Baking With Dorie Greenspan: Cakes, cookies, no bake desserts and more.

Jul 13, 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: The perfect cake to take on a picnic
This week's recipe: Dorie Greenspan's Sour Cream Swirl Picnic Cakelettes

Hello and welcome and thanks for coming.

I always look forward to these chats - I love hearing what you've been up to in the kitchen and what you're planning.

Chez me, I'm baking like mad.  I'm bringing 200 cookies to Vermont this weekend and so I'm spending most of the week with my rolling pin at my side.

My family has a cranberry cake recipe that we've been making for about 100 years now. It is a pretty basic pound cake with fresh cranberries. Do you think swapping the cranberries for pomegranate arils would work or are they too moist for swapping?

Im guessing that you could make the swap.  I've never baked with pomegranate arils (seeds), so I'm not sure what they do under heat.  I'm thinking they'll pretty much hold their shape.  I wonder about what their texture will be like in a cake - a little crunchy?  Will they retain their juiciness?

I'd try them.

Has anybody out there baked with pomegranates?  Pipe up, please.

Dorie, I had the most delicious quiche at Floriole Cafe in Chicago a while ago and I can't seem to find anything comparable in the DC area. The one I tried seemed like a cross between a quiche and a souffle with a superb flaky pie crust. Most of the quiches I see around DC are very dense, custard-y affairs. Do you happen to have a recipe for a fluffy, souffle-like quiche with a great crust, please? Even Google hasn't been much help. Thank you!

I love the pastries at Floriole and can't wait to return to Chicago on book tour this fall so that I can taste them again.  However, I don't know their quiche and am not sure what makes it so very different from others.

Was the crust puff pastry? I've seen quiches with puff crusts and they're very beautiful.

My own quiche crust is more like a traditional French tart crust, a cross between tender and crisp, not overly flaky.  Here's the recipe.

As for the custard, it's too hard to quarterback from afar and sight unseen.  Almost by definition, a quiche is meant to be a custard.  But it shouldn't be dense - even though it will get denser as it sits.  Could the Floriole quiche be made with a few whipped egg whites?  

I'm now as curious as you are.  But we can both find out if you write to 

food@washpost.com (that way they'll have your contact info)

They'll ask Floriole if the recipe is available.

 

Dorie, I've been baking and cooking up a storm. I've made: lasagna (everything from scratch!), Parker House rolls, Boston Cream Pie, chocolate cake, and your cookies! Just wanted to share with you a photo of your World Peace Cookies I made. They were so tasty and chocolate-y! They melt in your mouth. I can see how the recipe lends itself well to a multitude of flavors, as you've mentioned. How did your World Peace Cookies and Jammers for your son turn out? Thanks! -Emily

Emily, your World Peace Cookies look terrific! This morning I made 11 pounds of World Peace Cookie dough - I'm baking for a fundraiser this weekend. I love these cookies and I'm glad that you do too.

Here's a picture of all that dough.

I'm watching old GBBO episodes on Netflix and had a tiny bit of inspiration. Would it be possible to swap apples for pears in the mini pear pies? Same instructions etc just poaching apples instead of pears?

Swapping pears for apples and apples for pears is pretty standard among bakers.  Pears are a bit juicier, but you shouldn't have a problem in a pie.  Go with your inspiration and enjoy!

Hi, Dorie! Your sour cream swirl recipe looks fantastic. Alas, I'd rather not buy disposable mini-loaf pans, and I don't have room in my kitchen for more permanent ones. How would you adjust the time and temp to bake the recipe in one standard loaf? Thanks as always.

I understand that you might not want more pans in your cupboard. I have made this cake in a Bundt pan, but never as a loaf.  I think you've got too much batter for an 8-inch loaf, but you might be fine with a 9-inch loaf pan.  Fill it 3/4 full.

As for the baking time, it's hard to say.  It will take longer than the cakelettes, for sure.  Look at the cake after about 45 minutes and then decide when it's done based on these cues: it should be golden brown; it should just start to come away from the sides of the pan; and, most important, a tester inserted in the center of the cake should come out clean.

Hi Dori, Cannot wait to try this recipe, which sounds delightful. But please clarify the amount of butter called for. It says "16 tablespoons (8 ounces; 1 stick)". Believe 16 Tbsp or 8 oz would be 2 sticks, no? Or should it be 8 Tbsp/4 oz/1 stick? And would the cake work in a single pan instead of the mini loaves - say an 8x8" square? How might that impact the bake time? Merci!!

