Coming Back…

I just don’t know when. It might take me the summer. The demands of a growing business — and especially two growing girls — are translating to less baking and blogging time. Also there’s music. Some old friends have asked me to cover a show or two this coming month back home in Chicago, so I’ve been spending part of my time getting my bass fingers back. The process has been slow as it’s been almost a decade since I’ve plucked a string.

This all may be a hidden blessing, as over the past year or so I’ve had the distinct feeling I’ve been more or less repeating myself. An extended hiatus might give me some new angles on Joe Pastry. But don’t assume I’m going totally silent. I’ll still be putting the off post and of course I’ll be answering questions.

66 thoughts on “Coming Back…”

  1. It is really hard to keep up a blog and keep fresh content coming. A well deserved rest may be just the needed prescription.

    As much as I like baking and cooking, I never thought I’d be interested in a baking blog. Yours though has hit all my happy points, quirky, family friendly, history, and of course baking. I’ve learned a lot and enjoyed every moment. Thanks for your efforts.

    1. That’s the truth, Ben. Last year I got very irritated with myself when my blogging weeks followed the same blasted pattern…recipe, history posts, science posts, random question, finished tutorial. Even a baking blog shouldn’t be formulaic, knowadimean? The heart and soul seemed to be fading. A fresh approach is needed and I hope to arrive at one over the coming season. Thanks for the support and more soon.

      – Joe

      1. But I LOVED the history and the technology and the techniques, etc. I mean LOVED them!!!

        I think they’re signature. They made your blog unique and they provided soooo much interesting material.

        1. Hey Rainey!

          I’m not talking about the content, more the structure. I was feeling like I was repeating the format a lot, and the style to some extent. I’ll never give up the history and science, that’s what the blog is all about!

          – Joe

      2. Sorry, I disagree. The formula was perfect for the blog. Now, that does not mean it wasn’t boring for you – WE liked it but that’s not a reason you should do it. It’s also not a reason to not do it as far as the audience is concerned.

        But I hope you do well, take the time you need as I am not even half way through the stuff of yours I know I want to try and when I look I know I will see see more stuff to do.

  2. Go do what you need to do. We’ll be here and excited as ever when you get back. Enjoy!

    1. Thanks, Bev! This isn’t the end. I shall be back around in due time!

      – Joe

    1. Everyone needs a little rejuvenation time, Deb! And my girls need me this summer more than normal. Young Jo is in that awkward pre-teen phase and needs extra attention. Little Joan is (literally) finding her feet as an athlete and wants more practice-in-the-back-yard session with her old man. Can’t say no to any of that. Time for an old fashioned summer of hanging out. I’ll be back though!

      – Joe

      1. No, of course you must take care of the important things in life! Not really trying to persuade you, but only wishing I could look forward to more posts, because i enjoy them so much. Thanks for all the time you put into the great blog we have been enjoying.

  3. Take a break Joe, just keep the site open and random posts to lety us know you’re still around.

    Take care


    1. I shall Warren, sorry not to be able to deliver consistently after your well-intended prodding. More soon though. And I will put up the odd post. Maybe even a little later today.


      – Joe

  4. Joe, you do what makes your heart sing. Blogs don’t go anywhere, and for those readers who use Readers, we don’t go anywhere either. 🙂

    Watch those baby girls grow (Pastry dough does need to rise, after all, lol), pluck those bass strings, catch your breath. Have a blast! 🙂

    1. Thanks very much, Vanessa! As you point out, one must be able to respond to changing circumstances and right now I’m needed elsewhere. It won’t be an all-or-nothing type situation, I just can’t guarantee I’ll be around every week for a while. Thanks very much for you understanding.

      – Joe

  5. I’m sure I’m not the only person who will miss reading your posts a lot, but speaking for myself, I will be quite happy thinking of you living well. As far as I’m concerned it’s an excellent thing for us all to remember that our favorite bloggers/actors/musicians/artists are people, on their paths from birth to death and beyond, just like their fans are. Be happy, Joe. Be happy, be well, be wise, and be vibrantly alive. See you when you’re ready to come back. ^^

    1. Jeannine, bless you. I have very similar feelings about people whose work I enjoy. I like to think, even if I don’t hear from them for a while, that they’re out there somewhere, happy. If I find out they’ve been on an extended bender or robbed a convenience store, I’m crushed. On which note I can say confidently that armed robbery isn’t on my to-do list for the summer. Thanks for all the well wishes and more soon!

