So what now?

I’m back tan, rested and ready, but with few ideas for projects, so I thought I’d solicit some suggestions from you, my faithful readership. So hit me! I’ll do my best to get to everything before Q3 of 2019.

Thanks to all those who’ve been asking about my Florida trip. The fishing was excellent, both in the gulf and out. Of course a big part of the reason I fish at all is to have an excuse to get out and see the wildlife. You never know what you’ll encounter exploring the 10,000 Islands area, from dolphins to manatees, loggerhead sea turtles, manta rays, sharks…you name it.

It’s all a thrill, and that’s not to mention the birds. The wading birds and shore birds are everywhere: egrets, heron, cranes, storks and ibis (including my favorite, the roseated spoonbill). We saw eagles, osprey, hawks, vultures, kites, cormorants and all sorts of sandpipers, terns, gulls and ducks. The place is a feast for bird lovers.

And here’s some exciting news: the Pastrys now have a dog! Here he is, we call him Boomer:

He’s a rescue animal. I found him wandering around all by himself about 15 miles out in the Everglades if you can believe it. His playful demeanor won me over instantly. I know, he’s a bit odd-looking, but I’m told it’s a hairless condition caused by too much exposure to water and sunlight. We’ll soon have it all cleared up. I bought some medicated cream that I rub all over him before I let him out at night. Expect to hear a lot more about Boomer as he settles into the household!

Gotta go now, we’re off to hang flyers around the neighborhood. Apparently several cats have suddenly gone missing on the block. Probably the warmer weather. Silly things can’t wait to get out. Anyway, enjoy the weekend and keep those project requests coming. It’s good to be back!

110 thoughts on “So what now?”

  1. Will it sound stupid if I ask for a flawless white cake recipe? I have recipe books in large heaps from great chefs with big claims. But, I still can’t pull off anything but a dry lump of unappetizing. . . well, not something I would eat for dessert. I make fantastic Devil’s Food, and I am not a novice in the kitchen, though I am self-taught. I would just like to know why I fail, fail, fail, at this one. Personally, I would be happy to live in chocolate the rest of my days, but there are allergy people in my family that mandate I learn the skills somehow. Perhaps you can help? I must be doing something wrong!

    1. Hi Jennifer!

      You mean a white American-style layer cake, right? Seems I don’t have one of those yet. Great idea!

      – Joe

  2. Hi Joe,

    Glad to know you had such a great vacation. We had an interesting breed of dog too, once – my daughter’s pet snake. We even had a leash for it.

    I’d love to see your take on Bienenstich – the German Bee Sting Cake. All the recipes I’ve seen either use yellow cake as the base or look too dry to compare with what I tried in Austria a long time ago. It could be just a case of the reality never living up to the memory, but I’d really love for you to have a go at it. I’ve lived in Hong Kong all my life but have never come across recipes for Mooncakes and Yau Tiao as authentic as yours. Here’s hoping this will be your next baking project.

    All the best,

    1. Flatter me like that and I’ll do anything you want, Bina! 😉

      Actually bee sting cake is something I nearly did last year but forgot about. Thank you for reminding me. I shall make this very soon indeed!

      – Joe

  3. Do you make candy? Are you familiar with See’s Candy? Well, if you do and are, I LOVE their butterscotch squares. The centers are a slightly gritty brown sugary butterscotch ever so slightly salty, fudge coated with milk chocolate. They are addictive and are my favorite. I’ve tried to make them but couldn’t get the butterscotch center the right texture. Mine came out way too creamy and sweet. I used every type of brown sugar fudge, penuche, seafoam you could imagine, too no avail. That umami like salinity was missing, know what I mean? I’d so appreciate it!

    1. Very interesting suggestion, Susan! I’ve been meaning to do more candy…and I do know Sees, even if Fannie May was the local favorite where I grew up. I’ll look into this one!

      Cheers and thanks,

      – Joe

  4. Oh, btw…your new dog is great. Won’t jump up on people, shed or chase cars. No howling at sirens and probably won’t try to kiss you, either! Probably doesn’t play fetch, though. I’d be okay with that.

    1. Now that you mention it I am having a problem with the fetch thing. Sticks don’t seem to hold any magic for him at all. Maybe a little post-traumatic stress from being lost for so long? I’ll keep you posted.

      – Joe

  5. Not to be tediously seasonal, or anything like that, but how about hot cross buns, or some of the traditional Easter breads?

    Hmm. I don’t think that your dog’s hairlessness is temporary. We see a lot of that breed of beast down here in Florida.

