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Coffee, my quest for perfection

Nov 05, 2005 | From the kitchen of Rose in Drinks

of all the substances, liquid and solid, that pass through the portals of my lips, coffee is the most sacred, i.e. the last one i willingly would relinquish. the funny thing is i'm not even affected by caffeine. i can drink a cup of coffee and go straight to sleep. so i don't consider my love of coffee an addiction but rather a passion.

Continue reading "Coffee, my quest for perfection" »

Great Pumpkin Pie

Nov 09, 2005 | From the kitchen of Rose in Pie

Two years ago, i was a guest on the PBS show "Seasonings with Dede Wilson. " Whenever this show airs, usually pre Thanksgiving time, we get tons of requests for these two recipes. Here they are now!

Oven Temperature: 375°F.
Baking Time: 50 to 60 minutes

Serves: 8

In this recipe, I cook the pumpkin and spices before baking, which makes for a more mellow and pleasing flavor. Puréeing the pumpkin in a food processor produces a unusually silky texture.

The crunchy bottom crust is a result of creating a layer of gingersnaps and ground pecans to absorbs any excess liquid from the filling, and also baking the pie directly on the floor of the oven.

INGREDIENTS

MEASURE

WEIGHT

volume

ounces

grams

flaky pie crust for a 9-inch pie (see blog recipe)

12 ounces

340 grams

4, 2-inch gingersnaps

1 ounce

29 grams

pecans

1/4 cup

1 scant ounce

25 grams

pumpkin filling

3 3/4 liquid cups

app 34.5 ounces

984 grams

1 can unsweetened pumpkin

1 3/4 cups

15 ounces

425 grams

light brown sugar,(*) firmly packed (preferably raw)

3/4 cup

5.75 ounces

163 grams

ground ginger

2 teaspoons

-

-

ground cinnamon

1 1/2 teaspoons

-

-

salt

1/2 teaspoon

-

-

milk

2/3 liquid cup

5.6 ounces

160 grams

heavy cream

2/3 liquid cup

5.5 ounces

153 grams

3 large eggs

scant 2/3 liquid cup

5.25 ounces

150 grams

pure vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon

-

-


(*) dark brown sugar adds a delicious butterscotch flavor but masks some of the pumpkin flavor.

Special Equipment: A 9 inch pie plate, preferably Pyrex, a maple leaf cutter

On a floured pastry cloth or between 2 sheets of lightly floured plastic wrap, roll the pastry 1/8-inch thick and large enough to cut an even 13-inch circle. Use an expandable flan ring or a cardboard template as a guide to cut out the circle. Transfer it to the pie pan and tuck the overhanging pastry under itself. If desired, reroll scraps, chill and cut out decorative designs such as leaves. (Bake them separately at 400°F. for 6 to 10 minutes or until golden brown, brushed with milk and sprinkled with sugar in the raw. Remove to a rack to cool.)

Cut the border into a checker board design or use a form or spoon to make a flat but decorative border (see page 00). Do not make a raised border or extend it over the sides of the pan as it will not hold up so close to the heat source. After pouring pumpkin filling into the crust, push every other checkerboard border well over toward the filling or it tends to flip over against the pie pan. Refrigerate, covered with plastic wrap, for one up to 24 hours.

Preheat the oven to 375°F. at least 15 minutes before baking time.

***Bake directly on floor of oven or have the oven shelf at the lowest level and place an oven stone or cookie sheet on it before preheating.

Process the gingersnaps and pecans until finely ground. Sprinkle them over the bottom of the pie crust and using your fingers and the back of a spoon, press them into the dough to coat the entire bottom, going about 1/2-inch up the sides.
In a small, heavy saucepan, stir together the pumpkin, sugar, spices and salt. Over medium heat, bring the mixture to a sputtering simmer, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring constantly, for 3 to 5 minutes, until thick and shiny.

Scrape the mixture into a food processor, fitted with the metal blade, and process for 1 minute. With the motor on, add the cream and milk, processing until incorporated. Scrape the sides of the work bowl. Add the eggs, one at a time, processing just to incorporate, for about 5 seconds after each addition. Add the vanilla along with the last egg.