      – Joe

  6. Joe,
    Your post has moved me finally to say hello, and that I am hoping to see you back soon. I have read every post of yours and most comments from the very beginning of your blog, and have found you to be most erudite, charming, and funny-all very attractive qualtities.(I say that in the most platonic and non-stalking way 🙂 ). I actually learn stuff from reading your blog, which, at this Baby Boomer’s age, is nothing to sneeze at.

    Although I am mostly interested in savory cooking, I have made most of our bread for over 40 years, starting with my grandmother’s bread recipe-at least 100 years old- to Julia’s game-changing French bread, to Nancy Silverton’s wonderful olive bread-you know, the one that starts with developing your yeast from grapes. I covet your bread oven.

    A recent trip to Paris piqued my interest in French pastry, but I think I stumbled on your blog in a more esoteric way-perhaps Richard III? Can’t remember.

    I have made your grandmother’s cheese wafers and the Pugliese bread, am stocking up on expensive butter to do some laminating, and have many other recipes on my list for when I retire and have more time.

    My Brazilian cleaning lady gave me some Minas cheese for the Pao de Queijo-she said “is from my country-deleeshus”-so I will be trying it again after a terrible first try-the “dough” was very thin and ended up as not very good tasting pancakes. I used the tapioca starch from Whole Foods and made a half recipe, which I don’t think should have made a difference. Now I have Bob’s Red Mill’s brand and will not halve it and hope for the best.

    As a singer, I want to encourage you in your getting your chops back up on the bass. My daughter lives in Chicago-where will you be playing if you are willing to disclose?

    Come back as soon as you can; your loyal readers will be waiting-impatiently.

    1. Wow Donna, welcome to the comment fields! So glad you decided to make yourself known. I don’t know what to say other than I’m glad you haven’t been permanently harmed by reading so much of me. And how can I not be incredibly flattered by all those wonderful things you wrote? Talk about making a guy’s day.

      You know I’ve made that olive bread in the big oven. A bakery I once worked at made that bread daily. I always looked forward to taking home leftovers but there were seldom any! The only tedious part was chopping those olives every night. As the designated bread crew mixer-guy it totally threw my rhythm off.

      Interesting that you found me through that Shakespeare Behind Bars post, if that’s what it was. Mrs. Pastry and I went back to the prison just couple of weeks ago to see the inmates do Pericles. The production was great as it always is, not so much because the acting was so stellar (though some of it is) but because of the context. The Shakespeare is profound, but watching a bunch of violent criminals trying to un-screw up their lives right in front of you, well, it’s even more profound.

      On the wafers, grandma, wherever she is, is proud of you Donna. Thanks for that. And I want to know how the laminating goes. Give me updates! Also want to know about the pao. That’s an odd problem, but there’s a lot of variation in tapioca flour. Bob’s should not let you down.

      And lastly thanks for the encouragement on the bass. The first gig is a private party out near Rockford, but this particular band has historically done a lot of summer street fairs (Chicago is a big summer street fair town). If we do any I’ll let you know.

      And I shall be back before long. Thanks for the great — and wide ranging — comment!

      – Joe

  7. Music=awesome. Just saying. And perhaps that we expect video footage 🙂

    Maybe if you call if a sabbatical it will work like one? I hope that you have a fun and rejuvenating summer!

    1. Thanks, Derek!

      I was once a formidable bassist. These days a lot less so, but it feels good to be back into it, if only for a little while. Amazing how sluggish the fingers get, yet the dexterity comes back surprisingly fast. Now if I could only remember what a suspended minor is…

      Great idea on the sabbatical by the way. Mrs. Pastry is an academic so she gets them every so often. Why not me?


      – Joe

  8. Take your well deserved break. Nurture your soul, your family, your business. We’ll be here when it’s time for you to be back. But those people in your day-to-day life need your presence more than we do – make them the priority. Blessings!

    1. That’s what it comes down to, Kirste. When you’re needed, you’re needed. Thanks for the understanding. I shall be back.

      – Joe

  9. I completely understand, Joe. I’m too young to retire, too old to have fun like I had in the olden days, and completely a part of the “sandwich generation” too. Take your time and take good care of your family.

    BTW, I didn’t think you were repeating yourself.

    BTW, I didn’t think you were repeating yourself.

  10. I have to say that I never found your blog to be formulaic. Au contraire! Whenever I clicked on, I never knew what might pop up.

    But when life calls you elsewhere, go and enjoy. (And keep us posted.) I think baking will inevitably call you back at some point, and we’ll be awaiting.

    1. I’ll be around Mary! But yes, there’s a whole lot of material up there. Plenty to refer to!

      – Joe

  11. I’m in transition too as we just moved to South Africa so I well understand what you’re saying. I haven’t had time to read but I just came here this morning to say I missed reading you.

