. His book, appropriately titled The Artful Baker, is coffee table worthy, but you will want to bring it into the kitchen, cover the pages with a protective plastic sheet, and bake the hell out of it. I've already made two recipes: the Sour Cherry & Almond Upside-Down Cake, because he said it's his favorite in the book, and the Tahini & Leblebi Swirl Brownies made with roasted chickpea flour and tahini, because the flavor combination so intrigued me, not to mention the stunning photo.

We had many thought provoking email exchanges discussing, among other things, the comparative sourness of Turkish sour cherries to the American variety. I suspected that the American variety is more sour so I added extra sugar. The remaining cherry glaze was fantastic when drizzled onto vanilla ice cream. The almond cake is a high achievement in perfection of texture--surprising for a layer cake so low in wheat flour. The sour cherry topping for this upside down cake led to the following discussion about sweetness levels, and my impression that Turkish desserts can be cloyingly sweet. Cenk wrote: I also think that Turkish desserts are overly sweet and definitely share your sweetness sensibility. I'm always conscious about the amount of sugar I use in recipes, not from a caloric standpoint, but to achieve a balanced taste and optimal texture. That said, there are Turkish desserts (including some from the baklava family) that aren't overly sweet.
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Another example of Cenk's writing style and generosity of spirit: Have you tried brownies made with sarı leblebi (double-roasted hulled chickpeas) flour before? Sarı leblebi is a beloved Turkish snack, available at every kuruyemişçi (specialty shop selling dried nuts, seeds, and fruits), sometimes roasted right by the entrance to entice customers with its toasty smell. Roasting the chickpeas twice, chars them in spots, giving them an intensely toasty flavor. Sarı leblebi is available on line but you can substitute roasted chickpea flour (also called roasted gram flour or besan), found in Indian or Burmese food shops. Alternatively, you can roast regular chickpea flour in a cast-iron skillet over medium-low heat until it is lightly browned and smells nutty.
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And Cenk sent me a bag of both the sari leblebi and the chickpea flour through Amazon. The resulting brownies: chewy, fudgy, slightly cakey as well, with a dusky earthy quality underlying their chocolaty flavor. The first day they were a bit fragile, but after resting overnight, the texture became much firmer and fudgier, and the flavors were enhanced.

Cenk is one of the most original authors whose work I have ever encountered. Even the way he places raspberries on a tart is unique I've never before seen them arranged open ends up and I love the effect.
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So it is all the more to his credit that to my delighted surprise I found myself listed in the acknowledgement page of his book as one of his "baking heroines."

I love that Cenk shares so much in this book of his personal background, his thinking, his creative process. I have never met Cenk in person but I feel that through his work, I have a strong sense of who he is, and I am about to find out at his book party in NYC at ICE! He is on book tour this month of October around the US, and his schedule of events and appearances will be listed here on his blog. If youi're lucky, he may be coming to your city.

Even if you never plan to bake a thing in your life, you will love having this book because it will give you a glimpse into a very special baker and his baking paradise.

Buona Italia to Open in Chelsea Market

Sep 25, 2017 | From the kitchen of Rose in Ingredients

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Nocciola (hazelnut praline ice cream) on the back porch for lunch. Yes I know it's Fall but it's 89°/32°C and this fabulous ice cream called to me from the freezer. I made it yesterday for dear friends who were visiting from Philadelphia. I promised that if the Agrimontana praline paste arrived from Europe in time I would make the ice cream. This praline paste is made with hazelnuts from the famed Piedmont region of Italy--60% pure hazelnuts and 40% caramelized sugar. It has no equal.

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My dear long-time friend Mariella Esposito, of Fante's, and me enjoying the ice cream and sunset last night. Nocciola is her husband Lee's favorite, which is why I made it.

This Thursday, September 28, Buon Italia will be opening in Chelsea Market in New York City but they also have an online site. And they carry, among other things, the Agrimontana praline paste and their 100% pure pistachio paste. Those of you who love these flavors of ice cream will be nothing short of astounded at the difference these quality ingredients make!

And for those of you concerned about my summer-long defection to ice creaming, i'll be back to baking, mixing the dough for a pane nero this very afternoon (posting to come about this special Sicilian flour imported by Gustiamo).

How Sweet it Is

Sep 20, 2017 | From the kitchen of Rose in Book Review

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Sweet: Desserts from London's Ottolenghi

Yes, these are both the same book, but the first photo is the UK edition and it's the one that Yotam Ottolenghi sent me with the loveliest inscription from both him and co-author Helen Goh.

As a huge Ottolenghi fan (I sent both my brother and his wife, and my cousin Joan to his restaurant when they were visiting London--wishing it could have been me) it means so very much to me to be credited in this gorgeous book for my contribution on page 181, which is an adaptation of my "Perfect Pound Cake." Their version has both cardamom and coffee, and I'm really looking forward to trying it because cardamom is my favorite spice and coffee my favorite beverage!

I'm also delighted to see that the "Lemon Poppyseed Cake" is the one Helen would take to a desert island, because that happens to be my signature cake as well.

And I'm dying to try the "Take-home Chocolate Cake," on page 152, because the descriptor "the world's best chocolate cake" always calls to me.

Having cooked from Yotam's savory books, it is really exciting to be in possession of his first book devoted to sweets--after all, he started off as a pastry chef! I hope some day to meet him and Helen in person and in the meantime, I cherish their book.

Orange Appeal

Sep 19, 2017 | From the kitchen of Rose in Book Review

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Orange Appeal: Savory and Sweet

When I was growing up, my grandmother, who lived with us, squeezed me fresh orange juice every morning for breakfast. Nowadays, when I go to a restaurant for lunch, and don't want to fall asleep for the rest of the afternoon, I decline a glass of wine in favor of freshly squeezed orange juice if they have it. My husband tells me that the moment an orange is squeezed the vitamin C flies right out. I drink it quickly because it is so delicious. I don't really care if it's healthful or not! To me, the flavor of orange is an irresistibly satisfying balance of sweetness and zinginess. I have used it in just about every one of my own books. ("Orange Glow Chiffon" and "Love of Three Oranges" springs to mind, not to mention "Orange Buttercream.")

So you can imagine how excited I was to meet Jamie Schler this past April, at the International Association of Culinary Professionals conference in Kentucky, and to learn that she was about to publish her first book Orange Appeal. If that isn't a sexy title I don't know what is!

Jamie grew up in Florida, where, when it came to oranges, she had a lot more than a glass of orange juice every morning. She now lives in one of my favorite places in the world--Chinon, France, where she and her husband own Hôtel Diderot.
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When Orange Appeal arrived, it was a hard choice which two recipes to make as soon as possible so that I could share my thoughts about the book with you. Since I'm virtually surrounded by sweets every day, my first choice was a savory dish: "Orange-Braised Belgian Endives with Caramelized Onions and Bacon." She writes: Searing gently caramelizes the endives, braising in orange juice tames the bitter bite leaving just a hint of piquancy that marries well with the sweetness of the orange and the smoky, salty finishing touch of the caramelized onion and the lardons or bacon. And it was so fabulous I wanted to lick the plate (I used my finger to be polite since I wasn't alone). I will be making this dish again and again and again.

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I happen to adore financiers--the little two-bite egg white, almond flour, and butter cakes that are tender and flavorful so how could I resist one made with orange zest and orange flower water, and yes--they were divine.

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Jamie and her wonderful new book have become cherished friends and I look forward to the day when I can visit her in her paradise in Chinon. Meantime, there are lots more recipes to try. Mussels, orange juice, and fennel next in the hopper!
You can also visit her on her website.

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