Category Archives: Reviews

Bakery Boy Blog featured on Livability.com

Livability.com, the website that pinpoints “the best places in America to live, work, play, explore and belong,” has tipped its hat to the Bakery Boy Blog on its Best Places to Live Blog.

Here is the link to Livability’s post about the “sweet” life of bakery blogging: http://livability.com/best-places-to-live-blog/bakeries-7-livability-cities-bakery-boys-favorites.

Apparently glad to discover my all-about-bakeries blog, Livability noticed that seven of the bakeries I’ve featured so far are located in communities it considers among the nation’s Most Livable Cities.

On the site you’ll find useful information about terrific cities you might want to live in, including stories about residents, businesses, shops (bakeries too of course!), parks, attractions, amenities, housing markets, and more. The site explores each community’s unique personality and highlights what makes the place special.

Thanks for the mention, Livability.com. If someday we find ourselves exploring the same town at the same time, the first round of petit fours will be on me!

Bakery Boy

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Here are links to my earlier posts about bakeries in places designated Most Livable Cities by Livability.com.

Sweet Life Patisserie, Eugene, OR

Simple Kneads in Greensboro, NC

The Sweetery in Anderson, SC

D Square Donuts in Auburn, AL

WildFlour Bakery in Abingdon, VA

Muffin Man Bakery in Abingdon, VA

Niedlov’s Breadworks in Chattanooga, TN

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The Boozy Baker, A Spirited Cookbook by Lucy Baker

All 75 recipes in this tipsy cookbook include strong spirits, the results not of a barfly lifestyle but of one food writer’s devotion to never wasting a drop.

by Bakery Boy

Why bake with booze? It’s a question Lucy Baker gets asked a lot now that she’s written her first cookbook, The Boozy Baker: 75 Recipes for Spirited Sweets (2010, Running Press, $18.95).

“I really like to bake,” says the Boston-area native and Brooklyn resident, who insists it’s pure coincidence that her last name matches her profession. “I often find myself with a little leftover wine or a couple shots of liquor at the bottom of a bottle, so I find ways to use it in recipes. I figure there’s no sense letting it go to waste.”

A morning person, 40-mile-a-week jogger, and marathon runner who answered my call bright and early, proving she’s no night-owl booze-hound, Lucy also points this out: “Alcohol—from spirits, such as bourbon and rum, to liqueurs like amaretto and crème de menthe, to wine and beer—imparts a subtle, sumptuous warmth that deepens the flavors of desserts and makes them taste even more decadent, luxurious, and sinful.”

That’s why her cakes, pies, tarts, cookies, brownies, mousses, and other tasty creations include stiff belts of bourbon, brandy, gin, rum, tequila, vodka, whiskey, or the high-impact flavors that come with cognac, crème de cacao, framboise, Jägermeister, sake, schnapps, stout beer, and other potent beverages.

“I think baking with booze if fun, plain and simple,” she adds. “Besides, people have always looked for consolation in the bottle and in the cookie jar, so why not combine the two?”

Lucy Baker

BORN TO BAKE Lucy grew up baking brownies with her mom and snacking on cookies with her dad, positive experiences she says made choosing her career path easy.

A freelance food writer and recipe tester, she contributes two columns to the online food website SeriousEats.com (Mixed Reviews, a hands-on and critical look at boxed mixes on the market, and Edible DIY, a guide to edible gifts you make yourself). For three years she helped edit cookbooks for publisher HarperCollins, and she has written articles for Edible Brooklyn, Publishers Weekly, Popular Mechanics, and Time Out New York.

The Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing she earned at Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York, helps explain the pleasant storytelling nature of her cookbook.

FAVORITES I was drawn first to Lucy’s recipes for Molten Chocolate Orange Cake, a gooey mess in the trendy “lava” category, loaded with bittersweet chocolate and Grand Marnier, and Bottoms Up Pineapple-Tequila Cake, partly because I had just bought the perfect pan for it and partly because I had a couple of inches of tequila left in a bottle and appreciated finding a hangover-free use for it.

