What is an emulsion?

An emulsion is a matrix made up of two liquids that don’t get along with one another. That is, liquids that won’t dissolve in each other in the way that say, sugar syrup and water do. In order to make an emulsion you need two liquids that retain their individual identities when combined. In the […]

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Why must eggs be at room temperature?

Something that I can’t stress enough when it comes to baking any kind of egg-enriched cake (layer cakes, muffins, doughnuts, tea breads, pound cake, you name-it) is that your eggs must be warm before you begin. Why? The answer is that a cake batter is an emulsion, which is to say, a matrix of tiny […]

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Yellow Cake Debrief

I spent so much time blabbing about cake history last week I really didn’t leave myself time or space for all the various tips I had in mind. Cakes are, in the end, very easy things to make, yet a couple simple tricks make a big difference in the final product. One of these is […]

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Tuscan Bread Debrief

The texture of Tuscan bread really is unique. Salt, for some reason, makes a bread’s crumb a little chewier than it would otherwise be (maybe you’ve noticed this if you’ve ever left the salt out of a bread recipe by mistake). Tuscan bread is so fluffy and light it practically melts on your tongue. That […]

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Joe’s Book Club

…has been reorganized and updated to reflect some critical omissions as well as some key reader recommendations. I know it looks like a lot of books, and I guess it is, but I’ve tried to prioritize them by category, the most critical titles at the top of each list. If you’re a beginner, you could […]

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Science!

I know I’ve been on a serious history jag these last couple of weeks, most of it in the French revolutionary period. For all of you who are missing the serious science, I promise to put my lab coat back on first thing Monday morning. Until then have a great weekend!

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Look, don’t touch.

Canny readers may have uncovered something of a contradiction between this last post and some of last week’s posts on Antonin Carême. Specifically, that Carême spent his entire early career fashioning giant pastries for the centers of service à la française tables. So if grand pastries were a fixture of dessert services in those days, […]

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Hey…

How did I get onto layer cakes when I started out the week declaring that a true cake was a single-layer affair? I told you this topic was treacherous. But just for the record, while I know that some may interpret this week’s yellow cake recipe as a layer cake recipe, as far as I’m […]

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Cake Fake-Out

The one big thing that discourages more would-be cake bakers is that they feel they can’t reproduce the thick, even layers that they see professionals working with in bakeries and on TV. Here beginners are at a built-in disadvantage since most recipes (to say nothing of most cake mixes) just aren’t designed to produce layers […]

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