The New Bakers Dozen
"Probooks" Catering Production and Recipes

The The Bakers Dozen: "Probooks" Catering Production and Recipes
By George (George) on Friday, November 05, 1999 - 09:18 am: Edit

Thread moved from Caramel Apple Problems

By W.Debord on Tuesday, November 02, 1999 - 09:39 am: Edit

d. are there a few cookbooks that you draw most of your info. from? It amazes me that you have had the chance to experiment on such a wide range of products. Or are you working cold from recipes? Who do you go to (book or person) when your unsure of something?

I'm curious because you seem like your doing similar items to my job, but your a few steps ahead of me.

By d. on Tuesday, November 02, 1999 - 04:31 pm: Edit

Yes, W.DeBord, we sort of have similarities in our jobs...baking a little bit of this and a little bit of that, except sometimes I have to do them by the hundreds or thousands. When I'm unsure of certain items, I research recipes in a couple of cookbooks and compare what's similar about them and what's different. I never pick just one recipe(I pick about 3-4), I look at the ratios(for example, which one has more sugar and which one has more choc.)and compare the ingredients. Sometimes I'll even combine 2 recipes from 2 different books. When I have free time I educate myself on knowing more about the roles of specific ingedients and the science behind them. In other words, I read a lot.

By d. on Tuesday, November 02, 1999 - 04:48 pm: Edit

Sometimes when it is slow at work, I have the luxury(sometimes, not always!) of experimenting with upcoming menu items. The reason for such a wide range of products --- being in catering. One day it's Greek pastries and the next could be fine French pastry, sometimes it's cookies and brownies and sometimes it's frozen souffles. I sometimes take recipes from magazines like Bon Appetit and Chocolatier, and I look in Joy of Cooking, Baker's Manual, Pro.Pastry Chef, Pro. Baking,Pie and Pastry Bible, etc. These books have provided me with general guidelines when I'm working out a recipe. Keep baking W., and I'm glad we can help each other out in our baking world -- even if it's thru the internet!

By W.DeBord on Tuesday, November 02, 1999 - 11:33 pm: Edit

I can repeat everything you've said as things I also do.

I have never worked in a kitchen around men where experimenting on recipes happens. If something doesn't work it's kind of made fun of or looked at as a failure. Isn't there an unspoken competition as to who's the best? Kind of like never let them see you sweat?

Sometimes I think the wide selection of items I have to make don't allow me to really know and develop anything completely. It can be a long, long time before I re-make an item. If I didn't make notes due to a lack of time it can be like I've never made that item before.

Your choices of books are interesting. I do use Chocolatier and Pro. Pastry Chef but not your other selections. I've never looked at Pie and Pastry Bible is it by Rose Levy B.? I didn't have any luck with her Cake Bible. I'm rarely happy with the taste of items from the "pro" books. I find this bothers me that everyone else does, it makes me question myself when I talk to other pastry chefs.

By d. on Thursday, November 04, 1999 - 05:38 pm: Edit

W., you are absolutely right about the questionable taste of some recipes in pro. books. I've made many test recipes using only the pro. books and am most of the time unsatisfied with the taste results(eg.the fillings are not sweet enough, the cakes are not chocolaty). I've been lucky most of the time with Chocolatier(and I know some pros will scoff at me for using "housewife" recipes, but they can be excellent recipes!!!) and sometimes Pastry Art and Design(sometimes!). The Cake Bible has helped me immensely, if not for the recipes then for the technical info. I no longer use the creaming method for butter cakes, but have adapted Rose Levy B.'s method. Her Pie and Pastry Bible have some good recipes in them, too.
I make notes on every little recipe that I've done, even the bad ones. I usually break my recipes down into percentages so that I can compare the ratio of ingredients from one similar recipe to another. By the way, I used small Red Delicious apples -- not McIntosh.

