Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Mud Turtle Pie

Just one taste of this pecan pie and
the flavor profile completely caught me
off guard.
I mean, really, haven't we all had 
far too many overly sweet pecan pies in our lifetime,
smiling through gritted teeth at our Thanksgiving host?
Those days are over.

Rose is so on point
combining Muscavado sugar with Lyle's Golden Syrup,
butter and vanilla.  The eggs and cream hold it all together with
another layer of richness.

Notice Kahlua 
crashed this party.
There's something so appealing to me
flavor wise adding Kahlua;
I was converted after the 
Frozen Pecan Tartlettes.
It breaks through any cloying sweetness.

Such an easy recipe and actually 
quite soothing;
standing and stirring the filling 
until warm enough to pour 
over the pecans
waiting in the pre baked pie shell.

It's a great Autumn mixture.
My imagination ran a bit wild, wondering
what it would be like over apples,
poured over a pumpkin cake
or bubbling in a fondue pot?

The chocolate ganache topping 
is a blend of white and dark chocolate.
Rather than spreading it over the pie,
I kept it on the side 
and poured it for those that wanted 
the full Mud Turtle Pie experience.

I need a couple of these

The white and dark chocolate ganache topping is good.
It would make delicious truffles.

The milk chocolate is lighter, 
letting the flavor of the pie filling shine through. 
This ganache was made with chocolate which had
caramel filling and it worked great,
playing off the caramel undertones of the pie.
Increasing the ratio of cream to milk chocolate
kept it from being too sweet.

Actually I would prefer Rose's  filling
poured over mine

Rave reviews so far!
And it's even better the next day.
Rose Levy Berenbaum

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Honey Cake for a Sweet New Year

Rose's Honey Cake for Rosh Hashana
has so many flavors that honey is but a faint note in the background.
This suits me just fine.  I am not a great fan
of honey in pastries of any sort.

I am a fan of spice cakes and of chocolate cakes.
This cake has both.
It reminds me of the mayonnaise date cake
my mom used to make back in the day.
I actually think dates would be quite good in this cake,
along with Lyle's Golden Syrup and cardamom,
but I held firm to the recipe,
this time. 

Loads of ingredients.
The flour and coffee are off to the side.

Such an easy cake to make;
the dry ingredients in one bowl,
the wet in another with the sugar
and then combined together with honey.
I used Grand Marnier because that is 
what is left in the cupboard.

Can't believe my baking drinks cabinet is bare;.
had quite a Rose collection going there for awhile.

The oranges weren't particularly flavorful
so I added 1/2 teaspoon orange oil.

This is the soupiest cake batter
I have ever come across.
It's absolute alchemy how it 
all bakes up together.

While looking for my bundt pan,
I noticed this old one piece Angel Food cake pan.
It must have come from my mother in law's
when we closed down her house.
I can't bare to see cake pans tossed.
I wish they could tell me their stories. 

I like this cake.
It seems old fashioned and homey, 
just the sort of cake for a special family holiday.

The Grand Marnier and orange oil play well
against the orange juice.
The coffee and cocoa powder play off each other.
And the honey?
It ties the spices together in a subtle way.

We could all use a Sweet New Year. 
Rose Levy Beranbaum

Monday, September 14, 2015


Pepparkakors sounded so peculiar
to me over thirty years ago.
While exploring a cute town with 
Swedish origins called
in central California,
I kept coming across 
"pepper cookies".

home of the water tower turned
into a giant Swedish coffee pot.
And best of all,

I ended up with a tin of
and we loved them.
My daughter reminded me
that her Kristen American Girl
cookbook has
a Peppakaor recipe.
Kristen uses shortening.
Rose's recipe uses butter and couldn't be simpler.

In fact, it was so simple
I had to keep re-reading the recipe
to see if I forgot anything.

The only difficult thing about 
this recipe is finding
Grandma's mild molasses
and Swedish Pearl Sugar.

I opted for Brerr Rabbit's mild molasses
and drove across town to the Italian market
for Pearl Sugar.

Swedish Pearl sugar is smaller in size than
Belgium Pearl Sugar, 
which is used in Liege Waffles,
the authentic Belgian Waffle.
It all has something to do with
the caramelizing ability.

Butter and sugar are creamed together, then 
the dry ingredients stirred in by hand with
the flat beater.

The very soft dough is patted into a rectangle,
wrapped in plastic and chilled.

And then the fiddly part; rolling the dough
into a log, re-wrapping and forcing it inside a paper towel
cardboard roll.
I shoved the entire log into one paper towel roll,
opting not to cut it into smaller logs.

After freezing, it came apart easily, just like
those Pillsbury cinnamon roll canisters.