Pour the mixture into the pie shell and set it directly on the floor of the oven. Bake the pie for 50 to 60 minutes or just until a knife inserted between sides and center will come out almost clean. The filling will have puffed and the surface dulled except for the center (The filling shakes like jelly when moved. This will happen before it has finished baking so it cannot be used as a firm indication of doneness; conversely, if it does not have this consistency you can be sure that it is not baked adequately.) If the crust appears to be darkening too much on the bottom, raise the pie to the next rack. After 30 minutes, protect the edges with a foil ring.

Place the baked pie on a rack to cool. When cool, the surface will be flat. If you have made decorative designs, place them on now.

Store: 3 days,room temperature.

Understanding
I prefer using canned pumpkin purée to homemade from fresh pumpkin as the canned is more consistent in quality of flavor and texture.
The crust border should not be too raised, nor extend past the pie plate because baking so close to the heat source, and at the lower temperature required for the custard filling, the border would not set quickly enough and would droop over the edge and break off. Since it does not extend past the edge, it is not necessary to shield the edges until 30 minutes instead of the usual 15 for a one crust pie.
Characteristic star-burst cracking is the result of overbaking. If desired, cover any crack(s), should they develop, with baked pastry cut-outs.

Adapted from The Pie and Pastry Bible, Scribner, 1998

Appropriate Mixer Speeds for Bread

Nov 19, 2005 | From the kitchen of Rose in Bread Questions

Hi Rose,

I am an experienced home cook (actually a "foodie"), but not a baker, who is finally ready to tackle yeast breads. Over the years I have avoided yeast breads due to lack of time and patience. Truth be told, yeast dough intimidates me! I have purchased a new Kitchen Aid Artisan Stand Mixer (5 quart). I've also armed myself with your recent book, "The Bread Bible" and am ready to venture into the area of dough using starters or bigas.

However, I do have one initial concern and that has to do with the speed at which the dough is mixed. On page 50 in your book, you recommend using speed #4 on a Kitchen Aid for kneading dough (speed #2 if a stiff dough). The instruction manual which came with my KA mixer states in several places NOT to go beyond speed #2 when mixing yeast dough's.

So my question is: With your vast experience, is it possible to indeed mix yeast dough at speed #4 or should I follow the instruction manual and never exceed speed #2? Secondly, what qualifies a "stiff dough"? Kitchen Aid doesn't seem to qualify, i.e., the manual offers the caveat for mixing "yeast dough" in general not to exceed speed #2.

I've read your book through, now I look forward to using it as intended. I've also enjoyed your PBS series in its entirety, "Baking Magic with Rose Levy Beranbaum". You are, indeed, a wonderful instructor and a great source of inspiration. I hope to make beautiful baguettes with your help. Thanks for all you do.

Sincerely,
Penny

dear penny,
this is a very important question that several people have asked since the book first cake out. It is my understanding (and practice) that kitchen aid recommends no higher than speed #2 because if the dough is stiff it wil, over time,l wear out the motor. for many doughs, however, using speed #2 would require extremely long beating in order to develop the gluten adequately--maybe as long as 20 minutes, during which you should never walk away from the mixer as it could fall off the counter. I think it is necessary to trust one's judgement here. a bagel, for example, is a dry, stiff dough, and if you used a high speed you would actually hear the motor straining. if ever you hear this sound you will recognize it and should immediately lower the speed.

I hope you enjoy your adventures in bread baking. as I'm working on a new cake book, I am enjoying baking cakes but sneak in an occasional bread just because I love making it so much.

best baking,
rose

Preventing Bread Dough from Flattening During Baking

Nov 20, 2005 | From the kitchen of Rose in Bread Questions

HARRIET QUESTION
Your book has turned me into a regular baker of bread. I now make all the bread we eat. Your recipes are clear and I learned and enjoyed reading about the process. Thank you for such a wonderful book.

My question: The free-form breads rise well for the initial rising. When I shape them, they spread rather than rise and the finished bread tastes wonderful, has good crumb but is wider than it is tall.

What can I do to make the breads tall? It's too late for me to be tall but it would be wonderful if my breads are.

Thank you for any help you can offer. I'd like to know how to make my free form breads tall rather than wide?