By Ramodeo (Ramodeo) on Thursday, November 04, 1999 - 09:51 pm: Edit

d. and you mind if I drop in on your conversation? I'm relatively new to posting on this site, but I've been reading and learning lots for quite a while now. I seem to have a few similarities with both of you and your positions. I also do many different items for banquet and catering in addition to a regular restaurant dessert menu. My favorite thing to do is dessert features for the restaurant, but during busy banquet times I don't have enought time to devote to developing something new.
In regards to recipe sources, I have had very good luck with The Cake Bible, as you said d., for the technical info, and for specialty frostings and fillings. I also love Julia Childs new baking book - the one she did with many different guest chefs. I have not had a bad recipe from it yet, and you get enough information with each recipe to satisfy even a technical-detail-junkie like me! It has become my source for all my basic doughs, and all the recipes scale up just fine. As for periodicals, I like Food Arts, and although they never have enough dessert recipes I get lots of ideas from their seasonal menu articles.
I also have found that many "professional" books don't yield products I am happy with.
I often create a new dessert in my mind by drawing several components from different places, then can't quite remember how I put it together several months later when I want to do it again. Never seems to be enough time to keep proper records!

By Mikeh (Mikeh) on Thursday, November 04, 1999 - 10:32 pm: Edit

I too have noticed that the "professional books" seem to yield a smaller percentage of recipes that I like compared to other books. Any ideas why?

I'm a tech-junkie too. Any other good technical baking books besides The Cake Bible?

Regarding Chocolatier magazine: I love the sound of their recipes, but I've had little success in getting them to work. Especially, the 3-difficulty ones. I suspect it is partly because of a lack of experience on my part, but others are highly suspect. For instance, a few issues back there was a recipe for a chocolate-pine nut tart. I've tried to make the tart shell three times without success -- it's always way to sticky and wet, and never bakes properly; despite my having made normal tart shells and cocoa tart shells several times with great results. I also just made their Black Forest cake from the last issue, and I didn't like the cake layers at all. Very gooey, almost fudgey. This was supposed to be an example from their new Chocolate Passion book, which, me being a chocoholic, I was waiting for, but now I'm not so certain.

The Food Arts magazine sounds interesting. Can you describe it a bit more?

By W.DeBord on Friday, November 05, 1999 - 08:44 am: Edit

AHHH! O.K., please could anyone take a few moments to tell me a few recipes in the cake bible I should try? Or are you saying you ONLY use it as a source for technique? If there are some good recipes I'd like to use them. I'm sure it must be better than my first impressions.

Did you mean you liked Julias' book with master chefs? I loved the master chef series on PBS!!!Very inspiring! I did have problems with her baking book, unforunately.

Chocolatier is not always perfect, but I have had great success with them! I have made alot from them, if I can be of help just ask. It often gives me ideas and twists to items I already make. I will say that their selection featuring the black forest cake was a poor choice to promote their book. Try to get your hands on their earlier issues, their loaded with great recipes.

By W.DeBord on Friday, November 05, 1999 - 08:59 am: Edit

d. where you blow me away is your ability to look at ratios and make decisions from that. I couldn't begin to understand and re-interpet recipes from that angle.

There are times when I find a recipe with a new way(method or ingred.) to make a familar item that makes me think I don't own a clue about baking. I still find it amazing how many ways there are to mix some ingred. together and come up with endless possiblities! The smallest change one way can change your end product on somethings and on others you can be careless and recieve the same great results. How this all works interrelating to each other my little brain can't compute.

By momoreg on Friday, November 05, 1999 - 04:25 pm: Edit

The only recipe I've tried is the pineapple
upside-down cake, and it's FAB!

By d. on Friday, November 05, 1999 - 04:51 pm: Edit

In the Cake Bible, the last chapter is devoted to professionals and she gets into technical detail about the roles of ingredients in baking a cake and compares the ratios of ingredients in a butter cake to those in a genoise or sponge cake. I like her clarity and simplicity, she makes you want to read more. I've used her coffeecakes,brioche and buttercreams. I'm not crazy about some of the sponge/biscuit recipes and the way the cakes look.

By Ramodeo (Ramodeo) on Friday, November 05, 1999 - 08:48 pm: Edit

My guess as to why the pro recipes don't come out well is that maybe they were developed with too much emphasis on efficiency, cost, and/or high volume???

My Cake Bible is at work, I will look up the names of some of my most-used recipes. I know the Neo-classic buttercream and several of it's variations have been very useful to me. Also the stabilized whipped cream recipes have worked well.

Julia's book is called Baking With Julia and is co-authored with Dorrie Greenspan. It is from it's own TV series, which was separate from the Master Chefs series, I think. It is also at work, I'll come back later with recipes that worked.

