Now What?

It’s become traditional to ask for project suggestions after my late winter fishing trip. With the exception of the candies (which I have yet to tackle since I’m not very good at confectionery) I completed most of last year’s project requests, and many more besides. What shall I plan for the this coming year? Please weigh in if you’re so inclined.

122 thoughts on “Now What?”

    1. Hey Twyla!

      I’ve done tres leeches cake but not the others. Thanks!

      – Joe

      1. But if you make Belgian waffles, will they be the Liege kind, or the Brussels kind? Brussels waffles are fairly similar to American ones. Liegeois waffles are much, much superior – yeast-raised, thick, and absolutely dripping with butter (something about the French influence on southern Belgium….)

  1. Black and white cookies; making chocolate versions of desserts: for example, if you wanted to make your favorite cookie recipe but desired a chocolate version, could you just replace some of the flour with cocoa powder?; Baci di Dama; Pandoro (haven’t had this but it’s intriguing); those slices of yummy, custard-like cake that you get served after meals at some Asian restaurants.

    1. Hey Anna!

      Black and whites are in the Desserts & Cookies menu (but don’t call them cookies or Chana will get after you). 😉

      As far as chocolate versions of desserts are concerned, that’s a tricky one. There’s no single rule for that, but there is one important thing to remember: cocoa powder is extremely absorbent. So any time you’re adding cocoa powder to a flour mixture (and you can usually add cocoa powder to a recipe at a rate of about 10-12% of the weight of the flour) count on adding a lot more liquid. In come cases you’ll come close to doubling it. And remember — always add boiling liquid to cocoa powder where you can. It gives you twice the flavor!

      Those other suggestions are great. I have a pandoro mold but have yet to use it. Look for that soon!


      – Joe

    1. Hey Kim!

      Thanks! What sort of fruit tartlets do you mean…the kind with berries and lemon curd underneath?

      – Joe

      1. Yeah, that would be great! I’ve had them with pastry cream, but lemon curd sounds even better! Thanks.

        1. OK, Kim! As soon as some really fresh berries start coming in I’ll do it!

          (Remind me if I’m negligent!)

          – Joe

  2. Cassata
    Pancakes (in all of their various forms)
    curry pan
    Bosnian pita
    some of the weird things people are baking today to avoid using flour…recently I saw a pizza crust using cauliflower!?! But come on, you have to admit to curiosity!

    1. No promises on the cauliflower pizza crust but overall a great list!


      – Joe

  3. –Challah!
    –Ciabatta seems to be missing
    –Hokkaido milk bread, or anything made with the tangzhong technique (really interested in this, especially the science behind it)
    –A definitive apple pie filling recipe–mine always turns out dry, like baked apples instead of pie filling.
    –Truffles, maybe?

    1. All those are great suggestions…and I’ve long overlooked challah, especially considering I used to make most everyday in a bakery I once worked at. Are my braiding skills still up to the task?

      Thanks very much!

      – Joe

  4. More variations on doughnuts – old fashioned, old fashioned chocolate, wholewheat, marbled, red velvet, sour cream, honey dipped, different versions of the yeast raised etc.

      1. Yes! I would like the secret to pillowy fresh doughnut shop plain glazed style doughnuts. I made some this afternoon and they were great but more like funnel cakes.

          1. Hi Joe,

            Have you ever had Dough’s doughnuts from Brooklyn/Manhattan? If so, have you ever tried reverse engineering their design? Would be very interested in this.

            Also, how about some specific doughnut designs, like a carrot cake doughnut, or a cookies n cream doughnut, etc?

          2. Hey Rob!

            They do a lot of different toppings indeed. Underneath it looks like a plain yeast doughnut in most every case. You ought to just dive in a try some of them yourself! Simple icings are easy to make, look under the Pastry Components menu. You can color them and flavor them, then stick just about anything to the icing before it dries: cake and cookie crumbles, meringue, just like they do.