  6. This isn’t anything specific, per se, but I’d love to learn more about flavor pairings and how much is too much when it comes to flavoring a cake or pastry that has so many different components to it. Also, is it possible to make a version of marzipan (or any of the other almond based pastry components) with hazelnuts or such? I know there is more oil in those types of nuts but I’m not sure how you would adjust for that in a recipe. Thanks!

    1. Hey Zach!

      Flavor pairings are an interesting topic. Quite subjective in many ways…but I’ll think on it and see if I can’t come up with something. Meantime I recommend a book called In the Sweet Kitchen by Regan Daley. She devotes a considerable amount of time to flavor pairings. You can probably find it used on Amazon for peanuts!

      And I think you should be able to make marzipan out of hazelnuts. Just add a little more powdered sugar to soak up the oil and you should be in good shape. Let me know how it goes if you try it!


      – Joe

  7. Hello, Joe!

    How about a mud cake? I’d love to see how you go about that.

    And by the way, thanks for all the great writings on your site! I’ve read your stuff for a few months now, learned a lot and keep coming back all the time for more. With your help I’ve been able to, for example, perfect my cream puffs, stuffed with a marvelously decadent chocolate mousse.

    So how about a mud cake?

    1. Hello Nokanen!

      Thank you for your very kind words. I’m very glad I’ve been a help to you! And I’ll look around for a mud cake idea. Do you have any specific examples in mind?

      – Joe

      1. I have a sweet spot on mud cakes. Years ago when I got married and we had a big party on a small island here in southern Finland, me and my wife-to-be prepared more than half of all the party food and desserts ourselves. (We had helping hands in the kitchen chopping away, don’t worry.) It was grand. I could tell stories. Anyway, one of the things I made was a mud cake with meringue topping. I almost closely followed a recipe from a local popular cake’n’pastry blogger:

        You maybe won’t understand the language but the pictures should tell you what it’s about.

        It turned out grand, so I’m not asking you to correct any problem. I’m just enthused by your work and approach and I’d like to see how you would make this sort of a basic dark chocolate mud cake. Doesn’t need to have meringue topping.

        I think a proper mud cake is crispy-cakey all around, flowy-chocolatey in the center. It’s not a sin if the center droops. It’s more of a sign of good structure. And then we do some sort of topping to mask the visual ugliness.

        So, what would be the recipe for Joe Pastry’s Definitive And Positively Authorative Grand Mud Cake, the one we all could rely on?

  8. How about a bread made via the water roux method? I’ve heard great things about the fluffiness of such breads, but have been somewhat confused by the technique as described elsewhere…would love to have one of your fantastic photo tutorials to reference!

    1. Ah yes, that request has popped up before. I’ve been wanting to re-do the melon pan posts using that method. Hmmm….

      Thanks, Melanie!

      – Joe

  9. I second Melanie. Remember i even sent u a recipe for Hokkaido bread which uses the roux method.

  10. I may have missed it in my quick look at the side bar–but do you have a lemon meringue pie? I have been frustrated by this dessert for over 50 years and that’s too long! Specifically, it’s the meringue that’s a problem; I’ve tried all three types and been unhappy with the results.

    The other part of the question is how can I keep it for the four days it takes two people to eat it all–without it weeping, beading and turning into lemon meringue pudding.

    1. Hey Sally!

      You’re right…I don’t have one of those and need to do it! Thanks for the idea.

      – Joe

  11. I’m with Jennifer for a white cake recipe. I have a good success rate with other cakes but canNOT make a good white cake. For my last birthday I tried one from KAF and it was dense, much to dense.

  12. I second the call for sfogliatelle, or even go all the way and make lobster tails, a la Carlos’ Bakery.

    1. Hm. A little scary but alright, Jesse. I need to look up lobster tails. Are those a Manhattan thing?

      – Joe

      1. As far as I am aware, they’re a Hoboken thing! I live in Australia, but we had lobster tails when we visited New York/New Jersey, and they are out of this world. I’ve never got them to work at home though, and I have tried a few times. My failure has devastated my wife…

        1. We can’t let that state of affairs persist! I shall get on the case, youngster!

          – Joe

  13. Would you care to discuss ‘decorations’? Frosting flowers, puff pastry decorations, all those little thing to gild a lily?

    I’ve only been stopping by seriously for a year or two so I looked back at your archives & really you have done a heck of a range of stuff. I definitely need to use you more. Thanks so much I doubt you’ll ever know how much we appreciate all your hard work & willingness to share.

