5 Reasons You Absolutely Need a Bench Scraper in Your Kitchen

Your bench scraper has news for you: You’re not using it enough. A bench scraper is one of those inexpensive kitchen essentials that lasts a lifetime and has a million uses, but is somehow one of the most underrated tools. I keep mine wedged between a …

Your bench scraper has news for you: You're not using it enough. A bench scraper is one of those inexpensive kitchen essentials that lasts a lifetime and has a million uses, but is somehow one of the most underrated tools. I keep mine wedged between a plastic drawer divider tray and the side of the drawer, so it's easy to grab.  

Whether you have one that's hiding in a drawer somewhere, or you've yet to figure out how versatile the tool is, you might want to catch up on all the reasons why a bench scraper is so handy.

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The Best Pan Liners for Every Kind of Cookie

Some cookie recipes call for pans to be lined with parchment paper; others want silicone baking mats. Some say to grease the cookie sheet, or grease and flour the baking pans. I sometimes call for lining pans with foil! What’s the (dare I say, cookie) …

Some cookie recipes call for pans to be lined with parchment paper; others want silicone baking mats. Some say to grease the cookie sheet, or grease and flour the baking pans. I sometimes call for lining pans with foil! What’s the (dare I say, cookie) scoop on all of this? What is the best way to line baking sheets for chocolate chip cookies, French macarons, and other baked goods?

If convenience were my sole criterion, I’d say that in general, silicone mats and parchment liners are easier and less messy than greasing or greasing and flouring. (I detest that kind of mess!) Liners allow you to slide the cookies off the pan and onto a rack, should you want quicker cooling, or if you need to reuse the sheet pans again in a hurry. In other words, lining a pan with parchment mostly eliminates the need for greasing with butter and flour and the need to transfer hot cookies individually from a pan to a cooling rack while they are still hot from the oven. I’ve done this far too many times only to watch the fragile warm cookie start to crack like an ancient relic. But which liner is best and when might you skip the liner altogether? Here’s how I break down the choices.

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How to Use One Cake Pan For Any Baking Recipe

Award-winning cookbook author Alice Medrich is here to help you bake smarter, not harder, with game-changing recipes and aha-moment techniques. Today, we’re breaking down a question we’ve asked ourselves, oh, a million times: How do we adapt cake pan s…

Award-winning cookbook author Alice Medrich is here to help you bake smarter, not harder, with game-changing recipes and aha-moment techniques. Today, we're breaking down a question we've asked ourselves, oh, a million times: How do we adapt cake pan sizes in baking recipes? (Say, something calls for a 8x8-inch, but you only have an 9x9.) Alice will show you with just a little math. 

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How to Light a Christmas Pudding on Fire (Because Why Not?)

To an American palate, Christmas pudding may taste like a yummy, gooey, extra-rich fruitcake (in a good way) that’s slathered with hard sauce (which ensures that you will like it even if you don’t care for fruitcake) and eaten with a spoon.
This is on…

To an American palate, Christmas pudding may taste like a yummy, gooey, extra-rich fruitcake (in a good way) that's slathered with hard sauce (which ensures that you will like it even if you don’t care for fruitcake) and eaten with a spoon.

This is one family’s version of a traditional English Christmas pudding, famously carried to the table in flames with a sprig of holly on top. It's studded with dried fruit—three kinds of raisins, plus prunes—along with chopped fresh apples and almonds, bread crumbs, grated suet (raw beef fat), stout, and brandy. A little flour and a couple of eggs hold it all together.

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How—and Why—to Use Buckwheat Flour in More of Your Baking

Did you grow up eating buckwheat pancakes and loving (or hating) kasha? Maybe you’ve tasted buckwheat crepes in Brittany, slurped soba noodles in Japanese restaurants, or have a passing acquaintance with blinis and caviar? If so, you might think that y…

Did you grow up eating buckwheat pancakes and loving (or hating) kasha? Maybe you’ve tasted buckwheat crepes in Brittany, slurped soba noodles in Japanese restaurants, or have a passing acquaintance with blinis and caviar? If so, you might think that you know buckwheat.

