Author Archives: Jen

Pie adventures

After taking a class on pies at Baking Arts and many months of trial-and-error, I’ve finally figured out how to make apple pie with the following characteristics:

- flaky, crispy top crust that shatters upon contact
- firm, golden bottom crust with slight doughiness/chewiness but no sogginess
- buttery crust with caramelized sugar
- oozy filling (not too watery, not overly thick/viscous)
- tender fruit that keeps its structure and bite
- correct sweet/savory balance (savory crust and just-sweet-enough filling)

It took me 10+ tries and lots of head-scratching while searching the internets to get this pie just right – here’s the recipe I’ve settled on. There’s no holiday or season that cannot be improved with apple pie. Dericious!

Also, note that the flaky pie dough recipe also works beautifully for savory pies; we used it for a chicken pot pie, and it was fantastic.

Jen Lee's Apple Pie

Two delicious apple pies baked in cake pans, cuz I’m cool like that.

Jen’s Apple Pie (adapted from Baking Arts)

Yield: 1 9″ diameter pie

1 recipe Flaky Pie Dough
2.5 pounds Granny Smith apples (about 5 apples)
1 cup granulated sugar
1.5 teaspoons cinnamon
1 pinch allspice
1/3 cup tapioca flour (sets clear and lets crisp apple flavor come through)
1 squeeze fresh lemon juice (do not omit this ingredient)

1 egg, 1 tablespoon heavy cream, and extra sugar for glazing crust

Cookie sheet
1 9″ diameter metal pie or cake pan

Preheat oven to 400F.

1) Mix sugar, cinnamon, allspice, and tapioca flour in a medium bowl to blend. Set aside.
2) Peel, core, and chop apples to thin, flat slices (approximately 32 slices per apple).
3) Place apple slices in a large bowl or pot. Pour boiling water or cider directly over top. Cover and set aside at room temperature for 10 minutes. Drain apples well and let sit in a colander in the sink, tossing occasionally until completely dry, another 10 minutes.
4) Toss apples with dry ingredients and lemon juice. Set aside.
5) Roll 1/2 pie dough to 1/8 inch thick. Place in bottom of 9″ metal pie pan. Trim outer edges to 1/2 inch over pan edges. Chill pie crust in the refrigerator.
6) Place apples in pie shell along with any accumulated juices. Roll top crust to 1/8 inch thick. Make vents for steam. Lay top crust over pie and trim top even with the bottom crust. Lightly pinch the two together. Crimp with a fork.
7) Freeze the pie for 15-20 minutes to set the butter in the crust and promote a flakier pie.
8) Whisk 1 egg and 1 tablespoon of heavy cream together. Brush top crust with the egg and heavy cream wash. Sprinkle with coarse sugar or granulated sugar.
9) Place pie on sheet pan, and place sheet pan on top of pizza stone on the bottom rack of the oven to promote browning of the bottom layer.
10) Bake in preheated 400F oven for 60-90 minutes. Rotate pie halfway through baking. Look for even browning and thick bubbling juices.
11) Cool on cooling rack at room temperature for at least 1 hour.

Flaky Pie Dough

Yields 1 double crust or 2 bottom crusts

2.5 cups All-Purpose Flour (12 ounces)
2 tsp salt
2 tablespoons sugar
6 ounces butter, chilled (1 1/2 sticks)
1/3 cup vegetable shortening or lard (makes pie tender and crisp; coats the gluten)
5 oz cold water + a bit more if needed

For best results on warm days, chill flour in a covered metal bowl for 30 minutes.

Place dry ingredients and shortening or lard in the bowl of a food processor and process for 15 seconds until it has the appearance of slightly damp sand. Add the butter in pieces (chop into 12 pieces first) and pulse in 1 second increments until butter is no larger than peas.

Turn mixture into a mixing bowl and drizzle in the water 1 tablespoon-full at a time, mixing after each addition. Add just enough additional water, if needed, to bind all the ingredients. (make sure there are no powdery bits. if you can see the bottom of the bowl cleanly, it’s ready. you want moistness, not sopping-ness. if the dough is slightly crumbly, push it together in the plastic wrap while you form it into a disk).

Form into two thick disks and chill in the refrigerator for 2 hours before using. Can be frozen for several months double wrapped in plastic wrap.

