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Pastry Chef's Holiday Baking Tips

Pastry Chef's Holiday Baking Tips


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Chocolate covered pretzels are an easy treat to add a little holiday spirit too.

The holidays bring out the most festive culinary creations, and there’s no better outlet for this then baking. To give you some inspiration during these merry times, I asked my pastry chef Vivian Wu of my New York City Townhouse restaurant to share some of her creative ideas with baking.

Vivian Wu:

When I’m looking for new ideas for holiday baking, I like to take classic favorites that I make all year round and I will just add a few simple touches to them to make them festive. For starters, the best way to convert a baked good into a festive holiday treat is to make it an ornament, like with my sugar cookie recipe. I use a pastry tip, or even a skewer, to cut a small hole in the cookies before baking. When they’re done, I’ll string a ribbon through the hole and decorate the cookies using colored icing or edible glitter.

Another favorite of mine that can easily be given a holiday touch are chocolate covered pretzels. I’ll crush up candy canes or lay out holiday-themed sprinkles and roll pretzel sticks in them right after dipping them in the melted chocolate. If you’re Rice Krispies fan, a fun way of dressing them up for the holidays is to add a little green food coloring to the marshmallow batter, and then cut out Christmas tree cookie cutter to cut them out of the pan. Add some red sprinkle or cinnamon dots to them to "trim" the trees. One final idea is for those of you who are meringue fanatics. I like to make my peppermint meringue kisses over the holiday, where I’ll take a regular meringue recipe and add a few drops of red food coloring and peppermint syrup to it to make it holiday appropriate.

David Burke is a world-renowned chef and restaurateur. To learn more about him, visit his website and his Facebook page, and follow him on Twitter @ChefDavidBurke


Pastry Chefs Share Their Favorite Holiday Cookie Recipes

Craveworthy cookie recipes for holiday parties, gift giving and making your house smell incredible.

It’s the most wonderful time of year for holiday cookies of all shapes, tastes and sizes, from sweet sugar cookies to spicy gingerbread, all made even sweeter with memories of holiday baking and decorating with family and recipes passed down through generations. If you’re still on the hunt for the perfect cookies to bring to holiday parties, gift friends, or fill Santa’s plate, look no further than these recipes from top chefs across the US.

Damn Good Sugar Cookies

Recipe by Ouita Michel, owner of Ouita Michel Family of Restaurants, Pam Sexton (Michel’s mother), Ouita Peyton (Michel’s grandmother), Myrtle Mollie Zimmerman (Michel’s great-grandmother) and Lucretia Ward (Michel’s great-great-grandmother)

This recipe is a decades-long Christmas cookie tradition that the James Beard-nominated chef and force behind several beloved central Kentucky restaurants shares with her children. “I think of my mother, grandmother and great-grandmother every Christmas as I read their handwritten recipe cards,” Michel told me. “I only open my grandmother’s recipe box once a year, so that they release only the faintest scent of her, and her home can remain imprinted on the cards and in the box.”

Recipe for Damn Good Sugar Cookies

Yields approximately 5 dozen cookies

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For the cookies

Dash of vanilla, about a scant 1 tsp

4 c all-purpose flour (may need a bit more)

Cream together butter and sugar.

Add eggs, beating in between each egg.

Add baking powder, baking soda, salt, vanilla and enough flour to make a soft dough. Add a little more flour, if necessary. Taste the dough to make sure the sweetness is to your liking.

Chill dough for at least one hour, preferably overnight in the refrigerator.

Roll dough thin, about a quarter inch thick.

Cut dough into shapes, then bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for about 12 minutes, depending on your oven.

Remove cookies from baking sheet and let them cool on brown paper bags. When they are thoroughly cool, they are ready for icing.

For the icing

Melt the butter, then beat in the sugar.

Add the sour cream and vanilla. Beat at high speed until creamy and fluffy.

Divide icing into bowls and color with food coloring.

Boozy Chocolate Candy Cane (BCC) Cookies

Boozy Chocolate Candy Cane (BCC) Cookies

Recipe by Rachel Diaz Pirard, co-owner and pastry chef of Casa Ora

This recipe from the co-owner of a new Venezuelan restaurant in Williamsburg (which opened just last month) is a crowd-pleaser featuring Venezuelan rum and chocolate for her husband Ivo (owner of Casa Ora), peppermint for herself, and freehand decorating for her daughter Ora.

