Homemade Podcast Episode 17: Dorie Greenspan on Baking, Butter, and Elbows-On-the-Table Food
When Dorie Greenspan married at just 19, she dreamed of bringing people together around the kitchen table. Eager to entertain, she began teaching herself to cook. She succeeded. The baking legend and cookbook author went on to film with Julia Child, publish 13 books, and win five James Beard awards.
Greenspan, however, has remained a hostess at heart, keeping gougeres in the freezer for friends who might knock on the door. Perhaps more than ever, she’s made her kitchen a comforting space. For almost six months of the COVID-19 pandemic, she and her husband sheltered in place with their son and daughter-in-law. Even in a changing world, Greenspan has found delight in sharing meals — a sentiment that would delight her younger self, too.
Greenspan reflects on quarantine meals, the best kitchen tool we have, World Peace Cookies, and more on this episode of Homemade. She gives host Martie Duncan the scoop on storing butter in bulk, baking cookies to browned perfection, and her favorite fall apple dessert. Plus, she makes the case for baking with salt and using chocolate bars instead of chocolate chips. Download it for free at Apple Podcasts, Spotify and anywhere else you listen to podcasts beginning September 30.
About Dorie Greenspan
James Beard award-winning cookbook author and baking expert Dorie Greenspan published her first book, Sweet Times: Simple Desserts for Every Occasion, in 1991. In 1995, the New York native spent the summer in Julia Child’s Massachusetts kitchen, writing Baking with Julia while a PBS series of the same name filmed. Greenspan has published 11 more cookbooks, including Dorie’s Cookies, Everyday Dorie: The Way I Cook, and Baking: From My Home to Yours. She’s also the EAT columnist at New York Times Magazine. Greenspan and her husband, Michael, split their time between Manhattan, Paris, and small-town Connecticut.
MARTIE DUNCAN Welcome to Homemade. I'm Martie Duncan. Today is a really special day for me because our guest today is a true food icon, and I just love her! She spent months baking with Julia Child and perfected her most famous cookie in collaboration with a legendary French pastry chef.
From her five James Beard Foundation awards to her cookbooks to following along with her on Instagram, I have really become a fan over the last 10 years. So, it is my extreme honor and pleasure to welcome today, to Homemade, Dorie Greenspan.
DORIE GREENSPAN Oh, thank you, Martie. That was so sweet.
MARTIE During this quarantine I've been way out in the country and by myself most of the time, so this is my little respite. I get to talk to people who are in faraway places and talk about interesting things. So I can't wait to dive into this amazing life that you have and this amazing career that you've created for yourself. I love the fact that your story begins in your mother's kitchen, where you burned it down and then you don't cook again for many, many years. Can you tell us about that?
DORIE It began in my mother's kitchen, where my mother didn't cook. We lived in Brooklyn, New York, and when my parents moved to Florida, my mother said, "Oh, I'm so excited, I have two ovens!" And I said, "Mom, what are you going to do with two ovens?" She said, "You know, it's humid down here. They'll both make good bread keepers. I can put my crackers in there and they'll stay crisp."
So, I didn't grow up in a home where food was homemade. But I was in seventh grade, and my parents were out, and friends were over, and they said, you know, "We're hungry." I said, "Let's make French fries."
There were frozen French fries in the freezer. And because I had never cooked and I had never seen anybody cook, I thought French fries, oil — I'd put a pot of oil up to boil. I put a lid on it, because water boils faster with a lid, and when I lifted the lid, there were these amazing flames. So amazing that I didn't do anything but stare at them. Fortunately, a friend said, you know, "OK, look, you know, put the lid back on. Call the fire department."
When my parents came home, they had gone to some fancy something, and they found me. My friends had fled me. Me, my two brothers, and the babysitter, the three of them were upstairs asleep. And the fire trucks and the firemen behind us. Yeah, it wasn't easy.
MARTIE Oh no.
DORIE My poor parents. I mean, they were so grateful that we were all OK. And then my mom saw the kitchen and cried.
MARTIE Awww. Listen, we've all had those stories and at least yours was when you were in the seventh grade. So, as I read, you decided when you got married very young at 19, you said, "Well, I better learn to cook." And so you started teaching yourself to cook.
DORIE Exactly. So I was 19. I was a sophomore in college. My husband had his first job. We didn't have a bunch of money. And I was really excited about cooking. I had, I don't know, this romantic notion, this little girl's notion, maybe, of what home looked like. And it was me in the kitchen and it was friends around the table. And I wanted to cook for people. I wanted to make, you know, a storybook home.