            Are there any specific flavors that interest you?


            – Joe

          3. Joe,

            For some reason there is no way for me to reply to your latest response. Not sure why.

            I was specifically referring to the dough recipe itself, the frostings are varied but should be fairly simply to replicate. The dough is definitely yeast-raised, but the texture is unlike any typical doughnut to me, including your recipe which I tried out on Sunday.

            Also, is there any reason why you do not add any nutmeg to your doughnuts? I have read a lot of suggestions that the ‘nut’ part of the name doughnut stems from the use of nutmeg.

          4. Hey Rob!

            I guess I don’t know that texture. Sorry about that. Regarding the nutmeg, I definitely add it to cake doughnuts. There I agree the flavor is totally indispensable. For yeast doughnuts I don’t include it, but you certainly can if you like!


            – joe

          5. Also Joe, how about some sort of recipe for Dunkin Donuts’ Glazed Stick doughnut?

          6. You are the doughnut man, Rob!

            You mean like a Long John?

            – Joe

          7. I’ll wear that name tag with pride!

            No, I believe a long john is a raised and filled doughnut. The glazed stick is a cake doughnut, but it has a very familiar taste that I am not quite sure of. I have been experimenting today actually, using wholewheat flour, and plain and honey glazes.

  5. I second the suggestion for the tangzhong technique.
    I’d also be interested in learning about steamed (rather than baked) cakes.

  6. How about potato buns? I’m thinking the super soft ones that are SO good with pulled pork and slaw.

    I know you have pita bread already, but my baking holy grail is fluffy, soft, pita. I can make the thinner, regular, type no problem, but how to get it thick and pillowy while still getting a nice pocket?

  7. The Swedish Bakery in Chicago makes my favorite cookie called drommar. They are sugary sweet and light as air. I’ve tried to reproduce the recipe, but always end up with a denser, flatter cookie. One twist is that they use ammonium carbonate as the leavening. I’m pretty sure their recipe doesn’t have any coconut, and they are almost hollow on the inside. I’m in NYC now and haven’t had them for years!

    1. Funny, Mrs. Pastry and I got our wedding cake from there 14 years ago. Actually they were cupcakes, and we had to beg those guys to make them for us because “nobody eats cupcakes anymore”. That was then of course.

      I have not tried the drommar but I shall the next time I visit!

      – Joe

      1. Hah! I was just at Ikea today and there’s a range of baking equipment (pans, cutters, etc.) called DROMMAR.

  8. Hi Joe
    I second the Hokkaido milk bread, that has been on my list for a while.
    How about some Turkish Pide
    Thanks Bev

  9. Hokkaido milk bread (tangzhong based bread) – “third”ed
    Chinese egg tarts with the flaky crust
    Chocolate silk pie
    Chess pie – but the kind where the custard tastes more caramelized a la Busken (local Cincinnati bakery) style
    Challah (and can it be adapted for making in a bread machine?)

    1. Wow…lots of interest in Asian breads out there. “Chocolate silk” reminds me of “French silk” pie that my twin sister used to love at Bakery Square when we were kids!

      Good list. Thanks Deb!

      – Joe

      1. I second the egg tarts. I think interest is growing perhaps because of bakeries like 85 Degrees and Paris Baguette?

    1. Hey Jeff!

      There are a few kinds of jam up under “components” but I do others! Thanks for the idea.


      – Joe

  10. -The egg custard tartlets you get in Chinese dim sum restaurants
    -The chocolate and hazelnut chocolate meringue cookies that one sometimes finds at Italian bakeries in New York city (and possibly elsewhere. They are crunchy and shiny and practically hollow on the inside and studded with whole hazelnuts.

    1. Do you mean “ugly but good” cookies? Brutti di buoni or something like that. I’ll look them up!

      Thanks, Sara!

      – Joe

      1. i don’t know what they’re called. I always point and say, “those.” 🙂 Maybe I’ll have to make a research trip.

