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Olive Oil Citrus Cake

One of my favorite recipes using extra-virgin Italian olive oil is in this citrus olive oil cake that I adapted from a recipe by Anne Quatrano in Food & Wine Magazine. I have always made this cake with a Ligurian olive oil, but I didn’t have any on hand, so I went to the market [...]

Cheese Soufflé

Cheese Soufflé Serves 4 Tall and majestic, with a crusty exterior and a super creamy interior, this is the quintessential French cheese soufflé. You make it the classic way with a thick béchamel, whisked in egg yolks, stiffly beaten whites folded in along with shredded cheese. You have several options for the cheese depending on [...]

Unplugged No-Knead Brioche

I recently came across a recipe from America’s Test Kitchen for no-knead brioche. How could that be, I wondered? Brioche, a classic French dough, gets its especially light and airy texture by vigorously beating and kneading softened butter into an eggy yeast dough. Since I’m staying in a condo with no fancy electric gadgets, I [...]

Amaretti Sour Cherry Pie

I think summer wouldn't be summer without the promise of sour cherries. When I first wrote about them a few years ago, I forgot to tell you the story of where I get these rubies of the fruit world, so tart and full of sunshine. Sour cherries have a fleeting life span of only two [...]

Italian Prune Galette

Last week I was thrilled to find Italian prunes at our farmers’ market, and I thought I’d repost my recipe for baking them in a galette. I’d always called these succulent fall fruits Italian Prune Plums. But I now have learned, thanks to my friend, John Keegan, that I have been wrong. Here’s what he wrote when I made my original post on October 14, 2013.

Topsy Turvy Caramel Apple Cake

This cake makes a fine change of pace dessert for a Thanksgiving dinner. The key to the success of this cake is a preliminary cooking of the apples on top of the stove. Apples in an upside-down cake should be tender and completely cooked. No crunch, please. Firm-sweet apples, such as Cameo or Braeburn, are excellent in this cake because they hold their shape and deliver a sweetness that complements the buttery brown sugar topping. Browning the butter before combining it with brown sugar and cinnamon adds a nutty caramel flavor. This cake is best when very fresh, and it reheats beautifully the next day in a warm oven for 5 to 10 minutes.

Unplugged: Back to the Old Grind

I’m a great fan of kitchen gadgets, especially those I don’t have to plug in. I would be lost without my whisks, granny fork, instant-read thermometer and nut grinder. What’s a nut grinder? It’s a rotary hand-cranked device you clamp to the side of a table that does a superb job of turning nuts into a fine dry powder. Many European cakes (tortes) use ground almonds, walnuts, or hazelnuts, and the only way to achieve the proper texture is to grind the nuts with a nut grinder. A food processor just doesn’t hack it. I got hooked on nut grinders while baking my way through Maida Heatter’s Book of Great Desserts (Knopf, 1974). Back then I could order a nut grinder from Williams-Sonoma. In Maida’s book she even had a sketch of one. Nowadays nut grinders are hard to find, unless you visit European cookery web sites.

Foam Cakes: Classic Génoise

Génoise is the last of the foam cakes. It is also a very versatile cake that may be used to make petits fours and jelly rolls. It differs from all the other foam cakes–angel food, sponge, chiffon–in that it is made with whole eggs. Warmed eggs are beaten with sugar and vanilla until they triple in volume, become thick and creamy, and are filled with tiny air bubbles, the only source of leavening. I like to use a mixture of unbleached all purpose flour and bleached cake flour because I think it gives the cake a fine, sturdy crumb.Génoise tends to be dry, and when baked as a thick layer, it is split and brushed with generous amounts of a flavored sugar syrup before filling and frosting.

Apricot Berry Crumble

Can you imagine how thrilled I was when Food and Wine magazine voted Apricot Berry Crumble “Best of the Best” shortly after Baking in America was published? Thrilled and surprised, actually, because the dessert is so simple and uncomplicated. So, what exactly is a “crumble?” According to Richard Sax’s Classic Home Desserts, it’s a fruit dessert baked with a topping containing oats, essentially an English version of American “crisps”. What both these types of desserts share is a crumbly topping of flour, sugar, and butter that bakes crisp on top as the underside sinks into the fruit to flavor and thicken it. They go way back in our history.

Apple Pie with Kate McDermott

DuncanKateRobinDuncan McDermott Graham (Kate’s son), Kate McDermott, and Robin Jacobs, the three musketeers of The Art of the Pie workshop.

It’s rare that I get to take classes from a professional baker because I’m the one who usually gives the classes. All that changed recently when my wife, Dorothy, and I, were invited to attend a baking weekend called Upper Crust at Paws Up, a world-class resort just an hour away from our home in Montana. Full disclosure: My wife and I were comped for this extraordinary weekend.