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Category ... Ingredients

Baking Powder on the Rise

Jul 25, 2015 | From the kitchen of Rose in Baking Science


Our preferences for baking powders are ones that are made with an all-phosphate product containing calcium acid phosphate and non-GMO cornstarch. Baking powders containing sodium aluminum sulfate (SAS), to aid in releasing more carbon dioxide during the baking stage, generally have a bitter after taste, especially noticeable when added to pie dough.

Recently, Rumford released a new baking powder, Rumford Reduced Sodium Baking Powder, which contains 52% less sodium than leading brands and no aluminum. Rumford informed us that this new product activates mostly during the heating/baking phase. We were curious to test this new baking powder since timing of activation has a great impact on baked goods, especially muffins and cupcakes.

Letting the cupcakes rest before baking gives the cupcakes more rounded tops because if more of the baking powder activates in the early stage from the liquid in the batter there is less to disrupt the cell structure, during baking, needed to collapse the crumb to form a flatter top.

My White Velvet Butter Cake recipe served as our test recipe, since it is an egg white based butter cake and has a somewhat neutral flavor, which enables us to perceive differences during tasting more easily.

Since there can be a relatively long time frame to fill over a dozen cupcake liners, during which the baking powder will have begun to activate, we wanted to see if the new baking powder, which reacts more in the baking stage, would give us a wider window of time to fill the cupcakes and result in more uniformly shaped cupcakes.

We made two batches of cupcakes with each baking powder serving as the leavening for each batch. Once we filled the cupcake liners, we also let some of the cupcakes rest 20 minutes, and others 30 minutes before baking them. We baked all of the cupcakes for the same amount of time.



The test card shows the height in inches, then the width in inches.

The cupcake on the left, made with the original Rumford baking powder, had the batter stand for 20 minutes after filling the muffin cups and before baking as did the one on the far right, made with the new Low Sodium Rumford baking powder. (It is both flatter and wider.) The middle cupcake, which is very similar to the original Rumford, but made with the low sodium baking powder, stood for 30 minutes before baking.

The results indicate that the new Rumford baking powder is more effective in preventing doming for up to 20 minutes of standing time but not longer. However, when we gave them a taste test we found major differences. The original Rumford cupcakes had a more pronounced flavor and texture. The sodium reduced Rumford ones were milder in flavor and fluffier. We preferred the original Rumford for flavor and texture.

People are always asking either how to get more rounded cupcakes or flatter ones to hold more frosting. One of the major problems is that if making 12 or more cupcakes, by the time the last few cupcake liners are ready to be filled, the batter has been sitting in the bowl for at least 10 if not more minutes, resulting in more doming in the baked cupcakes. The longer the batter stands in the bowl before dispensing, the more the loss of leavening action during filling the liners. Once the batter is dispensed into the muffin liners this action slows down but is still taking place. So when the muffins are set in the oven, there is less leavening available to burst through the air bubbles in the batter to flatten the crumb during this heating phase.

Did you know that different brands of baking powder have different compositions, reactions, and results in the finished product? If you'd like to know why, continue reading!

Continue reading "Baking Powder on the Rise" »

Testing a New Baking Ingredient

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


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

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

A Flour by Any Other Name...!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Secret Shelf Life of Arrowroot

Apr 05, 2014 | From the kitchen of Rose in Epicurious


Arrowroot is used as a thickener for sauces and glazes. It is made from a tropical rhizome (underground stem). I like using it for glazes to top fruit on a tart, pie, or cake because it has a slight sparkle and also because it starts to thicken long before the boiling point so does not cause the fruit to soften.

Although cornstarch, also an effective thickener (when allowed to come to a full boil), has an indefinite shelf life if stored in an air-tight moisture-proof container, I have found arrow root to have a limited shelf life.

As a result of my move from New York, I discovered I had three bottles of arrowroot each of a different vintage. I seized the opportunity to do a comparative testing of their thickening powers.

The oldest one (now don't be horrified as I was!) was 24 years old! The next to oldest was 19 years old. And the third one was 14 years old.

The results were: The oldest arrowroot thickened but not effectively as it still had flow. The next to oldest thickened but not as fully as the last one which also was less tinged with yellow. This was was kept in an airtight container in an air conditioned room which accounts for its unusual viability. I recommend that if you want to be sure of the full effectiveness of arrowroot, use it up to two years from the purchase date and then replace it.

Oh Sugar!

Dec 21, 2013 | From the kitchen of Rose in Epicurious


Several years ago, when I was writing The Sugar BIble for Food Arts Magazine, I obtained many different varieties of sugar. One of them, beet sugar, I intended to try out in sugar syrups and cakes as I had heard claims that it did not perform as well as cane sugar. I had heard that beet sugar would cause syrups to crystallize but on experimentation did not experience this. I never got around to trying it in a cake.

Recently, however, I came across a beautiful sparkling sugar: Zulka Morena sugar. Morena is a description of granulated sugar that has not been processed with conventional sugar refining methods such as filtering through bone char. It is an all vegan, organic sugar and non-GMO. As it contains a small amount of its residual molasses it has an attractive light tan color and lovely flavor. It's moisture content from the molasses is 0.6% compared to ordinary refined granulated sugar which is 0.4%.

Although I loved the flavor of the Morena sugar when tasting it plain, I was curious if it would change the taste or texture of a cake. So I ran a test of three sugars: fine granulated sugar, Morena, and beet. The cake with the Morena sugar took 3 more minutes to bake than the other two. The texture of the Morena and fine granulated sugar was the same but the beet sugar cake had a coarser crumb and a slight crunch. The flavor of the fine granulated and beet sugar cakes was identical but the Morena sugar cake was my preference although the difference was so subtle I'm not sure anyone would notice if they weren't looking for it.

The Zulka Morena sugar is so attractive I will use it when sprinkling on top of pie crust, pastry, and cookies.

Zulka Mexican Cane Sugar 4 Lb

A Merrier World Indeed...

May 21, 2012 | From the kitchen of Rose in Announcements

with people like Kate Coldrick in it! (Though I've yet to meet another Kate like this one!)

Those of you who are not familiar with the problem of bleached cake flour being unavailable in many of the countries around the world, particularly the British Commonwealth, might enjoy putting the word "kate flour" in the search box of this blog.

I encourage everyone to follow this link to Kate's blog where she continues the saga of her success in spinning unbleached flour into heat-treated flour. It is through her extraordinary determination and inspired work that this flour is now available to the consumer! Hats off to Kate.

The Ultimate Cherry Pie

May 30, 2011 | From the kitchen of Rose in Baking & Cooking Tips


Here's a simple natural way to enhance the quality of sour cherry pie--a secret given to me by Justin Rachid of American Spoon Food. It's called Michelle's Miracle--an intensely concentrated sour cherry syrup made from Montmorency sour cherries. Just add 1 to 2 tablespoons to your cherry pie filling and you'll be astonished by the depth of flavor it provides. Michelle advises that refrigerated or frozen it keeps just about indefinitely.

If you cant find sour cherries, or you miss the short season, American Spoon Food's Fruit Perfect Cherries is an ideal substitute, in fact, I've often preferred it to the fresh picked cherries and the reason is the addition of the Michelle's Miracle! My recipe for using the filling is on the jar and just below.

Link to My Recipe

Cherry Pie Using Fruit Perfect Cherries

2 jars (13.5 ounces each) Fruit Perfect Cherries
1 tablespoon cornstarch (0.3 ounce/9.5 grams)
1 tablespoon water
l/4 cup sugar (1.75 ounces/50 grams)

Empty the cherries, with their
thickened juices, into a medium bowl. In small bowl, stir together the cornstarch
and water to dissolve the cornstarch. Gently and evenly stir this mixture
into the cherries with the sugar. Bake as for Cherry Lattice Pie, but at 400°F/200˚C for
30 to 35 minutes.

What a Wonderful World of Baking!