By Ramodeo (Ramodeo) on Friday, November 05, 1999 - 09:21 pm: Edit

I'm curious as to which recipes you all have had difficulty with in the Cake Bible and Baking with Julia? I'd love to compare notes.

I also find very interesting all the variables in baking, from ingredients to methods, etc. So much more intricate and convoluted than other areas of cooking :) Just when I think I've gotten a problem solved, another variable messes things around and I'm lost again! Some of my co-workers (mostly high volume prep folks) think I am absolutely nuts with my little experiments trying to tweak certain recipes into perfection. Just get it done as quickly as possible is what they're thinking.... and often, they're right!

Oh yeah, I thought of another technical book I refer to often: On Food and Cooking - The Science and Lore of The Kitchen, by Harold McGee. Tons of info; scientific, technical, historical, some useless trivia, but almost always interesting. I always find myself reading more than I need to when I look something up.

By Mikeh (Mikeh) on Friday, November 05, 1999 - 09:49 pm: Edit

I had heard that Shirley Corriher, the author of Cookwise, was going to be writing a Bakewise -- something I would love to get my hands on. But, I haven't seen anything since to back up that rumor.

Cheers, Mike.

By W.DeBord on Saturday, November 06, 1999 - 08:45 am: Edit

In Julias' book I made her Sunny-side-up apricot pastry. Thought her pastry cream stunk and I would have used danish dough instead of puff. The vanilla chiffon roll couldn't compete with a cake mix. I also made her berry galette and the dough didn't hold shape I thought reg. pie crust would have been much better. I stopped there.

Cake bible I made her neo-classical butter cream and my note said: too buttery, handling wasen't great. Made her white choc. cream cheese frosting notes said: too much butter, use xxxsugar instead. Then I made 2 or 3 cakes I think one was a carrot cake and I thought they were all dry and lacking in taste compared to recipes I have. I stopped there and put it on the shelf.

Please don't get me wrong, I would love to hear which recipes were good!! Maybe I didn't give them enough of a try or I choose the wrong recipes to try.

By Ramodeo (Ramodeo) on Saturday, November 06, 1999 - 09:24 pm: Edit

In Baking with Julia, I have not made any of the above mentioned recipes, except possibly the galette. I have a vague recollection of that dough not working well, but I rarely like pie crust type doughs that have dairy (sour cream, yogurt, cream cheese). I do use her flaky pastry, but I increase the ratio of butter to shortening. I use it in my rustic tarts. My other successes have been: Brioche, Danish dough (both very relable and versitile, freeze well) Croissants, Focaccia, Sticky Buns (they worked well and some people loved them, but they were WAY too sweet and rich for my taste, especially in the morning), Scones-I added dried cherries and choc.chips and got huge raves.
In the Pastries section I've had several favorites emerge. The Raspberry-Fig crostada has been about the only way I can get people in this town to order figs for dessert! and its sesame almond dough I have used in several other tarts. The Johnnycake Cobblers came out well. The topping I made with semolina in place or the cornmeal and they sold like hotcakes. The Chocolate Napoleons I made with roasted pears and chocolate-marsala sauce (in place of the ganache) and the waitstaff loved it - therefore it was one of our best sellers. Also the Phyllocine Ice Cream sandwiches were very easy to throw together and had that 'cute' factor that made them marketable.
I have also enjoyed making several of the yeast breads at home: Bagels, Classic French Bread - 4 pages of instruction for a 4 ingredient recipe - now that's my kind of recipe! :)

In the Cake Bible - The white chocolate cream cheese buttercream is one of my favorites! I'm not sure what your ote about the xxxsugar might mean, the recipe doesn't call for any additional sugar??? I use this all the time. I really like the balance of flavors. I use it exclusively with my white choc. coated wedding cakes.You may want to try the Silk Meringue or Mousseline buttercreams in the Cake Bible. They are both light and less buttery than standard buttercream.
When it comes to cakes, I really prefer her buttercakes over her sponge cakes. All Occasion Downy Yellow, White Velvet and Perfect All American chocolate Butter Cakes are all good standards. The only sponge cake I have used recently is the moist chocolate genoise and it's pretty good, but I don't like making lg. batches.
I hope this helps! Let me know how you come out if you try these.