Rolling and Forming

Lightly flour table and dough on both sides. Walk rolling pin over dough to help soften and flatten. Begin rolling dough, pivot dough frequently to keep dough’s round shape and to check for sticking. Dust with flour as required. Press edges together if they crack. Roll dough to 1/8″ thick.

Place dough into 9″ pan (prepared with a layer of shortening and dusted with flour). Allow dough to rest in bottom edges of pie tin. Trim dough 1/2″ past the edge of the pie tin. Chill and rest dough before filling and topping with second crust. If creating a single crust pie, fold overhanding edge under itself so dough is resting on the edge of the pie tin. Crimp edges of dough. For double crust pie, after placing second round of dough on top, trim top crust to 1/2 inch and fold the bottom and top edges of dough under and crimp.

Frozen dough: Defrost in fridge overnight or take it out; leave it on counter overnight, and throw it into the fridge for 30 minutes before using.

Baking lesson with the God of Cake

In my last post, I interviewed Ryan, baker extraordinaire.

Yesterday, I got to take a private baking lesson with Ryan, and it would be an understatement to say my mind was blown. I shudder when I think of how haphazardly I used to bake. I now know how much tastier and prettier my cakes can be with slightly more patience and attention to procedure.

We baked a double-layer strawberry cake with strawberry cream cheese frosting, and while my penmanship leaves much to be desired, it’s by far the nicest-looking cake I’ve ever made:


Marshall’s birthday also happens to be Valentine’s Day, which is why the cake is pink.

Here are the tips and tricks I learned from Ryan along the way:

Preparing the pans

  • Cut parchment paper rounds:
    • Fold parchment paper in half repeatedly until you get a narrow triangle shape.
    • Put the smallest angled-corner of triangle in middle of back of cake pan and cut to the pan’s edge. Voila – a perfectly-sized parchment paper circle.
  • Once you’ve placed the parchment paper in the center of each pan, coat the top of the paper with shortening.
  • Coat the sides of the pan (only about one inch up from the bottom) with shortening.
  • Dust the bottom and sides of the pan with flour: sprinkle some on the bottom; tap and tilt to distribute evenly. Tap excess into kitchen sink.

Creaming butter and sugar properly

  • Put room temperature butter into mixing bowl and press it into bowl with wooden spoon until soft.
  • Add granulated sugar. Stir as vigorously as possible until light and fluffy.
    • The creamed butter and sugar should look opaque and pale yellow, almost ivory-colored, like frosting.
    • It should NOT look translucent and grainy, like buttery mashed potatoes – this is what my creamed butter-and-sugar always looked like in the past, and it’s wrong! No wonder my cakes were tough before.
    • This process is critical to whip some air into the butter mixture to afford the cake a soft texture.
    • This creaming step is exhausting and time-consuming to do by hand, though this is how Ryan and I did it during our lesson. Afterwards, I promptly purchased an electric hand mixer. Someday, I’ll buy myself a stand mixer.

Baking the cake

  • Pour the batter into the parchment paper-lined, shortening and flour-coated cake pans.
  • Before placing pans into the preheated oven, ALWAYS put wet “Bake Even” strips around the pans.
    • You can also use wet paper towels wrapped in aluminum foil. This will help the cake bake flat rather than doming – my cakes used to dome all the time, and later, I’d have to slice off the domed tops with a leveler, which seemed wasteful to me.
  • NEVER open the oven to check on the cake until the surface of the cake has baked enough to no longer be shiny.
    • Introducing cold air into the oven before the cake has baked to a certain extent will cause the cake to “implode.”
  • As soon as the surface of the cake no longer looks shiny, open the oven and stick a toothpick all the way through to the bottom of the cake.
    • If the toothpick comes out with no batter (some crumbs are OK), the cake is done.
  • Put the cakes in their pans onto cooling racks. Remove the bake even strips. Leave for 10 minutes.
  • Take the cakes out of the pans and put them directly on the cooling racks. Remove the parchment paper. Allow cakes to cool directly on racks for about 30 minutes.
    • Transferring the cakes from the pans to the cooling racks can be tricky. Try putting the cooling rack upside down on top of the pan, then flipping over the rack/pan assembly. The cake should pop right out onto the rack.
  • Transfer one of the cakes to a round cardboard cake base.

Allow the cakes to cool in the pans (without the bake even strips) on the racks for about 10 minutes before transferring the cakes directly onto the cooling racks.