Yep, there was a typo in the recipe, which (happily) was fixed.

The correct quantity for the butter is 16 tablespoons, 8 ounces or (as you rightly pointed out) 2 sticks.

I think the cake will be fine in a single pan, but I think an 8-x-8 might be too small for all the batter.  If you have it, I'd try a 9x9 or 9x13.

Hi, Dorie! I'm so glad I found this chat! We made your yogurt cake recipe a couple weeks ago for a sleepover party we hosted for some teammates on our daughter's soccer team, and from the moaning and purring we heard through the door all night it was a big hit! We're planning on doing your new sour cream cakelette recipe for her softball team sleepover later this summer. Thanks again!

I love the image of a bunch of soccer players purring over a cake!

Dorie Greenspan’s Mediterranean Yogurt Cake

RECIPE: Dorie Greenspan’s Mediterranean Yogurt Cake

Thanks very much for writing - I'm so, so happy that you and yours loved the Mediterranean Yogurt Cake.  Hope you enjoy the cakelettes - let me know.

Dorie Greenspan's Sour Cream Swirl Picnic Cakelettes

RECIPE: Dorie Greenspan's Sour Cream Swirl Picnic Cakelettes

Hi, Dorie. In the past month or so, I've started having pie problems -- the crust adheres to the Pyrex pie plate so solidly that it's nearly impossible to pry slices out. It's not just the bottom of the crust, either -- it's the lip, too, which then breaks off. This is a coconut pie that I've been making regularly for a year or more, and I've never encountered this before. Someone said it could be humidity in my kitchen -- which could make sense, considering my A/C recently conked out. Could that be true? If so, what can I do, short of installing a new HVAC unit?

Oh dear! Stories like this always remind me of one the fabulous cookbook author, Maida Heatter, once told.  She had a terrific recipe that she made all the time and published in her first cookbook.  And then ... it stopped working.  Just like your pie crust.  She blamed it on bad kitchen witches.  Sometimes it's the only right answer.

I'm not sure why you're having these problems all of the sudden.  I don't know if it's the A/C (I don't think it is), but here's what I'd do the next time.

I'd butter the Pyrex pie plate - the lip, too - before fitting the dough into it.  And I'd freeze the crust before baking it.  Pyrex can handle going from freezer to oven and I'd take advantage of that quality.

Also, when a crust is 'heavy' and sticky, I often think it's that the butter or shortening was too warm or was worked too much.  If your kitchen is really hot, you might want to freeze the butter before working with it.

I can't be sure that this will solve the problem - witches are often very devious - but it can't hurt.

?

I'm making French Vanilla Sablés, a shortbread cookie, and World Peace Cookies.  And shhhh, don't tell anyone who's going to be at the dinner.

Hi Dorie, I think my oven is running hot, so I bought an internal thermometer to make sure. Where is the best place to put it? It's a version that can hang or can be put on a rack. The back right corner especially seems to brown cookies/macarons faster, so should I start there?

You can move the thermometer around to see if you have seriously different temperatures in different parts of the oven.  I would start by centering a rack in the oven and putting the thermometer in the center of that rack.

Make sure to give your oven enough time to preheat - after the light goes out or the beep sounds, let it heat for another 10 minutes or so.

Almost every oven I've ever seen has hot spots - even the fanciest ones.  Know where they are and you can adjust for them by rotating pans.

The most important thing is finding out if the oven is generally too high or too low.

Thanks, Dorie! I just emailed the Post now and I'll let you know if/what I hear back! I hope you try that quiche next time you go to Chicago. :)

Glad you contact the Post team.  And yes, you can be sure I'll try Floriole's quiche - can't wait.

Looks soooo good! Half would be in my stomach before it made it to the oven. I'm not sure which was better, the dough or the cookie, haha. Where did you buy that Valhrona chocolate you mention in your picture caption?

I usually make World Peace Cookies with bittersweet chocolate bits, but today I decide to use Valrhona Jivara Lactée, a milk chocolate. I buy chocolate from Amazon and also from New York Cake. 

Do you have dessert recipes that can be baked in a toast oven, if I plug it in outdoors?