“The holidays are a time to wind down and be with family, not sweating over fickle cookie dough, rolling pans and coloring dyes that WILL end up all over my favorite pair of pajamas,” Diaz Pirard told me. With that in mind, these cookies can be prepared from start to finish in 30 minutes or less, and Diaz Pirard assures that the alcohol burns off during baking.

Recipe for Boozy Chocolate Candy Cane (BCC) Cookies

For the cookies

1 1/4 c unsalted butter, softened

1 1/2 tsp Santa Teresa rum (or any high-quality dark rum)

3/4 c unsweetened cocoa powder

For the topping

1 16-ounce bag of white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth.

Beat in eggs one at a time, then stir in vanilla extract and dark rum.

In a small bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Stir dry mixture into the creamed mixture until just blended.

Roll dough into balls, about 2 tablespoons each, and press flat slightly to allow the cookies to spread nicely while baking.

Place cookies 2 inches apart on a greased baking sheet.

Bake for 8-10 minutes in the preheated oven.

Cool for a couple minutes on the cookie sheet before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.

Once cookies are cool, melt white chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl in 30 second increments, stirring between intervals until melted and smooth.

Place candy canes in a sealed sandwich bag and smash to small peppermint bits with a kitchen hammer or rolling pin.

Decorate as desired. You can make patterns by drizzling chocolate onto cookies or by dipping half of each cookie in white chocolate and sprinkling with peppermint bits.

Chill to let chocolate set, about 10 minutes.

Store cookies in an airtight container.

White Chocolate Ginger Molasses Cookies

White Chocolate Ginger Molasses Cookies

Recipe by Sasha Piligian, pastry chef of lou

A twist on a traditional ginger molasses cookie, Piligian (who helms the pastry program at an East Nashville brunch locale, dinner destination and all-natural wine bar set in a renovated 1930s craftsman house) has added soft wheat to the mixture for an earthy taste that plays well with molasses and sorghum. “I love these cookies because they are packed with ginger in all forms: juice, ground and candied,” Piligian told me. “They are spicy and the white chocolate gives a nice balance of sweetness.”

Recipe for White Chocolate Ginger Molasses Cookies

40g candied ginger, chopped

1/4 c white chocolate (for drizzling)

Cream butter and sugar with a mixer until fluffy and pale.

Add egg and mix until combined.

Combine the remaining ingredients except for candied ginger and white chocolate.

Add dry ingredients to wet mixture and mix until just combined. Then add candied ginger.

Wrap dough in plastic and rest in the fridge for 1 hour.

Scoop cookies into 50 gram balls. Roll in sugar.

Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 10-12 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt white chocolate over a double boiler. Drizzle over cooled cookies.

Orange Snickerdoodles With Candied Rosemary Sugar

Credit: The Wilderness Hunters

Orange Snickerdoodles With Candied Rosemary Sugar

Recipe by Eric Bartle and Sara Kundelius, chefs and innkeepers at Abbey Road Farm

Known as The Wilderness Hunters, Bartle and Kundelius are a husband-and-wife team that spends much of their free time exploring the forests, mountains and rivers of Oregon in search of wild mushrooms, Oregon truffles, wild game and more. A farm-to-table ethos is present in everything they do in their personal and professional lives, from raising turkeys, sheep, laying hens and meat chickens to growing and preserving their annual garden bounty.

“This recipe is Eric’s great-grandma Blackwood’s, and has been a favorite for generations,” Kundelius told me. “Adding a bit of orange zest and candied rosemary helps us honor the past while giving us the opportunity to celebrate the season’s flavors.”

Recipe for Orange Snickerdoodles With Candied Rosemary Sugar

Yields approximately 4 dozen cookies

For the cookies

Cream shortening and sugar.

Add eggs one at a time and combine. Scrape down sides after each egg is added.

Sift together dry ingredients, then add to sugar mixture.

Use a cookie scoop to make 1-ounce balls.

Roll cookies in rosemary sugar (recipe below).

Bake at 385 degrees Fahrenheit for about 12 minutes. Bottoms should be blonde to light golden.

For the rosemary sugar

1 bunch of rosemary leaves pulled off the stem

Simple syrup (enough to cover the rosemary 1:1 ratio of water and sugar)

Sugar (to sprinkle over rosemary)

Simmer rosemary leaves in simple syrup for 30 minutes.

Drain and dry rosemary leaves on a sheet pan, top with sprinkled sugar, and let sit overnight. If you live in a humid environment, place the rosemary in a dehydrator overnight.

Microplane nutmeg into the sugar and mix.

Store rosemary sugar in an airtight container.