Its name notwithstanding, the buckwheat plant is a pseudo-cereal—neither grass nor grain—and has nothing to do with wheat. Gluten- and grain-free, organic buckwheat flour has more protein, dietary fiber, and B vitamins than an equal weight of oat or whole wheat flour, and is an excellent source of potassium and essential amino acids. If you are an avid omnivore (like me) such details are incidental; you’ll fall in love with buckwheat for its robust, earthy, grassy, slightly bitter (in a good way), hoppy flavors, which also has hints of rose. I also just love how the flour looks—it’s a slate-y lavender brown, flecked with darker bits of hull.

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The Best Pumpkin Pie Doesn’t Need a Crust

Every week, baking expert Alice Medrich is going rogue on Food52—with shortcuts, hacks, and game-changing recipes.
Today: Enjoy a slice of pumpkin pie, minus the crust—because the filling’s the best part, right?! Read More >>

Every week, baking expert Alice Medrich is going rogue on Food52—with shortcuts, hacks, and game-changing recipes.

Today: Enjoy a slice of pumpkin pie, minus the crust—because the filling's the best part, right?!

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Have We Been Making Poached Eggs All Wrong?

I’ve been poaching eggs at least once, if not four or five times, a week for decades. That’s how I know there’s way too much overthinking, and just plain silly thinking, around poaching eggs. They are the easiest (and best) eggs you can make!
An old b…

I’ve been poaching eggs at least once, if not four or five times, a week for decades. That’s how I know there’s way too much overthinking, and just plain silly thinking, around poaching eggs. They are the easiest (and best) eggs you can make!

An old boyfriend taught me how to make poached eggs. Rather, I watched him do it. He’d crack and ease the eggs one by one into a shallow pan of simmering water, place the lid on the pan, turn off the heat, push toast in the toaster, and go shave. He’d stroll back into the kitchen clean-shaven, retrieve the toast, and plop the eggs on top. Nothing to it—and a nice memory.

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27 Fig Recipes Because They’re *Finally* in Season

This is probably a good time to mention that the best fresh figs are not usually the perfect, good-looking firm ones. Oh no! You want ’em soft, squishy, even oozing a bit of syrupy juice. Some of the best are the ones that have started to wrinkle a bit…

This is probably a good time to mention that the best fresh figs are not usually the perfect, good-looking firm ones. Oh no! You want 'em soft, squishy, even oozing a bit of syrupy juice. Some of the best are the ones that have started to wrinkle a bit after sitting for a couple of days on your counter. If you are someone who just "doesn’t get" what the fuss about figs is all about, you haven’t tasted a good and properly ripe fig.

Photo by James Ransom

Figs can go sweet or savory. They love honey, or caramel, or cinnamon and sugar. They appreciate a little salt and/or pepper, and positively shine in the company of cultured dairy like sour cream, crème fraîche, yogurt, labneh, or quark—and all kinds of soft fresh or hard aged cheeses. They are crazy good with savory meats like prosciutto or bacon, so go ahead and stuff a sandwich or garnish a pizza. They also play nice with dark chocolate, and they’re nuts about nuts. And when it comes to cooking, figs are brilliant at the extremes: cooked either hot and fast—just to caramelize their cut sides—or long enough to stew in their own juices.

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How to Make Better Powdered Sugar Frosting & Icing

Baking expert Alice Medrich is the person to ask about everything from skipping sugar in lemon curd to saving over-whipped cream. This time, she’s sharing her best tips on powdered sugar frosting and icing, so your cakes and cookies can look and feel t…

Baking expert Alice Medrich is the person to ask about everything from skipping sugar in lemon curd to saving over-whipped cream. This time, she's sharing her best tips on powdered sugar frosting and icing, so your cakes and cookies can look and feel their very best.  

If you're going to decorate a cake or cookie, odds are powdered sugar will come in handy. This ingredient can be the start of a thick, fluffy frosting to build layer cakes, or a thin, pourable icing to drizzle over Bundts or decorate holiday cookies. Combine fat (either butter or shortening), a splash of milk or cream, and vanilla extract (if what you want is vanilla flavor), and you have the makings of perfect buttercream frosting. There are, as always, variations. Cream cheese frosting follows the same formula but calls for (surprise!) cream cheese, which makes the frosting even fluffier and gives it its signature tang and super white color. Today, we're going to cover both icing and frosting recipes made with powdered sugar. But first things first: 

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