Sarabeth Levine - Goddess of Bakedom
 
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CATEGORY: Baking Techniques

 

HOLIDAY CRANBERRY-APPLE PIE

 

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This pie is one of my favorites.  Quintessentially tart, yet perfectly sweet, with just the right balance of spice—andthe ruby like color is spot on for Christmas or New Years. Use your own recipe for a double crust, or try my recipe for Tender Pie Dough. The beauty of this delicious streusel topped pie is that you are going to create a double crusted pie with only one piece of dough. It is a quick and easy technique that I use every time I make a fruit pie. You will love this method and I know you will use it on all of your pies as well. This pie will not disappoint!

Wishing you and your loved ones a very Merry Christmas and a Happy, Healthy and Safe New Year. 

                                                                                               


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HAMANTASCHEN- REVISITED

 

Purim will be here in a few days and I have had numerous request for my Hamanaschen recipe. Rather than refer you to search the archives of my blog, I am posting the entry again.  No searching necessary will give you no excuses for not trying this classic recipe. 
If you are not in the mood to make them, stop by the bakery and pick up a few. 

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 Purim is the springtime Jewish festival celebrating the Jews freedom from persecution. King Ahashuerus was almost tricked by his advisor Haman to annihilate  the Jews of Persia.  Esther, who became his new queen and her uncle Mordecai, the new advisor, helped the King save their people. Haman and his followers were sent to the gallows. The tradition of making hamantaschen has continued throughout Jewish history and they are meant to be shared with family and friends. They are called shalach moneswhich is the Yiddish expression for the giving or sharing of food. Shaped into triangles to signify the hat of Haman, these little cakes or cookies can be stuffed with a poppy seed, prune or fruit filling. I add orange juice for the steaming of the dried prunes and raisins, a touch of cinnamon, and of course vanilla.

My granddaughters, SammijoLilli and Chloe, always remind me when the holiday is coming. I love that they continue the family heritage of their great-grandmother Margaret and me, using the family recipe to bake their hamantaschen at home. They fill them with Sarabeth's Peach-Apricot Spreadable Fruit.


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SUPER BOWL BREAD PUDDING

 

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I love being in our bakery. In fact, I find it difficult to leave at the end of each day, especially when the bread puddings are just out of the oven and cooling on the rack.  I think these are the most decadently-delicious, magically- beautiful desserts I have ever eaten. For me, it is all about the crme anglaise— I have been known to sip it straight from the bowl, or seen pouring some over a slice of chocolate cake, and always churning it into my favorite ice cream. What you will need to make this winning dessert, is good quality bread, crème anglaise and some raspberries. Don't think of these as dinner parties desserts only— you can surprise everyone at your Super Bowl Party next week. If you think the ball game will put your friends over the edge—screaming for joy over the score, wait until you hear the wows, groans, and sighs while they devour the 'gold team line-up' in the photo above. You will be the one with the winning score. Here is the recipe from my cookbook, Sarabeth's Bakery: From My Hands to Yours.

  


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COOKIES FROM SCRAPS AKA "SCROOKIES"

 

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Recently, while working in the bakery, I noticed a pile of tart dough scraps on the marble work bench. The bakers had just finished lining small tart pans with dough. We make lots of tart shells, the scraps were plentiful, and they were just about to clean the bench and discard them.  Our dough is rolled out twice, as over handling activates the gluten and makes the tarts tough. Unfortunately, some dough is discarded. We try to minimize the waste by cutting the dough circles very close to one another. That morning, the thought of throwing out the delicious pile of perfectly good scraps, tugged at my heart strings. I just couldn't bear to waste all that dough and l quickly grabbed the scraps. I did not rework them, instead, using a pastry wheel, I cut the dough into  smaller pieces and mixed a few handfuls of our muffin streusel into the dough, wondering what they would be like if they were distributed through out the dough. Next, using a 2 1/2-inch-diameter plain cookie cutter as a mold, I pressed a 1/3-inch layer of the mixture into the cutter to form a round shape and then I removed the cutter. I had enough dough to make several dozen cookies. After chilling them 30 minutes, I finished them off with sprinkling sugar and a touch of coarse sea salt. If you like roasted cashews, chop a few and put them in with the mix. Omit the salt if you use salted cashews. Pop them in a 350°F. oven and bake them until golden brown, about 18 minutes. They were really terrific. Having the streusel crumbs through out the entire cookie, and the fact that you can break small little pieces of the cookie off like a puzzle piece, and pop them in your mouth makes them fun to eat.  Tart or cookie? If you serve them with ice-cream on top—a tart. If you eat them as they are—a cookie. Break them up and fold them in your favorite ice cream, heavenly—I call them Scrookies.


