Robertson describes a starter-a mixture of flour, water, wild yeasts, and bacteria-as a baker's fingerprint. Making one is simple, but it does require a commitment: Count on feeding and caring for the mixture for three weeks before you start baking. For something closer to immediate gratification, begin using the starter after five to seven days, or order a fresh starter at kingarthurflour.com. (Keep in mind, the flavor won't be as complex.) Another secret to baking like a pro: Weigh all the ingredients-even the water-using a kitchen scale that includes metric measurements.
European immigrants made this confection -- which has large, crisp crumbs on top -- a New York City coffee-shop favorite. An optional layer of jam between the batter and topping adds a fruity component.
There's something magical about fire dancing on water. Reflected in the liquid's shimmering surface, the flickers of a candle's flame appear doubly radiant and twice as beautiful. Floating candles add instant atmosphere to a casual summer table, and with our technique, you can create lots of them in only a couple of hours.