MARTIE I think that is the most charming thing I've ever heard. And I see from your Instagram you have people over. And I think that's just wonderful. Also, I see that you have an adoring husband. He looks at you like you hung the moon. I was watching a video with the two of you and he hands you this beautiful cup of espresso that he's made for you, after which he's doing the dishes. And he bakes bread!
DORIE He bakes great bread. He made a deal with me when we got married, and it was the same deal he made, I think, with his roommate in school. He would do the dishes as long as he didn't have to cook.
MARTIE Oh, wow.
DORIE And it's a trillion years later, and he's still doing the dishes. I baked a cake late last night, and I straightened up and I washed the pan. And this morning, I came into the kitchen and Michael said to me, "Please don't do the dishes." And he showed me the pan and it really still had little pieces of cake on it. So, yeah, he's a really good dishwasher.
MARTIE Well, he seems like a real keeper, too. You've made a beautiful life together, and I love these dinner parties that you do with your friends and how you talk about them so romantically. Tell me your ideal dinner party menu. Now, I know, I think, what your starter is. Tell our listeners a little bit about how a dinner party might go at your Paris home.
DORIE Well, so, I think that you're thinking of my gougeres.
MARTIE Yes, I am. And that's one of my favorites, too.
DORIE I'm sure your listeners know, but gougeres are cream puffs made with cheese. So they're not sweet, they're savory. But it's the same fabulous dough, pate a choux. So I make them, and I put them in the freezer unbaked. Martie, if you were to knock on my door, I could have gougeres for you in 25 minutes. Straight from the freezer. And I love that when my friends come in, the house smells of something warm and welcoming.
MARTIE Yeah, baking cheese is one of the most beautiful smells in the whole world, I think.
DORIE You know, real estate agents say you should boil cinnamon and... gougeres.
MARTIE Gougeres. Now, I want to ask you about your recipe because it is a bit different than mine. You put milk in your pate a choux. Can you walk us through how we make a perfect gougere.
DORIE Yeah, I can, actually. Sometimes I worry that you'll ask a question I don't know the answer to. I know this one. The dough for pate a choux, I don't know another deal like this Martie, maybe you do. But it's cooked and then it's baked. So, you have liquid. I use half a cup of water and half a cup of milk. The French pastry chef, Pierre Hermé, who told me to use milk, and it adds a richness to the dough and it also helps the dough color a little warmer brown.
So, it's salt — you can put a little sugar in. But usually pate a choux is a neutral dough so that it can go either sweet or savory. So, you boil water, milk, a stick of butter, a little salt. And when it's all bubbly, you put in — all at once, like, boom! — a cup of flour. And then you stir like mad. You just stir, stir, stir, stir, stir until the flour takes in the liquid. And then you keep stirring because this moment in the pan is to dry out the dough.
You want to turn it and stir it until you have like a little film on the bottom of the pan. And it's hot and it all comes together in a ball. Into a mixer — you can do this by hand — and in go eggs. And originally, I used all eggs. And recently, and this is what I love about cooking: You could make something for 30 years, and then you learn something new. Somebody says, "Why don't you try making that 30-year-old recipe with a little something else."
And something else, a few years ago, was an egg white, which helps the structure of the creampuff and keeps it a little firmer on the outside. And so it's the eggs and they go in and beat, beat, beat. And it's so much fun to watch because you have this beautiful dough, and then at some point, it falls apart. You think, "Oh, no, what have I done?" And you beat and it comes together again beautifully. And it's got this gorgeous, for me gorgeous. I love the whole process of cooking and baking and how things change. It has this beautiful sheen. And then in goes the cheese. Now, I also add a little mustard.
MARTIE I saw that.
DORIE Yeah. Just to kind of bring up the flavor a bit. You can add spices, you can add black pepper, you could add a little cayenne. And then the dough needs to be used as soon as it's made. And I use a cookie scoop to shape it. Real chefs use a pastry bag, and they pipe them out. But a cookie scoop is like boom, boom, boom, boom, boom. They're all the same size. And into the freezer. And then, Martie, when you knock on the door, that's when I take them out and put them in the oven and serve them to you with champagne or white wine.
MARTIE I can't wait to knock on the door and get a nice, crisp glass of champagne and one of your beautiful gougeres. Now, for all of y'all listening, y'all need to do this for the holidays because you know how you always have people pop over, and you panic, so you get out some cheese and put out some salami. This is equally easy, and you'll be ready for any guests who pop in on you.
So at our Paris dinner party, we're gonna start with these beautiful gougeres and a glass of champagne. What might the rest of the meal look like?
