The Pastry School Diaries: It’s the Season for Layers

Editorial Assistant Lauren Katz is enrolled in the part-time Pastry & Baking Arts program at New York City’s Institute of Culinary Education. Follow her each week as she shares her sweet experiences! 


Remember last week when I told you we prepped the dough for croissants and danishes? Well, the day finally arrived when we got to roll out, form, fill, bake–and devour–the finished product. These two pastries are definitely a labor of love. They are made from a laminate dough, which is dough that has been covered with a layer of butter, folded over itself, rolled out and repeated twice more. This process forms paper-thin alternating layers of dough and butter, resulting in that sinfully delicious, flaky texture that we have known to associate with French pastries. What makes a danish different from a croissant is two key ingredients: eggs, which create a more cake-like texture, and cardamom, a popular spice in Scandinavian baking.


Almond croissants


What I liked about making croissants and danishes is the variety and liberty we had in both shape and filling. We made four types of croissant: plain, almond, chocolate and ham and cheese. For the danishes, fillings included pastry cream, frangipane (an almond filling), various fruits, a ricotta-raisin mixture and pureed prunes. We had a variety of shapes to experiment with as well.


Ham & cheese croissant

Braided Danish filled with ricotta, raisins and poached pineapple


A variety of bear claw, pinwheel and envelope Danishes


I’m not sure I would try my hand at making these at home quite yet, but I’m glad I learned the process. If you do, however, have the desire, time and, most importantly, counter space to try making laminate dough at home, here are my “things they only tell you in pastry school” tips:

1. When making, folding and rolling out your dough, keep everything as cold as possible. The butter cannot melt, or else you won’t get those beautiful air pockets that we all know and love about croissants.

2. Use a ruler to measure out the dough. Each pastry should be roughly the same exact size, which allows for uniform baking time (and no fighting over the biggest one!).

3. When working with liquid fillings, don’t overdo it. The filling is just going to spill out during baking.

4. When working with solid fillings, like ham and cheese, you can go a little heavier. Because no one wants a ham-less ham and cheese croissant.

5. Be sure to egg wash the ends of your dough. Seal it tightly so your filling doesn’t fall out and your pastry maintains its shape.

6. Got leftovers? Wrap them in a layer of plastic wrap, followed by a layer of tinfoil and stick them in the freezer. They will thaw looking as perfect as they did when they were hot out of the oven!

Check back next week for more baking tips!

7 Ways to Use All of the Pumpkin

The Pumpkin Spice Latte might arrive to the fall party a little too early, but you know it’s officially pumpkin season when shelves are lined with cans of it, pastry counters are filled with squash-stuffed desserts and your Instagram feed has more orange than you ever thought was possible. This year, rather than sticking to your typical pie or cake, try something new! We’ve collected seven of our favorite ways to incorporate this gorgeous gourd into all things sweet and savory. Who needs a latte, after all?


Pumpkin Quesadillas

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10th Anniversary Recap: How New York City Helped Celebrate 10 Years of Rachael Ray Every Day

It was a food- and fun-filled day on October 14th, as lots of New Yorkers came out to celebrate 10 years of our magazine. A Rachael Ray Every Day food truck arrived bright and early to midtown, NYC to pass out breakfast sandwiches and hash browns to hungry commuters.


Meanwhile, Rachael appeared on Morning Joe, sharing recipes from her new cookbook, Everyone Is Italian on Sunday, and recounting lots of delicious memories from the last decade. The hot topic of the conversation: how gathering around the table with family and friends enriches your life of so many levels!



Switching channels to PIX11, our Executive Food Editor, Nina Elder, shared some fun fall squash recipes  (like Paella-Stuffed Squash and Spaghetti Squash Carbonara) and a nifty pancake trick from our October issue.


As the afternoon approached, the food truck began to serve lunch: grassfed angus beef burgers with applewood smoked bacon, sharp cheddar cheese, tomatoes and a jazzy sauce with a side of Belgian-style frites and garlic aioli.