Frosting the cake

  • Adjust the stiffness of frosting by adding more powdered sugar if it’s too thin or adding milk if it’s too thick.
  • Use an offset spatula and a turntable to get a smooth frosted surface.
  • Start by adding frosting to the layer that will be in between the cakes:
    • Dump some frosting onto the middle of the top of the bottom cake layer. Spread it around using the offset spatula.
    • Make this layer as thick as you please, but remember to leave the outer 1 cm circle empty of frosting – when you add the top layer, the weight will squeeze out some of the frosting to fill the outer border.
    • If crumbs ever end up on the spatula, scrape it on the sides of a plate AWAY from the bowl of frosting. You never want those crumbs to end up in your frosting!
  • Carefully place the second cake layer on top of the first one, keeping them concentric.
  • Add a thin coat of frosting along the sides of the cake:
    • Try not to lift perpendicularly away from the cake – rather, “frost off” the cake gently, lifting upwards when frosting the sides.
    • The point is to get an initial coat so you don’t keep pulling crumbs off the cake – no need to obsess over making the coat thin.
  • Finally, frost the top of the cake:
    • Dump frosting in the middle of the top layer, and spread the frosting around gently with the offset spatula.
    • Keep adding more and more frosting such that it drips down the sides and thickens the initial frosting coat. You can then neaten out the sides by placing the spatula squarely against one side of the cake and steadily rotating the turntable.
  • Decorate the cake:
    • Write/draw on the frosting with a toothpick first. If you mess up, you can simply smooth it over with more frosting.
    • Add some gel-based dye to leftover frosting. Screw a coupler with a piping tip onto a piping bag. Dump the colored frosting into the piping bag and twist the top of the bag to prevent the frosting from squeezing out of the top.
    • Push the colored frosting through the piping top by pressing at the top of the bag, just below the twist.

How the cake looked after frosting, before decorating.

And of course, here’s the recipe I used for the cake. It’s actually a cupcake recipe that I adapted into cake (didn’t change much except baking time, the amount of sugar in the cake, and the use of cake pans instead of cupcake pans). I tried these cupcakes at a wedding last October and couldn’t stop thinking about them; turns out they were baked by one of Marshall’s high school friends, Kailin! Check out Kailin’s blog for her other sweet creations; I’ve had many of them, and they’re all delicious.

Angie’s Famous Strawberry Cake from Apple a Day

Cake ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 c. cake flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 c. unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/8 c. sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 c. buttermilk
  • 1/4 c. oil
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 c. chopped strawberries

Frosting ingredients:

  • 1/3 c. chopped strawberries
  • 1 TBSP strawberry liquor
  • 1/2 tsp. lemon juice
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 3/4 c. unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 3/4 c. powdered sugar
  • 1/2 TBSP vanilla

Cake directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare cake pans with parchment paper, shortening, and flour.
  2. Sift flour, salt, and baking soda in medium bowl.
  3. In bowl of mixer, cream butter and sugar until fluffy.
  4. Add eggs one at a time until combined.
  5. Add buttermilk, oil and vanilla until combined.
  6. Add flour mixture and stir until just combined.
  7. Fold in berries.
  8. Fill cake pans 3/4 way.
  9. Bake for approximately 25 minutes.

Frosting directions:

  1. For frosting, put berries, liquor, and juice in saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat and then reduce to a simmer for 5 mins.
  2. Let cool, then blend until smooth.
  3. In bowl of mixer mix cream cheese and butter until creamy.
  4. Add sugar, then vanilla.
  5. Add berry puree until smooth.
  6. Frost cakes when they are completely cooled.

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!

The God of Cake: an interview with Ryan, baker extraordinaire

I’m setting out to make the most delicious Rice Krispy Treats the world has ever tasted. You can follow my pursuits at Treatified.

Why am I doing this, you might ask. For one, Rice Krispy Treats were my go-to for birthday gifts throughout high school and college, where I’d melt the butter and marshmallows in a microwave in my dorm room (it’s a miracle I never started a fire). I’m well out of school, but why stop now?

