My F&W
quick save (...)

Mouthing Off

By the Editors of Food & Wine Magazine

RSS
Best Thanksgiving Tips

Instead of Pies, Make Pie Bars

Pecan Pie Bars

There's nothing wrong with the usual pecan, pumpkin or fruit pies, but serving the classic fillings as pie bars is fun, surprising and an easier way to feed a crowd. To make these three recipes from pastry chef Sarah Jordan of Chicago's Boka, you don't even need to roll out dough; you simply press it into the baking dish. Read more >

read more
F&W Book Club

Pie Lessons from Brooklyn’s Baking Stars

A writer test drives an awesome new cookbook about baking pies.

Here’s why you should study 71 pages dedicated to the art of making pie: The writers of the new cookbook, The Four & Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book: Uncommon Recipes from the Celebrated Brooklyn Pie Shop, have been baking pies since they were old enough to stand. Read more >

read more
Expert Guide

10 Ways to Use Leftover Pie Dough

Perfectly Flaky Yogurt-Butter Pie Dough

If you’ve ever made a pie from scratch, you know that there’s always some dough leftover. Don’t let it go to waste! Here, some fun (and delicious) uses for those unavoidable scraps. Read more >

read more
Trendspotting

Baking Innovators Share Recipes for Gluten-Free, Whole-Grain and Vegan Desserts

Gluten-Free Pumpkin-Ginger Cupcakes

In the quest to create gluten-free, vegan and whole-grain desserts, innovators are rethinking the way we bake with ingenious new methods and ingredients. Read More >

read more
Recipes

Nigel Slater's Blackberry Focaccia

default-image

Warning: Test Kitchen Tease snapshots may cause cravings, lip-smacking and an unshakeable desire to cook.

Blackberry Focaccia

© Justin Chapple
Blackberry Focaccia

When it comes to focaccia, most people are familiar with savory versions like Pisaladiere, a version topped with anchovies, olives and caramelized onions. This week, the F&W Test Kitchen tested an unusual dessert variation—Blackberry Focaccia (left) from Nigel Slater’s forthcoming cookbook, Ripe: A Cook in the Orchard. This blackberry-studded, confectioners' sugar–dusted focaccia is substantial and just barely sweet. Slater recommends cutting it into thick wedges and eating it when warm, but we loved it just the same in smaller squares, which we served with steaming cups of tea. Slater's cookbook won't be out until April, but this savory focaccia from the F&W archives, topped with caramelized onions, pear and blue cheese, is a good variation to try for Super Bowl Sunday

 

 

Baking

Magnolia Bakery: 6 Ways to Ruin a Cupcake 

default-image

Magnolia Bakery Cupcakes

© Courtesy of Magnolia Bakery
Magnolia Bakery Cupcakes

Last week, the confectionery geniuses at New York City’s Magnolia Bakery started offering their Sex and the City–approved cupcakes for national delivery. The company spent nearly two years testing out packaging before adding cupcakes to its lineup of cookies, brownies and bars already available online. (The cupcakes had a tendency to become less than pristine during the shipment process.)

 “I think my mother’s sick of me sending her cupcakes,” says Magnolia Bakery president Bobbie Lloyd. That’s not to say Lloyd will ever tire of America’s enduring dessert obsession. She served cupcakes at her wedding long before they became trendy. While Magnolia’s cupcakes can arrive literally overnight, Lloyd is happy to encourage baking at home. Here, she shares six mistakes that home bakers make when trying to create the perfect cupcake.

1. Skimming the recipe. Thoroughly reading the full recipe before getting started will help you avoid unwanted surprises midway through. Even as a professional baker, Lloyd admits to skipping this step: “There have been times where I’ve run out of vanilla extract, or sometimes my brown sugar will be as hard as a rock because I haven’t baked in a while.”

2. Using warm butter. Cupcake recipes often call for room-temperature butter, but what is room temperature? “For all intents and purposes, it should be 70 degrees,” says Lloyd, “but most people's home kitchens are too warm.” This is a problem if you want to make cupcakes from scratch, since butter is the leavening in those recipes. “When the butter is warmer than it needs to be,” she says, “you can’t whip it into the ingredients long enough, meaning the end result doesn’t come out as it should.” Her quick tip: If you take butter straight out of the fridge, then put it in the microwave on defrost for 10 seconds, it should reach the correct texture.

3. Forgetting to check the oven temperature. “Most home cooks never think to check this,” says Lloyd. It’s especially important when you’re working in a new or unfamiliar kitchen. “The first time I tried baking something in my new apartment, I burned a cupcake recipe I’ve been making for years. I went out and bought a thermometer, and guess what? The oven temperature was actually 75 degrees hotter than what I’d set it to!”