ROSE REPLY
thank you harriet--i also can't imagine ever buying a loaf of bread again except, perhaps, out of curiosity.

free form breads do have a tendency to spread sideways after the final shaping. the advantage to making them free form however is that they will have a more open crumb. if this is what you desire, you will need to have a soft, moist, dough which will tend to spread more than a stiffer dough.

to help counteract this problem, bakers use special floured bannetons or even colanders lined with floured towels which give the dough support during the final shaped rise. to keep the dough from spreading further in the oven, it is important to use a baking stone and well-preheated oven so that the dough has what is called "oven spring." one final suggestion is to use the la cloche bread baker which restricts the spreading of the dough as it contains it but you'll need to make a large enough loaf to fill the container. oh--you might also try using a higher protein flour. of course you'll get a chewier crumb but it will also be stronger and spread less. for really tall breads try the stud muffin which bakes in a soufflé dish that supports the sides, or a bread baked in a loaf pan.

Hope this helps and delighted by your success.

How to Get a Crisp Brown Bottom Pie Crust

Nov 20, 2005 | From the kitchen of Rose in Pie and Pastry Questions

RONI QUESTION

I love to bake and have done so successfully for many years. The one thing I can't seem to do is to get a bottom pie crust to brown. I have used a Pyrex pie pan, a Pampered Chef ceramic pan, a French ceramic pan and a shiny metal pan. I have tried a number of pie crust recipes, too! Please help..Thanksgiving is coming, and I always make an apple pie. Thanks

ROSE REPLY

i feel strongly that if a bottom pie crust is soggy there is no point in having more than a top crust on the pie! i addressed this in my book "the pastry bible" where i give the technique for juicy pies of letting the fruit sit with the sugar to leach out the juices and then reduce them and return them to the fruit. this way you only need to use about one-third of the thickening agent which results in a more pure fruit taste and you won't be left with a pool of fruit juices on the bottom of a soggy crust after baking the pie.

but this alone will not brown the crust. to achieve this, i bake the pie directly on the floor of the oven for the first 20 minutes of baking and then raise it to the bottom shelf. different ovens bake differently so you may need to leave it on the floor of the oven for a longer time. the best way to find out is to use a pyrex plate the first time you do this so you can see through it and gauge when sufficient browning has taken place. if your oven is electric and has coils on the bottom, the best alternative is to use a baking stone on the lowest shelf and preheat the oven for at least 30 minutes to ensure that it is heated fully.

i have recently designed and produced a special pie plate that is ceramic with deeply fluted sides to create a beautiful border effortlessly. it also does a great job of even browning of the bottom crust. it also has my favorite pie crust recipe decaled permanently into the bottom inside of the plate.
you can view it on www.laprimashops.com

Rounded vs Flat Cake Layers

Nov 20, 2005 | From the kitchen of Rose in Cake Questions

MONICA QUESTION

I hope you are well. I have had an interesting cupcake experience. Today I made cupcakes using your All Occasion Downy Yellow Butter Cake, the recipe of which I have used on countless occasions for both cakes and cupcakes. I baked the first two trays of cupcakes in separate ovens at the same time and got basically the same result, I have gotten in the past. The cupcakes were mostly flat on top, especially when filled too high. (When filled lower I got a slight arc.)

While they were cooling, I ran out to the store, to get more cupcake fillers to bake the last of the batter (6 more cupcakes.) I baked these for the same amount of time, but got a much higher cupcake. It looked as if they almost erupted slightly...peaking like a volcano! I have attached a picture for you to look at...the one in the middle is from the second baking, the other two are two samples from the first baking.

cupcakes.jpg

Why did I get such a different result from the same batter? Did it have something to do with the batter sitting for more than 30 minutes before baking? Or that I used a 6 cup tray instead of a 12 cup tray? (The 6 cup tray was made of the same material as one of the 12 cup trays I used.) I would really like to be able to duplicate the result, since they looked nice frosted, but cannot understand why. Your insight would be invaluable!

ROSE REPLY

cake batter that rises up in the center during baking resembling a volcano is always due to the cake's structure being too strong. this can be the result of using a higher protein flour or of inadequate leavening which i'm fairly certain is the case in your situation. baking powder is called double acting because part of it reacts on contact with the liquid in the batter and the other part from the oven heat. since part of your batter sat a while before baking, part of the baking powder activated leaving less to tenderize the batter. if you want to simulate the result, simply decrease the baking powder and you will get a more rounded top but a less tender cake.

Splenda and Sugar Free Cakes

Nov 20, 2005 | From the kitchen of Rose in Questions and Answers

Amy Question:
I have a question about baking with Splenda. I have an at home cake business and just received an order where the customer would like a sugar free cake. She wants a carrot cake (1/4 sheet pan) with cream cheese frosting. I was reading all the information about Splenda on the Splenda website but thought perhaps I could spare myself a lot of experimenting and some money by asking - does anyone have tips for making a great sugar free carrot cake and sugar free cream cheese frosting?

