The Washington Post

Baking With Dorie Greenspan

Mar 22, 2017

Beloved cookbook author Dorie Greenspan ("Baking Chez Moi," "Baking: From My Home To Yours," "Around My French Table" and more) answers your questions about baking, her "Everyday Dorie" column and everything else she's cooking.
This week's column: Attention, America: Dorie Greenspan’s bringing back the quiche
This week's recipe: Dorie Greenspan's Herbed Mushroom Quiche

Hello and thank you so much for being here.  As I announced in my column, this marks the end of 2+ wonderful years of writing Everday Dorie and of having the opportunity to chat with you.

I'll miss you, but we can keep in touch through my site (doriegreenspan.com) or my facebook page.  

But we've got an hour together now, so let's chat!

Hi Dorie - So sorry you will not be gracing the Post's pages any more! We will miss you. I'd like to try one of your quiches, but I want to use a recipe for whole-wheat tart crust from Jack Bishop's The Complete Italian Vegetarian Cook book (3/4 C white flour, 1/2 C ww pastry flour, 8 Tb butter, ice water, etc). Would that work, or would filling and crust cook at different rates and leave one element either burnt or underdone?

Thank you, I'm glad you've enjoyed my column.

As for using a different crust - I think you'll be fine.  Enjoy!

First, we will really miss you. Thanks for the fabulous recipes, and please talk the food section into running occasional pieces from you! Second, on quiche - I love the stuff, but there are only 2 of us here, so we can't finish a quiche in a meal. What's the best way to keep it without it getting all soggy? Thanks!

Thank you - it's great to know you've been cooking and baking along with me.

It's really hard to keep a quiche for a while - custard + crust over time = soggy.  However, if you keep the quiche in the refrigerator, it will hold for about 2 days, hopefully long enough for the two of you to enjoy it as a dinner, a lunch, a brunch and/or a great nibble with white wine.

Dorie, why is today your last column for WaPo? Please continue!!!!!

I have LOVED my time at WaPo, but I'm working on a new project. Thank you so much for being part of the adventure here.

I typically use organic cane sugar for recipes that call for white sugar, and some sort of organic brown sugar, some of which are very dark in color. In most of my vegan and gluten free baking these sugars are fine, but, I wonder about how they might effect the spreading of cookies on baking. My last batch of my world famous vegan and GF peanut butter choco chip cookies ended up a little flatter than usual. Is this the sugar? They are made with Earth Balance in place of butter. Thanks, Krystn from Krystn's Kitchen

Krystn, I have very little experience with vegan baking and I've never used Earth Balance in place of butter, so it's hard for me to pinpoint why your cookies ended up flatter than usual.

Sometimes flatness is a 'mechanical' problem - your baking sheet is warm when you put the dough on it or your 'butter' is too warm and soft at the start.  

Anybody have any ideas?

No question, but so sad that you will no longer be writing articles and answering questions at the Washington Post. I love baking and always looked forward to your columns.

Thank you so much.  I have loved every minute of my time at the Washington Post.

I've started using powdered buttermilk in my baked goods since I rarely have the real stuff on hand and have found that the vinegar+milk substitute sometimes doesn't behave the same. My question is what would happen to, say, a cake if instead of using water as the liquid with the powdered buttermilk I used milk?

I've never tried rehydrating the buttermilk powder with milk instead of water, but it sounds like a fine idea to me.  It seems as though you'd get a slightly richer cake and that that could be a nice thing.

Anybody have experience with this? A different opinion?

Dorie - I'd love to try your "Dories Cookies" gluten free brownies. How far in advance can I make it? Could I make the brownie recipe one day then glaze & serve it the next day? My book club is always a challenge since a dear friend has celiac disease so an easy & delicious GF recipe would be a treasure.

We're talking about the Lucky Charm Brownies in Dorie's Cookies, yes? (Love those!)

