"Rose’s Baking Basics" Now Available for Presale

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The official pub date is September 25, 2018 but the book has just become available for presale, which means that the price is guaranteed.

This is my 12th book and the first one that will offer over 600 captioned step-by-step photos of the critical steps for making the recipes. These photos were all taken in our baking kitchen, prepped by Woody and me, and performed by me, which means that they represent exactly how we make the recipes.

There are also 22 full page beauty shots, styled by the reknowned food stylist Erin Jeanne McDowell, author of The Fearless Baker, and dear friend.

All photographs were taken by the esteemed photographer Matthew Septimus.

The book includes over 100 recipes for cookies and small treats, cakes, pies, and favorite breads including pizza. The recipes are presented exactly in the order in which one should bake, so they will have Set Ups for ingredients (mise en place) ahead of the steps for combining them.

Gâteau Très Orange

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When I was growing up, I was spoiled by my grandmother who squeezed fresh orange juice for breakfast every single day. Pasteurized orange juice from a container or bottle paled by comparison.

I have always loved the flavor of orange, almost as much as lemon which is my top favorite, but never more so than when I started making recipes from Jamie Schler’s new book Orange Appeal. Her book, focusing on many ways both sweet and savory, inspired me to create this cake that is the most orangey cake in my repertoire.

Arriving at the precise amount of orange zest to orange oil was a delicate balance. Too much orange oil and it becomes almost petrol in flavor. For us, these amounts work perfectly. You can vary them according to your own tastebuds.

Serves: 12 to 14

Oven Temperature: 350˚F/175˚C

Baking Time: 50 to 60 minutes

Equipment One 10 cup metal fluted tube pan, coated with baking spray with flour

 Batter

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Preheat the Oven

* Twenty minutes or longer before baking, set an oven rack in the lower third of the oven.

* Set the oven at 350˚F/175˚C.

 Set Up for Ingredients (Mise en Place)

* 30 minutes to 1 hour ahead set the butter and eggs on the counter at room temperature (65˚ to 75˚F/19˚ to 23˚C).

* With dish washing liquid, wash, rinse, and dry the oranges and zest them (see Notes).

Make the Batter 

1) Into a 2 cup/500 ml glass measure with a spout, weigh or measure the egg yolks. Add 60 grams/1/4 cup of the sour cream, the orange oil, and vanilla, and whisk lightly until combined.

2) In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the flat beater, add the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and orange zest and mix on low speed for 30 seconds.

3) Add the butter and the remaining 122 grams of sour cream. Mix on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened. Raise the speed to medium and beat for 1-1/2 minutes to aerate and develop the cake's structure. The mixture will lighten in color and texture. Scrape down the sides.

4) Starting on low speed, gradually add the egg mixture in 2 parts, beating on medium speed for 30 seconds after each addition to incorporate the ingredients smoothly.

5) Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, and smooth the surface evenly.

 Bake the Cake

6) Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, or until a wooden skewer inserted near the center comes out clean and the cake springs back when pressed. The cake should start to shrink from the sides of the pan only after removal from the oven. Rotate the cake halfway around after the first 40 minutes of baking.

 Shortly before the cake is finished baking, make the orange syrup.

Orange Syrup

Makes: 102 grams/6-1/2 tablespoons/96 ml

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1) Reduce the orange juice by about 1/3 (see Notes). Then and stir in the sugar until dissolved. Add the orange oil. Cover it and set it aside.

Apply the Syrup and Cool the Cake

2) As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, place the pan on a rack, poke the cake all over with a wire cake tester, and brush it with about one-third (34 grams/2 tablespoons/30 ml) of the syrup. Cool the cake in the pan for 15 minutes. Invert the cake onto a serving plate.

3) Brush the top and sides of the cake with the remaining syrup. Cover with plastic wrap and cool completely.

 Store Airtight: room temperature, 3 days; refrigerated, 5 days; frozen, 2 months.

 Notes

* The zest incorporates most evenly into the batter if set on a piece of parchment and allowed to dry for several hours. It then can be frozen for several months.

* When Seville oranges are in season the juice gives a more intense orange flavor to the syrup so the orange oil can be omitted. Do not use the Seville orange zest as it is very bitter unless candied in marmalade. Blood orange zest, however is a great alternative.

