Nick Malgieri Mon, 13 Apr 2015 12:39:53 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Shrinkage Mon, 13 Apr 2015 12:22:09 +0000 A reader has asked: How do I keep my pie and tart shells from shrinking so much? They don’t have any sides after they are baked.
A: First of all, you need to understand that the shrinkage comes from too much gluten development during mixing and rolling. Gluten forms in dough when the proteins in the flour encounter liquid and are mixed. The more you mix, the stronger the gluten. The stronger the gluten, the more your dough will shrink while baking. Here are a few hints: Mix liquid into your pastry dough with a fork, just tossing it together. Press the dough together and let it rest 1 hour in the refrigerator before rolling. When you do roll the dough, press and pound it gently with the rolling pin, then roll only to 1/8 inch thick—that’s not paper thin. Form your pie or tart shell and let it rest, covered with plastic wrap, in the refrigerator, for half a day or overnight before baking. I guarantee you better results!

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Angel Food Collapse Mon, 06 Apr 2015 23:26:50 +0000 A reader has asked: I recently had a miserable failure with angel food cake. Before I could turn the pan upside down for the cake to cool, it collapsed into a pancake. Any idea what I did wrong?

A: Your cake may have been under baked, in which case it would collapse fairly quickly after coming out of the oven. Or, you might have left it standing too long before inverting it, which could also cause it to fall.

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Italian Easter Pie Mon, 30 Mar 2015 17:48:40 +0000 A reader has asked: My aunt used to make a great Italian Easter pie with all sorts of meats and cheeses in it. It was baked in a 9 x 13 x 2-inch pan, and all the ingredients were diced and mixed with ricotta and eggs. I know how to make the dough, but I’m stumped by the filling.
A: For the size pan you mentioned you’ll need 2 pounds of ricotta, 6 eggs, 1/2 pound each diced prosciutto and soppressata or another dried sausage, and a pound of diced mozzarella. Add 1/2 cup each of chopped parsley and grated pecorino Romano cheese. A pinch of salt and a few generous grindings of pepper and you have your filling.

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Crumbly Biscotti Mon, 23 Mar 2015 21:15:06 +0000 A reader has asked: My biscotti crumble terribly when I cut them. What am I doing wrong?


A: Overbaking the logs of dough during the first baking can make the slices crumble as you are cutting them. Also, even if the logs of dough are perfectly baked, they will crumble if they are sliced while still warm, so be patient. The logs crumble when you use a dull knife, too.

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Best Bananas Tue, 17 Mar 2015 01:45:23 +0000 A reader has asked: I recently made a banana cake and it was tasteless. Do you think the bananas I used weren’t flavorful enough?
A: To impart a good flavor to a cake batter, bananas must be very ripe—somewhat soft with the skin evenly dotted with small black spots. Also, I’ve found that it’s better to mash the bananas than puree them. The slight chunkiness of the mashed bananas is more flavorful.

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Dried Apricot Pie Sat, 14 Mar 2015 18:54:38 +0000 dried apricot pie

This pie is directly modeled on old-fashioned recipes for Pennsylvania Dutch raisin pie. To my taste, dried apricots are so much more appealing than raisins for an entire pie filling—their flavor has a welcome touch of tartness that raisins lack.

Makes one 9-inch pie, about 8 servings


One 9-inch pie pan lined with Sweet Pastry Dough (see below), plus dough for a lattice top


1 pound/3 cups dried apricots, cut into 1/2-inch dice (see Note)

3 cups water

3/4 cup sugar

3 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/4 teaspoon almond extract


Milk for brushing

1 to 2 teaspoons sugar


  1. Combine the apricots and water in a nonreactive saucepan and bring the mixture to a full boil. Remove the pan from the heat and let the apricots stand until cooled, about 2 hours.
  2. Transfer the apricots and liquid to a bowl. Set a strainer over the saucepan in which the apricots soaked and drain the apricots well, letting the liquid fall back into the pan. Return the apricots to the bowl.
  3. Combine the sugar and flour and whisk the mixture into the apricot liquid. Place the pan on low heat and, stirring constantly, bring the juices to a full boil; decrease heat and let simmer for 2 minutes, stirring often. Stir in the lemon zest , butter, and almond extract. Pour the juices over the plumped apricots in the bowl and let cool.
  4. When you’re ready to assemble and bake the pie, set a rack at the lowest level in the oven and preheat to 375°F.
  5. Roll half the dough on a floured surface and line a 9-inch pie pan; trim the edge of the dough even with the rim of the pan.
  6. Pour the filling into the piecrust and roll the remaining dough to a 9-inch square and cut it into 1/2-inch strips.       Arrange a lattice top on the filling, severing the ends of the strips at the rim of the pan. Brush the lattice with milk and sprinkle it with sugar.
  7. Place the pie in the oven and immediately decrease the temperature to 350°F. Bake until the crust is baked through and the filling is actively simmering, about 45 minutes.
  8. Cool the pie on a rack and serve it slightly warm or at room temperature.