May 11, 2011 | From the kitchen of Rose in Ingredients

Recently a fellow baker from the UK posted her despair in regard to the flour and, I believe, her cookies that were not coming out well using the unbleached flour available to her. I referred her to Kate Coldrick's blog and the work she has done with her "kate flour." Here is here heart-warming thrilling response. Isn't it just wonderful how we can all help each other to be the best bakers we can possibly be. And isn't it wonderful that Kate Coldrick's brilliantly creative and relatively simple solution to turning unbleached flour into what it needs to be to create top quality baked goods in countries where bleached flour is not available is traveling around the world!


Thank you sooooo much again for all your help this is incredible!!!!

So I made two batches of cookies (Toll house recipe), one using untreated plain flour (Protein: 10.3%) and one using Kate flour, AMAAAAAZING RESULTS !!!

The untreated were exactly as you described in your post, flat burnt pancakes w/no shape LOL !!! (and verrrry crispy in a verrrry bad way)

But the ones made with Kate Flour ...WOWZA !!! they were just PERFECTTTT, had shape, had height, perfectly even brown, AND were nice and chewy - Mmmm just AMAZING !!

So thank you soooo verrry much !!! You have changed my life forever !!! You are incredible !!! =D !!!!

I still can't believe it's the same exact recipe =O !!! They should really make Kate Flour or heat treated flour available to the public, it changes the entire game of baking and opens us Brits to a whole new world of food. . . *sigh* one day.



Tina P

Alternatives to Heavy Cream Based Ganaches

Apr 24, 2011 | From the kitchen of Rose in Baking & Cooking Tips

My favorite frosting for the ultimate chocolate taste, texture and ease in making is chocolate ganache, which I wrote about, in a previous posting, Birthday Ganache.




When artist friend Martha Rast asked Woody, if we had any lactose free frostings,this lead to testing with unflavored soy milk to come up with a ganache that has a slightly tangier taste compared to the standard heavy cream ganache but also has an excellent flavor and texture making ideal for the lactose intolerant or vegan. The difference between a ganache made with heavy cream and one made with soy milk is that the soy milk gives a lighter color more toward a dark milk chocolate. Its preparation requires the addition of a higher percentage of the soy milk to keep a creamy texture that will adhere to the cake.

Here is the recipe for Soy Milk Ganache with Silk plain soy milk and Valhrona le Noir Gastronomie 61% cacao.

Soy Milk Dark Chocolate Ganache
Makes: almost 3-1/3 cups/29.3 ounces/834 grams

dark chocolate, 60 to 62% cacao, chopped14 ounces400 grams
plain soy milk, preferably Silk2 cups (16 fluid ounces)16.6 ounces473 grams
pure vanilla extract1 tablespoon..

Have ready a fine-mesh strainer suspended over a medium glass bowl.

In the bowl of a food processor, process the chocolate until very fine. In a 4 cup microwave proof cup with a spout, or in a medium saucepan, stirring often, scald the cream (heat it to the boiling point--small bubbles will form around the periphery).

With the motor running, pour the cream through the feed tube in a steady stream. Process for a few seconds until smooth. Pulse in the vanilla. Pass the ganache through the fine strainer into the glass bowl and let it sit for 1 hour. Cover it with plastic wrap and allow it to cool at room temperature for several hours, until the mixture reaches a soft frosting consistency.

Storage times are even longer than the heavy cream based ganache of: up to 1 week at room temperature; 2 weeks refrigerated; and 6 months frozen.


The success of the soy milk encouraged us to explore other non-dairy milks. We found that Silk Almondmilk works just as well as a direct substitution for the soy milk, is less tangy, adds a lovely almond flavoring which gives a richer dimension to the chocolate flavor.

Further exploration had us experiment with coconut cream and milks. Canned versions of both, which are thicker than heavy cream, produced a ganache similar in color to that made with heavy cream but had the disadvantage of a noticeably gritty appearance. Coconut cream contains 24% fat and coconut milk contains 17% fat. However, coconut milk in the carton has only around 6% fat. A couple of tests arrived at a ratio that works with the chocolate's weight at 15% higher than the coconut milk, which is the opposite of the soy and almond milk versions. The coconut milk gives a subtle coconut taste to the chocolate and the ganache's color is darker than the ganache made with either soy or almond milk.

Yeast Conversion

Apr 04, 2011 | From the kitchen of Rose in Ingredients

As this question comes up with great frequency, here's a second posting with a little more information on converting different types of yeast.

To convert fresh cake yeast to instant yeast, for 1 packed tablespoon/0.75 ounce cake yeast use 2 teaspoons instant yeast or 2-1/2 teaspoons active dry

1 teaspoon instant (aka instant active dry)=1-1/4 teaspoons active dry or 1-1/2 packed teaspoons fresh cake yeast

1 teaspoon of instant yeast or active dry yeast=3.2 grams

Instant yeast can be added directly to the flour without proofing. it is available nationally under the following names:

Fleischmann's Bread Machine Yeast or Rapid Rise
Red Star's Quickrise
Red Star's Instant Active Dry
SAF instant
SAF Gourmet Perfect Rise

I store the unused yeast in an airtight container in the freezer where it stays fresh for as long as 2 years. (if it's a large quantity i store about 2 tablespoons of it separately so that the larger amount doesn't get subjected to oxygen and deteriorate more quickly. Instant yeast has more live yeast cells than active dry.

The Virtues of Heritage Turkey

Jan 22, 2011 | From the kitchen of Rose in Ingredients


I've long wondered what a heritage turkey would be like taste and texture-wise. I once tasted a wild turkey and it made my jaw ache it was so dry and tough, but I had heard that this was not true of the heritage variety. This Christmas I finally decided to take the leap or should I say flight? We had missed Thanksgiving this year and a year without turkey seemed like a sad state of affairs. When I called Heritage Foods I learned that only frozen turkeys were available after the Thanksgiving Season, but the price was considerably lower, so I ordered the 8 pound turkey to make for the two of us over the week between Christmas and New Years.

The frozen turkey took about 48 hours to thaw in the refrigerator. As soon as it thawed enough to extract the neck and giblets I cooked them to make broth for the stuffing. (I also cut up the neck and added it to the stuffing.)

I had heard that the breast on a Heritage bird was smaller in proportion to the rest of the meat than that of a conventional domestic turkey but though it was more raised and less rounded it turned out to be the same weight as the last turkey I had cooked. As the bird had been koshered, which means salted, I decided to roast it whole. My usual method involves removing the breast with the bone but leaving the skin intact, sewing up the skin and stuffing the bird, and then braising the rolled and herbed breast separately which predictably results in moist and tender meat. But to hedge my bets I placed the turkey on a rack breast side down to self-baste. I also followed the recommended instructions to bring it to a temperature of only 165˚F (the instructions that come with the turkey state that this is the USDA recommended temperature "However, the Chefs we work with around the country recommend a finished tepeature of 10 degrees less.".)


Continue reading "The Virtues of Heritage Turkey" »

Fresh Fried Egg

Jan 07, 2011 | From the kitchen of Rose in Ingredients


One of my most valued Christmas presents from my wonderful friend and neighbor in Hope, Maria Menegus, was a crate of fresh laid pullet eggs. Pullets are chickens under one year old and they had just purchased a new flock. The eggs are about the size of pheasant eggs--1-1/4 to 1-1/2 ounces compared to the large eggs used in most recipes which are 2 ounces. (I know the size of pheasant eggs because I was lucky enough to have found a clutch of them in our back yard some years ago!)

I thought that those of you who have never seen what a two day old egg looks like when fried would enjoy this picture. Note how the white is clear and both the yolk and the white are raised. I wish I could also share the flavor!

The Power of Flour, Part Three: Génoise

Oct 23, 2010 | From the kitchen of Rose in Baking Science

As a result of the experimentation we performed, featured in previous postings of "The Power of Flour," we found that we preferred potato starch to cornstarch when converting both bleached and all-purpose flour to simulate cake flour. Woody and I were then curious to see what would happen if we substituted equal weight potato starch for the cornstarch component in a classic génoise.

The baking time and height of the cakes were identical. The cornstarch version had a slightly tighter and more velvety crumb. The potato starch version had a slight potato flavor which was masked by the syrup. (Note if making génoise with more clarified butter and less syrup the potato flavor might not be masked as effectively.) Conclusion: For a classic yellow génoise we prefer the 50 grams cornstarch but equal weight potato starch is an acceptable close substitute. By volume, instead of 1/2 cup minus 1 tablespoon cornstarch use 1/4 cup plus 2-1/2 teaspoons potato starch. (However, for flavor and texture we prefer 100% Wondra flour to either combination, except when using decorative fluted tube pans as the finished height is slightly lower when using the Wondra.)







