Sweets & Sips 2nd Annual Event at Gramercy Tavern

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Miro Uskokovic, the much loved by all executive pastry chef of Gramercy Tavern, once again gave our baking community of pastry and food writing individuals a wonderful afternoon to connect and share our love of pastry and people.

As we walked into the special events room, where we had enjoyed judging Gramercy’s Thanksgiving employee pie contest just a few months ago, we were greeted by Miro and glasses of excellent Billecart Salmon champagne and tables of crafted pastry creations by this year’s talented pastry chefs.
We all indulged in pastries byThea Habjanic from La Sirena Restorate, Justine MacNeil from the Del Posto,  Laura Martelli and Matthew Rosenzweig from The Flaky Tart, and Dan Alva from Union Square Café.

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Our favorite indulgence was The Flaky Tart’s Lemon Meringue tartlets, several of which made their way home with usSavory appetizers were served as well.
One in particular was this mini hotdog. Miro adapted the bun from a recipe which I shared with him some months ago from our upcoming book!

This year topped last year’s event with many new guests, including friends of mine I rarely get to see, which gave us a great chance to catch up with each other. Emily Luchetti happened to be visiting from the west coast and Tyler Atwel is back in New York full time at Lafayette Grand Café.

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We were delighted to take home a piece of Mile High Peanut Butter Pie-- last year’s Thanksgiving Pie Contest winning pie, which is currently listed right at the top on Gramercy Tavern’s dessert menu. 

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Some more photos: 

Happy National Peanut Butter Day!

My Chocolate Peanut Butter Mousse Tart, from The Pie and Pastry Bible, was the recipe Food and Wine Magazine selected for their annual book The Best of The Best. It also happens to be my favorite recipe from the book.Dear David Leite just posted the recipe on his blog to honor the peanut butter day (and me!). I hope you will try it and if not today, how about for Valentine's Day?! I once made it! in a heart-shaped fluted tart pan!

What to Make for the Holidays

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Here's what I just made--a pecan pie shaped in a tart pan (recipe in the Pie and Pastry Bible). And here are a few tips: Keep in mind that if there are any holes in the crust the sticky filling will find its way there, leak below the crust, and stick to the pan's bottom. To avoid holes best not to pierce the bubbles that form during blind baking, after removing the rice or beans to weight it down, but just to gently press down the crust a few times as it bubbles and finally it will set and be flat. Should a hole develop, fill it with a little dab of egg white and return it to the oven for about 30 seconds. And if worse comes to worse and the crust sticks, just serve the pieces--no one will complain. This pie is the very definition of heavenly! Be sure to use the Lyle's golden refiner's syrup which is so much more flavorful than corn syrup in a butterscotchy/tangy way, and preferably light Muscovado sugar (I love the one from India Tree). And be sure to weigh or measure the yolks. For this pie/tart that calls for 4 yolks I needed to use 6 to equal the right amount as they were so small. Without enough egg yolks the filling will not set effectively.] One last word of caution: When heating the filling go by the thermometer rather than looking for signs of thickening. And when baking test at 15 minutes. I find it usually takes 20 but it should just shimmy slightly when moved and begin to puff.

Holiday Baking

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It will be cake for New Year's but for Xmas week here's what I made and talk about heaven on a plate!!! It's my recipe for Pecan Pie from the Pie and Pastry Bible, baked in a tart pan but I discovered I don't have my favorite non-stick Gobel 9 x 1 inch pan so i chose the 1 1/2 inch high one. Cold as it is I just had to photograph it out on the porch with the sun shining on it to show the translucency of the crust. My favorite part is all the textures: the nuts, the crust, the plate, and the table top. The crust is my favorite cream cheese one available on the blog. I now prefer to roll the crust 45 minutes after chilling it as it remains the most malleable. If I'm not ready to roll it I store it in my 65˚F wine cellar. I line the pan, cover it with plastic wrap, and refrigerate it overnight. It has the most perfect shape this way.

Corrections: The Pie and Pastry Bible & Extra Notes

The following is the partial  list of errors and corrections from The Pie and Pastry Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum. Use the comments below to report anything else you find.
Almost everything has been corrected by the 9th printing.

Blind baking (prebaking) flaky pie crust, page 19, For the most even baking, set the tart pan or pie plate on a preheated baking stone or baking sheet. After removing the weights start checking for doneness after the first 3 minutes.

weight of sugar for the Crumb Crust for a 10-Inch Pie on page 69, it should be 0.6 ounce/17 grams.

Clarification of when to add the cranberry purée (people have asked when does the purée get added)
In the Custard Filling for the CRANBERRY CHIFFON PIE on page 152, the cranberry purée is strained into the bowl with the sieve set over it to receive the custard. They are then stirred together.

In the Fruit Turnoverson page 135, the unsalted butter is 1 tablespoon but the weight is 0.5 ounce/14 grams. on page 137, for the Mini-Turnovers, roll each piece of dough large enough to cut a 4 inch circle. Also, for the blackberries, use the larger amount of cornstarch if not reducing the liquid and the smaller amount if reducing the liquid.

