things you never knew you needed...

sighNovember 29, 2006

Thanks to earthlydelights recent post on egg cubers I went to the website to check them out & discovered that there is such a thing as a pandoro pan. For baking pandoro. Have I ever had pandoro? No. So why am I suddenly obsessed with the need to make it? It looks like a lighter, easier version of pannettone.

Mind you, I SCOFFED at the pannettone molds! Mom always baked hers in coffee cans, who needs to spend money on a mold for pannettone?

Anyway, pandoro seems like a great thing for Christmas. My MIL loves all things Italian and I can bake a second for our traditional Italian Christmas Eve fish-fest at my mom's.

So I ordered a pandoro mold. And it's on it's way to me. I can't wait!

On my way to work this morning it occurred to me that the pandoro mold looks a lot like those molds that I already have for shaping tortillas into bowls for taco salad...


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I got a electric knife sharpener on impulse. Was reading all the rave reviews on amazon and I just clicked buy. I used to sharpen manually. I love this thing, didn't know until now what a sharp knife was. I have good knives and I have a collection of not very expensive knives that I kept in a drawer. They were never sharp because they were getting banged up stored together in a bunch. Now they are like razors! I just bought another knife block to keep them sharp. So, there are two things I didn't know I needed.

How about those chocolate fountains. Yum! I don't need one of those, right?

    Bookmark   December 4, 2006 at 10:41AM
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What type of knife sharpener did you buy? I just got a wooden block with knives and a knife sharpening rod. Is yours a rod?

    Bookmark   December 4, 2006 at 1:10PM
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A steel rod came with my Chicago Cutlery knives and I used to use it a lot. I bought an inexpensive Presto electric sharpener from Go to their site and read the customer reviews. Seems everyone who bought one loves it. I love mine. Small enough to fit in a drawer, sharpens a knife in about 30 seconds. It's made my old knives like new again.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2006 at 4:20PM
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You know...I really do need a knife sharpener! Maybe I shouldn't have started this thread?

And those chocolate fountains...eeeeevil...


    Bookmark   December 5, 2006 at 1:22PM
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Chocolate fountains are a PITA. Resist the temptation to buy one. Clean up is a nightmare.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2006 at 6:34PM
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nina, have you used your pan yet?

i just played with a version of pandoro that i normally don't make. i think i'll stick to the old method. excellent taste, three rises was a little much for me.


    Bookmark   December 19, 2006 at 10:36PM
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Hi Maryanne,

I actually did make the pandoro, about two weeks ago. I used the recipe that you had linked to on the cooking forum. Granted it did take all day what with the three rises and a second pandoro pan would have come in handy but the loaves themselves are beautiful. The first one is picture perfect, the second is cracked near the top (that one will go with us to my in-laws on Christmas day ]:)) Since the second loaf went though basically an additional rise while waiting for the pandoro mold to be available I wonder if that was the cause? Both loaves are in the freezer & I can't wait to bring it out on Christmas Eve.

I'd be curious to check out your "old" recipe if you have it available. All in all it was a fun day. I made cookies while the dough rose (and rose) and ended up using one of my massive old Fiesta mixing bowls for the second rise.

Unfortunately the cookies were a different story! I tried a new recipe for an Italian fig cookie that was basically a lot of work & aggravation for what ended up being a glorified fig newton. And my apricot cookies refused to stay folded. Still, at least everything tasted good.

Scrapula- as far as those chocolate fountains go, the idea is wonderful but the reality in my house would be a nightmare. With a large dog & constantly shedding cat I just have visions of cascades of fuzzy chocolate. Bleah.
And I can just imagine how awful cleaning that thing must be!


    Bookmark   December 20, 2006 at 12:36PM
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hi nina, glad to hear it went well.

here's the other recipe i talked about before. it's from mariann esposito - ciao italia chef. i've been making this one for many years. this is the first time i followed a different recipe - mario batali's - and it was too much of a hassle for me - an all day affair and timed rising and all that. it was quite tasty, even my dogs loved it LOL and i even used a couple of pieces for french toast.


butter and flour star mold
preheat oven to 350
to 9 ounces soft whipped butter add
3/4 cup sugar
4 egg yolks, one at a time
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon cognac
set aside
sift 1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup potato starch
and then add to above mixture
whip the 4 egg whites until firm (cream of tartar optional)
and then fold these into the above (combined) mixture
bake 35-45 minutes

cool in pan for about 10 minutes, then cool on a wire rack.

you can either glaze with apricot or apple jelly or dust with powdered sugar

NOTE: i add some fresh grated lemon zest to this as well.

    Bookmark   December 24, 2006 at 4:30PM
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I just wanted to check back in after both pandoros had been cut. The first one out of the oven, the one that was perfect on the outside actually had a large hole on the inside. It was also very crumbly. The second one out of the oven, the one that had the 4th rise & was cracked across the top was actually perfect inside & sliced beautifully, each slice holding it's shape. Both loaves were equally delicious & reminiscent of the sweet bread that my mother always baked in coffee cans. The only difference between the two was the extra rise for the second loaf since I only have the one pan. I think that I'll try Mariann Esposito's recipe for Easter & possibly invest in another pan so that I can bake both loaves simultaneously. The finished pandoro is just beautiful and very impressive looking.

