Saturday, November 7, 2009

Baking with Dorie!

So, as those of you who read this blog — hell, as those of you who have come within hearing range of me in the last month — know, I was signed up to take a master class with Dorie Greenspan at Dalton. This was pretty much the most exciting thing to happen to me, ever. Dorie is the hero of the Baking Sisters! She even has her own tag on our blog!

The inimitable Dorie Greenspan, as photographed by a highly imitable photographer (me, not that you would really want to imitate my carefully studied "blurry" technique)

In the newly renovated Dalton cafeteria, I was paired with a lovely woman named Linda, who is incidentally a Brown alum. I think that I was the more experienced baker, which made me relieved — I had thought that everyone was going to be an expert! But we made a good team.

We baked the French Yogurt Cake from page 224 of Baking from My Home to Yours. We were quite spoiled; the ingredients were all measured out for us, and the lemons were all pre-zested. Actually, to be honest, zesting is one of my favorite things to do, but luckily I was not deprived of my ABSOLUTE FAVORITE step — namely, rubbing the zest and sugar! According to Linda, who studied science, we were "infusing" the sugar with the citrus' oils. Hmmm, I will take it from her.

The cake was simple but yum. When I went home, I made a regular lemon pound cake glaze for it (just lemon juice and confectioner's sugar), even though she suggests a marmalade glaze. We didn't have an marmalade, but I thought it tasted good anyway. I prefer a prominent lemon flavor, and I think the glaze added to it. The cake seems very versatile; you could have it for breakfast, brunch, dessert, whatever, you can top it with all sorts of glazes, you can serve it with fruit. It's a good recipe to have around.

Our cakes before they went into the oven

My cake after it came out of the oven

Dorie also made Tarte Noir. There was neither time nor equipment for the whole class to make it, but that's okay with me since I've made it about a million times. Everyone seemed really impressed that making something so elegant-looking and delicious could be so easy.

I learned a lot of things at the class. Here are some of them:

1) All this time, I had been folding incorrectly. I always thought folding just meant gently scooping the batter up with a spatula and then sort of dragging it through. Turns out you are supposed to turn the bowl a quarter of the way each time, and scrape the batter from the sides.

2) If you are making pie dough in a mixer (as opposed to a food processor), you should add the ingredients in opposite order. This is especially useful advice for me, since I currently don't have a food processor in my possession at school, though I'll probably get one for next year.

Dorie telling us about a chef who makes cookies with one hand literally behind his back. She used this anecdote as an illustration of the importance of adding ingredients in the right order. Also, to demonstrate the inferiority of American butter. Long story.

3) To make pie dough come together, blend it with the heel of your hand. This is some technique that has a French name, but don't ask me what it is because I wasn't taking notes.

4) To make dull ganache shiny again, use a hairdryer! Dorie had made miniature tarte noirs (tartes noir?) for the whole class, and they were DELICIOUS, but when they came out of the fridge the ganache was dull. So...

And voila! Shiny and ready for whipped cream!

This was such a wonderful experience for me. I wish that Rebecca could have been there to share it with me, but I know she was there in spirit! Dorie Greenspan is such a warm, friendly and genuine person. She didn't even seem put off by all my geeky fan-girling, and patiently signed my cookbook as well as labels for Rebecca and my friend Allison to paste into their copies. Plus, best of all, she has been to this blog! So, Dorie, if you are reading this now, it was wonderful to meet you! Thank you for many delicious memories!

Me with Dorie- eyes open

Me with Dorie- eyes closed

French Yogurt Cake Recipe

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup ground almonds (or, if you'd prefer, omit the almonds and use another 1/2 cup all-purpose flour)
2 teaspoons baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 cup sugar
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1/2 cup plain yogurt
3 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup flavorless oil, such canola or safflower

For the Glaze:
1/2 cup lemon marmalade, strained
1 teaspoon water

Getting Ready:
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Generously butter an 8 1/2-x-4 1/2-inch loaf pan and place the pan on a baking sheet.

Whisk together the flour, ground almonds, if you're using them, baking powder and salt.

Put the sugar and zest in a medium bowl and, with your fingertips, rub the zest into the sugar until the sugar is moist and aromatic. Add the yogurt, eggs and vanilla and whisking vigorously until the mixture is very well blended. Still whisking, add the dry ingredients, then switch to a large rubber spatula and fold in the oil. You'll have a thick, smooth batter with a slight sheen. Scrape the batter into the pan and smooth the top.

Bake for 50 to 55 minutes, or until the cake begins to come away from the sides of the pan; it should be golden brown and a thin knife inserted into the center will come out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool for 5 minutes, then run a blunt knife between the cake and the sides of the pan. Unmold, and cool to room temperature right side up on the rack.

To Make the Glaze:
Put the marmalade in a small saucepan or in a microwave-safe bowl, stir in the teaspoon of the water and heat until the jelly is hot and liquefied. Using a pastry brush, gently brush the cake with the glaze.


  1. Hi Sarah! It was such fun to meet you yesterday, especially since I'd visited your blog before. I'm sorry that Rebecca couldn't be with us, but maybe next time ...

  2. Dorie -- It sounds great. I'm sorry I missed it. Any chance you are coming to El Paso any time soon?


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