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Dobosh Torte

Dobosh Torte or Dobos Torta is one of the greatest Hungarian cakes. Created by József C. Dobos in the mid-1880s, it is traditionally five or more thin layers of sponge cake baked individually on parchment and filled with a silky smooth chocolate buttercream. The top layer is covered with a melted sugar caramel to suggest [...]

Dobosh Torte or Dobos Torta is one of the greatest Hungarian cakes. Created by József C. Dobos in the mid-1880s, it is traditionally five or more thin layers of sponge cake baked individually on parchment and filled with a silky smooth chocolate buttercream. The top layer is covered with a melted sugar caramel to suggest a drum. In fact, “dobos” means drummer. I bought a Dobos Torta recently at Otto’s Hungarian Import Store and Deli in Burbank, California.

The cake, imported from Hungary, is quite a sight to behold. More than 3 inches tall and containing seven layers, its glistening caramel candy top made a spectacular dessert for a holiday dinner.The dinner came about quite by accident. My wife and I were staying with her niece in Glendale and we decided to cook a meal based on what we found at a local farmers’ market. Fresh eggs, small zucchini, leeks, shallots, broccoli, and onions along with fresh basil and other herbs were in plentiful supply so I decided to make a cheese soufflé baked atop all those cooked veggies. Because the soufflé was layered I wanted a layered dessert, and bingo! Dobos Torta popped into my head.

So off we went to Otto’s and bought the last frozen Dobos Torta in the store. We thawed it at room temperature and put it in the fridge to keep the buttercream firm. The caramel-topped top layer had been cut into 12 wedges and made serving quite easy by cutting between the wedges. If you want to experience the real Dobos Torta, Otto’s will ship one out to you. To make one yourself, check out the many videos and recipes available online.

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The Original Chocolate Chip Cookie

Originally posted on May 23, 2014 in Chocolate, Cookies, Nuts, Recipes, vanilla What would become America’s favorite cookie—several billion are eaten annually today—owes its very existence to a kitchen crisis at the Toll House Inn in Whitman, Massachusetts. Sometime in the early 1930s, owner Ruth Wakefield, finding she was out of nuts for her cookie [...]

Originally posted on May 23, 2014

in Chocolate, Cookies, Nuts, Recipes, vanilla

What would become America’s favorite cookie—several billion are eaten annually today—owes its very existence to a kitchen crisis at the Toll House Inn in Whitman, Massachusetts. Sometime in the early 1930s, owner Ruth Wakefield, finding she was out of nuts for her cookie dough, decided to chop chocolate bars into chunks and add them instead. She expected the chocolate pieces would melt, but they stayed intact. Diners at the Inn loved the contrast of the crispness and butteriness of the cookies with the crunchy nuggets of chocolate. She named her cookies, “Toll House Chocolate Crunch Cookies,” and they soon became a nationwide sensation.Eighty-four years have passed since Mrs. Wakefield’s creation of this iconic treat, and in its wake bakers have devised hundreds of versions of her original recipe. Entire books on chocolate chip cookies are in print, with all sorts of additions—macadamia nuts, pecans, white chocolate chunks, oatmeal, dried cranberries, candied ginger—to the basic dough. The recipe has also changed, with bakers substituting whole wheat flour for the white flour, adding more brown sugar, using less egg, melting the butter instead of creaming it, changing the oven temperature and baking times, and increasing the size of the cookies from tiny—Mrs. Wakefield says her recipe makes 100 cookies—to huge, 18 cookies per batch.

Fortunately, Mrs. Wakefield’s recipe survives, and here are her ingredients and instructions from Toll House Tried and True Recipes. The semisweet chocolate morsels became an ingredient in 1939 after she formed a business relationship with the Nestlé company.

The Original Chocolate Chip Cookie

2 ¼ cups flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup butter

¾ cup brown sugar

¾ cup white sugar

Add 2 eggs, lightly beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla

Dissolve 1 teaspoon soda in

1 teaspoon hot water

2 cups semisweet chocolate morsels

1 cup chopped nuts

Sift flour with salt. Cream butter until soft. Beat in both sugars well. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Stir in dissolved soda. With wooden spoon, stir in chocolate morsels and nuts. Dough is best if refrigerated overnight.

Drop by half teaspoonfuls onto greased cooky sheet. Bake in moderate oven, 375˚F, for 10 to 12 minutes. Makes 100 cookies.

At Toll House we chill dough overnight. When mixture is ready for baking, we roll a teaspoon of dough between palms of hands and place balls 2 inches apart on greased baking sheet. Then we press balls with finger tips to form flat rounds. This way cookies do not spread as much in the baking and they keep uniformly round. They should be brown through, and crispy, not white and hard as I have sometimes seen them.

