I may have the most fun job on the planet! I’m a food explorer. I have an office just down the hall from the test kitchen. I don’t do all of the baking but I know what’s going on. I get to explore new foods and methods and recipes. I get to share what I like the most. These are some of the things I like most.
1. Pie Shields. I never bake a pie without a pie shield. Remember when we used to fold tin foil around the edges of pumpkin pies? No more. It helps with fruit pies too. Fruit pies tend to have soggy bottoms. Mostly that’s from an under baked crust at the bottom of the pies. If you protect the edges from over-baking, then you can bake the rest of the crust until it’s crispy. You’ll need a dark pie pan that will absorb heat too.
2. Flavored Whipped Cream. We almost never make vanilla whipped cream. Make caramel whipped cream, strawberry cheesecake whipped cream, chocolate whipped cream, peanut butter whipped cream, and more. We’ve learned to make chocolate whipped cream both with cocoa and melted chocolate. Chocolate and cream cheese makes a great whipped cream. Peanut butter whipped cream is one of my favorites. Beat in chunky peanut butter and chopped salted peanuts. Try it on top of a hot fudge sundae.
3. Meringue Powder. We use both meringue powder and cream cheese to stabilize both whipping cream and frosting—meringue powder more often than cream cheese. (If you use cream cheese, beat the sugar into the cream cheese first.) No more melting frosting and droopy whipping cream.
4. Baking Bread on the Grill. It’s fun and you don’t have to come indoors or turn on the oven. You can even improvise and do it out camping. Besides, your in-laws will think you’re a genius.
5. Stuffed French Toast. And this is how you impress your in-laws when they come to stay. Make a sandwich with pastry fillings or maybe cream cheese and jam or even peanut butter and jam, dip it in the egg wash and put it on the grill. My favorite is Pecan Crusted Cherry French Toast or maybe bananas and Bavarian cream.
6. Pastry Fillings in a Pouch. Speaking of pastry fillings, we sell a ton in the store. We suspect that most of them go into cupcakes but also French toast, between cake layers, crepes, and desserts. (See how to fill cupcakes.) They’re just too darn handy to ever make fillings from scratch.
7. Just-add-water pie crust mix. I make lots of pies. For years, I made the crusts from scratch with a recipe I had long ago memorized. I don’t anymore. I can’t make them any better than this mix and this is just add water and hit it for a minute with the paddle attachment in the mixer.
Bonus Breakthrough: Ice Cream Cupcakes. I love ice cream sandwiches so it’s easy to fall in love with ice cream cupcakes. It’s similar but it’s cake with an ice cream center instead of cookies and ice cream. It takes a little tool to core the cupcakes and put in plug of ice cream but it’s easy.
There you have it. I hope you find these helpful.