        1. Hehe…you’re like Mrs. Pastry. “Honey, where is the thing we got from that guy the one time?”

          Uh, gee dear lemme think…


          – Joe

    2. Anything that involves chocolate and hazelnuts gets my vote…those sound amazing!

  11. I’d like to second the challah and the cassata and put in a request for Bruti Ma Buoni, the Italian hazelnut cookie. Also real Torinese grissini and Piedmontese chocolate hazelnut cake. Ummm, my people hail from that part of the world and I’d love to be able to produce some of those treats without the 7 hour flight – but I promise you, this stuff is good and lots of your readers would enjoy them!

    1. Wow…lost of interest in cookies — especially Italian cookies. Thanks, Karen!

      – Joe

  12. -Those chewy, almondy Italian cookies with pistachios on top (they kind of look like coconut macaroons)
    – Cheddar biscuits (or any kind of biscuit)
    -More things with brioche dough

  13. Crepe cake! Creme brûlée! I got a blowtorch for Christmas and want more things to use it on.

    Also, unrelatedly, cassata cake– the kind that’s layers of sponge cake with strawberries and custard, covered in whipped cream and white chocolate. Havent seen it much outside of Cleveland.

      1. Silly me…I didn’t look up one line to see that you’d already said this!

        – Joe

    1. The crème brûlée is already on the site, but not the others. I shall looking them! Thanks, Hillary!

      – Joe

  14. Hold it! Hold it! Did you make pan dulce while I was in a coma and I missed it?? You had promised to put that on your list last year and I have been VERY patient. And if you made it, which kind did you make – because there are only about 500 types.

    1. Well now there was my problem: what kind? I made pan de muerto, but that’s just one of them. Give me some more ideas here: conchas? Tostado? Elotito? I need guidance!

      – Joe

      1. Conchas! Milhojas! Have you seen the (very) unusual chicharron de harina with pretty much a tostada-like topping? I think it has lots of names….

        1. I have not seen that but I’d be curious. Can you point me to a photo?

          – Joe

  15. OK, I did see Pan de Muerto recipe with no picture, but I am not letting you off the hook. I want the individual sized pieces of concha with that topping on it that you cut to make it look like a sea shell (white, pink or chocolate). What about the marranitos? What about the empanadas de camote? Their dough has cinnamon and dark something else and the dough is soft and not flakey.

      1. Whoops, My most abject apology! When I clicked on Pan de Muerto, just the recipe came up, not the pictures. That truly is a magnificent egg drop picture.

  16. My favorite Italian cookie is pignoli. Now that you have made amaretti, how going a step further to pignolis?

  17. Definitely second the Chinese egg custard tarts! I have always identified two issues with the recipes that are available online. 1) The filling tastes too much like a traditional American custard pie, whereas the dairy flavor doesn’t really come through too much in the Chinese version, and 2) The crusts are usually too much like American pie crusts or shortbread instead of the incredibly flaky crusts from the real thing.

    Another Chinese pastry, I’d love to see you tackle is the Sun Cake:

    And lastly, if you could come up with a clone of the Sara Lee Butter Streusel Coffee Cake that would be awesome!

    1. Who knew there would be such interest in Chinese baking? I’ve done mooncakes so it only makes sense to do sun cakes.

      And those Sara Lee Butter Streusel coffee cakes! A picture of mother’s hands were on the original packaging! That would be fun.

      – Joe

  18. Hey Joe! I wanted to get a little request I posted a few weeks ago to show up on this list: how to shape Kaiser rolls by hand. Thanks! Oh yeah, one more thing: Have you ever pulled noodles by hand?

    I look forward to what you choose to teach us next! As always, thanks for a terrific place to hang out in on the web.

    1. I have those down, Mary Beth, but thanks for reminding me anyway.

      I confess that needle pulling has always interested me, but I’ve never tried it. Mrs. Pastry and I used to watch the guys at Sammy’s Noodles in New York through the window on chilly Autumn nights…pull, pull, pull…fascinating work. Might be fun to try sometime. Thanks!