What I like most about this recipe is the decidedly buttery taste and crunchy texture of the cookies. Be sure to use unsalted butter or decrease the salt by half if using salted butter. I’ve seen many recipes based on Mrs. Wakefield’s that say to make the cookies larger and to bake them at 325˚ or 350˚F. The lower baking temperature will not result in the sugar caramelizing with the butter, and so the rich depth of flavor will not be there. Be sure to bake the cookies at 375˚F. The crunch of the cookie adds to the delight of eating them.

Be sure to beat the butter and both sugars until light and fluffy, then beat in the eggs well. The butter should be cold but malleable. You should be able to bend the stick of butter without breaking. The temperature of the butter should be about 65˚F. After creaming with the sugars the temperature will rise to between 68˚ and 70˚F. Perfect. Stop to scrape the bowl a few times during the creaming step, and beat the butter with the sugars for 4 to 5 minutes. Beat in the eggs and vanilla. Dissolving the soda in the hot water is a step that has been eliminated from most modern recipes. I don’t know why it works–perhaps in Mrs. Wakefield’s day, baking soda was cakier and not as powdery as it is today–but I always do it. After mixing in the flour and soda, stir in the chocolate morsels and nuts (if using). I leave the nuts out. Then I refrigerate the dough overnight or for up to 3 days. Longer is okay, too.

I make my cookies larger than Mrs. Wakefield’s, 48 instead of 100. I roll each cookie between my palms to form balls and place them 2- to 3-inches apart on parchment-lined cookie sheets, 12 cookies to a 14 x 17-inch pan. I flatten each cookie to a thickness of about 1/2-inch, and I bake one sheet at a time on an oven rack adjusted to the center position, about 11 minutes, until cookies are brown all the way through. This makes them crisp and crunchy. Cool the cookies on their pan for a few minutes to firm up a bit, then transfer them with a wide metal spatula to cooling racks. When completely cool, store airtight.

A key step in Mrs. Wakefield’s recipe is allowing the dough an overnight rest in the refrigerator. Omitting it will give you a tasty cookie, but it will lack depth of flavor due to less caramelization during baking. I’ve refrigerated the dough for 2 days, and the cookies tasted even richer. Supermarket refrigerated Toll House cookie dough may owe its popularity, at least in part, to this simple step.

The Baking Wizard Says:

1. Refrigerating cookie dough overnight allows sugars to dissolve completely resulting in increased caramelization during baking.

2. What this recipe shows is how seemingly small changes—which by themselves may seem trivial—can produce radically different results. But it’s the cumulative effect of the changes that are important.

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Apple Muffins with Browned Butter Streusel

A few years ago I was asked to judge a local apple cooking contest. The recipes were incredibly diverse and ranged from apple leather to apple pizza. But there was one recipe that stood out from all the rest: apple muffins. These were the lightest apple muffins I had ever tasted and they boasted a deep apple flavor along with a generous amount of diced sweet/tart apple.

applemuffinsinbasket

A few years ago I was asked to judge a local apple cooking contest. The recipes were incredibly diverse and ranged from apple leather to apple pizza. But there was one recipe that stood out from all the rest: apple muffins. These were the lightest apple muffins I had ever tasted and they boasted a deep apple flavor along with a generous amount of diced sweet/tart apple.

The recipe won best in show, and when I asked The recipe’s creator how she managed to pack so much apple flavor into her muffins she told me she boiled down apple cider to concentrate its flavor. And what about the streusel topping? Why did it have such a nutty flavor? She browned the butter!

So here’s to make these fabulous muffins.

muffinsinpan

On the left, muffin batter with sreusel topping. On the right muffin batter unadorned.

Apple Muffins with Browned Butter Streusel ToppingMake the topping first so it’ll be ready to sprinkle on top of the batter.

Streusel topping
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar, light or dark
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt

Muffin Batter
1 ½ cups apple cider or juice
1/3 cup full-fat sour cream
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 ¾ cups unbleached all-purpose flour (8 ounces), spooned into the cups and leveled
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
8 tablespoons unsalted butter (4 ounces), softened
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 large sweet/tart apple, peeled, cored, and cut into ¼-inch dice

