- Our New Website Home
We are very excited about our move to Squarespace, which has given us the opportunity to create an entirely new website design. Here are some major features which will include additional content that we will now be offering.
On the designing front, there will be over 20 pages, and several photos per page, in addition to the 12 years of blog postings and recipes.
The navigation bar will have the following pages: Home page (Realbaking with Rose), Our Books, Our Blog, Television & Videos, Recipes, About Us, Ask a Question, and Recipe of the Month.
Most of the pages on the navigation bar will have further content pages.
For example Television & Video will have a page listing Rose's 150 plus appearances, and portals to her PBS Baking Magic series and her first television appearance on the Charlie Rose Show in 1988. And there will be many new videos as well.
New pages will include:
Recipe of the Month Page
Ask A Question will have its own dedicated blog page.
Many of Rose's books will have their own pages with a gallery of photos and portal links to blogging bake through groups.
The Home page will feature a Baking Tip of the Week.
We look forward to your joining us on our new website and continuing our international baking community.
- Thanksgiving Pies from Gramercy Tavern
Pie Contest # 5 2017
"Fifth year and a big one," Chef Miro Uskokovic informed us about the annual staff pie contest to welcome in the holiday season at Gramercy Tavern. This was to be our fourth invite to judge the talented staff's pies.
And the great news is that for the first year, Miro is making two fabulous pies available for sale from Gramercy Tavern for Thanksgiving: Spiced Marshmallow Pumpkin Pie and Bourbon Chocolate Pecan Pie for pick up on either Tuesday 11/21 or Wednesday 11/22. You'll need to order right away as I'm sure there will be a great demand.
Ten judges this year, including executive chef, Mike Anthony, general manager Scott Reinhardt, pastry chef/author/director of the baking programs at the Institute for Culinary Education (and dear friend) Nick Malgieri, Merrill Stubbs co-founder of Food 52, and Emily and Melissa Elsen, owners of Four & Twenty Blackbirds Bakery.
After taking our seats once again at the 15 foot long table, in the very familiar banquet/meeting room, Miro went over the criteria for this year's judging. Although we had a scoring card, it was to be used only for taking notes, as we would all have our say after a fork full of the last pie tasted to choose the Best Overall Pie and the Most Creative Pie. And this year, all entries had to be made in a pie plate as opposed to a tart pan. Also this year both winners (and the judges!) would receive the same generous gift: a prized blender from sponsor Vitamix. Each contestant was to bring out her or his creation, give the story behind the pie, and then answer our questions as we tasted the pie.
The highest number of entries ever, 22 pies, were presented, dissected, tasted, talked about, and a whole pie shown to each of us by Miro and then placed on the table and discussed some more. Miro gave us two breaks to calm our taste buds and give our tummies a temporary relief. Since in most prior years a cream pie beat out the rest, this year was a cavalcade of mostly cream pies. A couple of entries were from the front staff. Also, we were delighted that for the first time Scott was one of the judges.
Nick, as always, was a delight, with his charm, honesty, and spot on critiquing of the pies.
With all pies tasted, chef Mike gave his choice for his favorite--the Pomegranate Pie--and it made the move to the other end of the table to be with seven of its favored peers. This year, it was extremely hard to decide whether to go with something more unusual or an upscale version of a standard. We discussed, debated, and decided on our winning pies.
The awards presentation was done during the staff's family style dinner before the evening crowd. By the time we joined the staff, there were mostly just remnants of those 22 pies on table 61.
The Best Overall Pie for this year was made by Heather Siperstein. It was a Peanut Butter and Chocolate Cream Pie with a whipped cream topping, adorned with chocolate and peanut butter candy pieces. It will be featured on the Gramercy menu at some point in the near future.
The Most Creative Pie was awarded to Amanda Taylor for her Figalicious Pie.
She was thrilled to receive my signature series Synglas, non-stick rolling pin by American Products Group.
I autographed a Pie & Pastry Bible for Heather, which Miro accepted in her behalf.
