Almond Paste Recipe

almond-paste-recipe

Yay! Finally I got the Almond Paste Recipe done!

I really should have done this one sooner since for the past month I have been sharing tons of recipes that all call for ALMOND PASTE!

I learned pretty quickly that not all of you can get it as easily as the rest of us, or the price tag can be a real turn off.

Believe me this ingredient is not cheap! Especially when you are getting into recipes that need 1 and 2lbs of it!

So now, thanks to Chef Tom (a fellow Gretchenator who passed this recipe along to me) we can all get to making the Italian Rainbow Cookies, Italian Bakery Style Butter Spritz Cookies, Apple Raspberry Frangipane Tart and why not make Petit Fours the Classic way with real deal Frangipane Cake!

In the video I show you how to blanch the almonds first, but if you want to save on time you can by them already blanched (this step took me about a half an hour to skin 1 lb!)

You do need a food processor to pull this off though, since it is important to get the almonds to a paste and the only way I can see that happening is with a food processor.

And unless you have a VitaMix , I can’t see a regular blender doing this trick.

Note that although this recipe is interchangeable in recipes that call for almond paste, this homemade version is going to look much different.

This recipe will resemble mashed potatoes more than it will resemble a store-bought almond paste.

Not to mention since we do not have the heavy duty rollers that crush and grind the almonds to a paste as in the factory style manufacturing process, ours will be a bit grainy as well.

This is why I suggest in the video to puree the paste in smaller batches to get it as smooth as possible without burning out your motor!

Often times in recipes that call for almond paste, the author will suggest to soften the store bought almond paste with a bit of egg white.  This is not necessary here since our homemade version is going to be super soft already.

Ok let’s get going with this recipe so you can start making tons of other treats!

Oh yeah and PS- The main difference between Marzipan and Almond Paste is the ratio of almond meal to sugar. Marzipan has a higher ratio of sugar and it has other ingredients as well.

It also depends on the country – in the U.S. they are different but in places like the UK, they are pretty much the same.

almond-paste-recipe

Almond Paste Recipe
 
Prep time
Total time
 
*You can use almond meal/flour interchangeably with the blanched almonds here
Author:
Serves: 2lbs
Ingredients
  • *Blanched Almonds 1lb (454g)
  • Confectioner's Sugar 1lb (454g)
  • Pasteurized Egg Whites 3 (90g)
  • Almond Extract 2 teaspoons (10ml)
Instructions
  1. Place the blanched almonds into the food processor and grind to medium meal
  2. Add half of the confectioners sugar and grind some more (I only did it in halves so that I wouldn't stress my machine)
  3. Add the rest of the confectioners sugar and you will soon have a very fine meal
  4. Add the egg whites and the almond extract and continue to process until you have a paste.
Notes
Store almond paste in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.
 

 

 

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How to Bake The Perfect Pie

how-to-bake-the-perfect-pie

With Thanksgiving in sight, I want to give you some tips on how to bake the perfect pie.

I remember one of my Chef instructors at the Culinary Institute of America once said: “No matter what you do, even if it is a boring old apple pie, be sure to do it the best you can do.”

This always stuck with me, but I want to elaborate on that “boring old apple pie” since to me, it’s not so boring.

I mean pie in general though.

Have you heard the term “easy as pie”?

Well, pie may not be so easy after all~ at least not until we can master some of their finicky behaviors; and depending on what type of pie you are making those behaviors can change like the wind!

There are 2 kinds of pies, 1 that we call “cold preparation” and one that we call “baked preparation”

I’m sure some of you can name dozens of them off the top of your head that fall into either category but for those who may not be familiar with what I mean by “cold prep” it is basically a pie that is not going to be baked.

For example: Chocolate Cream, Banana Cream, Coconut Cream, Lemon Meringue, or Key Lime Pie just to name a few.

This type of pie is where you are basically just pouring in an already cooked (or not cooked, in the case of the chocolate mousse pie) filling into a prebaked pie shell.

Now we are opening up a can of worms here, because now you have more choices for the actual pie shell!

Typically in cold prep pies I like to make cookie crusts rather than pie dough crusts but I have done them both ways of course.

To me there is nothing better than a crunchy Oreo cookie crust in a silky chocolate mousse pie!

It is really your preference though.

If you decide to go the traditional route and make a pie dough pie shell, you will have to pre-bake it first. Also known as Blind Baking the pie shell

Since you surely will not be baking a pie filled with Chocolate or Nutella Mousse, you definitely have to bake that pie shell first!

I use dried beans as my pie weights and a piece of parchment paper to make sure my dough doesn’t go flopping!

If you click the link above for Blind Baking a Pie Shell you can read more about that whole process.