Thanks so much for your time. As always, thank you for your wonderful recipes and helpful advice in your books.

Rose Reply:

what follows is a short piece on splenda that i wrote for fine cooking magazine a few years ago. i hope it helps. i know it won't answer your question about a sugar free recipe for these cakes but perhaps another blogger might have a recipe to offer.

My philosophy regarding sugar substitutes is that there is nothing like the real thing sweetie! As a general principal, it is better to have a small piece of something wonderful than a larger compromised portion. But when it comes to specific physical intolerances such as diabetes, there can be a valid case for sugar substitutes.

The problem with "sugar substitutes" is potential compromise of flavor and texture. Of all the sugar substitutes, Splenda, however, comes closest to sugar in both, constituting a significant culinary breakthrough. In industry, it has dramatically improved the flavor of many commercial products that require sweetener.

Because Splenda's flavor is so close to that of refined cane sugar, it makes an ideal substitute in a wide range of desserts where a precise crystalline structure is not essential, such as all manner of custards including ice cream (though sorbet will be less creamy), pastry creams, buttercreams, mousses, cheesecake, and even biscuits for short cake. But as in all substitutions, though it may be acceptable it is not identical. Sauces and custards may not be as thick and will probably cook slightly faster.

In traditional layer and sponge cakes, however, where the crystalline structure is needed for aeration, Splenda falls short because it will not result in the same volume. It will also not provide the moisture retentiveness and tenderness.

But wouldn't you rather have a wonderful slice of banana cream pie than a less than perfect piece of cake?

For tips regarding cooking and baking with Splenda refer to their website: www.splenda.com

Addendum: I have listed several websites on Sites I Like for those who are looking for recipes for specific needs such as: sugar substitutes, gluten free, low far, and lactose free.

Message from Rose

Nov 20, 2005 | From the kitchen of Rose in Announcements

Dear Fellow Bakers,

this blog is two weeks old today and i'm thrilled to report that it has generated a huge number of responses and questions. reading them is so fun and fascinating i can easily see myself sitting "chained" to the computer with an i.v. (and the works)--unable and unwilling to tear myself away! of course this isn't going to be possible so i apologize that it may take a while to respond--especially around holiday time when everyone who ever bakes at all is baking NOW! i'll do the best i can to keep up.

imagine how frustrating it has been this past week when i experienced an untimely computer hard drive crash and was unable to view or respond at all!!! but i'm back in action with an improved system.

just one thing to keep in mind: while i will be sharing recipes from time to time that i think will be of interest, the purpose of this blog is not to dispense recipes on request. that in itself would be a full-time job! of course feel free to ask me if a recipe you are interested in is in one of my four "in print" books and i'll be happy to direct you to it.

Happy Holidays and Baking!

Rose

P.S. my 91 year old dad is coming down from up-state n.y. for thanksgiving weekend. his one request: cherry pie. i always have sour cherries in the freezer waiting for just such occasions! and this year was one of the most flavorful harvests ever so i froze enough for 4 pies. but for family thanksgiving day it will be something more seasonal and a touch more traditional: pumpkin cake with caramel silk meringue buttercream (both recipes in the cake bible)

Please Note: Some people's browsers cannot download such a long thread so I'm starting a "Message from Rose Part 2)

Raw Egg Safety Regulations

Nov 22, 2005 | From the kitchen of Rose in Questions and Answers

Erica Question:
Good Morning Mrs. Beranbaum,

I purchased your book about a year ago and I think it is great

I am planning to use your buttercream icing recipe for a wedding cake that I'm doing in December. I wanted to know if I should forewarn people about the use of raw egg yolks? Actually, I was also wondering if the yolks were cooked a little when I add the heated sugar/corn syrup combo?

Thank you for your time. -Erica

Rose Reply:
food safety experts agree that the highest risk is for young children, the elderly, pregnant, and those whose immune systems are impaired. the hot syrup is not sufficient to eliminate all risk.

since i'm not a food safety expert, i'd like to direct you to the american egg board: www.aeb.org.
they recommend the following:

1) use the buttercream recipe on their website, or follow the guidelines for recipes you may want to adapt
or
2) use pasteurized eggs in the shell available in some markets (pasteurized is marked on the carton)

or
3) use egg product (liquid or frozen eggs). at the present time these are available mostly to food service.