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* The best way to reduce the orange juice is to pour it into a 4 cup/1 liter glass measure with a spout that has been lightly coated with nonstick cooking spray. Microwave it on high power, stirring every 30 seconds to prevent air bubbles, which would cause the juice to burst out of the container. This will take about 15 minutes. Alternatively you can reduce the orange juice on the cooktop, stirring constantly.

* You can replace the reduced orange juice with an equal amount of frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed.

To see the posting on this marvelous book click on the link below

Orange Appeal

A Special Photographer Shares His Expertise

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Photographers are among my very favorite people. Could it be because of their extraordinary vision and artistic sensibility? Without exception, every photographer I have ever worked with has become a treasured friend.

Matthew Septimus is the photographer who took over 600 luminous step by step photos and numerous ‘beauty’ shots for our upcoming Rose’s Baking Basics. I’m delighted to share with you the link to a special course in photography, that Matthew is teaching, scheduled for this coming March in midtown New York City.

Here is the course description and link.

NEW Photography has the ability to communicate across cultures worldwide. On a local level, putting a camera in the hands of someone who doesn’t normally have access to formal classes can be profound—it can widen students’ eyes and expand a teacher’s soul. This workshop investigates the full spectrum of sharing photography with the community, from dealing with established organizations to exploring an improvisational, independent approach. Come with a specific group to target or just an eager mind. Prerequisite: Photography I or portfolio review

Special Note: Matthew has just been accepted into an exhibition in Rotterdam where, in February, they will be showing his photo project from Occupy Wall Street.

The Perfect Frying Pan of My Memory

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This is the little copper-bottom Revere Ware frying pan I’ve been wanting to find for over 40 years and here’s the story why:

In my 20’s, whenever I travelled abroad, it was always to France. But one day I received a letter from an old family friend, Rosalind Streeter, originally from Wales, who had moved back to the UK, inviting me to “come to James Herriot country” to visit her and her husband Ted in York.

I had grown up with stories of the Streeters and their four children as the entire family were favorite dental patients of my mother’s, and we had even attended the same school for two years. So I knew I’d feel right at home with their parents.

It was my first trip to England so I spent two days in London before taking the train to York. I felt like as I was coming home. Ted Streeter, an inspired guide, took me to the newly excavated Viking village nearby. And I was delighted when Rosalind confided that she had always wanted to learn how to make a génoise, so we made one together. I brushed it with my usual Grand Marnier syrup but Ted complained that I hadn’t added enough Grand Marnier, which changed forever how I syrup génoise, and I always think of him when doing so!

Rosalind was a wonderful cook, but what I remember best was breakfast, when she would make me an egg fried and served in the smallest Revere Ware pan I had ever seen. She said that she had always wanted to find more of these pans but never succeeded. All these years I wished I could find this pan and recreate the warm memory of the visit. Two weeks ago I was suddenly inspired to check e-bay! Voila! Or should I say lo and behold. I can imagine Rosalind smiling from heaven. I know that my mother would be so happy to know that I am back in touch with her beloved Streeter ‘boys’.

The Baking Bible is Food52 Baking Club’s Bonus Book of the Year

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The book club members bake through a new baking book each month and learn from each other along the way. I'm thrilled to be in the company of the esteemed Thomas Keller, Dorie Greenspan, and Erin Jeanne McDowell whose books will be featured in the current three month period.

Food52 describes the bonus book as follows:

“When the community rallied around the creation of the Baking Club, one member suggested calling it "Baker’s Dozen," with the idea that we'd focus on one book a month, but have one extra book that members could cook through the whole year long, too. The idea was a hit, so while we didn't use the name, we incorporated the idea! The group will not only have more time to cook through Beranbaum’s book, but members will always have this book as an option to bake from if they don’t have access to the book of the month.”

For more information and to join the group if you haven’t already, click on the link:

https://food52.com/blog/21178-kick-the-new-year-off-right-with-our-baking-club

Our Final Bakeware and Cookbooks Sale

This is our final sale. We have over 35 books for $5.00 or less, including Donna Bell's Bakery, Molto Gusto: Easy Italian Cooking, ATK's Pasta Revolution.

