A Heartfelt Thanks to All


As we go into 2018 several things are on my mind. First of all, I’d like to offer my thanks to all of you that read my blog, whether once in a while are on a regular basis. You are very special friends who share the same interest as I do and it makes my writing a joy.  The comments are always a treat for me and I never mind answering questions sent to me via email.  I am committed in 2018 to making my blog even better.  Any suggestions you have are welcomed and will be taken into consideration.  So do let me hear from you whether on the types of recipes, or white papers on ingredients, techniques, photos, – anything.

First of all, I’d like to offer my thanks to all of you that read my blog, whether once in a while are on a regular basis. You are very special friends who share the same interest as I do and it makes my writing a joy.  The comments are always a treat for me and I never mind answering questions sent to me via email.  I am committed in 2018 to making my blog even better.  Any suggestions you have are welcomed and will be taken into consideration.  So do let me hear from you whether on the types of recipes, or white papers on ingredients, techniques, photos, – anything.

Second of all – how did we get here so fast? I say this every year and every year I try to slow things down, but I have come to the conclusion that the older I get the faster time flies.  And, truthfully, most of the time I am enjoying what I do.  There are times I could do without.  LIke the time the restaurant needs six special cakes for a party.  This wouldn’t be a problem normally.  I can manage 6 or more any day – except when I need 10″ pans and I have only two.  Each cake takes two layers so I have to make the cake layers six times.  Fortunately, the ganache can be made all at once!  But this is rare and as long as my husband and I remain in good health, I don’t think I have anything to complain about.

This year I hope to finally get my Sixty Second Brioche book finished and ready for Kindle and paperback. I had hoped to get it finished last year, but a bad head fall near the end of the preceding year kept me busy with doctors, cat scans, hospital stays and MRI’s as they looked for the reason I couldn’t see properly.  The first six months were just putting one foot in front of the other.  All is good now so I am thankful for that and that my eyes have returned to normal.

I am also starting a book of cookies (just what the world needs – one more book of cookies remarked one of my readers) but I promise this one includes recipes from around the world as well as those I’ve come up with and American favorites.  They all have something special about them and I am excited to get the testing underway.

This brings me to my last point.  If any of you reading this or know of anyone who uses a gluten free mix in baking I’d like to know what you or they use if you buying the mix (as well as the name of the mix). If you or they make your own, it would help a lot if you would share it with me for my research.  I won’t use it or publish as  I am at the beginning stages of formulating a mix to use in the cookie book so that those that need to be gluten free can enjoy the cookies as well.  However, my son suggested that not all people will want to make their own mix so testing of readyi made mixes has to commence also.  Gads, writing this down, the work sure seems to have escalated!

My son was diagnosed several years ago and he loves the gluten free hermits I send him which gave me the idea for including GF conversions in the book.  This will be a ton of testing since I won’t include anything I don’t know will work.  Especially the European cookies as they are sometimes easier, such as shortbread, or sometimes more involved such as the dozens of recipes for Lebkuchen.

I would like to end this blog by going back to the beginning and thanking all of you again for your interest, comments and just being here.  I wish you all the best New Year ever in 2018 as we all try to make sense of how fast the world is swirling around us.  I am going to try to read more, watch TV less and enjoy my family, work, plants and pastries.  As my son would say – later!

Pastry has not only been my profession, but my passion. If there is anything in particular you would like to see or any questions about baking or pastry, please let me know. Be sure to subscribe so you don't miss a post!
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48 thoughts on “A Heartfelt Thanks to All

  1. gollymzmol

    As always, Helen, it is a pleasure to read your blog. I am a cookie lover and will keep my eyes open for your Cookie book. Sorry about your mishap last year, happy to hear it is all behind you. I am a big fan, I wish you many more years doing what you do so well!

    1. hfletcher Post author

      Hi Molly – Happy New Year to you and thanks for your kind words. I was surprised and pleased that the post elicited such response. It was humbling to hear from so many and it made me happy to know there are those that enjoy the blog so much. So good to hear from you. How is Victoria doing?

  2. Mary Moses

    Happy New Year to you!

    I’ve been gluten free for about 2 1/2 years. I’d love to see some gluten free adaptations for your recipes in the future. I’ve bought delicious baked goods from College of DuPage’s Culinary Market (Chicagoland) (I did not enjoy their focaccia though.) They use Glutino mixes. I’ve tried the regular mix and like it very much. I also like Pamela’s baking mixes.

    I bought a couple of Nicole Hunn’s Gluten Free on a Shoestring books. She recently published a new book about baking bread. I haven’t tried any recipes from that book yet but they look hopeful. Her cookbooks have recipes to make your own flour mixes too. Her work/research might provide you with some inspiration on your new journey.

    Thank you for taking the time to publish this blog. I love how informative your recipes are and how you share your thought process and results with us. And of course the photos are wonderful too!