Crème Frâiche

Nov 23, 2005 | From the kitchen of Rose in Questions and Answers

Dora Question:
Hello Rose,

Before I get to my question, I must let you know that your Cake Bible is phenomenal. Thank you for sharing all your expertise.

I've been an avid baker all my life, and this past April I made my first wedding cake for a very special occasion: my sister's wedding. She loves everything lemon, so I decided on a three-tiered cake, each layer consisting of an almond dacquoise base topped with a light layer of lemon buttercream, then alternating layers of genoise classique & lemon curd, and coverered with the buttercream and finished with porcelain white fondant.

Her bouquet consisted of white calla lilies, so I made some lilies out of the fondant for the top, and since she loves pearls, the cake was decorated with a royal icing "pearl" variation-on-a-theme: 7 pearls arranged in flower patterns for the bottom layer, 3 pearls arranged in a triangle for the middle, and single pearls for the top. It was a lot of work, but everyone loved it.

Now, onto my challenge. I've made creme fraiche many a time before, but lately I've been encountering lots of difficulty with it thickening properly. In the past, after having left the well-covered cream/buttermilk mixture on top of the fridge out to thicken for about 24 hours, it's thickened, and I've put it in the fridge to let it continue to thicken. Afterwards, I've sweetened it, and had no problems.

But I'm getting really frustrated with all of my recent attempts. I know that heavy cream can vary slightly from batch to batch, but even though I've tried a couple of brands of whipping cream, I'm still not having much luck. And when I try sweetening it after it's been refrigerated a while, it liquifies way more than it ever has in the past.

Any assistance would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you so much for your time and for your generous spirit.

Warm regards,

Rose Reply:
crème frâiche is one of the most useful ingredients to temper the sweetness of desserts, to add to scrambled eggs for a rich creaminess and tangy flavor, and to sauces. there is an excellent product available from vermont butter and cheese company. as you know, making your own is quite easy if you can obtain cream that is NOT ultrapasteurized. sadly this is becoming more and more difficult. it has been my experience that with ultra-pastuerized cream, it will eventually thicken if left in a warm spot of 80 to 90 degerees but it may take several days. my best advice is to befriend your local bakery. they usually have access to commercial 40% butterfat cream that is not ultra-pasteurized. (that's what i've done!) offer to buy it and i'm sure they will be generous in ordering extra for you.

Pie and Tarts

Nov 28, 2005 | From the kitchen of Rose in Pie and Pastry Questions

Bruce Question:
I had been wanting to make a tart for some time, so I checked out your The Pie and Pastry Bible of the library again. I had never made a curd before nor the particular crust. I made the lime curd with kiwi. It turned out very very good. I took a couple of pieces to a neighbor.

I was wondering about a pineapple tart with oranges. It tastes good in my mind. I was wanting to know how to make a pineapple curd. I would use a fresh pineapple. Should the pineapple juice be reduced first? If so, how much? How much sugar should I use?

ps. I own your Cake Bible and I don't use mixes.

Thanks.

Rose Reply:
this is a very interesting idea. i think pineapple and orange would make a good combination. you could do a pineapple tart with orange curd to see how you like the flavors. if you want to experiment with pineapple curd, i would use the delicious golden pineapple for the juice and the same amount of sugar as the orange curd. pineapple juice has a lot of acidity so you probably don't need to reduce it. do let us know how it works!

Barry Question:
Dear Rose;
I can not begin to tell you how much I enjoy baking your recipes. I'm also the proud owner of all three of your "Bibles"

I do need your help though. I am consistantly running into the same problem with my pie doughs. For some reason my pie doughs are very crumbly and I'm having a very difficult time rolling the dough out. I measure accurately and use the correct flour for each of your recipes. Am I not kneading the dough enough? I'm afraid to make the dough to tough. Do you have any suggestions? I made your Tiramasu Black Bottom Tart the other day and I was just barely able to roll the dough. The edges of the dough were extremely crumbly.