Using a very sharp metal dough scrapper,
the tube is sliced into rounds, sprinkled with sugar
and popped into the oven for a quick bake.

This little cookie is quite an aromatic gem.
Another one for the Christmas cookie line up.
Rose Levy Beranbaum

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Luscious Apple Pie

I've had pie on my mind
after watching the new PBS documentary,

Rose's Luscious Apple Pie
was an all day venture.
From letting the apples macerate and release their juices
to the multiple dough chillings.

First off was making Rose's cream cheese pie dough.
I used Nancy's tip to grate in the butter and
it worked like a charm.

Flour with butter and cream cheese

Apples macerating patiently
for the full three hours. 

Thickening apple cider with corn starch
insured an added flavor boost for the
sliced apples.
Apple season just opened and the fresh
ciders haven't really come into the markets.
I found one store with one brand.

The concern has been with the extreme drought,
apples might not be up to par this year.
Surprisingly, the first reports from 
local mountain orchards indicate
they are bigger and sweeter than ever.

The macerated juices are brought to a boil 
with butter.
Lovely aroma, this!

Apples tucked into the pie crust and soused with
these wonderful apple-y sauces,
ready for the oven

I have no idea why this pie took so long to bake.
A good hour past Rose's time.
I tented the pie lest it over brown.

I ran into the same problem I had with 
the cherry pie.
The instruction to bake until the juices bubble through the slits,
just doesn't work for me.  
This pie baked and baked and baked.
I need the exact internal temperature to measure.
I googled and found out it should have reached 175 degrees F
but I'm not certain that is correct.
It didn't occur to me that unless the apples' juices boiled as it baked,
the corn starch added to the apple slices
would not thicken unless it reached 212 degrees F.
And that's what happened.
The crust and apples were more than done, the juices were slightly bubbling but I cut into apple pie soup,
even though the pie had cooled for hours.
I drained as much as I could and brought it to 212 F on the stove.

I've become Thermapen co-dependent! 

Letting it cool and spooning over slices, it is amazing,
even if it doesn't exactly look pretty.
This was the first time I grated nutmeg
to add with the cinnamon.
I love how I learn new things with Rose. 

And then I made more buttery apple cider sauce!


Rose Levy Beranbaum

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Basic Hearth Bread

                                                       Making this bread made me happy.
                                  It's an easy recipe, that's for sure, but I think it is more than that.

                                      The mystery of bread baking seems to be less mysterious.
                              Instead of being racked with nerves,  today I found it relaxing.

                            This happened while briefly needing the dough ever so slightly
                                      and placing it into the bowl for the first rising.

                         Letting the dough hook do all the kneading is my modus operendi.

I don't have the "touch" or "feel" for bread dough that other fortunate Alpha Bakers do.  I'm so puzzled by this simple thing.   But today, I think I might be starting to understand.
                  And while this sounds insignificant,  for me it is a major milestone.

                         Not growing up among bread bakers, I have zero reference point.

                                        Still, one of my most indelible memories is a
                               second grade school field trip to Wonder Bread Bakery.

                                             The smell was intoxicating.
                  The building full of machinery turning out hundreds and hundreds of loaves.
                      Men pushing horse trough size tubs of dough into the proofing room.
              Watching loaves of bread climb up up and up into the oven and then out the other side.

          And finally, the perfectly packaged miniature loaf of bread they gave to each of us children.
        Every time we passed the old Wonder Bread Bakery while zooming down the freeway,
                            we rolled down the windows for that intoxicating aroma
until the city council passed a ridiculous ordinance to curtail any escaping yeasty fumes.
                                         What has happened to people?
                                   Who doesn't want to smell bread baking?

Sadly Wonder Bread closed down this baking facility and it stands empty, falling into rack and ruin.

       Bread flour, whole wheat flour, yeast, water and honey are whisked together for the sponge.
                   More flour and yeast are then mixed together to blanket the dough.
                                          I never tire of this step Rose uses.
                                            Here it bubbled for the full four hours.

                                          After a quick mix the salt is added.
                         It had quite a rubbery consistency but after a mere seven minute rest,
                                it lightened up considerably, downright fluffy by comparison.
          Whacked around by the dough hook, it turned back into a rather dense, tacky mass.
                                        Into the bowl for a nice warm rise.

This dough is amazing.  
One warm rise and it puffed up beautifully.

Time to be gently formed into a round loaf
for the final rise under a bowl.

Good enough!

Here's my new little foil contraption for
getting ice cubes into the tray
Rose has us set up on the floor of the oven
for a burst of steam.

The cubes slide down the foil shoot into the pan.

My other half thinks
it's the best bread he's ever eaten.
High praise coming from an Italian.

Rose Levy Beranbaum