Getting the Most out of Baking Recipes

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

Getting the Most out of Baking Recipes.comReading baking recipes is not as easy as reading a book for pleasure.  While it’s true, people read cookbooks for enjoyment, that isn’t the same as cooking or baking from them. Yet, there are a number of things that will help in understanding what the author of the recipe wants you to do.  Well written recipes follow a certain form. Continue reading

From 1 Recipe Comes Multiple Cake Layers

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

Many, many years ago when I first opened my bakery, the challenge was finding recipes for cake layers that worked and could be scaled up.  It seemed like all I did was test

Then I discovered, as did everyone, “The Cake Bible” by Rose Levy Beranbaum.  It was a game changer for anyone interested in baking and cakes.  The explanations of what was going on and why in each recipe helped us understand baking better.  At that point in time (1988)  there was not a lot of information on the science of baking which made this book all the more valuable.

I found the recipes in her book for cake layers to be the recipes I was looking for.  Although I used recipes from many sources, including those I came up with, “The Cake Bible” was always my back up. Continue reading

White Wine Amaretto Peach Sauce

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

White Wine Amaretto Peach SauceI recently made this White Wine Amaretto Peach Sauce for the restaurant to serve over peach ice cream. As I was peeling the peaches, I thought of all the ways this could be used for a quick summer dessert.

If you have been following the weather across the states (I realize most people don’t particularly care about the weather elsewhere but I have children in other states and like to see if they are as bad off as we are), you will know that St. Louis is experiencing a brief respite from the very hot temperatures. As a result, I have been indulging myself by going back in the kitchen for short sprints.

I’m not sure when I started making this, but it was a while back. The wine and amaretto give the White Wine Amaretto Peach Sauce a depth of flavor that sugared peaches can’t match. I have used both Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio white wines with excellent results. Continue reading

Streusel Topped Blueberry Cobbler

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

Streusel Topped Blueberry CobblerBlueberry Cobbler is great anyway you eat it, but top it with a Walnut Streusel and it takes it to a whole new level.

It has been beastly hot in St. Louis and the last thing I wanted to do was get into the kitchen with a hot oven going.  We love cobbler
especially in the summer when so much fresh fruit is available.  I was looking for something that would highlight the fruit but was easy, quick and a bit different from the usual cobblers.  This Walnut Streusel Blueberry Cobbler fits all those requirements.

This is a combination of a streusel topping from an old standby sour cream coffee cake.  The blueberry filling is the sauce from the Lemonade Cake with Blueberry Sauce and the base of the cobbler is the Cream Biscuits which are the easiest, lightest, best biscuits I have ever made.  Layer them together and you have a fast and easy summer delight.  The blueberry filling is great served slightly warm over ice cream.  

The choice of a baking pan is up to you, but I like a glass pan for this as I can see if the bottom has lightly browned as this is about the only indication the blueberry cobbler has baked through.

This cobbler would be amazingly good with peaches also.  Just skin the peaches, slice and substitute for the blueberries.  I would use white balsamic vinegar and add amaretto liquor in place of part or all of the water.

Walnut Streusel ToppingIngredients for the Walnut Streusel Blueberry Cobbler

3/4 cup walnuts  (85 grams or 3 ounces)
3/4 cup brown sugar (150 grams or 5 1/3 ounces)
3 tablespoons flour (28 grams or ounce)
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3 tablespoons butter or margarine, cut up and cold

Place the walnuts in a food processor and pulse to chop finely. Remove from the processor. Set aside.Walnuts for the Walnut Streusel Blueberry Cobbler

Place the sugar, flour, cinnamon in a processor bowl. Pulse several times to mix. Dry ingredients in processor for Streusel Topped Blueberry CobblerAdd the butter and Butter added to processor for the Streusel Topped Blueberry Cobblerprocess until it starts making crumbs. Crumbs for the Streusel Topped Blueberry CobblerAdd the walnuts Walnuts added to crumbs for the Streusel Topped Blueberry Cobblerand pulse several times. Set aside.Finished streusel for the Streusel Topped Blueberry Cobbler

Blueberry FillingSauce ingredients for the Streusel
1/3 cup sugar (65 grams or 2 heavy ounces)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
3 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 1/2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries (340 grams or 12 ounces)

Combine the sugar and cornstarch in a saucepan; Water, sugar and cornstarch in pan for the Streusel Topped Blueberry Cobblerstir in the water and balsamic vinegar and mix well. Balsamic vinegar added for the Streusel Topped Blueberry CobblerAdd the blueberries. Blueberries added to the pan for the Streusel Topped Blueberry CobblerCook over medium heat, stirring constantly until mixture comes to a boil. Continue cooking and stirring for 1 minutes more. Set aside to cool.Cooked filling for the Streusel Topped Blueberry Cobbler

If the filling is too thick, add a tablespoon or two of water to thin it out.

Biscuit BatterBiscuit ingredients for the Streusel Topped Blueberry Cobbler
1 1/2 cups sifted cake flour
(150 grams or 5 1/3 ounces)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 to 7/8 cups 40% cream

Preheat oven to 425F. If using a glass pan, Glass dish for the Streusel Topped Blueberry Cobblerreduce the oven to 400°F. Spray an 8×8 inch square baking pan. Set aside.

Place the flour, baking powder and salt in a mixing bowl.  Blend together.  Dry Ingredients in bowl for the Streusel Topped Blueberry CobblerPour in 3/4 cup of cream in.  Cream added for the biscuit batter for the Streusel Topped Blueberry CobblerMix the dough.  Mixing the dough for the Streusel Topped Blueberry CobblerThe dough should be somewhat sticky.  If it is not, add the remaining cream in  1 tablespoon at a time.Biscuit batter for the Streusel Topped Blueberry Cobbler

Pat the dough into the bottom of the prepared pan.Biscuit batter pressed in for the Streusel Topped Blueberry Cobbler

Pour the blueberry filling over the dough and spread out evenly.Filling spread on for the Streusel Topped Blueberry Cobbler

Sprinkle the streusel evenly over the cobbler.Streusel on for the Streusel Topped Blueberry Cobbler

Bake for 20 to 22 minutes until the bottom of the biscuit batter is baked. Lightly cover with foil about half way or three-quarters of the way through baking to keep the top from over browning.

This is best served warm.

Serves 9.

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Greek Orange Yogurt Cake with Orange Syrup (Portokalopita)

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

Greek Orange Yogurt CakeGreek Orange Yogurt Cake or Portokalopita as it is known in Greece first came to my attention when reading a post by David Lebovitz writing about Tinos Greece.

Of course, I immediately started searching for the dessert and came up with what I thought to be the most authentic version of this Greek Orange Yogurt Cake based on the fact it was from Greece and its use of phyllo and a soaking syrup.  Many Greek desserts are finished with a soaking syrup that often contains cinnamon sticks and cloves.  The photograph of this cake, so moist you can almost taste it, made it a must try.  My love of phyllo is best expressed in my post on Baklava as my mother made it.  Watching my mother and grandmother make this thinnest of doughs has fascinated me all my life – and still does. Continue reading