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Lauren Weisenthal

Lauren Weisenthal

Columnist

Professional pastry chef, wine geek, and recreational writer.

Lauren Weisenthal has logged many hours working in restaurant kitchens and bakeries of Brooklyn and Manhattan. She is a graduate of the Artisan Bread Baking and Pastry Arts programs at the French Culinary Institute and holds a CS Certification from the Court of Master Sommeliers.

Columns

  • Website
  • Location: East Village, NYC
  • Favorite foods: Thai food, artichokes, Neapolitan pizza, pickles, cold-brewed coffee, local tomatoes, pie (all kinds).
  • Last bite on earth: A perfect baguette, still warm, with butter and sea salt.

Pie 101: The Deal With "Washing" the Crust

You've made your perfect flaky pie dough, let it rest, rolled it out, and created the beautiful, crimped crust of your dreams. Your unbaked pie is sitting in the fridge, resting and waiting for the oven to preheat. You've come so far in pursuit of a delicious and beautiful pie, don't forget the most critical aesthetic step in the pie process: applying a fine coat of egg wash or cream to the top before you pop the pie into the oven. More

Pie 101: Edge Crimping

Of all the elements that are involved with making pies, it's the outer ring of crust that causes the most angst for bakers. As the saying goes, people eat with their eyes first, and many of us feel pressured to make crusts that look every bit as well-crafted as the delicious filling inside. When it comes to crust, practice will definitely help, but there are also some small steps to keep in mind for best results: More

Pie of the Week: Pumpkin Chocolate Swirl Pie

I know that you're probably thinking that chocolate and pumpkin together doesn't seem like a very plausible combo, and before I tried this recipe I was right there with you. Now, I'm a convert. Not only do chocolate and pumpkin present the opportunity for a perfect fall color palate, but the flavors, all earthy and mellow and sweet, play off each other in a perfectly subtle and harmonious way. This is a mocha pumpkin latte, in pie form. More

Pie 101: Blind Baking

If you like to bake pies and tarts, sooner or later you're bound to encounter a recipe that instructs you to blind bake the crust prior to adding your filling. The term "blind baking" simply means baking the crust sans filling, and the method itself can feel a little strange and counter-intuitive to the uninitiated baker. Here are some tips to help you through the process. More

Pie of the Week: Extra Smooth Pumpkin Pie

When you're on a mission to improve something that's already pretty great, small modifications can make a big difference. In this case, I set out to tweak a recipe for pumpkin pie to make a filling that's creamier in texture, slightly more complex in flavor, and less "weepy" in general (since I'm not a fan of soggy bottom crust). It took me three tries to get it just right, but for you, it will only take one. More

Snapshots from Bordeaux's Right Bank: Saint-Emilion, Pomerol, and Fronsac

In Pomerol, Fronsac, Saint-Emilion, the wines are almost exclusively merlot-based blends, which grow well in the clay soil that dominates the region. Plateaus of limestone and patches of sand scattered throughout the vineyards allow for modest growth of other grapes which lend structure and personality to the merlot with which they are blended. Unlike Left Bank wines, which are dominated by tannic cabernet sauvignon that's built to age and meant to sit for years in a cellar, these merlot-based wines are lower in tannins and acid, which gives them incredible versatility. More

Coconut Macaroons (made with moist, sweetened coconut)

@carlin1951 you keep saying you used milk in this recipe. Did you use whole milk? Or sweetened condensed?

Boozy Caramel Bonbons

@fizzgig this recipe is written to purposely yield a very runny caramel, so much so that liquid caramel pours out of the bonbon when it is cracked. If this was not clear from the photos and the description, I apologize.

Pie of the Week: Coriander Key Lime Meringue Pie

@desert dryad Actually, this was done with a torch and my torch is defective, hence the charring. Broiler works great as long as you are watchful. Also, more people have broilers in their homes.

Peaches n' Cream Mousse Pie

@andysophiemom I am so, so sorry, there was a typo in the recipe - it's 1 1/2 teaspoons, not ounces. The recipe has been amended and I am mortified.

Chocolate Oatmeal Pie

@pnwexpat I wish I was more familiar with blackstrap molasses! I'm not 100% certain, but it seems very reasonable that you could thin out the blackstrap with an invert sugar like Lyle's or corn syrup.

Chocolate Oatmeal Pie

@absc17 this is a delicious pie, but please know that I wrote the recipe without sampling the real deal. 4and20's is more gooey and tastes more strongly of molasses.

Chocolate Cream Pie

@twolefthands In this case, the tempering process is key to preventing the eggs from cooking into solid lumps. For successful tempering, be sure to whisk the eggs with the sugar and starch mixture for the full amount of time, they should be a very pale yellow. Then, when adding the hot milk mixture, whisk continuously and add the hot liquid slowly. This is the key to preventing the yolks from cooking into hard lumps.

Chocolate Cream Pie

In this case, the tempering is key to preventing the eggs from cooking into solid lumps. For a successful tempering experience, be sure to whisk the eggs with the sugar and starch mixture for the full amount of time, they should be a very pale yellow. Then, when adding the hot milk mixture, whisk continuously and add the hot liquid slowly. This is the key to preventing the yolks from cooking into hard lumps.