Over 50 bakeware items for $10.00 or less, including Nordicware cast-aluminum bundt pans. All silicone bakeware are under $5.00.

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We also have several books that we accept reasonable Make An Offer, including The Splendid Table, Momofuko Milk Bar, and Buchon. Several bakeware and kitchenware items are also on our Make An Offer list, including  Kitchenaid KRPA 3 piece pasta roller set, Nespresso Lattissima Coffee Maker, and a Waring Blender.

For our lists for: bakeware & kitchenware, silicone ware, and books, and the baker’s dozen packages. Include your phone number on any order that you want to make an offer.

Email Woody at: woody321@ptd.net.     

We do charge for UPS or USPS ground rates. Post office MEDIA rate for book orders.                                No added cost for packaging and handling. Photos available upon request for items on our lists.

A Special Cranberry Lemon Holiday Cake

Chef Stephen Mallina adjusting the croquembouch at the Christmas dessert buffet

Chef Stephen Mallina adjusting the croquembouch at the Christmas dessert buffet

It has become a cherished tradition to go into New York in the month of December to join my dear long-time friend Holly Arnold Kinney, her family, and women friends, for a delightful holiday luncheon at the Doubles Club (hidden within the Sherry Netherland Hotel on Fifth Avenue and 59th Street).

Holly owns the Fort Restaurant in the foothills of Denver CO and her husband Jeremy was one of the early members during the construction of the Club. Doubles was opened by Joe Norban in 1976 and continues to be run by his daughter Wendy Carduner.

The special Christmas lunch is served by impeccably formal but friendly wait staff but the lavish array of desserts is served buffet style by executive chef Stephen Mellina and his staff.

This December, when Holly introduced me to the chef, I was blown away to discover that he already knew me from my books. I was also amazed at how wonderful the desserts were—the croquembouche with hairline crisp cream puffs, the silkiest of chocolate mousses, the raspberry dacquoise, but it was the deceptively simple cranberry lemon pound cake that so intrigued me that I called Mrs. Carduner, who put me in touch with chef Mellina, who then introduced me to the pastry chef Fannie Agri. Inevitably we had a million things in common and couldn’t stop talking. To my astonishment, the cake was my very own favorite Lemon Poppy Seed Pound Cake from The Cake Bible, with dried cranberries replacing the poppy seeds.

Of course chef Fannie makes this cake in large quantity so I tried three different variations for a single loaf. The challenge was getting the deliciously zingy cranberries to suspend evenly in the batter without sinking to the bottom. Trial one, I ground the cranberries with the sugar and they dispersed evenly but lost their character. Trial two I soaked the quartered cranberries for 30 minutes, using the soaking water to replace the milk. All the cranberries sank resolutely to the bottom. Trial 3 was the winner. I tried processing the cranberries with some of the flour to help them suspend, but though a few ground up into cranberry dust, most eluded the sharp blades so I ended up chopping them with a chef’s knife.

The two test samples with Fannie's original on the buffet table.

The two test samples with Fannie's original on the buffet table.

Both chefs tasted the two samples. And Chef Fannie brought her Cake Bible for me to sign. I was delighted to see it had experienced years of good use1

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Woody and I also enjoyed a glorious buffet lunch, complements of chef Mallina.

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The Holiday Dessert Buffet

The Holiday Dessert Buffet

I have found a new home at Doubles thanks to the exquisite ambiance and extraordinarily warm welcome from all.

Here’s the recipe just in time for New Year’s Eve!

Cranberry Lemon Pound Cake

Oven Temperature: 350˚F/175˚C
Baking Time: 60 to 70 minutes

Special Equipment One 8-1/2 by 4-1/2 inch 6 cup loaf pan, lightly coated with baking spray with flour, preferably Baker’s Joy

Preheat the Oven
* Thirty minutes or longer before baking, set an oven rack in the lower third of the oven.
*Set the oven at 350˚F/175˚C.

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In a 2 cup or larger glass measure with a spout, lightly whisk together the milk, eggs, and vanilla.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, add all but 2 tablespoons of the flour, the sugar, baking powder and salt.

With a large chefs knife, chop together the flour and dried cranberries until none of the pieces is larger than 1/4 inch.

Attached the flat beater and mix the flour mixture on low speed for 30 seconds.