DORIE Mmm. I go round and round, and I change things up. Sometimes I like a meal that has lots of dishes on the table, and people can just pass things around. Depending on the season, a room temperature meal, it's like an indoor picnic. I love that. I'm not a formal person. I want everybody to be comfortable. I'm happy when people put their elbows on the table. In fact, sometimes I think of my favorite foods as, you know, elbows-on-the-table food. So I either like everything out and people, or I like to make a little plate in the kitchen and serve everyone a plate just the way I would like them to have it.
MARTIE For family.
DORIE Right. So one of the things that I love to serve as a starter, what do I call them? Everything I do has a long name.
MARTIE I've noticed that, but I love it. You and Rachael Ray are the most two creative people I've ever seen when it comes to naming your recipes.
DORIE Well, I feel like if I give them a long name, maybe you'll know exactly what you're getting and it will entice you to rush into the kitchen and cook. So, oven-charred tomato-stuffed peppers. Mmm. This is a dish that, like most of the foods that I make, I make the recipe and then you can do whatever you want with it. There's plenty of room to play around.
So, it's a pepper. I like to take different colored peppers. And you slice them in half the long way. And fill them with, oh, I usually start with breadcrumbs and lemon zest and maybe some herbs. Maybe a little anchovy in there to just bring up the flavor. And then slice in half cherry tomatoes. And you hide that little packet of breadcrumbs, so it's a surprise at the end. And the cherry tomatoes and pieces of lemon and herbs, and into the oven. And it's a dish that's beautiful because of the color and the kind of char that the tomatoes get. Again, the aroma. But it's a dish that's great hot, room temperature, or cold.
MARTIE Oh, it sounds divine, too. And perfect for right now.
DORIE Actually, it turns out to be good all year 'round. Sometimes if I have some leftover rice or couscous I'll put that underneath. You could put some zucchini in with the tomatoes. Dishes like this — and I see it in pastry, too, and I love this — they're pieces. They're little components. They're little elements. You know, look around, see what you've got, and add. Say, "Hmm, you know, she likes those anchovies. I don't. Out with them." And I'm always happy when people do that with a recipe of mine. I love when people play around.
MARTIE I think that nowadays, because we're at home more from this pandemic and on lockdown for a good bit of the time, I think people have learned to be a little bit more creative and doing a lot more pantry cooking. And so, "What do I have? Let's see what we can make." So I think you're going to give a lot of people some encouragement to step out and try something new.
DORIE Even cooks, you know, home cooks, home bakers, meaning us...
DORIE Who don't normally have the courage or the confidence to make changes. I think that this time, not being able to shop as much, not having the ingredients available to us that we're accustomed to have, I think it's given us more confidence as home cooks, and a bit of the sense of adventure. OK, I can try this, and it's been necessary. And sometimes it's a flop, but sometimes you make it discovery, and it's really exciting.
MARTIE My mother did a pound cake. She didn't do too many cakes. She did pies, and she did a lot of breads. But she was really known for doing cobblers, pies, things like that. But the cake she would make was pound cake. So, I was making her pound cake to take to a friend one day and I went to the refrigerator, and I think I was short like a stick of butter and an egg or two. So I substituted ricotta cheese, and that was a delicious, beautiful pound cake. And I put lemon in it and made it a lemon ricotta pound cake. And I'm like, well, that turned out pretty well. I think it's great that people are having the courage to adapt a Dorie Greenspan recipe, for example, if they want to.
DORIE Well, I always want people to adapt. It takes a long time to make a recipe that you know you can explain to people and that you know is reliable and will work in other people's homes. And you work on it and you work on it, and you get it just the way you want it. And, I don't know about you, but I'm the kind, I get it. I'm so happy. I write it. I send it off to my tester. And in the day that it's gone, I think, "Oh, you know, there's something else you can do with that."
MARTIE Yeah. What about! Yeah, I do that too.
DORIE It's the "what about." And I would love to know that home cooks are looking at our recipes and saying, "What about?" And then making it so it's just the way they want it.
MARTIE I couldn't agree more. I think that is a lovely sentiment on your part, too. Some people are so protective of their recipes, and I think you've got a very funny story about that.
DORIE I knew exactly what you're talking about, Martie. It was the extraordinary Parisian bread baker Lionel Poilane. I had known Poilane, and I was working on a book. I just wanted to start a book that later was called Paris Sweets. And I wanted to collect recipes from Parisian pastry chefs. And I had known him. We had talked. He would often invite to come to his office for breakfast.
