I love browsing through the endless food blogs on the Internet, and boy was I surprised when one day I learned that Microsoft software engineer Dror Cohen is the foodie behind the website Bakery 365. I was so excited when Cohen invited me to his home in Ra’anana.
“I’ve always loved cooking,” Cohen told me. “My mother invited me into the kitchen with her when I was very young, and by the time I was in elementary school I was preparing lunch by myself. My mother gave me the base for pastry preparation and I continued exploring when I left home.”
At some point, Cohen decided to attend Estella’s culinary school and his family and friends have enjoyed the fruits of his work. Cohen is an amateur photographer as well and loves to photograph his sweet concoctions.
When I asked him why he named his website Bakery 365, he told me that he “really does spend every day of the year in the kitchen” and he loves sharing his experiences with others and “getting feedback from them on what does or didn’t work for them.”
Cohen wanted to make it clear to me that he has no intentions of quitting his day job at Microsoft and that he enjoys coming up with new recipes late at night. Here are four of his cake recipes that all use a brown sugar pie shell.
BROWN SUGAR PIE SHELL
Use a 22-cm.-diameter pan.
150 gr. cold butter, cut into cubes
150 gr. flour, sifted
150 gr. almond flour
150 gr. light brown sugar
2 gr. baking powder
3 gr. salt
For the base:
90 gr. melted butter
Add all the ingredients to the bowl of an electric mixer and mix well. Roll dough out between two sheets of baking paper until it’s ½ cm. thick. Transfer on the baking paper to a pan. Bake in an oven that has been preheated to 170° for 15 minutes. Let cool. Grind up the cooked ingredients together with the melted butter to prepare a moist crumble.
Prepare the brown sugar pie shell and line the bottom and sides (5 cm. high) of a 22-cm.-diameter pan with it. Let it set in the fridge for 30 minutes.
130 gr. melted butter
150 gr. light brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
150 gr. flour
3 gr. baking powder
Pinch of salt
80 gr. walnuts, chopped
Blond pastry cream:
480 gr. milk
25 gr. corn flour
25 gr. flour, sifted
20 gr. sugar
30 gr. butter
115 gr. white chocolate or caramel
300 gr. sweet cream
30 gr. mascarpone cheese
2 Tbsp. sugar
To prepare the blondies, whip the butter and brown sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla while mixing. Mix well. In a separate bowl, mix together flour, salt and baking powder. Fold into butter mixture.
Add the walnuts and stir. Pour onto pastry shell and flatten.
Bake in an oven that has been preheated to 170° for 20-25 minutes, until the cake is smooth and shiny.
Remove and let cool.
To prepare the blondies pastry cream, pour the milk into a pot and bring to a boil. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs yolks, corn flour and sugar together. Pour the hot milk slowly on top of the mixture while stirring. Pour the mixture back into the pot and cook over medium flame while stirring vigorously until the mixture thickens greatly.
Remove from the flame and then add the chocolate and butter. Mix well.
Pour the cream on top of the pastry shell and cover with plastic wrap so that the plastic is touching the cream.
Place the cake in the fridge to cool for an hour or two.
To prepare the mascarpone cream, mix all the ingredients together until there are no more lumps. Transfer to the bowl of an electric mixer and whip. Remove the cake from the fridge. Take off the plastic wrap and spread the mascarpone cream on top. Store cake in fridge until serving.
CHEESE, CARAMEL AND WALNUTS
Use a 22-cm.-diameter pan.
Walnut pastry cream:
300 gr. milk
2 egg yolks
60 gr. sugar
30 gr. corn flour
20 gr. butter
70 gr. walnuts, broken into pieces
170 gr. (¾ cup) sugar
70 gr. (¹⁄3 cup) sweet cream
Pinch of salt
½ tsp. vanilla extract
100 gr. white chocolate
600 gr. cream cheese (2 containers of 16%, 1 container of 5%)
To prepare the walnut pastry cream, pour ¼ cup of milk into a bowl with the egg yolks, sugar and corn flour. Pour the rest of the milk into a pot with the vanilla and bring to a boil. Pour the egg mixture into the pot and cook for another 2-3 minutes over medium flame until the mixture thickens. Remove from the flame. Add the butter and mix well. Pour the cream over the pastry shell and then sprinkle with walnuts.