Holiday Spiced Orange Chocolate Chip Cookies

Holiday Spiced Orange Chocolate Chip Cookies

Recipe by Roger Rodriguez and Julia Choi, founders of Vesta Chocolate

Nutty, gooey chocolate chip cookies meet holiday spices in this cookie recipe from Rodriguez and Choi, pedigreed pastry chefs that have worked in the kitchens of Gramercy Tavern, Jean-Georges, and now run their own bean-to-bar chocolate shop (Rodriguez is a chocolate maker) in Upper Montclair, New Jersey.

Recipe for Holiday Spiced Orange Chocolate Chip Cookies

1/2 c dark brown sugar, packed

1 1/4 cups dark chocolate, chopped into chunks

3/4 cup candied orange peels or candied ginger, chopped into little pieces

Melt the butter in a sauce pot, and brown it until it turns golden and smells nutty. Set aside to cool.

While the butter is cooling, measure and sift together flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. Set aside.

In a mixer, whip eggs at medium speed with dark brown and cane sugar until the mixture is pale yellow and doubled in volume. Add in vanilla and stream in cooled brown butter slowly to make sure the mixture stays emulsified.

Change into a paddle attachment and add in dry ingredients, just until they’re incorporated.

Add in 1 cup of chopped dark chocolate and candied orange or ginger pieces. Mix just until the dough comes together.

Use a cookie scoop (recommended #24 or #30 scoops) to scoop the cookies onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Allow at least 2 inches of space between cookies.

Top the cookies with 2-3 chunks of chocolate and 3-4 pieces of candied orange or ginger. This way, the cookies will look pretty when they are done baking. Chill until the cookies are semi-firm.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

Bake the cookies until golden brown, about 12-16 minutes, rotating the cookie sheets halfway through baking. Let cool and share with family and friends.

I’ve been planning trips around notable eateries and the buzziest new dishes even before my food writing career began as an associate editor at The Daily Meal, where I

I’ve been planning trips around notable eateries and the buzziest new dishes even before my food writing career began as an associate editor at The Daily Meal, where I reported on food and drink news and wrote longer form culinary travel features. After TDM I moved on to a content editor position at Google where I wrote Zagat content – both reviews and blog posts – as well as copy that appears in Google Maps and Google Earth. For Forbes I cover a wide range of food and drink topics, from interviews with chefs and artisanal makers to national dining trends.


Professional Chefs Share Their Favorite Holiday Dessert Recipes

Snowball shortbread cookies, gingerbread bundt cake and more.

‘Tis the season for holiday cookies, cakes and sweet breads, and snuggling on the sofa with a hot drink in hand. For your socially distanced baked goods gifting, desserts to round out your holiday feasts, and general indulging this festive season, look no further than these recipes from top chefs across the United States.

Black Pepper Molasses Cookies

Recipe by Mariah Posadni, executive pastry chef of Common House in Charlottesville and Richmond, Virginia

Mariah, a self-proclaimed cookie connoisseur, has been baking with her family every Christmas for as long as she can remember. Each year, she devotes an entire week in December to making hundreds of cookies and other sweet confections. This recipe for Black Pepper Molasses Cookies is one of her favorites. It’s a sophisticated take on the classic gingerbread cookie. “The black pepper balances out the sweet sugar crust and warm molasses and serves as the perfect cookie for dipping in milk!” Mariah said.

Recipe for Black Pepper Molasses Cookies

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Ingredients:

3/4 c unsalted butter, softened

1 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper

1 tsp freshly grated cinnamon

1/2 c additional sugar (for rolling)

Using a mixer, cream together your butter and sugar. Softened butter is key here. This will allow you to make a light and fluffy mixture that will result in a fluffier cookie.

Add the egg and mix until incorporated. Scrape the bowl, then add in molasses.

In a separate bowl, mix the rest of the ingredients with a whisk to break apart any lumps.

In three additions, add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition.

Scoop the cookies, roll in the additional sugar and place onto a baking sheet.

Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 9-11 minutes, until just starting to crisp on the outside.

Gingerbread Bundt Cake with Lemon Glaze

Recipe by Howard Pickrel, executive chef of Early Girl Eatery in Asheville, North Carolina

Howard has many memories of cooking with his grandma and her sisters during the holidays. “These holiday memories are some of the fondest moments I have had in the kitchen and they’re what pushed me into this industry,” he said.

