Tag Archives: baking

plans.

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the recipe said it was easy

only 4 ingredients

no cooking

only

melting

spreading

drizzling

chilling

but

they did not say

not to wear a white sweater with bell sleeves when melting chocolate

don’t forget that you have to individually unwrap each caramel

while chocolate is still warm and not solidifying

that the peanut butter chips won’t actually drizzle

that the caramel will come out in blobs

that the chocolate on the bottom won’t easily come off of the foil

that the slab will not actually break in the right way

that the 4 ingredients will re-solidify in the disposal

that the whole thing will not resemble the picture

that it will still taste good if people are daring enough to try it

that this will be a one-time recipe for me.

‘just because you make a good plan, doesn’t mean that’s what’s gonna happen.’

-taylor swift

strudel.

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the master-chef sisters of hungarian strudel

“You need an egg, two spoonfuls of lard, and a pinch of salt, followed by flour, a dash of vinegar, and just enough warm water to create a dough with a dumpling-like consistency.” This is part of the traditional Hungarian strudel recipe that Ilona and Erzsébet, elderly sisters and lifelong baking partners, learned from their late mother. In their small village of Tura, an hour outside of Budapest, the sisters regularly bake the delicate pastry for up to 500 people for weddings and community events.

In the short documentary Strudel Sisters, directed by Peter Hegedus and Jaina Kalifa, Ilona and Erzsébet share how a family tradition evolved into a livelihood. Their quirky rapport may as well be part of the recipe—no strudel-making session is complete without bouts of bickering and singing.

“I loved the sisters from the first time I met them,” Kalifa told me, “and I knew straight away that we had to make a film about them. They are really special people with big hearts and a great sense of humor and just have this warm, grandmotherly feel, which instantly resonated with me.”

Authentic strudel-making is a dying art. It requires a certain moxie: the dough must be worked vigorously in order to activate the gluten, after which it acquires a threshold of elasticity, allowing the baker to stretch it until it’s tissue-thin and nearly translucent. Then, the filling—most commonly grated apple, brown sugar, lemon, and cinnamon—is added intermittently between the pastry layers.

While making the film, Kalifa and Hegedus were lucky enough to taste five different types of the sisters’ strudel. “My personal favorite was the cheese strudel,” said Kalifa. “Strudel is part of their DNA. They’ve been making strudel all their lives, and you can tell.”

“first bake the strudel, then sit down and ponder.”

-austrian proverb

credits: emily buder- author, peter hegedus/jaina kalifa – video/photo, the atlantic

About This Series:

A showcase of cinematic short documentary films, curated by The Atlantic.

baked with a dash of whimsy.

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(and I just love anything to do with Bigfoot)

sweet thing.

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Theories abound as to the origins of Russian cake. The popular legend goes that it was created by a New Orleans baker who ran out of ingredients to bake a proper cake for the Russian Grand Duke Alexis when the latter visited New Orleans for Mardi Gras in 1872. But the late food historian Michael Mizell-Nelson put this theory to rest, writing that there was no documentation to confirm this story. Mizell-Nelson offered instead that Russian cake may have been an offshoot of the raspberry trifle, or even the Austrian/German punschtorte. The latter features a “punch” of cake and biscuit scraps mixed with rum, cocoa, and jam that gets sandwiched between layers of sponge cake. Another inspiration for the Louisiana Russian Cake may have been the Charlotte à la Russe, a popular dessert in the 18th and 19th centuries, in which a cake mold was lined with stale bread or cake then filled with cream or trifle and set with a layer of gelatin. 

Today’s Russian cake is rich and moist, and bakers advise moderation in its enjoyment. It is soaked in rum, padded with jam, and covered in a dense layer of icing topped with sprinkles, making for quite the sugar bomb. Sometimes anise extract is used to enhance flavor. While this is decadent, it pales in comparison to some versions: A recipe for a giant Russian cake, found in the archives of The Times-Picayune from the 1980s, and submitted by a reader from Lafayette, called for 15 pounds of cake leftovers and serious carpentry skills. A mold made of a customized bottomless wooden frame that was 14 inches long, 10 inches wide, and seven inches deep would first need to be made. The cake scraps, along with two glassfuls of jelly, four and a half cups of sugar, a bit of rum, and two boxes of white cake mix, yielded a 21-pound Russian cake. Sometimes (only sometimes), there really can be too much of a sweet thing.

“a party without cake is just a meeting.” ~Julia Child

 Happy Mardi Gras!

no point.

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 bakers are complaining that something is amiss with hershey’s kisses.the chocolate candy’s trademark tips have been mysteriously missing from batches around the country. they have taken to social media to complain that the lopped-off tops are ruining the look of their holiday treats. without their points, the chocolate candies are left with flat tops.

the hershey company responded to the disgruntled bakers after hearing of a facebook post by the wedding cookie table community group that detailed the problem. company spokesman jeff beckman says they’re reviewing the issue. beckman says hershey has donated baking items to the group as a thank you for pointing out the issue. the candy company has yet to explain what’s causing the missing tips.

“there’s no point in getting too worried about things,

because life is too short.”

-dolores o’riordan – the cranberries (rip)

credits: ap photo/matt rourke, hershey chocolate company, huffington post