Now onto perfecting the “baked pie” method.

We are talking the Coconut Custard, Pumpkin, Peach, Pecan and Apple Pie types.

These are your what’s known as the “easy as pie” varieties……or are they??

Here is the trouble with a pie like that.

Pouring filling into a raw pie shell and baking it altogether will often times leave you with a soggy bottom crust because all that heavy filling (and in the case of pumpkin pie or a coconut custard- the filling is LIQUID!) making it almost impossible to ever bake properly.

Now here’s the interesting thing about this.

When I owned my bakery many moons ago, I had what is called a “deck oven” more commonly referred to as a pizza oven.

You know, the kind the guys at the pizzeria use everyday and bake your pizza directly on the”deck” giving your pizza a nice browned crispy crust on the bottom.

Well, that kind of oven is superior for not just Pizza Pies, but bakery pies too!

Now of course we don’t have deck ovens in our homes, so I recently came up with an idea to simulate the professional bakery oven and that is: baking your pie on a pizza stone.

Get your oven preheated to whatever the recipe calls for WITH THE STONE IN THE OVEN to get it nice and hot!

Then bake your pie directly on the stone and you will have a nicely browned NON-soggy crust for all your pies!

Alternatively, for those who do not have a pizza stone, you can go the method of blind baking the crust first, but not all the way- just until it is starting to turn pale not even golden, then add the filling, top with your other pie crust (yes it stays in place even after that slight baking – watch my Peach Pie Video and I do exactly that!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Basketweave Cake for Beginners

How to make a basketweave cake for beginners

basketweave-cake

I like to think that I am the beginners teacher.

My expertise comes mainly in the form of creating really great recipes, so decorating is not my strong point in comparison to the unbelievable art work cakes I see being made everyday!

But this basketweave cake is a good starting place for those who are just starting out in the cake decorating world.

I always say: “You can’t build a house on a shaky foundation” so once you have mastered the very basics of cake building; from crumb coating to piping borders and making buttercream flowers.

You can then move on to the techniques like like basketweave and then combine all of those skills into one really beautiful cake like this one!

First you will have to get all of your base recipes prepared ahead of time and the choice is yours for whatever cake recipe you like and the same will go for the filling.

The icing I used here was my award winning Swiss Buttercream and I divided it to make some Strawberry Buttercream for the filling and the rest was for the icing to make the basketweave.

Now of course you will have to master the technique of Buttercream Rose making, and that will definitely take some practice, but I have a pretty in-depth video tutorial for helping you along!

The really great thing about the building on recipes theory is that you can prepare all of your recipes ahead of time (unless of course it is a whipped cream perishable filling) but for the most part you can get all of this stuff ready early in the week for a weekend event (yes the freezer is my best friend) and as you see in the video below you can build this basketweave cake for beginners in less than 15 minutes!

 

 

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How to Make Buttercream Roses

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“Hey those don’t look like roses!”

Go on, get it out of your system!

I know my buttercream roses don’t look like the traditional “Bakery Rose”

7.27-Avenue-4 I guess it all comes down to preference and just like in nature, no two people make the same rose!

I always liked to combine all the different styles that each pastry chef would bring to the rose making table, and create a big beautiful bouquet of assorted flowers on each specialty cake!

I always use my Swiss Buttercream recipe for rose making and have never had a problem.

But many folks have had some trouble with getting their buttercream really stable and pipe-able.

Be sure to read the entire blog post for the Swiss buttercream recipe, but also feel free to use the Wilton Decorators Icing in place of mine.

Once you get really good you can graduate to the Swiss Buttercream or my new American Buttercream recipe!

OR for those just wanting to get some practice, use straight up shortening!

You can use  it over and again and get as much practice as you need, no waste!

However whenever I needed to make a large quantity of roses I would make the batch of buttercream specifically with all shortening for more stability and it is more affordable too!

As I explain in the video I freeze them on sheet pans and pop them onto cakes at the point of decorating them!

They will thaw out in minutes so no worry about frozen roses on your cakes!

I always found it to be more efficient and so much faster to spend a slow Tuesday afternoon making buttercream roses and freezing them for the weekend cake orders, rather than add another couple hours onto that already too long Saturday or Sunday!

Follow along in the video tutorial and I bet that your roses will come out even better than mine!

So please forgive my inferior looking roses!

It is quite difficult  (I have learned) to make roses slowly!

Have fun with it! Don’t get too frustrated! Practice makes perfect!