  1. For the topping. Melt the butter in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat. Cook, swirling the pan by its handle occasionally, until the butter has turned a nut brown and smells toasty. Watch carefully to prevent burning. Remove the pan from the heat and let butter cool to room temperature. In a small bowl stir together the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Add the cooled butter and combine well with a fork to make a crumbly topping.
  2. For the muffins. Boil the cider or juice in a heavy medium saucepan until it has reduced to ½ cup. Set aside to cool to room temperature. Whisk in the sour cream and vanilla.
  3. Adjust an oven rack to the lower middle level and preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Lightly coat a 12-cup standard muffin pan with cooking spray.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together thoroughly the flour, salt, baking soda, and cloves. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter until it is smooth and creamy. While beating on medium speed, gradually add the sugar. Scrape the bowl and beater and beat on medium high speed for 3 to 4 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each. On low speed, alternately add the dry ingredients in 3 additions and the liquid in 2 additions, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Beat only until smooth after each. By hand, stir in the diced apple.
  5. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups. Sprinkle with the streusel and put the pan in the oven. Bake 18 to 20 minutes, until the muffins are a rich golden brown color and they spring back when gently pressed in the center. Cool the muffins in their cups for 5 to 10 minutes, then remove them and arrange them in a basket. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Makes 12 large muffins.

bakedapplemuffin

 

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Simple Cheese Pogácsa

The Hungarian word for biscuit, roughly translated, is pogácsa, and there are two basic types: salty and sweet. But within each category huge variations exist. I posted a recipe for Vajas pogácsa, a sweet Hungarian butter biscuit awhile back, but recently I got to bake with a real live Hungarian baker in my home kitchen and she taught me how to make these Simple Cheese Pogácsa, a delicious and addictive cheesy biscuit to nibble on anytime and to serve with drinks.

The Hungarian word for biscuit, roughly translated, is pogácsa, and there are two basic types: salty and sweet. But within each category huge variations exist. I posted a recipe for Vajas pogácsa, a sweet Hungarian butter biscuit awhile back, but recently I got to bake with a real live Hungarian baker in my home kitchen and she taught me how to make these Simple Cheese Pogácsa, a delicious and addictive cheesy biscuit to nibble on anytime and to serve with drinks.

Here is Marika Pal, my new Hungarian friend, who was visiting her son, Robert and his wife, Judith, in Missoula. Marika baked with me for a couple of days, and we had a marvelous time. She doesn’t speak English, so Judith acted as our interpreter. Since so much of baking is visual and tactile, we really didn’t need many words to understand each other. All of Marika’s measurements are metric, and she weighs all her dry ingredients. The metric system is sensible and easy so long as you own a kitchen scale. I’ve converted her weights and measures to ounces and cups.

Marika had me mix the dough in my 5-quart KitchenAid mixer with the flat beater. I put all the ingredients into the bowl and used 1/2 cup of the sour cream to start. You want to end up with a smooth, non sticky dough. After rolling the dough–no thinner than 1/2-inch!, Marika scores it in a cross-hatch pattern and brushes it with egg yolk. No matter what kind of pogácsa one is making, the scoring pattern is traditional.

After the entire surface of the dough is brushed with the yolk, she grates a bit more cheese on top and stamps out  rounds of dough using a 1 1/2- to 1 3/4-inch cutter. She reshapes each biscuit between the cupped palms of her hand to smooth the sides.

As she works, she sets the pogácsa fairly close together on a baking sheet lined with cooking parchment.

During baking the pogácsa rise a bit and turn a lovely golden brown color. Cool completely before serving and store airtight. They stay fresh for a day or two, but it’s best to freeze them for longer story and reheat them briefly before serving.

Simple Cheese Pogácsa

Dough

1/2 cup whole milk, heated to 110-115 degrees F.
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
1/2 teaspoon sugar
4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, 20 ounces (dip dry measure into flour container, fill to overflowing and sweep off excess to level)
5 ounces finely shredded Gruyère cheese, plus more for topping
1 tablespoon salt
2 large eggs
7 ounces (14 tablespoons; 1 3/4 sticks) softened unsalted butter
1/2 to 1 cup sour cream

Topping

1 egg yolk
Finely grated Gruyère or other cheese

1. Combine the milk, yeast, and sugar and let stand until yeast is softened, about 10 minutes.

2. In the large bowl of a stand mixer put the flour, cheese, salt, eggs, butter, softened yeast, and 1/2 cup sour cream. Mix on low speed with the flat beater until the dough masses on the blade. If the dough seems dry, add a bit more sour cream. Beat on medium speed 1 to 2 minutes. The dough should be nice and smooth and non-sticky.

3. Line a large baking sheet (17 x 12 inches) with parchment. Adjust an oven rack to the lower third position but do not turn the oven on.

4. Roll the dough 1/2-inch thick (no thinner!) on a lightly floured surface. Make a shallow cross-hatched pattern with the point of a sharp knife all over the top of the dough and brush with the egg yolk. Sprinkle the cheese on top, and cut out rounds with a 1 1/2- to 1 3/4-inch diameter cutter. Use the palms of your hands to cup each circle of dough to smooth the sides.

