I can’t forget my grandma’s tips and suggestions while cooking and I’m very proud to pass down her “secrets” in the kitchen here in this blog. That’s why I created the section: my granny’s tips, where you can find all her advices and tricks belonging to the Italian and Tuscan cooking tradition.
With my company and group of “Cooks on Holiday” (Cuoche in Vacanza) we try to do the same while running Private Cooking Classes and Private Dinners in Tuscany
The most helpful thing that I can do (while teaching to tourists on holiday) is passing down an authentic experience and some tricks that you are sure they make the difference.
My grandma’s tips first part was about all you need to know when preparing “creams” and “creamy cakes and desserts”.
Here are my grandma’s tips for cakes and desserts, 2° part or
all my grandma’s tips for shortcrust pastry and cakes dough;
she told me the following sentences and I’m passing them down to you with joy!
- Would you like obtaining a perfect scalloped mini tart shell? Cut the shortcust dough with a scalloped pastry cutter and than cook it on a baking cup upside down, instead spreading it into it.
- To spread shortcrust pastry in an uniform way, don’t spread it directly in the baking tray, but over a pastry board, between 2 baking paper foils; in this way you can check the thickness (very important) and will be easier to place it in the baking tray just overturning it from one of the two foils.
- To obtain an uniform thickness of the dough, use 2 wooden chopsticks or wooden skewers placed parallel to the sides of the pastry board. You’ll roll the rolling pin on these.
- Wooden chopsticks are very useful to trim the edge of the dough; my grandma’s alway said me not to use rolling pin; it can spoil because of the cutting edge of the baking tray.
- When you’re preparing a tart decorated with a shortcrust pastry grid, to avoid that the strips will break before placing them on the filling, lightly flour them and roll them up on themselves; than you can unroll them in the right position (as you do with carpets).
- To avoid that the base of the tart is too wet (for example when you’re making a tart with fruit), at the end of cooking, brush the bottom of the tart with egg white lightly beaten. It will form an insulating film and you’ll fill it without any problem.
- Always to avoid that the base of the tart is too wet you can sprinkle the bottom of the tart with cookies crumbs (sweet cakes) or crackers crumbs (salty tarts). Crumbs will absorb moisture without affecting the taste.
- To prevent that cake grow in the center while cooking, forming a dome: slightly dig the center with the back of a spoon. When cake will begin to rise, the highest growing in the central part will compensate the hollow.
- While you’re pouring a soft dough in a baking tin, stop pouring before it gets to the edge; in fact because of the weight it will level itself without creating excessive edges during rising.
- To perfectly cook a cake the heat of the oven must be inversely proportional to the volume of the cake: the bigger the cake, the oven must be less hot. Obviously you have to extend the cooking time.
- Time cooking for a cake depends on its ingredients too: for eggs based cakes is better starting cooking at warm temperature; for yeast dough cakes is better starting at already high temperature, for not stopping rising.
These above are not only my grandma’s tips, they belong to the Italian and Tuscan cooking tradition too.
As you know our customers and students are mostly tourists from all over the world: they come in Tuscany on holiday and contact us for having some cookery lessons or dinners directly at their holiday home.
Every time we do all our best to share with them many “secrets” in the kitchen, and we prepare together the most tasteful dishes.
One of the most successful base for cakes during our cooking classes and dinners is the Tuscan Sponge cake; it’s very easy and made without diary products or animal fat, only Extra Virgin Olive Oil! That’s why it’s suitable for Vegans and in case of dietary restrictions as well. It’s obviously a base, than you can fill it with anything you prefer…the recipe that I linked above calls for a mascarpone and nutella filling, maybe is not a perfectly vegan one 😉
An old cake, typical Tuscan, that my grandma often made and tastes amazing is: Tuscan Ricotta and Pinenuts Soft Cake
About shortcrust pastry you can be interested in the following recipes:
Did you know some of these tips? Do you have other suggestions while preparing tarts or cakes, maybe passed down from your grandma? Leave a comment on the below form or write me a mail…I’m curious to know something from you!