Add the softened butter and half the egg mixture. Start on low speed until all the dry ingredients are moistened. Then raise the speed to medium and beat for 1 minute.

Add the remaining egg mixture in two parts, beating for 20 seconds after each addition to incorporate the ingredients and strengthen the structure.

Add the chopped cranberries and any remaining loose flour and with a silicone spatula, scrape down the sides of the bowl and stir in the cranberries, reaching to the bottom of the bowl.

Scrape the mixture into the loaf pan and bake for 30 minutes. Tent it loosely with aluminum foil and continue baking for 30 to 40 minutes or until a wooden skewer comes out clean with only a few dry crumbs sticking to it.

While the cake is baking, prepare the lemon syrup.

Lemon Syrup

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In a 1 cup glass measure with a spout stir together all the ingredients and microwave for about 40 seconds, stirring once or twice, until the sugar is dissolved.

Cover it with plastic wrap and set it aside.

When the cake is baked, set the pan on a wire rack and use a wooden skewer to poke holes all over the top.

Brush the top of the cake with half the syrup. Allow the cake to cool for 10 minutes and unmold it onto a second rack that has been lightly coated with nonstick cooking spray.

Brush all sides and bottom with the remaining syrup. Then reinvert the cake onto a wire rack that is topped with a large piece of plastic wrap. Allow the cake to cool completely. Then wrap it with the plastic wrap and allow it to sit for a minimum of 6 hours preferably overnight.

Store Airtight: room temperature, 3 days; refrigerated, 1 week; frozen, 3 months.

Rose's Best Flaky & Tender Pie Crust

I have many recipes for pie crust but through the years, this is the one I turn to the most often quite simply because it has a wonderful texture and also a wonderful flavor.

This recipe makes 312 grams, enough dough for one 9 inch pie or tart shell, and can be doubled to make a double crust or lattice pie.

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Food Processor Method

 1) Process flour, salt, and baking powder to blend.

 2) Add cream cheese and process until coarse.

 3) Add butter cubes and pulse until peanut size.

 4) Add cream and vinegar and pulse until butter is the size of small peas.

 5) Scrape dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Use latex gloves or cover hands with plastic bags and press dough until it holds together in one smooth flat disc.

6) Wrap, and refrigerate 45 minutes before rolling.

Notes:

* Baking powder containing aluminum has a bitter flavor. Most health food stores and many supermarkets carry the calcium variety. You can eliminate the baking powder and double the salt but the crust will be less tender.

* If not using pastry flour to achieve the same tenderness use 2/3 bleached all-purpose flour and 1/3 cake flour or 1 tablespoon of sugar

* I like to roll my pie crusts no thicker than 1/8 inch and preferably between 1/16 and 1/8 inch thick.

When Tragedy Strikes Your Mousseline Buttercream

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This is truly the queen of buttercreams: silky, buttery, light and airy, and a bit temperamental. Combining the Italian meringue with the butter is the tricky part. It is essential that the two mixtures have near the same temperature. And sooner or later it happens to everyone: Instead of becoming a beautifully emulsified satiny texture, it starts to curdle and separate. Your heart drops and panic sets in--all that expensive butter and time....But all is not lost. Here are some tips and also a solution should all else fail:

Use an instant read thermometer to ensure that the temperature of the mixture is between 65° to 70°F/19° to 21°C and adjust as needed. If not using a thermometer, try adjusting with just a small amount of the buttercream.

If all else fails, with your hands, squeeze out the liquid that has separated and pour it into a large measuring cup with a spout. On high speed, beat the remaining butter until it becomes smooth. Then gradually beat in the liquid. The resulting buttercream will be less airy but perfectly emulsified and silky smooth.

Note: You will have a higher degree of success if using high fat butter.
Also, it works best to add all the meringue to all the whipped butter rather than the reverse. This technique is detailed in Rose's Heavenly Cakes and The Baking Bible.

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Gingerbread Competition at Mohonk Mountain House 2017

When I think of something being constructed out of gingerbread, I always think of a  house. Although Rose took house building to the extreme with her made to scale Nôtre Dame Cathedral, in Rose’s Christmas Cookies, with 10 pages of architectural drawings. So when Nina Smiley asked if we would like to judge a gingerbread competition at the magical Mohonk Mountain House, of course we said yes!

