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Jul 2, 2012 09:01 AM

What are you baking these days? July, 2012 [old]

Greetings from the great (and boiling hot) midwest! A short family visit for my darling and amazing MIL's bday (shh, I didn't tell you this but she just turned 89, and she's rustling up blueberry muffins for breakfast at the moment). Am planning the torta bianca Caprese from Nick's A Baker's Tour to take to another party tonight. How about you? What's shakin' and bakin' chez vous?

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  1. I cranked up the oven yesterday despite the 95+ degree heat and made a batch of 7-layer bars and a bacon baklava recipe from Food & Wine. Haven't tasted either yet but I'm concerned that the baklava is a little short on filling - I followed the recipe but I felt that it could have used twice as much bacon and maybe double the amount of nuts as well. We'll see how it tastes. Tonight I'll be making Ina Garten's lemon cake - all of this to be transported to a friend's lake house for the 4th!

    18 Replies
    1. re: biondanonima

      Tasted the bacon baklava - it's quite good, but I would definitely use more bacon and nuts next time, and maybe bake it a little less - I like my baklava to have a little chewy softness, and this one was totally crisp. I tasted a corner piece, though, so that might be why.

      I made Ina Garten's lemon cake in a 8-cup bundt pan last night - it's a non-stick pan with a fancy pattern, and I sprayed it well with cooking spray. However, the cake is CEMENTED into the pan - there is no way it's coming out in one piece. Has anyone else had this problem with this type of pan? I'm just going to take it to the lake in the pan and serve it out of the pan in scoops - hopefully no one will care that it's an ugly mess, because I must say it tastes great!

      1. re: biondanonima

        I have a follow-up question that is related. I finally bought myself a heritage nordic ware bundt type pan. It's the one with the swirly ridged design. 10 cups. I'm planning to use it for the first time for a family event. And want to be sure it comes out in one piece. I've seen different advice. Use Pam spray. OIl then flour. What is the best advice. That will give 100% results.

        And I know there was some good advice on this thread for other months on good recipes to use with this pan. Think a cake with some body to it. I'm open to all possibilities -- a cake with some almond paste? Lemon? Chocolate? Know there were recommendations here but haven't been able to find by searching.


        1. re: karykat

          I use Wilton Cake Release, which you brush on. It gives 100% results, even on old baking pans where the teflon no longer works. It might be overkill on the Heritage Bundt since it has a non-stick coating. However, I like to err on the side of overkill when I've gone through the trouble of mixing up a great cake.

          1. re: roxlet

            I have used Wilton Cake Release but I didn't have any in the house - I should have made the effort to buy a new bottle. The lemon cake was well received anyway - so well, in fact, that we baked another one after the first one was gone!

          2. re: karykat

            Before I used my heritage pan for the first time, I bought a bottle of Wilton Cake Release, which poster roxlet had been recommending. It's an oil and flour formula in a squeeze bottle that you brush on with a pastry brush (I love my silicone brush for things like that). The cake slipped out 100% perfectly, without a crumb left on the pan. I also used on my mini rose bundt pan, which has lots of intricate detail, and for the first time got a really great release. If you have a Michael's craft store near you, they stock the Wilton stuff.

            As for what kind of cake to bake, it seems to me that one that doesn't have a lot of glaze or icing is best, both because you don't want to obscure the shape and because it's harder to glaze because of the swirls (or so people have said; I haven't tried). A dusting of powdered sugar looks nice. And not that I wouldn't bake a chocolate cake in it, but you can see the shape better with lighter-colored cakes.

            1. re: karykat

              There's also Pam for Baking, which has flour and oil in the spray. I've never used Cake Release. The baking spray makes if very easy to tell that you have covered the entire surface. If you are baking something chocolate, use plain Pam and cocoa powder instead of flour, so there's no hint of white on the crust. Though it may sound counterintuitive, you can also use Pam and white sugar. You'd think it would stick or burn.
              It doesn't. It makes for an easy release and has the added beneit of making the crust crisper and tastier.

              1. re: greygarious

                I've used Baker's Joy and Pam for Baking for years, and still do use them on regular baking pans, but the Cake Release does a markedly superior job, especially on pans with fancy patterns. I've also been using it whenever I bake something that has a sticky component, like pieces of juicy fruit that can adhere to pan sides. You also need less of the cake release than of the spray, and it's clear. I've read posts here that suggest that a facsimile can be made by combining equal volumes of vegetable oil, shortening, and flour, but I've not tried that.

                1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                  Thanks for the advice, everyone. I'm going to try that cake release. I do have a Michael's near me so that will be handy.

                  Looking forward to trying this. As soon as this heat breaks!

              2. re: karykat

                I have many of Nordic Ware pans. I've never bothered with anything else except a pastry brush, butter and flour. Works every single time. Hope this helps.

                1. re: karykat

                  I would recommend what I think of as one of the greatest cakes I have ever's a recipe from Stonewall Kitchens website, Blueberry Sour Cream Coffee's absolutely divine, simple but so incredible. It's one of those recipes that the end result is way more than the sum of its can use any wild blueberry preserve as well, doesn't have to be Stonewalls brand.

                2. re: biondanonima

                  Am looking at the Ina Garten cakes for my upcoming event. Did you make the one with yogurt and oil or the one with butter and buttermilk?

                  That one is here and is the one I'm thinking of.