Later I tried the Cherry Pie with Scotch and Walnut Crumbles (I’m a scotch fan and walnut trees grow on my parents’ farm); the Red Wine Caramel Tart (my wife likes red wine and I never pass up caramel anything); and the Blueberry-Port Slump with Almond Dumplings (because I raise blueberries and always look for new ways to bake them). Everything turned out well.

Eventually I’ll make the Dirty Girl Scout Cookies, Dark and Stormy Hermits with Raisins and Rum, Boozy Baked Apples, and Pink Elephant Milkshakes, if only for their fun names.

Lucy tells me two other favorites suit the current season. “With fall’s colder weather here, give the Bourbon Apple Crisp a try. Bourbon always seems like a fall-y type of liquor to me, all toasty and warming,” she says. “And wherever you are for Thanksgiving or whoever you’re sharing the holiday with, the Coconut-Sweet Potato Pie is a good choice, with coconut rum in the crust and in the filling too.”

My compliments—and cheers—to the chef!

Southern Comfort Red Velvet Cake from The Boozy Baker (see recipe in separate post)

SAMPLE RECIPES Lucy and her publisher, Running Press, graciously agreed to share two recipes from The Boozy Baker with the Bakery Boy Blog.

– Southern Comfort Red Velvet Cake (click here to see recipe in separate post)

– Beer Profiteroles with Chocolate-Beer Sauce (click here to see recipe in separate post)

DRINK WITH THAT? As a bonus suiting the theme, The Boozy Baker also includes 25 drink recipes for stirring up cocktails that pair nicely with some of the book’s baked goods. A few examples:

Beer Profiteroles with Chocolate-Beer Sauce (see recipe in separate post)

Ginger Highball—goes well with Gingery Peach Cobbler

Orange Sidecar (including cognac or brandy and orange liqueur)—goes well with the puffy and golden Sidecar Souffle

Clearly Cosmo (vodka and cranberry juice, shaken and stained)—goes with the fudge-cake-like Chocolate Whoopie Pies with Orange Liqueur Cream

Double Mint Fizz (gin, lime juice, crème de menthe)—goes well with the heavily minted and pie-like Grasshopper Tart with Chocolate Chips

Beer Margaritas (light beer, tequila, grand Marnier)—goes well with the summery-zesty Margarita Meringue Pie

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BONUS RECIPE: MAKE YOUR OWN VANILLA EXTRACT

Sneaking a swig of vanilla extract from her mother’s pantry as a child—it didn’t taste at all the way she expected, warm and sweet like its aroma—was part of Lucy’s journey to professional foodie. Here’s her Boozy Baker recipe for concocting your own.

Homemade Bourbon Vanilla Extract

3 vanilla beans

1 cup bourbon

Rinse a clean, empty jam jar or a mason jar with boiling water to sterilize it. Set aside. Split the vanilla beans in half lengthwise with a small, sharp knife. Add them to the jar. Pour the bourbon over the vanilla beans and screw the jar’s lido tightly. Give the jar a few good shakes. Place the jar in a cool, dark cabinet or closet and let it steep for 8 weeks, shaking occasionally. The extract will darken over time. Homemade Bourbon Vanilla Extract can be used in place of store-bought vanilla extract in any recipe. There is no need to remove the vanilla beans. Makes 1 cup.

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Running Press

A review copy of The Boozy Baker: 75 Recipes for Spirited Sweets by Lucy Baker was provided by Running Press, a division of Perseus Books Group; (215) 567-5080.

 

Bakery Boy Blog featured in Birmingham Weekly

Bakery Boy (aka Joe Rada). Photo by Owen Stayner.

The Birmingham Weekly newspaper has published a feature story about the Bakery Boy Blog.

Thanks, BW!