To this day, Howard’s family continues to ask him to make the dishes these women taught him. “I am the only one in the family that can bring back the flavors and smells of their mom, aunt or grandma’s cooking,” he said. “This cake makes me think of the holidays and brings back memories of all these wonderful women who had taught me so much in the kitchen. My best baking tip is enjoy what you are doing, share it with the next generation and it will be reflected in the dish.”

Recipe for Gingerbread Bundt Cake with Lemon Glaze

Yields one 10-inch bundt cake or 6 mini bundt cakes

For the cake:

1 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted (for the pan)

1 c (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

1 c packed dark brown sugar

1/4 c minced crystallized ginger

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Generously brush the inside of a 10-inch bundt pan or 6 mini bundt pans with the melted butter. Sprinkle with a fine coating of flour and shake out the excess. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the butter with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Add the sugar and beat until smooth. Beat in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in the molasses in a slow, steady stream until blended.

Meanwhile, sift the flour, ginger, baking soda, baking powder, cloves and salt together. Stir in the crystallized ginger. Gradually beat the dry ingredients into the batter just until blended, no longer. Turn off the mixer.

Add the boiling water to the batter, 1/3 cup at a time, stirring gently but thoroughly by hand with a large rubber spatula after each addition. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan(s).

Bake until the cake pulls away from the sides of the pan, 55-60 minutes for a large 10-inch bundt cake or 15-20 minutes for mini bundt cakes.

Cool the gingerbread cakes in the pan on a wire rack until warm, 20-30 minutes. The top of the cake may fall slightly upon cooling. Run the tip of a knife around the sides of the cake to loosen it from the pan. Invert the cake onto a platter.

For the lemon glaze:

1-2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

In a small bowl, stir together the confectioners’ sugar and lemon juice until smooth. Add the lemon zest.

Drizzle the glaze over the top of the cooled cake. The cake is delicious served slightly warm, but for neat cutting, let the glaze set before serving.

Canelitas Mexican Christmas Cookies

Recipe by Ivy Stark, chef at Méxology at JACX&CO food hall in Long Island City, New York

“These cookies are my take on the traditional Canelita Mexican cinnamon cookies,” Ivy said. “Rather than the usual sugar cookie dough, I’ve made them with a shortbread dough. I think they are the perfect Christmas cookie!” At Méxology, Ivy is dedicated to using locally sourced, naturally raised and organic ingredients whenever possible, and offers a fresh Mexican experience with authentic techniques and traditional recipes.

Recipe for Canelitas Mexican Christmas Cookies

Ingredients:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl or electric mixer, cream together the coconut sugar and butter until pale and fluffy. Stir in the vanilla.

Meanwhile, sift together flour, sea salt and 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon. Stir into the creamed butter mixture to form a stiff dough. Use a tablespoon measure to scoop dough and roll into 1-inch balls.

Combine the granulated sugar, confectioners’ sugar and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon in a small bowl. Roll balls in the cinnamon mixture and reserve the leftover.

Bake the cookies for 12-15 minutes, or until golden brown.

Transfer cookie sheets to wire racks to cool for 5 minutes, then roll the cookies in the remaining cinnamon sugar and allow to cool completely before serving.

Credit: Anna Francese Gass

Holiday Pie Crust Cookies

These pie crust cookies can be made in less than an hour, and only require some pantry ingredients and premade roll-out pie crust. “These are a crowd-pleaser, super easy to make and taste amazing!” Anna said. “You get the best of both worlds: the tastes and textures of a pie and the handheld, easy-to-eat form of a cookie.”

Recipe for Holiday Pie Crust Cookies

Ingredients:

1 prepared pie crust (must be roll-out crust)

3/4 c cherry jam (can be substituted with other jams)

1 c toasted pecans, chopped

1 c maraschino cherries, chopped

1 egg + 1 Tbsp water for egg wash

1 Tbsp sparkling or raw sugar

Confectioners’ sugar, for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Roll out pie crust, very thin, onto a parchment lined baking sheet.

Spread jam to the edges of the pie crust.

Sprinkle all the toppings evenly over the jam. Feel free to add or substitute based on what you have in the pantry.

Carefully roll up the pie crust and crimp the edges down onto the roll.

Brush with egg wash and sprinkle the top with sugar.

Bake for 30 minutes until golden. Cool completely.

Starting at the top, cut 2-inch slices all the way down to create bar cookies.

Sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar.