Rose and Mohonk Mountain House built from 1869-1910 by the Smileys

Rose and Mohonk Mountain House built from 1869-1910 by the Smileys

This was their second year for holding the competition, which had 3 divisions: for juniors (ages 10-17), adults (ages 18 and over), and their employees, with over 60 entries. Some guidelines were: that the entry had to be on a base up to 2 feet square, less than 2 feet high, and edible for all exposed surfaces. A key guideline was that gingerbread had to be exposed for 50% or more of the surfaces.  What we discovered, as we walk around the rows of entries, was that this was way beyond ginerbread houses--it was a competition of highly artistic and imaginative gingerbread displays.

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We were surprised and delighted by the imagination and ways in which the competitors used gingerbread, in both cookie and bread forms and beyond. Besides us, there were several judges including chefs, Mohonk’s own talented pastry chef, the mayor of Kingston, and others.

 Rose called my attention to one of the most displays by Vanessa Greeley, who had worked for years in the finance world before making a career change to run her own specialty cake decorating business. She stopped by our book signing table and Rose asked her how she came up with the amalgamation of gingerbread and chocolate, which was the composition for Mr. and Mrs. Moose. She explained that her goal was to give adequate structural support while maintaining delicious melt in the mouth quality. Clearly her analytic approach from her prior occupation came into play. We gave her high marks, for its uniqueness and precision.

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The winning gingerbread display was Flower Tower, which was sculptor Matt Maley’s first ever dive into making a gingerbread constructed display. Along with his prize from Mohonk House, Rose gave him an autographed Pie & Pastry Bible.

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Other works of art by their title in the order below.

WInter is Coming-3rd place, Lighthouse-Viewers' Choice, Bah! Humbug-2nd place, Night before Christmas

The Artful Baker (and What Am I Doing in a Turkish Magazine!)

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A few weeks ago, Cenk Sönmezsoy, author of the stunning new book The Artful Baker, sent me this feature on him in the Turkish magazine “InStyle.”

I was shocked and delighted to see a photo of me on the page, surrounded by cherries, shorts, a t-shirt, and brownies, and immediately went to Google translate which shed no light on why I was pictured there, as it only listed food writer under my name.

I immediately wrote to Cenk to ask him, but no sooner did the email go off than I realized that I was amongst what I perceived to be some of Cenk’s favorite things. Here was his exact response:

“The magazine sent me a list of questions, one of which was who I'd like to have dinner with and why. My answer was: The author of several legendary cookbooks like The Cake Bible and The Pie and Pastry Bible, Rose Levy Beranbaum. I could talk to her about cookies, cakes and tarts for hours on end.

They also asked me which ingredient I've been baking with most frequently (sour cherries; but I think the cherries in the photo are sweet cherries) and what I like to wear when cooking and baking (an oversized t-shirt and shorts).”

I am honored to appear in this magazine featuring one of most eloquent and talented bakers in the world.

 

Extra Helpings--A New Website for Extraordinary Crafts

Holiday Ornaments to hang on your tree or ring in the new year!

Holiday Ornaments to hang on your tree or ring in the new year!

My dear friend Miro Uskokovic, the amazingly talented pastry chef at Gramercy Tavern, has just announced that his wife Shilpa has launched her site Extra Helpings.

Miro is justifiably very proud of Shilpa, who collaborated with her mother to create "a site that sources home and lifestyle products from struggling artisans who are working tirelessly to preserve craft traditions that are endangered due to rapid globalization and general corporate greed." And, as a dyed in the wool craftsperson, I am delighted to share this with you! 

Shilpa's mother, Raji, sits on the board of an internationally recognized non-profit organization that works with artisans throughout India. This gives her access to the best crafts people! Shilpa and her mother have personally met with all the artisans and hand selected items that are beautiful, useful and fairly priced.

Shilpa sent me an exquisitely crafted small, but heavy, rolling pin to add to my special collection of pins from around the world. I hope you will visit her site and enjoy viewing some of the beauty that still exists in this world. 

 

Pane Nero in the Food Processor

Beautiful crumb but loaf has an irregular shape due to my not letting it rest 20 minutes before shaping because i was so eager to bake the bread and see the results!

