Results tagged baking from David Lebovitz

Caramelized Pineapple

Caramelized Pineapple

One fruit that’s always in season is pineapple, and the spiky beauties really help to brighten up winter, especially when you’ve had your fill of apples and pears. I like eating fresh pineapple after a meal because not only is it refreshing, but it has a pleasant acidity that tends to make me feel good about eating it. Although not local (we wish! because that would mean a tropical beach nearby…), pineapples are always available at the markets in Paris. You can get regular pineapples, sometimes called “Red Spanish” or “Cayenne” pineapples in the world of pineapples (although I think that second variety might give spice-averse locals pause), and there are also slender, smaller Victoria pineapples, that are much sweeter, although yield less edible flesh. (In the United States, there are Tahitian pineapples, which have similar characteristics.

I was reading Baking Chez Moi, Dorie Greenspan’s comprehensive, and deliciously readable book, about French home baking, and she notes that Parisians don’t bake the way Americans do. Americans bake to relax or as a hobby – in France, it’s something you do because, well…you need a dessert. They don’t make a big fuss about it or are all that concerned about appearances. I think people know they can’t compete with the professional pastry shop on the corner, so they’re just content to make what they feel will be fine for their guests. And in my experience, French people are always appreciative of homemade desserts, since so many people do go to the corner pâtisserie.

Bonne maman orange marmalade

No one expects to go to a dinner party and find a spectacular cake for dessert, unless it was picked up at the local pastry shop. And there’s certainly no shame in that. People often ask me about how Parisians make macarons or baguettes or croissants, and I answer that no one makes those in Paris since you can buy them, good-quality ones, almost anywhere. Like charcuterie, they leave it up to the experts. French home bakers also tend to rely on reliable, tried-and-true desserts, always having a few in their repertoire, often passed down from their mothers – or in the case of chocolate mousse, the most famous recipe in France is on the back of the Nestlé chocolate baking bar package, sold in le supermarché.

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Whole-Wheat Sunflower Seed Rye Bread

Whole wheat sunflower seed rye bread recipe-6

I had a phone interview the other day, and the journalist was so nice and interesting that we ended up talking about a whole bunch of other subjects that we didn’t intend to talk about. Like a good interviewer, she didn’t start off by asking the usual questions, but came up with some original ones, which was a lot more interesting than being asked for the name my favorite bistro (I have a whole list here) or who makes the best macarons in Paris, which are now available around the world. One particular subject that we talked about extensively was blogging. The interviewer asked me how long it takes to write a post.

While massaging my wrists, I thought about it for a moment and while contemplating my dwindling vision as I removed my glasses, I replied, “After writing, editing, proofreading, translating terms, adding foreign accents (sometimes by hand-coding each one), writing the recipe (it’s fourteen keystrokes just to type oven temperatures – no wonder my wrists are a mess!), formatting text in internet code, taking pictures, deciding which pictures look best, eating the leftovers because I can’t stand to wait any more, editing pictures, uploading pictures, and placing the pictures in the post — which is a challenge because the whole document looks like a jumble of code, rather than the pictures and text that you see here — then re-reading and proofing, and finally, publishing the post, it can take me a couple of days to get it all together.”

Add to that, I love blogging and have so many things that I want to share, that I always seem to have five posts in the pipeline that I want to put up on the site as soon as possible. And I can’t wait to jump into the next one.

Whole-Wheat Sunflower Seed Rye Bread

Over the years, I’ve been playing around with photography, trying to take better pictures for you (and me) – not for any particular reason other than I enjoy taking pictures of food. Plus living in France, there are so many beautiful products and places, that I can’t help taking a snapshot when I see something enticing. (Which I sometimes get in trouble for in Paris, if I don’t ask first.) I’m not really all that interested in carefully arranged things, but I find something charming in a mess of oozing cheeses, fresh herbs tied in bundles from the market, and knocked-around avocados (with bruises and all, since I haven’t quite mastered many editing tricks). Or sometimes I’ll be sitting down to eat something, and it’ll look kind of interesting, so I’ll get up and take a few pictures. Then, one thing leads to another, then another…and before I know it, I’m racing to write up another story and a recipe to share.

Whole-Wheat Sunflower Seed Rye Bread

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q & a

Rocky Road

I just returned from a four-week book tour where I met a lot of people. Everyone was incredibly nice and it was a treat, although because of the nature of the events, it wasn’t possible to spend lots of one-on-one time with anyone – including myself. However, I tried to answer as many questions as possible. The most frequently asked questions were; “Where have you been?” “Where are you going?” and, curiously, “When you are leaving?” I’ll assume the last one was people just being polite. (I hope!)

Another popular question was about mes bonnes adresses in Paris, or favorite places to eat. While I update the list on the My Paris page regularly, and there are more complete descriptions in the Paris restaurant category on the site, I suspect people thought I was holding out on them. (I swear, I’m not! – well, maybe one or two…but I have my reasons…) I was also interested in how many people were coming to Paris in the near future, which may explain the rise in airfares this summer, which are preventing us from going to Cape Cod and having a lobster, steamer clam, beer, and corn-on-the-cob fest.