There's absolutely no reason you can't make the brownies one day and glaze them the next.  In fact, the brownies will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days and can be frozen for up to 2 months, so you've got plenty of plan-ahead wiggle room.  

Have fun and I hope that you and your friends love them, too.

Dorie, I can't believe this is your last column and chat with the Post! What happened? Are you moving on from us? We'll be really sad to see you go. I love having a dedicated baker, rather than a pile of cooks, around... :(

Yessssss, it's sad, but true, I am moving on.  It's been so wonderful to be here with you and other bakers and I hope you'll come along with me on my next adventure.  More to come, so find me at 'home': doriegreenspan.com

Sending you all the best for your future endeavors. Your recipes are wonderful, and all of us WaPo readers will miss you greatly. I will certainly make a quiche in your honor this week!

So sweet - thank you!  

Which type of oven do you use when baking? Have you tried both? And if you have, is there any difference to the finished products (baked goods or pastries)?

I have both gas and electric ovens - each has a convection option, but I don't use it - and I haven't found major differences between the two.  However, electric ovens are sealed tighter than gas ovens and so I find that, depending on what I'm baking, moisture builds up.  I'll open the door of the electric oven during baking if I don't want all that moisture.  (I'll also stand away from the oven when I do!) 

Dear Dorie, It's been a pleasure chatting with you these past two years - which have flown by. Thank you for your expertise, and more importantly for your constant encouragement of baking and bakers at every level. Wishing you the best in all future ventures - you will be truly missed. Grateful baker

So lovely - thank you!  It's been a wonderful two years - and yes, they've flown by - and I've so enjoyed being in touch with so many enthusiastic bakers. If I've been encouraging, then I'm happy - I love baking and want others to have the chance to enjoy it too.

I'll really miss your chats Dorie! Onto a mundane question: how often do you freeze your baking for later, and do you regularly keep any specific goodies in your freezer? Any freezer rules you can share? I often have brownies in there which works well. My mother in law loves lemon bars and I am thinking of making a stash for her freezer.

Thank you! The chats have been great and I'll miss them too.

I always freeze things I've baked - it's one of the joys of baking: so many things freeze so well for so long.

You can freeze most things for at least 2 months if you wrap them airtight.  

I also like to freeze things that I can bake straight from the freezer, including: scooped-out balls of chocolate-chip cookie dough (I take them out of the freezer while I'm preheating the oven to bake them); scooped-but-not-baked cream puffs and gougères; rolled-out tart and pie crusts (in their pans, when I can spare the pans); and logs of slice-and-bake cookies.

If you want to keep cookie-dough balls in your freezer - and I think you should! - scoop the dough out onto a lined baking sheet and freeze the balls on the sheet.  When they're solid, pack them airtight.  Do this and they won't stick together.

Thank you for the fabulous chats every month. I adore them and read them religiously even when I can't make the live ones. They've encouraged me to branch out in my baking and I so appreciate it.

You've just given me the nicest thank-you.  If I've encouraged you to branch out in your baking, then I'm thrilled!

Would it help get a thicker "cookie" if you baked the batter as you would a brownie, then cut the cooled result into squares or rectangles?

Hmmm, this is an interesting idea.  Of course, the texture would be completely different - less cookie, more bar, but the flavor would be there.

You're leaving? What?! But but but...I love your chats! Best of luck to you in wherever you're going from here.

Thank you so very much - it's been great to be here!

Dorie, I am really going to miss your columns and the ability to chat with you. I feel like I need to think of all of my questions for you really quickly in case this is the last time we're able to chat! One question I do have is on softening butter - or not - for cookie purposes. For years I have thought you need to get your butter to room temperature so that it creams nicely with sugar. But lately I've seen some cookie recipes, including a good chocolate chip cookie recipe from King Arthur Flour, that do not call for using softened butter. Could I have been skipping this step all along? Can you skip it for some types of cookies but not others?

No, you don't have to get all your questions in today - you can always find me at doriegreenspan.com.