Que Serrano Serrano

Sep 04, 2010 | From the kitchen of Rose in Special Stories

It was 15 years ago that I last enjoyed Serrano ham. I had been invited by a Swiss colleague to accompany him on a two-day trip to Madrid to review restaurants for an airline magazine and as I was already in Switzerland for a weekend-long chocolate and pastry tour I couldn't resist tailoring the trip to tack on two or three days at the beginning to visit Spain.

In addition to the fantastic meals we experienced I fell in love with the Jamón Serrano (Serrano ham), so much so that I purchased an entire ham to bring back to my husband in NY. Much to my disappointment, this ham(which was probably illegal to bring in at the time and heavy to boot) turned out to be so salty that finally I had to discard it.

When recently I was invited to a Serrano ham dinner in New York, I leapt at the chance to revisit this specialty and was so glad I did. There is now a ConsorcioSerrano that governs the standards of this glorious ham to maintain consistency of quality. And it was great to discover that Serrano ham is now being shipped (legally!) to the US.

The dinner was held at La Fonda del Sol, located right next to Grand Central Station. The evening began with a demonstration by master ham carver Cortador Ricardo Garrido Robles from Spain.


As he magisterially cut translucent-thin pink slices of the ham, plates were passed for serving and none of us could stop eating the samples.


The ham was so perfect just by itself we would have been happy with that alone until we tasted the cuisine of Chef Josh DeChellis who briliantly integrated the jamón into each and every course. Pictured below were three of my favorites:

Continue reading "Que Serrano Serrano" »

Kiss The Oil Maker

May 01, 2010 | From the kitchen of Rose in Ingredients

I don't know where that saying got started (Kiss the Butcher) but you can bet that I kiss Pino on a regular basis. Of course I've known him for over 40 years. But when I met John Boyajian some years ago at the Fancy Food Show I had to kiss him too. Where would I (or many of use) be without his incomparable citrus oils--especially the lemon oil. (I've seen them even in Melbourne Australia!) Or his amazing vinegars. Or his other many other oils for that matter. click here to see his vast array of products!

A few years ago John sent me a bottle of Wasabi Sesame dressing. Made with his wasabi oil, toasted sesame oil, and a touch of soy I was addicted immediately! It was one of those 'perfect things.' It's so exciting to discover such a 'best thing I've ever tasted' prepared product. I tried it as a salad dressing but then went on to use it primarily as the perfect dipping sauce for Chinese dumplings.

I make dinner almost every night at home. But every once in a while I'm short on time so I have a trinity of ever ready favorites for those occasions. These are my idea of "fast food."

1. Frozen Chinese dumplings can be sautéed in minutes and then served with the delectable Wasabi Sesame dressing. (wine: riesling--off dry)

2. Spaghetti with Pesto ( I freeze the pesto in individual 30 gram/1 ounce servings) and just add some freshly grated Parmesan. Sometimes I add a few leaves of freshly chopped basil from my window sill plant and a few drops of that wonderful Louisiana Panola jalapeno sauce mentioned on the blog.) (wine: sauvignon blanc)

3. Brown Rice with Chinese Sausage and Shitake Mushrooms (recipe on the blog) (wine: riesling--off dry)

Addition Two to Power of Flour Posting

Apr 02, 2010 | From the kitchen of Rose in Ingredients

Someone on the blog requested that for the sake of completion we test unbleached flour and 15% potato starch, so Woody conducted another test and I have added the results to the conclusions in the original posting plus the photo, but here they both are just to be sure you don't miss it:

Unbleached all-purpose flour and 15% potato starch to improve the texture and flavor if not using the heat treating method results in a less cornbread-like taste, and greater tenderness.


Addition to Power of Flour Posting

Mar 18, 2010 | From the kitchen of Rose in Ingredients

Woody conducted another test using bleached all-purpose flour and potato starch and I have added the results to the conclusion in the original posting plus the photo but here they both are just to be sure you don't miss it:

bleached all-purpose flour and 15% potato starch to simulate cake flour results in a more even cake with smoother crust and better taste than cornstarch, but is not quite as tender.

Thumbnail image for All-purpose-flour&potato-starch.jpg

The Power of Flour, Part One of Two

Mar 06, 2010 | From the kitchen of Rose in Baking Science

For years I have been saying how important it is to use bleached flour in cake baking and I still prefer it, but after making the fortuitous mistake of using unbleached flour in a cake baked in a tube pan, and discovering that the pan's center tube kept it from falling, I have revisited the subject and made some very interesting and ground breaking discoveries.

Woody and I have conducted numerous tests using bleached cake flour, bleached all-purpose flour, and unbleached all-purpose flour in a solid (unmelted) butter layer cake using my one bowl mixing method and the All-Occasion Downy Yellow Cake from the Cake Bible. (We used two-thirds the recipe, first using two-thirds the baking powder (2-5/8 teaspoons). Then we decreased the baking powder to 2-1/2 teaspoons because we were using a 2" high pan instead of the 1-1/2" high pans in the Cake Bible (and higher pans need proportionately less baking powder). We found that when using bleached or unbleached all-purpose flour instead of cake flour, we got more tenderness (and in the case of unbleached flour improved flavor) by replacing 15% of the flour with potato starch which comes closer to cake flour than cornstarch.The overall appearance, however, with the bleached all-purpose flour is slightly lower either in height or in the center.

Our Conclusions
1. bleached cake flour is suitable for cakes where a very tender texture is desired.
2. bleached all-purpose flour and 15% potato starch to simulate cake flour results in a more even cake with smoother crust and better taste than cornstarch, but is not quite as tender.
3. bleached all-purpose flour is preferable for cakes that benefit from more structure.
4. bleached flour results in the best flavor.
5. bleached flour results in the best volume.
6. bleached flour results in the most tender and velvety texture.
7. unbleached flour results in less volume.
8. unbleached flour results in a coarser, chewier texture.
9. unbleached flour results in a cornbread-like flavor.
10. cornstarch substitution for part of the flour for bleached or unbleached all-purpose flour is less effective to improve structure than decreasing leavening, and alters the flavor.
11. potato starch substitution for part of the flour for bleached or unbleached all-purpose flour is even more effective than cornstarch as it softens the crumb. For the unbleached flour it also improves the flavor by lessening the cornbread-like quality.

Continue reading "The Power of Flour, Part One of Two" »

Spicy Serendipity

Dec 19, 2009 | From the kitchen of Rose in Ingredients

I first fell in love with Louisiana when Terry Thompson from Mandeville came to my week long intensive class I used to teach out of my home many years ago. She has since written several cookbooks on Louisiana cuisine. Terry introduced me to the late Lee Barnes who invited me to teach at her school in New Orleans. She also introduced me to Paul Prudhomme whom I adored on first hearing.

Paul Prudhomme, for those of you who don't know, is a fantastic chef, restauranteur, and tv personality. He is also a deeply philosophical and compassionate person. Paul's blackened red fish became so wildly popular it temporarily put red fish on the endangered species list. And it was at his restaurant K-Paul's that I discovered the infamous Cajun Martini. The recipe is simply this:

Take a large bottle of gin or vodka (i prefer gin) and add a jalapeno pepper. Fill the neck space with vermouth and allow it to sit for several days. It gets more intense as it continues to sit. Chill and shake the bottle well before serving. There is something incredibly deliciously exciting about the sensation of icy cold gin with the spicy hot kick of the pepper. As an aside, it is the only time in my experience that alcohol has cured instead of worsened a headache!

Several years ago, a dear friend, Rhea Denker, whose brother lived in New Orelans, gave me a bottle of Panola's Jalapeno sauce. I quickly discovered that the slightly vinegary hot pepper was a terrific enhancement to pesto. I added a small splash to my weekly pesto and pasta and the bottle was soon emptied but I saved it for years hoping to return to New Orleans for a visit or to find a source. I don't know WHAT took me so long to think of googling and there it was in all it's glory--a website for all of Panola's products!