All of us were then invited to my favorite table at the front of the Tavern to enjoy some of Gramercy's wonderful appetizers and a glass of wine or beer with Miro.
Epilogue, next morning:
Day prior: a wonderful lunch, consuming close to a half of an entire pie, and enough appetizers to make for light dinner.
But to my relief, my scale was kind--it showed me that I actually lost a pound. (The new "pie diet" is born! We hope to be there for Miro Pie Day #6 next year.
- Happy 12th Birthday Blog
In the very near future, this blog will have a new home and a very new design on SquareSpace.
Thank you all for your questions and contributions all of which have added so much to the knowledge bank of bakers around the world. I have loved having this blog and when Woody joined me in answering questions it became even more enjoyable.
In the past twelve years we have had the following numbers:
28,000 questions/comments from you
5,018 replies from me
1,700 replies from Woody
We hope you will like our new home!
Continue to bake with love. We love you,
Rose & Woody
- Kindle's Cookbook of the Month Deal!
My 692 page most comprehensive book on pies and pastry is on sale as an e-book for the entire month of November for $3.95.
- The Fearless Baker by Erin McDowell is Born!
This is a big year for major baking books. I remember exactly 29 years ago it was the same when The Cake Bible was published and the category itself got huge attention. Erin is going to benefit from being in the company of so many distinguished authors both old and new and they will be proud to have her as a member of the baking cookbook community of sister (and brother) bakers.
Not only is Erin a gifted baker, she is also a professional food stylist and so, of course, the photos in this book are drop dead gorgeous. Erin was the food stylist for my upcoming book. Here's my favorite photo of the two of us taken during the photoshoot this past April:
I couldn't be more proud to be the writer of the foreword to Erin's first book. And here it is so you don't even have to wait until the book arrives to read it:
Foreword to The Fearless Baker
When I learned that Erin McDowell was writing her first baking book, my immediate response was Yes! quickly followed by Of course! I had met Erin when she was involved in the baking and styling of the photographs for my book The Baking Bible. We spent two intense weeks in a rented studio in upstate New York, baking, styling, discussing, and getting to know each other. Not only did Erin make delicious, nourishing lunches for the entire team every day, her sunny disposition helped set the tone. I taught her how to make a special border on a tart, and she demonstrated how to make the most luscious, voluptuous ganache and buttercream swirls on cakes.
Reading through this book, I am struck by how eager Erin is to explore new ideas and inspirations and how open she is to learning. One of the secrets to being a great baker is to have love in one's heart and love for the profession. And one of the secrets to being a great baking author is having a true desire to share. Erin is gifted with both. Her written instructions are a model of clarity and a perfect reflection of her delightful and joyful spirit. And her writing style is so friendly, fun, and unpretentious that it makes baking more approachable than ever.
I didn't have to test recipes from this book in order to sing Erin's praises, because having seen her in action, and having tasted the results, was proof enough of her expertise. I tested four of the recipes just because they were so alluring I couldn't resist. The rhubarb cheesecake, which imaginatively replaces lemon juice with rhubarb puree, is topped with stunning ribbons of rhubarb. It's exceptionally delicious, and it leaves a surprisingly bright, fresh finish in the mouth despite the richness of the cream cheese. Chocolate puff pastry is something I'd never actually made before, but when I saw the photo for this book, I couldn't resist the challenge. Yes, it is "hard," as Erin realistically indicates at the top of the recipe, but it is an empowering experience, and success is guaranteed if one follows her excellent instructions. And her technique for making puff pastry results in the best palmiers I've ever made--or eaten.
Erin writes, " is book is intended to educate you on the whys and hows of baking in an approachable way. If you understand those basics, you can become fearless--and potentially tweak your own recipes to suit your whims, the way I do." I relate to this goal 100 percent. In fact, this is shades of the young me, at the start of my own cookbook-writing odyssey.
