Baking With Dorie Greenspan: Beef and beer stew, beginning baker recipes and more

Dorie Greenspan's Belgian Beef and Beer Stew.
Feb 24, 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: This is the only recipe you'll need to nail your next beef-and-beer stew
This week's recipe: Dorie Greenspan's Belgian Beef and Beer Stew

Hello and thanks for coming.

What have you been up to?  I've been thinking about spring and cooking for winter -- and a good thing because it snowed here last night!

It was just the kind of night when I was glad to have some Belgian Beef and Beer Stew in the freezer to reheat.

Dorie Greenspan's Belgian Beef and Beer Stew

RECIPE: Dorie Greenspan's Belgian Beef and Beer Stew

Anybody make it?  Let's hear about everything you've been cooking and baking - 

Hi - I noticed on Amazon that your cookie book is available for pre-order! So very excited (and of course, I did pre-order)! Will you be sending out any preview recipes? Do you have a book tour planned? Any stops in Canada - Toronto area?

Dorie's Cookies

I was so surprised when I discovered that my next book, DORIE'S COOKIES, is already available for pre-order! It's early, it's exciting and thank you so much for pre-ordering.

I'll be going on book tour and I hope I'll be in Canada, but I won't know where or when for a few months.  Trust me, I'll get the word out.

Also, there will be preview recipes and more, but again, it'll be a while from now.

For now, here's a picture of the cover, which I LOVE! Actually, I love the whole book -- no surprise.

How fun! My Q: what's the best & easiest dessert to make (from scratch pls!)

If you're new to baking and want a couple of things that are easy, delicious, crowd-pleasers, I say you should try either the Mediterranean Yogurt Cake (with or without the clementines) or the Custardy Apple Squares.

Actually, try both!  Let me know what you do and how you like them.

Dorie Greenspan's Mediterranean Yogurt Cake

RECIPE: Dorie Greenspan's Mediterranean Yogurt Cake

Dorie Greenspan's Custardy Apple Squares

RECIPE: Dorie Greenspan's Custardy Apple Squares

I'm always tempted by the recipe, but when I serve it, the strawberries are frozen rock-hard, which really detracts from the experience. What do you advise?

Strawberries have a nasty way of getting icy and hard in the freezer, I know.  Are you macerating the berries in something boozy before mixing them in?  (Usually a Romanoff dessert calls for alcohol.) The alcohol lowers the freezing point and will help.  It would also help if you could serve the dessert as soon after it's ready as possible.

How delightful that you took the time to photograph their display case! Those are not in fact what I used to eat there, but they look amazing (and the pain au chocolate neighbors would be tempting as well). The ones I enjoyed were somewhat smaller and the chips were in the bread part itself, if I am remembering correctly. I don't think they were filled, or if they were the filling was less pronounced. But if you have a recipe for anything that would remind me of Gerard M., I'll take it!

Sadly, I don't have a recipe for you for the Mulot breads, but I'm wondering if what you're looking for is a pain au lait? Pain au lait is a lovely rich bread with a soft crumb and it would be nice with chocolate chips folded into it.  Here's a recipe:

Pain au Lait

RECIPE: Pain au Lait

My son is not a huge chocolate fan, but loves white chocolate and vanilla. Is there a tried and true way to substitute the white chocolate for chocolate? Maybe a standard rule to cut the sugar by x%?

White chocolate is so different from semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, even different from milk chocolate, so substitutions are hard.  (Unlike the other chocolates, white chocolate doesn't have any cacao solids, so it works very differently from the others.)

I don't know of any rules.  Anyone know?

If you're making something with chips or a recipe in which the chocolate is an add-in, you can easily sub white chocolate for darker chocolate.  But when the chocolate is melted and it's an important ingredient in the recipe, all bets are off.

I'd suggest you search for recipes created especially for white chocolate.  Safer.

Do you have any particular beer pairings with foods that you come back to?

I am not much of a beer drinker - although I drank the Chimay beer that I used to make the beef stew with the stew and it was great.

I'd love to hear about what you and others are pairing.  Chime in, please.

I attempted to make a quiche in a springform pan and it didn't go as planned. It's been a while since I've worked with pie crust and it was the first time I tried a springform. While it wasn't a disaster--we ate it and it was tasty--it wasn't pretty. I did blind bake the crust using dried beans, but the sides of the crust collapsed in, so when we added the quiche, a lot of it drained over the sides. I'm wondering if I rolled it too thin, or if it was because I greased the pan and the crust couldn't adhere to the sides, or if I needed to bulk up the recipe. I found a lot of online pie crust recipes but very little about handling the crust after it's made--how to gauge how much to roll it out, how to adapt it to different pans, should you have enough dried beans to fill the entire crust when blind baking, do dried beans even work, how long to blind get the idea. So I'm not looking for a pie crust recipe (which are all pretty much the same); I'm looking for advice on taking a lump of pie dough (or pate brisee in kitchens much tonier than mine) and forming it into the perfect crust. Thanks.

So many good points and quandries!

I have made crusts in springform pans, but it's not easy going.  When I make them, I use the springform for a recipe that requires high sides and I go into it knowing that I'm going to have lots of shrinkage.