To prepare the cheese-caramel layer, place the sugar in a pot and cook over medium flame until an amber-colored caramel forms. In a separate pot, heat the cream, salt and vanilla over a low flame until just before it begins to boil. Remove from the flame.
When the caramel is ready, remove from the flame. Pour the cream very carefully into the caramel. Be very careful, since the mixture will be very bubbly. Mix well and put back on the flame for a few minutes. Make sure all the sugar has dissolved and there aren’t any lumps.
Remove the pot from the flame and pour the mixture onto the white chocolate. Mix well. Add one-third of the cheese at a time to the caramel mixture, mixing well in between each addition. Add the eggs and mix well.
Wrap the pan well with aluminum foil and place it inside a deep, wide pan. Pour the cheese mixture into the pan on top of the pastry cream. The mixture should rise above the sides of the pastry shell.
Pour boiling water around the edges until it covers the bottom half of the pan and then carefully put the pan in an oven that has been preheated to 150° and bake for 60 or 75 minutes. At this point, the edges of the cake (up to about 5 cm.) should be firm and the middle section still not firm. Remove from the oven and let cool. Wrap the cake well and store overnight in the fridge.
PECAN AND CHOCOLATE PIE
Prepare a brown sugar pastry shell and line the pan and 4 cm. up the sides of a 22-cm.-diameter pan. Set in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Chocolate pecan filling:
200 gr. pecans
140 gr. dark brown sugar
90 gr. maple syrup or honey
¼ tsp. salt
A little vanilla extract
3 Tbsp. brandy or rum
40 gr. melted butter
Place some of the pecans aside to be used as a topping. Break up the rest of the pecans into pieces and spread them around on top of the pastry shell.
Whip the eggs until they’re light and fluffy.
While mixing, add the sugar, syrup, salt and vanilla. Mix well until sugar has completely dissolved. Add rum and butter and mix. Pour the mixture onto the pie shell and pecans until it reaches 2/3 of the way up the side of the pan. Use the remaining pecans to decorate the top of the pie.
Bake in an oven that has been preheated to 190° for 40-45 minutes. If the top of the pie begins to burn, you can cover with aluminum foil for the second half of the baking time. Let cool and serve. Can be kept covered at room temperature for up to a week.
LEMON AND WHITE CHOCOLATE CHEESECAKE
Line a 22-cm.-diameter pan with a brown sugar pie shell so that the sides are covered up to 4 cm. Store in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Lemon and white chocolate cheese filling:
3 gr. gelatin
18 gr. cold water
100 gr. sugar
Zest from 1 lemon
1 container (250 gr.) cream cheese or mascarpone cheese
1 tsp. vanilla extract
240 gr. white chocolate
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
200 gr. sweet cream
5 gr. gelatin
30 gr. cold water
25 gr. water
25 gr. sugar
175 gr. lemon juice or spread*
Let the gelatin dissolve in the cold water for at least 10 minutes. Mix the sugar with the lemon zest. Beat the cheese gently with the sugar and vanilla mixture. Melt the white chocolate a few seconds at a time in the microwave just until it’s partially melted. Heat the gelatin in the microwave for 10 seconds, then mix it with the lemon juice. Add the gelatin mixture to the white chocolate and mix well. Fold the white chocolate mixture into the cheese mixture. Whip the sweet cream until it’s fluffy and then fold it into the batter.
Pour the batter on top of pastry shell, making sure it doesn’t cover the last ½ cm. of the side. Put into the freezer.
To prepare the lemon drizzle, dissolve the gelatin in the cold water and let it sit for at least 10 minutes.
Put the water, sugar and lemon juice or lemon spread in a pot and heat until it’s just about to boil. Remove from the flame and add the gelatin. Mix well and transfer to a bowl and let cool down to room temperature.
Drizzle the lemon on top of the frozen cake and then put cake back in the freezer for a few more hours.
*To prepare lemon spread, separate the lemon slices, discard the seeds and then grind into a pulp. Using lemon spread instead of lemon juice will make the lemon drizzle thicker.
Remove the cake from the pan and transfer to a serving dish. Adorn with candied lemon peel and meringue candies.
For the cake to be served frozen, defrost for 10 minutes before serving. For it to be served cold, defrost the cake in the fridge for 2-3 hours before serving.
Translated by Hannah Hochner.
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