Click here to see the story in the September 16-23, 2010, edition.

Cake Croutons—What a Concept

An idea so crazy it just might work. The Sweetery in South Carolina makes Cake Croutons in five flavors.

by Bakery Boy

Cake Croutons from The Sweetery. Photos by Bakery Boy.

Who needs dried cubes of bread when you can have dried cubes of CAKE instead? And these Cake Croutons aren’t just for topping salads anymore.

“What we do,” says Ryan Jarahian, head baker at The Sweetery in Anderson, South Carolina, “is start with basic pound cakes, cut them into cubes, spread those out on baking sheets, and bake them again for 4 to 5 hours at a low temperature like 200 degrees. They get good and dry, just like bread croutons, only they’re cake. Everyone likes cake.”

Cake Croutons add a sweet crunch to salads, soups, ice cream, dips, pie crusts, grilled meats, and more.

Cake Croutons in regular production are Original, Chocolate, Butter Pecan, Cinnamon Espresso, and Southwestern, the latter dusted with hot chili powder. Except for the spicy southwestern version, each adds a sweet crunch in places you might not expect to find a sweet crunch.

"Inventing new treats such as or Cake Croutons makes this job fun," says baker Ryan Jarahian of The Sweetery.

“You can sprinkle Cake Croutons on green salads, just like other croutons, and create a whole different experience,” Ryan says. “Chocolate Cake Croutons go well on spinach salad or ice cream. Crumble the Butter Pecan Cake Croutons to use in pie dough. Drop Southwestern Cake Croutons into soup or crumble them to use as a rub for grilled meats.”

“Just like bread croutons, only they’re

cake. Everyone likes cake. – Ryan Jarahian

 

Photo by Linda Askey of http://www.lindaaskey.com.

WHOSE IDEA? “We enjoy creating new desserts around here all the time, but we can’t take full credit for Cake Croutons,” says Ryan, whose mother Jane founder The Sweetery 25 years ago (click here to see separate story). “An intern from Clemson University was working here and overheard us talking about new product ideas for a trade show we were going to. We were looking for something that might go over well with a younger audience. She took a few cakes with her to a culinary class, the students brainstormed, and what they came up with was the idea of croutons made of cake. We took it from there and ran with it.”

WINE STICKS TOO Before long, Ryan and Jane had modified the basic Cake Crouton idea into a second line called Wine Sticks. “They’re the same as the croutons except they’re cut long and thin like biscotti,” Ryan says. “You can use them like crackers with dips or spreads, or you can put cheese on them. The Chocolate Wine Sticks go well with red wine.”

 

And then there were...fewer: These Butter Pecan, Chocolate, and Southwestern Cake Croutons were all that remained near the end of my photo shoot.

A BAKERY BOY CONFESSION I brought home three kinds of Cake Croutons—Chocolate, Butter Pecan, and Southwestern—and the challenge was to NOT eat them before photographing them. Quite a few didn’t make it through the photo shoot. There are too many to fit in the frame anyway, I reasoned, so I culled out (yum) any slightly imperfect ones. Then I culled out (gulp) a few perfectly perfect ones. Then I decided to go with a smaller grouping (crunch). Then I zoomed in on what remained (mmm). When I finally got the shot I wanted, the rest disappeared in seconds (ahh). I guess it better be the shot I want, because it’s too late now!

TO ORDER Go online to www.thesweetery.com to explore the wide variety of cakes, pies, cookies, and more that The Sweetery makes, then call 864-224-8394 or toll free 800-752-1188 to place an order. The base price of a 8-ounce package of Cake Croutons is $4.25. Tell them the Bakery Boy Blog sent you.

Bakers’ Peels, Dough Bowls & Cutting Boards

Handcrafted Bakers’ Peels, Dough Bowls & Cutting Boards

Home bakers feel like stylish pros using bakers’ peels and dough bowls crafted by Tom Sternal of Elkland Handwerke.

by Bakery Boy

I found this Elkland Handwerke baker's peel at Stick Boy Bread Co. in Boone, NC. Photo by Bakery Boy.