For those interested in the highest quality pastry bags and the tools I used, you will find everything in the Gretchen’s Bakery Essentials Cake Decorating Kit

Be sure to check out my latest creation using all of these techniques to make a Basketweave Cake with a Bouquet of Flowers for BEGINNERS!

basketweave-cake    basketweave-cake CLICK HERE

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How to Make Assorted Colored Buttercream Roses

Buttercream roses

Ok let’s get it over with now, “Those don’t look like roses!”

Well maybe so, but they are MY roses! So there!

I call them WILD roses! they are WILD like me! LOL

Like each persons signature and handwriting is different, so are their piped flowers.

That was one of the things I liked when I owned my bakery; that each cake was decorated with an assortment of different style flowers and roses because of all the different people that had a hand in making them.

You see, on our slower days of the week, we would set off to make sheet pan after sheet pan of assorted colored flowers and roses and then stored them in the freezer.

I had an entire freezer dedicated to frozen buttercream flowers! I called it “mi jardín congelado” (frozen garden)

This way when the weekend came and it was time to decorate hundreds of cakes on order, the flowers were already formed and ready to go.

Just pop them onto the cakes and they thaw out in just minutes!

Check out the full tutorial for How to Make Buttercream Roses below and then I have another video showing you how to make over 7 different colors of flowers with just 1 bowl and 1 pastry bag!

Talk about efficient!??

So whether you like my roses or you just came here to hate on them, one thing is for certain you won’t lose with the new American Buttercream Recipe I use!

Swiss Buttercream is equally great for forming flowers!

Oh yeah- and here I am using all the tools in the Gretchen’s Bakery Essentials Cake Decorating Kit

 

For the following video I made assorted colors using just 1 bowl and 1 pastry bag.

for the Red Based colors as shown in the video you will start with white buttercream and then go to yellow, then orange, then pink, the red.

Mixing the next color with the remaining color in the bowl and do not clean your bowl or pastry bag in between colors.

The mixing of those colors IN THAT ORDER will give you some really pretty tones and shades of colors.

I got about 7 colors just from those 4 I started with, but I could have gotten way more if I kept adding darker and darker shades.

For the blue based shades I start with white, then a dab of sky blue, then royal blue, then violet to make periwinkle and then gradually it gets darker to a deep purple.

Check out this color chart courtesy of thedecoratedcookie.com

I also use Gel Paste Colors for all of my buttercream applications and Americolor is a really great brand

colorchart

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How to Blind Bake a Pie Shell

Blind Bake Pie Shell

Before we get into How to Blind Bake a Pie Shell, we should first discuss WHY we would ever blind bake a pie shell.

The first reason would be if you were making a cold preparation pie, like a banana cream pie, lemon meringue or a chocolate cream pie where you are not baking the filling inside the shell.

So naturally you must bake the pie shell all by itself and this is called Blind Baking.

Then second reason and I often do this, is when I am actually baking the filling inside the pie shell like a traditional Apple Pie or a Peach Pie for example, but I am not a big fan of soggy bottomed crusts.

By Blind Baking the pie shell for just about 15 minutes (not all the way like we do with cold preparation pies) but just enough to get a head start before the filling goes in (as shown in my Peach Pie Video Here – skip to 4:35 in the video to get right to it!) you can avoid a totally soggy crust that just seems to never bake once the filling goes in!

It is completely optional to do a blind bake for a fruit pie, so if you feel you have never had this trouble with your specific recipe before, well then if it ain’t broke- don’t fix it!

Sometimes it depends on your oven too, if you have a very hot -bottomed oven then you may not ever need to blind bake.

But for making a cold preparation pies as I mentioned above, well it’s essential!

Ok – so HOW do we DO IT?

Well first you need a Pie Shell!  Check out this tutorial for How to Make a Pie Shell and then you will need some pie weights.

As you can see in the picture above, I use the Ol’ Cheap-O brand called GOYA dried beans LOL

They are cheap, re-useable and did I mention cheap?

You will line your pie shell with parchment paper cut to the size of the inside of the pie, then pour the beans (or weights for you proper folks, tsk tsk….) all the way to the top edge.

This prevents the pie dough sides from slipping down during baking and keeps everything nicely in place.

Bake in a preheated 350°F oven for, well…….as long as it takes to get it to your desired done-ness depending on the application you are requiring.

For my peach pie, I mentioned I only wanted to jump start the process, not get it golden browned so I only blind baked it for about 15 minutes.

A golden browned fully baked blind bake is for a cold prep pie where you must get the entire shell baked all the way through before filling it with custard, mousse or whipped cream or whatever your wild imagination comes up with!

Let the pie shell cool before dumping out the beans or weights, remove the parchment and proceed as the recipe states for filling that pie shell!

Well,  I hope I answered your questions as to whether to blind bake or not to blind bake! THAT IS THE QUESTION!

Over and out, Ill catch you on the flip side!

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