Author Archives: hfletcher

Lemon Rum Bundt Cake

BY HELEN S. FLETCHER, ON
COPYRIGHT, HELEN S. FLETCHER, 2017. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
ALL PHOTOS BY PASTRIES LIKE A PRO UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED.

Lemon Butter Bundt CakeThis Lemon Rum Bundt Cake is a version of the beloved pound cake.  Easy to put together with a soaking syrup and no buttercream.

This is one of the best pound cakes I have ever eaten. The texture is like velvet on your tongue and the butter adds a flavor no other shortening can. Two flours are used. All purpose flour provides strength to achieve and hold its height. Cake flour tenderizes the crumb.

I find it interesting that there is no leavening except the air beaten into the butter and sugar.  Heavy cream adds to the melt in your mouth texture. Continue reading

No Bake Chocolate Raspberry Truffle Tarts

BY HELEN S. FLETCHER, ON
COPYRIGHT, HELEN S. FLETCHER, 2017. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
ALL PHOTOS BY PASTRIES LIKE A PRO UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED.

Chocolate Raspberry Truffle TartThis No Bake Chocolate Raspberry Truffle Tarts is an easy, sophisticated looking but easy to execute tart.  While especially nice for Valentine’s day, it is good anytime.

The no bake press in crust is filled with a chocolate truffle filling and can be made weeks ahead and frozen.  Thaw in the refrigerator.  Several hours before serving, let the tart come to room temperature and top with the raspberries.

While I have used 4 1/4 inch heart shaped pans with removable bottoms, a single 9 x 3/4 inch quiche pan with a removable bottom may be used for this No Bake Chocolate Raspberry Truffle Tarts. Continue reading

Understanding Gelatin

BY HELEN S. FLETCHER, ON
COPYRIGHT, HELEN S. FLETCHER, 2017. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
ALL PHOTOS BY PASTRIES LIKE A PRO UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED.

Knox Gelatin and sheet gelatin for Understanding GelatinGelatin is one of the most important setting agents in pastry. An odorless, tasteless and colorless thickening agent that forms a gel when ultimately combined with a liquid, it is also one of the most misunderstood ingredients in pastry. It forms a crystal clear gel that melts quickly and cleanly when eaten.

Use too little and the product won’t set, use too much and you can bounce it across the room. Finding just the right balance so the item won’t sag when released from its mold can be tricky. When done right, it adds body that goes unnoticed.

Aspic is perhaps the most extreme use of gelatin. Some recipes for pate de fruit and Turkish Delight also use gelatin in an extreme form. But for most desserts you definitely don’t want to know it has been set with gelatin. Gelatin has many uses in pastry including Bavarian Cream, mousses, and cold soufflés as well as in homemade ice cream to prevent it from becoming too hard in the freezer. I use it in pastry cream and lemon curd so they maintain their shape when piped and left at room temperature. Continue reading

Hermit Bars with Lemon Glaze

BY HELEN S. FLETCHER, ON
COPYRIGHT, HELEN S. FLETCHER, 2017. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
ALL PHOTOS BY PASTRIES LIKE A PRO UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED.

Hermit BarsI am a sucker for spiced cookies and these Hermit Bars are one more example.  You need only look at the Honey Diamonds, Pfeffernusse, Triple Ginger Crisps, and Plantation Spice Cookies.

This is one of the most addictive cookies I have ever eaten. The original recipes, which seems to be the norm in books and on the internet made a rather sodden, heavy cookie with no icing. Changing a few of the ingredients made one of the most moist, spicy cookies that last forever in a closed tin. The Lemon Glaze, which is the perfect foil for the spicy cookie and sprinkles are optional but add another dimension to the bars.

The bar on the left is the traditional bar, the one on the right is the updated version which is higher, lighter and more moist.

Difference between two Hermit Bars

Making them even more attractive is the ease with which it is prepared.  This has to be one of the easiest, most rewarding cookies ever.  It can be cut into bars or cut those in half for a smaller cookie. Continue reading

Torta Rustica – A Savory Italian Pastry

BY HELEN S. FLETCHER, ON
COPYRIGHT, HELEN S. FLETCHER, 2017. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
ALL PHOTOS BY PASTRIES LIKE A PRO UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED.

Torta RusticaThis Torta Rustica is a savory Italian pastry which I am assuming means Rustic Tart.  Its memorable crust holds a filling of spinach with cheese, eggs, onions and bread crumbs to bind it.  It is layered with red peppers, artichokes and provolone.  It is hard to go wrong with these ingredients.  The one caveat here is to thaw the spinach completely and squeeze all the water from it.  It is important it is dry when combined with the other ingredients.

We would squeeze 30 pounds of spinach to make 12 Torta Rustica at a time.  No matter how long we thawed the spinach it would be freezing cold when we squeezed it.  We would keep a bowl of warm water next to us to dip our hands into to  warm them as we prepared the spinach. Continue reading