Rogue Baking Tips with Alice Medrich

3 Rules for Baking with Nuts

By • November 18, 2013 • 9 Comments

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Every week, baking expert Alice Medrich will be going rogue on Food52 -- with shortcuts, hacks, and game-changing recipes.

Today: Your nutty holiday baked goods will taste better if you follow Alice's three simple rules.

3 Rules for Baking with Nuts from Food52

Along with chocolate, nuts are among the superstar ingredients of holiday baking. Here’s a tip sheet for buying, storing, and toasting your own.

1. Buy Nuts in Bulk

Pass up the little packages of nuts in the baking aisle. Buy nuts in bulk from stores that sell plenty, and always taste before you buy. Buy what you can use in a few weeks. Keep nuts in an airtight container in a cool dry place or in the fridge or freezer if you know you won’t be using them. 

3 Rules for Baking with Nuts from Food52

2. Chop Nuts Yourself

Whole nuts and large pieces stay fresh longer than little pieces: Even if a recipe calls for chopped nuts, buy whole or large pieces (whole almonds and hazelnuts, walnuts, and pecan halves or halves and pieces) and chop them yourself. (Slivered and sliced almonds are an exception -- not possible to make yourself!)

3 Rules for Baking with Nuts from Food52

3. Toast Nuts Yourself (and How)

Freshly roasted nuts taste better than store-bought. Even if a recipe calls for toasted nuts, buy raw nuts and toast them yourself. Here's how:

Spread nuts (before chopping) in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet in a preheated oven (350° F for almonds and hazelnuts, 325° F for pecans and walnuts) for 10 to 20 minutes, depending on the type of nut and whether they are whole, half, sliced, or slivered.

Check the nuts frequently and redistribute them on the pan. Almonds and hazelnuts are done when they are golden brown inside. Pecans and walnuts are done when they are fragrant and lightly colored.

To rub skins from toasted hazelnuts, cool them thoroughly, then rub them together in your hands or in a tea towel, or place them in a large coarse-mesh strainer and run them against the mesh until most of the skins flake off. 

More: How to make your own nut milks at home.


Alice's new book Seriously Bitter Sweet is a complete revision of her IACP award-winning Bittersweet, updated for the 54%, 61%, and 72% (and beyond) bars available today. It's packed with tricks, techniques, and answers to every chocolate question, plus 150 seriously delicious recipes -- both savory and sweet.

 

Photo by James Ransom

Jump to Comments (9)

Tags: baking, holiday, how-to & diy, dessert, tips, Thanksgiving, nuts, pantry

Comments (9)

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11 months ago sexyLAMBCHOPx

How long will well wrapped nuts last in the freezer?

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11 months ago Alice Medrich

I never found that the classic tea towel "steaming" technique made a difference! The amount of skin that comes off the nuts seems to be more a function of the particular batch of hazelnuts than whether they were covered with a tea towel. Perhaps we need a controlled test! But I do know that rubbing the cooled nuts against the mesh of a large strainer is extremely helpful, and this is how we dealt with huge quantities of toasted nuts in my bakery years ago. Regardless, I don't make myself nuts (so to speak) over a little skin left on some of the nuts. For most projects it's not a problem. As to blanching in water and baking soda, I agree that it's messy and annoying— although it does get all of the skins off—and I rarely if ever do it!

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11 months ago Kate Motter

Any tips for rule #1? Where are some good place to find bulk nuts? Thanks!

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11 months ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Trader Joe's nut prices are even better than the bulk prices for nuts, at least in the SF Bay Area. They have a very high turnover, so at least every bag I've bought has been nice and fresh. The very best quality around here come from the farmers' markets; we're fortunate to be so close to areas where many nuts are grown. ;o)

Junechamp

11 months ago ChefJune

June is a trusted source on General Cooking.

#3 here, thrilled with the suggestion to rub those hazelnuts against a strainer! Those little suckers can be a royal pain.

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11 months ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

June, it also helps tremendously if you put a tea towel over the hot hazelnuts after you remove them from the oven, while they are cooling. The steam that's created makes removal of the skin so much easier! ;o)

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11 months ago cookinginvictoria

Like hla, I can never get 100 percent of the skins off with the tea towel method, so I will try the strainer way too. Here is another deskinning tip, blanching with baking soda, channeled through Julia Child and evidently pioneered by Alice herself. http://food52.com/hotline...

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11 months ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

I tried the blanching with baking soda and was not impressed. It was so messy. Covering the nuts with a tea towel to steam-loosen the skins before rubbing works much better for me. ;o)

Gator_cake

11 months ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

I will definitely try your mesh strainer tip for hazelnut skins -- I can never seem to remove more than 2/3 of the skins with the tea towel method.