                  1. re: karykat

                    The one you linked (with butter and buttermilk) is the one I made. I didn't have buttermilk, though, so I just used a little half and half with a splash of vinegar - came out perfectly. It really is a delicious cake, although I wouldn't exactly call it a pound cake - the texture was a little fluffier than traditional pound cake. Also, I agree with Smitten Kitchen on the syrup absorption issue - the second time I made it, I made it in a 9x13 (so it was relatively thin) and aggressively poked the cake with a skewer before pouring on the syrup, and it still didn't really penetrate more than about a half inch. I'd love to try the syrup and glaze with a good lemon sponge cake (and maybe add some limoncello to it).

                    1. re: biondanonima

                      It sounds like the shape of the bundt cake complicates getting the syrup to sink in.

                      I'm inclined to try this one anyway. Esp. with the Wilton cake release to be sure it comes out. The texture sounds good.


                      1. re: karykat

                        With the bundt cake, it actually worked out ok because I soaked the bottom of the cake with the syrup, then glazed the top (piece by piece, since I couldn't get it out of the pan whole, but the principle holds). That way, both the top and bottom of each piece had that intense lemony moistness. With the sheet cake, I poured the syrup on the cake in the pan and then poured the glaze on top of that, which meant that the bottom of the cake didn't have anything on it (it was still tasty, just not as evenly flavored).

                        1. re: biondanonima

                          This makes sense. Soak the bottom first, then soak the top, hoping it comes out in one piece.

                          Thanks much. Will do.

                3. re: biondanonima

                  B.A.C.O.N. B.A.K.L.A.V.A? I am drooling just reading that . . Bacon. Baklava. Bacon. Baklava.

                  1. re: JerryMe

                    The bacon baklava (from Food & Wine: was a big hit, but I will definitely make some changes to the recipe if I make it again. I felt the dates were totally unnecessary and added a flavor I didn't care for (I like dates, just not in this), but the filling overall was not generous enough. I would probably triple the nuts and use 1.5x the bacon (making sure to use a really good, thick-cut bacon), and make just two layers of filling rather than three. Also, I would probably use honey + maple syrup instead of the sugar + maple syrup called for, as I felt like the syrup was just a bit too sugary. Finally, I would cut the baking time slightly - the baklava was VERY crisp, and I like a little bit of chew.

                    1. re: biondanonima

                      Great recipe! Definitely doable and thanks for the tips!

                4. Baking a Swabian red currant kuchen today. Off to buy some butter.

                  Happy Birthday to your MIL!

                  12 Replies
                  1. re: prima

                    Buttertart, I have been leaving messages for you in several threads. I went to the library and got the Abby Mandel book that had her fudge brownies in, if you still want it, please let me know.

                    1. re: prima

                      Thanks! Please, yes, I would like that very much.

                      1. re: buttertart

                        Fudge Brownies

                        1 cup walnut pieces
                        4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, broken into pieces
                        1 1/4 cup sugar
                        1 stick unsalted butter, cut into quarters , room temperature
                        4 large eggs
                        1/4 tsp salt
                        2 teaspoons vanilla extract
                        2/3 cup unbleached A/P flour

                        Preheat to 325. Grease a 9 or 10 inch square pan and coat with flour and shake off excess.
                        With metal blade of food processor, chop the walnuts coarsely and reserve. Chop the chocolate coarsely .. Add the sugar and process for 1 minute. Add the butter and process for 1 minute until well creamed. Add the eggs, salt and vanilla and process for 30-40 seconds, or until itis fluffy. Add the flour and nuts and combine the batter pulsing 4-5 times.
                        Spoon and spread in pan. Bake for 22-25 minutes for fudge like and 3-5 minutes longer for firmer cake-like brownies. Cool and cut into 1 1/2 inch squares,
                        36 brownies
                        Abby Mandel...Cuisinart Classroom

                        1. re: angelsmom

                          Thanks, I will definitely try this.

                          1. re: buttertart

                            I owed you one......made the Chinese cucumber salad and it was a huge hit. TY again.

                            1. re: angelsmom

                              I was happy to help. So fun to see the old issues and remember our life then (we were living in Taipei and my mom continued the subscription I'd had since I was 16, having them sent there). Every issue was an occasion.

                                1. re: angelsmom

                                  She knew her daughter very well :)

                      2. re: prima

                        Prima - This cake looks absolutely gorgeous. I love currants. It will be tangy, like rhubarb, I'd bet. And the crisp topping looks great with it.

                        Have you made this before?

                        This is on my must try list. As soon as our currants come into the farmers market.

                        1. re: prima

                          That does look amazing, but the challenge would be to find red currants!

                          1. re: roxlet

                            Indeed. I thought I'd keep my eyes open for them to come into the coop and then maybe make a smaller version of this. So I wouldn't need as many.

                            1. re: roxlet

                              They had red currants at the Union Sq Greenmarket 2 weeks ago, so if you have a farmstand near you, maybe?

                          2. I baked two Sweet Basil Cheesecakes and made a delivious lime semifreddo with pretzel crust.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: angelsmom

                              Made scones for breakfast the other day, but no half n half so I had to use chocolate soymilk with fresh blueberries. A little too crisp on the bottom but otherwise eminently palatable.

                              Made three Tarta de Santiago flourless almond cakes last night.

                            2. Just received this recipe from my herb farm, sound yummy to me.
                              Drop Scones with Rose Petals and Pistachios.....

                              1. I've been making homemade candy (caramels; hard candy; candy bars, Torrrone, etc) lately, that is until my thermometer died on me and in the middle of cooking sugar for a birthday candy bar. It wasn't pretty. Now it's on to German cakes and pastries. It may not be as hot in the midwest here in NYC, but it's muggy ontop of hot ... eew! And soon, pies. Then for the Fall season Italian cakes and pastries. And the winter (with the new thermometer), more candymaking. Gifts, gifts, and more gifts!