I was so eager to order I didn't notice that the two large bottles I thought I was ordered were, in fact, two tiny bottles only 1.7 ounces each. I should have realized this as the price was so very low the shipping was many times higher.

Here's what I thought I was ordering:


Here's what I mistakenly ordered:


And here's what they sent:


Talk about casting jalapeno sauce on the water. They must have realized my mistake and decided to remedy it. Just think how disappointed I would have been on opening the long awaited bottles only to find those two miniatures. Actually, at first I thought they had included the little bottles as samples and had run out of the big ones I thought I had ordered. Then I looked at the receipt and it clicked. My mistake.

What generosity of spirit to have thrown in that big bottle. Not surprising from what I know of the amazingly wonderful people of Louisiana.

Kissing Cousins---My Fav Bar-B-Q Sauce

Aug 21, 2009 | From the kitchen of Rose in Ingredients

It may come as a surprise to some of you who are less familiar with this blog, but despite the fact that my main definition is “baker,” I am also an avid griller. In our country place in Hope I have two Weber grills—a charcoal grill and a four-burner gas grill. And I grill all year 'round.

One of my best friends is grilling goddess Elizabeth Karmel and of course I consult all her cookbooks for new techniques and recipes.

I’ve made my own cherry barbeque sauce based on one I tasted at an event Elizabeth gave when working for Weber grill many years ago. I stopped making it when American Spoon Food took my suggestion to bottle their version of it and it is excellent. But I have to say that my number one favorite barbecue sauce was the one I tasted when travel teaching at my friend Judie Byrd’s cooking school http://www.judiebyrdskitchen.com in Fort Worth, Texas.

Judie was the most amazing hostess and she brought me to some really upscale restaurants but my favorite dinner was at Cousin’s http://www.cousinsbbq.com where we had barbecue and that’s where I fell in love with their pulled pork and their tangy barbecue sauce. I missed it so much on my return east that I called Cousin’s and begged them to ship me two bottles—I didn’t dare ask for the pulled pork, which would have required dry ice. Though they didn’t normally ship the young man who answered the phone agreed to do it.

A few years later, I met Zach Townsend, who lives in Texas. He’s a great chocolatier but also understands great barbecue and has been keeping me in good supply. Cousins has several locations in the Dallas Fort Worth area but most recently I’ve learned that it is now possible to purchase the sauce at the Dallas Fort Worth airport in terminals B and D. You can even pick up a sandwich of pulled pork to eat on the plane! Better pick up one for the people sitting next to you!

The ingredients listed on the 1 pint bottle are: vinegar (just the right amount), tomato puree, corn sweetener (not too sweet), water, molasses, liquid smoke, salt, mustard, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, citric acid, spices. They forgot to add “perfection.”


May 09, 2009 | From the kitchen of Rose in Savory Cooking

A few weeks ago I made an amazing discovery about beans that flies in the face of everything I’ve understood for the past 45 years! But you’ll have to wait til next week to find out what that is. First enjoy this article I did for the LA Times Syndicate about 15 years ago. The recipe below will be perfect for summer dinners.

Dried beans are beautiful. They are also healthful and delicious. But there are 2 secrets about beans and knowing them makes all the difference between firm, tender beans and bullet hard ones that never soften.

* Beans that are over about a year old will never rehydrate or soften.
* Beans that are simmered with salt will never rehydrate or soften.
I found out these secrets the hard way and became so discouraged in the process, I avoided bean cookery for years.

Continue reading "SPILLING THE BEANS" »

The Importance of Weighing or Measuring Eggs

Aug 03, 2007 | From the kitchen of Rose in Announcements

Posting from Elicia

Hi Rose, I just want to report my recent endeavour with the Perfect Pound
Cake and the Butter Cream Cake.

I've always gotten away with not weighing eggs with it comes to baking
cakes (I wld weigh them for buttercream, pastry cream, curd etc only).
Usually, I wld weigh all my eggs in their shells and store them according
to weight category, eg 60 - 65g, 66 - 70g etc. However, when I made the
above 2 cakes recently, for the first time - I experienced some pasty spots
in the crumb (not detectable by pricking - the tester comes out clean) - it
is baked and not hard but quite unsightly! I initially was a bit stubborn,
blaming the flour - but today - I decided to weigh my eggs and milk (I
usually just measure the liquid with tsp/tbsp or cup measure) - the pound
cake was just perfect!!

I now can conclude that weighing EVERYTHING is very important for cakes
with high content of butter or using a formula close to the classic 4
quart/pound cake! Also, I noticed that the batter didn't curdle slightly as
before (I was also very precise with the butter temp). Ironically, I've
never faced this problem with genoises, biscuits and the layer cakes
requiring less butter. Eg I've made the Golden Luxury Butter Cake about 6
times already (in different shapes and sizes) and it's perfect every time!
But I also believe the white choc has a role in stabilising the emulsion of
the batter, which I now believe is the cause of those pasty spots.

I will value my electronic scale even more now!

Rose Response
Now that eggs vary so very much and even with the proper size eggs the yolk ratio to white--it is essential to check the weight or volume for consistent and optimal results.

"Rose's Vanilla Bible" for Food Arts Magazine

Aug 13, 2006 | From the kitchen of Rose in Publications

To my view, the pastry world is divided between two different personality types: chocolate and vanilla, chocolate reflecting the heavy hitters and vanilla the more subtle and complex. I love both flavors but if I had to chose only one it would be simple: vanilla wins hands down, not only because I love its flavor but because it is one of those rare synergistic ingredients that enhances others. If chocolate is king, then vanilla is queen. And it is indeed the power behind the throne. Where, after all, would chocolate be without vanilla to round out its harsher, coarser characteristics. And in the domain of ice cream, vanilla reigns supreme as our number one flavor.

The term plain vanilla is an absurdity. There is nothing plain about magic. Perhaps the concept came about because vanilla sauces and creams are often used as a base for other more intense flavors; but there is nothing plain about it at all. In fact, when it stands on its own as vanilla ice cream or vanilla pound cake, it is the very essence of purity and haunting floral flavor notes that make one yearn for the impossible while feeling utterly fulfilled in the moment.

Continue reading ""Rose's Vanilla Bible" for Food Arts Magazine" »

Can you use those new low water higher butterfat butters in all baking?

Mar 28, 2006 | From the kitchen of Rose in FAQs

Not without making changes to the recipe as it will throw off the water balance and make pie crusts and cookies too fragile without adjustment. These butters are ideal for puff pastry, Danish, clarifying butter, and, of course, for spreading on bread.

Why do baking recipes call for unsalted butter and then add salt?

Mar 27, 2006 | From the kitchen of Rose in FAQs

Why do so many baking recipes call for unsalted butter and then salt is added anyway?

Because the amount of salt in salt butter far exceeds the amount you would add. Also, unsalted butter has a fresher, more delicious flavor.

What is the best way to stabilize whipped cream for frosting a cake?

Mar 26, 2006 | From the kitchen of Rose in FAQs

Whipped cream tends to water out slightly after beating so to keep this from happening I use a small amount cornstarch which does not affect the texture.

It will not hold up well at room temperature but in the refrigerator will stay well on the cake for 24 hours! Many people have reported that this recipes has saved their lives!

For 1 cup of heavy whipping cream, use 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar and 1 teaspoon of cornstarch (if your cream is very low in butterfat use 1 1/2 teaspoons), and 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract.
Refrigerate the mixing bowl and (preferably whisk) beater for at least 15 minutes.
In a small saucepan place the powdered sugar and cornstarch and gradually stir in 1/4 cup of the cream.

Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, and simmer for just a few seconds (until the liquid is thickened). Scrape into a small bowl and cool completely to room temperature. Stir in the vanilla.
Beat the remaining 3/4 cup cream just until traces of beater marks begin to show distinctly.

Add the cornstarch mixture in a steady stream, beating constantly. Beat just until stiff peaks form when the beater is raised.

What is the best chocolate to use for baking?

