Tag Archives: baking

Avoiding Pumpkin Pie mistakes: To avoid cooking up a foamy disaster, mix in the right order.

Ask me how I know.  It’s not the food science education, but it should have been.

Last Thanksgiving I made two pies.  The first one was the Official Pie for Thanksgiving dinner, and it was a damned good thing that I took my time and followed the directions (for once).  It was a thing of beauty, and tasted like one too (thanks, back of the can and crushed Mi-Del gluten free ginger snaps mixed with butter and ripped apart in the Cuisinart).  Not very tall, because I used a glass pie plate, but still awesome.

This post is not about that awesome pie, but about the second pie.  Ever have a pie come out like this?

Well.  I was in a mighty big hurry the second time I made pie, which was in the middle of the holiday rush.  I bake cookies a lot, and I’m used adding eggs and sugar first.  Whipping those together creates bubbles — helpful in rising cookies and cakes using steam, but absolutely NOT what you want when making a pumpkin custard, which is at the heart of pumpkin pie.  The bubbles probably held together because of the egg whites, and as they rose they made that hideous foam that, though still kind of edible, destroyed the texture and look of the pie.

Beating the eggs allows the yolks to properly work as binders between water and fat, and it also prevents some of the bubbles from forming when you add in the pumpkin along with the sugar.  Lesson learned.

I dislike following directions, but there’s a reason why Libby’s has had a well-used pumpkin pie recipe for so long.  It works. So read the can each time, and with any recipe you use, don’t add the eggs first.   Also, low heat and patience, my friends.

 

 

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Improving on Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Cornbread Mix

cornbreadplateI make cornbread for us about once a month. A 12″ cast-iron skillet and one bag of mix yields a giant skillet of cornbread. We use ¼ to 1/3, and I freeze the rest for later (which can be mighty convenient on a 100-degree day when I’m only up for tossing a salad). I’ve made a few amendments to the mix, and I think they really help. First, and I know sugar is a villain so feared that, like Voldemort, we dare not to speak its name, I add it anyway (I really like to live on the edge). Second, I add more milk – ¼ cup more. Third, the way you mix the batter matters. Continue reading

PDX Vegan Bakery/Other Food Roundup

Well, if this doesn’t prove how much I enjoy food, nothing will.

Just back from a couple of weeks in Portland, Oregon, where people really know how to eat.  We had strawberries from the Montavilla Farmer’s Market that were the best strawberries we’ve ever tasted (proof: we demolished 2 baskets between my husband and I and the little kid — in one sitting).

There is a worthwhile Farmer’s Market just about every day in Portland.  The biggie is on Saturday’s at Portland State University, where lots of cheese, produce and bakery make for some seriously easy meal planning.  They also have the best tamales I have ever eaten ever ever ever from Salvador Molly’s.  Ever.  Not mealy, wet and tasteless — sweet, baked perfectly, with a lovely array of veggies inside.  Wish I could have one right now.

But no trip would be complete without a review of bakery, with a special emphasis on vegan bakery, because it’s more of a challenge, healthier, and it can be either really good, or awful, with little in the middle.  Rather than slam anyone for what they don’t do well, I’ll leave out the awful altogether and point out what each bakery does well.  Here they are:

Best overall vegan bakery: Dovetail Bakery (Alberta and 30th).  Morgan Grundstein-Helvey knows what the hell she is doing — she makes cornmeal scone-like I-can’t-remember-what-they-were-called-s with rhubarb/apricot/pink sprinkled sugar that are perfection – and I mean texture, too.  Often vegan bakers get the taste but the texture is wayyyy off.

Last night I was out in L.A. and ate something billed on the menu as “The best vegan cheesecake ever”  It tasted like overcooked, overmixed yams mixed with the Creamy Lemon Di-Gel tablets my father used to take.  Let this be a lesson in overconfidence.

Dovetail would never commit such a sin.  The cookies are huge and flavorful and are crispy on the outside and tender in the middle — not undercooked but genuinely tender.  We tried a variety of things (um, twice) and they were all just amazing.  If you like molasses lace cookies, try the Trail Mix cookies — the perfect mix of nutty, sweet and salty.  Snickerdoodles so good even I ate some.  Throw in the lovely aesthetic of the place Continue reading