What are you baking? Sept 2023

What’s in your oven?

Should I post a day early or wait 8 h?

I didn’t beat the eggs or cream the butter, or follow the instructions to a tee, but the same ingredients went into the cake. I chose cinnamon over cardamom. Nectarines and blue plums.


I think you made the right call :wink:


Baked in my kettle grill since I was using it for something else and I like to make the most of my charcoal.
Decided to try out a recipe from Jesse Szewczyk’s Cookies and picked this caramelized pineapple skillet cookie. It contains white chocolate and macadamias, which I replaced with cashews.

Unfortunately I under-baked it. I was worried I had over-baked it because I checked the temp and it was around 190, and previously I’ve shot for 185 with skillet cookies. I think because I was doing this on the grill on indirect heat maybe the pan didn’t have as much heat as in an oven, so there wasn’t enough carryover cooking. Skillet cookies can go hard and dry very easily, so I was really trying to make sure I didn’t over-bake.

Having said that, the outer edges which were perfect were delicious, and even the too gooey center was very good, too. My concern with this book is that a lot of the recipes have high sugar amounts, but this one seemed reasonable in that it was equal parts to the flour, which is typical for soft and chewy cookies. And even though it has white chocolate, it’s not a very large amount, and the pineapple is nice and tart so it provides balance along with the salty cashews. It’s sweet, but not overly so for this type of cookie.


“Too sweet” is a frequent complaint. I wonder if (a) you think that’s sort of endemic to the American palate…? and, if so, (b) are there authors or books you feel are more in line with those who prefer less sweet things?

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I don’t think so at all regarding the American part, and I am often amused by how many people claim “European” desserts are less sweet when there are certain French desserts/baked goods I dislike because they’re too sweet for me, not to mention plenty of lauded patisseries putting out goods that I found unpalatable; and some of the sweetest desserts and recipes come from British (and related, Australian) sources. I can say the same for plenty of Italian sweets, too.

Even Asian desserts which are often lauded for being more restrained with sugar it can depend, as western-style desserts do tend to be not as sweet, but I’ve found a lot of their own desserts to be rather sweet, as in some cases they’re more textural than flavorful, so the only thing you taste is sweetness. And that’s East Asian, as south and southeast Asian tend to be very sweet for me.

Things like soft and chewy cookies are by design on the higher end of the sweetness spectrum and it’s part of why I gravitate more towards cookies like shortbread, but I do enjoy them knowing that they’re going to be fairly sweet.

Part of why I find it silly when Americans are constantly accused of liking things too sweet is that there are plenty of American authors I think are great with the sweetness levels and because I was working in fine dining where American chefs were always striving to make very balanced desserts that didn’t hit you over the head with sweetness. So a lot depends on what people are exposed to as there is so much variance. But in the end I don’t think American sweets are any worse than many other places— some things are too sweet and plenty of others are not.

Alice Medrich for the most part is really good. I think RLB at least when it comes to cake also doesn’t leave me needing to modify the sugar most of the time.
Even Stella Parks’ recipes are split. She’s one of the few recipe developers who seems to understand that muffins and scones aren’t dessert, for example, and I mostly think her layer cakes are really good (carrot being the insanely sweet exception).

Claudia Fleming, Nancy Silverton, Deborah Madison, Kim Boyce, and so many other chefs tend to have very balanced desserts. Meanwhile I follow channels like Cupcake Jemma (British) and her cakes are always so high in sugar to me that there are very few where I wouldn’t modify. But most YouTube channels I follow are people who don’t make very sugary things, and yes many are East Asian or Eastern European, but a lot of that is just because I happen to like the particular type of desserts they make.

Just yesterday Sugarologie put out another video on a cake frosting that isn’t too sweet and also not as rich as a buttercream and I’d love to try it sometime when the weather allows it. The techniques she’s coming up with for developing frostings are really interesting.


that was really interesting! i might have to try it.