If you’ve ever seen a baker use a big flat board with a long handle to shovel baked goods around in a hot oven or move them to cooling racks, then you know what a “peel” is. Peels used by commercial bakeries—sometimes six feet long and three feet wide—won’t fit easily into your home kitchen or oven, but scaled-down versions work fine and even look cool hanging on a peg between uses. Don’t settle for the cheap metal kind you see at pizza joints. Get one of the handcrafted beauties Tom Sternal of Elkland Handwerke makes out of hardwood trees he salvages around his home in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina.

From this slab of hardwood Tom Sternal will sculpt a beautiful dough bowl. Photo by Robert Stein of http://www.robertsteinphotography.com.

A retired art professor who taught sculpting at Appalachian State University in Boone, NC, Tom now works with wood and stone at his studio in the former Elkland Elementary School in the tiny town of Todd. He mostly makes hefty tables, chairs, benches, and other furniture from massive slabs of fallen, storm-damaged, or construction-removed hardwoods. “I call them ‘maverick trees,’ too big or too oddly shaped to fit in most sawmills,” Tom says. “They’re harder to handle but have far more interesting grains.”

Devoted to recycling and determined to waste nothing, Tom turns leftover pieces into artful peels, bowls, cutting boards, spatulas, ladles, letter openers, and more. He even makes kindling and charcoal from splinters and sawdust.

Here are a few things he makes suitable for us bakers:

 

A baker's peel, scaled down for home use. Photo by Bakery Boy.

BAKERS’ PEELS As a kid I marveled at the quick agility on display as my father, grandfather, uncles, and other bakers wielded giant peels to transfer hot loaves from oven to cooking rack. When I first noticed ushers at church working their long-handled baskets in a similar fashion at collection time, I thought they were all bakers too. Now I finally have my own smaller peel to use at home, a thin slab 12 inches wide and 24 inches long counting the slender handle, shaped from a single piece of tulip poplar. “I use whatever kind of wood I have leftover from bigger projects,” Tom says. “Poplar, cherry, oak, walnut, maple—they all have wonderful grains that show really well when they’re milled just right.” Price range: about $20-$50 depending on size.

 

Dough bowl made of cherry. Photo courtesy of Elkland Handwerke.

DOUGH BOWLS You could let your bread dough rise in any kind of bowl, but there’s something rewarding about choosing one of Tom’s handcrafted dough bowl instead. Made from a single chunk of maple, oak, walnut, poplar, cherry, or other hardwoods, each is different because he considers the grains, knots, and other characteristics as he shapes it. On non-baking days, leave your artisan bowl out as a conversation starter. Price range: about $28-$100.

 

Thick hardwood cutting boards look good and leave plenty of room for knuckles above kitchen counters. Photo by Bakery Boy.

CUTTING BOARDS You probably already have several utilitarian boards, but these thick slabs add something special to chopping chores. Tom cuts them thicker than most for a reason. “Think about how many times you’ve hit your knuckles on the counter while cutting on a board that’s too shallow for the knife handle you’re gripping,” Tom says. “My boards are several inches thick so when you’re chopping there’s room for your fingers.” Price range: $12-$32.

 

Each Elkland Handwerke creation has an elk shape burned in wood or chiseled in stone, a tribute to the former Elkland Elementary where Tom lives and works.

CARE & MAINTENANCE Tom coats his kitchen-bound woodwork with mineral oil. It seeps in to keep the wood from drying, visually enhances wood-grains, and has no toxic effect on food. “You can clean these pieces with soap and hot water,” he says. “It’s best not to leaving them soaking. Don’t put them in a dishwasher. When they start to look dry, re-apply some mineral oil. And especially those thin bakers’ peels: Don’t drop them!”