4. Substituting ingredients. Be careful how you alter a recipe. “A friend of mine once added cake mix instead of cake flour to a mixture of flour and baking soda, and her cupcakes ended up exploding in the oven!” says Lloyd. 

5. Watching TV instead of your cupcakes. It’s extremely easy to overbake cupcakes, so don’t lose track of the time. “If the recipe says 25 minutes,” says Lloyd, “go and test them in 20.” If the tester comes out clean at that point, go ahead and take them out to cool, since they’ll continue to bake for a few minutes outside of the oven.

6. Letting your cupcakes cool completely in the pan. After taking your cupcakes out of the oven, Lloyd suggests removing them from the pan after about 10 or 15 minutes. “The cupcakes will absorb too much moisture if you leave them in any longer,” she says. And soggy cupcake paper is never pretty.

Related: F&W's Best Cupcake Recipes
Beautiful Desserts
How to Make Layer Cakes
Best Pie Spots in the U.S.

Baking

Virtual Cookie Swap: Chocolate-Espresso Snowballs

default-image

Chocolate-Espresso Snowballs

© Fredrika Stjärne
Chocolate-Espresso Snowballs

We’re excited to bring one of our favorite new holiday recipes to a virtual cookie swap hosted by the Food Network today. Chocolate-Espresso Snowballs—cocoa, coffee and pecans rolled together and dusted in pretty powdered sugar—starred in our December issue's retro Christmas party planner. They're a delicious addition to a dessert table, but they would also look beautiful piled into a tin for a real holiday swap. Food Network reached out to a range of fantastic food sites to share cookie recipe links, and you can check out the many offerings below. Follow the event on Twitter using #pullupachair.

Related: Christmas Cookies
Christmas Desserts
Christmas Recipes

ALL YOU: Pecan and Honey Diamonds
Oprah.com: Sugar Cookies
Gilt Taste: Momofuku Milk Bar's Holiday Cookie Recipes
Liquor.com: Drink in the Holidays
Cooking Light: Iced Sugar Cookies
MyRecipes.com: Ultimate Chocolate Chunk Cookies
Food52: Ginger Spiced Molasses Sugar Cookies
Cooking Channel: The White House’s Molasses Spice Cookies “Gingersnaps”
BlogHer: Triple Chocolate Almond Cookies
CafeMom: Marvelous Mini Apple Crisp Cookies
The Daily Meal: Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
Food Republic: Gingerbread Cheesecake Cookies
Food & Wine: Chocolate-Espresso Snowballs
EatingWell: 5 Tips for Perfect Gingerbread Cookies
Redbook Magazine: Candy Cane Cookies
Gourmet Live: Pistachio Cranberry Icebox Cookies
AP/ J.M. Hirsch: Ginger Fig Crumb Bars
Fox News: White Chocolate Cherry Oatmeal Cookies
Epicurious: Italian Almond Cookies
Big Girls Small Kitchen: Cowboy Cookies
FN Dish: Peanut Butter-Chocolate Chip-Bacon Cookies

Yahoo! Shine: Nutmeg Rosettes
YumSugar: Coconut Date Balls

Plus: Homemade Christmas Gifts

Entertaining

How to Set Up a Thanksgiving Pie Bar

default-image

Tiffany MacIsaac's Holiday Pie Bar

© Neighborhood Restaurant Group
Tiffany MacIsaac's Holiday Pie Bar

Showstopping desserts can outshine buttery mashed potatoes and perfect stuffing on Thanksgiving. That's the opinion of Tiffany MacIsaac, who oversees the pastry program for the Neighborhood Restaurant Group, which operates Birch & Barley and Tallua in the Washington, DC, area. MacIsaac likes to put holiday sweets—in particular, pie—on mouthwatering display from the start so guests can admire dessert from the moment they arrive.

At Buzz Bakery in Alexandria, VA, she's now offering a DIY Pie Bar package that comes with two pies (like Chocolate-Bourbon Pecan and Classic Pumpkin), house-made ice cream, cinnamon whipped cream, caramel sauce and candied cranberries. Since Buzz doesn't ship its baked goods, MacIsaac shared these tips on how to set up a DIY Pie Bar at home.

1. Make it a group project. Guests usually ask the host how they can contribute to the holiday meal. You can plan a cohesive, pie-centric menu for Thanksgiving and delegate specific components to invitees. If one guest brings pumpkin pie, others can take on gingersnap cookie crumbs and caramel sauce, and non-cooks can be in charge of bringing beautiful cake stands. The display will grow into something fantastically unexpected as the guests arrive.