I also find myself constantly inspired by people who are virtuosos of specific kinds of food – Eric Ehler of Seoul Patch, who is a master of Korean-American fusion cuisine, and my friend Ryan, who bakes the most amazingly delicious and visually stunning cakes out of anyone I know. Case in point:

Ryan's Hyperbole and a Half Cakes

Ryan baked these two cakes for my roommate Anita’s birthday and decorated them with depictions of characters from Anita’s favorite online comic, Hyperbole and a Half. I was floored. Not only were the cakes impeccably beautiful (and so perfectly suited to the birthday girl), they also tasted like heaven. One was a maple walnut cake, chewy and nutty, and the other was a spiced cake, soft and fragrant.

Read on to find out how this unlikely baker learned his craft, and how he manages to concoct such delightful sweets even though he’s diabetic.

Jen: What’s the first thing you ever baked?

Ryan: It was probably something boring like yellow cake with buttercream frosting.

Jen: Since I’m a baking newbie, I already have a question about the basics: What makes a yellow cake yellow?

Ryan: It’s a combination of having butter and egg yolk. It’s harder to make a white cake because there’s not as much butter or egg yolk. I’m not sure I’ve even made a white cake from scratch before; it’s a more complicated recipe.

Jen: Is cake mix completely foreign to you because you’ve always made your own cakes?

Ryan: A friend of mine actually baked something from a mix one day, and I was like, “This actually turned out pretty good and it was a lot simpler…why I am spending all this time baking my own cakes?” I still prefer to have something homemade from scratch, especially if it’s for someone else. I try to do the best that I can when baking for others.

Jen: How did you learn about the techniques and sciences of baking?

Ryan: It was a combination of my mom telling me these things because she’s been baking cakes for so long. But also, someone can tell you to do it this way, and you say, oh, that makes sense, I’ll try that. You don’t really know until you don’t do it, and the result isn’t good, for example, “I mixed it too much, and it turned out too dry.” Sometimes I learned things from my mom, and other times, I learned from some sort of mistake that I remembered to fix next time.

Jen: Was there ever a time when you had an epiphany about baking tools or techniques?

Ryan: One of the biggest things was when I realized how big of a difference having good quality cake pans had in baking a cake. I was never that picky to begin with; when I was five, having a little bit of a dome on top was fine. However, layered cakes would always turn out a little odd. I was really glad when I finally found some good pans (unangled edges without nonstick coating). It’s kind of a hassle, but once you make that mistake and the cake turns out over-domed, you remember to do it right next time.

Jen: That’s definitely a good lesson! So it sounds like what you learned about cake pans was more of a trial-and-error thing rather than something you read about or talked to someone about?

Ryan: It sounds like trial-and-error, but my mom really did have a lot of influence. It would be the kind of think where I’d try something, and then it wouldn’t turn out quite right, so I’d call my mom, and she’d say, “Oh yeah, that’s happened to me before, and this is what I did for it.” It was really a combination of the two. If it’s something I’ve never done before, I’ll call her up ahead of time to get a few basic tips from her. For example, the pork buns I made – I’d never actually made bread before, so about an hour before I started making the bread, I called her and asked her how to make the bread just right. My mom’s experience helps a lot and having confidence helps too.

Jen: How did you come with the idea for making pork buns?

Ryan: I was making a lot of egg tarts for a while, and then I started thinking…what else do I love about dim sum? Pork buns! It’s not sweet, but it’s still a baked good. Someday, I want to learn how to make all my favorite things from dim sum, and have a big dim sum party at my place sometime.

Jen: What else would be at this party?

Ryan: Wonton wrappers with various fillings. I haven’t gotten around to actually planning everything yet.

Jen: How do you find recipes for all these different items? When you look for a recipe, are there triggers for what will turn out well?

Ryan: I just search on Google, and it’s hard to say how I find what looks like it will be good. I think both the pork buns and the egg tarts are from someone’s blog. I find that there are lots of people who want to do what I’m doing, and usually if you find someone’s blog, they say “I searched all the web, and here’s the one I found that is better than all the rest.” This seems a lot more reputable than just a random recipe posted online somewhere.

Jen: That’s a really good point – it seems a lot more curated when it’s on someone’s blog.

Ryan: Right – you actually get someone’s opinion on a recipe.

Jen: How did your mom learn how to bake? Is this knowledge something that’s been passed down for many generations in your family?

Ryan: The impression that I got is just that my mom has been baking for at least as long as I’ve been alive. She’s had a lot of time; she’s even more adventurous than I am about trying new things, so she learned mostly on her own. She’d watch TV shows that taught her how to bake things.