 

That's Tom with some of his heftier woodwork. Leftover scraps become household items. Photo courtesy of Elkland Handwerke.

WHERE TO FIND Tom’s work goes as fast as he can make it, so truth is there’s not a large supply on hand anywhere. Here are a few promising places to look.

Elkland Handwerke – Buy direct from the source in Tom’s studio-gallery; 10279 Three Top Road, Todd, NC 28684; www.elkland.com; 336-877-5016; elkland@elkland.com.

Fall Creek Woods – Tom’s friends Paul and Beth Bloedel run this online woodwork shop; 2599 Fall Creek Road, Purlear, NC 28665; www.fallcreekwoodsnc.com; 336-973-5308; info@fallcreekwoodsnc.com.

Todd Mercantile & Bakery – If there are more pieces here than elsewhere it’s because owner Emilie Enzmann, Tom’s feisty sister-in-law (who nicknames her place the Todd Mahal), pulls strings; 3899 Todd Railroad Grade Road, Todd, NC 28684; toddmahalbakery.wordpress.com; 336-877-5401; emyenz@yahoo.com.

Stick Boy Bread Co. – This is where I first found Tom’s peels and cutting boards, an appropriate setting because they make terrific baked goods (see the Stick Boy article on the Bakery Boy Blog); 345 Hardin Street, Boone, NC 28607; www.stickboybread.com; 828-268-9900; info@stickboybread.com.

The Shoppes of Farmers Hardware – Elkland Handwerke joins other crafts at this market in a former hardware store; 661 West King Street, Boone, NC 28607; 828-264-8801; shoppesatfarmers@bellsouth.net.

Watauga County Farmers’ Market – Saturday mornings May-October in the parking lot for the outdoor drama Horn in the West (about wilderness pioneers and the American Revolution); 591 Horn in the West Drive, Boone, NC 28607; www.wataugacountyfarmersmarket.org; 828-355-4918; info@wcfm.info.

Ashe County Farmers’ Market – Saturday mornings April-October on the Backstreet in downtown West Jefferson, NC; www.ashefarmersmarket.com; info@ashefarmersmarket.com.

INFO www.elkland.com or www.fallcreekwoodsnc.com

AREA INFO Boone Visitors Center, Boone Chamber of Commerce, Visit North Carolina.

SPECIAL THANKS South Florida-based photographer Robert Stein of Robert Stein Architectural Photography (www.robertsteinphotography.com) contributed the image of Tom Sternal working on a dough bowl.

Baking in an Artisan Pot

Potter Tena Payne of Earthborn Studios makes gorgeous stoneware pots perfect for baking cobblers and pies.

story & photos by Bakery Boy

My 8-inch "Baker," shown here empty and later with a peach cobbler cooling. Photos by Bakery Boy.

I’ve found the perfect pots for baking cobbler, and they’re things of beauty even when not in use. Potter Tena Payne of Earthborn Studios in Leeds, Alabama, creates the handmade stoneware pieces in five sizes and calls them simply “Bakers.” My 8-inch version (see photos) is glazed a brick-like reddish-brown outside and a softly swirling hazel-green inside. A chart below depicts some other available colors.

Tena Payne at her potter's wheel.

FUNCTION & ART I’d been looking to replace the mundane glass pieces I’ve used for years, a 9-inch round pie pan and an 11- x 7-inch rectangular lasagna dish. I wanted something functional but also presentable. Then I ran into Tena, a phenomenal potter whose earth-toned, no-two-alike dinnerware reaches tables at some very fine restaurants. Her sturdy plates, bowls, platters, mugs, trays, and other serving pieces grace gourmet dining rooms at the Bellagio Resort & Casino and the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Las Vegas, Caesar’s Palace in Atlantic City, Sushi Samba in Miami, Beau Rivage Resort & Casino in Biloxi, Mississippi, Palmetto Bluff Resort in Bluffton, South Carolina, and elsewhere.