Grandma Gracie’s Snowball Shortbread Cookies

Recipe by Elisa Marshall, founding partner and creative director of Maman in New York City

“Every year for the holidays one of my favorite memories and traditions was making these snowball cookies with my Grandma,” Elisa said. “They melt in your mouth and are super easy to make! She would do most of the baking and my favorite part was rolling them into balls and dipping them in the ‘snow’ after! They are fun to make, kid-friendly and customizable! Substitute the chocolate chips for any of your favorite candy pieces, or add some candy cane pieces for a festive peppermint twist!”

Recipe for Grandma Gracie’s Shortbread Cookies

Ingredients:

3 c (435 g) all-purpose flour

2 c (4 sticks / 450 g) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 1/2 cups (195 g) confectioners’ sugar

5 oz (140 g) semisweet chocolate, chopped, or 3/4 c (140 g) semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit (150 degrees Celsius) and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour and cornstarch.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium for about 3 minutes, or until creamy. Add the almond extract.

With the mixer on low, gradually add 1 cup (130 grams) of the confectioners’ sugar and continue beating until fully combined. Increase the speed to high and beat for about 3 minutes more or until light and fluffy.

Add the flour mixture in 3 batches and beat on medium for about 2 minutes, or until fully combined. Fold in the chocolate.

Roll the dough into 1.5 to 2-inch (3.75 to 5-centimeter) balls and arrange on the parchment-lined baking sheets.

Bake for 15 minutes, or until the bottoms are light brown—the tops will remain pale. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack and let cool completely.

Place the remaining 1/2 cup (65 grams) of confectioners’ sugar in a wide, shallow bowl and set a wire rack inside a baking sheet.

Roll the cooled cookies in the confectioners’ sugar, then place on the rack set inside the baking sheet. The shortbread can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.

Credit: Isa Chandra Moskowitz

Cherry Chocolate Mini Loaves

Recipe by Isa Chandra Moskowitz, executive chef of Modern Love Brooklyn in New York City

Isa Chandra Moskowitz specializes in vegan comfort food and loves to make these Cherry Chocolate Mini Loaves during the holiday season. “They are streamlined and simple because they don’t require any icing, but don’t look underdressed–just the perfect amount of homey and cozy to pair with a big glass of wine and a fireplace,” she said.

Recipe for Cherry Chocolate Mini Loaves

Ingredients:

1/4 c natural almond butter

1/3 c unsweetened cocoa powder

1/3 c almond milk (or your preferred vegan milk), room temperature

1/3 c + 2 Tbsp boiling water, divided

3/4 c dry sweetener (any type of sugar or evaporated cane juice)

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1 tsp chocolate extract (optional – you can use another tsp vanilla)

1 1/2 c all-purpose flour (or whole wheat pastry flour)

4 oz chocolate bar, chopped into 1/2-inch chunks

1 c chopped sweet cherries (thawed if using frozen)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and lightly spray a mini loaf pan with cooking spray. Also, boil some water in a tea kettle (no need to measure yet.)

Put applesauce, almond butter, milk and cocoa powder in a mixing bowl. Measure out 1/3 cup boiling water and pour into the bowl with the chocolate mixture, mixing quickly with a fork to make a thick chocolate sauce. Add sugar and extracts and mix well.

Sift about half of the flour, along with the baking soda and salt, into the chocolate mixture, and gently stir just to incorporate, then add 1 tablespoon of boiling water and stir again.

Add the rest of the flour mixture and another tablespoon of boiling water and stir just until smooth. Take care not to overmix. Fold in the chocolate chunks and the cherries.

Spoon the batter into the prepared loaf pans, about three-quarters of the way.

Bake for 26-28 minutes. The tops should be puffy and firm. Stick a steak knife into the center of the loaf to check for doneness. A little bit of wetness is okay since it could be from a chocolate chunk or a cherry, but the knife should come out mostly dry.

Let cool for 10 minutes, then invert pan and place loaves on a cooling rack to cool some of the way. They’re yummy when still a bit warm, with the chocolate chunks oozy and melty. Wrap extra loaves in plastic wrap to keep them from drying out. If not using within a day, refrigerate wrapped loaves.

Chocolate Cocoa Nib Babka

Recipe by Shawn Gawle, executive pastry chef of Goodnight Hospitality in Houston, Texas

“I love laminated doughs, and this is basically a laminated brioche,” Shawn said. “Growing up, my dad owned a Jewish deli and my aunt is Jewish so during the holidays we would have a mix of Jewish delicacies with a more common Christmas smorgasbord.” He noted that babka is also great for making French toast the day after it’s baked.

Recipe for Chocolate Cocoa Nib Babka

For the babka dough:

Cube the butter and let sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes so it’s not ice cold and can emulsify into the dough.