It is inspiring to see the fine and exciting work of this prize representative of the new generation of bakers. I am honored that she claims to have used my books as a launching pad to her baking education. And I am certain that Erin Jeanne McDowell will continue to march to the beat of her own drummer and rise to ever greater heights of discovery and baking excellence.
The Fearless Baker: Simple Secrets for Baking Like a Pro
- My New Breville Oven & an Exciting New Technique for Melting Chocolate
It's been over five years since I wrote about my first Breville oven, calling it the perfectly even oven. My test was to pipe a spiral of cream puff pastry to see how it browned and it was perfectly even.
I have been so enamored of this oven, I have since purchased one as a wedding gift and another to have in my weekend home.
A few weeks ago, I discovered the latest model, the Smart Oven Air. When I learned about the extra features this newer slightly larger model offers I had to have it. And I'm totally smitten! I've even put it to use for a newly developed terrific technique, which I will share at the end of this posting. First: here are the new features that I most value:
(I tested it and it holds true to temperature with no more than 3°F fluctuation.)
- An oven light that can be turned off or on at will (oh joy!)
- Two oven racks
- A dehydrating setting and mesh basket (I'll be using this for my citrus powder)
- A proofing setting for bread dough between 80°F/27°C and 100°F°/38°C
Now here is my great new discovery: Anyone who has ever tried to melt white or milk chocolate without stirring it constantly, has learned the hard way that it will seed. This is caused by the milk solids in the chocolate. And there is no way of restoring the little specks of hardened milk solids. But, if you heat the chocolate at 100°F/38°C it will melt gradually to be as smooth as silk. In short, you can place it in a container in the Breville, turn it to the proofing setting, set the temperature to 100°F/38°C, and leave it to melt on its own.
Breville BOV900BSS The Smart Oven Air, Silver
- Pastry Chef Par Excellence Randy Eastman
The last time I saw my friend Randy, was almost 20 years ago, when he volunteered to make all the desserts for the launch of my book The Pie and Pastry Bible. I never forgot his sweetness, generosity, and incredible skill.
For the past 17 years, prior to being pastry chef at the Metropolitan Opera Dining Room, Randy has been pastry chef at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Growing up in New York, I spent many a Sunday with my cousin Joan and uncle Bernard, either at the Museum of Natural History or the Met. So it was a very sentimental visit, sitting in the main dining room, with a spectacular view of the obelisk, the park, and the dearly familiar Central Park West skyline. But the best part was when Randy came to the table.
Woody and I had shared a light lunch to ensure that we would have plenty of room to enjoy the sampling of desserts which Randy presented to us. My top favorite was the caramel glazed banana sundae
but a close second was the perfectly silky and delicious chocolate Gianduja custard.
Randy and I had an equally delicious catch up, exchanging news of mutual friends and family. We promised each other that we would not let so many years go by again without reconnecting.
- An Upcoming Change for the Blog
Photo Credit: Matthew Septimus
Dear Fellow Blog Members and Bakers,
We are in the process of changing the platform of our 12 year old blog to SquareSpace. We will keep you informed as it progresses. The URL will still be the same but we will no longer have the Forums and the monthly newsletter.
This gives us the chance to do some much needed "housekeeping," making sure everything is current and up to date.
Thank you for your loyalty and interest. We are here for you.
Bake with Love,
Rose & Woody
- The Chinese Baking Bible
Never has my book, The Baking Bible, looked more beautiful. The Chinese characters transform it into a true work of art.
- A Wonderful New Sandwich Loaf
18.5% PANE NERO FLOUR
I fell in love with durum flour years ago on a trip to Sicily when I discovered that it was responsible for the golden color and sweet nutty flavor of the bread. I had been using it for pasta, adding a little bread flour to give it more elasticity and loved the firm al dente texture and delicious flavor. So when Beatrice Ughi of Gustiamo sent me a bag of the Pane Nero flour they just started to import I couldn't wait to try it for bread baking. (Gustiamo is a terrific site for many wonderful products from Italy)
This flour, called Pane Nero, is a blend of 30% Tumminia, a whole ancient grain, and 70% durum semolina. It has a heavenly aroma and is the color of golden sand. I jumped right in and tried my recipe for no knead bread using 100% of this flour. I added 75 grams of my old sour dough starter to give it more structure and I needed to add 50 grams -almost 1/4 cup more water and the resulting loaf, though it rose well, had no oven spring and was too dense and hard.