My pot functions well as a baking pan and looks centerpiece-good even when it's not in use.

“You can bake just about anything in these,” Tena says. “Cobblers, pies, chicken pot pies, soufflés, breads. I’ve learned a lot from chefs about making pottery that suits their needs, issues you wouldn’t think about otherwise. For example, rounded edges that are a little thicker, so they won’t chip when they’re in use every day, constantly going into the oven, onto the table, through the dishwasher, and back to the kitchen. Delicate edges wouldn’t survive. Also I use vitrified clay and glazes that won’t leach, so they can withstand industrial dishwashers, microwaves ovens, and conventional ovens.”

“As an artisan, I enjoy the challenge of blending art with the required function of each piece,” she says.

CHEFS RAVE Chef Chris Hastings—owner of the fabulous Hot and Hot Fish Club in Birmingham, Alabama, and a three-time finalist for the Best Chef in the South award from the James Beard Foundation—is a longtime fan. “Tena’s unique pottery is a key element to the Hot and Hot Fish Club’s casual-yet-classic dining atmosphere,” Chris says. “Each piece she crafts has its own distinct style. We use the smallest Bakers, little crock-pots 4½ inches across and 2 inches deep, to bake chocolate soufflé and fruit cobbler desserts and also for roasting mussels in our wood-burning oven. They conduct heat very evenly and hold up well in daily use. Plus, they’re so aesthetically pleasing that our customers regularly ask who makes them so they can get some too.”

GET ONE At least 100 galleries and specialty shops in more than 30 states carry Earthborn Studios pieces. Tena also ships directly from her studio near Birmingham. Click here for a list of retailers or here to order directly from Tena. Prices below don’t include 15% shipping. Wholesale rates are available for larger quantities.

  • Baker extra large  12” x 3”       $104
  • Baker large            10” x 2.5”     $88
  • Baker medium       8” x 2”         $60
  • Baker small            6” x 2”          $37
  • Baker soufflé          4.5” x 2”      $25

Earthborn's dynamic glazes vary from piece to piece and from one firing to another. Here are a few favorites. Image courtesy of Earthborn Studios.

TENA’S STUDIO Tena shares a cavernous former watch factory with fellow potter Larry Allen. “We call it Cahaba Clayworks after the nearby Cahaba River,” she says. “It has 24,000 feet of workspace, way more than I had when I worked at home, including a classroom and a gallery. My husband Wynn works with me now. He’s a genius with the glazing and kiln duties. Our son Nathan and five other employees keep the clay moving through production.”

The Huck Finn look goes well with Tena's hands-in-the-clay lifestyle.

HER SHIITAKE STORY Slender logs used for growing mushrooms crowd a corner of the studio. “That’s how I got started making dinnerware for restaurants,” Tena explains. “I love shiitakes, and Wynn and I were growing more than we could eat. So I took some to Chris at Hot and Hot Fish Club. He began buying everything we harvested. One day I mentioned that I’m also a potter, and before long I had a commission to make an entire set for his place. Now I’m supplying dinnerware to upscale restaurants all over the country. Lately I’ve expanded into custom pots for corporate gifting and employee recognition awards. Next comes a series featuring college logos and colors.”

GRANDPA WAS A BAKER Although Tena chose a potter’s path she has baking in her background, something Bakery Boy always appreciates. “My grandfather came from Greece and opened a bakery here,” she says. “That’s where my mom and dad met, she worked out front and he ran the ovens. Dad made the wedding cakes for my wedding and all my siblings’ weddings too!”

INFO Earthborn Studios, 7575 Parkway Drive, Leeds, AL 35094; www.earthbornpottery.net; 205-702-7055; email earthbornpottery@yahoo.com.

