Mr. Beck, Step Away From The Pie

Usually when I hear “tonight we are going to talk about pie” I get really excited. But tonight it was Glenn Beck talking about pie. It you want to watch the Fox News personality talk about pie for 20 minutes clicky-click here:

He's a baker, not a divider. A pie divider. He wants a whole pie to himself.

For those of you who have something else to do let me sum it up for you. Continue reading

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Pie Throwing 2012

If Curling can be an Olympic sport why can’t Pie Throwing? This harebrained idea comes to us from The Bureau of Silly Ideas over in England (where most great pie news is born).

Pie Throwing's earlier, more gamorous days.

Go sign the petition. RIGHT NOW!

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Not Pie: Whoopie Pies Cross the Pond

I’m not taking credit for the newfangled craze of Whoopie Pies over in the UK, but after I introduced my English boyfriend to my pumpkin whoopies his life was never the same. Now, they’re all the rage and I’m thrilled to see how creative some British bakers are getting with the down home, New England treats:

From Times Online

Marks & Spencer won the Times’ taste test. I’ll have to try these when we (hopefully) go over there for Christmas.

Of course, as article points out, the rise of the whoopie pie comes at the expense of the cupcake. Intrepid whoopie investigator Huma Qureshi got to the bottom it:

But if, like me, you struggle with the disproportionate slather of overly sweet frosting on cupcakes (Gerhard Jenne, the founder of the upmarket bakery Konditor & Cook, once told me that he couldn’t stand them because he always gets frosting up his nose), then you will appreciate the ease of sinking into a whoopie pie: the buttercream is kept neatly in the middle, like a sweet hamburger in a bun.

For the record, when I get a cupcake I usually rip off the bottom and smush it on top of the frosting. I am, in essence, turning it into a whoopie pie and keeping the frosting out of my nose.

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Martha, Maddow and Rapid Oxidation

Here is Martha Stewart teaching MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow how to use a blowtorch to caramelize her Baked Raspberry Custard. Clicky-click to watch the clip:

I love everything about this photo.

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Zen and the Tarte Tatin (Pie #3)

I fell in love with Tarte Tatin when my friend Micha came to visit from Paris. He stayed at my apartment and insisted on making one in my tiny, galley kitchen (the things we put up with in New York).  Without a recipe in sight he caramelized some sugar, tossed in a couple of apples and wowed all of my friends with his je ne sais quoi. Then, with a glass of wine in one hand, he tucked some puff pastry over the concoction and slid it in the oven. Like just about everything the French do he made it look effortless. When I took a stab…not so much.

Ever since I got into the pie scene I’ve wanted to tackle the Tarte Tatin. “It’s so easy, no fussing with the crust,” I thought. “And it’s so elegant.” But, of course, I over analyze EVERYTHING and had to research a million different Tarte Tatins. There’s the two pan method, the single $210 pan, the debate over puff pastry vs pastry crust and, of course, various opinions on how to cut your apples: halves, quarters or smaller. I had to decide which way I was going to go. I chose wrong.

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Off to the Cookie Takedown

Why yes, that is 18 oz. of chocolate chips.

My 150 little cookies (made with about 4 lbs. of chocolate) are off to the Cookie Takedown. Check back for a full report.

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Cream of Tartar: The Tartarus of the Meringues

Most meringue recipes call for a pinch of cream of tartar. What the hell is the stuff and what does it do? Cream of tartar is another name for the acid potassium bitartrate and it’s a byproduct of winemaking. Who knew? The acid crystallizes in wine casks during fermentation. The process for extracting the crystals from wine dates back to ninth century persia, but traces of the acid have been used to date the winemaking process back about 7000 years. Despite it’s auspicious history, cream of tartar wasn’t commercially available until the 1800s.

I had always assumed that cream of tartar was some horrible, industrial chemical byproduct and I’ve only got my high school history teacher to blame! He made us read Herman Melville’s sendup of the industrial revolution, The Tartarus of the Maids:

“Then, shooting through the pass, all alone with inscrutable nature, I exlaimed–Oh! Paradise of Bachelors! and oh! Tartarus of Maids!”

The story is about a visit to a hell-like paper mill and the ghostlike women whose lives are drained by their industrial labor. It’s a great (but depressing) story…that has nothing to do with cream of tartar. Word association is a powerful thing.

But what does it actually do? Continue reading

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