So I thought, the easiest way to get pastry chefs or other chefs to agree to work with me is if I get a few really great chefs to agree. So you say, "Oh, well, Lionel Poilane gave me a recipe." So, I went to him, assured that he would give me his butter cookie recipe, his sables, shortbread cookie.
He invited me for breakfast. We had coffee. We had croissants. We tasted the cookies. I said, "I want this recipe. Please, please, please." And he said, "No." He said, "I can't give it to you because you won't be able to make it." I said, "What do you mean I won't be able to make it?!"
And I had just finished 100 recipes in a book with Pierre Hermé, who at that time was the pastry chef in Paris. I thought, Pierre Hermé's recipes were so complicated. This is a cookie like my grandmother used to make. And I said, "I can do it. I'm sure I can do it. Please, please." And he said, "No, you can't do it because your butter isn't good enough." And it is true that the butter in France is very different from the butter in America. And I was so sad and disappointed and a little angry, too.
But I begged him, and we agreed that the next time I returned to Paris, I would come with American butter, and we would try and make the recipe together and we would see if it was good enough. And it was.
MARTIE Ohhh. So, I love that he was so protective not because he didn't want to share it. He wanted it to be perfect and delicious. And if his name was going to be attached to it, he wanted everybody to have a good outcome with the recipe.
DORIE That was exactly the case. Yes.
MARTIE Wonderful. Is that cookie now called your World Peace Cookie?
DORIE Oh, no. That's the Pierre Hermé cookie.
MARTIE OK, I got confused with the two.
DORIE Easy. Because it's also a sable. Pierre created that recipe. He said to me, he was making a traditional French sable and he was making it in chocolate. But he was thinking about an American chocolate chip cookie. So, where the sable is normally made with granulated white sugar, he made it with some white sugar and with brown sugar and put chunks of chocolate in it. And this recipe, he gave it to me before the year 2000. And it had salt. It had fleur de sel, French sea salt.
DORIE He had enough salt that you could taste it. And in that time, that was crazy! That was brand new. That was revolutionary. We were measuring salt in pinches, and this had salt that the flavor lingered in your mouth. And Pierre said to me, use salt in pastry the way you use it in cooking. It's a seasoning. It brings up other flavors, particularly butter, brown sugar, caramel, and chocolate.
MARTIE What a great tip. That's a great piece of advice. We should all season our sweets just like we do our savory cooking.
DORIE I think about that all the time. It's now decades. I think about it as I'm developing recipes. That cookie was in Paris Sweets, and it came right after the Lionel Poulane cookie, so they were together in the book. And it was called the Korova cookie because he had developed it for a restaurant called Korova. But a neighbor of mine in New York said, "Oh, I love that cookie! I love that cookie! But we, in our home, call it the World Peace Cookie."
MARTIE I love this story.
DORIE It was such a great name that I thought I was finished with the cookie in terms of publishing. That I was just going to be making it for the rest of my life. So I used the recipe again with that name.
MARTIE And as the story goes, the neighbor said, "I love those World Peace Cookies because at our house we say, 'If the world ate these cookies, we would have peace."
DORIE And don't we wish that we could do that.
MARTIE Well, everybody run to your computer, get the ingredients, and make these cookies. And let's see if we can make world peace. Maybe we should all dedicate a Saturday to making Dorie's cookies and see what happens. I think that's a great idea.
DORIE Let's do this. Let's plan a World Peace Day.
MARTIE Let's do! I want to do that. I think a lot of people would try it.
DORIE Let's do it.
MARTIE OK. I'm down with that. I think we should find a date, and the whole world make Dorie’s World Peace Cookies. You know, I think if we give somebody a cookie, they can't be mad. You know, they can't be angry anymore. So, that could really make people's lives a lot brighter, I think, just having an international World Peace Cookie baking day. I think we should do it.
DORIE Let's do it.
MARTIE Now, I want to ask a question about these cookies. I heard you say in an interview one time that you don't use chocolate chips in these. That you use chocolate and you chop it. And there's a real method to that madness.
DORIE So I do this with not just the World Peace Cookie but with all of my chocolate chip cookies. The chocolate chips don't give you the same flavor, but they also don't give you the same texture. I'm a dark chocolate girl.
MARTIE Me too.
DORIE Right. But, you know, you can do this with whatever your favorite chocolate is. Choose the chocolate that you really love, a chocolate that you would be happy to just eat out of hand. And then cut it, chop it into pieces that are all different sizes.
I like to save what I think of as the chocolate dust, all the little chocolate that's on the cutting board. When you use chopped bar chocolate instead of chips, every bite of the cookie is different from every other bite. Because some of the pieces are big. Some are small. Sometimes you get a lot of chocolate. Sometimes you don't get that much. Sometimes the dust, which makes the cookie look all Tweedy, there is more of it. And the chocolate chips, they never melt completely.