NOTE: For ease in cutting the apricots, snip them with lightly oiled scissors or use an oiled knife.



Substitute a combination of equal amounts dried plums (prunes) and apricots in the filling above. Or if you’re a real raisin lover, try a combination of dark and golden raisins instead of the apricots. Omit the almond extract and substitute 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract.




This is the same recipe as my sweet dough from BAKE! and several other books. It’s a recipe I’ve been using successfully for over thirty years and have taught to thousands of people. I thought of doing something different just for the sake of having something new but then decided that the ease of preparation and handling, plus the tender quality of this dough after baking, can’t be improved upon. Below are the food processor instructions, and after the recipe, you’ll find instructions for working by hand and for using a stand mixer.

Makes enough for 2 single-crusted pies or tarts or 1 double-crusted pie


2 cups/270 grams unbleached all-purpose flour (spoon into dry-measure cup and level)

1/3 cup/65 grams sugar

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

8 tablespoons/1 stick/112 grams unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 12 pieces

2 large eggs


  1. Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in the bowl of a food processor; pulse several times at 1-second intervals to mix.
  2. Add the butter cubes and pulse again until the butter is finely mixed throughout the dry ingredients and no visible pieces of butter remain.
  3. Use a fork to beat the eggs enough to break them up, and add them to the bowl. Pulse again until the dough almost forms a ball; avoid pulsing too much or the dough might become too soft.
  4. Invert the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and gently knead it together 3 or 4 times to make it smooth.
  5. Divide the dough into 2 pieces, form them into disks, and wrap each one in plastic. Chill the dough for a couple of hours before rolling.


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Mace by Any Other Name Tue, 10 Mar 2015 02:22:41 +0000 A reader has asked: I’m trying to make an old Spanish recipe, but one of the ingredients has me stumped. It translates literally as “flower of nutmeg.” Any idea what this might be?
A: I can only guess that it must be mace, the lacy outer covering of the nutmeg, removed and sold separately in both whole and ground forms.

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Blanched Almonds Tue, 03 Mar 2015 00:31:50 +0000 A reader has asked: What are blanched almonds? Are they different from regular almonds?
A: Blanched almonds have had their brown skins removed. If you need blanched almonds and only have brown ones—called “natural” or “unblanched” almonds—you can blanch them yourself. Just put the almonds in a pan and cover them with water. Bring the water to a boil, then drain the almonds. Rub them in a towel and go over them one by one to remove the skin, which should slip right off. Dry out the almonds on a jelly roll pan in a 300˚F oven for about 10 minutes, then let them cool before proceeding with the recipe.

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Artichauts a la Barigoule/Provencal Artichoke Hearts Fri, 27 Feb 2015 17:01:55 +0000 Artichauts a la Barigoule

Artichauts a la Barigoule

I grew up on artichokes and once I left the nest I was always eager to learn more ways of cooking and enjoying them.  I first tasted this version of braised and marinated artichoke hearts in the early 70s when I worked for several summer seasons in Monte Carlo.  I always make them as soon as I can find some baby artichokes which I did the other day at the great vegetable store in the Chelsea Market.  I only bought a couple of pounds, so I made roughly half the version in the recipe below.

3/4 cup olive oil

1 large white onion, peeled, root left intact, and quartered

4 large cloves garlic, halved

4 to 5 pounds medium baby artichokes



3 ribs celery

1 carrot

1/2 small bunch thyme

2 sprigs winter savory or basil

12 sprigs parsley

3 bay leaves


1 tablespoon fleur de sel

1 cup dry white wine

4 cups water

Start oil, onion and garlic over very low heat while paring artichokes. Add bouquet after about 10 minutes.


Pare artichokes: Cut off stem end. Cut 2/3 leaves away.


Peel away outer leaves and leaves on stem.


Halve and remove choke w/ melon ball scoop.


Add pared artichokes to pan and stir. Add salt, wine, water.

Bring to a boil, lower heat, cover and cook about 1 hour, or until artichokes are tender.


Remove bouquet and cool to room temperature in covered pan.Chill if not serving the same day.

Serve at room temperature: Drain, dress w/ a little fresh oil and chopped parsley (and basil if available).

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Overly Dense Pound Cake Tue, 24 Feb 2015 00:28:22 +0000 A reader has asked: I often make the same pound cake recipe, but this time the resulting cake was heavy and much more dense than usual. I beat the butter until it was soft—should I have done something else?
A: I’ve found that starting with very soft butter and beating the butter and sugar for a long time make a light pound cake. If you have forgotten to take the butter out to soften, try softening it in 5-second increments in the microwave —just be sure that the butter doesn’t melt.

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