By W.DeBord on Monday, November 08, 1999 - 09:02 am: Edit

Ramodeo Thank-you! I marked both books and will try some of them as soon as I can work them in.

Everytime I get on the internet I get disconnected. It seems explorer isn't happy I use prodigy. Anyway it makes me rewrite most of my postings, I can't even use "save". So I may not rewrite as accurately, due to time limits.

My note on white choc. cream cheese said "Taste is too buttery, tasted better with 1 c. xxxsugar (added). Too much lemon flavor, cut back."

Neo classic, I wrote "too buttery and unstable. I added 2 c. xxxsugar makes it better".

d. I always need more recipes for good coffee cakes. Twice a week I have to serve the same group of people breakfast items. Would you mind sharing which ones you liked from Rose Levy?

By W.DeBord on Monday, November 08, 1999 - 09:07 am: Edit

P.S. How did Ramodeo enter so much info. in the above response? I always get limited to less info. and have to edit/cut add a message and edit/paste. What's the trick?

By Ramodeo (Ramodeo) on Monday, November 08, 1999 - 11:27 am: Edit

W. - I'm afraid I don't know how I got so much info on. I expected to get cut off based on seeing everyone else long posts in two or three parts. I also don't know why some other posts appeared more than once???? Sorry about that!

By d. on Monday, November 08, 1999 - 06:31 pm: Edit

W., I've used her sour cream coffee cake, Grand Marnier cake, brioche and poundcake. You can always fold blueberries, lemon zest or choc. chips into the coffee cake batter to vary items.

By Claudia (Claudia) on Tuesday, November 09, 1999 - 09:00 am: Edit

Hello, I am new here. I use the Cake Bible for my wedding and celebration cakes because the recipes are consistant and clear. Sometimes I substitute whole eggs because it is annoying to have such surplus of egg white all the time. ( I sub 2 whole for 6 egg yolks). The Neo Classic buttercream IS to rich,so I always use the mousseline - get's rid of some of the egg whites. It is lighter and I don't pile it on really thick. I blend it with a homemade berry jam for a filling. I like the two stage method of baking better, anyway.

By W.DeBord on Wednesday, November 10, 1999 - 08:08 am: Edit

I stumbled on to an interesting find last weekend at a flea market. A fellow had a box full of old cookbooks, each priced at $1.00. Some were books published by food companys such as calumet baking powder and fleishmans yeast and so on.

I purchased a few early Pillsbury Bake-off books. He had cookbooks dating from the 1930's to 1960's. It's very interesting looking at these books seeing when and how some items were introduced to American housewifes. All of the sudden foil was invented and they used it on everything. Baking powder was listed in three different measurements in some books. You chose which measurement according to which brand of baking powder you purchased.

There were alot of recipes that I can't wait to try!!!!I don't usually go to those types of events, but now I'm going to seek them out.

By Morgane on Wednesday, November 10, 1999 - 12:26 pm: Edit

Bon Appetit had a issue I think it was in september about all the food related invention of the 20th century. It was fascinating to see how some thing really changed cooking.

You should check the value of some of these books if they are that old there is quite a market for old cookbook and some could be valuable.


By W.DeBord on Thursday, November 11, 1999 - 09:01 am: Edit

I made three recipes from them yesterday. We test tasted them 1-bad to 10-excellent. One cookie got a 8, two cakes both got 10's. This makes my money well spent.

I did purchase that Bon Appetit. I don't know why but these books had more impact on the time line of inventions than the Bon Appetit conveyed to me. The photos, how they wrote recipes and the name brand products they boldly highlight as if quilted foil is the only way to store your cake are so authentic. It's like watching I Love Lucy compared to someone telling you how funny she was.

I did think about their value as I was buying them. I would have paid ALOT more for them. The value I would set on them would be priceless. I'm not about to ever part with them.

By Ramodeo (Ramodeo) on Thursday, November 11, 1999 - 04:39 pm: Edit

Mikeh - finally resonding to your post of Nov.4... I've looked for a web site for Food Arts, but couldn't find one, or any mention of one in the mag. ??? I'm surprised, they are usually right on top of new stuff. As a matter of fact, our fearless leader here is quoted in Novembers issue. Congratulations George!
I find the magazine to be very well done, I read most of the articles every month. Good recipes, lots of up to date info on restaurant openings and closings, chefs, etc.
Their phone # is 212-684-4224. Fax:212-779-3334.