    1. Hey Frankly, what a delightful comment. Thank you.

      I’m not a big decorations man as you probably know by now, but maybe I’ll give it a whirl!

      Your friend,

      – Joe

  14. IDEA #1 – How about a Petits Beurre recipe? I spent an afternoon at the big bookstore going through every likely text….even Julia Child was Petit Beurre-less.

    It’s the rolling out thin & even, and cutting, and still getting them off the surface on to a sheet without squishing them…sigh.

    Oh, and what’s the right kind of chocolate for dipping to get a thin layer? I tried cheap choc & good choc, then took some advice to thin it with veg oil which meant they melted at room temp….argh!

    IDEA #2 – A troubleshooting section. How to fix what goes wrong.
    Not that anything ever does in a baking kitchen…


    A UF alumni who (of course) likes your dog.

    1. I second the request for getting a thin layer of chocolate for dipping cookies/biscotti into. I’ve tried thinning with vegetable oil, but it ends up tasting, well, oily — even good chocolate. Is tempering the chocolate is necessary to achieve this?

    2. Thanks Tracey!

      Boomer says and excited hello! His wagging tail is hell on the furniture.

      There’s a lot of good thinking there. Troubleshooting…very interesting. And I’ll look around for a petits guerre idea or two. Thanks!

      – Joe

      1. … the slang for the very tasty pastry formally named Vanilla slice. So called because of the thick layer of vanilla cream. 🙂

  15. Too funny about Boomer!

    When we lived in FL the ironic thing is keeping the dog from the gators was a constant anxiety. And the kids had to learn that you don’t run from them in a straight line ’cause them puppies can make tracks when they want to! No matter how fast you want to lay down distance you have to do it running back and forth ’cause what they can’t do well is change direction.

    Hope Boomer makes the transition to KY well! ; >

    1. I’ve heard about the zig-zags, Rainey, though I’m not sure I’d be able to keep my composure long enough to remember. You’ve really lived a lot of places!

      And thanks! 😉

      – Joe

      1. No more than most I’m pretty sure.

        I grew up in New York state. I went to college in Ohio. I’ve lived in Los Angeles for 40-some years but I’ve had occasion to live in FL and Vancouver for 9 months to a couple years from time to time.

        I wish I’d traveled and experienced more.

  16. Hey, maybe it’s the long winter here in Wyo or something, but how about deserts for camping? I’m thinkin’ things to be made over a campfire with the cast irons in a dutch oven or skillet.

    Thanks for the great site!!!

  17. Hey Joe

    Two special requests from a long-term fan. Firstly a classic Charlotte Russe – I had a recipe for it in my teens and have never found another half as decent or as classic. The other I don’t even know the name of (and have never tasted) but you see it in all the patisserie in Paris. It is a domed shaped gâteau made with rolled jam sponge à l’extérieur and I suspect has some creme mousseline à l’intérieur . thanks in advance. Cheers bud

  18. I suggest Brussels* Waffles, and I’d like to know how to do them properly. The recipe I usually use has me mix 250 g of flour with four egg yolks, which, as everyone can figure out, results in a crumbly, inhomogeneous heap of flour with speckles of flour-coated egg yolk. Well the waffles are great nonetheless, but I’ve started to doubt the credentials of the author.

    *The fluffy ones, with yeast. Not the Liège Waffles made of sugar.

    1. Hm. I’ll have to look into that one, uptight. Very good suggestion!

      Thank you,

      – Joe

        1. Here it is, finally. This recipe is my favorite one, and while it generates good results, I found I had to change it considerably as the batter as-is would be way too fluid and seep out of the waffle iron. What I did was to cut the total amount of liquid from .5 liters to .3, leaving out more water than milk.

          The first step is strange nonetheless, as described above.

          This I’ve taken straight from the booklet and only shortened the lengthy description…

          250 gram flour
          4 eggs
          1 tspn sugar
          20 gram yeast
          2 dl lukewarm water (6.76 fl oz)
          100 gr melted butter
          3 dl lukewarm milk

          -Mix four and egg yolks and sugar
          -mix yeast with water
          -add to and mix into the batter
          -add butter to milk, mix into batter
          -whisk egg whites to stiff peaks
          -fold into the batter
          -bake, serve with icing sugar, ice cream and whipped cream

          1. Excellent!

            Thank you, uptight. I shall have fun experimenting with this!


            – Joe

  19. You’ve been fishing – how’s about a star-gazey pie? 😉

    I’ve never heard of water roux-based bread. Sounds interesting!