When the weather is this unpleasant, why not go for desserts that don't have to be baked? These days I'm making panna cotta early and often - no oven, light texture, served cold. 

Try this one:

Double-Strawberry Buttermilk Panna Cotta

RECIPE: Double-Strawberry Buttermilk Panna Cotta

And for something both cool and cold, try Ellie Krieger's ice pops.
Blackberry Sage Pops

I got an unlined copper bowl recently. I know that they are supposed to be very good for whipping up egg whites. Anything else it would be good for? Are they just as good at egg yolks?

Unlined copper bowls are treasured for whipping egg whites.  There's something about the way the whites and the copper react that makes the whites whip more voluminously.

I've never used the bowls for anything but whites - now that I'm writing this, I'm wondering why.  I don't know how they would react with yolks (my hunch is that they'd be fine). I know I'd never use them with tomatoes or anything else acidic.

Hmmm. Anybody out there have experience with unlined copper bowls?

 

Hi Dorie - I am hosting my daughter's 4th bday in a few weeks. I have previously made the famous Gourmet magazine chocolate cake to rave reviews. I have also made the back-of-the-box Hershey's cake recipe, which I really love, but, as it is oil-based, it is so moist I am scared it will make a big mess in the rental room we have. Do you have any suggestions for a chocolate-loving little girl's cake (made ahead as much as possible)? Any other suggestions for serving the kids and parents are welcome too!

I've got a soft spot for my Cocoa-Buttermilk Birthday Cake from my book Baking From My Home to Yours.  It's the cake I made for our son and one he still loves.  Here's a link to the recipe. You'll see that in the picture, the sides are left bare. You can do that, if you'd like, or you can cover them. You'll have enough frosting.

As for the Hershey's cake - I've never made it, but I don't think I'd let it's moistness stop me from making it for the party. Oil- or butter-based, cake can be a little messy. Cut mini-pieces!

Hi Dorie, I want to thank you for your advice last time about updating a raspberry pie. I did use mascarpone and heavy cream for a base. I did use the Epicurious gelee recipe to put together my own version with rose wine, sugar, a little water, and a couple of tablespoons of seeded and pureed raspberry "juice." I used a not too sweet wine. It was a very pretty dessert: buttery pie crust, creamy base, and composed raspberries with the gelee. The next experiment will be Prosecco and ripe peaches. You are the best!

Thanks so much for getting back to me - your pie sounds fabulous!! I bet it was also gorgeous. 

I adore Pastel de Nata (classic Portuguese custard tarts), although I confess to using frozen puff pastry to save time and effort. I recommend these little pastries highly, with the caveat that the crust gets soggy quickly, so only bake as many as you'll eat in a day (which in my case is quite a few -- LOL!).

Thanks for this tip.

 

Can you also dip the mini-pieces of cake in a chocolate coating that's not too melty?

What wouldn't be better dipped in chocolate? Nothing I can think of!

I promised my coworkers some baked goods for doing something important on time, and I'm having a hard time thinking of what to make them. I have one coworker who has a gluten allergy and another who has a nut allergy. Any suggestions?

Whenever I hear gluten-free and think 'meringue' - but this is not the weather for that.  

You can make these adorable granola bites (leave out the nuts).

Dorie Greenspan’s Cocoa Crunch Fruit and Nut GranolaDorie Greenspan’s Cocoa Crunch Fruit and Nut Granola

RECIPE: Dorie Greenspan’s Cocoa Crunch Fruit and Nut Granola

Or you can make anything nutfree that you like by using a GF flour like Cup4Cup.  I just used it over the weekend to make galette dough.

When in doubt, think fabulous chocolate chip cookies or great brownies.

Mix ricotta cheese with a little sugar, but only enough to incorporate the sugar so it won't lose its ricotta texture. Serve with ripe seasonal fresh fruit of your choice.

Thanks for this. Ricotta is also good mixed with honey and/or studded with chopped chocolate and served the same way.

Yes, it was jewel like.

I can almost see it.

I made muffins once and they all sank to the bottom half (like blueberries normally do).

Yeah and ugh - this is the won't-go-away problem with fruit in cake batter. Thanks for chiming in.

Whooosh and it's over! Another quick hour and so many good questions - thank you.

The next time we'll be together will be July 27 at 1 pm Eastern.

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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