    Glad to hear that your eyes are healing. I think they’re so easy to take for granted.

    Wishing you and Mike a healthy new year.

    1. hfletcher Post author

      Dear Mary, thank you so much for this lovely comment. My son who lives in Brookfield has found bought GF bread a problem also. I think that has to be the hardest thing. But he has found plenty of things he does like and been great about switching over. Thanks for the mention of Nicole Hunn’s books. I didn’t know about her but will check it out.

      A very belated Happy New Year to you.

  3. Jeanne Zamutt

    I have found that King Arthur flour has excellent GF ingredients and recipes. their GF Angel Food Cake is great!

    1. hfletcher Post author

      Hi Jeanne – Is there GF Angel Food Cake from one of their mixes or a recipe that can be made with one of their GF flours? Thanks for the help.

  4. Dave P

    I too appreciate the efforts of any blogger but food bloggers are my favorite, especially baking bloggers. It is a difficult task to describe, document and photograph the specific steps.

    I was diagnosed as celiac 8 years ago. For me, I rely heavily on the experts at King Arthur Flour. Their homemade brown rice flour blend is a staple and I have had great success with it, especially for non-yeasted baked goods. I always use xanthan gum when a gum is required.

    This Christmas I was in a time crunch for baking cookies. I used King Arthur Flour’s Measure for Measure blend in four kinds of cookies (chocolate chip, Russian tea cakes, oatmeal raisin and chocolate sugar snaps). These four kinds of cookies are the bare minimum for us at Christmas so my kids are expert tasters on these. They are also very vocal about any changes. I can honestly say no one knew the cookies were gluten free until someone saw eating them as asked.

    I have also used Measure for Measure blend for baked doughnuts, pie crust, muffins and scones with equal success. The blend is an exact 1:1 substitute for all purpose flour for non-yeasted goods.

    I have tried Bob’s Red Mill, Hodgson Mill and Pamela’s with inconsistent results even when using the same recipe. So far, of the premade blends, King Arthur Measure for Measure is the most consistent and is also middle of the road for cost.

    Please keep up the great work. Have a Happy and healthy 2018!!!

    1. hfletcher Post author

      Hi Dave – Thank you for the detailed help with the GF flour. I have also used the Measure for Measure in cookies and my son’s favorite – Hermit Bars. I like King Arthur as a source and often go to their blog to look things up. Sweet rice flour seems to be the predominant ingredient in one to one mixes but some also use brown rice. Costco has a measure for measure flour substitute that my son and his wife swear by and it uses brown rice. However, I have had comments about the taste of brown rice flour. The texture is another thing. I am anxious to try some of the European cookies with GF flour. Shortbread should be a cinch since rice flour is often used for the correct texture although everyone loved the ones I have made for years at the bakery made with all purpose flour. Lots to learn for sure.

  5. Anne

    I only found you and your blog in 2017, but already I’m a big fan. I love baking from scratch, and you help me be a better baker through a better understanding of my ingredients and techniques. Thank you, and Happy New Year!

  6. Hillary

    Helen, this is so exciting. I am so thankful that you will continue the blog and keep it going strong in 2018. I very much enjoy it and look forward to it, even though I am not normally a poster to the comments. I found and made your pumpkin mousse torte for Thanksgiving and again for Christmas and it is FABULOUS. The best dessert I have ever made, and I will continue making for years to come. I am excited about your upcoming books and will be sure to purchase them. I am very interested in the gluten free mix discussion and your taste testing/recipe testing. My son and husband are gluten free (although my son is has egg and nut allergies, which is complicated with baking). I have tried the Cup 4 Cup gluten free flour that I bought at Williams Sonoma with some mixed results – it made a nice substitute for pie crust in my regular pie crust recipe, but has weird results in muffins/cupcakes. Thanks, Hillary

    1. hfletcher Post author

      Hi Hillary – there are so many different GF substitutes it is difficult. However, I am beginning to narrow things down and will be testing several commercial mixes also. I’m also not making mine with almond flour exactly because of the nut allergy problem. It always surprises me that some GF recipes include it. Thanks for letting me know Williams Sonoma has a mix.

  7. Vivian Vuong

    Your blog is my go to for all my baking. Thank you for your generosity by sharing your baking experience with us. I am a very grateful and devoted follower to your blog.

  8. Dirk

    The GF Hermit bars, while oddly named, are absolutely amazing!
    Looking forward to a fantastic year for everyone!
    You favorite Celiac Chicagoan!

  9. Kirk Rush

    Hi Helen,

    I found out several years ago that I am sensitive to gluten. The mix that I have used is equal parts brown rice, sorgham, and tapioca flours. It worked very well for me: however, I have seen where most of the GF flours will raise your insulin level. I changed to Einkorn flour 2-3 years ago, and I have not had any problem with it at all. It doesn’t always work the same as modern flour because of the different gluten structure, but I love the taste of it. I tried a new cookie recipe this weekend. They spread more that they were supposed to, but they tasted great. I just thought I would mention that.