    1. Ha! Do the fish heads need to be sticking out for it to count? Nice recommendation.

      – Joe

  20. I second the suggestion from Susan about the Butterscotch Squares from See’s, even though they are more rectangles than squares. Our European relatives love See’s, the only American chocolates that they will consume. Fanny Mae used to be better but …

  21. I would really like you to tackle Pan Dulce; Conchas would be a good first on the list since there are so many varieties. Since I moved away from Los Angeles, I cannot find a bakery that makes the yummy ones I could find in the Mexican Panaderias there. Most are too hard, too dry, or too heavy. If you could also do some of the other varieties, that would be great! (And probably make Mrs. Pastry happy, too.)

    1. GREAT suggestion and you’re right…Mrs. pastry would be delighted (nice memory you got there).

      Chicago was so full of good pan dulce that we took it for granted. Now that we live in Louisville we never think about it. Excellent, excellent idea…

      – Joe

  22. How about a jam cake? There was a columnist for the Louisville Courier Journal named Cissy Gregg who was rather famous back in her day. Her recipe for Mrs. Creason’s Jam Cake was a staple during Christmas for us.
    I love jam cake especially with penuche frosting. It’s made with butter, brown sugar, cream and powdered sugar and it’s so sweet it’s almost too much. Note I said almost.

    1. Oooh, I’ve been meaning to do one of those for a while. Thanks for reminding me!

      – Joe

  23. Hi Joe. I would love your take on Borek. They are very tasty. I loved the ricotta and honey ones, my husband preferred the savoury fillings.

  24. Put me down as another vote for the tang zhong method (I assume that’s the same as the roux method for fluffy bread).

    Other than that, I’d love to see some technique posts about sous vide for pastry. Creams and custards sous vide, tempering chocolate with the precisely controlled bath, etc.

    1. Hey Evan!

      Funny you should say that. I’ve thought a lot about sous vide for pastry the last year or two but have yet to come up with much. I shall redouble my efforts!

      Thanks for the good suggestions!

      – Joe

  25. Hey, Happy St. Patrick’s!

    Back in 2007, I ran across an article in Salon, by Andrew Leonard, and it’s always stuck in my mind (link below):

    A giant saltstick is a 2-foot-long loaf of bread with a remarkable soft and luscious interior protected by a flinty hard, pastry-spiral-shaped lavishly salt-strewn crust. For salt aficionados, it is verily the Bread of the Gods. And it is sui generis — I have wandered across the entire planet in search of salty goodness, and nowhere have I seen a true giant saltstick outside of the confines of Orwasher’s Bakery. Although not as famous as the raisin-pumpernickel rolls — invented, so the legend goes, by Louis Orwasher, the second of three generations of family bakers — the giant saltstick was, to me, inexpressibly precious.

    Fun to read, if nothing else:)
    Thanks and have a good day,

    1. Good gracious me…

      Quite an impressive feat by the sound of. Nothing is out of the question. I shall read this with interest.

      – Joe

  26. If the book hasn’t closed on 2014, do you suppose others would be as interested as I in the homely yet sublime chocolate chip cookie? I love learning about pastry I’d never heard of or was apprehensive about trying, but my heart belongs to chocolate chip cookies.

      1. Drat that search function! Results were ‘Big News from the Continent’, ‘Baked Chocolate Double Bind’, ‘Balance Myth’ and ‘More on … Gluten’.
        One of my ccc complaints is the same issue as the ‘Big News …’ post. (Extra acid didn’t help.) Thank you for the link; I already look forward to reading your ccc posts.

  27. Joe, if you’d only get around to doing the croquembouche…

    (I’m in the planning stages now for Easter)

    I’ve got nothing. Though I actually taught a ‘bread baking 101’ class at my church a couple of weeks ago using your site as a primary reference. You were in the bibliography!

    1. Har-dee-har har!

      You had me for a split second there, bub. And congratulations on the class — very exciting news! I wish you many more. The world needs more baking evangelists! What bread did you teach first?

      – Joe

      1. I started out with utilitarian sandwich bread – whole wheat (white whole wheat flour), since a) I do a ton of it with 4 kids, and b) most of my class had kids as well. I ended up with 6 loaves using the tried-and-true ‘Food on TV’ showing each stage (mix, rises, bake)… the class wasn’t huge, but we had plenty of help with ‘sampling’ afterwards. 🙂 And, much like Jesus, the loaves seem to be multiplying as my ‘students’ have become adept at the basics.