Thank you in advance
Barry S.-an avid fan

Rose Reply:
thank you barry!
assuming you are using bleached all-purpose flour or pastry flour, (unbleached will be tougher and need more liquid) you might be using more flour than the recipe calls for if you are not weighing it. try using Wondra flour which is similar to pastry flour and will give you a more tender crust and also require less liquid. also, try replacing the water with heavy cream and add a teaspoon or 2 more if necessary. here's how you can tell:
the dough should be crumbly at first but hold together smoothly when kneaded lightly. if in doubt, take a small amount of the dough and knead it to see if it holds together.

the best way to knead the dough is to use latex gloves because the dough won't stick to them and you won't need to add more flour. a helpful technique in kneading is what the french call fraiser. using the heel of your hand, smear the dough forward onto the counter one or two times. this will cause any lumps of butter to form long sheets, resulting in flakiness. then use a bench scraper to gather up the dough and with your hands, press it together to form a disc.

J Question:
Hi - I tried making a "mile high lemon meringue pie" recipe that I found in Fine Cooking magazine. It has brown & white sugar in it. I made it twice and both times the meringue was totally raw when you cut into it. It called for jut browning the meringue under the broiler....I even turned the oven down to 325F. and letting the pie sit in the oven until the meringue turned a liht brown all obver and it still was raw in the middle. I threw away the entire pie after the 2nd attempt...what did I do wrong?

Rose Reply:
a high, deep meringue can take a long time to cook through.

my preference for meringue on a pie is to use italian meringue. the hot syrup cooks the egg white and keeps it from watering out later. i bake the pie at 350°F, then i put it under the broiler for about 20 seconds watching carefully so it doesn't burn. (see page 178 of the pie and pastry bible).

Lura Question:
why does my pecan pie always turn out "runny"?

Rose Reply:
it is the eggs that thicken the pie so if they're not heated enough the filling will become runny. overheating them will cause them to curdle. for this reason, i cook the filling first on the stove top as you would a lemon curd. my recipe will appear on every container of Lyle's golden refiners syrup starting in january. it is in the pie and pastry bible as well.

Surrogate Baker

Nov 28, 2005 | From the kitchen of Rose in Happenings

we should be across the street having dinner. a colleague of my husband's actually invited us. (it is a rare event that anyone is willing to cook for me.)

i brought a cake i'm working on though he said he was making a galette. we arrived on time to find his galette sitting in a warm oven. apparently after living in ny for 3 years he had never used the oven and it only seemed to have a light, i.e. the heat was coming from a light bulb. so i insisted on bringing the galette back across the street to bake in my oven. with an american type flaky crust it would have been pointless as the warmth would have caused the butter to leak out of the dough and loose all its flakiness. but the cookie crust of a galette is not flaky to begin with so I thought it was worth the effort.

to find out how i rescued this soft pie crust set on a pan that didn't fit into my quick preheat carousel microwave/convection oven (the soft crust loaded with fresh fruit that he was threatening to stew on the stovetop), read on!

Continue reading "Surrogate Baker" »

Pumpkin Pie

Nov 28, 2005 | From the kitchen of Rose in Pie and Pastry Questions

Dustin Question:
A friend of mine brought a homemade pumpkin pie to our Thanksgiving dinner this evening, and it had a unappealing gray/green tinge to it. It smelled alright. I did not take a bite, but the other guests said it tasted fine. I just couldn't bring myself to try it. Of course, I whipped out my cookbooks, food chemistry books, and looked Online to see what I could find, but was unsuccessful. Do you have any idea what could have caused this?

Thank you!

Respectfully

Rose Reply:
this is a stretch but since this happened to me over 40 years ago i'll share this story/explanation: i was making an angel pie from the old joy of cooking and when i got to the part where it said: ïf you need to know more about egg cookery see page..."

i ignored this and used my aluminum saucepan to cook the egg yolk mixture which turned a sort of chartreuse which sounds a bit like the pumpkin pie in question. most people don't have aluminum pans anymore so books don't even warn you about this, but maybe the pumpkin pie filling was mixed in an aluminum pan. find out and get back to us.

maybe someone else will have another suggestion as to possible cause! but had i turned to the page suggested i would have read that egg yolk reacts to aluminum causing it to turn an unsightly color. it is for this reason that i put warnings in the cake bible right on the page where the recipe is written so that it can't be ignored!

Cake Questions

Nov 30, 2005 | From the kitchen of Rose in Cake Questions

Update Nov 2007: Have a new question? You should visit the new Cake Questions section of the forum, or the more recent blog entry, Cake Questions Too.

Jessica Question:
Hi!

