Baking With Dorie Greenspan: Meyer lemons, Mediterranean Yogurt Cake, game day eats and more

Dorie Greenspan’s Quinoa Bowls.
Jan 27, 2016

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: How to turn the contents of your refrigerator into a simple, comforting meal
This week's recipe: Dorie Greenspan’s Quinoa Bowls

Bonjour from Paris!

I've had a busy baking week and am about to do a lot more cooking and baking over the next week or so.  I've got 8 friends coming for dinner tomorrow night and 8 more on Saturday, so you know where you'll find me: either at the market or in the kitchen.

What are you cooking and baking?  Were you snowed in?  What did you make?  I felt left out being far away from the snow and looking at everyone's Instagram pix :(

 

I'm dreaming up cupcake flavors for a friend's wedding and have recently been playing around with making my own dulce de leche. If I were to use it as a filling or mixed into frosting, would they require refrigeration? The cupcakes will be made about a day or two before the actual event and transported from DC to Ohio by car.

Dulce de leche is fairly stable - I think it would hold up well as a filling or part of a frosting.  How wonderful that you're making cupcakes for your friend's wedding - lucky friend!

This is one of my favorite recipes of yours and it's always a hit. I've added a touch of cinnamon and white chocolate chips for a variation. Question: any advice on adapting the recipe to a half sheet pan, or should I just bake 2?

Thanks so much.  I love that recipe too and I'm sure I would love it even more with cinnamon and white chocolate -- nice variations.  The recipe is so simple that multiplying it isn't a problem.  I can't be sure, but I think that if you double the recipe, you'll be able to make it in a half-sheet pan.  

RECIPE: Swedish Visiting Cake

Again, another success with one of your recipes. I made the Apple Custard Square and it tasted and resembled the Tarte Aux Pommes--delicious; perfect for breakfast warmed up in the oven.

Dorie Greenspan's Custardy Apple Squares

RECIPE: Dorie Greenspan's Custardy Apple Squares

I am so, so happy that you liked the recipe! Thanks for writing.

I seem to be a poor judge of avocados - I either use them too soon or wait too long for them to ripen and find them brown inside. How do I know when one is ready to eat?

Does anyone have an avocado-buying trick?

Most often I buy Haas avocados, the ones that turn almost black when they're ripe.  I use color as my chief guide.  But I always squeeze an avocado - you want the fruit to feel close to the skin.  If you can feel a separation, the avocado is past its prime.  The avocado should have a little give, but not much.

Apart from the squeeze and color test, I buy them and cross my fingers.  Such a secretive fruit!

 

I impulsively bought a bag of Meyer lemons and now I'm wondering what to do with them. I want to make something that's worthy of this splurge. Suggestions?

Meyer lemons are a splurge, but they're so wonderful.  You could make a Meyer lemon curd or a jam.  You could make a salad with slices of Meyer lemon.  You could make a Meyer lemon tart and top the tart with candied slices of the lemons.  You could use the lemons in a salsa to go over grilled fish or in a ceviche.  

Let me know what you decide.

I made crunchy roasted chickpeas recently and had a flashback to 30+ years ago having crispy, crunchy, salty lentils sprinkled over a green salad in a hotel dining room in the Pacific northwest. They were delicious - any ideas about how to make them?

The lentils sound wonderful!  I think perhaps this recipe from Mollie Katzen might give you what you're looking for.  Let us know when you make them.

Fried Lentils

RECIPE: Fried Lentils

In your 1/13 chat, someone asked about replacing eggs. I wanted to let this chatter know about a powered substance called Ener-G egg replacer (http://www.ener-g.com/egg-replacer.html) which can be found at Whole Foods (and probably other stores). I love to bake and always told my children I would bake their wedding cakes. Well, my daughter got married in 2009 and she and her husband are vegan, and I had never baked a vegan cake. She told me about this egg replacer and I used my normal Betty Crocker cake recipe and I promise you, NO ONE could tell a difference! I myself was amazed it could work so well. I have since used it in other cakes and cookies and have never had a problem (it is for baking, not replacing something like scrambled eggs). It's a powder so it lasts quite a while.

Thank you so much for this information - it's great.  I'm glad to know about this product and I'm sure many other chatters are too.

I love that you promised to make your children's wedding cakes.  I can't think of a better - or more memorable - present.