In the Custard Filling for the GINGERY PEAR CHIFFON TART on page 164, To ensure that all of the gelatin dissolves and offers a firm texture to the filling, it is best to soften it in 2 to 3 teaspoons of the reserved poaching syrup. Stir to moisten the gelatin and allow it to sit for a  minimum of 5 minutes. (If longer cover it tightly with plastic wrap to prevent evaporation.) After stirring the poaching liquid into the egg yolk, stir in the gelatin mixture.

In the LEMON MERINGUE PIE on page 178 under "make the filling," do not use a double boiler and be sure to bring the egg mixture to full boil to ensure that it will thicken properly. An instant-read thermometer should read 180˚F/82˚C. (If lower than 170˚F/77˚C the amylace enzyme in the yolks will reverse the thickening.) On page 180: Cool in a draft free place for about 1 hour and then refrigerate for a minimum of 3 hours. Serve refrigerated.

In the CHOCOLATE CREAM PIE on page 204 under "make the filling," it should read remaining 2-3/4 cups of milk.

In the APRICOT-CHEESECAKE TART on page 208, in the chart, the yolks should be 1.3 ounces/36 grams. On page 209, Add the crème fraîche or the cream, egg yolks, and remaining white.

In the FIG TART WITH MASCARPONE CREAM on page 211, the Marsala should be 1 to 2 tablespoons/0.5 to 1 ounce/14 to 28 grams.

In the CHOCOLATE OBLIVION TARTLETS on page 308, the amount for the eggs should be only 3 eggs/5.2 ounces/150 grams.

page 314, corrections in bold: top of the chart should be: MAKES: SEVEN 4 3/4-INCH FLUTED TARTLETS
OR EIGHT 4-INCH TARTLETS MADE IN FLAN RINGS

page 315, under EQUIPMENT should be: Eight 4- by 3/4-inch flan rings or <strong>seven</strong> 4 3/4- by 3/4-inch fluted tart pans with removable bottoms

In the Hungarian Poppyseed Strudel on page 403, proof the yeast with 1/2 teaspoons of sugar not 1 teaspoon of sugar.

In the CRÈME BRÛLÉE CUSTARD on page 440, the filling is 2 3/4 cups.

In the BRANDIED RAISINS on page 514, the cognac is 1/2 liquid cup.

In the PASTRY CREAM on page 560, the 2 cups of half and half weigh 17 ounces/484 grams.

The following changes are in current printing (3). The printing number is on the copyright page. It is a row of numbers and the lowest one is the printing of the book. For those who have earlier printings ADD: 
Note: I have found that it is best to apply the foil ring to the protect the edges of the pie crust from the beginning of baking.

p 321 on the chart for peanut butter mousse pie tiered, filling should be 1/3 cup, 2/3 cup, 1  3/4 cups, 2  1/2 cups, 3  1/4 cups, 4  1/4 cups, 4  3/4 cups
page 84 flaky cream cheese pie crust for a two-crust pie
p 594 in the chart: 2 12-ounce bags
p 131 The liquid will be about 1/3 cup....Cool the pie...(Brush the exposed cranberries with golden syrup to keep them moist and shiny.)
p 140 ...spread rounded 1/2 teaspoons (not tablespoons) of Apricot Lekvar...
p 19  4th line from the top: ...bake for 20 minutes (15 minutes for a 4  1/4 inch pielet)...Return the shell to the oven for 5 to 10 minute more (3 to 5 minutes for a 4-1/4 inch pielet)...
p 77 The second chart "The Amount of Cornstarch and Sugar for 4 cups of Fruit": the sugar for 1 cup of cherry should be 200 grams (7 ounces)
p 89 and 592 for the streusel (crumb) topping, for a crisper topping melt the butter before adding it.
p 260 ...very thin lemon slices that have been simmered, covered, for 20 minutes in 1/3 cup sugar dissolved in 1/3 cup water,...
p 262 under Pointers...If a 3 inch pear is available, poach it along with the other pears, slice it and place it in the center. During baking, the pears will shrink making space for it.
p 287 roll the pastry to a circle roughly 16 inches in diameter. Using a pizza wheel or cardboard template and a sharp knife trim it so that the edges are even. It should be 15 to 15  1/2 inches....Scatter the cranberry mixture evenly over the dough, covering a 12-inch area...
p.294  Gâteau Basque:  Add about 1 tablespoon of cream to the yolk and vanilla. After mixing the dough pinch it together and it if still crumbly and won't hold together add a tiny bit more cream. Change baking temperature to 325˚F.
p.421 just before store...1 day before completing the last 2 turns for a total of 6 turns. caramelize the topping or protect the edges of the pastry with foil rings...

page 655, Equivalences & Substitutions for brown sugar:

The closest approximation of light brown and dark brown sugar is the following. The weight will be the same but the amount of molasses is slightly higher and more similar to Muscovado.

