Hands on

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How to Grow Your Own Garlic
A friend has a theory that my family is part vampire. We are unnaturally pale and live a very, very long time. I am about to disprove this theory. I don't shrink at the sight of garlic. In fact, I grow it. This is garlic straight from my garden. It's shaggy and covered in dirt. Not at all like the pristine white bulbs you find in the supermarket.  It hasn't been trimmed or cleaned yet. I wanted you to see what it looked like straight from the earth. I started growing garlic a few years ago because the only option at the supermarket was spongy, bitter bulbs from 10,000+ kms away. I haven't looked back. And as with most things, I keep learning as I go.
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My Mother’s Hands | Lemon Curd Recipe
My Mother - TheMessyBaker.com These hands turn 80 this summer. These hands have picked strawberries, made jam, kneaded bread, rolled pastry. They have decorated birthday cakes, anniversary cakes and wedding cakes. They have changed diapers, washed clothes, sewn dresses, mended seams, darned socks, stitched buttons, ironed pleats. They have tied shoelaces, braided hair and wrapped presents. They have stroked sweaty hair from fevered foreheads, wiped away tears, plucked thorns from fingers, applied bandages, massaged aching muscles and held the hands of the dying. Despite arthritis, they carry on.
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Homemade Clotted Cream

Shrove Tuesday doesn't have to include pancakes. Today is really about gorging on rich foods before the 40-day fast of Lent. Pancakes just happen to be cooked in grease, filled with eggs and topped with more decadence.  It's okay to think beyond the griddle. Any...

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How to adjust pan size in baking

What's happening to me? The minute I went to photograph this dessert I thought, "Rats! I should have made the cobbler in a cast iron frying pan. It would have looked so much more rustic." Great. It's not enough that I'm criticized for being a food...

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How to make perfect cake

  If you read my 2012 Culinary Bucket List, you'll see I have a lot of baking to do. In case a from-scratch cake is on your list, I thought I'd start the new year off with some baking tips I learned from Camilla V. Saulsbury,...

How to table chocolate for truffles - The Messy Baker
How to Table Chocolate Ganache for Truffles

Last week I had the pleasure of taking a truffle and bon bon making course in Toronto with Marissa Scibetta at Bonnie Gordon College of Confectionary Arts. For two glorious evenings I was the proverbial kid in the candy shop, weighing, heating, mixing, spooning and...

Decorative chocolate drizzles - The Messy Baker
How to make decorative chocolate drizzle

During the chocolate demonstration, Derrick made this decorative chocolate drizzle for Emily. As in Emily Richards. I'm not jealous. Really. After all, my name's too long. And too hard to spell. So demonstrating chocolate script with "Emily" makes sense. I guess. After Derrick showed off demonstrated, he...

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How to Temper Chocolate in a Microwave & a Give Away
Shocked to learn you can put metal in a microwave to temper chocolate - The Messy Baker   This is me at chocolate class. While Elizabeth Baird looks mildly curious, I look like I'm about to have the "full bore lateral panic" my mother so often threatened. From my expression you'd think the macarons had started to dance about like extras in a scene from Fantasia. Or perhaps Master Chocolatier Derrick Tu Tan Pho was juggling knives blindfolded. But no. He's just showing us how to temper chocolate. This is me reacting as I see Derrick put a metal bowl in the microwave. Ever since my mom bought her first microwave in 1972  "Don't put metal in the microwave!" has been drilled into me. Of course, that hasn't stopped me from starting a small fire with a foil wrapper or showering the interior of the appliance with sparks from a gold-rimmed tea cup. But in all my years of melting butter and reheating cold beverages, I have never once zapped a piece of metal flatware or nuked a shiny silver mixing bowl. And there, in front of  half a dozen seasoned food writers, Derrik, who is also the Technical Consultant & Director of the Barry Callebaut Canada Chocolate Academy, put a big metal bowl of chocolate pistoles in the microwave and hit "Start." As you can see, it took all my self-control not to launch across the table and stop him.
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How to prevent cheesecake cracking

[caption id="attachment_4376" align="alignnone" width="500"] This is what happens when you bake cheesecakes without a hot water bath.[/caption] Growing up, cheesecake was a graham crust pressed into a 9 X 9  pan, slathered in a mixture of cream cheese and Dream Whip, and crowned with a can...

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What to do with leftover pastry dough
  Mini Apple Pie - Using up leftover pastry - The Messy Baker I just can't bear to throw out leftover pastry scraps. As a child, when my mother made pie, she salvaged every shred of dough and produced a treat I found more tantalizing than the star dessert itself -- the Rolly-Polly. She gathered the leftover dough, rolled it into a long strip, slathered butter down the middle, sprinkling it with cinnamon, brown sugar and -- if we were very lucky -- chopped walnuts. She then rolled the pastry strip into a log, bent it into a circle and pinched the ends together, forming an uneven, edible wreath. Inevitably, the over-handled dough cracked, but while it baked, the buttery brown sugar oozed out and caramelized into crunchy burnt nirvana. As soon as it was cool enough to handle, she cut the Rolly-Polly into bite-sized portions, which we gobbled boldly in the face of our fast approaching dinner. Last week, with fresh apples from the market watching my every move, I forewent the Rolly-Polly. But I didn't waste the scrippets of pate sucree cut from the rim of my Pear, Chocolate & Frangipane Pie. I gently patted the dough into a large ramekin. In went half an apple, chopped and tossed in cinnamon and brown sugar. I folded the edges over the top, which didn't quite meet, and baked it along with the pie. Voila! Apple Something. Served with a drizzle of creme fraiche, it was a lovely, unpretentious treat I ate as I cleaned the kitchen. A reward for all my hard work.

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