    However much I’ll miss new entries, I wish you well in all your new endeavors.

    I think I’m just going to begin reading your first entries and filli in what I missed before I found your blog. Maybe you would want to repost some of them that you’re most proud of to keep the community together.

    Again, best of luck and know that I and I’m sure others still deeply value what you’ve shared and taught!

  12. You know, just leave the third out of the recipe and sprinkle freely with either perfect fourth or a dash of major second.

    Have a good summer! If there’s music to do and kids to tend, I completely forgive your absence from the Internet. Just don’t suspend your minors for too long. They’ll get sour.

    1. Oooh nice idea! A heaping tablespoon of fourth is just what that chord needs.

      Many thanks, Nokanen!

      – Joe

  13. Heartily agree w/everyone.

    Too bad there isn’t some way to take advantage of the community you have built w/o it just being more work for you. Since most of us will still be coming back looking for recipes even w/o new content.

    Like if someone could post a favorite of your recipes w/a brief story of why. As an excuse for those of us who miss you to review your earlier posts & comment & share. But I suppose moderating all that would still be an energy & time drain.

    Also, would love your take on the platonic ideal of crackers if you were ever looking for more basic items to go over.

    Enjoy your summer, and thank you for all the wonderful instruction & fun.

    1. Hey Cath!

      I’m still going to moderate and answer questions every day. If you would like to do that in the interim please feel free. Conversations can happen in the comment fields, or if you’re prefer an actual post I would be very happy to put that up as well, then approve comments as they’re made.

      – Joe

  14. Thank you for all of the time and thought you put into your blog, I look forward to your return, refreshed and ready to help all of us with your enquiring mind and amazing research.

  15. I thoroughly enjoying all your posts (even those with meat). I’ve had the bad practice of only reading, rarely making what you post. Maybe I’ll view this as summer work from the teacher, and pick a few out.

    Thanks, Joe – look forward to future entries.

  16. Joe, I’m often amazed at the amount of information you gather to express so clearly and succinctly. I’m always impressed with how much time you must invest in each post. Enjoy the break!

  17. Honestly, I love your blog just the way it is! Good luck with recharging the batteries and your new endeavors!

  18. Dear Joe:

    Hope you have a good sabbatical! The outpouring of comments demonstrates that we, your readers, are so grateful for this wonderful resource you have given us in your blog.

    I, for one, check it at least 4 times a week for new ideas, plus every time I try to bake something I check the archives first, to see if you have any helpful hints. (You usually do!)

    You have demystified so many baking problems for me, and always in a manner that is well-written, pithy and as a bonus, frequently amusing. In addition, your blog is a wonderfully civilized corner of the internet, filled with the joy that comes from doing something well for its own sake and to share with others. It is a good reminder of how people can do nice things while being polite to each other — even when disagreeing.

    We will, of course, keep using the archive while you enjoy time with the junior Pastries; and will miss you — even while hoping that you and your family are well, and that your sabbatical gives you real mental and emotional refreshment, as well as family time and more room to grow your business and have a bit of fun making music.

    Again, this blog has been a great gift from you to us! Thank you for it, and I hope you have a great time while stepping back a bit from it.

    Best regards,


  19. Have a great summer and many good memories from it. We’ll still be here when winter starts rolling back in :).

  20. I will totally miss your postings but understand you have to do what you need to do. Just know we all will be patiently (or maybe not so patiently) waiting for your return.

  21. … WOW!! …you are so loved Joe. We appreciate you more now… absence does make the heart grow fonder. <3

  22. Hi joe
    i tried making a one bowl cake but the top came out sticky and wouldnt brown. The sides browned perfectly though. I used unsoftened butter straight from the fridge, could that hage been the problem? Also i dumped both the dry and wet ingredients onto the bowl anc beat them together

    1. Using butter straight out of the fridge is totally fine, especially if you end up doing the mixing in a stand mixer anyway. What’s critical is that you take the time to get the butter soft and creamy.

      The top not browning and being sticky sounds more like a baking issue.

  23. I use your archives whenever I need a new dessert. You have enough recipes for a lifetime. Don’t apologize, just enjoy life.

  24. I hope you are enjoying your break. I still go to this website on a daily basis. Made your naan bread twice this weekend. Delicious! Your recipes are easy to follow and also turn out great!

  25. Enjoy your well deserved break… we shall eagerly await your return!! I hope that your gigs go well 🙂
    I will be putting in a request for Herrentorte when you come back!

