The More Things Change…

Pound Cake isn’t called pound cake the world over of course. The French call it quatres quarts (or “four fourths” cake for those of us in the Anglosphere). That term again refers to the proportion of ingredients, which, as we can see from the below posts, canny bakers were fooling with even in the very […]

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Bread Slump

Lord I’ve been turning out some lousy bread lately. Part of the reason is that I lost my recipe in the conversion last week, so I’ve been kinda free-wheeling it. The loaves have been coming out pale and gummy, with a vaguely raw-cereal taste, which means they’re under-proofed. It’s the pale-ness that’s the dead giveaway. […]

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Anyone remember the first step with a new recipe?

Yes, you in the back. Correct! Convert all volume measurements to weight. Here’s what the Orange Pound Cake recipe looks like after the, uh…switcheroo. For the batter: 7.5 ounces softened unsalted butter 1.8 ounces milk 5.2 ounces eggs 1 tsp. vanilla extract 6.75 ounces sifted cake flour 5.25 ounces sugar 3/4 tsp. baking powder 1 […]

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Dobos Debrief

Well, the cake was received well by all but the birthday girl. What I forgot to consider was that European-style cakes aren’t as sweet as their American counterparts (they seem to be geared toward richness instead). So, despite the points I was awarded on the cake’s technical merits, officially the effort will be put down […]

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Bam! Bam! Bam!

To the man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail. So goes the proverb I trot out every time I see an intellectually sophisticated food writer projecting a complex theory onto a self-evidently simple thing. Take cakes. Check the “cake” entry in your average food reference and you’re pretty sure to find some ink […]

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Fire in the Hole!

Well my stack of Hungarian chocolate flapjacks is all put together except for the trademark caramel-candy top layer. As I mentioned before, I’m going for the fan blade presentation (but with a dark chocolate exterior). Doing that should be no big deal, you don’t need a thermometer to make this kind of simple caramel. All […]

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Butter Love

Is there anything more sensuous than watching a buttercream come together in your mixing bowl? If there is I haven’t seen it. First it’s the yolks mingling and mingling…then the hot sugar syrup in a steady stream…followed by glistening chunks of room-temperature butter, one after another after another, until the mass suddenly unites in a […]

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Bubble Bubble

To me assembling a Dobos Torte isn’t all that different from making a stack of pancakes, though the batter in truth is more akin to waffle batter. Like waffle batter, much of its bulk consists of egg foam…millions of tiny little bubbles which will heat up, expand, and leaven the cake. Keeping those millions of […]

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Buttercream and the Melting Point

One of my many imaginary friends just asked me why buttercreams made with vegetable shortening leave that greasy sensation in your mouth when you swallow them. “Manny,” I said, “It’s all about melting points.” The reason real buttercreams are so silky smooth is because they’re made with real butter, and butter has a melting point […]

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