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My Paris Kitchen (errata)

In some copies of the first printing of My Paris Kitchen, it’s not clear when to add ingredients in two of the recipes in the dessert chapter. They’ve been corrected and added but in some editions, this information isn’t in there. A few metric conversions were omitted, and they’re just below too:


– The metric conversion for the tahini in the Beet Hummus (page 58), is 90g, and for the Hummus (page 60), is 120g. For reference: 1 tablespoon tahini = 15g.

– In the Sardine Spread recipe (page 79), the metric conversion for the 1/4 cup of cream cheese is 55g.

– Bay leaf pound cake with orange glaze (page 296): The bay leaf-infused melted butter gets added with the other wet ingredients (the egg mixture) in step #6.

– Bûche de Noël (page 319): The orange syrup is brushed on the cake after it’s unrolled, in step #8, just before spreading on the chocolate/orange/ricotta filling.


And for two other recipes, here are a couple of helpful tips:

– For the Chicken Pot Parmentier (page 166-167), if you don’t have a food mill or potato ricer, you can use a stand mixer to make the potato topping (steps #5 and #6). After drying out the potatoes, beat them in the stand mixer with the paddle attachment along with the 6 tablespoons (85g) butter, until smooth and the potatoes are cooled down a bit. Then beat in the cream and egg yolks.

– The Chocolate-dulce de leche tart (page 289): If the dough needs help coming together, feel free to add a tablespoon or two of water to it, in step 2.

Galette des rois

galette des rois recipe

Starting in late December, pastry shops in Paris start jumping the gun, and windows and showcases begin filling up with Galettes des rois, or King Cake, in anticipation of the celebration of Epiphany, on January 6th.

Galette des Rois

Because it’s such a popular treat, and lucrative for bakeries, the period of availability seems to extend a few more days every year and it’s not unusual for find bakeries peddling them until the end of the month of January. It’s hard to blame them (and those of us who buy them) because they’re so good. Years ago, I used to bake them when I worked in restaurants, and they’re called Pithiviers, named for the town in the Loiret (south of Paris) where they allegedly originated.

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Almond Flour FAQs

almond powder

Is almond flour the same as almond meal or ground almonds?

Yes. If you are unsure, check the ingredients on the package; the only ingredient listed should be almonds. If there are other ingredients, it’s not the same thing and should not be used in a recipe that calls for almond flour. Other names for almond flour are powdered almonds, almond meal, and almond powder.

(Some say that only blanched almonds are used for what is called almond flour, but I’ve seen unblanched almond “flour” listed as such, so that’s not always the case.)

What is the difference between natural and blanched almond flour?

Blanched almonds have had theirs skins removed. This is done by dropping them in boiling water for about a minute. Draining them in cold water, and slipping the skins off. Unblanched almonds have their skins on. Both kinds of almonds are then ground up for almond flour. A majority of almond flour you’ll come across is made from blanched almonds since most people prefer the lighter crumb and appearance in cakes and other baked goods. Some bakers say that unblanched almond flour can make baked goods heavier, but I’ve not found it to make a tremendous difference. So you can use either, unless one is specifically called for in a recipe.

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Whole Wheat Croissants

Homemade Croissants

Although there’s some dispute as to where the croissant was invented, it’s become an iconic symbol of Paris. Or at least of Paris bakeries. The most popular story claims that croissants were invented in Austria, during (or after) a period of conflict with Turkey in the 1600s, whose symbol is a crescent. And people were happy to bite into, and chew, a pastry representing their nemesis.

Homemade Croissants

Food everywhere is wrapped up in lots of “who made what,” and there are endless discussions about what belongs to whom, who made it first, who makes is better, who is allowed to claim it, and who has permission to use it. (And so far, I haven’t seen any signs of an international organization overseeing all of that.) So depending on who you believe, it may have been the Austrians, the French, or another butter and pastry-loving country. But it’s hard to imagine Paris without croissants.

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Gluten-Free Baking and Substitutions

I’m thrilled when folks want to make recipes from this site and my books, including those who are gluten-intolerant or have celiac. However I’m the first to admit that gluten-free baking is not my area of expertise. So I can’t usually say how and what to substitute in recipes that call for wheat flour.

Wheat flour acts as a binder in recipes and gives cakes and cookies, the gluten gives doughs and batters structure. Broadly speaking, if a recipe has just a small amount of wheat flour, such as 2 to 4 tablespoons (20-40 g), you can often just swap out another flour. I like flours such as buckwheat, chestnut, quinoa, corn, and oat flours, because they are “natural” tasting and go well with most other flavors and ingredients used in baking. Note that some of those flours may be processed in a facility that processes wheat flour, so always check and make sure that the flours you are purchasing are gluten-free, especially oat. Other substitutions include nut flours (also called nut “meal”) as well as corn and potato starch. If the recipe calls for more flour than that, I recommend using one of the work-arounds, listed below.

I generally assume that people who are gluten-free, and bake frequently, know better than I do how certain ingredients and substitutions will behave in recipes. So I often defer to gluten-free bakers since most have work-arounds that they have success baking with. Here is a round-up of tips, suggestions, and recipe that should help gluten-free bakers find an appropriate swap-out for wheat flour.

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