I live in Australia and decorate cakes for friends and family. I just discovered an old copy of your book the cake bible in my local library. I think its great so I have looked up your site. I was just wondering if the book has been revised and updated since first being published? I notice that mud cakes are not covered at all in the book I borrowed and there are some other modern things missing too. Anyway I know you're busy so thanks for your time. Keep up the good work.

Rose Reply:
thank you for asking. in fact, the first revision of the cake bible has just come out but i haven't added any new cakes. what i revised was the equipment and ingredient sources, how to adjust batter for the more current pan sizes that are 2 inches high instead of 1-1/2 inches, and the chocolate sections because people don't talk chocolate brand anymore, they talk percentage of chocolate mass!

i am, at the present time, working on a comprehensive four color cake book for wiley which will be out in the next two or three years and it will include some of the newer cakes.

Cheryl Question:
Is it possible to attach ribbons made from fondant around the bottom edges of the tiers of a buttercream frosted wedding cake? How and at what point in assembly would you attach them? Thanks.

Rose Reply:
the answer is yes! i would apply them after the cake is assembled. they will stick to the buttercream so you should have no problem holding them in place.

Stacey Question:
What is the difference between your "favorite yellow cake" in this blog and the yellow cake in the Cake Bible in terms of taste and texture? Also, I recently made a French buttercream that tasted like a bowl of butter and a powdered sugar and butter frosting that tasted like pure sugar. What is the best vanilla frosting to use for cupcakes?

Rose Reply:
my favorite yellow cake on the blog is the same as the one in the cake bible. i put it in because i wanted everyone to have it even if they didn't have the book.

not everyone likes french buttercream. some people prefer the sugary, slightly gritty texture of powdered sugar buttercream to the satiny texture of the french variety. in any case, it's going to taste like butter and sugar because that's what it is. but it should also be flavored with pure vanilla extract. and of course there are many possible additions to buttercream such as coffee, orange, praline....

Melvin Question:
thanks for writing. i made the cheese cake but i was a little lose the next day i used low fat cream cheese was that a mistake? or should i have cook longer? thanks

Rose Reply:
i strongly advise against using low fat products in baking. they will adversely affect both taste and texture. better to cut smaller servings!

Rene Question:
Dear Rose,

I love baking and always have. And now I have the priviledge of helping a young woman, who is like a sister to me, with her wedding cakes. Unfortunately what she wants is a fair distance out of my league. I am hoping very much that you might be able to answer a couple of questions for me.

A single cake, I could do. What she wants to have one cake on each table, which turns out to be about 40 individual creations. (Ouch.) She is hoping for 2 tier cakes (around 8 and 6 inches.) We are tentatively planning 7 different designs with fillings including everything from dacquois to conserves.

It is the sheer volume that puts me out of my depth. It means that everything must be done as far ahead as possiblem, which I have very little experience with. I usually serve my cakes as soon after I make them as possible. Your Cake Bible is helping me a lot because it has so much information about storing each of the components. I am just trying to work out some logistics.

Is it better to prepare the components, store them individually and then put them together as close to the wedding date as possible OR is it better to put the cakes together and store them (for as long as 4, even 5 months?) ready to be decorated? Or could we even decorate them so they are ready to be tiered and finished? I really don't know.

I could just not begin to thank you enough for any guidance you could give me. I love this girl and want to do everything possible to help her wedding day be just the way she dreams of it. I just don't know how the best way to organize this size of a baking project.

Since I am here writing, I have a side question: what is your experience with using flower petals IN your cakes and buttercreams. I have seen these recipes, but have not tried them. Are they a pleasant suprise? Or more novelty, less than delicious?

Thank you, by the way, for all of the help your books have given me in pursuing my favorite hobby. :) Now that I know you have a blog, I look forward to enjoying that too. :)

Sincerely,

Rose Reply:
you are a saint!!! most professional bakeries when they make cakes ahead store the layers unfrosted in the freezer (well-wrapped). but this may be bc this gives them the option to use them with different buttercreams as the orders come in. but it is also easier to wrap an unfrosted cake. to freeze a frosted layer you would have to freeze it first and wrap it after the buttercream has set. so probably the best approach is to freeze the layers.

when you make cakes ahead, it is helpful to use a little simply syrup sprinkled on the layers to keep them from drying.

we all hope you will send a photo of this massive undertaking so we can post it to the blog!

re the flower petals, i don't imagine they would offer much in terms of flavor or in texture. there are wonderful extracts such as the rose syrup carried by la cuisine in alexandria.

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