Mar 25, 2006 | From the kitchen of Rose in FAQs

Generally cocoa (Dutch-processed) gives the best flavor impact in baking. In ganache (heavy cream and chocolate) or chocolate cream pie, where the chocolate is the main ingredient and does not get subjected to long heating, bittersweet chocolate is a good choice.

Brand of chocolate is entirely a matter of personal preference. What tastes good by itself will also taste good when mixed with other ingredients. You be the judge!

Why is butter better for baking than margarine or other fats?

Mar 24, 2006 | From the kitchen of Rose in FAQs

Butter is the fat that melts closest to body temperature so there is no perception of greasiness on the palate. Not only does it offer its own lovely flavor, it also enhances the flavor of other ingredients.

With all the specialty flours on the market, how can you tell which to use?

Mar 20, 2006 | From the kitchen of Rose in FAQs

When a recipe calls for cake flour, it is best to use cake flour but be sure it does not contain leavening. You can substitute bleached all purpose flour: for 1 cup of cake flour use 3/4 cup bleached all purpose flour plus 2 tablespoons corn starch. For pie crust, pastry or bleached all purpose makes the most tender crusts. A national brand bread flour is usually best for bread but a strong (high protein) all purpose flour gives very similar results.

Why do recipes for beaten egg whites warn you about dryness?

Mar 18, 2006 | From the kitchen of Rose in FAQs

Why do recipes for beaten egg whites always warn you to beat until stiff but not dry and is there a way to keep this from happening?

When egg whites are over beaten, they start to lose their moisture, airiness, and smoothness and break down when folded into other ingredients. The miracle solution here is surprisingly easy: use 1/8 teaspoon of cream of tartar for every egg white (1 teaspoon for 8 egg whites).

Add it to the whites soon after you begin to beat them, when they start to get frothy. Note: egg white will never beat to stiff peaks if there is it comes into contact with any grease, either from the bowl, beater or even a bit of broken egg yolk.

Fragile cookies vs. tough cookies?

Mar 14, 2006 | From the kitchen of Rose in FAQs

For fragile cookies use low protein flour and high fat, For chewier cookies, use higher protein flour such as unbleached all purpose or bread flour with a little water added before the fat to develop gluten.

How to get your cookies to come out higher?

Mar 13, 2006 | From the kitchen of Rose in FAQs

Use all or part solid vegetable shortening, chill the shaped dough well before baking, use lower protein flour such as bleached all purpose flour, or use egg with an acidic ingredient such as brown sugar, sour cream or cake flour to set it faster.

Substituting ingredients: Can you? Sure. Should you? Usually the answer is NO.

Mar 11, 2006 | From the kitchen of Rose in FAQs

Baking is a delicate balance and substituting one ingredient for another will almost invariably throw it off and produce something different which may be better but more often than not is not! Things such as water and protein content make a significant difference to texture. If you would like to experiment, change only one ingredient at a time and see the results. It is a great learning experience.

Sourdough Starter's Need To Breath

Mar 04, 2006 | From the kitchen of Rose in Sourdough


Feedback: I have been storing my sourdough starter in a crock. Now I read that a wire-bail jar is better. Does starter need a little air, or can it survive air free. I don't want to kill my starter! Thanks.


you would kill your starter if you removed all the air by vacuum but there is enough air in the head space of the container to give it breath even when the container is covered. covering keeps it from drying out.

Refiners Syrup

Mar 01, 2006 | From the kitchen of Rose in Ingredients


Is refiner's syrup the same as cane syrup? In other words, is Steen's syrup the same as Lyle's Golden syrup? Thanks.


Lyle's Golden syrup is a natural byproduct of cane sugar refining. It is cane syrup with no artificial colors flavors or preservatives.

I'm not familiar with Steen's syrup. Lyle's is the only refiners syrup I know of. Look on the label of the Steen's to see what it contains. A side-by-side tasting is the best test. as they say, the proof is in the syrup -- or was that pudding?!

I’m afraid I’ll kill the yeast—can this happen?

Mar 01, 2006 | From the kitchen of Rose in FAQs

Yeast that needs proofing (soaking in warm water), such as active dry or cake yeast, will die if the water is hotter than 120°F. (or if the water is ice cold). Instant yeast, also called Rapid Rise, QuickRise, Instant Active Dry, Perfect Rise, or Bread Machine Yeast, can be mixed right in with the flour without soaking it in water first. Store it in the freezer and it will stay alive for at least year.

Lumpy Buttercream

Feb 23, 2006 | From the kitchen of Rose in Ingredients


I made my first chocolate buttercream icing for my son's 1st birthday. It was a disaster! The final product wasn't smooth or spreadable. It was clumpy. I practically lumped it on and patted it thin. Below were the called for ingredients:

3 sticks of softened, unsalted butter
3/4 c unsweetened cocoa powder
4 3/4 c sifted confectioners' sugar

I think the only mistake possible was I didn't sift the confectioners' sugar. Could that have been the problem?

Buttercream Help!


It's been years since I made confectioners sugar buttercream. I much prefer chocolate ganache which is even easier to make, especially if you use the food processor. I seem to remember that you need a bit of liquid for confectioners sugar buttercream. If you prefer making this kind of buttercream, and it's lumpy, try beating in a little milk, a teaspoon at a time until you reach the desired consistency. Sifting the confectioners sugar may not be necessary unless its lumpy, but sifting the cocoa is a good idea.

Canadian Flour

Feb 23, 2006 | From the kitchen of Rose in Ingredients


In the Bread Bible you recommend some brands of flour which I can't find in Canada. We have Robin Hood, Monarch, Five Roses and then the generic store brands. I have gone to the brand websites but they do not post the protien count of their flour. Could you recommend some brands that we up here in Ontario Canada can use to make bread?


Canadian unbleached all-purpose and Canadian bread flour perform well in my yeast bread recipes. For quick breads using butter, however, it is necessary to use bleached all purpose flour or the center of the bread will fall and have a gloppy texture on cooling. For more information or specific questions regarding Canadian flour/brands and baking, you can contact editors@betterbaking.com

Funny Looking Muffins

Feb 23, 2006 | From the kitchen of Rose in Cake Questions


Feedback: Hello, I may not know who is Rose but I am interest in baking! I have this big problem here. Whenever i bake muffins, the muffins would 'pop' up after awhile and would become not good-looking. Can you tell me what is the problem?


I think that you what you're saying is that the muffin Tops Peak and crack rather than being gently rounded and smooth. The problem is the structure of the batter is too strong. Either you need to use a softer flour, such as bleached all-purpose if you're using all-purpose unbleached, or cake flour which a softer still. It also works to increase the baking powder. Another thing that you can try is not mixing as much. the batter should be mixed only until the flour disappears entirely.

Pie Crust for Those Who Don't Eat Butter

Feb 22, 2006 | From the kitchen of Rose in Pie


Feedback: Hi Rose,
I wrote to you in December about my bottom crusts disolving. Thank-you so much, your advice has totally fixed my problem!

Also, I would like to recommend the pastry recipe in "the Better Homes and Garden's New Cookbook" if one cannot use butter. It is very,very fast, and gives a great result with margerine.

Thanks again,


Feb 11, 2006 | From the kitchen of Rose in Ingredients


Feedback: I was wondering about an additive, such as granular lecithin, which you would add to cookies and scones to improve shelf life? Is there such a thing? Thanks, Emily Veale ( I have the Cake and Bread Bibles WONDERFUL!!)


the king arthur catalogue sells granular lecithin that they claim is "shelf-stable" and the liquid lecithin is available in health food stores. it is a soy product that becomes rancid very quicly so i store any lecithin product in the refrigerater. you will have to experiment with amounts and it does indeed improve shelf-life but can also give an off flavor to the baked goods if used in excess.

Rusk Crackers, &Baker's Ammonia

Jan 13, 2006 | From the kitchen of Rose in Ingredients


Feedback: 2 questions:{1} What could I use in place of Rusk Crackers in a piecrust? as I can't find Holland Rusk. I have a recipe for a custard Rusk pie thats really good,, do they still make them? #2 what is a replacement for baking ammonia? I have a very old recipe for Drop cookies that calls for 3lbs flour 1/2 oz. baking soda, and 1/2 oz. baking ammonia,ect, also what would 1/2 oz. equal in teaspoons? Thank You


can't help with the rusk crackers as i don't remember what they are. maybe someone else on the blog can.
for the baker's ammonia: i used it to make melting moment cookies and got it from sweet celebrations. not sure if there is a replacement for it but i believe it predated modern day baking powder. if they still carry it, 1/2 ounce would be about 2-1/2 teaspoons.