Beautiful crumb but loaf has an irregular shape due to my not letting it rest 20 minutes before shaping because i was so eager to bake the bread and see the results!

My friend, Charlie Van Over, introduced me to food processor breads many years ago. He has been so successful with this technique he even designed a huge commercial processor to make baguettes.

The food processor isn’t necessarily ideal for all breads, for example a multi grain would powder the grains but they could be added by hand after processing the dough. A very sticky dough such as brioche could work but it is so sticky it’s a nuisance to remove it from the bowl and blades.

I’ve been trying other breads I’ve perfected using the food processor with excellent results, in fact, the texture of the Pane Nero, which was posted a few weeks ago, is more dense and the loaf 3/4 inch lower than the one made in the processor. Also, I increased the honey by 1-1/2 times—the first time by mistake and liked the 1/4 inch extra rise and slightly moister texture so added it to this recipe.

Even if you don’t make this exact recipe, it will give you the technique of trying out the food processor for other ones.

Oven Temperature: 450˚F/230˚C, then 400°F/200˚C

Baking Time: 40 minutes

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Note: Pane Nero flour is organic and, as with all organic wheat that has not been sprayed with any sort of insecticide, it is advisable to freeze it for 48 hours when it first arrives to ensure that it remains bug free. It will remain fresh for well over a year in the freezer, and for up to 3 months refrigerated. It is available from Gustiamo.

Equipment: A 9 inch by 5 inch (7 cup), or 8 1/2 by 4 1/2 inch loaf pan if not adding the starter, coated lightly with cooking spray or oil. A baking stone or baking sheet.

1) In a food processor bowl add the bread flour, pane nero flour, non-fat milk powder, and yeast. Process 30 seconds to mix. Pulse in the salt.

2) Cut the starter into a few pieces and add it to the bowl. Process for about 15 seconds until combined

3) Add the honey and oil and, with the motor on, add the water. After it comes together process for 45 seconds. The dough should be sticky enough to cling to your fingers. If it is not at all sticky spray it with a little water and pulse it in. If the dough doesn’t clean the bowl add a little more flour and pulse it in.

4) Scrape the dough into a 3 quart/liter bowl or rising container which has been lightly coated with nonstick cooking spray. It will weigh a little over 1 pound/ 992 grams.)  In a rising container with markings it will be 1 quart/liter. Press down the dough and lightly spray or oil the top. Cover the container tightly with a lid or plastic wrap. With a piece of tape, mark where double the height would be.

5) Let the dough rise: Allow the dough to rise (ideally at 80˚F/26˚C) until doubled in size (to 2 liters), a little over an hour.

Using an oiled spatula or dough scraper, remove the dough to a lightly floured counter. Press down on it gently to form a rectangle. Stretch the dough and give it a package fold (pull out the bottom and fold it to the center, then the same with the left side, right side, and top), round the edges and return it to the bowl, smooth side up. Again, oil the surface, cover, mark where double the height will now be (about 3 quarts) and allow it to rise until it reaches this point, about 1 hour. (Or dimple and shape it into a loaf after it has rested 20 minutes; set it in an oiled zipseal bag; refrigerate it overnight and bring it to room temperature for about 1 hour or until risen full as indicated in step 4 before baking.

4) Shape the dough and let it rise: Turn the dough onto a lightly floured counter, smooth side down, and press it gently to flatten it. It will still be a little sticky but use only as much flour as absolutely necessary to keep it from sticking. Allow the dough to rest covered for 20 minutes. Dimple it all over with your finger tips to eliminate air bubbles, shape it into a loaf, and place it in the prepared loaf pan. It will fill the pan no more than 1/2 inch from the top. Cover it lightly with oiled plastic wrap and allow it to rise until the highest point is 1 to 1 1/2 inches above the sides of the pan and when pressed gently with a finger the depression very slowly fills in--about 45 minutes.

5) Preheat the oven: 1 hour before baking set a cast iron pan lined with foil onto the floor of the oven and preheat the oven to 450˚F/230˚C.