Book Review: Cakes to Die For! by Bev Shaffer

A food columnist’s tasty and detailed ode to cakes.

by Bakery Boy

Cake bakers have another reason to live, as if they need one more. Let’s face it: Cake bakers already have plenty of friends and admirers. Whether they’re making a single treat for the family table, dozens for a banquet hall, or truckloads for supermarkets, their sweet creations brighten celebrations  and make people happy. Now they also have Bev Shaffer’s inspiring and thorough ode to the genre, Cakes to Die For! (Pelican Publishing Company, $26.95).

Bev Shaffer

The Ohio-based chef, author, and culinary instructor is known for her long-running food column “Ask Bev” in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, her functional-fun column “Gadget Freak” in Northern Ohio Live Magazine, her radio spots broadcast on Akron’s WAKR, and her many appearances on Cleveland affiliates of major TV networks. She has developed more than 9,000 recipes and counting. In Cakes to Die For!, a 288-page hardback, she shares 175 of them, all for cakes.

Crunch of Praline Torte with Eggnog Cream. Photos by John Shaffer (Bev's husband).

It opens with the crowd-pleasing Moist Dark Chocolate Mocha Cake with Raspberry Filling, her “go-to” cake when she needs something “seductive,” she says. It ends with Bev’s Butterscotch Filling, about which she facetiously claims, “you could slather this between two pieces of cardboard and people would rave about it.” Between these appear scores of cheesecakes, cupcakes, “flipped over” cakes (her term for up-side-downs), “fancy-schmancy cakes” (which take more work but promise impressive results), and more. Photography by Bev’s husband, John Shaffer, show many of the cakes in mouthwatering detail.

Luscious Layered Tiramisu Torte

TIPS GALORE Useful tips are sprinkled throughout. Some explain the finer points of techniques like “cutting in the butter” or “folding ingredients” together. Others cause that light-bulb-above-the-head reaction with their but-of-course common sense. I like how she places tips labeled “a slice of advice” in the margins close to where they’re most needed. For example, next to the recipe for Deep Dark Chocolate Soufflé Cake with Roasted Pear Cream she writes: “When you draw your clean finger across the back of a metal spoon dipped in the custard mixture, and it leaves a path, it is ready.” I can visualize that perfectly now.

Here are a few more tricks of the trade:

  • To avoid spilling batter down the hole in a tube or Bundt pan, cover the hole with a paper cup while filling the pan.
  • Cool a cake completely before frosting. Dust off any loose crumbs gently with a soft-bristled brush. Freeze layers for several hours or overnight before frosting…which helps the frosting adhere better.
  • Just before using refrigerated nuts, toast them over low heat in a dry skillet to brighten their flavor.
  • Can’t find cranberry preserves [for the Pumpkin Patch Cranberry “Flipped Over” Cake]? Pomegranate jelly is a perfect substitute.

Although come to think of it, if I can’t find everyday cranberry at my grocery, I probably won’t find more-exotic pomegranate either!

Cookies to Die For!

Brownies to Die For!

ALSO BY BEV Like Cakes to Die For! (May 2010), Bev’s  earlier books, Brownies to Die For! (March 2006), Cookies to Die For! (February 2009), and Mustard Seed Market Cafe Natural Foods Cookbook (September 2007) are also available from Pelican Publishing Company of Gretna, Louisiana; www.pelicanpub.com, 504-368-1175. For more about Bev see www.bevshaffer.com.

BEV’S MUST-HAVES FOR A CAKE BAKER’S PANTRY I found this helpful. Maybe you will too.

1 – Flour, unbleached, all purpose

2 – Baking powder

3 – Baking soda

4 – Sugar, granulated

5 – Brown sugar

6 – Confectioners’ sugar

7 – Sale, sea salt preferred

8 – Arrowroot (a starch thickener with certain advantages over cornstarch)

9 – Butter, unsalted please!

10 – Milk, preferably whole milk

11 – Eggs, large please!

12 – Chocolate: bittersweet, semisweet, milk, white, and unsweetened cocoa power—only the very best will do!

13 – Vanilla extract, pure please!