    Kirk Rush

    1. hfletcher Post author

      Thank you so much Kirk. I would suggest that if your cookie was all butter that could account for the spreading. I use 1/2 butter and 1/2 crisco to ease the problem. YOu could also add a bit more flour or flour substitute.

  10. RobL

    Helen, my very best wishes for a Happy New Year 2018 to you, and to all your readers.

    I am more of a traditional baker, have been for many years. However for friends I have used ‘Bob’s Red Mill 1 to 1’ for Date Bars, a Carrot Cake, a Coconut Cake, Chocolate Chip Cookies, and an Almond Tea Cake. The results were remarkably good.

    1. hfletcher Post author

      Hi Rob – When I had the bakery, we were often asked for a small cake for someone who was gluten intolerant. I always used Bob’s gluten free chocolate cake mix. It was great. I didn’t care for his yellow cake mix but that was in the early days of GF.

  11. sallybr

    I want to thank you for keeping such an amazing site going, your tutorials are sheer perfection, and you always make everything seem approachable, even for a beginner baker

    I was sad to learn you had health issues, and relieved that they are a thing of the past…

    a very Happy New Year for you and all your loved ones!

  12. Chilly

    Bruce (above) – is right – we trust you implicitly, Helen, and that is a wonderful thing! Every time I’ve followed one of your recipes, however complex, they’ve turned out perfectly first time, which can’t be said for many other bloggers and current recipe-writers.

    We had a celiac friend staying over the holidays, so everything I made was gf, with mixed results. She brought some good gf bread with her, and I used gf bread in bread sauce and stuffing, which were … just ok. I also made gf mince pies using a standard pastry recipe and Bob’s one-for-one gf flour. They must have been good, as unfortunately our non-gf guests ate all of them and left none for the celiac friend!

    All the best for a hale and heart-warming 2018 for you and your amazing husband, Helen. I’m looking forward to whatever wondrous dishes you’re going to share with us!

    Chilly in Canada xx

  13. Patricia A Beckwith

    Thank your for sharing your wonderful recipes and years of hard work with us! I love every recipe I have tried! Warmest regards to you and your family in the coming New Year.

  14. Bruce

    I want to thank you for your great blog, Helen. I finally tried your croissants on Christmas Eve, and that is now the way I will make them. See the large flakes of butter before they went into the oven concerned me a little, but I certainly trust you, and it paid off. The method is so much easier than the traditional way, and they are so good! Also, the dough rolled out like a dream. I didn’t need much flour for rolling, and getting it 24″ long before cutting was no trouble at all. I’m ready to try the puff pastry now.

    1. hfletcher Post author

      Good for you Bruce – So happy you made them. I haven’t made them for a while because there is just the two of us and I am known to eat them with gusto! I will post the puff pastry soon and it is just as easy as the croissant. Thanks for letting me know. Happy New Year to you.

  15. Denise Hammons

    Happy New Year to you and yours. Your blogs are inspiring and I look forward to them. You have a no nonsense approach that I especially enjoy.

    I have a few customers that are GF and have had much success with both Bob’s Red Mill and KAF.

    Wishing you successful testing, and looking forward to what you create in the new year.

  16. Barbara

    Good Morning and Happy New Year!! Glad to know you are recovering from your fall and can now see properly. I so enjoy your blog and have your two baking books that I frequently refer to – looking forward to your new ones.

    I have a family member who recently has the need to eat GF, so during the holidays I made a pecan pie using Bob’s Red Mill Pie Crust mix. The crust for the first pie turned out beautifully – just needed a pinch more salt. I followed the package directions exactly. I rolled it out between sheets of plastic and that worked well.

    I only used half of the dough, so flattened the remainder to a disc, wrapped it in plastic wrap and froze it in a zip top bag as I normally do for conventional pie dough. The second attempt using the thawed dough did not work well – the dough was very difficult to work with using the same rolling method – it was crumbly, and difficult to roll out. I ended up adding a bit more water to get it to hold together and finally ended up making two 6 inch galettes in smaller pie dishes. The pie crust was hard and tough and in my opinion – not at all satisfactory. I will not freeze this type of dough in the future. This was my first attempt baking in the GF world – much to learn!!!

    I purchased a package of Bob’s Red Mill 1 for 1 locally, and some new all purpose gluten free flour from gfJules.com. I read the reviews and found the best to be for the gfjules brand. I have not tried baking with either yet, but will keep you updated as to my progress.

