It's All About the FoodChristmas Baking with SusieJ

Keep white supremacists out of our government

Letter I e-mailed to my senators and representative tonight. If you're just here for the cookies, sorry, I will not sit silently.

I am a lifelong Pennsylvania resident and a voter in Wyncote, 19095. My mother's parents came to this country in the 1920s from the Stuttgart region of Germany, and became naturalized citizens by the 1930s. They both left large families of sisters, brothers and cousins behind in Germany, families we still see regularly. I have often wondered how my great aunts and uncles could live through and fight and die for the Third Reich as if rounding up their fellow citizens were normal, just as I have wondered how my parents' generation could watch the Civil Rights Movement on television and not feel compelled to some action.

Clearly, when the challenge came, I told myself, I would be different.

And so I say: NOT IN MY NAME.

I will not pretend it is normal or acceptable for the president to accept white supremacist supporters and appoint white supremacists like Stephen Bannon to the government. I will not give them the comfortable name of "alt-right"; they are neo-Nazis, short and simple.

It is not acceptable to register Muslims like we did the Japanese during World War II. It is not acceptable to apply a religious test to anyone seeking a life here. The First Amendment protects expression of all religions, no matter our own personal prejudices.

In 20 or 30 years when history writes the Trump presidency as one of the darkest periods of American history, I want to know I was on the right side of history, doing everything I could to protect my fellow people -- citizen or not, here or abroad. I hope I can say my elected representatives will be standing there with me.

Thank you,
Susan J. Talbutt

Le Cordon Bleu Professional Baking and The Culinary Institute of America Baking and Pastry

My final go-to volumes for basic cakes are two textbooks from Le Cordon Bleu and The Culinary Institute of America given to me by my aunt-by-marriage, food writer Anne Mendelson. Both focus on basic technique and recipes &emdash; building blocks &emdash; rather than a specific dessert. Meant to be used in a retail or commercial bakery, the yields are usually triple a home recipe (six dozen cupcakes or six nine-inch cake layers). Very useful for wedding cakes, and other situations calling for insane amounts of cake.

Interestingly enough, they don't have the same recipes. From Gisslen's book, I bake the spice cake and angel food cake. From the CIA cookbook, I bake the lemon chiffon cake, creme anglaise, German buttercream, and cream cheese icing (which is equal weights of cream cheese and butter, and less powdered sugar). I refer to both for basic research when I need a new cake or sweet yeast bread recipe; they provide me with good ideas and point me in the direction to go.

From these basic recipes, both show how to build ever-more complex pastries up to architectural wonders.

If you don't want or need six dozen cupcakes (or you need twelve dozen, or four fifteen-inch layers), Professional Baking has a chart of how much batter to use for any size layer. Both teach scaling (how to increase and decrease a recipe for more or fewer servings) and basic recipe ratios. The also cover most baking ingredients, from all-purpose flour through lychees, and equipment from measuring spoons through steam-injection ovens.

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