Fresh Fruit Purees Added to Cake Batter

Jan 12, 2006 | From the kitchen of Rose in Cake Questions


I would like to bake a cake with fresh purees. Such as peaches, strawberries, etc. I cannot seen to find a recipe with puree, I did find a couple using cake mixes but I want a scratch cake. I absolutely am an avid reader/owner of your books. I attended SCSCA in Pasadena in patisserie but have learned more from your books that I am sorry I made the expense for the school. If you can help me I would so appreciate it.

Thank you,


thank you--i'm very moved by your compliment. i must share another moving experience i had in pasadena when i was on tour for "the bread bible" 2-1/2 years ago. a woman named rose came to my book signing bringing her grown daughter as well. she reminded me that she had brought her daughter as a little girl to my signing for ""the cake bible. now she was returning to buy "the bread bible" for herself and another "cake bible" for her daughter to have now that she was living on her own. it was a very beautiful way for me to mark the passage of time!

now for the fruit purees. i'm sorry to disappoint you but i found even when adding fruit juices to cake it seemed to disturb the ph balance of the batter and give it an off texture. cake mixes have emulsfiers and other things that give it what is known in the industry as "tolerance." this means that all manner of additions can be made and the cake will still work. as you've probably seen in "the cake bible," i do add purees to buttercreams with great results. perhaps another person on this blog has had a more positive experience adding it to cakes?

Crumbly Cornbread

Jan 11, 2006 | From the kitchen of Rose in Bread Questions


Feedback: I hate to admit that I'm 75
years old and just now
wondering why my cornbread is all of a sudden so crumbly. My husband gets really "disturbed". It's
happened the last few times
I've baked it. What am I
doing wrong?


as i illustrated in my génoise posting, when something has worked for years and suddenly doesn't, it's always bc one is doing SOMETHING differently. think hard what that could be.

generally speaking, cornbread is crumbly if there is too high a proportion of cornmeal to flour. you need the gluten in the flour to hold it together and also enough moisture. if it is too high in fat it will also be too tender and crumbly. i don't know what ingredients you are using but you could try using a higher protein flour if you are using a cake flour or soft southern flour such as white lilly. try a bleached all purpose. hope this helps.

Humidity's Effect on Baking Ingredients

Jan 08, 2006 | From the kitchen of Rose in Ingredients


Love your books and just discovered this blog. WOW!

I'm a firm believer in weighing everything, but flour and brown sugar bother me. Since these two ingredients absorb water, how does humidity in the air affect their performance in recipes? In other words, does, say, 1 lb. of flour weighed on a hot and humid summer day actually contain less flour (and more water) than that weighed on a cold and dry winter day? How does a person compensate for this variation other than adding a little bit of flour or water at a time (which seems rather unscientific) as one goes along?


actually the 2 ingredients you mentioned have similar problems as they tend to dry out if improperly stored. they both benefit from airtight storage especially brown sugar that gets very hard when dry. i store mine in canning jars and never have a problem but if it comes in other containers it will dry and then you'll need to put a little foil cup in with the sugar and set a paper towel that has been dampened in the cup and then cover the container tightly. in a few hours the sugar will become soft again.

in very humid or very dry conditions the flour used for bread making will be affected but this can be controlled easily by adding a little flour or water to the dough if the consistency seems to require it. for cakes i don't find much of a difference. i do find a difference in salt that is so hygroscopic some days 1 teaspoon weighs 5.3 grams, other days it weighs 6.6 grams. but even that doesn't seem to make a noticeable difference in the baked product.

in any case, the volume of the flour or the brown sugar will be affected by humidity as well as the weight and weight is always a more accurate way to go because measuring varies from time to time by factors far more significant than humidity!

Eggs Again

Jan 06, 2006 | From the kitchen of Rose in Ingredients

someone must've given the hens a good talking to after I complained about the yolks getting smaller!

I made a triple batch of orange curd today and have to report that the 12 yolks weighed exactly what they used to. there was however extra white (1 3/4 cups instead of 1 1/2 cups). When working in larger quantities things seemed to balance out. but I once again have to make the case for weighing over measuring. Someone on the blog was kind enough to G. mail me about a highly accurate and affordable scale. I'm checking it out and will be delighted if I'm able to recommend it! As i'll soon be traveling for several weeks, stay tuned and I'll get back to you about this scale in February after I've worked with it for a while and put it through its paces. I'm optimistic!

You may notice that I'm now capitalizing some words. This is because I'm trying out voice activated software which does it automatically--if erratically. it's pretty fantastic though occasionally it makes some wild errors so I have to proofread carefully until it's more trained to recognize my speech patterns. But it's a lot easier on the hands and fingers. when I do blog entries on my laptop it will be without capitalization as I don't think people will appreciate sitting next to me in public listening to me talk to my computer anymore than they do listening to people talk on cell phones!

on another equipment note: those of you who are as sad as I am about the disappearance of the old-style saran wrap, take heart! I have discovered a viable replacement and will be writing about it in the next few days.

Vanilla Shelf-Life

Jan 05, 2006 | From the kitchen of Rose in Ingredients


Feedback: Question concerns vanilla extract - how long after sell by date is it usable/effective? Thanks


vanilla extract won't "go bad" but if stored in a warm place it will deteriorate and lose flavor complexity and depth. i keep it in a cool room (not a warm kitchen) in a dark closet as light also causes oxidation. vanilla experts recommend not to refrigerate it but if it's a choice between a hot storage area and refrigerator i'd opt for the frig! by the way, i know some pastry chefs who freeze their vanilla beans. i've tried this, first vacuuming it in a plastic bag. stay tuned for the results some months from now. i know one thing for sure--they won't dry out!

Shine on Royal Icing!

Jan 04, 2006 | From the kitchen of Rose in Ingredients

i just consulted with my friend hans welker who is head instructor of the bread baking kitchen at the french culinary institute and he said that a little glucose (which is a thick syrup, thicker than corn syrup) would do the trick as well as gycerine but if you can't find glucose, use a little corn syrup.


Jan 03, 2006 | From the kitchen of Rose in Ingredients


Feedback: The site is fantastic! Thanks for taking the time to answer so many reader questions.

Mine is a little late - I made a traditional royal icing for Xmas cookies this year, and read that it remained shinier if you added a couple of drops of glycerin. So I bought some at the drugstore and (although it said 'do not ingest this') I put in a couple of drops. Well, EW. It tasted like plastic!

Is there a food-grade glycerin to be had? Or is there a better way to keep the icing shiny?

Thanks so much,


thanks heath. i try to respond as soon as possible but starting january 18th i'll be travelling off and on for several months so may be harder to keep up quite as quickly!

i wouldn't use glycerine from the pharmacy especially if it says non-food grade. i got my supply from a wine making supply shop but they also have it at cake decorating supply places such as sweet celebrations in MN. it is a staple of candy making and rolled fondant. if you taste just a drop it does taste bitter but i find it's entirely over-ridden by all that sugar. if they don't carry the glycerin they will recommend other products that create the sheen in royal icing. i seem to remember when i studied at wilton that they had a product called numolene that helped to keep the icing soft as well.

A Clever Idea for Weighing Ingredients

Dec 31, 2005 | From the kitchen of Rose in Ingredients


Feedback: An Idea for Marking Weights on Mixing Bowls and Measuring Cups

as you know from our correspondence and having experienced first hand that not all eggs weigh the same or even three sticks of butter for that matter, I now always weigh out (in grams)the recipe's ingredients, except for ingredients of a tablespoon or less. I was recently amazed that a package of fresh raspberries labeled 6 ounces/ 170 grams, actually tipped my scale at 150 grams! Maybe someone at the factory was doing a taste quality control.

Although I would like to claim that I instinctively zero out any mixing bowl or measuring cup on my scale before I start adding ingredients, well i need to work on that habit. Should I get upset and start all over, blame the c=scale for not telling me, or take a wild assuming guess? Instead......