DORIE Right? And they hold their shapes. So, you see, like, chocolate chip cookies are like polka dot cookies.
DORIE Right? But when you chop your own chocolate, every bite is an adventure. Plus, it's that flavor, that chocolate flavor that you really love.
MARTIE It's because the little chop bits, whatever you want to call that, the little leftover part, that then melts really nicely and becomes more of a chocolate bite than just a chip bite.
MARTIE I do that, too, but because I'm stingy and don't want to waste one little fleck of chocolate. I laughed when I saw you on that Martha Stewart show where you were saying, when you were working with Julia, if you'd left one little drop of anything, she would go back and get it and put it in the bowl. I think that's a funny story, will you tell about that?
DORIE Well, so, I worked with Julia Child, the wonderful, fabulous treasure. When I worked with Julia... I love this. When I worked with Julia...
MARTIE I know, I can't even believe you get to say that. "When I worked with Julia..."
DORIE I still can't I still can't. So, it was for the series that she did called "Baking with Julia." And it was a PBS show. There were 26 episodes. So there were 26 diffe rent bread bakers and pastry chefs. And they came to Julia's house in Cambridge and baked with her in her kitchen.
And Julia, ah, she was so wonderful. She was so attentive. She would follow everything very carefully. She always knew the right question to ask. She always knew before you as a viewer could think, "Now, why did they warm that egg?" Julia would ask, "Why did you warm that egg?" She was just, she was so great. So the chefs would be working, and inevitably, they would just take the mixing bowl, scrape the batter into a pan and then take the bowl, you know, and just behind them was the sink. And they would just put it in the sink. And Julia would turn, walk to the sink, inspect the bowl, and if there was even a tablespoon of batter left, she'd grab the spatula and put it back.
And I think about that all the time. Well, I think about her for a trillion reasons. But every time I use my hands as I'm doing something, which I do all the time, I think they're the best kitchen tool we have, I think of Julia and I think, I'm using my impeccably clean hands to mix with. And I look at the bowl and I scrape it, and I think of Julia scraping the bowl.
MARTIE What an amazing reflection and memory that that is, to be able to say, "I did that, and it influences me every day." And now you do that for a whole new generation of upcoming cooks. We have had quite a lot of famous chefs on this podcast, and many, many of them say their first memory of cooking or being aware of cooking was watching Julia on TV. She really influenced our whole country and still does.
DORIE I think she changed our culinary world.
MARTIE I think she did. And I watched that Julia, Julie movie a million times, and I have in my head, you know, what that must have been like going through the process of creating that amazing book that has really become the standard for French cooking in America. And all these years later, wouldn't she be so thrilled to know that we're still talking about her, she's still just as relevant. It's really remarkable.
DORIE I want to suggest a book that I just loved it so much and I think that you would as well and our listeners. It's called As Always, Julia. And it's a book of letters that Julia wrote to Avis DeVoto, who was the woman who helped to get Mastering the Art of French Cooking published in America. And the letters are both charming and touching. And you really get a sense of the work that Julia did. That she's in France writing these letters, and Avis is in Cambridge. And you get a sense of how hard it was to develop those recipes, how concerned Julia was about their being exactly accurate, how they would work for Americans. When I finished that book, I was so sad because I missed the company of two intelligent, curious, generous women.
MARTIE I'm looking forward to reading that. Dorie, our Allrecipes family absolutely loves you. They have a list of some questions that they've sent along that I'd like to ask you. So, of your 13 cookbooks — and I know this is like picking a favorite child, you could never do it — which one holds the most special place in your heart?
DORIE Oh, you know, I do love the Allrecipes family, but this is a hard question.
MARTIE It is.
DORIE You know, it's really hard because I wrote each of the books for a special reason, because it meant something to me. Because I wanted to learn something and teach something and share something. So it's really hard. I love — oh, come on, Martie, this isn't fair!
MARTIE Well, I'll just say this, any time you do a project, certainly your first book, you know, has got to have a special place. So I think that that's that's easy. So tell us about the first book. After you wrote it, since you are now writing about food, did that influence the way you cook food?
DORIE So, the first book was called Sweet Times, and actually, it's 29 years old.
DORIE Is that right? Did I do my math right? 1991. Yeah. It was everything that I was teaching myself, that I had taught myself, that I was making at home all the time, and it was a thrill to be able to write a book. And I felt it was really an honor. It was so unexpected for me. I wanted to do, but I never thought it would happen. And so it was special in every way. And I still. You know what's funny, we talked about my burning down my parents’ kitchen?