It's more important to have soft butter for cakes than for cookies.  With cakes, you want to be able to really get the sugar into the butter and to beat air into the mixture.  You don't want air in your cookies and so you can start with cooler, but not cold butter.

In general, I think people start baking with butter that's too warm and too soft for anything.  Room temperature butter is about texture as much as temperature.  You don't want the butter to be oily; press it and you should leave a thumprint - your thumb shouldn't hit the counter.

I was surprised to read that today is your last column and chat. I wish you well in all you are doing & will do in the future.

Many thanks!

What's next for you after leaving WaPo? Do you plan to do more columns elsewhere, or is someone else taking over for you here? Do you have your eye on any baking masterpieces to conquer?

Stay tuned - I'll be doing more projects.

As for baking masterpieces to conquer ... it's funny that you mention it.  I have been making and loving tarte tatin for almost forever.  It's a dessert that I make without a recipe.  But lately, I've been making it differently - less caramel, darker caramel, chubbier apple pieces - and I'm kind of on a quest to get the perfect tart.  Since this is one of my husband's favorite desserts, I've got a lot of encouragement to keep working at it.

Do you ever get discouraged when you have a major baking fail? Or do you ever have them at all? I can't seem to master macarons and occasionally I just mess stuff up. Is failing just part of the learning process?

Yes, failing is part of the learning process.  In everything, probably.

And yes, I have fails and macarons were one of them.  The first macarons I ever made, I made from a recipe from Pierre Hermé, Paris's leading pastry chef.  We were writing a book together and it was my job to make sure the recipe worked for ordinary mortals.  I stopped counting how many times I made the recipe after my 11th try!  I did finally get it.

Tell me if you think I'm wrong, but somehow baking fails never seem as bad as cooking fails because, unless you burn the stuff, everything you bake tastes pretty good even when it's not right.  Oh, except the whipped cream I made yesterday - I never should have put the jar of salt so close to the jar of sugar!

ooops: 2 Q, 1 comment, and regrets at your departure ;) Can I use the quiche crust for my tarte tatin? I don't like heavy cream, any way to use milk or other products instead that have protein and less fat? Also, thanks for the Custardy Apple Squares that I got from Splendid Table ;) they are fab with slices of Meyer lemon. A bientot

You can use the quiche crust for a tarte tatin, it won't be sweet, but it will be nice.  I'd roll it thinner than I would for a quiche.

I heard from a reader recently who told me that she always uses milk instead of heavy cream in her quiche.  I've never tried it, but I think it will work.

I'm glad you like the Custardy Apple Squares - they're a favorite of mine.  

Here's the link to the recipe from one of my Everyday Dorie columns for those of you who may have missed it:

Dorie Greenspan's Custardy Apple Squares

RECIPE: Dorie Greenspan's Custardy Apple Squares

 

I'll miss this chat and your Post articles - I wish you well in whatever comes next!

Thank you - the chats and the column have been a wonderful experience.

I hope the new project is something more than another cookbook (nothing wrong with THAT of course) - something that involves regular direct contact like these chats, in some form.

Funny, yes, I am writing a cookbook, but it won't be out until Fall 2018!  However, I'll be doing another project before that.  Stay tuned - I'll announce it on my website and Facebook as soon as it's ready.  

Thank you!  I've loved these chats too.

I would like to make sweet tarte cups to be filled with citrus curd and berries for a brunch in several weeks. Do you have a recipe or suggestion for the crust cups and how far in advance I can make and freeze them? Thought would be to fill the day of brunch.

You could use the tart dough that accompanies my quiche recipe today in the paper - I'd add a little more sugar - or try this recipe for my favorite sweet tart dough.

I prefer to freeze crusts unbaked, but since this is for a party, the best thing to do is bake the crusts - you can do this weeks ahead - and freeze them on a baking sheet.  When they're solid, pack them airtight.  If you want to give them a quick run in a 350 oven to bring back their crispness, fine - also fine to just defrost and fill them the  day of the brunch.

