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Baking Questions with Mama Cocoa

This week in Baking Questions with Mama Cocoa, we are going to talk about a few baking basics. Temperature, cooking times and butter. And then I’m going to share my favorite pie dough recipes.

This week in Baking Questions with Mama Cocoa, we are going to talk about a few baking basics. Temperature, cooking times and butter. And then I’m going to share my favorite pie dough recipes. So you’ll have a great crust on all of those summer pies you are making! LOL, it could happen!

Have a sweet day!

Mama Cocoa

MFF asks: Last week you talking about over-baking and crimes against cake, can you expand on that? 

Why yes, MFF, yes I can. As a pastry chef I am often approached by people who just don’t like cake. When you ask them why they don’t like cake often they don’t have an answer. So then I ask them to try one of my cakes, which they do reluctantly. Usually they love the cake (some still don’t, and there is nothing I can do to help those people). When you ask them what they like about my cakes the number one answer is “They’re so moist!” It’s not that people don’t like cake it’s that people don’t like Dry cakes. Over-baking causes dry cakes! So how do we prevent over-baking? First lower your oven temp by 10 degrees. Trust me it’s not going to kill your cakes or cookies. There are  very few things that I bake on high heat. I bake most things somewhere between 300 and 325.  Second, check your baked goods sooner. If a recipe calls for something to be baked for 15 to 25 minutes, start checking it around 10 minutes. You will find that most things will be finished before the recipe time is up, even at a lower temp. Finally, when testing a cake I prefer the touch test method, over the toothpick method. Lightly touch the center of the cake, if it springs back then it is done. If it stays caved in then the cake needs a few more minutes. If you want to use the toothpick method then make sure that there are still a few moist crumbs on the toothpick. Again if the toothpick is bone dry so is your cake.   

Amy M. asks: Why don’t recipes call for salted butter instead of unsalted butter and then added salt?   

Yay! This is one of my favorite baking questions! Good Job Amy M.! In order to answer that question I have to ask you one, how much salt is in a stick of salted butter? Go ahead and check, I’ll wait… Here in Maryland it’s 95 mg per serving, there are 8 servings in a stick, so there are 760 mg per stick which is .027 of an ounce which is how many teaspoons? And that’s not even the reason why we don’t use salted butter. The government actually doesn’t regulate the amount of salt used in salted butter. So the amount can vary from company to company and from region to region. So if you make a great brownie recipe using salted butter and then you send the recipe to your sister in Texas, your brownies could taste differently. Using unsalted butter and then adding salt to the recipe allows you to control the salt in a recipe. This is important because salt helps with flavor, color, and chemistry in baking.  

So what about that pie dough?

Since we are talking about butter (one of my favorite ingredients), I wanted to share with you all my pie dough recipe. I use an all butter recipe because, well because I love butter. So here you go!

Pie Dough

  • 1/2 pound of COLD Unsalted Butter (2 sticks)
  • 2 1/2 cups Flour
  • 3/4 tsp Salt
  • 1/4 tsp Baking Powder
  • 2-3 ounces of ice cold water (this amount varies every time)


  1. In a food processor combine flour, salt, and baking powder.
  2. Cut cold butter into 1” chunks and add to processor.
  3. Pulse until mixture forms mealy crumbs, the dough should be nothing but crumbs at this point not a full dough.
  4. Pour mix into a large bowl and slowly add water a little at a time. You want to add a little bit of water then stir it together with your hand. Then add a little more water, then stir a little more and so on and so forth, until the mix forms a dough.  
  5. Once the dough comes together and forms a ball then stop adding water and stirring. You may need more water then the recipe calls for you may need less.  
  6. Divide the dough in half. Shape each half into a flat-ish patty. Wrap in plastic and let rest in the cooler for an hour.  
  7. Once the dough has rested it is ready to be rolled and used in your favorite pie recipe. Yay pie!

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