1 cup/217 grams light brown sugar=1 cup/200 grams granulated sugar plus 1 tablespoon/15 ml/20 grams light molasses

1 cup/239 grams dark brown sugar=1 cup/200 grams granulated sugar plus 2 tablespoon/30 ml/40 grams light molasses

Flat Cream Puffs

JEAN QUESTIONFeedback: I live in Mexico and the humidity is very high. I made cream puffs today. They rose up and were beautiful until I took them out of the oven. They fell flat and felt soggy. Is there anything I can do to keep this from happening? ROSE REPLY If you are also at high altitude you will need to decrease the amount of liquid to give more structure to the cream puffs. But for the high humidity it is essential, toward the end of baking after the cream puffs have set, to make a small cut into the side or bottom of each cream puff and then return them to the oven that the moisture can escape.

Soggy Bottom Pie Crusts

SUNSHINE QUESTION: I was given "The Pie and Pastry Bible" for my 21st, and have enthusiastically begun pie-baking with your recipes. My mother has always used the Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook circa 1950 pastry. I live in Adelaide, Australia, and many branded ingredients are not readily available (including, sadly, sour cherries and concord grapes). I am having a problem with the bottom crust of my pies, in both single (family recipe of banana cream) and double crust pies (both apple, rosy apple cranberry, and peach - all from The Pie and Pastry Bible). Even when prebaked, and brushed with eggwhite, the crust becomes soggy, and is literally disolving by the time the pie is served. I have been using a baking stone, and a gas oven. Nonetheless, I find my pies have a "collar" of crust around the edges - and as the pastry is my favorite part, any help you can provide would be much appreciated! Thanks,

ROSE REPLY: how i loved my visit to adelaide. i would feel sorry for you not having sour cherries except that you have so many other fantastic ingredients we don't have here in america. but someday you must taste them! re the soggy bottom pie crusts: have you tried baking directly on the floor of the oven for the first 20 minutes? i find that helps enormously. for the banana cream pie i would brush the baked pie shell with melted white or dark chocolate that creates an excellent seal for a cream filling. for the fruit pies, if you are concentrating the juices as i recommend and baking on the floor of the oven for the first 20 minutes and still getting a dissolving pie crust i have to question the flour you are using. flour varies significantly from country to country. when i did a demo of strudel at the melbourne tasting australia event, the bakers there recommended a specific flour they knew would work well. it might be a good idea to ask one of the local bakers what flour they would recommend for pie crust. do let me know. i strongly believe that if a bottom pie crust is soggy and thereby not worthy eating it's better to do a top crust only!

Freezing Pies

Linda Question:Wanting to make raisin pies early for Christmas and not sure if they will freeze. Can you help as I hate to waste anything. Rose Reply: hope this reaches you in time but at least you’ll know for the future: you can freeze unbaked pies and add about 20 minutes to the baking time depending on how deep the filling is. it’s actually an advantage because the bottom crust starts baking before the filling thaws giving it a chance to get crisp and brown. i wouldn’t freeze a baked pie because the dough loses much of its charm and all that remains is the filling and calories!

Making Caramel

Mark Question:Your Pie and Pastry Bible is my absolute favorite cookbook - quite thorough! I had a problem with the Boulders Tart that I was hoping you could help with. I couldn't get a caramel to form by simply adding the sugar and corn syrup. There simply wasn't enough liquid. I added water to accommodate and it worked fine, but I'm wondering what I'm missing. Thanks again for a wonderful resource! Best, Mark Rose Reply: caramel is made by evaporating the water from the sugar. the more the water evaporates, the higher the temperature of the syrup aned ultimately the deeper the color of the caramel. i like to add a little extra water in the form of corn syrup or water to start the process of melting the sugar more evenly. the cornsyrup also helps to prevent crystallization. if you add extra water it will just take longer for the sugar to start caramelizing but if it works better for you that’s fine.

Lemon Meringue Pie

Margaret Question:Help! I have made excellent lemon meringue pies (no, I don't have your pie bible...just the cake book) and yesterday I made a double recipe for my son's 42nd. And it was much to sweet and did not set properly even though I am sure I used the right amount of cornstarch plus flour and cooked over boiling water for at least 20 minutes. Could I have overcooked it? The order lemon juice is added to the egg yolks is different in different recipes. Is there a physical / chemical reaction that could have impacted it's "set-up"? I was abit embarrassed as I am known as a good cook and baker. The meringue was fine and has not "wept" even after 24 hoursl. Rose Reply: lemon meringue is in the top 3 of my favorite pies. i hope it helps to know that the same thing happened to me when i was showing off my new pie plate to my cousins about 6 months ago! this is the first time in many years that this has happened and on thinking about it i realized that a double boiler is NOT a good idea bc cornstarch will not thicken completely until it reaches a boil and a double boiler prevents it from reaching this temperature. i suspect that bc you doubled the recipe and used the double boiler it did not get hot enough. also the lemon juice is best added AFTER thickening as the acidity can prevent the cornstarch from doing it's job! if egg yolks don't reach a temperature of over 140 degrees F the thickening they provide actually reverses itself due to the enzyme amylase in the yolk which attacks the starch unless it's deactivated by adequate heat. whew! make it again soon so you won't be left with a sense of failure. it happens to everyone. baking can be full of surprises. but mostly happy ones!

Pumpkin Pie

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!

How to Get a Crisp Brown Bottom Pie Crust

RONI QUESTIONI 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.