There were tattoos, sunglasses and plenty of selfies, too.


Photo courtesy of Adrienne Longo Photography

But the fun didn’t stop there! We ended our day with an anniversary party at Toro to celebrate with Rachael and her friends. It was definitely a night to remember!

Rachael and our Editor in Chief, Lauren Purcell

Celebrity chefs Anne Burrell, Marc Murphy and Rachael Ray

 Photo courtesy of Adrienne Longo Photography


We’re going to be celebrating all month long — and we hope you’ll join us!   10 of Rachael’s chef pals created special burgers in her honor. You can get all of the recipes here.



Plus, the chefs will be serving their burgers at their restaurants for a limited time throughout the month! If you live near any of these eateries, be sure to stop by for one — or three!

The Pastry School Diaries: Bready, Set, Dough!

Editorial Assistant Lauren Katz is enrolled in the part-time Pastry & Baking Arts program at New York City’s Institute of Culinary Education. Follow her each week as she shares her sweet experiences!


It was a short week of classes this week because of Columbus Day, and I was greeted on Tuesday night with our second midterm. While each final exam includes a written and practical element, the midterms are only written. It covered all of the bread baking basics, and I’m feeling quite confident about how I did!


The remainder of class was spent making and rolling out croissant dough (stay tuned for next week when we bake them!) and baking various types of brioche.

Pain au Raisin

Brioche loaf sprinkled with decorating sugar

Chocolate brioche loaf sprinkled with a mixture of granulated and light brown sugar


Although brioche and croissant baking is a fairly different process than that of regular breads, this entire unit has made me rethink my pastry career aspirations. In the beginning, I was so excited to learn–and fall in love with–the bread baking technique. I still am learning something new in every lesson, but while I originally imagined finishing this unit with an aspiration to open the next Balthazar, I am now starting to think my passion lies somewhere else. Maybe it’s in our third module, cakes, fillings and icings. Or maybe my passion lies in the basics, like custards, meringues and ice cream. Luckily, being only a third of the way through my program, I have plenty of time to decide!


Check back next week for a croissant update!

Find Out Where You Can Order One of Rach’s 10th Anniversary Burgers

What to get the girl who has everything? How about a burger created in her honor! To celebrate Rach’s 10 years in print, 10 of the country’s best cooks came up with tasty tributes that are the most fun you’ll have on a bun–so good, in fact, that the chefs are serving them at their restaurants, too! Find out where you can score one of these awesome burgers, or make them for yourself at home.


Spike Mendelsohn’s Double-Peppers & Onions Burger – Good Stuff Eatery in Washington, DC (Capitol Hill location), 10/13 to 10/31

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The Pastry School Diaries: Knead a Change

Editorial Assistant Lauren Katz is enrolled in the part-time Baking & Pastry Arts program at New York City’s Institute of Culinary Education. Follow her each week as she shares her sweet experiences!


As someone who considers pizza one of the major food groups, I never thought these words would come out of my mouth: I never want to see another piece of bread ever again.



Maybe that’s an exaggeration, but we’ve been on bread overload in class lately, and despite it being some of the best bread I’ve ever tasted, it’s become hard to even look at. Just look at my freezer. Who needs this much bread???




Luckily, we’re wrapping up the bread portion of this unit and moving on to sweet doughs, like croissants, brioche and doughnuts. I’ve never been more excited to see a tray full of fresh doughnuts, hot out of the fryer.


What I am thankful for, however, is what I’ve learned about the not-so glamorous process of baking bread. It requires a lot of time, patience and practice. It is truly a labor of love, and an acquired skill. I’m not quite sure if it’s my forte, but I had a lot of fun trying my hand at rolling and forming bagels and pretzels. They tasted delicious, nonetheless!



Stay tuned for more carb-loaded updates!

Mama Mia! Rachael Ray’s New Cookbook is Almost Out!