I have now written in magic marker the weight and numbered on the side of each mixing bowl, baking pan, and measuring cup in my kitchen. Since I am not planning on any "kitchen open houses" and we do not mind the now non-pristine bowls, they are all labeled. I also have a corresponding sheet with their number and weight noted incase the marked weight wears off.

Now if I find that 2 large eggs weigh 540 grams, I can do the math of subtracting the 440 grams written on my mixing bowl for the actual 100 grams of eggs, and a few less hairs missing from my head.


this commitment to accuracy validates my trust in woody to be my official tester for my upcoming book!

it’s a great idea to mark the bowls. i wish industry would take note and mark both the weight and volume of the bowls and pans right on the side!

i’ve had a long standing fantasy of having kitchen wall paper with the weight of commonly used ingredients on it. one of these days i just might make my own by taking a magic marker and writing it right on the wall!

Discolored Icing

Dec 30, 2005 | From the kitchen of Rose in Cookie Questions


Feedback: Hi.......

maybe you can help me. i have been making cookies and icing - powdered sugar, water and corn syrup - i have to heat the corn syrup a bit to get the icing to harden b/c there is a lot of damp in the air here. but sometimes - only sometimes - when the icing dries - the color dries and becomes kind of white (as opposed to whatever color the frosting is) - why is this and what can i do to correct it?


i don't understand why you're using corn syrup in the icing. why not use a traditional royal icing with powdered sugar and egg white or meringue powder? i could see adding corn syrup if the air were dry to keep it from crusting as fast but you have the opposite problem of dampness in the air.

by the way, for really intense colors for decorating and then baking the cookies try mixing a little food color into egg yolk and painting it on. this is the ancient recipe for tempera painting and works wonderfully for cookies!


Dec 29, 2005 | From the kitchen of Rose in Ingredients


You mentioned that ganache was a really easy frosting to make, but that doesn't seem to be true for me. Every time I make it, the ganache develops a layer of oil and looks clumpy. This has happened with your sour cream ganache, light whipped ganache, and the regular ol' ganache. I suspect I am overbeating it when I add the dairy, but is that truly the case?
Thanks, Jennifer


no, at least not for the regular ganache.you are overheating it and the cocoa butter in the chocolate separates and cannot be reincorporated. if you do it in the food processor as i indicate there is no way to overheat it because only the cream gets heated while the chocolate is ground and melts from the heat of the cream alone.

the ligt whipped ganache wil indeedl get clumpy if overbeaten.

Crumbly 100% Whole Wheat Bread

Dec 27, 2005 | From the kitchen of Rose in Bread Questions


Feedback: I have my mother's recipe for ground whole wheat bread from my mother, who died 3-2000, so I can't ask her. My bread has a fine texture, is moist and tasty, but it is crumbly. I'd like bread with a good cling like hers was. What makes bread crumbly?


lack of gluten development. there is not much gluten forming protein available in whole wheat flour but if it's freshly ground, and if you use enough water it should be adequate to hold together well. to hedge your bets, add vital wheat gluten. there is a range of amounts on the package. start with the smallest amount so the bread isn't too chewy. it will make a huge difference to the texture of the bread.

Coconut: the Love/Hate Ingredient

Dec 26, 2005 | From the kitchen of Rose in Questions and Answers


FH_Name: Debbie
FH_Email: seitzdeb@yahoo.com
Feedback: I often see cookie or cake recipes that I'd like to try, but they contain varying amounts of coconut, which I detest. What is the maximum amount of coconut that I can omit, and still have the recipe come out right? Or is there something I can substitute?


coconut is a very assertive flavor so there are those who adore it and those who detest it. if there are a lot of ingredients in say a cookie recipe and not a large amount of coconut it would surely make no difference if you left it out but if coconut seems to be the main or dominent ingredient the best thing is to chose another cookie or cake--there are so very many to chose from it shouldn't be a problem.

Fixing Flat Cookies

Dec 26, 2005 | From the kitchen of Rose in Cookie Questions


Feedback: I can not bake cookies. All of my baked cookies go flat. I have cookies look great fresh out of the oven and then go flat in minutes and I have had cookies go flat in the oven. I have an oven thermometer, I have tried hand mixing and have tried margarine versus butter to no avail.


use a lower protein flour such as bleached all-purpose flour. unbleached has higher protein which ties up the liquid keeping it from turing to steam and puffing up the cookie. also, after shaping the cookies, refrigerate them for at least 30 minutes or freeze them for 10 minutes if you have freezer space. that way they can set in the hot oven before they start to spread. if this doesn't help enough, try increasing the oven heat by 25 degrees.

Freezing Fruit Purees

Dec 25, 2005 | From the kitchen of Rose in Questions and Answers


Feedback: canraspberrypureebefrozen?



Dry Cookies

Dec 22, 2005 | From the kitchen of Rose in Cookie Questions




cookies usually become dry due to overbaking as they continue baking after removal from the oven. better to underbake as you can always return them to the oven but you can't UNbake! bake the cookies until starting to brown at the edges and set but still soft when pressed in the center. leave them on the cookie sheets just until they are firm enough to remove and then transfer them to racks.
a few spoonfulls of molasses, honey, or corn syrup will also help to keep cookies soft.

Increasing Recipes

Dec 21, 2005 | From the kitchen of Rose in Questions and Answers


Feedback: I've just started getting into this baking stuff and for a party last week I quadupled the recipe for muffins. This also meant two teaspoons of salt since 1/2 teaspoon was called for. I ended up with salt-licks embedded with blueberries. When increasing a baking recipe, do you increase everything proportionally? Or when it comes to some items, like salt, should you do something different?


yes--you increase all the ingredients proportionately. but i find that if i don't write down the amount for each ingredient i often make mistakes. you may have added the salt two times. if it was the right amount of salt in the original recipe you would need 4 times the amount for 4 times the recipe. something went wrong.

Increasing Yeast

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

Mike Question:
I have been using "The Bread Bible" for two years now & couldn't bake without it. I often make the butter-dipped dinner rolls found on pg. 249. If I want to double the recipe, do I need to double the amount of yeast or should I use less? I doubled the amount once & it seems as though the dough rose much faster that is did in the single batch recipe.

I also have an "old" recipe for Swedish limpa rye bread. Is there a way I can convert the amounts of ingredients to grams? I make a great loaf from the old recipe but I would like to standardize the amounts.

Rose Reply:
please check out the entry about increasing yeast under the bread catagory. essentially i wrote that for smaller amounts i didn't find there was a difference so i double the yeast but for larger batches of dough the yeast seems to multiply more rapidly and less is usually required. but if you found from experience that doubling this recipe made the dough rise faster i would cut back a little simply because a slower rise makes for a more delicious flavor!

i'm delighted that you want to convert a favorite recipe to grams. i find it so much more enjoyable working with grams than measuring or even ounces. since you have my book, all the weights are in the back. i would approach it by making the recipe as usual but weighing the ingredients as you measure them. then it will come as close to what your usual results have been.

Dutch Processed Cocoa

Dec 17, 2005 | From the kitchen of Rose in Ingredients

June Question:
would like to know the differences between Dutch processed and regular unsweetened cocoa powder?
thank you

Rose Reply:
Dutch processed cocoa has been treated with an alkali to neutralize some of the acidity of the cocoa and give it an attractive reddish color.

Storing Fresh Ginger

Dec 17, 2005 | From the kitchen of Rose in Ingredients

Rosalie Question:
I have a piece of fresh ginger and would like to store it for awhile. Seem to me I read that one can put it in sherry, maybe, or water - I can't remember. Do you know? Thank you in advance for your reply.

Rose Reply:
i hate to tell you how old my ginger in sherry is—maybe 15 years!!! and it’s still fine. i’ve stored it in the frig. but these days i simply freeze any left-over. it freezes very well.

Yeast Conversion

Dec 15, 2005 | From the kitchen of Rose in Ingredients

Linda Question:
What is the conversion factor for substituting dry yeast for compressed yeast. Yeast cakes are getting harder to find in the supermarket. Thanks!