Funny thing was that after never even having heard of pandoro prior to seeing the mold on I now discovered loaves of it in TWO of our local markets during the holidays! I guess that I must have always just dismissed the boxes as pannettone.

So now I'm trying to AVOID goint back to & ordering a chittarra...


    Bookmark   January 3, 2007 at 10:10AM
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I keep forgetting to buy this -- but I really need it! Even if it is kinda hard to clean. But it will fit all my knives, which my current wooden one does not.

Here is a link that might be useful: Kapoosh Knife Block (yes, that's its name)

    Bookmark   January 8, 2007 at 8:15PM
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I've had one for awhile, jkom. At first I thought it was the greatest thing since sliced bread.

However, there's a tendency for the rods to bend. Once that happens it's progressive (the pressure from one causes the one next to it to bend), and you have trouble getting the knives in.

I trimmed mine out, and it's working OK. But I've kind of lost confidence in it.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2007 at 9:21PM
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I got one of those Wustophf knife racks that hangs under my cabinets & swings out. I LOVE it! I admit I had to do a little rigging up to make it fit under my particular cabinets but it wasn't much trouble & was well worth it.....saves counter space & really right there where I need it.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2007 at 3:40PM
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I got those magnetic strips, that they sell at IKEA, to hold my knives on the wall. Only $5.95 ea. I've seen chefs use them in restaurants and thought they were great.

The knives are always handy and these things attach to a wall so they don't take up valuable counter space. It is easy to see the blades so you always grab the right knife for the right job.

I was afraid they may not hold my larger knives but these magnets are STRONG.

Cleaning them is a breeze - just a quick wipe with a wet cloth. I always hated how those wooden knife blocks got dirt down into the slots and how the wood picked up and absorbed kitchen grease in the air eventually making them gummy.

BTW, The "rod" that you speak of, that comes with a knife set, is called a 'steel'. They are NOT for sharpening, but rather to keep the edge of a knife straight. You must still sharpen your knives periodically even if you use a steel each time you use your knives.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2007 at 9:07PM
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bud_wi -- I was wondering about the magnetic knife racks. My Wustophf knives have exceeded the capacity of my knife block and I don't want two, and I don't want to buy another big block if a magnetic rack will work.

My tile backsplash goes up high (no upper cabs) where I prep food, but I assume I can mount one onto tile?

For me, it's the -quantity- that I never knew I needed: multiple measuring spoons/cups, tongs, cutting boards. I keep adding more of the things that I use the most.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2007 at 4:26PM
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Oh! I forgot to say my salt pig! love it!

    Bookmark   January 12, 2007 at 4:45PM
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wonbyherwits, I mounted mine to the ceramic tile on my wall, but I had no choice. My ENTIRE kitchen came with ceramic tiles installed from floor to ceiling.

I screwed them into the wall in the grout area and not right through the tiles as I thought they may crack. I've seen it done right through the tile but I believe you need a special drill bit to do it properly. I think it LOOKS bether being aligned with the lines of the grout too, but if you have patterned tiles it may be better to place them so they do not conflict with the design.

I have mine mounted on the wall at about eye level. It would depend on your kitchen layout of course. Where I have mine, I can stand at my counter and have the knives on the wall to my right. It just worked out that way.

When you buy yours, buy at least two of them. They hold anything magnetic and you will find more and more uses for them.

If you have magnetic spatulas and ladles you can keep one by the stove instead of wasting counter space with a ceramic jar of cooking utensils. I also keep my three favorite cookie cutters on one with my kitchen scissors.

You can even use them in your workroom in the garage or basement to hold screwdrivers and such. Heck, they are only $5.95 and they make your life soooo much easier.

If you have a sewing room they hold most of your stuff so it is handy and doesn't get lost in a jumble.

I bought a bunch of them and gave them as xmas presents.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2007 at 5:59AM
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bud_wi -- thanks for the info! Since you suggest eye level mounting, I think I can just put the rack above my tile in the sheetrock. My tile ends at the height of the bottom edge of my rangehood.

Will All-clad utensils "stick" to the magnet? I could hang those on the other side of the range.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2007 at 12:50PM
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Another thing that dawned on me this weekend- my oven thermometer. I bought one to check the accuracy of the temp in the smaller oven on my range and now I use it every time I heat up the oven. It's really made a difference in how well my baked items have turned out.

Bud_wi, the magnetic strip is a great idea! I have one that I use for paint brushes. It never occurred to me that they could be used for knives as well.

Gardenlad, I'm sorry to hear that about the Kapoosh. I thought that it was a very clever idea and a very practical one for my kitchen though I hadn't gotten one since I just "know" where each knife is in my current knife block (plus I really, really want one of those knife blocks that are person shaped ;-)). Is there any sort of warranty on the thing?


    Bookmark   January 25, 2007 at 11:52AM
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I'm sure there must be a warranty, Nina. But I threw all that paperwork away.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2007 at 2:10PM
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Gardenlad- I couldn't find anything about a warranty on Igo's (Kapoosh's mfgr) webpage but you could always try contacting customer service:

Here is a link that might be useful: cust service for Kapoosh

    Bookmark   January 26, 2007 at 10:16AM
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Actually, I believe they sold it to another company. At least you get diverted that way when going to the Igo homepage.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2007 at 12:43PM
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