    1. hfletcher Post author

      Hi Barbara – do let me know. I have not heard of that brand but will look into it and see if I can find it for comparison. Rice flour definitely doesn’t act like wheat flour but I found it interesting that it didn’t work after freezeing. That is something I didn’tthink about so I will add that to my testing list. When my son was here for Thanksgiving I made my regular chocolate chip cookies from the blog the normal way and used KF GF flour. (It’s getting to look like code!). The GF didn’t have the crisp outside and the chewy inside and they didn’t bake up like the wheat flur but they were still very good. Dirk loved them. I baked both of them straight out of the freezer so I could compare them. I didn’t send all of them back to Chicago so I could see how my mix, when I make it, would compare. thanks for taking the time to let me know.

  17. Rose Mueller

    Happy New Year Helen! Thank you for your blog. I have learned a lot from you! Also have enjoyed making several of your recipes. I wish you and yours health and prosperity in the new year!

  18. Diane

    Blessings to you in the new year! I have been gluten free for 16+ years. For most things I just substitute rice flour or 2/3 rice plus 1/3 tapioca. I add xanthan if I have it, but don’t really worry about it if I don’t. I also use almond flour at times either on its own or in the mix. I have experimented with a variety of fancy flours, but usually like to keep the cost down as much as possible. If you can hack a great yeasted sandwich bread recipe, we would all be super grateful!

    1. hfletcher Post author

      Hi Diane – my son is waiting on that bread also. He is fine with GF but the breads don’t work for him. He was also spoiled by homemade breads and rolls so that didn’t help. Thanks for sharing. I don’t think a lot of ingredients are necessary. In reading packaged gf flours they are fairly basic. I think Bob’s uses sorghum flour but most don’t go too far out. Happy New Year to you.

    1. hfletcher Post author

      Hi Vera – 2018 is going to be a year of learning and study for me as I would love to do a podcast about baking also. There is so much that can help people to understand baking more and not be intimidated by it. Lot’s of work ahead but I love it. Happy New Year to you and yours.

  19. Ginny

    Happy New Year Helen. Thank you for your sharing a blog with the world, and especially those of us who enjoy baking as much as you do. Personally, I look forward to seeing an email in my inbox every week from you and read each posting top to bottom, sometimes twice. Your detailed explanations are so very helpful. I have made a few of your recipes and each time, they come out perfect. I so appreciate that your recipes have been “test driven” because I never worry about the correct measurements or procedures.

    As for gluten free, I have just gotten a job as pastry chef for a new restaurant and the executive chef/owner has asked me to include some GF items in the bakery case. I will start experimenting (today!) and will let you know if/when I find a mixture that works. I plan to also try Bob’s Red Mill GF flour, Trader Joe’s GF flour and King Arthur ‘s to see which I like best.

    I often read Bravetart’s (Stella Parks) blogs. She is a contributor to Food52 and Serious Eats. Stella posted a GF pie crust formula which I will be using today in a quiche for the first time. You might want to check out her recipe. Like you, she does a lot of testing before publishing.


  20. Janet

    Happy New Year Helen and thank you for this wonderful blog! The information you so freely share has saved me from an untold number of errors and experiments ending in disappointing results. I am excited about any pending new information and look forward to the new book. As far as gluten free, I do have a family member I frequently bake for, and have come to love Pamela’s Products. The results are the best of any commercially available gluten free products/mixes I have tried, and I think I’ve tried them all.

    1. hfletcher Post author

      Hi Janet – thanks for telling me about Pamela’s products. I have not heard of them. Will find them and give them a try. Happy New Year to you and your family.

  21. Betsie Brown

    Love love love your blog Helen! We sell your pecan bars made with honey at our bakery and they’re a huge hit! Look forward to it very much. King Arthur Gluten free mix is my personal favorite! No aftertaste! Best of luck to you and many thanks!

  22. Kath

    Happy New Year, Helen! I love your blog and am so happy that you are feeling well. Best wishes to you for a wonderful 2018.

  23. Nikki

    2 Comments on the GF “flour” A very good friend of mine uses the mix that was developed by America’s Test Kitchen and I think she has also used the one from King Arthur Flour.

    And I wish to thank you for enjoyable reading this past year or two. I have learned from your posts and I have added to my recipe collection (just what I needed!) I am glad that I found “Pastries Like a Pro”

    Happy, Healthy New Year!

  24. Susan Croswell

    Happy New Year to you as well, Helen. I personally want to thank you for the effort you put into sharing your vast experience and expertise with those of us who love to bake and strive to become better at it. I have benefited greatly from your blog and find your enthusiasm & delight in what you do contagious. I’m looking forward to 2018 with you and the upcoming books.

  25. Mary Lou Surgi

    I just want to say Happy New Year to you, thank you for your wonderful blog, and I wish I could make every little thing that is on my “to eat” list from your wonderful recipes this year. Sadly, there are only 364 daysleft!

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