Our Pastry Chefs' Practical Touches

Tip No. 1 (see below), for clean cake cuts.
Tip No. 1 (see below), for clean cake cuts. (Len Spoden (703) 598-7427 - Freelance)
Wednesday, November 1, 2006

1. Wetting a knife with hot water to cut cakes or meringue pies can be messy. Instead, heat the blade of the knife with a blowtorch (or the low flame of a gas stovetop burner) before making each slice, and wipe the blade between cuts. This makes for clean, precise and water-free slices (Huw Griffiths).

2. Use the dull side of a serrated knife to make decorative patterns on frosted cakes; use a blowtorch to remove bubbles from custard bases before baking them (Peter Brett).

3. Use a flat whisk to scrape the sides and hard-to-reach inside perimeters of round saucepans, especially when making caramel sauces (Kate Jansen).

4. To prevent sliding, place polyethylene bar mesh underneath a cutting board , a cake being decorated on a revolving cake stand, or a boxed cake being transported in a car (Ann Amernick).

5. Soften cold butter by placing it between two sheets of plastic wrap and beating with a rolling pin; microwaving often leads to melting rather than softening (Neidra Holmstrom).

6. Use an ice pick or awl to break up chocolate for chopping (Heather Chittum).

7. Bring cold eggs to room temperature for baking use by placing them in a bowl of hot tap water for five minutes. (Zoe Behrens).

Tip No. 8, for no-slip cheesecake baking.
Tip No. 8, for no-slip cheesecake baking.(Len Spoden (703) 598-7427 - For The Washington Post)
8. For water baths used in baking cheesecake and creme brulee , place a dish towel in the bottom of the baking pan before adding the hot water to keep ramekins or springform pans from sliding (Bob Beaudry).

9. To maximize leavening and avoid deflation of angel food cakes , beat the egg whites immediately before adding them to the batter (Valerie Hill).

-- David Hagedorn

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