Not My Waterloo

85C73474-EA5B-44BD-83C5-6C3FA75720CFNeapolitans, not Napoleons, one-bite Blueberry Pie and Caramel Sauce while sporting a new Ugandan Youth Center produced apron Neil picked up for me on his trip to Africa last month, made for a good week in the bakery (not to mention the sandwich and NY rye breads… which I did just mention, didn’t I? Sorry ’bout that.)

9E3D9EB7-31C6-4056-A2E2-EB98E5A96B0BThe Neapolitans are chocolate cookie based with a white cheesecake center and raspberry buttercream frosting, cut into 1” squares. Next time, I need to keep any skin from forming on the cheesecake. It kept the frosting from adhering properly.

F226223A-A147-4E15-B8F6-5E3FBAA9DA1AThe Blueberry Bites should be dusted with some coarse sugar after being egg washed to add some sweetness and shine.  The caramelized sugar should add both. I may add a little lemon zest for a little tang.

084CBE55-B2CD-4C2E-9F93-326140831A39The Caramel Sauce will be used later for a Peanut Butter/Caramel/Salted Chocolate petit four, but I had the time and it will keep in the fridge for a longtime so why not? The rest of the dessert will come later this week.




  • 1 cup butter, softened (1/2)
  • 2 cups white sugar (1)
  • 2 eggs (1)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (1)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (1)
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (6 Tbl)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda (1/2)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (1/4)


  • 16 oz Cream Cheese
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1/2 cup Sugar


  • 1/2 cup softened Butter
  • 6 cups Powdered Sugar
  • 1/2 cup Strawberry Preserves (optional)
  • 4-5 drops Red Food Coloring



  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Line a 13×15” pan and set aside. Be sure the paper extends over the sides of the pan.
  3. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth.
  4. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla.
  5. Combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt; stir into the creamed mixture.
  6. Bake for 12 to 16 minutes in the preheated oven, until top of cookies are completely set.
  7. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 30 minutes.


  1. Cream together cream cheese, sugar and eggs until well blended.
  2. Spread cream cheese mixture evenly over brownie layer.
  3. Bake for 25 – 30 minutes or until cheesecake layer is set. 1st try took 25 min
  4. Remove from oven and allow to cool at least 30 minutes until top is no longer warm to the touch.


  1. Beat butter (and strawberry preserves if using) while slowly add in powdered sugar.
  2. Add in food coloring to achieve pink color, then whip to get uniform color.
  3. Frost cheesecake layer by spreading frosting with a spatula to completely cover.
  4. Refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving.



  • 1 refrigerated pie crust
  • about 45 blueberries
  • 2 Tbl raw or turbinado sugar
  • 1 egg + 1 teaspoon water (egg wash)
  • Special Equipment Required:
  • 1½” biscuit cutter
  • pastry brush


  1. Preheat the oven to 450. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Use a pan with an edge so the pie bites don’t roll away when you place them in the oven.
  2. Lightly flour a clean work surface and unroll the refrigerated pie crust.
  3. Use a 1½” biscuit cutter to cut all your little pie bite circles out of the refrigerated pie crust.
  4. Place 1 blueberry in the center of each circle. Sprinkle each one with a little sugar (you probably won’t use all the sugar).
  5. Fold up two sides of one of the circles like a taco. The grab the adjacent sides and pinch the corners. This makes a little pocket for the blueberries. You can dip your fingers in egg wash to pinch the corners if you can’t get them to stick.
  6. Brush each bite with the egg wash. Place each bite on the prepared baking sheet.
  7. Sprinkle with a little more sugar and bake for about 10 minutes.


16 Servings, Prep Time: 10 Minutes, Cook Time: 15 Minutes



  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 pinch salt


  1. Bring the water, sugar, and butter to a simmer in a saucepan over medium heat. Do not stir the mixture until the sugar has completely dissolved in the water. Cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the caramel has turned golden brown, 5 to 10 minutes.
  2. Carefully pour in a slow, steady stream of cream into the caramel while stirring constantly. The hot caramel will boil vigorously when the cream is added and solidify in areas. Add the vanilla extract and salt. Continue stirring over low heat until the caramel is smooth and creamy, 5 to 10 minutes more. Allow to cool for at least half an hour before using.


He Said With a Rye Smile

When I retired, I realized I needed a new hobby, beyond brewing beer, (I have a batch of English Bitter about to be bottled) so I decided to start baking seriously, expanding my skills and experimenting with new recipes and techniques.  Now,  having nearly mastered the concept of retirement, I bake a lot of bread. I also bake a lot of pastries, cakes, cookies, biscuits, crackers, pizza, bagels and pretzels. (I’ve gotta get another hobby!)Hubble Deep Field Image

One of the holy grails of baking is to produce a good New York Jewish Rye Bread. This bread has a tangy rye flavor, chewy crumb and glazed, blistered crust. There are as many recipes and techniques to make this bread as there are galaxies in Hubble’s Deep Field image.