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I LOVE JELLY DOUGHNUTS

 

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I recently received a tweet from one of my followers on Twitter. "Sarabeth, it would amazing if you made a doughnut like Joanne Chang's at Flour Bakery  and Cafe in Boston." It would be the ultimate doughnut, her doughnut, your jam!" I quickly reached for her baking book for the recipe—I knew it was in there and had been meaning to try it.  I immediately went into the kitchen, made her recipe for the dough, and filled them with my delicious strawberry-raspberry jam. I had one of those OMG moments. The doughnut was so tender and the berry filling was perfect. They were pretty delicious— and you know how much I loved them by the bite I took from the one in the photo. Doughnuts have a limited shelf life. I will save this recipe for a special holiday and invite a crowd so there will be no leftovers. 

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MONET BUTTERY SHORTBREAD FOR THE ROYAL WEDDING

 

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I adore the French Impressionist painters as much as I do a perfect butter cookie. These shortbreads allow me to experience the thrill of both. Inspired by the unmistakable style of Claude Monet, I decorate my cookies with a painterly technique. It is easy to forget that one is baking as you dab and brush these cookies with pastel colored edible petal dust. If you have a chance to visit Paris, it is definitely worth the hour train ride to Giverny to see the glorious gardens that inspired Monet's masterpieces —and these cookies can become treasures to enjoy at your very own Royal Wedding. They are easy enough for a child to make, so grab your brushes and follow me...
 


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HOW TO MAKE PERFECT MERINGUE

 

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Making perfect meringue for lemon tartlets or a pie is like winning the Oscar. For years I struggled each time I tried to make meringue, always experiencing disappointment. I would make this gorgeous pie, prepare the meringue, pipe it on and admire the results. Immediately, after removing it from the oven it would start to deflate and within two hours weep— ruining my beautiful flaky crust. Fellow bakers would tell me, "It doesn't keep well and so you have to serve it right away". I couldn't accept that kind of thinking and decided to do my own research and experimentation. I knew most recipes specify cream of tartar to stabilize the whites (ugh, I hate that awful taste), and others suggest a dash of lemon juice or a pinch of salt (not much better). You can always heat the sugar and water to 236°F. and carefully add it to the beaten whites in the bowl of a heavy-duty stand mixer using the whisk attachment. This method is successful but you have to be very careful handling the hot syrup. It is important to make sure the egg whites are cooked to 160°F (according to recommended food safety regulations). Using the following method will assure you completely cooked egg whites that are safe to eat, and retain their beautiful shape when beaten into a meringue.


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TECHNIQUE:HOW TO ROLL AND BLIND BAKE A PIE SHELL

 

Here are a few photos that are definitely worth checking out. I decided to photograph this easy technique for you to see how simple it is to roll out and blind bake (pre-bake) a pie shell. This will be very helpful when you want to make a lemon meringue, banana cream, or chocolate pudding pie —or any pie that requires a baked shell that will be filled and chilled to set before serving. Use this technique with your favorite pie dough recipe, or use the Tender Pie Dough recipe from my baking book, Sarabeth's Bakery: From My Hands to Yours. I know you will be very pleased with the results.

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Blind baking is when you bake a pie or tart shell partially or completely before you add the filling. The shell is at its personal best when baked this way. It allows the pastry to bake completely and achieve its signature light and flaky texture. 


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LET'S GET SERIOUS

 

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FOCUS

ORGANIZE 

 FOLLOW DIRECTIONS 

 BAKE REGULARLY

 

 

 

 

 

 

 "HOW DOES ONE BECOME A GOOD BAKER?" 

This question has been asked of me numerous times, and for the New Year, I decided to reflect on this question and share my thoughts. Baking is a precise art and becoming a good baker is not difficult. If you are focused and organized, follow recipe directions exactly as they are written, and bake regularly—it's a piece of cake!

The majority of home bakers own several baking books, collecting them for inspiration, the beautiful photographs, or specific recipes. We must not forget the non-bakers that read baking books as they would a novel and pop them on their coffee table when they are done —rarely baking from them. Deep inside I know they really want to try.

Of the group that bake, many quickly turn to the pages that inspired them to purchase the book, go to their cupboards for the required ingredients (frequently making precarious substitutions), and begin without reading the entire recipe that they are about to work on. And then, there are the select few who read the recipe twice, including the introductory explanations and sidebars, and always follow the recipes as written. Equally important, they bake regularly. This last group of individuals are the ones who become GOOD BAKERS, and this can be YOU!  ( Photograph by Quentin Bacon)


 


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