It's hard for me to know if you rolled the dough too thin, but you weren't wrong to butter the pan.  Nor were you wrong to use dried beans.

As a rule of thumb, when you're rolling out crust for a pie pan or a fluted quiche pan, you try to roll the dough into a circle with a diameter that's about 2 inches bigger than the pan.

I blind bake for about 20 minutes and then I remove the parchment or foil and the beans and let the crust color for 5 to 8 minutes, before removing it from the oven, cooling, filling and baking 'for real'.

Also, I bake at 375 to 400 degrees. Which makes me think, was your oven hot enough to 'set' the dough quickly?

I'd suggest making a couple of quiches or pies in more standard pans and getting the rolling, baking etc down pat and then go back to the more finicky springform.

Let us know how you do..

Dear Dorie, many years ago I had a recipe for a yellow cake with a mixture of chopped prunes, nuts, and brown sugar sprinkled in the middle and on top. I loved that cake, and I love baked goods with prunes, but I can't seem to find the recipe or anything similar anywhere. Do you have any good recipes for cakes or pastries using prunes?

Nice to hear from a fellow prune-lover!

For many years I made a bundt cake with a swirl in the center and on top.  The swirl had nuts and chocolate and sugar and raisins.  The ingredient list is below (it comes from the Sour Cream Bundt Cake that's in Baking From My Home to Yours) and, looking at it now, I'm thinking that you could easily replace the sugar with brown sugar (light or dark) and the raisins with prunes - make sure the prunes are moist (you might want to plump them in hot water for a few seconds), snip them into smaller pieces and, if you'd like, use 1/2 cup to 2/3 cup. You could skip the chocolate ... or not.  I'd opt for not.

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

2 ounces finely chopped bittersweet chocolate or 1/3 cup mini semisweet-chocolate chips

1/3 cup moist, plump raisins or currants

2 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

Pinch of salt


Before I went meatless 25 years ago, I would've loved your Belgian Beef and Beer Stew. What substitutions do you recommend for the meat in order to make a vegetarian version? I replace beef broth fairly successfully in recipes with a mix a vegetable stock, soy sauce and red wine.

Your substitution for beef stock looks like a good one and I think it would work in this recipe.  

I've never tried - or even thought about - making this recipe meatless.  If I were to do it, I think I'd use lots of good root vegetables - parsnips and carrots and celery root and turnips or rutabaga - and some squash.  I'd roast them so that they've got a little char on them and then add them to the onions, beer and broth, taking care about each one's cooking time.

If you decide to transform the recipe, let us know. I'd love to hear about it.

You spend part of your year in Paris and part in the States. Do you find your cooking style changes drastically with the geographic shift?

You're right - I live in Paris and NY and CT, or as I think about it: I've got three kitchens.

I don't think my cooking style changes much, but the ingredients I cook with do change.  There are ingredients that I can get at the corner market in Paris that are exotic in CT.  Some are as simple as herbs - tarragon and chervil are supermarket staples in Paris, not in CT.  Sometimes it's the varieties that are different - a Paris market might have 8 kinds of potatoes, each perfect for something different, and as many different kinds of apples.

I find it inspiring to shop in the French markets and to cook at home in Paris.  I often get great ideas for recipes while I'm in Paris and then, when I return to the States, I recreate them and test them with American ingredients.  It's always interesting.

I used to get a wonderful pain de mie from a French bakery that has, alas, stopped making it. It seems to fit your description of a lovely rich bread with a fine crumb.

As you must know because you mentioned pain de mie, pain de mie is baked in a covered loaf pan to keep it from developing a crust.

Since I've never made either I can't be sure, but I think that pain de mie is a true bread and that pain au lait is more a viennoisserie, part bread, part pastry.

It's been a while since I tried, because I got so discouraged, but I think so. Maybe I should let them soak longer before mixing? Thanks for the tip about serving, too.

Give the berries a good soak - it might help with the texture, it will definitely help with the flavor - and let me know how it goes.

I think the key is going to be in getting it to the table while everything is still cream.

White chocolate isn't really chocolate at all, it's just the fat and no solids as you've pointed out Dorie. It's too delicate likely to replace another fat as the flavor would likely get lost. It's usually so sweet though, so you'd have to account for that sugar in addition to fat. Perhaps a cookie or cake with no strong flavors, or lemon or other citrus to cut its (occasionally cloying) sweetness and richness?

Thanks for joining in!

When we were in Paris' 6th Arrondissement a few years ago, we stayed at the Hôtel La Louisiane on Rue de Seine, just a few doors down (up?) from Gérard Mulot. While I slept off jet-lag, my husband went out walking around the neighborhood and bought delicious baked goods at a nearby bakery for us to picnic on in our room once I woke up -- which I now realized must've been Gérard Mulot!

I bet it was Gerard Mulot!

Here's a little neighborhood update: La Louisanne has been renovated!  And now there's another bakery across the street from Gerard Mulot: Arnaud Lahrer.

Paul, the all-over-France bakery/pastry shop is across the street from the hotel (might not have been when you were there) and, as it has been for decades, the Carton pastry shop is on rue de Buci, just steps from the hotel.