Asking us to choose our favorite Rachael Ray cookbook is like asking us to choose our favorite kid, but Rach’s newest one, Everyone is Italian on Sunday, has already won us over big time. In fact, there weren’t enough office copies to go around, so a lot of us ordered our own. (You can pre-order your own copy now; it comes out officially on October 27.)

Rachael says this is her most personal book yet. She shares all the recipes that are near and dear to her heart: classic baked pastas she ate growing up, her husband John’s Italian ingredient-inspired cocktails, dishes you’ll want to make for company and of course, a few burgers scattered throughout. We’re already making plans to cook up Carbonara with Artichokes, Lemon Risotto and Ricotta Cheesecake.


Want to be one of the first to get your hands on a copy? Click here to pre-order the book today. You’ll be cooking your way to Italy in no time.

The 2nd Annual Pizza Month Meal Planner

Here at Every Day with Rachael Ray, we really love pizza. And since October is National Pizza Month, we really love October! Last year, we gave you five delicious pizza-inspired recipes that you could make during the week, and we’re back for a second year with new recipes to whet your whistle. So get ready for a week full of crust, sauce and cheese. And if that’s not enough for you, we’ve got dozens more recipes on our site.


Monday, October 5

Broccoli Rabe Pizza Bread

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The Pastry School Diaries: The Best-Kept Secrets of Bread Baking

Editorial Assistant Lauren Katz is enrolled in the part-time Baking & Pastry Arts program at New York City’s Institute of Culinary Education. Follow her each week as she shares her sweet experiences!

One of the best parts about having a renowned bread baker as your bread unit instructor? Besides his world of knowledge and years of experience, he has an unending supply of tips that you won’t find in any cookbook. Every day as I come into class, I can expect to learn something new about the art of bread baking, and not just about the technique. Whether it’s a secret last step to making perfectly textured dough or a traditional British recipe that differs from its American counterpart, Chef Sim has shared a wealth of information that has infinitely improved my creations. And now I can share that information with you!



Tip 1: Bake your bread until the crust is extremely dark

It may even look burnt in some places, but trust me, it’s not. As “The Prince of Darkness” has taught us, a darker crust enables a deeper flavor all the way though the bread. Your crust should have a full ombre effect of coloring–from very dark to golden brown. His bread is the real deal.


Tip 2: Don’t add butter or oil to your focaccia dough

Doing so only inhibits the gluten and rising process. Instead, coat both sides of your dough in olive oil and bake it on a sheet pan. This will create a crispy, buttery crust and leave the inside of the bread light and airy.


Tip 3: When making focaccia, ice water is your best friend

Just before baking your dough, dip your fingers in ice water. Make impressions with your fingers in the dough. Repeat twice. I think some sort of magic happens, but the dough bakes up beautifully light with lots of holes. Just the way you want it.


Tip 4: When it comes to making cinnamon rolls, less is more!

This week we made Chelsea Buns, which are quite similar to a cinnamon rolls, except the filling is a mixture of cinnamon, brown sugar and currants. Rather than glazing them with a thick icing how we do in the states, the British recipe simply calls for a generous sprinkling of sugar. And let me tell you, on pastry this good, no icing necessary!


I hope you’ve taken away a tip or two that can be helpful in your home baking! Check back next week for more fun tips and tricks.

Even Better Butter

Brown butter may sound cheffy, but the deliciously nutty, super-simple sauce is easy to make: If you’ve got a pan and some butter, you’re 90 percent there! Make a big batch and store it in the fridge so it’s ready whenever you need a hit of extra-rich flavor. Then drizzle it over roasted vegetables or fish, toss it with pasta, or stir it into pancake batter. Ready to give it a shot? Here’s how!


Brown Butter and Brussels Sprouts Fettuccine


1. Cut the butter into half-inch-thick slices and melt over medium.

2. Leave the melted butter alone until it starts to bubble and foam, about 2 minutes.

3. Stir the butter until light-golden specks appear. (Those are the milk solids separating out from the fat and starting to toast.) As soon as the specks turn dark tan and the liquid is golden, remove the pan from the heat. Use immediately or pour into a glass jar and refrigerate.