After not making quiche for a long time, last week made a veggie quiche for a "Meatless Friday," (Lenten) dinner. The first thing my brother said was, "Real men don't eat quiche." I'd completely forgotten about that book. He then ate half of the quiche. As far as I can tell, he's a "Real Man," and he chowed down that quiche, so Friday, I'll be making one of yours.

Love this story!

Also love what another reader told me.  She wrote that her husband said he didn't like quiche.  So, she made a quiche, called it cheese and bacon pie and yep, he ate it.

Thank you for the great recipes, tips, and advice. You inspired me to finally tackle macarons, and they came out perfectly the first time! (let's not talk about the second time, though...) Best of luck in your new adventures. We'll miss you here.

Thank you so much!  I love that you tackled macarons.  Sorry about the second time, but hey ... what about the third? 

A French boulangerie here in Maryland sold to a non-French owner, and while most of the food is still good, the breads have deteriorated to supermarket quality. We used to see huge bags of flour labeled "Product of North Africa" behind the counter when the French family owned it, and we assume this is one of the secrets of their previously heavenly bread. Any idea where to find such flour?

Any DCers know a source?

I was so sad to hear that we won't be able to see your column and have these chats. So sad. Then I thought, "What would Dorie do?" Not that you ever seem sad, but I'm getting out my apron and doing some baking, using your recipes. We will miss you so much, but rest assured, your WaPo fans will follow you. Cannot thank you enough.

This is so extraordinarily sweet - thank you! Bake on!  

How can a tourist visiting France guess if a bakery has really good bread and pastries, as opposed to mediocre products? I assume that appearance isn't everything. In particular, can you recommend a few favorite boulangeries and patisseries on the Rive Gauche? Au revoir, Dorie! I'll miss your chats.

Sometimes, the easiest way to tell if a place is good is to see if there's a line out the door!

My favorite website for all things food in Paris is parisbymouth.com - I check it all the time.

As for favorite bakeries and pastry shops on the Left Bank, here are a few: Poilâne - try their miche and their apple tarts; Pierre Hermé, known for his macarons, but I adore his other pastries; Des Gâteaux et du Pain, for both cakes and bread; Eric Kayser, for bread (he's all over Paris and in many US cities too); Angelina, for their specialty, Mont Blanc, and their beautiful pastries.  If you venture across the river, try Du Pain et des Idées for their wonderful bread.

Dorie, I'd always thought that creaming butter and sugar for cookies meant beating it for quite some time, but your post indicates I may be adding too much air. Could you please give some advice for knowing when to stop creaming them together for cookies specifically? Thanks!

Generally, beating the butter and sugar together at medium speed for about 3 minutes is enough time to cream the mixture before adding the eggs and dry ingredients.  You don't want to add too much air to cookie dough because you don't want the cookies to rise and then sink in the oven.

I tried and failed twice this weekend to make a champagne cake. Each time the layers came out looking like pancakes, and resembling a pound cake in texture. My baking powder was brand new but in addition to that the recipe called for lightening the batter with egg whites. Is it possible that I overbeat them while trying to incorporate them and that led to my flat cake? It took a lot of folding to incorporate them and get the batter to shift from looking like cookie dough to looking like cake batter.

Hmmm, I don't know what a champagne cake is, but I do know that cakes shouldn't be like pancakes - ugh.

I'm not sure what your problem was, but here's a tip for folding egg whites into a heavy batter: Stir (not fold) about 1/4 of the egg whites into the batter to lighten it before you gently fold in the rest.  This pre-lightening will make the folding much easier.

Also, about overbeaten whites ... The key to whipped egg whites is gloss.  Keep an eye on the whites - you never want to beat them so much that they turn from glossy to dull.  And, of course, you don't want to whip them into they break into cloudlettes.

I always use milk and not cream, but I use an additional egg. It works perfectly.

Thanks for this.