2. Don't pay for props. MacIsaac repurposes items from around the house for the display. A stack of books works as a pedestal; fallen leaves make an easy accent to scatter around the table; an old frame refines the look of a printed menu. Lighting is especially important. Everyone looks good by candlelight and the same goes for food.

3. Incorporate traditional fall flavors. During the holidays, people look for familiar foods. If you experiment with something new like salted-caramel cream pie, you can also offer a super-old-fashioned option like double-crust apple pie or upgrade a classic, as in a meringue-topped sweet potato pie.

4. Consider textures. You don’t want all mush or all crunch when it comes to a pie or the toppings you set out for guests. With the pie bar, everyone gets whipped cream, nuts, cookie crumbs, sauce.

5. Master the pie crust. Besides the logistics of setting up a dessert display, the most basic rule of a great pie bar is to make delicious pies, and that starts with good crust. MacIsaac likes a nice amount of salt in the dough to balance the sweetness of fillings. And she says you might want to add vodka, not to your glass, but to the water as you mix the dough. It evaporates more quickly, so you’re left with less moisture, which makes for a more tender, flaky crust. In a dough recipe calling for water, MacIsaac subs vodka for about 1/6 to 1/4 of the water.

 

Related: Thanksgiving Desserts
Thanksgiving Pies
5 Easy Ways to Ruin the Thanksgiving Turkey

Recipes

Towering Layer Cake for the Weekend

default-image

Warning: Test Kitchen Tease snapshots may cause cravings, lip-smacking and an unshakeable desire to cook.

Layer Cakes from Seattle's Dahlia Bakery

© Grace Parisi
Layer Cakes from Seattle's Dahlia Bakery

This week in the Test Kitchen, Food & Wine’s Senior Recipe Developer Grace Parisi tested two unparalleled layer cakes from Seattle’s Dahlia Bakery. Dahlia fills its decadent chocolate cake (top right) with an irresistible bittersweet chocolate mousse and frosts the cake with a creamy hazelnut buttercream. Brown butter yellow cake (far left) provided a rich canvas for white chocolate mousse filling—spiked with a delicate amount of orange liqueur—and bittersweet chocolate frosting. These recipes will be published early next year, but this weekend, you can practice your baking skills on this super-delicious old-fashioned chocolate layer cake from Test Kitchen Supervisor Marcia Kiesel.

Related: Layer Cake Recipes

Thanksgiving Desserts

Thanksgiving Pies and Tarts

Cookbooks

The Only Bread-Baking Book You’ll Ever Knead

default-image

Photography by Matthew Septimus

© Stewart, Tabori & Chang
Photography by Matthew Septimus

Celebrity restaurateurs such as Danny Meyer and Daniel Boulud have tried—without success—to supply their restaurants with the stellar baguettes baked by students at The French Culinary Institute in NYC. According to FCI’s founder, Dorothy Cann Hamilton, Air France pilots on layover have been spotted at the school's restaurant, L'Ecole, trying to stock up on the crunchy baguettes. Evidently, these cult 23-inch batons are a chore to procure.

As an alum of FCI's classic culinary program, I’ve had the pleasure of sampling bread from the baking courses. Then last week, an event previewing FCI’s third book, The Fundamental Techniques of Classic Bread Baking, included some hands-on experience. We kneaded and shaped buttery brioche, sliced fanciful patterns in stretched fougasse (an olive-studded French bread similar to focaccia) and heard stories of 14-year-old starters—captured wild-yeast spores, which lend the distinct sour taste and aroma to sourdough. Most importantly, the evening ended with advance copies of the only bread-baking cookbook anyone may ever need.

Released by Stewart, Tabori & Chang this week, the comprehensive guide covers the FCI’s intensive 8-week bread-baking course in more than 350 pages. With dozens of recipes—including the famed baguette—the tome will appeal to anyone seeking total immersion in the art of bread baking.

advertisement
The Dish
Receive delicious recipes and smart wine advice 4x per week in this e-newsletter.
The Wine List Weekly pairing plus best bottles to buy.
F&W Daily One sensational dish served fresh every day.
advertisement

Tune in on Wednesdays at 10PM ET for Top Chef: Boston, the 12th season of Bravo's Emmy-Award winning, hit reality series.

Already looking forward to next year (June 19-21, 2015)? Relive your favorite moments from the culinary world's most sensational weekend in the Rocky Mountains.