5. Arrange the circles in rows about 1/4-inch apart. You’ll have 7 rows the short way and 9 rows the long way. Put the pan in the oven and turn the oven on to 400 degrees F. Bake about 25 minutes, until the pogácsa are nicely browned on their tops and bottoms. Cool completely and store airtight.

6. Pogácsa may also be frozen for up to 1 month. That and reheat to refresh them.

Makes about 60 cheese Pogácsa.

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Foam Cakes: Sunshine Cake

Are you fascinated by how cakes rise, especially cakes made without the help of baking powder or baking soda? Ever since I was a kid, angel food cake and sponge cake, both rising to magnificent heights solely by the air beaten into them, held a special magic for me. But how does the magic happen?

Baked Glazed Sunshine Cake - Greg Patent: The Baking WizardAre you fascinated by how cakes rise, especially cakes made without the help of baking powder or baking soda?  Ever since I was a kid, angel food cake and sponge cake, both rising to magnificent heights solely by the air beaten into them, held a special magic for me.  But how does the magic happen? [click to continue…]

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My Vintage KitchenAid Mixer

I’m a kitchen gadget freak with a houseful of oddities such as a beaten biscuit machine, antique pie crimpers, rolling pins of all shapes and sizes, to name just a few. But my newest pride and joy is my KitchenAid Model 3-C stand mixer from the 1960s.

Greg Patent's Kitchen Aid Model 3 MixerI’m a kitchen gadget freak with a houseful of oddities such as a beaten biscuit machine, antique pie crimpers, rolling pins of all shapes and sizes, to name just a few.  But my newest pride and joy is my KitchenAid Model 3-C stand mixer from the 1960s. [click to continue…]

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Plum Torte

Once in a while a recipe catches on like wildfire and sends people straight to the kitchen.  One such recipe is Plum Torte, a simple to make butter cake topped with Italian prune plums, lemon juice, sugar and cinnamon baked in a spring-form pan.  New York Times food columnist Marian Burros was given a recipe [...]

Serving of Plum Torte by Greg Patent: The Baking WizardOnce in a while a recipe catches on like wildfire and sends people straight to the kitchen.  One such recipe is Plum Torte, a simple to make butter cake topped with Italian prune plums, lemon juice, sugar and cinnamon baked in a spring-form pan.  New York Times food columnist Marian Burros was given a recipe for a plum torte soon after she married.  She published the recipe for the first time in 1984, and since then it has become the New York Times’ most-requested recipe. [click to continue…]

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Fresh Strawberry Soufflé

A soufflé is pure drama.  And it’s one of the proudest achievements of any baker.  The oohs and ahs you’ll get alone will make your spirits soar.  Not to mention the joy of eating your creation. So please believe me when I tell you that soufflés are easy to make.  If you can whip egg [...]

Strawberry Souffle - Greg Patent: The Baking WizardA soufflé is pure drama.  And it’s one of the proudest achievements of any baker.  The oohs and ahs you’ll get alone will make your spirits soar.  Not to mention the joy of eating your creation. So please believe me when I tell you that soufflés are easy to make.  If you can whip egg whites you can make a soufflé, because soufflés are just puffed up with air beaten into egg whites that are then folded into a base, in this case a cooked strawberry purée. [click to continue…]

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Vanilla Bean Cream

Sometimes a little luscious creamy dessert does the trick, especially if one is trying to cut back on carbs.  This week my wife and I decided to try a low carb diet for a week: no bread, pasta, fresh corn.  But we did allow ourselves lots of leafy green vegetables, string beans, cabbage, zucchini, and [...]

Sometimes a little luscious creamy dessert does the trick, especially if one is trying to cut back on carbs.  This week my wife and I decided to try a low carb diet for a week: no bread, pasta, fresh corn.  But we did allow ourselves lots of leafy green vegetables, string beans, cabbage, zucchini, and some fresh fruit.  This dessert, a classic crème brûlée without the sugary topping has only 4 grams of carbs per serving.

[click to continue…]

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Treasure State Tropical Bundt® Cake

I am wild about this cake, a buttery, eggy, not-too-sweet pound cake loaded with citrus flavor. Montana is known as the Treasure State, and western Montana, where we live and where the climate is strongly influenced by Pacific coastal weather systems, tends to have milder winters compared to the rest of the state. Because of [...]

I am wild about this cake, a buttery, eggy, not-too-sweet pound cake loaded with citrus flavor. Montana is known as the Treasure State, and western Montana, where we live and where the climate is strongly influenced by Pacific coastal weather systems, tends to have milder winters compared to the rest of the state. Because of this, a very popular bumper sticker appeared several years ago, proclaiming “Native of Tropical Montana.” [click to continue…]

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