        I’m thinking for the next class, perhaps some pain l’ancienne, pita, or focaccia. Plus I’ve worked out bread bowls in my dutch oven, so maybe I will do a bread-smorgasbord.

    1. I’m not denying he startled me a little at first, but he’s a charmer really. We’re working on the rolling over thing, or at least doing it in a way that doesn’t rip my arm off. He’s got one heck of a grip…getting him to give up a tennis ball is no easy task!

      Thanks, Alex!

      – Joe

  28. I don’t know if you’ve done them already, but would you please look into lamingtons.

    I’m yet to find a recipe that actually works, and that isn’t 37 pages long. Thanks.

  29. I’m joining the party late, but how about a Pineapple Upside Down Cake? I made Betty Crocker’s recipe a couple years ago that turned out ok, but seemed kind of bland.

    The last one I made (using the Brass sisters recipe) burned and I’ve been afraid to make it ever since.

    I’ll add another vote for White Cake (or cupcakes), too. I’ve had good luck using a slightly altered White Cupcakes recipe from Wilton, but trying another recipe couldn’t hurt 🙂

    No matter what you choose to do, I’m glad to hear that you had a great vacation with your family 🙂

    1. Nice thinking, Andrew! That’s a classic that I’ve never done and absolutely should!

      And thanks very much, we did have a great time. The Everglades are really something to see. I hope to go back one day.


      – Joe

  30. Hi Joe,

    Welcome back. I can tell you had a blast from your post. Give Boomer a pat on the head for me :). NEver been fishingmyself, so i’m always intrigued when people speak of fishing. Read your post with great interest.
    I’m late with my suggestion but…. how about a rum cake (chocolate)? I was never brave enough to adjust your cake recipe to make it. And I second the call for laminated broiche.

    Great to have you back!
    Be well


    1. Thanks, Melody! It’s great to be back. And thanks — I have fun doing what I do!

      So when you say rum cake, do you mean a bundt-style rum cake? Just making sure I understand what you’re asking for.

      – Joe

      1. Hi Joe,

        The shape doesn’t matter to me. nor the method (whether creamed or true sponge), because when i tasted the cake i couldn’t determine those things. Once when had asked your opinion on it, you had suggested i adjust your high ratio cake (didn’t have the courage to :)). So mainly what i remember is that the cake had alot of spirits and it was light and was chocolate. 🙂 Hope that helps :).

        Thanks Joe.

        1. Ah yes, I remember now. You’ve needed one of these for a while…shame on me!

          OK, Melody, I’ll see what I can do!

          – Joe

  31. Great! Laughing out loud is a time-honored preservative, I’m told. Here’s a suggestion… a simple formula for Vanilla Pearl Sugar/Cinnamon. (I’m now a convert btw and have decided to go with your suggestion). It’s sure to be useful in a variety of settings…

  32. Mr. Pastry, I’m not sure if this is really your type of thing, but I have searched the internet over for a non-dairy-based substitute for whipped cream which does not involve coconut and have found nothing. I’m not looking for a “healthy” or even a ” natural” alternative. I’m after a homemade version of whatever a pareve bakery would use. Any thoughts?

    1. Hey Elizabeth!

      That’s a tall order. The coconut one is the only non-dairy whipped cream trick I know! I’ll see what I can dig up!

      – Joe

  33. Hey joe,

    As mentioned, my grandfather was a baker and owned a pastry shop in omaha long ago. He sold about the time i was born and died before i really got to know him. One traditional thing our family has for grooms cakes at weddings are a kransekake. I now have 2 very young sons but am willing to buy the spcial tins to someday make these for my little dudes. I thought that would be interesting here (and i am completely obsessed with almond paste and marzipan but dont really like the stuff in the stores.).

    I heard someone say chocoalte chip cookies earlier and i am a vanilla ice cream guy. As such, i am a sugar cookie guy (perhaps a dijon version – snickerdoodle) Those would be great to be able to whip up with ease and have taste amazing.

    Thanks and loving having you back… How big were the fish in florida? Measured in feet i would bet;)

    1. Lots of great ideas in there, Dave! Thank you.

      And I’m completely with you on marzipan. Awful in stores, sublime when made at home. I shall do my best with your list!


      – Joe

  34. Well I know you tend toward the sweet but how about a good lesson on injera? I love it, it is so characteristic of Ethiopian cuisine. Or Mollorca Sweet Bread if it must be sweet.

  35. Wow, looks like a pretty long list already, Joe. If you’re still looking, I’d love to get a take on Gateau de Riz. It seems to be the rare thing where I can’t find a good set of instructions in English online.

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