Add milk to the bowl of a KitchenAid stand mixer and whisk in the dry yeast.

Add flour, sugar, salt and lemon zest and start mixing slowly with a dough hook.

Stream in the eggs one at a time. Turn the mixer up to speed 4-6 and add one cube of butter at a time until all the butter is incorporated.

Remove the dough and spread out onto a lined sheet pan and refrigerate for 1.5-2 hours.

For the chocolate filling:

Melt chocolate and butter over a double boiler.

Sift the powdered sugar and the cocoa powder together.

Stir into the melted chocolate by adding it in a couple of stages.

To assemble:

Make a syrup with water, sugar and lemon zest. Cool down and reserve for when the babka comes out of the oven.

Once the dough is chilled and firmed up, take out of the fridge and lightly flour your table.

Roll the dough out into a rectangle to about a quarter-inch thick.

Smear the chocolate filling on the dough, leaving about 2 inches on one end without the filling.

Sprinkle cocoa nibs, sugar and lemon zest evenly across the filling. If you’d like you can add toasted chopped pecans instead, but I like to make this nut-free for allergies.

Roll the dough up into a tube or log starting with the side that has the filling all the way to the edge. Once rolled up, refrigerate again for about 30 minutes.

Cut the log lengthwise into four stripes. Take each stripe and then braid them together.

Butter four loaf pans then measure the braided dough to the size of your pans.

Place the braid in the loaf pan and cover with plastic wrap. Let proof for 1 1/2 hours or until the dough is 30-40% larger.

Egg wash your dough, then bake in a 350 degree Fahrenheit oven for 30 minutes, rotating the pans after 15 minutes.

When the babkas come out of the oven, glaze them with the syrup. Wait 5 minutes and remove them from the pans and onto a cooling rack. Glaze them another time with the syrup.

I’ve been planning trips around notable eateries and the buzziest new dishes even before my food writing career began as an associate editor at The Daily Meal, where I

I’ve been planning trips around notable eateries and the buzziest new dishes even before my food writing career began as an associate editor at The Daily Meal, where I reported on food and drink news and wrote longer form culinary travel features. After TDM I moved on to a content editor position at Google where I wrote Zagat content – both reviews and blog posts – as well as copy that appears in Google Maps and Google Earth. For Forbes I cover a wide range of food and drink topics, from interviews with chefs and artisanal makers to national dining trends.


Utilize a good shortcut

All greased out? There's a spray for that! Save time prepping your pans and cookie sheets, with a nonstick spray and flour in one. And avoid a hot mess by just misting this spritz. Slonecker swears by this trick, and when we asked if this was in fact cheating (— OMG, what would Martha think?), she replied, "Yes, Martha would say it was cheating, but I just love this product. It's my trashy secret!".

We're totally into a solid gold guilty pleasure — especially if it means less cleaning up, and more eating up! Pick up a can yourself, and get spraying. We promise, we won't tell!


3 tips from ‘Holiday Baking Championship’ finalist Josh Livsey

The New England native and executive pastry chef at Cambridge’s Harvest is a finalist on the Food Network series, where he’s in the running for a cool $50,000 grand prize. Livsey, who’s won more challenges than any of his fellow competitors this season, hopes his work on the show has made Boston proud.

“Hopefully I’m representing Boston well,” Livsey says.

Before Livsey throws down on Monday night’s finale of “Holiday Baking Championship,” check out a few of his tips for novice bakers in the kitchen.

1. Do your homework

Before you even break out all the measuring cups and bowls, Livsey suggest putting in the work to find the right recipes for your tastes and skill level.

“You really just have to find good recipes,” says Livsey. “Try to find recipes you can trust.”

So basically do your homework and don’t just go for the first recipe that pops up on Google.

2. Stick to the plan

Once you’ve got a gameplan, make sure to carefully follow the instructions, as baking requires precise measurements with little room for improvisation. One wrong move could spell disaster for your dessert, so leave the kitchen creativity for the decorating part of prepartion once everything has been baked.

“Get creative when it comes to decorating or making it look presentable,” Livsey says. “But when you’re in the actually baking process, try to follow those recipes as closely as possible.”

3. When in doubt, make cookies

If you don’t know where to start when it comes to baking for the holidays, Livsey recommends making a batch of cookies. As far as desserts go, they’re pretty easy to make and don’t require a lot of time or effort. Plus, there are a ton of cookie styles you can try.