100% PANE NERO FLOUR NO KNEAD BREAD
So I tried it with my favorite whole wheat loaf, which uses bread flour and 18.5% whole wheat flour. You can see in the photo below how much less dense the whole wheat flour is than the pane nero flour at the top of this posting.
18.5% WHOLE WHEAT
I replaced the whole wheat flour with equal weight pane nero. I also added my usual firm sour dough starter (I freeze the leftover starter every week after feeding it, so it is not replacing commercial yeast but rather it contributes to the structure, shelf life and flavor). A whole new bread was born--a new favorite!
Not only is this bread exceptionally flavorful, it has the perfect degree of density, making it possible to accommodate spreads without tearing, and not squishing down when making a grilled cheese sandwich on a panini press.
GRILLED CHEESE PANINI ON 18.5% PANE NERO FLOUR
<p><a href="http://www.realbakingwithrose.com/2017/10/a_wonderful_new_sandwich_loaf.html">(Read the whole entry)</a></p>
- Over the Moon
What a wonderful small world this can be. My dear friend and colleague, Reiko Okehi, who lives in New York City, but is right now in Tokyo, just emailed me this link to this article which lists The Cake Bible. It is a great honor to be appreciated by people whom I admire so much.
- The Artful Baker
The Artful Baker: Extraordinary Desserts From an Obsessive Home Baker
I'm delighted to introduce you to someone you will be so happy to know--my new kindred spirit: Cenk Sonmezsoy, (pronounced Jenk) from Turkey. You may be familiar with his blog Café Fernando, and that is how I first met him. What captured my attention several years ago, in one of those rare "why didn't I think of it" moments, was when I noticed a posting about how to line a round pan with a flat sheet of parchment. He simply crumpled the parchment and, of course, it readily conformed to the shape of the pan--brilliant--a man with imagination in his fingertips.
Proof to me of our being on the same page: from the head note of Cenk's Double Chocolate Bundt Cake:
"It's just my nature to continually retest until I've explored every nook and cranny, which sometimes results in my preferring a new version. I have yet to decide whether this compulsion is a blessing or curse, but knowing that I have done everything I can to perfect a recipe is the only way I find comfort and peace." I could have written this exactly the same way.
In addition to being a skillfull technician of his trade, Cenk is an artist of exquisite taste, and an excellent and informative writer. His instructions are precise and complete. His book, appropriately titled The Artful Baker, is coffee table worthy, but you will want to bring it into the kitchen, cover the pages with a protective plastic sheet, and bake the hell out of it. I've already made two recipes: the Sour Cherry & Almond Upside-Down Cake, because he said it's his favorite in the book, and the Tahini & Leblebi Swirl Brownies made with roasted chickpea flour and tahini, because the flavor combination so intrigued me, not to mention the stunning photo.
We had many thought provoking email exchanges discussing, among other things, the comparative sourness of Turkish sour cherries to the American variety. I suspected that the American variety is more sour so I added extra sugar. The remaining cherry glaze was fantastic when drizzled onto vanilla ice cream. The almond cake is a high achievement in perfection of texture--surprising for a layer cake so low in wheat flour. The sour cherry topping for this upside down cake led to the following discussion about sweetness levels, and my impression that Turkish desserts can be cloyingly sweet. Cenk wrote: I also think that Turkish desserts are overly sweet and definitely share your sweetness sensibility. I'm always conscious about the amount of sugar I use in recipes, not from a caloric standpoint, but to achieve a balanced taste and optimal texture. That said, there are Turkish desserts (including some from the baklava family) that aren't overly sweet.
