DETROIT -- Planning on doing some holiday baking? Don't overthink the recipe and do what you can ahead of time.
That was the resounding message delivered Nov. 18 at the third annual Whisked: A Holiday Baking Event presented by the Detroit Free Press and the Metro Detroit Chevy Dealers.
The sold-out event drew a crowd of more than 120 to the Great Lakes Culinary Center in Southfield for light appetizers and baking tips from several metro Detroit baking experts. Samples of the treats prepared during cooking demonstrations were also offered.
Sandi Fox, executive pastry chef and bakery manager at Holiday Market in Royal Oak, kicked off the afternoon by showing guests how to make their own marshmallows.
April Anderson of Good Cakes and Bakes in Detroit whipped up Baked Eggnog French Toast (see recipe), which is perfect for a brunch or holiday breakfast. From gluten-free Ethel's Baking Co, owner Jill Bommarito talked about how she created pumpkin bar scones (see recipe). Manal Hussein of For the Love of Sugar in Brush Park, wowed the crowd with tips on making French macaroons.
Here are a few tips the bakers shared:
Cold eggs separate better than room-temperature eggs, but egg whites whip better at room temperature. Set egg whites aside after separating to bring to room temperature.
Always crack eggs on the counter, not on the side of the bowl. This helps prevent pieces of eggshell from getting into the bowl and causing contamination.
Invest in a candy thermometer, especially for melted sugar.
Don't skimp on good vanilla extract. It's pricey, but worth it.
For marshmallows, spray the sheet pan with cooking spray and dust with confectioners' sugar to prevent marshmallows from sticking.
BAKED EGGNOG FRENCH TOAST
Serves: 12 / Prep time: 15 minutes / Total time: 1 hour (plus several hours for the bread to soak)
1 loaf French bread or challah
6 large eggs
2 1/2 cups eggnog
3/4 cups granulated sugar
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cold butter, cut into pieces
Maple syrup-for serving, optional
Spray a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with cooking spray. Tear bread into chunks or cut into cubes and evenly place in the pan.
In a large bowl, mix together eggs, eggnog, sugar, vanilla extract and nutmeg. Pour evenly over bread. Cover pan with saran wrap and store in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight.
In a separate bowl, mix together flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Add butter pieces and cut into the dry mixture using a fork or your hands. Combine until the mixture resembles sand with a few pea sized chunks. Cover and store mixture in the refrigerator.
When you're ready to bake the French toast, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove the bread from refrigerator and sprinkle crumb mixture over the top. Bake for 45-55 minutes, or until the dish is set and golden brown.
Serve warm with maple syrup, if desired.
From April Anderson of Good Cakes and Bakes, Detroit.
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ETHEL'S GLUTEN-FREE HOLIDAY PUMPKIN SCONE BARS
Makes: 16 / Prep time: 20 minutes / Total time: 20 minutes
2 1/4 cups gluten-free flour blend
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/8 teaspoon cloves
1/2 cup softened butter
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1/3 cup white sugar
1 egg plus 1 egg white
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2/3 cup canned pumpkin puree
1/3 cup buttermilk
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons half-and-half or more as needed
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon pumpkin puree
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ginger
1 tablespoon half-and-half or more as needed
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease the bottom of 9-by-13-inch baking dish.
In a large bowl, measure flour, baking powder, salt and spices and set aside. In another bowl, cream together the butter, eggs, vanilla and both sugars until smooth. Mix in pumpkin and buttermilk until blended. Add the flour in two parts. Spread the batter evenly over the baking dish.
Bake for 20 minutes until toothpick comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool.
Meanwhile, make the glaze and icing.
For the glaze: Mix together the powdered sugar and half-and-half until smooth. Add more half-and-half to thin glaze if needed. To make the icing: Mix together all the icing ingredients until smooth. Add more half-and-half if needed for desired consistency.
Glaze bars and then add icing. Cut into squares and serve.
Cook's note: If you would like to serve as a cake, make these changes: Add another egg. Use an 8-by-8-inch baking pan. Bake 28-30 minutes until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool. Frost with your own cream cheese frosting. Serve.
From Ethel's Baking Co., St. Clair Shores, Mich.