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Tips for Better Baking: Keep an Ice Bath Nearby when Making Caramel (#39)

Tips for Better Baking: When making caramel, always have an ice bath nearby.

The biggest challenge when making caramel is knowing the fine line between the desired deep amber color and a bitter burnt mess. When I teach my caramel classes, I always tell students this trick:

Tip for Better Baking: When making caramel, keep an ice bath nearby. If your caramel is about to burn, simply dip the bottom of your pan into the ice bath to quickly stop the cooking. 

To make an ice bath, find a bowl or container that’s bigger than your caramel making pot and fill it up half way with ice and water. If the caramel looks like it’s about to burn, take the pot off the heat and dip the bottom into the ice bath to quickly cool it down.

Once you get experienced with making caramel, this step isn’t always necessary. You start to learn the personality of caramel and are able to judge when it’s at the desired deep amber color. However, an ice bath provides a nice safety blanket to use when you aren’t yet comfortable with the caramel making process.

Here’s another tip for making caramel sauce: Tips for Better Baking #30

Cuban Flan de Leche

Cuban Flan de Leche

I love talking to people about their favorite recipes and the foods they grew up with. At my last job, we had some of the friendliest and most interesting produce delivery drivers. While I did not look forward to checking in the order and putting all of the produce away, I always enjoyed talking to Ben, Edward, and Ignatio when they delivered our order.

Ignatio grew up in Cuba and when I asked him about the food he grew up eating in Havana, he brought up cuban flan de leche immediately. One afternoon a few days later the kitchen phone rang and Ignatio said he was there with a delivery. We were not expecting anything but when I met him at the door he excitedly handed over a flan his auntie had made for us to try. It was, without doubt, one of the best flans I’ve ever had with a complex bittersweet caramel and a smooth, creamy custard.

I bugged him for the recipe and after getting it from his auntie and translating it, he proudly delivered it to work one morning with our produce.

Cuban Flan de Leche

Flan is a dessert found in many cultures and cuisines across the world (creme caramel in France, crema caramella in Italy, quesillo in South America) but most often associated with Spain and the countries it colonized during the early era of sea exploration. The signature of flan is the caramel used to coat the cooking mold and top the firm custard once it is released from the pan. This recipe comes from Cuba and the Caribbean influence is reflected in the use of sweetened condensed milk.

Cuban Flan de Leche

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Tips for Better Baking – Week Five

Every day in January I am sharing my best Tips for Better Baking. These are tips that have made my kitchen life easier and helped me become a better baker. Follow along on Facebook or check back here each Sunday for a roundup of the week’s tips.

If you’re just joining us, be sure to check out

Tips for Better Baking Week One

Tips for Better Baking Week Two

Tips for Better Baking Week Three

Tips for Better Baking Week Four

 Tips for Better Baking #26 – Grate your Own Nutmeg

One of the easiest ways to add more flavor to your baking is by using fresh nutmeg.  When recipes call for ‘freshly ground nutmeg,’ skip the ground nutmeg in your pantry and grate your own.  You only need whole nutmeg seeds and a rasp grater, such as my personal favorite, the Microplane Spice Grater.  You’ll be amazed by how much more fragrant and flavorful your baked goods are and I bet you’ll never go back to the ground nutmeg sold in the spice aisle.

Tips for Better Baking - Learn how to become a better baker!  | The Hungry Traveler

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