By W.DeBord on Saturday, December 04, 1999 - 11:21 pm: Edit

Mikeh I'm thinking about making Chocolate Passions' black forest cake for my x-mas buffet. Funny but when you mentioned the cake being fudgey that appealed to me. Traditional black forest recipes I've followed were dry and boring.
What did you think of the rest of the recipe components?

By Mikeh (Mikeh) on Sunday, December 05, 1999 - 11:39 pm: Edit

The one time I made it, the cherry buttercream with the creme anglaise base broke. However, I suspect that was more my fault than the recipe's, although it was the first buttercream I've ever had break on me. The buttercream did have good flavor and I suspect it would have had a nice light texture.

I didn't like the fudgey cake, but several of the people I served it to did. Chalk this up to personal preference as I enjoy genoise style layers soaked with a kirsch flavored syrup.

What I liked most about the cake was it's striking presentation. Unfortunately, I can't find a wood-grain tool anywhere. The people in the hardware store look at me like I'm nuts.

Hope this helps.


By judymontreal on Monday, December 06, 1999 - 07:07 pm: Edit

Two recipes from R. Levy's Cake Bible which I use a lot are the Cordon Rose Cheesecake and the Chocolate Truffle Torte. The cheesecake is a nice silky, smooth cake which I have used as is or have changed to suit my needs in flavor. The chocolate torte is also smooth and both are heavenly served with a raspberry coulis.

By W.DeBord on Monday, December 06, 1999 - 09:24 pm: Edit

Thanks Mikeh.
I agree the presentation is why I want to make this cake. This is the first cake where I thought the wood graining looked appropriate and not out of place. So this will be a first for me using that technique. I found the tool at a chain craft store in my area. They also had other combing tools that I have used and like better than the expensive pastry combs.

By philippe on Tuesday, December 07, 1999 - 03:46 pm: Edit


This forum is very good...
I just want to announce that we've created,...
Spam deleted
See u soon !

By Claudia (Claudia) on Tuesday, December 07, 1999 - 07:05 pm: Edit

I use the Chocolate Oblivion Truffle Torte recipe all the time; it is one of my biggest sellers. I also serve it with Raspberry Coulis. I like the Cake Bible a lot; but the Pie and Pastry Bible is over-kill. I am not about to cook the apples first before I put them in my pie - who has the time?

I also collect old cookbooks,which I love both for their historic value, the funny housewifely comments and for the old fashioned recipes. I rarely use them but they are a source of education. My funniest has letters written by the author to her daughter upon her marriage... a kind of "way to a man's heart" thing.

If we are feeding people, we should understand how people eat and have eaten over time. It informs how we cook today.

By PAM on Sunday, December 26, 1999 - 01:10 am: Edit


By judymontreal on Sunday, December 26, 1999 - 07:49 am: Edit

It is nice to have you at this site Pam. Stay with it and you will gain a wealth of information. I have. One little thing though. Would you post in regular sentence case please? The upper case type makes it harder to read your message. Thanks.

By W.DeBord on Sunday, December 26, 1999 - 01:24 pm: Edit

Mikeh I did make the black forest cake for all of my holiday buffet tables. Thanks to you words I knew what to watch out for. Your right, the cherry buttercream has too much liquid. I didn't add the kirsch (my people don't like alot of alchol) and went for more almond extract instead. I don't think you did much wrong when it broke on you. They forwarn you that it will alittle, then come back. Perhaps you gave up on beating too soon or your butter temp. was off. I also played with the rest, but it didn't turn into a hassle because of your forwarning. Thanks.

I have also made the white choc. opera cake. It's white choc. ganache is excellent and so was it's buttercream, but I didn't like the graininess of the cake so sub. your own in.

Well, you would win the fight about the quality of Chocolatiers recipes in Chocolate Passion. I haven't been over joyed so far, it does have some landmines to watch-out for.

Add a Message

This is a private posting area. A valid username and password combination is required to post messages to this discussion.

See Forum in a Frame