The recipe/method I chose was from Chef John V., A Good Cooking Recipe! This is not the easiest recipe, nor does it use the most common ingredients, however, his historical introduction rang with an authenticity that hooked me. His grandfather owned a dairy farm, as did mine. He was from Hudson NY, whereas mine was from Salisbury Vermont. He sold the farm and became a baker, whereas mine was a farmer to the end of his life. His other grandfather would work at the bakery whenever they needed help, whereas mine, did not. I didn’t say we had parallel experience, just that his sounded authentic.

Chef John V. uses some unusual, or at least uncommon (to me) ingredients that I found intriguing. Potato water: I have recipes that use small amounts of potato flour, but never potato “water”. First Clear Flour: milled from spring wheat and has a very high gluten and protein content which gives this rye its chewiness. White Rye Flour: milled from whole rye berries after the bran and germ are removed. I made the potato water and purchased the unusual flours from King Arthur (another Vermont connection.) He also uses a sour starter which requires 3 days of room temperature fermentation. When ready, the starter has a very yeasty, sour aroma – delicious.

The result of this first try was three small loaves of flavorful, aromatic, chewy crust and crumb rye bread, well worth the effort and will certainly be repeated. It might be fun to try an “easy” rye bread recipe to contrast the effort/reward of the two techniques. I think two medium sized loaves (think bigger sandwiches) would be appropropriate for this recipe.

New York Style Jewish Rye

Recipe by: Chef John V., A Good Cooking Recipe!

This recipe is as close to the original as can be. The only difference is they baked it in ovens that could inject steam during the first 10 minutes, which gave the crust its blistered look and chewy texture.

Note: This is a must have proper ingredient recipe! You can’t substitute medium rye flour without a change in texture. Light Rye or White Rye flour is a must is as 1st Clear Flour. Also note that flour has a different moisture content during the winter as in the summer, so in the winter you may need to add a bit more water and in the summer a little less. No more than a few tablespoons should do—this is a stiff dough! For your success please remember to measure exactly as baking is a science.

Serving size: 3 – 1½ pound oblong rye loaves (Note: next time 2 medium sized loaves)

Preparation time: Start to finish is 3 days including a sour starter


  • Sour Starter—
    • 1 cup warm potato water*
    • 1 cup light rye flour—see footnote
    • 1 Tbsp. yeast, dry active or 1 fresh yeast cake
    • Stir to blend well, then cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 3 days at room temperature 65-70o F

* Potato water—Peel and quarter 2 pounds of regular potatoes, cover with water and season with salt. Cook like you would for boiled or mashed potatoes, drain—saving the water the potatoes were cooked in. This is potato water, it gives bread a moist and compact texture. Save or eat the potatoes as you like.

  • Dough for the bread—
    • 2 cups warm water, about 120o
    • 1 Tbsp. sugar
    • 1 Tbsp. yeast
    • Add—starter from above
    • 2 cups light rye flour
    • 2 Tbsp. kosher salt
    • 2 Tbsp. caraway seeds
    • 4 ¾ cups first clear flour—see footnote
  • Glaze—1 cup water
    • 3 Tbsp. cornstarch mixed with ¼ cup cold water—no lumps


  1. In a mixer or by hand combine 2 cups warm water with sugar and yeast, mix and let sit for 10 minutes.
  2. Add the sour starter and the remaining ingredients. Mix on low speed for 2-3 minutes with a dough hook, then increase to medium speed and mix 6 minutes longer, be sure all the flour is absorbed into the dough by raising and lowering the bowl from time to time.
  3. Remove from the machine and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise 2 hours @ 70o or until doubled in size.
  4. Portion into 3 – 1½ pound pieces of dough and shape into oblong loaves, place on baking pans that have been sprinkled with semolina flour or fine cornmeal. Cover with a damp but not wet cloth and let rise for 40 minutes at @ 75-80o (on top of the stove is fine).
  5. Carefully remove the damp cloth, then slash the dough 3 times across the top with a very sharp knife or razor blade about ¾ of an inch deep. Immediately place in a pre-heated 375o oven, and place a pan of boiling water on the oven’s bottom. Remove the pan after 10 minutes, this will create steam and help with crust development. Continue to bake for 30 minutes or until center is 180 degrees F.
  6. For the glaze: boil 1 cup of water, mix the cornstarch with ¼ cup cold water, then combine with boiled water and stir continually until thickened. Cover with plastic wrap.
  7. Remove the bread and with a pastry brush, brush with the cooked cornstarch. A small amount of this glaze is enough, it’s used to create a shiny surface. Cool the bread on wire racks for at least 1 hour before slicing.


White Rye Flour is milled from whole rye berries which has the bran and germ removed and is unbleached. Medium rye is the next grade with is darker in color and if it were to be used in this bread it would make a darker loaf but not as dark as pumpernickel.

First Clear Flour is milled from spring wheat and has a very high gluten and protein content which gives this rye its chewiness.