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Fall Baking Ideas

 Baked pears with walnuts and honey
Baked pears with walnuts and honey. Photo by Mark Bonica via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

With a touch of autumn coolness in the air, it's not much of a problem to spend some time in a nice warm kitchen doing a little baking. Our friend Chef Jerry Pellegrino is laying out his plans for some baking projects.

He starts off with links to a couple classic ideas: the galette from France and New England Baked pears.

The Galette

Maple Vanilla Baked Pears

Jerry then follows up with several recipes from his own files.

Dutch Baby Pancake


4 tablespoons (½ of one stick) butter, cut into three or four pieces

4 large eggs

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup whole milk

1 pinch of salt

4 Tablespoons sugar

¼ teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 400°F. When the oven temperature reaches about 300°F, place an 8- or 9-inch cake pan or 10-inch pie plate in the oven with the butter in it. The butter should melt, but not brown, while the oven finishes heating. Place the eggs, flour, milk, salt, sugar and vanilla in a blender. Fix the cover in place and blend on high, stopping to scrape down the sides if necessary, until the mixture is smooth and even. When the oven is fully heated, and the butter is fully melted, pull the oven rack out far enough to work safely and pour the batter into the hot pan. Push the rack carefully back into the oven and bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the oven pancake has puffed quite high and is a deep golden brown. You can test the doneness by quickly inserting a butter knife in the center of the pancake. If the knife comes out clean, the pancake is done. Remove the pan from the oven, cut immediately (it will deflate some, so don’t worry!) and serve topped as desired.

Apple Compote


3 pounds tart apples, such as pippins, Gravensteins, Macintosh, Granny Smith, Pink Lady, peeled, cored and cut in ¼ inch dice

2 tablespoons Bourbon

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1/8 teaspoon ground allspice

1 cup raisins

Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan set over medium heat and allow to come to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, with occasional stirring until the compote thickens, about 25 to 30 minutes. Serve warm.

Pear Custard Pie


4 firm pears of any variety cored, peeled and thinly sliced

1/4 cup of unsalted butter melted

3 eggs

3/4 cup milk

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup all purpose flour

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Powdered sugar for garnish

Cooking spray

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 9 inch round cast iron pan with cooking spray. Arrange the pear slices in the pan. Put the butter, eggs, milk, salt, granulated sugar, flour and vanilla into a blender; process until smooth. Pour the batter over the pears. Bake for 40-45 minutes until the custard is golden and firm to the touch. Dust the top with powdered sugar before serving.

Al Spoler, well known to WYPR listeners as the wine-loving co-host of "Cellar Notes" has had a long-standing parallel interest in cooking as well. Al has said, the moment he started getting serious about Sunday night dinners was the same moment he started getting serious about wine. Over the years, he has benefited greatly from being a member of the Cork and Fork Society of Baltimore, a gentlemen's dining club that serves black tie meals cooked by the members themselves who are some of Baltimore's most accomplished amateur cooks.
Executive Chef Jerry Pellegrino of Corks restaurant is fascinated by food and wine, and the way they work in harmony on the palate. His understanding of the two goes all the way to the molecular level, drawing on his advanced education in molecular biology. His cuisine is simple and surprising, pairing unexpected ingredients together to work with Corks' extensive wine offerings.