6) Bake the bread: Spritz the top of the dough with water. Quickly but gently set the bread pan onto the hot stone or hot baking sheet and toss 1/2 cup of ice cubes into the pan beneath. Immediately shut the door lower the temperature to 400˚F/230˚C, and bake 30 to 40 minutes or until the bread is golden brown and a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. (An instant read thermometer inserted into the center will register about 205˚F/96˚C. After the first 20 minutes of baking tent loosely with foil and rotate the pan half way around for even baking.

7) Cool the bread Remove the bread from the oven, unmold it from the pan, and transfer it to a wire rack to cool completely, top-side up.

A Christmas Message

A Christmas Story

 When I was a young child, my great aunt Polly Horwitt Kozma gave me this treasure of a little book written by her mentor Eleanor Roosevelt and published by Knopf in 1940.

 What was most extraordinary about this gift was that Polly was the daughter of a rabbi and yet, in the years shortly past World War II, she had chosen to give a book with the message of Christ’s love to her Jewish orthodox sister’s granddaughter.  But Polly was a woman of the world. In fact, she went on to win the Eleanor Roosevelt award as a member of the American Association for the United Nations.

 How fortunate I was to have had my great aunt Polly as such a shining example of intellectual and spiritual values.

 

Welcome to Our New Home on Squarespace

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Banner photo by Woody Wolston

Portrait Photos by Matthew Septimus

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Truly it was like building a new dwelling. Our long-time and brilliant Travis Smith, blog master of Hop Studios, and his dedicated assistants Chris Townsend and most of all Jeslen Bucci, who managed the difficult task of uploading 12 years of blog postings with thousands of images. Woody did this stunning design, and some of the text, and I redid all the links for products and fuller descriptions of each book and all of the special features such as featured bakers. Above is just a sampling of over 20 individual pages, which link to Youtube, my books, products, and, of course, the blog.

Thanksgiving Pies from Gramercy Tavern

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Pie Contest # 5 2017 "Fifth year and a big one," Chef Miro Uskokovic informed us about the annual staff pie contest to welcome in the holiday season at Gramercy Tavern. This was to be our fourth invite to judge the talented staff's pies. And the great news is that for the first year, Miro is making two fabulous pies available for sale from Gramercy Tavern for Thanksgiving: Spiced Marshmallow Pumpkin Pie and Bourbon Chocolate Pecan Pie for pick up on either Tuesday 11/21 or Wednesday 11/22. You'll need to order right away as I'm sure there will be a great demand. Ten judges this year, including executive chef, Mike Anthony, general manager Scott Reinhardt, pastry chef/author/director of the baking programs at the Institute for Culinary Education (and dear friend) Nick Malgieri, Merrill Stubbs co-founder of Food 52, and Emily and Melissa Elsen, owners of Four & Twenty Blackbirds Bakery. After taking our seats once again at the 15 foot long table, in the very familiar banquet/meeting room, Miro went over the criteria for this year's judging. Although we had a scoring card, it was to be used only for taking notes, as we would all have our say after a fork full of the last pie tasted to choose the Best Overall Pie and the Most Creative Pie. And this year, all entries had to be made in a pie plate as opposed to a tart pan. Also this year both winners (and the judges!) would receive the same generous gift: a prized blender from sponsor Vitamix. Each contestant was to bring out her or his creation, give the story behind the pie, and then answer our questions as we tasted the pie. The highest number of entries ever, 22 pies, were presented, dissected, tasted, talked about, and a whole pie shown to each of us by Miro and then placed on the table and discussed some more. Miro gave us two breaks to calm our taste buds and give our tummies a temporary relief. Since in most prior years a cream pie beat out the rest, this year was a cavalcade of mostly cream pies. A couple of entries were from the front staff. Also, we were delighted that for the first time Scott was one of the judges. Nick, as always, was a delight, with his charm, honesty, and spot on critiquing of the pies. With all pies tasted, chef Mike gave his choice for his favorite--the Pomegranate Pie--and it made the move to the other end of the table to be with seven of its favored peers. This year, it was extremely hard to decide whether to go with something more unusual or an upscale version of a standard. We discussed, debated, and decided on our winning pies. The awards presentation was done during the staff's family style dinner before the evening crowd. By the time we joined the staff, there were mostly just remnants of those 22 pies on table 61. The Best Overall Pie for this year was made by Heather Siperstein. It was a Peanut Butter and Chocolate Cream Pie with a whipped cream topping, adorned with chocolate and peanut butter candy pieces. It will be featured on the Gramercy menu at some point in the near future. The Most Creative Pie was awarded to Amanda Taylor for her Figalicious Pie. She was thrilled to receive my signature series Synglas, non-stick rolling pin by American Products Group. I autographed a Pie & Pastry Bible for Heather, which Miro accepted in her behalf. All of us were then invited to my favorite table at the front of the Tavern to enjoy some of Gramercy's wonderful appetizers and a glass of wine or beer with Miro. Epilogue, next morning: Day prior: a wonderful lunch, consuming close to a half of an entire pie, and enough appetizers to make for light dinner. But to my relief, my scale was kind--it showed me that I actually lost a pound. (The new "pie diet" is born! We hope to be there for Miro Pie Day #6 next year.