“They’re quick, easy and I think they taste really good,” Livsey says. “That’s usually my go to.”


7 Baking Tips for Making Better Scones

If you're watching the royal wedding this weekend and want to perfect your scone game, the Food & Wine Test Kitchen's got you covered.

The royal wedding is fast approaching, and whether you&aposre planning to host a big viewing party𠅌omplete with cucumber sandwiches and elderflower cakes, inspired by Prince Harry and Meghan Markle&aposs wedding cake—or simply planning to dive into a bowl of wedding-inspired Velveeta mac and cheese to celebrate the occasion, we urge you to consider scones. However you pronounce this humble pastry (does it rhyme with &aposcone&apos or &aposgone?&apos), this Saturday is the perfect excuse to break out the butter and bake a batch of scones.

To help you achieve royal wedding-worthy results, Food & Wine Test Kitchen Manager Kelsey Youngman has laid out her favorite tips:

1. For a better rise, use cold butter—or even frozen butter. The colder the better, and that extends beyond just ingredients, too. It&aposs ideal to have a chilled bowl and pastry cutter as well.

2. When it comes to mixing, don&apost overdo it mix until the dough just comes together. And although the food processor can help keep the temperature down, it&aposs easy to over-mix, so use a pastry instead, Youngman suggests. "It should look like pancake batter," she says. "Lumps are what you want!"

3. Use pastry flour for the lightest scones. All-purpose plus pastry flour also works, but don&apost omit the pastry flour.

4. "Once you&aposve shaped your scones, chill them before baking," Youngman says. "You can use that time to preheat the oven so the kitchen doesn&apost heat up while you make the dough. The final chill relaxes the gluten which yields a tender texture. It also cools the butter down again, which is how you&aposll get that flaky texture."

5. Spacing: "I usually space the scones about one inch apart if they are separate wedges. Keep &aposem cozy," Youngman says. If you&aposre baking round scones, you can try baking them like cinnamon rolls, where they&aposre actually touching, which will give you nice, soft sides.

6. If you&aposre adding fruit, don&apost use super juicy fruit, and make sure you rinse and dry it well. If you&aposre using frozen fruit, you can don&apost have to thaw it if the fruit is individually frozen. If the fruit is in one big chunk, however, thaw, rinse and drain it as well as you can.

7. As King Arthur says, "a scone is not a cupcake." Don&apost overbake them, and remember they are meant for clotted cream, butter, and jam!

Now that you&aposre equipt with these key pieces of advice, check out these 11 great scone recipes.


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Chocolate filling

For the sweet pastry, cream the butter and sugar together until pale and soft, add the egg and vanilla and mix to incorporate.

Add the sieved flour and mix until a dough is formed.

Turn onto a floured table and form into a ball, wrap in clingfilm and chill for 2 hours.

Once chilled, roll on a floured table until 1/4 inch in thickness.

Grease and flour 6 x 4.5 inch round loose bottom tartlets.

Roll pastry into tins and press down the sides, trim off excess pastry and chill for one hour.

Once rested line the tart with a square of greaseproof and fill with baking beans. Bake for 15 mins or until the tops of the pastry starts to turn golden brown. Remove the baking beans and return to the oven and cook for a further 8 minutes or until evenly golden brown.

Remove and set aside to cool

For the chocolate tart filling, heat the milk, cream and orange zest in a pot.

Once warm pour over the chopped chocolate and stir until melted and smooth.

Add the egg and whisk until combined.

Strain into a jug and pour this mix into the pre-baked tart shells. Return to the oven and bake at 100C for 20 minutes or until the chocolate filling is set.

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When serving I like to dust 1/3 of the tart with cocoa powder, you can serve with a chocolate truffle or simply with a spoon of fresh cream and seasonal berries.

Whiskey marmalade Hot cross bread & butter pudding

Ingredients

Like any bread and butter pudding, it’s best to use old bread and the same applies to the hot cross buns.

For the custard, whisk the eggs, sugar, vanilla and whiskey together.

Heat the milk and the cream gently and pour this over the egg mixture, whisking to combine. Strain and set aside.

Cut the hot cross buns in half like you would when toasting.

Spread both sides with butter and marmalade.

Place the 6 bottom halves in your ovenproof serving dish and pour over half the warm custard.

Place the top on the buns on pour over the remaining custard.

Press the buns down into the custard to submerge and leave to soak for 30 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 170C/ 150C fan

Once soaked, carefully place your serving dish in a large deep baking tray in the centre of the oven.