When I was in college I made a quiche for my dad, who enjoyed joking about my complete lack of home skills. I was gonna show him! But it never occurred to me to make the crust, so I bought one in the store. Graham cracker. I assure you he was not dissuading from making fun of my culinary skills after that.

Ah, but you got a great family story out that experience!

I searched the Internet for "Dorie Greeenspan Baguette recipe" and found only "beyond baguette". Any recipes in your books?

No, I don't have a recipe for baguettes.  My husband - the breadbaker chez us - uses the recipe from Eric Kayser's book, Larousse of Bread.

My daughter is cooking through this book as we speak. Thanks for some savory options. Any hints about your next adventure? Thanks for always being so approachable and caring!

I love that your daughter is baking her way through Dorie's Cookies.  Hooray!

And thank you for your kind words.  

I'll let you know through Facebook (@doriegreenspan) and my site, what I'll be doing next.

One of the best lessons I've learned from you in these chats is that sometimes recipes just don't work out -- even after you've made them many many times. I wrote in last year to ask why my tried-and-true coconut pie suddenly was cementing itself to the pie plate, and you offered several suggestions -- but then you mentioned your theory about "kitchen witches," and that made me feel so much better. It's not just me!

Thank you so much.  

Oh those kitchen witches! When you're cooking and baking, you can be pretty sure that whatever goes wrong, it's not the first time it's happened and you're not the only person in the world who's been through it.  And you can always blame the witches.  I do!

First, if chatters here haven't, encourage you to buy this book! So many amazingly great recipes, and the Blueberry Buttermilk Pie Bars are just one recent hit with my "tasters." When people start eating out of the pan with their hands, trying to grab every last bit. Well you know two things - recipe is a keeper and while maybe some relatives need some etiquette reminders, who cares? Nothing better when you've made something to watch others enjoy it. So thank you Dorie - another great hit! Boy we will miss you.

You just made me smile - thank you!

You're right: "Nothing better when you've made something to watch others enjoy it."  Keep baking and sharing!

Don't assume you have to have that same flour; if you use an artisan bread flour (not standard US bread flour whose protein level is too high) you will definitely get results better than the bakery's. King Arthur sells something called Artisan Flour that does wonders in baguettes.

Thank you for chiming in.

I love that story. My sister in law told me that she has to be sneaky with certain ingredients (maybe onions? not sure) because if her husband knows it's in there, he won't eat it. If she's successful, he eats it and likes it. People are funny. Along those lines, my great grandmother used to say that if she was running late on dinner she would set the table and it kept hungry family members at bay. They thought something was happening just by the table being set. It bought her a little time.

An adorable story about your clever great- grandmother!

When I was a teenager and learning to bake, I had a cake recipe which said "mix by hand." I looked at the batter and then dove in and mixed it with my hands. My mother came in and looked at me and just shook her head and said, "My poor dumb daughter." That's part of the learning process. She'll tell anybody who'll listen now that I'm an excellent baker. Yay me!

Yay you, indeed!

Funny, but I think your instincts were right - whenever I can get my hands into my work, I do. It's part of what makes baking so much fun.

I love the French for good-bye: au'revoir, or until we see each other again.  And we will.

Please keep in touch (doriegreenspan.com, @doriegreenspan on Facebook and @doriegreenspan on Instagram). I'm planning a new adventure and I'd love to have you come along with me, so stay tuned.

Before I leave, I want to thank you, my wonderful readers, for all your encouragement and for everything I've learned from you.

And hugs and kisses and a million thanks to the WaPo Food team, among them, Joe Yonan, Bonnie Benwick, Kara Elder, Becky Krystal and all the photographers who always made my food look so good.

It's been an honor to be part of The Washington Post family - thank you.

And, as always: Cook, bake, share and enjoy - xoDorie 

In This Chat
Dorie Greenspan
Dorie Greenspan is the award-winning author of 11 cookbooks, the most recent of which is "Baking Chez Moi." Read more on her Web site, doriegreenspan.com, and follow her on Twitter: @doriegreenspan.
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