      – Joe

  19. I second the flakey Portuguese custard tart you can find at Dim Sum or Asian bakeries! Speaking of Asian astries, how about the moon cakes that flakes because it uses an oil dough and a water dough? There’s also a snowy skin one too. There’s recipes for both that rely on shortening which leaves this awful film on the tongue. Great ones in Taiwan have never done that.

    A Colombia Empanadas!
    Have you done a chocolate babka yet?

    Actually maybe you can figure my beloved Italian Semolina bread mystery. I went to Italy for work and one restaurant had this amazing
    bread to accompany our meal. It had a lightly golden soft (Almost creamy so it’s enriched) crumb with big irregular holes, slightly nutty note, and a crusty but not too thick dark Amber exterior. We tried to find out from staff what the bread is called but from our Italian wasn’t very good. We only got the words semolina bread. I’ve searched and searched but all semolina breads look dense. I’d love to taste the bread again but in home! I think we are 2 baskets of it at the restaurant.

    1. I’ve done monocles before, and the crust did have oil and alkaline water. You can get the crust flaky with short, high heat, but you have to be careful not to overbake it (which I did). Have a look and see what you think:

      And empanadas are a good idea also. I used to make them every Autumn for the U of L Day of the Dead festival…so many I got utterly sick of them. But we haven’t done that for a few years now and I might be tempted to do some more. Of course those were Mexican empanadas. Are you talking about the fried ones?


      – Joe

      1. Hi Joe!

        For the mooncakes, I’ve seen the lard ones you’ve done but there are 2 other versions. One is similar to a mochi but it is filled with ice cream or a cream/mousse filling. The other one is a layered pastry Asian style. I think it’s called thousand layers mooncakes… I had it when I traveled to Shanghai.

        My understanding the Colombian empandas are corn based instead of wheat based which gives a completely different texture and crunch when you fry them!

        1. Hey Nevy!

          Ah, the thousand layer mooncake I know about. The other not so much, but I’ll look around!


          – Joe

          1. Nevi – Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes has a very good Semolina bread recipe that I’ve had good luck with.

  20. zaletti veneziani
    struffoli napoletani
    Dutch spekkoek
    runeberg cakes
    animal crackers
    makowiec poppy roll
    cream horns
    If any of them are of interest to you as well. And thank you for asking 🙂

    1. All are of interest, Dani, thank you! Lamingtons are something the girls have wanted me to make for a while. We have an Australian picture book that references lamingtons and they want to know what they taste like!


      – Joe

        1. Bingo! A friend sent it to us when my first daughter was born, along with Josephine Learns to Dance and some really funny Aussie Christmas books. They are now part of our Pastry family kid literature canon.

          – Joe

  21. Hi Joe

    How about baked apple dumplings? I tried them recently and it was a total disaster -tough crust and all the filling leaked out and burned on the pan! The spices were all wrong as well. I’m sure I did something wrong and I’m sure you have a much better method and recipe.

    1. Baked apple dumplings….now there’s a good ol’ American dessert. They sound fun!

      Thanks Linda!

      – Joe

  22. Joe, give an inch and everyone wants several miles… but I’m sure you don’t regret asking (judging from your usual jovial responses)! I don’t have any additions to these numerous requests but I’d love to be on your taster panel! Have lots of baking fun…

    1. …in fact, I am anxiously awaiting a tub of osmotolerant yeast bought online for my Easter baking of hot cross buns and an Easter bread of sorts… curiosity got the better of me to see if this yeast will live up to its super powers.

      1. It does make a different, if not a huge one in most cases. At least that’s my experience. Let me know what you think!


        – Joe

    2. Ha! I asked for it, Susan. I like having a lot of project ideas in the hopper.

      And…anytime you’re in Louisville you’re welcome!