I recently made this brown sugar cookie recipe. They came out ok but were a little meh, so I tried making them with browned butter instead. The dough went from being almost too wet and greasy with the original recipe to dry and crumbly. I could hardly even get it into a log let alone roll it into balls. The original uses melted butter, so I didn't think there would be much of a difference. Does browning the butter change the dough much? What could have gone wrong and how can I fix it?

This is so interesting, but I'm not sure I've got a solid answer for you.  Whenever you brown butter, some of it is lost - water evaporates, milk solids fall to the bottom of the pan, that kind of thing.  It's possible that in browning the butter you ended up making the dough with too little butter.

Anyone have a different idea?

Hi Dorie, I was gifted a long loaf pan (10 1/4" x 3 5/8" x 2 5/8") and I'm not sure what type of bread/baked good it should be used for. Any suggestions would be appreciated! PS made your French yogurt cake and it turned out SO good!

Dorie Greenspan’s Mediterranean Yogurt Cake

RECIPE: Dorie Greenspan’s Mediterranean Yogurt Cake

Glad you liked the yogurt cake!

10-inch loaf pans are lovely - I think their shape is elegant.  Anything you make in a 'normal' sized loaf pan can be made in the longer pan - you just have to increase the recipe proportionately.

An 8-inch loaf pan holds 6 cups of batter; a 9-inch pan holds 8 cups; so I'm guessing that a 10-inch holds 10 cups.  

Bet the yogurt cake would look lovely in your new pan.

a very long time ago there was a caterer in east hampton that made an almond cake that the locals called "pain de jonghe". I suspect it was a pain de genes- and I have tried to replicate the buttery dense cake but no recipe as yet has given satisfaction. I believe her name was Bessart or Bessard--- does this ring any bells? thx

Pain de Genes is, as you said, a dense, buttery cake.  I have a recipe for it that was given to me years ago by the Parisian baker, Arnaud Lahrer, when I was writing "Paris Sweets".  It's made, as all pain de genes are, with almond paste and, in order to get that texture, the batter is beaten for a very, very long time.  Lahrer made his cake in a square and covered it with almond paste.  You can use the batter to make any shaped cake you'd like and you can skip the almond covering. 

Here's a link to the recipe.

 

A friend is coming over for coffee on Friday. I think it'd be sweet (haha) to bake a coffee cake. Looking for something super easy that doesn't have cinnamon or nutmeg. Ideas? Or something along the same lines in a muffin form. Thanks!

Have you made the Mediterranean Yogurt Cake that was in my column a couple of weeks ago? (See above.)  It's super easy, a good keeper and has no cinnamon or nutmeg.

Another idea is my Cardamom Crumb Cake.  Cardamom and coffee are a great match.

Cardamom Crumb Cake

RECIPE: Cardamom Crumb Cake

I'm still figuring out cookie baking. I tried a chai-spiced butter cookie recipe over the weekend (yay snow!) that said to make them into 1-inch balls and space 1 inch apart. They spread and almost ran into each other at that spacing. I got the texture right, but they never did brown even a little. The next batch I put them further apart, and they browned better while still getting that chewy in the middle texture. So is this coincidence, or do cookies really need space like that?

Unless you're making cut-out cookies, which are usually well-behaved and stay where they're put, you should leave about 2 inches between each ball or scoop of cookie dough, so that they have room to spread.

Leaving space allows the cookies to spread and allows air and heat to get around them so that they bake evenly.  I'm surprised that your first batch of cookies didn't brown and your second did.  Did you change anything other than the spacing?  Different baking pan?  Different oven setting?  The spacing can make a difference, but I wouldn't have expected the difference to be so dramatic.  Hmmm.

I can't wait to try this recipe! Just wondering: can I use 1/2 cup of melted butter rather than the olive oil called for?

You can use melted butter instead of oil, but your cake may be a little denser.  Let me know how it goes.

We have a superbowl party every year and every year I make brownies... any suggestions for something that is more fun than a chocolate chip cookie or brownie but still easy to eat during the game? We're going to be drowning our sorrows during it so it won't be quite as celebratory :(

Well, if it won't be a celebration, at least it can be delicious :)

Two suggestions: 

How about a granola cake that you can cut into bars like a brownie.  It's chewy and sweet and chockful of chocolate, coconut and spices.  The recipe is from my book, Baking Chez Moi, and here's a link to it.

The second idea is to make the Share-My-Heart chocolate cookie.  It's a big, delicious, chocolate cookie that you let everyone break as they want.  The dough is very easy to work with and so you can roll it out and cut it in any shape you want (it's from my Everyday Dorie column for last Valentine's Day).