DORIE When Sweet Times came out, my brother said, "How come you didn't talk about how you burned down your kitchen?" And I thought, "Come on, this is my first book. People don't know me. How would they ever trust a baker who burnt down her kitchen?"
MARTIE I think you've earned your reputation by now. I think that that is a ridiculously hard question. But I can imagine what it felt like. Having done three books myself. I can only imagine the joy when you open the box, touch the books. Hold it in your hand for the first time after all those months and months of practice and recipe testing. I think it must feel like such magic just happened. Like, it went from my oven to I'm holding it.
DORIE You described it beautifully. It takes me years to do a book. And so I'm making recipes. I'm writing them. I'm having them tested. I'm revising them. And I never quite know what I have until I must put it together. If I didn't have a deadline, I'd still be working on that first book. Because I'm always changing things. It's the, you know, what about, what if. And when it finally comes together, I feel like, "Oh, it's a book!" I'm almost startled by it. The process of writing, of developing, creating recipes, testing them, it's now so many years, and I still find it fascinating.
MARTIE It's almost like a magical transformation, baking and cooking, making these set of ingredients suddenly becomes something. And then after you've tried and tested and prodded them and then they become perfect, you're like, "Oh wow, I made that."
DORIE I made that. But I think it's important as cooks and bakers to take time to enjoy the process. Sometimes it's really hard because we just need to get food on the table, we need to feed people, or we need to feed ourselves. But the process of making something, of transforming something is really — it's almost like a meditation. There's the smell of something delicious. You're feeling ingredients. It's sensual, sensuous. And I think that — don't laugh — but food tastes better when you take time with it, when you pay attention to it, when you care about it.
MARTIE I so agree with that! Now, what does a weeknight dinner look like at your house these days? Like, what are you and Michael, what are you making for dinner tonight?
DORIE So tonight, I don't know. And that's me. That's typical me. If I were having a dinner party, I might not even know. But during the whole sheltering time, our son, Joshua, and his wife, Linling, lived with us. Which was quite wonderful. It was fabulous. They were making a baby. Gemma, who is lovely. Lovely!
MARTIE That's your first granddaughter, right?
DORIE First grandchild. Right. So they were here with us for five and a half months. And I was working on a book and I had, you know, writing deadlines. And I stopped every day at 5 and started cooking. And Linling helped and Joshua helped and Michael did the dishes. But I found myself looking forward all day to that time when I would stop. Because when it's just Michael and me I'll work until 9. And we'll have a late dinner and it'll be easy.
MARTIE I'm same.
DORIE But it was, back to the pleasure of the process. It was such a joy to stop and to make a dinner that I knew we were going to be sharing. I stopped doing starters, but I did more dishes. Linling loves vegetables, and so I might do three vegetables. And I would do a salad and I would do maybe a roast chicken or grilled fish. And I look back, it was a difficult time because — because we were all frightened. The world was changing. We had no idea what was happening. But around the table, it was lovely.
MARTIE I think that is so lovely to hear that even in the face of a pandemic, you were creating this warm and safe place by cooking for your family. I think that's wonderful. All right. So, we're getting close to the holiday time of year. Here's a question that we ask all of our guests: What dish defines your holiday table? I mean, what has to be on the menu for a holiday meal to feel complete at your house?
DORIE So, if it's Thanksgiving then it has to be two things. It has to be pumpkin pie for Joshua — and actually, I make it as a tart. But pumpkin tart for Joshua and Linling and pecan pie for Michael. Chocolate pecan pie.
DORIE Yeah. So, that chocolate that we chopped for the cookies goes in my pie as well.
MARTIE Now where can we find these recipes. Do they exist or these are just your personal, private family recipes?
DORIE No, no, no, no. I keep changing them. But in Baking: From My Home to Yours I have the pumpkin tart. There's one with caramel. It's delicious.
MARTIE Ooh, that sounds gorgeous.
DORIE Mhmm. And the pecan pie with chocolate.
MARTIE OK, so that one would be in Baking From My Home Tto Yours? I happen to have that book. I'll be going to check that out immediately. I'm looking forward to that! All right, so another thing is, I'm in the South. And it is so hot here. And then when we get that little break of cold weather, we really look forward to all the beautiful autumn flavors and the feeling of that first brisk day. What autumn flavors are you attracted to, and what will you do with them?
DORIE I feel very traditional in that where you said autumn and I thought, apples, pears, cinnamon. If I could only have one autumn fruit, it would be apple. Baked apples, a lot of people don't like them. I love them.