Fill this baking tray with water until it comes halfway up the side of your dish and this will bake bain marie for 35-40 minutes.

The pudding will have a slight wobble at this point, carefully remove it from the water and set aside.

Best served warm with a spoon of semi whipped cream

Shane Smith has nearly 22 years’ experience working in some of the world’s most celebrated pastry kitchens across the globe. Over these years he has received numerous awards from “Best Bakery Manager in Ireland” by Shelf life magazine to “The top 10 best pastry chefs in Ireland” by Food & Wine Magazine. Shane also has a regular cookery slot on RTÉ’s The Today Show. Check out more recipes on his Instagram or at www.chefshanesmith.ie.

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10 commandments of baking from "Pastry" chef Nick Malgieri

Although Pat Frost of Helotes learned how to bake when she was around 6 and helping her grandmother, pie crusts always have proved a challenge.

&ldquoI have never been able to make pie crusts the way that my grandmother did,&rdquo Frost said. &ldquoShe used lard.&rdquo

So Frost and about a dozen other bakers, went to Central Market for a cooking class with Nick Malgieri, perhaps the nation&rsquos foremost authority in baking and author of a new book, &ldquoPastry: Foolproof Recipes for the Home Cook&rdquo (Kyle Books, 29.95). While he was in town, we took the opportunity to ask for holiday baking tips.

Here are his 10 commandments of holiday baking, and he offers even more on his website, www.nickmalgieri.com:

1. Start planing early and get organized.

Select recipes early, look at what pans you have, and plan what you&rsquore going to do.

&ldquoYou wouldn&rsquot think of throwing a party for 50 people and getting ready five minutes before. Holiday baking is the same thing,&rdquo he said. &ldquoStart now.&rdquo

2. Inventory ingredients and equipment.

Make sure you have the right pans for what you&rsquore making. This includes foil, dough cutters and parchment paper. Also make sure you have all the ingredients you need. This includes making sure spices still have aroma and flavor.

&ldquoMake sure there&rsquos more than a pinch in the bottom of the can,&rdquo he said. &ldquoSometimes you open the cupboard . . . and say, 'oh, it&rsquos there&rsquo and then you go to use it and there&rsquos nothing in it.&rdquo

3. Overestimate your use of staples such as flour, sugar, butter and eggs. You might taste a new recipe and decide you need another batch or two.

4. Clean the refrigerator and freezer &mdash make sure you&rsquoll have room to chill doughs and freeze baked cookies.

5. Plan on a place for cooling baked cookies. If you need to, cover the dining table with a heatproof pad and set out some cooling racks.

6. Before starting a recipe, measure out all the ingredients. Then, Malgieri urges, go back and check that they&rsquore all there. The recipients of your goodies will appreciate it.

7. If any recipes call for ingredients at room temperature, take them out late the night before so they&rsquoll be at the right temperature for mixing.


According to MacIsaac, the biggest thing to know is you should never trust the bake time on a recipe.

ButterCream BakeShop

The best way to learn to bake is to watch, touch and taste everything you are cooking. When writing a recipe, a chef always tries to provide an accurate bake time but, sadly, no two ovens are exactly alike,” she says. “A cookie can go from perfection to overbaked in a matter of a minute or two, so check for doneness before the written ‘finished’ baking time.”

A second tip? Read the entire recipe before beginning. It may seem obvious, but by reading the entire recipe before you begin will help ensure a) you have everything you need and b) you can measure everything out. From there, she adds, re-read each step before proceeding.

ButterCream BakeShop

But what about when you’re strapped for time? What about box mixes? Are they verboten or is it okay to use them when needed (especially as a beginner)?

“I grew up in a family that ate a lot of boxed cakes and brownies, so nothing but love here! If you are in a rush and need a sure thing — don’t be ashamed!” MacIsaac says. “I recommend a little something extra to make it your own like fruit, spices, or fun whipped toppings.”

Think you’re ready to try your hand at a holiday treat that doesn’t come pre-mixed and most likely won’t be repeated in the holiday spread? Check out MacIsaac’s recipe for Dark Chocolate Marshmallow Fluff Bombs below. While this does take a little more skill than box brownies, it can’t hurt to try. If you mess it up, at least you know that you need to hit the drawing board and start with something simpler next time.


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Twice a Year Cleaning Secret For Sparkling Shower Doors

Only clean your shower doors twice a year and have them sparkling clean all year long!? What’s the secret? Well let me tell you… click here to read the secret


Watch the video: Holiday Baking With Local Pastry Chef Dwight Penney (May 2022).