Every so often I get a certain dessert idea into my head and start scribbling down possibilities on a piece of paper. No, I don’t run to my computer to type. I find that writing things down on paper takes longer and gives me enough […]
with Greg Patent, Award Winning Cookbook Author
Pies and Tarts
Duncan, Kate, and Robin. Duncan 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. […]
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.
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.
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.
Abby Dodge is one of the best bakers in the world. I got to know her by baking my way through her dessert stories in Fine Cooking magazine, where she began as a recipe tester eighteen years ago. Abby has a flair for combining flavors and textures in unexpected but delicious ways and her recipes are foolproof.
In her new and delightful cookbook, Mini Treats & Hand-Held Sweets: 100 Delicious Desserts to Pick Up and Eat, published last year by The Taunton Press, Abby has come up with inventive takes on all sorts of cookies, macarons, pastries, mini cakes and pies, frozen treats, and even candies.
“Ya gotta try the sour orange pie,” our waitress at The Yearling restaurant in Hawthorne, Florida, insisted. “It’s our specialty.” Being citrus lovers, my wife and I perked up and started asking questions. What we learned was this: The pie was most likely a variation of Key Lime Pie with sour orange juice subbing for the lime. It had a Graham cracker crust and was served with a sauce. So we happily asked our server to “Bring it on!”
I like lots of apples in my pie, about 5 pounds worth, and I’ve found that by partially cooking the apples first in butter with sugar and spices, the apple flavor becomes concentrated, the apples reduce in volume, allowing me to pack a huge amount of flavor into a pie–and I don’t need to use any flour or cornstarch as a thickener. Another bonus, the apples will be tender. No crunchy apples for me, please.
Teaching at Rancho La Puerta is always full of surprises. The guests who sign up for my classes are a diverse group of extremely accomplished people from all walks of life. But in the kitchen, we’re all equals, because in the time we have together there is one aim: to cook a menu of seven recipes in two hours and to sit and enjoy the meal together. Cooking is all about the pleasures of the table and the sense of community it fosters.
At my first class, Dana Shaltry, a pediatric orthodontist, volunteered to make the dessert, a rustic French pear galette. I had demonstrated how to make the ground almond bases and pastry with a food processor, and Dana took it from there. He rolled the dough into a rough circle, cut the pears into thin slices, and arranged the fruit beautifully over the ground almonds.