MARTIE Ooh, I adore them. I absolutely adore them.
DORIE Do you fill them with anything?
MARTIE You know, I have made them sweet or savory. We have a lot of apples around. So, I sometimes will put like a little sausage filling and bake 'em. But yeah, mostly for tart or pies, like a tart tatin.
DORIE I'm really attracted to galette. I'm not a fancy baker. When I first started baking...
MARTIE "I'm not a fancy baker! I'm just known for it worldwide." Not a fancy baker. Oh, I think you're a fancy banker. Yes.
DORIE I'm not! I don't do a lot of decorating. So a galette, that's the perfect dessert for me. I love dough. I love pie dough, tart dough. But with the galette, you just roll the dough out any which way. It's nice that it has ragged edges. It doesn't have to be a particular size. I like it a little thick, actually, so it makes it even easier. And then maybe some bread crumbs on the bottom and sliced apples and little honey over the top, maybe some spice, into the oven. To me, that's a perfect fall dessert. Ice cream, it needs ice cream on top.
MARTIE I've gotten to where I would put a scoop of dulce de leche ice cream on the top of my apple galette, and to me, that's like heaven.
You’re listening to Homemade. Dorie and I will be right back in just a minute.
I’m Martie Duncan, and my guest today is cookbook author and baking legend Dorie Greenspan.
OK, so, I have to ask you about this. Rumor has it you have a butter fridge?
MARTIE You have a butter fridge at your house that's for nothing but butter.
DORIE Actually, that's not right. It's a freezer!
MARTIE OK. You have a freezer at your house that has nothing but butter in it.
DORIE Well, so it does have other things in it. It has things that I make with the butter. But I buy butter, and I was so glad that I did this before it became so hard to get butter.
MARTIE Yeah. Baking ingredients, couldn't get them.
DORIE I buy butter in, now I've forgotten whether it's 30- or 36-pound boxes, and I freeze it. And so it's Cabot Butter. It's a New England brand, and it's 1-pound blocks, and it goes into the freezer. And I just pick out 2 pounds at a time and always have butter to work with.
You know, I don't care much about clothes. I don't care about jewelry. But, boy, butter. I panic at the idea that I might not have enough butter. Butter, flour, sugar, eggs. You can keep your diamonds, I don't need them. Just make sure I never run out of those things.
MARTIE I have the big 10-gallon buckets in my pantry that you get, like, at the hardware store. I put in big bags of flour, big packs of sugar, brown sugar. So I live out in the country. I'm with you, I don't want to be caught without my necessary ingredients for baking and cooking. I'm assuming there's always a stick of butter out on your counter at room temperature. You have that pretty much at all times, I'm guessing. What are you going to make, you think, with that?
DORIE I had this idea that I wanted a salted caramel cake.
DORIE Yeah. I used some butter to make a salted caramel sauce. And now I'm trying to figure out if I'm going to make a cake that has the sauce in it. Am I going to make a cake that the sauce is going to be brushed over? Or am I going to do everything? Am I going to put the sauce in the cake? Am I going to brush the cake with the sauce? Am I going to make a topping? I don't know. So there's actually, right now, I have a full pound of butter out on the counter so that when I figure out what I'm really dreaming of and how I can make it, I'll be ready.
MARTIE Ooh, it sounds amazing. My mother used to make this thing called an Apple Dapple Cake. I think it was a recipe that went around in the '70s. I don't know who she got it from because she didn't cook from a lot of recipes. She just kind of winged it most of the time. But this Apple Dapple Cake would often be waiting for us when we got home from school. It was so delicious and yummy. And she'd cut up the apples and put in, and it's particularly good this time of year.
But I wanted to kind of take it to the next level, so I make a really hot caramel. And then I pour over that Apple Dapple Cake, and it is the best thing. It's really, really good. There's nothing fancy about it. It's basically a pound cake sort of thing with apples and then pour the hot caramel over the top, and it's delicious. All right, Dorie, can you give us three tips for better cookie baking?
DORIE Cookie baking. It's so easy, but there are things that you need to watch out for. Always make sure that your oven is at temperature. Often people will turn on the oven and just figure 15 minutes later it's time to put your cookies in. Cookies only bake for a very short time so it's really important that your oven be at temperature. Put an oven thermometer in there to be sure.
I like to line my baking sheets with parchment or use a silicone baking mat. I think the cookies come out, they spread more evenly and bake more evenly on a lined sheet. When you're beating cookie dough, cookies are different from cakes. With cakes, you want to get all that air into the butter, sugar, and eggs. With cookies, you want to slow that down and cream the mixture more than beat it as fluffy. Often if you beat a cookie dough too much, the cookie would rise in the oven, look puffy, and then it just depletes when it comes out.
