It’s Not So Much the What, But the How

Reader Neil asks if it’s the proportion of sugar in a meringue that primarily determines its texture. There’s no question the amount of sugar is a big part of it, Neil, though process is also important. As a general rule, the earlier you add sugar to your egg whites the smaller the bubbles will be in the foam and the finer and denser your meringue will be. You can create an extremely light — though not terribly stable — meringue by folding powdered sugar into a finished egg white foam. By contrast you can make a very thick, glossy and…

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There Are Meringues, and Then There Are Meringues

The world of meringues is a wide one. Broadly speaking it’s divided into two categories: cooked meringues and uncooked meringues. However within those two groups there’s a lot of variation. Meringues can be mildly sweet or intensely sweet. They can be light and frothy or dense and marshmallow-y. They can be baked to crispness, browned in the oven (or with a blowtorch) or eaten as they are. …

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Lemon Meringue Pie and PTSD

Ask typical home bakers about their experience with lemon meringue pie and the response is likely to be something along the lines of a haunted thousand-yard stare. The weeping…the weeping…

The things just ooze. Most infuriatingly, they do it in two directions: up (as a result over over-heated meringue) and down (caused by under-heated meringue and/or a broken custard). And what happens when meringues and custards weep? Soggy crusts, sticky, gummy toppings, grainy fillings…the whole custard pie bag of horrors.


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Up Next: Lemon Meringue Pie

This is another one from the request file, something else I can’t believe I’ve neglected for so long. Forgive me, all you contributors to my request post from last month, I’m skipping around a bit. I was actually planning on doing sfogliatelle this week but then realized I was fresh out of leaf lard. Time to get the rendering oven fired back up again! Oh, and I’m also looking for a good recipe for a “mud cake”, a request from reader Nokanen in Finland. He sent me a link to one but it’s in Finnish, and Finnish is one of…

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Holiday Baking Triumphs & Disasters

This isn’t so much a post as a request for submissions from anyone who might have experienced either one during Easter or Passover. Geek Lady made the excellent suggestion since she had a little of both over the weekend. Post-holiday posts like this might make a good tradition here on Joe Pastry, but let’s see how this one goes first. Make any submissions via the email link on the upper left and I’ll put ‘em up! Feel free to include supplemental comments if desired…though keep them on the short side if you will!…

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Viva la Ropa Interior

I can’t remember a better Easter weekend here in Louisville. We spent a good chunk of it indoors of course, but after the last service was over yesterday morning we were free to revel in it. We threw an Easter party in the afternoon and evening as we usually do, and as per usual the attendance was heavily Spanish-speaking (note to self: learn Spanish for next year…or hire translators). Spaniards dominated, though I was delighted when two Cuban women we know walked in: a student of Mrs. Pastry’s and her 80-year-old aunt who always has stories to tell about the Cuban Revolution. …

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Back Monday

It’s Holy Week and there’s lots to do: services to attend, prayers to say, stuff to bake, plastic eggs to fill with candy. But Easter or no, it promises to be a lovely spring weekend here in the hemisphere…I hope you have a splendid one!

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Making Bee Sting Cake (Bienenstich)

The whole thing disappeared off my platter in about 35 seconds yesterday, if you need an indication of how your friends will receive your bee sting cake. I went out to deliver a slice to a next-door neighbor and shortly two or three others emerged out of doorways and cars. They gobbled down the slices I gave them, then did the same with others that I’d intended for their spouses. “My wife needs to learn to be more social,” my neighbor Charles said through a mouthful. “Let this be a lesson to her!” What was that we were saying about drones below?


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How do bees build honeycomb?

Love that question, reader Buzz, even more than your highly creative “bee week” alias! Bee lovers have puzzled over that for millennia. How is it that such simple creatures can produce structures as architecturally complex as honeycomb, with its perfect rows of hexagonal cells? They must be geniuses, every one of them a Buckminster Fuller in miniature!


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Busy, Busy, Busy

Here are a few bee statistics for you. To make one pound of honey bees must fly 55,000 miles and visit some 2 million individual flowers. When you consider that a medium-producing hive will make about 150 pounds of honey a season, that’s a lot of activity. Eight and a quarter million miles flown and 300 million blooms. For one hive….

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