Valentine's Day Share-My-Heart Cookies

RECIPE: Valentine's Day Share-My-Heart Cookies

Spent the weekend with some of your recipes-the yogurt cake as always was a hit, the world peace cookies however do not lead to peace in my house-I can't get them to work--this is my third time trying! but a random question for you---any ideas for baked goods using barley? I overbought and I can't possibly eat any more barley soup! Thanks Dorie!

I'm sorry to hear about your unpeaceful adventures with the World Peace Cookies.  What was your problem?  

As for barley, I've never baked with it, but why not use it in a salad.  Cook the barley, cooled it and toss it with chopped greens, carrots, scallions, cucumbers, maybe some tuna or pieces of chicken and a good sharp vinaigrette - it would make a nice main course.

Or try this week's recipe, the Quinoa Bowl - it would be great with barley instead of quinoa.  

Dorie Greenspan’s Quinoa Bowls

RECIPE: Dorie Greenspan’s Quinoa Bowls

OMG just a shout out that that recipe has become the standard request when I offer to make sweets for the office. They are sinfully delicious but as of yet I've only tried with pistachios and almonds. Do you have any favorite dried fruit combinations?

Thank you, thank you - I'm so glad that you and your office mates like that recipe. I love the nougat with pistachio and almonds, but you can add dried cherries and/or apricots - make sure they're moist and plump and cut them with scissors so they're not too big.  I've seen nougat with glaceed cherries - they're not my favorite fruit, but they look beautiful in the candy.

If you have way more lemons than you can use before they're liable to spoil, grate the zest to freeze in a small plastic bag (you can then break off the amount of frozen zest that a recipe requires, as needed). Then juice the lemons and freeze the juice in ice cube trays, then store in an air-tight container.

Great suggestions - thank you.

Madeleines!

Merci and yes!

I love this recipe and it's just as the name says! The last time I made it I thought it was completely baked through and cooled sufficiently before unfolding. Unfortunately about half got "stuck" and I had to kind of patch it together. No matter, when I drizzled it with the Maple Glaze I also sprinkled on chopped pecans and dried cranberries. Looked beautiful. Question: perhaps I should have also dusted the Bundt pan with flour? Would waiting longer for it to cool before unmolding be helpful?

Sometimes I think there are devils at work in the kitchen - recipes that are always perfect sometimes come out less than perfect and I can't figure out why.  Let's blame the kitchen devils for your last cake problem.

Yes, of course, you can flour the instead of your Bundt pan.  Depending on the kind of pan you have, that might be helpful.  As for unmolding, waiting 10 minutes is usually right for unmolding Bundts, but because this cake has so much fruit - and because you had this one sad experience :( - you could try waiting a little longer, maybe 15 to 20 minutes.

Please, let me know what happens next time you make it.

They're wonderful (juice and zest) in Lemon Cake Pie, the dessert where the batter separates as it bakes.

Thanks.

I really like Follow Your Heart's new vegan egg, both for baking and eating like scrambled, quiche, etc. I buy it online through Vegan Essentials.

I made your yogurt cake and used the egg replacer, Neat Egg. Got it from Whole Foods and it worked perfectly in the cake. No one could tell.

To the person who said that she wanted to bake a cake for her son's first birthday - I'm sorry: I accidentally deleted your question.  But here are a couple of suggestions (neither particularly non-sweet, but both delicious).

If you don't care about being traditional, I think Bill's Big Carrot Cake (from Baking From My Home to Yours) would be great.  Who doesn't love carrot cake and candles will look swell on it.  Here's a link to the recipe:

And here's a link to the cake that I made for many of our son's birthdays.  It's a cocoa-buttermilk cake.

When I make brown butter, I cook down and brown a good portion of the total amount of butter and add in the remaining [solid] butter to the melted butter as it cools. This seems to reintroduces liquid to the brown butter.

This is a good solution.

It's similar to what I do when I'm developing a recipe with brown butter - I know how much butter I want in the end and I so I start with more butter than I'll need.

Fill your baking pans with water, measure the water and write the result in permanent marker on the bottoms of your pans. That way, it's easier to sub a pan size, although you do have to keep the difference in depth in mind.

So many great questions and such a quick hour.

As always, I love chatting with you.  

We'll be together again February 10, just before Valentine's Day.  Looking forward to it.  In the meantime ... 

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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