Always try to make your cookies the same size so that they'll bake evenly. You only asked for three, I know, but I'm just thinking.
MARTIE Oh, you tell us every little tip you've got. I'd love to hear them all.
DORIE Give your cookies enough spread space. If it means going back and doing batches, listen to a good podcast. Listen to Martie! You want the cookie to grow the way it wants to grow and not to be twinged to the other one. I like to leave the cookies on the baking sheet for a couple of minutes just to give them time to get used to being out in the world before taking them off and putting them on a rack to cool. And racks are really important.
MARTIE Yes, I've heard you say that that's one of the more important pieces of equipment with cookie baking.
DORIE A good cooling rack where you can get the air to circulate around the cookie. And then this is kind of controversial, but I — a chocolate chip cookie, a World Peace cookie, they're delicious warm. But there are some cookies that really are better at room temperature. And I think that for many cookies, I'm thinking of shortbread cookies, cooling is part of baking, that the cookie texture knits together and comes into its own while it's cooling. So, you know, taste a cookie hot off the sheet if you want, taste it warm, but think about letting that cookie come to room temperature.
MARTIE I think that if you put it, like you said, on the cooling rack then it has a chance to get that beautiful, crispy, brown, crusty bit of cookie that is always, to me, the most delicious bite. But if you leave it on the tray, they tend to get a bit soggy and don't have that kind of buttery, caramelly baked goodness that you would want.
DORIE Yes. So, thank you. I don't like baked things that are pale. So, a pale piecrust. A pale galette. A pale cookie. Because, as you said, you want that buttery, caramelly flavor. And you really only get that when the butter and the sugar are well-baked and browned.
MARTIE You know, Simon Majumdar told me during our interview that he puts a teeny pinch, just a teensy pinch, of turmeric in his pie crust. And he said it gives it the most beautiful color. And I said, "What about the flavor?" He goes, "You can't discern the flavor, but it does give it a beautiful, rich color. You should try it." He said, "I also put a little bit of vodka in my pie crust." So I'm going to try that. I haven't yet, but I'm going to try that tip from Simon.
DORIE I've heard of people putting vodka in pie crust and vinegar as well. I put vodka in my ice cream when I'm making ice cream.
DORIE Yep! So, vodka science is not my subject, but it helps the ice cream to not freeze rock hard. So the ice cream is creamier, and it's good for texture.
MARTIE I never thought about doing that. Because sometimes when you spin ice cream at home, you put it in the freezer, and then you take it out to get a scoop and it is so hard you have to let it sit on the counter for 15 minutes. So you're saying if you add a little bit of a vodka to it, it won't get so hard.
DORIE If I'm making about a quart of ice cream, I'll add three tablespoons of vodka.
MARTIE I'm going to do that. Thank you for that tip. Dorie, I could talk to you all day. You are so fascinating.
DORIE You are such a delight.
MARTIE You are too. Dorie, thank you so very much for sharing your stories and your tips and all your knowledge with us. And I can't wait for our World Cookie Day.
DORIE I think we need to make that happen.
MARTIE World Peace Cookie Day.
DORIE And I can't wait until you knock on the door and say, "I'm here! Let’s cook." Martie, Thank you so much.
MARTIE Dorie Greenspan is the author of Baking with Julia, Dorie’s Cookies, and so many other wonderful cookbooks. She’s also a columnist at New York Times Magazine. You can find many of her recipes at DorieGreenspan.com, and you can follow on Instagram at @DorieGreenspan.
We’ve got a great show coming up for you next week. We’re talking to Emmy-winning actress, party thrower, and avid home cook Patricia Heaton. You may know her best as Debra Barone, the long-suffering wife on "Everybody Loves Raymond."
PATRICIA HEATON I worked in restaurants. I managed restaurants. I was a room service waitress at the Parker Meridian Hotel in New York from 6 in the morning till noon. So talk about we've all had these different acts, reinventing ourselves. But in show business, those are just called survival gigs. And I remember the first time I had sushi was in New York. I lived above a studio musicians’ bar, and all the studio musicians were into sushi at that time, you know. And so I couldn't imagine somebody told me that you eat raw fish. I couldn't even imagine.
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Homemade is produced by AllRecipes with Executive Editor Jason Burnett. Thanks to our Pod People production team Rachael King, Eliza Lambert, Tanya Ott, and Maya Kroth.
Thanks for listening! I’m Martie Duncan, and this is Homemade.