Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Essays’ Category

Orchid and Pearl

Orchid and Pearl

Cake is not just dessert. Cake is a nostalgic treat of joy. Cake celebrates childhood, family, and fertility. An anniversary, a birth, a marriage (and sometimes divorce), they’re all special occasions that we celebrate with cake. My early attempts at baking cake were abysmal and Duncan Hines strawberry frosting rescued an under-baked cake, sagging under the weight of its rawness, on more occasions than I’m willing to admit. Still, I loved baking cakes because I created a joyful experience, limited only by my imagination, and it’s still the reason why I bake today.

(more…)

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Water Ganache

A bowl of seized chocolate
A chocolatier’s worse nightmare.

Watering down my chocolate goes against everything I’ve been taught.  Should a few drops of water land in my chocolate, disaster! My chocolate is no longer fit for duty. As it turns out, mixing water into chocolate isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

(more…)

Read Full Post »

 

Raindrop Cake

Raindrop Cake (Tim Ireland)

I don’t see the appeal of the “Raindrop Cake”.  Pretty presentation aside, the dessert tastes like barely sweetened spring water. It is pleasantly refreshing, but I take umbrage with calling it a ‘cake’. (And that $8 price tag.) When I reminisce about the best cake I ever ate, a tepid watery blob that jiggles like a breast implant does not come to mind. How did such a misnomer come to be?

(more…)

Read Full Post »

…. No, I Don’t Make Crappy Desserts (or vegan desserts, for that matter)

“You’re lactose intolerant?!  How are your desserts any good if you can’t eat them?”

My job interview ended abruptly, yet again. Discouraged and disheartened, I’ve kept my condition under wraps for years. But worn down by a parade of cheesy, creamy family meals that resigned me to eating crackers for dinner, and the paradox of my dietary regimen and chosen métier was questioned again: “Exactly, how are you a pastry chef and you can’t eat dairy?” Let me explain.

(more…)

Read Full Post »

Culinary Applications of Baking Powder

Because leavening is instantaneous, breads leavened through acid-base reactions are called quick-breads.

Generally, one teaspoon of baking powder will leaven 5 ounces of flour, 8 ounces of liquid, and one egg. If the liquid is acidic (when using cultured dairy, citrus, or honey), then the acids in baking powder will not be completely consumed in the chemical reaction. This is why your carrot cake may develop green spots after a couple of days in the refrigerator or your cake browns a few minutes after baking but is still raw in the center. If you are using acidic ingredients in a recipe that already uses baking powder, you will need to replace some of the baking powder with baking soda. There is no magic formula for such a conversion. It is trial and error although I can offer this guideline: 5 ounces of flour, one egg and one cup of buttermilk can be leavened with only ½ teaspoon of baking powder and ¼ teaspoon of baking soda. Be mindful that acidity also extends to dry ingredients such as brown sugar and cocoa powder.

(more…)

Read Full Post »

In the days before chemically manufactured baking soda was available, ash water was used both as a leavener and as a source of potash. It seems odd to us now but using ash made sense as wood-burning ovens and fireplaces were the primary sources of cooking and heating the home. Although potash worked instantly, it was difficult to dissolve and often left discolored streaks in cakes and pastries. The increasing scarcity of wood eventually led to the search for alternate sources of carbonate. Pearlash, when combined with soured milk, produces pockets of carbon dioxide that lighten a batter. Pearlash was only used until the 1840s, when it was replaced by saleratus, and later by baking soda.

(more…)

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »