Lemon Cake

July 20, 2012

Preheat oven to 350 degrees f.  Prepare 3 – 9 inch round cake pans with pan release and parchment rounds.

2 1/2 cups cake flour

2 cups sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

8 ounces unsalted butter softened to room temperature

4 eggs

3 egg yolks

1/2 cup buttermilk

1 Tablespoon grated lemon zest

Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy in the bowl of a heavy duty mixer with a paddle attachment.   Add the eggs and the yolks a few at a time and scrape down the sides of the bowl along with the paddle.  Add the lemon zest.

Sift the flour, baking powder, salt together and alternate the dry ingredients with the buttermilk.

Divide into baking pans that are prepared with plenty of pan release and rounds of parchment.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until the cake springs back when touched in the center.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes before brushing with cooled lemon syrup..recipe follows.

Lemon Syrup

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup sugar

1/3 cup lemon juice

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Because this syrup is thinned with a fair amount of lemon juice the ratio of sugar to water is 1:1.  Boil the water and sugar for 5 minutes and remove from the heat.  Cool and add the lemon juice and vanilla extract.  Brush the warm cakes with this lemon syrup and you will see that the cake will absorb the syrup evenly.

Now what do you envision would be the best possible filling for this lovely cake?  I imagine Lemon Cream with fresh blueberries or Blueberry Preserves under a Lemon Cream.  I can imagine a mascarpone cream filling with fresh strawberries or raspberries..hmm..


Classic White Cake

July 18, 2012

Nothing says wedding more than White Cake.  However, white cakes can be tricky if you are a person challenged by folding whipped egg whites into a cake batter which is the case with many a white cake recipe.  The best way to make white cake is to use the egg whites as if they were ordinary eggs and add them as you would a whole egg..just add the egg whites a little at a time.

Classic wedding cake with lovely blue ribbon border

Prepare 3 – 10″ cake pans with parchment rounds and plenty of pan release.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees f.


6 ounces unsalted butter softened to room temperature

2 ounces vegetable oil

2 1/2 cups granulated sugar

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

6 ounces egg whites

1 1/2 cups whole milk

3 1/3 cups cake flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together and set aside.

Cream the unsalted butter, vegetable oil and sugar together until they are very light and fluffy.  Add the egg whites a little at a time.  Add the vanilla extract.

Alternate the dry ingredients with the milk in thirds.  Do not over mix or tunneling may occur.  Divide evenly into your cake pans and bake for about 25 and test with a toothpick to make sure the cakes are baked through the center.  Remove from the oven and cool at least 15 to 20 minutes in the cake pans before removing from the cake pans.  Invert the pans and finish cooling the cake layers on top of the bottom of the pans before chilling them thoroughly in the refrigerator.

This cake is excellent filled with fresh Strawberry Mousse (see Fillings in categories), or Chocolate Mousse, or Bavarian Cream with fresh fruit.  I love it with Lemon Cream and fresh blueberries.  Use your imagination and begin to visualize good combinations of flavors and textures.

To make an orange cake, simply add a Tablespoon of grated orange rind and a teaspoon or two of Hero Orange Compound.

Tea sandwiches..oh so good..!!

Pullman Loaf pans are bread pans with lids on them so that the loaves of bread bake perfectly square.  This is the kind of bread that  lovely tea sandwiches are made with.

For White Bread

4 1/2 cups  bread flour

2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup sugar

1 1/2 cups milk

4 ounces unsalted butter

1 teaspoon dry yeast

1/4 cup warm water

1 whole egg

Blend the flour with salt.  Dissolve the yeast in the 1/4 cup water with a little pinch of sugar to help the yeast activate.

Simmer milk and butter together until the butter is melted.  Cool to room temperature and add the whole egg, whisk well and set aside.

Whisk sugar and salt into the flour and then add the milk/butter mixture.  Add the activated yeast.  Stir well with a wooden spoon or use a heavy duty mixer with a hook attachment to blend the mixture together.  Turn out onto a clean surface that is well dusted with flour and knead for 10 minutes.  Let rise for 4 hours.  Knock down and shape into a loaf.  Place bread into a buttered Pullman bread pan that and allow to rise for 1 1/2 hours to 2 hours.  Bake covered with the Pullman lid for 1 hour at 375 degrees F.

For Honey Wheat Bread:

substitute honey for the granulated sugar.

Replace one cup of all purpose flour with 1 cup wheat flour.

For Rye Bread:

Substitute 1 cup of all purpose flour with 1 cup of rye flour.

For Dill Bread:

Add a Tablespoon of dill to the milk/butter mixture.


A very nice person had a difficult time with this bread formula.  I have modified the bread formula by changing all purpose flour to bread flour and I have added 1/2 cup extra flour.  I also am suggesting that you dust your clean surface with flour when you knead the dough.

The bread flour has a higher protein content and a higher absorption level.  The bread is still sticky.  I prefer wet dough which can be finessed with the addition of flour worked in on your clean surface.  For those of you who do not have a heavy duty stand mixer, a bowl and a wooden spoon work well, however, you will have to knead the dough for at least 10  minutes on the table..  Make sure your work surface is well dusted with flour.

Here are photos of the process.

This is 4 ounces of melted butter which I will put into 1 1/2 cups whole milk along with one egg

Whisk together the egg, milk and melted butter.

white bread flour, whole wheat bread flour, salt and sugar in the bowl of a heavy duty mixer. This is blended together either with a whisk or by turning the mixer on low with the hook attachment.

Working the dough in a heavy duty mixer with a hook for about 6 minutes will start to develop the protein in the flour. You can mix this bread dough in a bowl with a wooden spoon and then turn out the dough on a clean surface to knead the dough for about 10 minutes. There is a considerable amount of friction created in the heavy duty mixer which warms the dough slightly. The ideal temperature of the dough should be about 75 degrees F.

This is the activated yeast. If you wish, you do not have to activate yeast in warm water at all. You can simply add yeast directly to the dough, but if you do, it is better to add the dry yeast to the flour with the sugar only. Leave the salt out until the whole is blended well together. You can even allow your dough to rest for 20 minutes before putting the salt in and that will prevent the salt from adversely affecting the yeast in the dough.

Here is a nice ball of dough with a few minutes of kneading on a surface covered lightly with flour. Learning how to finesse bread dough is essential to good bread making. If the bread is too dry, add a bit of moisture to it and if the bread dough is too wet, work some flour into it. I tend to prefer wetter doughs as they rise well and make lighter loaves.

Pain d’Epice reminds me of Rosemary Manell who was my neighbor in Belvedere, California where I grew up.  Rosemary was my culinary mentor.  She had been the camera ready gal for Julia Child.  Whenever you saw those wonderful dishes coming out of the oven, they were prepared by Rosemary.  When Julia sat down at the end of the show to dig into the luscious offerings on the table, those offerings were made by Rosemary.  We enjoyed Rosemary very much and she collaborated with us on various toppings for Boboli in the pre-Boboli days.

Rosemary and me at Ratto’s in Oakland, California in 1979.

Rosemary loved making pizza and she loved making pasta.  She was an excellent cook in her own right.  Most of all, Rosemary was a generous culinarian who shared her knowledge with others and loved doing so.

Rosemary stretching pizza dough

When I began making Pain d’Epice, Rosemary told me that in France, Pain d’Epice was sold in tins and the older the Pain d’Epice the higher the price because this “quick” bread improves with age.  It is very important not to over mix the Pain d’Epice batter because honey works on rye if over beaten by toughening it.

Preheat the oven to 400 degree and prepare two small loaf pans that would measure 7 1/2″ by 3 1/2 ” by using plenty of pan release.

Whisk to dissolve in a large bowl with 1 cup of hot water:

1 cup honey, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, 1/8 teaspoon salt, 2 teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon baking powder

Whisk in:

1/4 cup good quality rum, 1 1/2 teaspoons ground anise seeds, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger and 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves.

With a wooden spoon, stir in:

1 cup rye flour, 1 cup of white flour and stir until just combined.  Add one more cup of rye flour and a half of a cup of white flour and stir until just combined.


1 teaspoon grated orange rind, 2/3 cup chopped almonds and 1/2 cup chopped raisins or currants.  Stir until all in combined but do not overbeat.

Pour into prepared loaf pans and bake at 400 degrees F for 10 minutes.  Reduce the heat to 350 degrees F and bake another 50 minutes.  Test with at toothpick to make sure the loaves are baked through.  Cool and wrap in foil or a plastic bag and store for a few days before cutting into the loaves and serving.

Sugar crystals are fun to make.   They can be any color you wish to have using simple gel colors manufactured by my favorite company, Americolor.


You are going to need a large pot, some plastic wrap, a dowel, wire, gumpaste, shortening and granules of sugar.


3 pounds granulated sugar

1 pound water

Moisten the sugar with the water in a large saucepan.  Bring to a boil and do not stir the syrup at all.  Turn the heat off and cover the saucepan with plastic wrap so that there is moisture that forms on the plastic wrap and washes down the sides of the saucepan preventing any crystal of sugar from forming.  Allow to cool for at least 8 hours.

To create a sugar crystal decoration, you will need to dry a piece of gum paste in the desired shape on the end of a hooked floral wire.  Wipe a thin layer of white shortening on the dried gum paste and dip in granulated sugar.  The granulated sugar assists in the growing of the sugar crystals.

Pour the sugar syrup into a container that allows you to dip the  end of the floral wire with the gum paste into the syrup suspending it in the syrup without having the tip of the gum paste touch the bottom of the container.  If it touches the bottom of the container, you run the risk of crystals growing and attaching themselves to the bottom of the container.

Place a dowel over the container and hook the wires over the dowel when you know how they will fit in the container filled with the syrup.  Allow to sit undisturbed for a couple of days, three at the most.  Check your crystal growth.

Remove from the syrup and allow to completely dry.  Remove the wire and if you are lucky, you can remove the gum paste form as well.

Perfect Pie Dough

July 12, 2012

Keep flour for pie crust stored in the freezer.  Measure out butter and the water and chill very well in the freezer before you begin to process the dough.

10 ounces all purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 Tablespoons sugar

8 ounces unsalted butter diced and very cold

1/2 cup ice water

It is best to use a food processor for this dough as the blade action will make short work of the effort.  Place very cold flour, salt, sugar and butter in the bowl of the processor.  Pulse for about 30 seconds until the fat is the size of peas.  Add some of the cold water and pulse.  You might not need all the water and this is where your baking skills will be needed to determine if sufficient water has been incorporated..

you can also simply cut the butter into the flour on a clean surface much like you would if you are making quick puff pastry.. Leaving small chunks of butter helps make a flakier pie crust.. Add the water in the middle of a well if you choose this method.

Either method, chill the dough in refrigeration at least 1 hour before rolling it out..

The Recipe Multiplied Ten Times by Weight

6.25  pounds all purpose flour

2.5 teaspoons salt

1 1/4 cups sugar

4 pounds very chilled butter

5 cups chilled ice water


June 30, 2012


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Thank you..