  26. While I agree whole-heartedly with many of the comments from your fan base — some of whom have chimed in above — I wanted to offer my personal thanks for your many responses (and your support ) to my baking questions. You’re a unique individual who has given his time and talent freely to those of us who have had the good fortune to read your words. No doubt you’re a terrific Dad and (I’m guessing here) a damn good musician as well. Enjoy your life Joe. And if that means an extended hiatus, well, I wish you the happiest, healthiest, and most harmonious hiatus heaven has in store… :-).

  27. Dear Joe,
    Together with all the previous commenters I wish you a great summer, doing things that are most important for you and your family! There is not much to complain about lack of new recipes – I have tackled only a fraction of your archive yet (with some recipes being so trustworthy that I haven’t looked at other sources since), but nothing can replace excitement of new projects, insights in history and baking techniques in your posts. So I hope that in one way or another you will find inspiration and time to continue blogging in the future and have as much good time with it as your readers.

  28. I just click through every day or two to make sure the ad revenue keeps rolling in.

    I hope you are having a great summer & thanks for all the great recipes you have left us.

  29. I still check in every day. Have a wonderful 4th of July everyone. Joe, keep getting your Mingus on!

  30. Hi Joe,

    I’ve been trying to email you, but the link doesn’t seem to work on my computer. I imagine this is a problem on my end, not yours, since you always seem to have lots of questions to answer!

    With that said, do you think you could post an alternative? I have a couple of things I’d like to pick your brain about. Thanks very much!

  31. Hello Joe!!!
    I am ‘new’ to the pastry scene and trying to learn- I recently made you Danish pastry… happy to report it was a success.
    I just wanted to let you know that I have found your blog to be SO HELPFUL!!!! Thank you… but totally understand (especially if you are raising a family at the same time).

    I do have a question about biscuits- sometimes they don’t ‘flake’ and spread out like a cookie (despite not overworking the dough and freezing before hand). Any advice?

    1. Hi Lisa,

      If your biscuits aren’t flaky and are spreading out, it strongly suggests that the fat (butter/lard/shortening) was too soft. Just like with pastry, when you make biscuits, the fat has to be as cold and hard as possible, and when you work it into the flour, you want it to to remain that way as much as possible, but now “cut” into tiny, tiny pieces incorporated into the flour.

      When you say “freezing beforehand,” do you mean freezing the fat before it’s incorporated (and then grating it in) or do you mean simply freezing the dough before it’s baked? Freezing the dough won’t help at all if the fat was soft when the dough was made – all you’re doing in that case is freezing something similar to cookie dough, as you described it. On the other hand, freezing biscuit dough *is* helpful to achieve *extra* flakiness in a dough that already has those tiny “pieces” of fat that are achieved through a proper cutting or rubbing technique.

      Hope that helps!

  32. I made your caramel icing the other day and it turned out not to be to our taste. BTW, a 5 quart pot is a good size! But the over-sweetness of the icing caused me to remember–too late–that many of the southern desserts I’ve seen recipes for are also very sweet. Do you have an explanation for that?

    It can’t be *just* that sugar cane was so handy, being right there! Can’t be the climate; it’s even hotter and muggier in places like Thailand and Viet Nam. Inquiring minds. . . .

    I, too, hope you enjoy your sabbatical and can come back refreshed and ready to deal with all these pesky questions.

  33. Missing you greatly!

    I applaud your priorities completely. Just wanted you to know you continue to be valued and missed.

  34. Joe I will miss your posts. I love all the science and history and don’t seem to be getting sick of it. But you enjoy your hiatus and we will all be waiting patiently.

  35. Dear Joe,

    I’m not sure you’re still getting e-mail at the address posted on the website (I wrote a while back), but either way, I just wanted to leave you a note here and say that I hope you’re having a lovely summer. I dearly miss reading your new posts, but the Pastry clan is no doubt the richer for having more of you to themselves.

    Like the numerous readers who commented above, I selfishly hope that you’ll come back to us rejuvenated and ready to continue sharing your talents with us. But whether your road leads back here or on to new adventures, I hope you’ll let us know about your next chapter (not to mix metaphors or anything!).

    Best wishes to you and all the Pastrys (Pastries?)!


    1. Hey Jen!

      Thanks for your very kind note. The email may not have reached me because of the revamp. But I’m here and starting to get back onto the swing of things. Had a great summer and am looking forward to the fall!


      – Joe

  36. I just got super excited when I saw the new format! Hope this means you had a great summer and will be back to posting again soon.

    1. Hey Heather!

      Yes it’s been a good few months. Lots of family time with some bass playing thrown in for fun. Nothing there not to love!


      – Joe

    1. Thanks, Shortia!

      It’s going to take me little time to learn how to use my new site, but I’m also pleased with the way it turned out. More soon and nice to meet you!

      – Joe

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