Rose Reply:
for those of you who have "the bread bible" the yeast conversion is on page 562

to convert fresh cake yeast to instant yeast, for 1 packed tablespoon/0.75 ounce cake yeast use 2 teaspoons instant yeast or 2-1/2 teaspoons active dry

1 teaspoon instant aka instant active dry=1-1/4 teaspoons active dry or 1-1/2 teaspoons fresh cake yeast

instant yeast can be added directly to the flour without proofing. it is available nationally under the following names:

fleischmann's bread machine yeast or rapid rise
red star's quickrise
red star's instant active dry
SAF instant
SAF gourmet perfect rise

i store the unused yeast in an airtight container in the freezer where it stays fresh for as long as 2 years. (if it's a large quantity i store about 2 tablespoons of it separately so that the larger amount doesn't get subjected to oxygen and deteriorate more quickly.

Please Note: There is a second posting about yeast conversion so put yeast conversion in the search box and you will find it if you need more information.

Ingredient Sources

Dec 12, 2005 | From the kitchen of Rose in Questions and Answers

Kathy Question:
I welcome the coming of your baking web site, and would like to ask that you include a section which leads us to quality sources for some of the ingredients needed for the recipes. My plight (lack of supplies) is becoming more critical as the winter holidays come closer - I would like to make cookies which require a substantial amount of whole unblanched almonds (I want to grind my own) but the local stores - including Whole Foods and Balducci's) only carry small bags of slivered nuts. This problem is endemic across the board - it's hard to find good ripe peaches for pies, good ground (not canned) poppy seed etc etc. - AS IF the processed varieties, when available, are just as good.

NO! Only someone who does not have a good gustatory memory would ever believe that canned poppy seed, canned almond paste are as good as the products you would make for yourself. For example, when I grind my own almonds, I can taste the whole almond and see that it is plump and not dried out. It begs the imagination to believe that whoever makes the canned product takes care to be sure the raw ingredients are really prime.

Enough! Please include sources, where we can buy items like nuts and figs and prunes, top quality, in bulk, for a reasonable price.

Rose Reply:
you’re right! quality of ingredients is why sets professional bakers (and chefs) apart from home bakers. they often have access to the best. more and more places are selling to home bakers but they usually sell in large quantities.

penzey’s is a great source for spices and poppyseeds. i would never buy them ground, however, as they get rancid so fast that way. even whole, i store them in the freezer.

i list several good sources in the bread bible and of course the web is often my source for researching where to find special ingredients.

please also check out chefshop.com, and also, here’s an article i did for Food Arts Magazine on my greatest formerly secret sources!

SOS Chefs:
Running short on Tahitian vanilla beans, or powdered gold, or fresh porcini? Want Sicilian or Iranian pistachios? SOS to the rescue. If you’re in New York, visit the small but impeccably organized store at 104 Avenue B in Manhattan, or they’ll deliver same day. If you’re out of the city they’ll Fed Ex.
Owner Atef Boulaabi worked for another distributor for 6 years. In 1996 she decided to “make a big adventure,” going out on her own. From an inventory of 2000 ingredients, she distilled the top quality 200 to carry in her store. Passionately devoted to acquiring the best of the best, chefs count on her and adore her.

SOS: www.sos-chefs.net 212-505-5813


Dec 06, 2005 | From the kitchen of Rose in Ingredients

Sugar, in all its wonderous forms, has been the focus of many articles over the past few years. People have expressed curiosity and a desire to try some of these sugars in their baking but are uncertain as to how to use them in place of the familiar refined granulated sugar. I wrote the following article primarily for chefs, in an attempt to demystify the subject. But I think the time has come to share it with the home baker as well.

First a tip regarding a commonly used sugar: Light brown. I store it in a canning jar where it stays soft for years, but if it should harden and lump, I make a little cup of aluminum foil, place it on top of the sugar, wet a paper towel, wringing out excess water, set it in the foil cup, and close the jar. In a matter of hours the sugar will soften as if by magic.

Whenever a recipe calls for light brown sugar I chose light Muscovado from the Island of Mauritius, off the coast of India. It is available in many specialty stores and on line at www.indiatree.com. The flavor is far more complex and delicious than ordinary light brown sugar and elevates the dessert to a higher plane.

Roses Sugar Bible published in Food Arts Magazine April 2000

Sugar, the one flavor that is pleasing to all humans and other mammals on birth, is alluring, addictive, and can be a powerful tool in the hands of the right cook.

Yes, sugar is sweet. But there's a lot more to it than that. Sugar can offer subtle to intense overtones of butterscotch, toffee, caramel, wine, molasses, spice and even bitterness. These qualities derive from both the variety of the sugar source and from the degree and type of refinement. Knowing the different varieties and granulations of sugar and the ways in which they best perform can add considerable depth, drama and sparkle to both cooking and baking.

Continue reading "Sugar" »

Measuring Pumpkin & Shortening & Re Dutch Processed Cocoa

Dec 04, 2005 | From the kitchen of Rose in Questions and Answers

Christy Question:
Hi Rose,
I've got a couple of questions that Im sure you can answer for me. The first is this. When measuring out ingredients like pumpkin and shortening, which measure do I use, a liquid or a dry measure?

My next question is about baking cocoa. When a recipe calls for dutch process baking cocoa, can regular cocoa be substituted? I seem to have trouble finding dutch process in my area. Thank you so much for your responses!

Rose Reply:
pumpkin and shortening are both considered solids so they need to be measured in solid measuring cups, i.e. those with unbroken rims (no spouts) so you can level them off. the wonder cup is great for shortening bc you can push the shortening, which tends to be messy, out of it without having to touch it or scrape it with a spatula. of course i think weighing is a lot easier than any form of measuring cup!

re dutch processed cocoa, green and black organic is available at many health food stores and is a dutch processed variety. when a recipe is formulated for dutch processed it usually won’t work as well with regular cocoa which usually calls for baking soda to neutralize the acidity. some recipes, however, will be fine but it’s impossible to know without trying.

Thank yous

Dec 04, 2005 | From the kitchen of Rose in Questions and Answers

From Marti:
Rose, I was reading your comments about the egg yolks getting smaller. Since I raise laying hens, I was curious what the egg yolks from my hens would weigh. Here's what I found: Randomly picking 3 eggs from the refrigerator, I found that 3 egg yolks weighed 2 1/4 ounces or 66 grams; 3 egg whites weighed 4 3/4 ounces or 135 grams. I weighed the eggs that were just laid this morning, and 10 eggs in the shell weighed 24 1/4 ounces.

By the way, my hens are what I guess you would call "free range." They have a large fenced area they can run around in, scratching the ground, etc.

Just thought you might find this information interesting. I might pass your comments about smaller egg yolks on to the State Poultry Extension Agent and hear what he has to say.


Rose Reply:
thank you very much for pursuing this. i’d be very interested to know what the extension agent will say!

Patricia Question:
Congratulations! I love this new Blog as you call it and have signed up for the monthly newsletter. Just wanted to say "Hello" from North Carolina. I am so looking forward to your new cake book! You are the best ever teacher and because of you, I continue to be enthused about baking and trying new things. Always your friend. Pat

Rose Reply:
you southerners are the BEST. when i was in memphis filming a segment for the shop at home show i bought a great tee shirt that said southern girl on it. i figured that living in southern manhattan would make me qualify but no one has even questioned it!

thanks for your encouragement. i’m really enjoying working on the new cake book.

Gehanna Question:
Dear Rose

Thank you very much for this web site.

This morning when i read that you are writing another book i felt that i am over the moon

I bought all your books, and all my baking and cooking is from them .

You are a very great and special person.G-D bless you.

Could you please tell me when the book will be avaliable .?

I live in the U.K, but i always buy all the books from AMAZON .Com, i checked there today but i couldnot find any thing mentioned.

Waiting for your reply

Thank you in advance

Rose Reply:
i’m afraid it won’t be til 2008 or possibly even 2009 as a comprehensive cake book takes lots of time, especially since i plan to picture every cake. but once it’s finished you will have years worth of fun new baking experiences as i’m having with it now!

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.

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
2) use pasteurized eggs in the shell available in some markets (pasteurized is marked on the carton)

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

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.


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