Another example of Cenk's writing style and generosity of spirit: Have you tried brownies made with sarı leblebi (double-roasted hulled chickpeas) flour before? Sarı leblebi is a beloved Turkish snack, available at every kuruyemişçi (specialty shop selling dried nuts, seeds, and fruits), sometimes roasted right by the entrance to entice customers with its toasty smell. Roasting the chickpeas twice, chars them in spots, giving them an intensely toasty flavor. Sarı leblebi is available on line but you can substitute roasted chickpea flour (also called roasted gram flour or besan), found in Indian or Burmese food shops. Alternatively, you can roast regular chickpea flour in a cast-iron skillet over medium-low heat until it is lightly browned and smells nutty.
And Cenk sent me a bag of both the sari leblebi and the chickpea flour through Amazon. The resulting brownies: chewy, fudgy, slightly cakey as well, with a dusky earthy quality underlying their chocolaty flavor. The first day they were a bit fragile, but after resting overnight, the texture became much firmer and fudgier, and the flavors were enhanced.
Cenk is one of the most original authors whose work I have ever encountered. Even the way he places raspberries on a tart is unique I've never before seen them arranged open ends up and I love the effect.
So it is all the more to his credit that to my delighted surprise I found myself listed in the acknowledgement page of his book as one of his "baking heroines."
I love that Cenk shares so much in this book of his personal background, his thinking, his creative process. I have never met Cenk in person but I feel that through his work, I have a strong sense of who he is, and I am about to find out at his book party in NYC at ICE! He is on book tour this month of October around the US, and his schedule of events and appearances will be listed here on his blog. If youi're lucky, he may be coming to your city.
Even if you never plan to bake a thing in your life, you will love having this book because it will give you a glimpse into a very special baker and his baking paradise.
- Buona Italia to Open in Chelsea Market
Nocciola (hazelnut praline ice cream) on the back porch for lunch. Yes I know it's Fall but it's 89°/32°C and this fabulous ice cream called to me from the freezer. I made it yesterday for dear friends who were visiting from Philadelphia. I promised that if the Agrimontana praline paste arrived from Europe in time I would make the ice cream. This praline paste is made with hazelnuts from the famed Piedmont region of Italy--60% pure hazelnuts and 40% caramelized sugar. It has no equal.
My dear long-time friend Mariella Esposito, of Fante's, and me enjoying the ice cream and sunset last night. Nocciola is her husband Lee's favorite, which is why I made it.
This Thursday, September 28, Buon Italia will be opening in Chelsea Market in New York City but they also have an online site. And they carry, among other things, the Agrimontana praline paste and their 100% pure pistachio paste. Those of you who love these flavors of ice cream will be nothing short of astounded at the difference these quality ingredients make!
And for those of you concerned about my summer-long defection to ice creaming, i'll be back to baking, mixing the dough for a pane nero this very afternoon (posting to come about this special Sicilian flour imported by Gustiamo).
- How Sweet it Is
Sweet: Desserts from London's Ottolenghi
Yes, these are both the same book, but the first photo is the UK edition and it's the one that Yotam Ottolenghi sent me with the loveliest inscription from both him and co-author Helen Goh.
As a huge Ottolenghi fan (I sent both my brother and his wife, and my cousin Joan to his restaurant when they were visiting London--wishing it could have been me) it means so very much to me to be credited in this gorgeous book for my contribution on page 181, which is an adaptation of my "Perfect Pound Cake." Their version has both cardamom and coffee, and I'm really looking forward to trying it because cardamom is my favorite spice and coffee my favorite beverage!
I'm also delighted to see that the "Lemon Poppyseed Cake" is the one Helen would take to a desert island, because that happens to be my signature cake as well.
And I'm dying to try the "Take-home Chocolate Cake," on page 152, because the descriptor "the world's best chocolate cake" always calls to me.
Having cooked from Yotam's savory books, it is really exciting to be in possession of his first book devoted to sweets--after all, he started off as a pastry chef! I hope some day to meet him and Helen in person and in the meantime, I cherish their book.