The Fearless Baker by Erin McDowell is Born!

ERIN.jpegThis is a big year for major baking books. I remember exactly 29 years ago it was the same when The Cake Bible was published and the category itself got huge attention. Erin is going to benefit from being in the company of so many distinguished authors both old and new and they will be proud to have her as a member of the baking cookbook community of sister (and brother) bakers. Not only is Erin a gifted baker, she is also a professional food stylist and so, of course, the photos in this book are drop dead gorgeous. Erin was the food stylist for my upcoming book. Here's my favorite photo of the two of us taken during the photoshoot this past April: 1.jpg I couldn't be more proud to be the writer of the foreword to Erin's first book. And here it is so you don't even have to wait until the book arrives to read it: Foreword to The Fearless Baker When I learned that Erin McDowell was writing her first baking book, my immediate response was Yes! quickly followed by Of course! I had met Erin when she was involved in the baking and styling of the photographs for my book The Baking Bible. We spent two intense weeks in a rented studio in upstate New York, baking, styling, discussing, and getting to know each other. Not only did Erin make delicious, nourishing lunches for the entire team every day, her sunny disposition helped set the tone. I taught her how to make a special border on a tart, and she demonstrated how to make the most luscious, voluptuous ganache and buttercream swirls on cakes. Reading through this book, I am struck by how eager Erin is to explore new ideas and inspirations and how open she is to learning. One of the secrets to being a great baker is to have love in one's heart and love for the profession. And one of the secrets to being a great baking author is having a true desire to share. Erin is gifted with both. Her written instructions are a model of clarity and a perfect reflection of her delightful and joyful spirit. And her writing style is so friendly, fun, and unpretentious that it makes baking more approachable than ever. I didn't have to test recipes from this book in order to sing Erin's praises, because having seen her in action, and having tasted the results, was proof enough of her expertise. I tested four of the recipes just because they were so alluring I couldn't resist. The rhubarb cheesecake, which imaginatively replaces lemon juice with rhubarb puree, is topped with stunning ribbons of rhubarb. It's exceptionally delicious, and it leaves a surprisingly bright, fresh finish in the mouth despite the richness of the cream cheese. Chocolate puff pastry is something I'd never actually made before, but when I saw the photo for this book, I couldn't resist the challenge. Yes, it is "hard," as Erin realistically indicates at the top of the recipe, but it is an empowering experience, and success is guaranteed if one follows her excellent instructions. And her technique for making puff pastry results in the best palmiers I've ever made--or eaten. Erin writes, " is book is intended to educate you on the whys and hows of baking in an approachable way. If you understand those basics, you can become fearless--and potentially tweak your own recipes to suit your whims, the way I do." I relate to this goal 100 percent. In fact, this is shades of the young me, at the start of my own cookbook-writing odyssey. It is inspiring to see the fine and exciting work of this prize representative of the new generation of bakers. I am honored that she claims to have used my books as a launching pad to her baking education. And I am certain that Erin Jeanne McDowell will continue to march to the beat of her own drummer and rise to ever greater heights of discovery and baking excellence. The Fearless Baker: Simple Secrets for Baking Like a Pro

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

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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

aIMG_2765.jpgThe 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. IMG_2755.jpg 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 IMG_2772.jpg but a close second was the perfectly silky and delicious chocolate Gianduja custard. IMG_2769.jpg 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.