Jen: Which TV shows?

Ryan: Both of us like watching “Good Eats” a lot. So when we’re talking about cooking something, we’ll both reference stuff we saw on “Good Eats.” And it’s great because it’s a scientific approach to cooking. She’ll watch other stuff too, like Martha Stewart.

Jen: Speaking of the scientific approach, do you think that your engineering background has shaped the way you bake at all? Or is your baking hobby completely separate from your career in engineering?

Ryan: I like to think that baking is more scientific than cooking, but still, I don’t think of it as an engineering, especially when it comes to frosting and finishing. It’s sort of a nice break for me to get away from tough problem solving. I’m sure there is some influence of engineering in it. I’ve baked cakes enough times, so it comes sort of naturally. My mind almost turns off a lot of times I’m doing it. I bake pretty much when I want to relax. Although cleaning up the mess at the end stresses me out, so in the end, I’m not sure how much it really relaxes me. I’m not a super clean, organized baker, but the result is usually good enough.

Jen: What about ovens? How do you control for different oven settings, and what’s the difference between a convection oven and a regular oven? I feel like the more I read about it, the more confused I become.

Ryan: I’ve never had a convection oven, but from what I understand, a convection oven always blows
hot air, so it keeps the air more consistent, and it tends to bake things faster, so I have no idea how to adjust to that.

In terms of regular ovens, I just use trial and error. In theory you’re supposed to be putting a thermometer in the oven. What do now is keep a pizza stone in the oven. The pizza stone absorbs a lot of heat. It helps maintain a consistent temperature in the oven; without it, the oven gets hot and turns off; gets hot again, and turns off. That tip actually came out of a cake decorating class I took last November.

Jen: Interesting! I had no idea that pizza stones could do that. Where did you take the cake decorating class?

Ryan: It was at Michael’s. I happened to walk in one day to buy a cake box, and I saw that there was an ad for a class. And it was actually a really fun class! It was once a week for four weeks. Every class was two hours. We started out with basic tips for making a cake; then, we frosted cookies, learned the basics of the making the first cake layer, and made frosting flowers. We got to design our own cakes on the last day. I made a cake with a panda holding a flower.

Jen: I have heard that you make amazing panda cake pops.

Ryan: Yes, that was something I did at some point. My friend started telling me about something called cake pops, and she really thought that I should try making some. I got a book, but I didn’t really like any of the ideas I saw in the book, so I just took some leftover cake that I had, and crumbled it up into balls. I really like pandas, which are easy – just different layers of white and dark colors. The hardest part about the whole thing was getting people to eat them, because no one wanted to bite into a cute panda.

Jen: That’s exactly how we felt about Anita’s Hyperbole and a Half cake too!

Ryan: I’ve learned really think I should stop putting cute things on cakes; people just don’t want to eat them. Eating a flower is different, but eating something that is staring at you is kind of sad.

Jen: Do you have a favorite cake to bake? Your go-to thing?

Ryan: I do. The problem with having a favorite cake is that I tend to make it more often, so I kind of make too much of it. There’s a recipe I got from my mom called the perfect chocolate cake. It’s an amazingly good three-layer chocolate cake with a whipped cream filling and a chocolate ganache frosting on the outside. It’s a cake that my parents had several times when I was growing up. When I first learned that I could make it, and it wasn’t too hard to make, I made it over and over again. It’s still good, but I’ve almost gotten tired of it.

Jen: Is there anything you’ve aspired to bake but you haven’t gotten around to it yet?

Ryan: The one thing that I haven’t been able to make quite yet is the amazingly good strawberry pie that my mom made when I was growing up. I’ve tried making strawberry pies, and they never turn out anywhere near as good as hers. I really wish I could…I can never get the crust right, I never have enough strawberries, the filling’s just not quite right…I don’t know what I’m doing wrong. But nothing ever seems to be as good as the one that my mom made. The crust in particular is really hard to get right. I just really need to visit my parents and get an idea of how to make a good crust. I think it’s a good technique worth having.

Jen: As a diabetic, how do you reconcile your dietary restrictions with your passion to bake sweet things?

