10 tips for baking like a New Yorker

Yasmin Newman
26 July, 2017

Yasmin Newman provides a 'how to' guide to baking like a New Yorker (and using her sweet new book).

1. IT GOES LIKE THIS. Bake from the recipes, or flip to the end of each chapter for a guide on where to find the best in class. You can also access my interactive map for all the venues listed in these hit lists, plus the extras that didn’t fit here.

2. QUALITY IS KING. Always use the best-quality ingredients you can afford, and local and sustainable where possible. New Yorkers are committed to these ideals, which sets their sweets apart. In general, this means European-style (high-fat – 82%) butter, organic or free-range eggs, unbleached flour, local, organic (not ultra-pasteurised) milk and cream, premium chocolate, seasonal fruit and fresh herbs.

3. COOKING NOTES. Unless otherwise stated:

• Eggs are large (59 g).
• Milk is full-cream.
• Fine salt is an encompassing term for fine-grain salts such as fine sea salt or kosher salt.
• Dark chocolate is 55% or 70% cocoa solids as indicated.
• Vanilla extract is pure.
• Fruit and vegetables are medium-sized.
• Light brown sugar is soft brown sugar.
• Electric mixer is an encompassing term for stand mixers and hand-held electric beaters, used with a whisk, beaters/paddle or dough hook, as indicated. Unless otherwise stated, the mixer is on medium speed.
• Australian 20 ml tablespoon measures are used in the recipes, so cooks with 15ml tablespoons should be generous with their tablespoon measurements.
• Metric cup measurements are used, i.e. 250 ml for 1 cup; in the US a cup is 237 ml, so American cooks should be generous with their cup measurements; in the UK, a cup is 284 ml, so British cooks should be scant with their cup measurements.

4. A SPECIAL NOTE ON CREAM. It’s not always easy to find equivalent creams in different countries, and local labelling can confuse matters further. Here’s a rough guide to Australian creams and UK and US substitutions, which are given in the recipes in brackets respectively (when in doubt, look at the fat content listed): • Pouring cream: a pourable cream with 35% fat. In the UK, substitute whipping cream (35% fat); in the US, heavy cream (38% fat). • Thickened cream: a thick cream with 35% fat plus stabiliser/gelatine, commonly used to make whipped cream. In the UK and US, substitute whipping cream (35% fat). • Double cream: a very thick, scoopable cream with 48% fat, typically used for serving. In the UK, substitute extra-thick double cream (48% fat); in the US, clotted cream (55% fat) if available or whipped cream.

5. SOURCING. Most ingredients are widely available (there’s a recipe note where they’re not) and most components are made from scratch. At a pinch, you can substitute store-bought when indicated, and in some recipes the ready-made stuff just works better than homemade (don’t get too idealistic).

6. VARIABLES. Preparation and bake times vary with local ingredients, humidity, altitude and ovens, so take note of the desired result as much as the indicated times.

7. FOLLOW SERVING SUGGESTIONS TO A TEE. In New York, cookies, doughnuts and pastries are baked throughout the day because even a few minutes out of the oven or overnight in the fridge affects the flavour and finish.

8. WASTE NOT, WANT NOT. If there’s sauce, cream or cake scraps left over, repurpose them in another dish – Christina Tosi’s cake truffles came to life this way – or embrace it as an opportunity to lick the bowl.

9. IF YOU’RE WONDERING, New York’s commercial kitchens often use special equipment and complicated techniques to make desserts just so. These recipes are designed with domestic equipment and the home cook in mind, so they’re simpler but retain most of the finesse.

10. FINALLY. If there was one tip all of Gotham’s sweet artisans would give, it’s to read the recipe from top to tail and prep all your ingredients (mise en place) before beginning. Oh, and bake with love.

This is an edited extract from The Desserts of New York, published by Hardie Grant Books, RRP $39.99.

Got it? Good. Now time to start baking New York-style sweets.

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