Discover why cheesecake is really not a cake. Typical bottom crusts for cheesecakes are discussed along with other options. Find out how a traditional cheesecake filling can be embellished with different flavors. Chef Sokol teaches you how to attain the creamiest cheesecake. A simple vanilla cheesecake recipe is shared.
Makes a 1 9-inch cheesecake
Graham Cracker Crust
1 ¾ cups graham cracker crumbs
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- Preheat the oven to 350oF.
- In a medium bowl, blend together the crumbs, sugar, and butter. The mixture should look like wet sand.
- Press the mixture firmly onto the bottom and about 2 inches up the sides of a greased 9-inch diameter springform pan.
- Bake the crust for 10 minutes and set aside to cool.
2 1/2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Grated zest from 1 lemon
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 large eggs plus 1 large egg yolk
2 tablespoons heavy cream
- Lower the oven temperature to 250°F. In the bowl of an electric mixer using the paddle attachment, mix the cream cheese until it is creamy and smooth. Beat in the sugar, flour, lemon zest, and vanilla extract.
- Add the eggs and yolk, one at a time, followed by the heavy cream. Stop the machine several times and scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula to prevent any lumps.
- Pour the filling onto the crumb crust and bake for 1 hour. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
- Chill in the refrigerator overnight.
Quick breads are defined and their ease of preparation is discussed. The three mixing methods used to prepare quick breads, the creaming method, the muffin method and the biscuit method are defined and reviewed in detail. Chef Sokol shares the recipe for her award winning blueberry muffins.
Grandma Etta’s Blueberry Muffins
Makes 12-14 standard sized muffins
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
4 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1 cup milk
1/4 cup canola oil
2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries (unthawed) — mixed with 1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
Extra granulated sugar for sprinkling
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. Spray a 12-cup muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
- Whisk together the flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt in a large mixing bowl.
- In another bowl, whisk together the egg, milk, and oil until blended.
- Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix only until combined.
- Toss the blueberries and 1 teaspoon of flour into a bowl and fold them gently into batter. Do not overmix!
- Fill the muffin cups two-thirds full. If there is remaining batter, spray another pan and fill in the same manner. Sprinkle each muffin with granulated sugar.
- Bake for approximately 20 minutes, or until lightly browned and a cake tester or sharp knife inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.
Learn how to create a yeast dough from just five simple ingredients. Chef Sokol will walk you through all the steps to create one of the simplest of yeast breads. Learn how to properly store your bread so you can savor every morsel.
Simple Yeast Bread
Makes one loaf
1 package (2 1/4 teaspoons) instant dry yeast
3 cups (14 ounces) bread flour
1 1/2 teaspoons (¼ ounce) kosher salt
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon warm water
- In a large bowl, combine the first three ingredients and blend well.
- Add the water and mix with a spoon. If the mixture is too dry, add a little more water.
- Scrape the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead it until it forms a smooth ball.
- Spray a medium bowl with nonstick cooking spray and place the ball of dough in it. Flip it over so the greased side is facing up.
- Cover with plastic wrap and allow it to rise for one hour or until it has doubled in size.
- Deflate the dough and shape it into a round loaf.
- Place the loaf onto a sheet pan covered with parchment paper.
- Allow the dough to rise in a warm spot for about one hour. It may not double in size.
- Preheat the oven to 500°F.
- With a water bottle, spray the dough a few times to mist it with water.
- Using a knife or razor, cut a few decorative slits into the surface of the dough.
- Bake the loaf for about 15 minutes or until the dough is golden brown and feels firm to the touch.
- Allow to cool.
The definition of an oven custard is discussed. Typical oven custards are reviewed, and a simple recipe for crème brûlée is given and how to make it is discussed in detail. Learn how to tell exactly when the custard is ready to take out of the oven.
2 cups heavy cream or half-and-half
5 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup granulated sugar plus more for topping
- Heat oven to 325° F. In a saucepan, warm the cream over low heat just until hot.
- In a medium heat-proof bowl, beat yolks, vanilla and sugar together until light. Slowly whisk the warm cream into the egg mixture. Evenly divide the mixture into four 6-ounce ramekins and place ramekins in a baking dish; fill dish with boiling water halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until centers are barely set. Cool completely. Refrigerate for several hours and up to 2 days.
- When ready to serve, top each custard with about a teaspoon of sugar in a thin layer. Place ramekins under a broiler 2 to 3 inches from heat source. Turn on broiler. Cook until sugar melts and and caramelizes, about 5 minutes. Chill until ready to serve.
The definition of a stovetop custard made with a starch is discussed. The benefits of using a starch when making a custard is explained. Learn why you can bring a custard with a starch added to the boil and not have it curdle. Chef Sokol walks you through a delicious, stovetop custard recipe made with a starch known as vanilla pastry cream. She discusses its many uses in desserts.
French Vanilla Buttercream
Makes approximately 4 cups
1 cup granulated sugar
4 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/4 cup water
6 large egg yolks
1 pound unsalted butter — very soft (but not melted)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- Spray a liquid heatproof measuring cup with nonstick cooking spray to ensure that all the sticky sugar syrup will slide out easily.
- In a saucepan, combine the sugar, corn syrup, and water and bring the mixture to a rolling boil, stirring just until the sugar dissolves.
- While the sugar syrup is cooking, beat the egg yolks on high speed in the bowl of an electric mixer using the whip attachment until the color lightens to a pale yellow.
- Immediately pour the syrup into the greased measuring cup.
- On high speed, slowly add the hot syrup to the egg yolks, pouring it down the sides of the mixing bowl and not directly onto the whip. Keep beating until the bowl feels cool to the touch.
- Gradually add the softened butter, a few tablespoonfuls at a time, until it is all incorporated, blending in each addition of butter thoroughly. The buttercream may appear curdled until all the butter has been incorporated. Add the vanilla extract and blend well. Use at once.
Note: If the mixture is too soft, it can be refrigerated for 1 to 2 hours or placed over an ice water bath, stirring frequently with a whisk until it mounds and is of a spreadable consistency.
Rich and creamy custards are first defined in detail. The science behind how eggs thicken custards is discussed giving the listener an appreciation of the versatility of the egg, especially the yolk. Chef Sokol shares a stovetop custard recipe known as crème anglaise and its many uses.
Makes 1 cup
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 large egg yolks
3 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Combine milk and cream in heavy medium saucepan and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat.
- Whisk egg yolks and sugar in medium bowl to blend. Gradually whisk hot milk mixture into yolk mixture. Return custard to saucepan. Stir over low heat until custard thickens and leaves path on back of spoon when finger is drawn across, about 5 minutes (do not boil). A thermometer should reach 180°F. Strain the mixture into a bowl set over an icewater bath. Stir in the vanilla extract.
- Cover and chill. (Can be made 1 day ahead.)