Hi Dorie, I'm a beginner baker and your books have given me so much confidence to keep at it! I really like the metric measurements that you've included in your recipes in Baking Chez Moi and I wondered if you could point me in the direction of a go-to metric measurement conversion chart or guide? Thank you so much!

Thank you so much and welcome to the truly wonderful world of home baking!

I was so happy to be able to put metric measurements in Baking Chez Moi alongside American volume measures (and I did it in my new book, Dorie's Cookies, too).

I have never found one volume/metric chart that has worked for me and so I made my own.  I'd jot down the measurements of some ingredients and then, when I'd used a new ingredient, I'd add it to the list.  It's time-consuming in the beginning and then it's done.

You can usually find  online equivalents for ingredients, but it's nice to have a list of your own  go-to ingredients.

By the way, as bakers, I think the most important measurement is the one for all-purpose flour - and it changes from baker to baker, from cookbook to cookbook.

Online, the common weight for 1 cup flour is 125 grams.  But I know that some cookbook authors use 145 grams.

I weighed 10 cups of flour, one at a time, using the same aerate/scoop/sweep-level method, and then took an average of the weights.  My standard cup is 136 grams.

Keep baking and keep in touch.

I was taught that the trick to flaky piecrust was to work the dough as little as possible. So whenever I'm making piecrust dough, I limit myself to a commercial break during a TV show. I measure the flour, salt and vegetable shortening into a bowl beforehand, then as soon as the show segment ends I dash into the kitchen, cut the shortening into the dry ingredients (not very thoroughly), stir in the cold water until it barely forms a dough, stuff it in a plastic bag and press down to form a ball, close the bag with a twist-tie, and stick it in the fridge to chill (for at least an hour, or up to a few days).

Great tip - thanks!

I'd like to make a blueberry cake for a baby shower (it's a boy!). I'd like a 2 layer cake and not a bundt (I have a bundt recipe -- is there any way to convert that to 2 9inch cake pans?) because I'm planning to ice the cake as well. Do you have any suggestions? I've seen some lemon & blueberry cakes, but I also thought something more formal-looking would be pretty: White cake with a blueberry layer in between. However what would be the blueberry layer?

You could convert the bundt into layers, but the bundt cakes are usually sturdier than 'regular' cake layers.

I like your idea of making white cake layers and filling them with blueberries.  I'd cook blueberries with some sugar until you get a jam (you might want to add just a smidgen of cornstarch dissolved in cold water) - add some lemon zest and juice - and then fold in fresh berries so that you've got an interesting texture.

Let me know what you end up doing - take pix!

Putting white chocolate morsels into any bread recipe is easy and yummy. Roll out a dough, place the morsels as evenly as you can a out 1/4" apart. Roll up the dough and place in your pan, let rise and bake as usual. The white morsels don't melt as readily as the chocolate, so they stay in place more easily without actually melting into the bread. It is so good, try a piece with cheese and/or lightly toast the bread. No one will be able to guess what you put in there.

Nice - thanks so much for chiming in.

If I can't have meat, then I usually sub with lentils and the roasted veggies you recommend!

Thanks for this.

Last night I made a pot of giant beans.  Now that you say lentils, it makes me think that big beans might be nice in the stew too.

Does the batter separate from the apple slices while baking, forming distinct apple and cake layers?

Nope.  It's more like the custard envelops the apples, although there are more apples than custard.

Dorie Greenspan's Custardy Apple Squares

The only time I ever felt that a beef stew needed a little bit of sugar was the time I made it with Sierra Nevada's extremely hoppy Torpedo IPA. Two & a half tablespoons in today's recipe seems really excessive to me.

Try it and let me know - remember that the sugar is playing off the beer, cider vinegar, mustard and tomatoes.

The Seasonings includes the immortal line "Tarragon, of virtue, is full." Hilarious.

Love PDQ Bach, but didn't know this line. Great!

While it uses wine instead of beer, I've always loved this recipe for mushroom bourguignon. So maybe substituting mushrooms for the beef in your beer and beef stew would work!

Merci for the suggestion.

Hi Dorie! I got a beautiful heavy tart pan for my wedding and want to baptize it this weekend for a brunch I am hosting. Do you have any favorite tart recipes and tips? I'm adept at quiches and pie crusts, so what's different about baking crusts in the tart shape?

Congratulations on your wedding!

If you're used to making pies and quiches, I don't think you'll have a problem with a tart pan and I think you'll love the look of it.

Why not baptize it with a recipe you know and love?  And then move on.  While it's still chilly, think about making your first apple tart.

Have fun!

Good to know the Hôtel La Louisiane has been renovated in the intervening years (we were there in 2011). The other thing I recall on that block was a huge produce stall a few doors down from the hotel, where we got wonderful fresh fruits to eat in our room (and on park benches).

As always, thanks for coming.  And, as always, I'm sorry, if I didn't have time to answer your question.  I'll get to it next time, which is March 9, between 1 and 2pm.

How did it get to be March already????

In the meantime ... Cook, bake, share, enjoy - xoDorie 

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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,, and follow her on Twitter: @doriegreenspan.
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