Thursday, August 23, 2012

Ideas to Upgrade Your Baking

The spread for my dessert and drinks birthday party...

A chocolate buttercream layer cake, coconut cupcakes with cream cheese frosting, and a lemon-pistachio tart. 

Todd and I decided to make everything the morning of the party - a lot to begin with, but in addition, we were unfamilar with two of the recipes, including the layer cake. The sum of which made for a fun, action-packed day in which we "sampled" about a cup of buttercream.  Each.  Okay, Todd had more than me.

In these situations, it helps to take comfort that the universe will pull through for you. It also helps to know that I have a few tricks up my sleeve to help me along the way. While there's no substitute for practice, here are a couple of things I rely on to kick things up a knotch:
- Measure accurately.  You're probably way ahead of me on this.  When I made the Pistachio-Lemon Tart last weekend, I measured the flour incorrectly.  Twice.  In the same exact way.  And I didn't figure out until I rolled out the dough.  As a rule, if you're baking in AZ and the dough comes together perfectly with only the amount of liquid called for by the recipe, you've done it wrong.
- Substitute vodka from the freezer for water. It will make the dough flakier.  In a good way.

- Transfer your rolled out dough from the pastry cloth to the pie/tart pan by carefully folding it into fourths then placing it in the center of your baking dish
- When removing a false bottom tart pan from the oven, gently hold the pan from the sides, not the bottom.  If you hold the pan on the bottom, the center will pop up and the ring will slide down your arm like an oversized bracelet, etching second-degree burns into your forearm.  Just trust me on this one.