      – joe

  23. I’d love to see you tackle some Passover baking – without butter or other milk products. I have fun with that on a yearly basis. New insights always appreciated.

  24. Here are my suggestions Joe. 😀

    Danish kransekage cake or cookies (almond based, and in a special cake form or cookies and I will send you some Danish flags for decorations)
    Danish flødeboller cookies (chocolate covered marshmallow cookies with a marcipan waffer base)
    Mexican empanadas with fruit filling

    Thanks Joe!

      1. I know… strange combo. Half my family is from AZ the other half from Denmark. So I grew up with sweets from both places. 😀 Yay for me!


  25. I would like to add something else to my list, an Italian Ricotta cake and maybe some Borek 🙂

    1. Hey Bev!

      Very good. I think they’re on the list already but second votes are always welcome!


      – Joe

  26. There is a cake baked in either a 9×9 pan or a 9 x 13 pan — and I can’t remember what it’s called — that’s a good basic banana cake with oats in it. Then topped with either a cocoanutty broiled-on topping or penuche. It would be good to have both the 9×9 size and the 9×13 size.

    I’ll also vote for tangzhong technique; baci di dama; baked apple dumplings (and pour-through apple pie); a good baked donut that doesn’t require a fancy pan.

    And I’d love to see how to reverse-engineer a cookbook bread recipe using volume measurements to bakers percentages.

    Thank you, Joe.

    1. Banana oat cake? Interesting.

      But thanks Ted! On the reverse engineering, it’s fairly easy to do. You can use my weight chart ( to convert the volumes to weights. From that point it’s pretty easy. The amount of flour becomes the 100% yardstick by which you measure all other ingredients. So if a recipe has 12 ounces of flour, 6 ounces of water and 1 ounce of dry milk, it contains 100% flour, 50% water and 8.3% dry milk. It’s a weird system but it makes for easy shorthand when you’re making bread, very easy to scale various ingredients up or down. Is that helpful at all?


      – Joe

      1. Thanks Joe! I’ll take a look at it and see what happens.

        Are Baker’s Percentages used for recipes other than breads? I’m thinking: how would you scale up a cake in the 9×9 pan to the 9 x 13 pan…

        1. Hey Ted!

          They’re used almost exclusively for bread, occasionally for sweet breads like muffins, tea breads and cake batters, but that’s about as far as it goes.

          As far as that problem is concerned, I’m no mathematician but 9×9=81 and 9×13=117 which is about a 45% increase or so? Call it a batch and a half and hold back a little? That’s how I’d do it, anyway!

          – Joe

          1. Thanks Joe! I wondered if there was a Real, Authentic, Baker-Approved and Certified™ approach for this.

  27. I would love to see your version of Italian Easter bread (a sweet braided egg bread) and ciambelles (my family’s version is anise flavoured, boiled and then baked till crispy)! Thanks for all you do!

    1. Easter bread, eh? I may do that this week. I’m not normally very seasonal, but those are beautiful.

      Cheers and thanks!

      – Joe

  28. Joe – Dani requested Lamingtons and that reminded me that a tiny café near me, whose chef/owner is Australian, makes them. They are indeed wonderful, but he also makes a Pear and Frangipane tart served with Chantilly Cream that is heavenly. Don’t know if it’s Australian or not, but it would be great if you would consider adding that to the list.

    1. Thanks, Elizabeth! I’ve never heard of that but I’ll see what I can find!

      – Joe

  29. “since I’m not very good at confectionery”

    This is the poorest excuse I’ve ever heard from you for not doing something :p

    Practice makes perfect!

    Or, perhaps, given the popularity of your blog you could entice some well known confectioner to do a series of guest posts for you?

    Get thee to the chocolate bowl and make us some candies!


    1. Ooh you bastard. So your game is to shame me into it, eh?

      It’s working.

      – J

  30. How about a good double crust chicken pot pie? Please? It’s something that should be simple, but is challenging to make one that’s really good.

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