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It never occurred to me to want a pineapple cookie, but now I really want this one.


I’ve made it per the recipe, except with an increase in cardamom (Greenspan only calls for a smidge). It’s a very good cake!

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I think it’s mostly a fashion/fad/social-media-driven trend to label desserts as “too sweet”, and so has become routine for less-experienced bakers to reflexively (before baking a recipe as-written) reduce the sugar. Then comment that the results were not as-tasty / as-soft / as-moist. I view most such comments as a (failed) attempt at food-snobbery or striving to demonstrate “sophistication”.

However, when it comes specifically to stir-ins of white chocolate chips, based on experience, I tend to be on the reduce-the-amount band-wagon. :grinning:


I have no particular attachment to the torte, but I did chuckle when I saw this in my feed and of course I know that “popular plum cake” can only refer to one recipe :joy:

Interesting though that she converted the recipe to grams and in doing so has that cup of flour called for as 150 g, and the sugar amount she went with 150 g as well. They’re very logical conversions since equal parts flour and sugar are such a typical starting point for so many cakes.


Sunshine had a “chocolate emergency” this afternoon, so I tried a new recipe – Chocolate Cobbler. This is a “Catherine’s Plates” (youtube) recipe, but it needs some tweaking. I’ll cut the boiling water in half, next time I make it. It was a good first attempt and Sunshine was content.


I know a lot of experienced European bakers who reduce the sugar when baking American or Canadian recipes.

It isn’t always due to inexperience!

I don’t bake that often, but I compare a lot of recipes before I do!

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My grandmother made a soft, cakey pineapple cookie I thought was fantastic. But she and I were the only ones that really loved it. Everyone was always looking for chocolate chip.


The mention of boiling water made me suspect, and a look at the recipe confirmed, that this is the classic chocolate pudding cake that creates its own sauce in the pan from the topping constituents, although the verse my mother made had a non-chocolate cake part flavored with cinnamon and vanilla, and a cocoa/brown sugar/ boiling water topping. Warm, you have a saucy chocolate component, and after storing in the fridge, it’s like pudding.


Thank you… I just put the leftovers in the fridge. I know Sunshine will want another piece before bed, so the sauce should be a bit thicker.

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The British and Irish often call that type of cake self-saucing pudding.


Old baker here. I have found that most NA baking is sweeter than compared to European and much of the time the sugar has to be reduced to balance the flavour. I’m also aware of what sugar does to tenderize, caramelize and add moisture to finished baked products, so will adjust accordingly. Some recipes I use have cut the amount of sugar in half, with results that bring the flavour of ingredients forward (especially fruit) instead of masking them with sweetness.


I tried two more cookies from the book today, going over to my neighbors’ house to use their oven.
One was triple citrus poppy seed cookies. He says to use a 40 scoop but I think that’s wrong, as I ended up with with far more than the 12 cookies I should have had for a half recipe. I increased the salt so it was closer to 2%.
These were fine, but perhaps because they were smaller I couldn’t get them to look like Jesse’s. I also really wanted the cookies to actually have a little tang to them along with all the zest. Perhaps some cream of tartar or citric acid would be a good addition. The cookies were a bit sweet for me as is.

And I tried the black and white tahini cookies. I LOVE the tahini cookie on its own, but with icing I wasn’t as into it. I’ve never liked black and white cookies, but I thought these sounded good because of the tahini and the cookie itself really is delicious. It’s very moist (it’s an cakey sour cream-based cookie) and the bit of optional lemon zest is great with the tahini. I actually think something like a lemon icing might go really well with it.
I doubled the salt here because the dough tasted under-salted and that was definitely the right call.

I was in the midst of helping out with what I’ll call a certain 23-lb pork shoulder emergency while trying to bake these and had to run around between three houses, so I really couldn’t focus on these as much as I would have liked. I’ll probably try baking them again at some point as they’re both definitely worth another look.