Ryan: I use an insulin pump, which is a very flexible way to manage diabetes. So long as I have a rough idea of how many carbohydrates I’m consuming and how it affects my glucose, I can just adjust my insulin pump. It’s not nearly as much of an issue as one might think. It doesn’t really affect me that much.

Jen: Any pieces of advice for someone who’s just starting out?

Ryan: Be fearless! I think what holds me back the most is just being unsure of myself to the point that I don’t do it. I hesitate. It’s good know that you’re going to have mistakes. The results are usually good enough anyways.

Meals 135

Breakfast: Cantaloupe, pineapple, watermelon, bacon, grilled eggplant, egg whites with cilantro and caramelized onions

Lunch: Mixed greens, braised kale, bean/cheese/rice burrito in whole-wheat tortilla

Dinner: Seared tuna, roasted sweet potatoes with ketchup, steamed broccoli, quinoa with pine nuts

Ginger: My Mr. Darcy

I have many childhood memories of shoveling my mother’s homemade Korean food into my mouth until BAM: I hit a chunk of what I thought was a lovely water chestnut or bamboo shoot when in fact, it was a piece of ginger. Gross. No matter how much good food I ate after that, it seemed like I could never get the sting of ginger out of my system. By continually popping up in my mother’s otherwise delicious chicken soup and potstickers, ginger ruined many a childhood meal for me.

To be fair, ginger was far less intimidating and even inviting when ground up into a powder and mixed into sweet drinks and baked goods of the Western persuasion. Still, I stood by my opinion on ginger, even when gingery treats lured me outside my home. Whenever I was on the verge of enjoying a glass of ginger ale or a gingersnap cookie, the rebel inside me would exclaim, “No! I’m not supposed to like this…it’s the medicinal herb that Mom forces me to eat!”

Ginger finally wooed me in the form of the Dark and Stormy cocktail at Twenty-Five Lusk in San Francisco. This was my gateway drug to ginger: dark rum, lime, and ginger beer. The fizzy combination of sweet and spicy drowned out all echoes of my mother cajoling me to eat more potstickers. How had I thrived four years past the legal drinking age without discovering the Dark and Stormy?

Jen and Anita at Twenty-Five Lusk drinking the Dark and Stormy

My roommate Anita and I enjoying Dark and Stormies at Twenty-Five Lusk

Forget the cosmo – the Dark and Stormy is the truly cosmopolitan drink, with a history that spans generations and cultures. Ginger has its roots in Asia, having been used in Asian cuisine and medicine for over 5000 years. In 13th and 14th century England, ginger was so sought-after that a pound of it cost as much as a sheep. Thanks to the ginger plant’s affinity for the Caribbean climate, the Dark and Stormy has become regarded by many as the national cocktail of Bermuda. Lounging with my drink at Twenty-Five Lusk, I had no idea the brown liquid in my frosty glass had such a colorful history, but I knew for a fact that I was hooked on ginger from that moment on.

The Dark and Stormy is just the beginning of what’s possible with ginger-based beverages: Pimms cup (the drink of choice for English cricket matches and Wimbledon), Moscow Mule (dark and stormy with vodka instead of rum), cider-based drinks, spicy mulled wine. All these would make for a rousing house party.

I’m still not a fan of finding large chunks of ginger in savory dishes, but I now love anything flavored with ginger juice, and I can eat ginger candies, cookies, and cakes by the bucketful (arguably not a good thing; I try to focus on the health benefits of ginger). A true chameleon, ginger is as complementary to garlic as it is to vanilla. A pinch of ginger can enhance foods as different as fried chicken, pumpkin pie, agedashi tofu (a savory Japanese fried tofu dish), and yes, even my mother’s potstickers. By learning to like ginger, I know I’m giving my parents some degree of satisfaction, but I relish the fact that it took an alcoholic beverage to awaken my inner ginger beast. I’m sticking to my subversive guns.

Dark and Stormy
Recipe and photo courtesy of Esquire

2 ounces dark rum (Gosling’s Black Label if possible, but any dark spiced rum will do)
3 ounces ginger beer (for sufficient spiciness, make sure it’s ginger beer and not ginger ale)
1/2 ounce lime juice (optional)

Combine the rum, ginger beer, and lime juice in a tall glass full of ice cubes. Stir.

Apparently, it’s an American thing to add lime – no Bermudian would dare add it to their Dark and Stormy. Like a true American, I prefer mine with lime.