Sunny Meyer Lemon Tart

@spicierthebetter @sablehart I am so sorry to hear that you experienced problems with the recipe. The problem may have something to do with stove power, and the size and material of the bowl used as a double-broiler. I've increased the cooking time based on your feedback.

If you would please, tell me a little more about the consistency before you chilled the tart. I'm guessing that it was too loose going into the fridge. Any feedback can help me restructure the recipe for others.

Double-Crusted Buttermilk Pie

@jedd63 all measurements are in weight.

Eggnog Cream Pie

@reedmangler I'm so sorry to hear that this recipe is giving you trouble! I'd like to try and troubleshoot, to ensure that it works better for others. Did you whisk and cook the pudding for the full two minutes after it started to sputter and bubble? That is an important step to get the right consistency. Also, did you the whip the cream to medium peaks before folding it into the pudding?

Eggnog Cream Pie

@Historical Art Fox Yes, you can, with the exception of the cream on top, which I you should whip and pipe right before serving. Expect the texture of the filling to be slightly heavier as the cream folded into the pudding will have deflated slightly.

Pie of the Week: Eggnog Cream Pie

@Historical Art Fox Yes, you can, with the exception of the cream on top, which I you should whip and pipe right before serving. Expect the texture of the filling to be slightly heavier as the cream folded into the pudding will have deflated slightly.

Gift Guide: For Cookie Monsters

How have I never seen that folding cooling rack anywhere before? They should come standard in NYC apartments!

Sweet Technique: How To Make Caramel

@runsarahrunnj One suggestion comes to mind - consider grinding or pounding the hard caramel into powder and incorporating the powder into a chocolate chip cookie dough. I'm wondering why you might have had an issue the second time around. Did you use a thermometer?

Pie 101: The Deal With "Washing" the Crust

@bill woods You can definitely use milk or half and half, I've only used butter for washing biscuits (which produces browning, but also a very matte finish). Generally, the less water in your wash, the better for the texture (hence, cream has less and is better than the alternatives). Water activates gluten in the flour which toughens the surface (this is why they blast artisan breads with water - to develop a crust).

Sweet Technique: How To Shape Pie Crust

@caroliiine For cutouts on pumpkin pie, it's best to blind bake it with the cutouts, because you'll have difficulty adhering a cutout to a baked shell, even using egg wash. Because cutout crusts stand up higher in the oven and are often thinner than a regular crust, be careful to watch for burning. If the crust gets too dark, place patches of foil over the dark areas to protect the crust from the heat. Also, for cutout crusts, consider incorporating some fat in addition to butter (shortening, lard, suet) which will help your design hold its shape.

Sweet Technique: How To Shape Pie Crust

@franko the scalloped edges, and other more subtle designs will work best if you've got some shortening/lard/suet in your crust.

Sweet Technique: How To Shape Pie Crust

@chuckswagon great suggestion. There are so many options, I should probably follow up this slideshow with a second installment!

Cranberry Walnut Pie

@buckaroo if it has not set, increase cooking time, until the filling puffs slightly. Ovens are not all created equal, and it's important to watch for doneness, in addition to following directions to the letter.

Pie 101: Blind Baking

Everyone, if you're considering using coins as weights, be very careful. The coins will be extremely hot and they are also very heavy (relative to beans). You risk burning yourself when you remove the weights and liner before the last phase of baking. This is why beans are often favored for commercial baking.

Salted Chocolate Pecan Pie

@The Petite Gourmet that is confusing, my apologies! For the blind baking portion, bake on the lower middle, where you were instructed to adjust the rack. Bake the filled pie on the lowest rack.

Classic Pecan Pie

@gmm80 Yes, but watch the pie closely - it will take longer to bake and the longer that it's in there, the more you risk burning the nuts on top.

Peanut Butter Cup Pie

@ohyourcook Your enthusiasm is commendable, but I promise you - even a tiny sliver packs a big punch!

Pie of the Week: Cranberry Apple Slab Pie

@Maggie Hoffman Fruit? Check! Oatmeal? Check! Sugar... what sugar?

Sweet Technique: Cream Biscuits

Cobbler is the perfect summer alternative to pie. The dough, unlike pie crust, requires no cut butter, no chilling, no chanting incantations at the door of the oven. It takes just minutes to put together, the dough can made and chilled in advance, and it's ready to eat right out of the oven. In fact, that's the best way to eat it. They're amazing atop a juicy cobbler, or hot out of the oven with a schmeer of salted butter and preserves. Once you're familiar with the technique, check out my grandmother's (Maine approved) blueberry cobbler recipe. More

Sweet Technique: How to Make Pâte à Choux

Pâte à choux (pronounced pat-ah-choo) is the paste-like dough used for making the crispy shells of cream puffs, éclairs, gougères, and profiteroles. Choux relies solely upon steam trapped inside the dough to make it rise, creating large, cavernous pockets for delicious fillings. Since steam is the critical element, the technique used for making pâte à choux is designed to develop elasticity in the dough (to expand and create pockets) while maximizing moisture (to generate steam when baking). Come learn how to make them! More