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A puff of flour - voil`a! - the 20-minute carrot cake

A carrot cake, chocolate chip pie, scones ... we're talking some fancy baking and an afternoon with the oven, right? Not if you are the ``20-Minute Baker'' - not to be confused with the ``one-minute manager'' or the ``10-minute makeover.''

This baker is a real person with a message to the frazzled, too-busy cook: Really delicious, ``company''-caliber treats can be prepared in 20 minutes or less, not counting baking time.

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The baker's name is Paul Piccuito, and he is a French-trained cooking instructor traveling across the United States with a dozen new recipes he has developed and tested in conjunction with the Walnut Marketing Board, which is sponsoring the tour.

``Baking is down in this country,'' says Mr. Piccuito.

``People just feel that they don't have the time to bake from scratch, yet there has been an obvious desire expressed through various surveys that people want to serve the family home-baked goods.

``On the other hand, they don't want to spend more than half an hour preparing a dish.

``These recipes are quick, delicious - and are upscale enough to serve to guests,'' he adds.

Indeed, a slightly unusual ingredient - candied ginger, for example - gives ``class'' to an otherwise simple recipe. None of the recipes have more than eight ingredients. They're smaller than usual amounts, so the emphasis is on ease and convenience and, above all, speed. Butterscotch Cornmeal Cookies 1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened 1/2 cup packed brown sugar 1/3 cup powdered sugar 3/4 cup flour 1/3 cup yellow cornmeal 1/4 teaspoon salt 3/4 cup chopped walnuts, optional 1/4 cup finely chopped candied ginger

In mixer bowl cream butter. Add sugars; cream again.

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Add flour, cornmeal, and salt; beat to blend well.

Stir in walnuts and ginger.

Roll into 1-inch-diameter balls. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets. Flatten slightly with finger tips or back of spoon.

Bake in 350-degree F. oven for 12 to 15 minutes until edges are golden. Cool on pan for 1 minute; remove to racks to cool completely.

Makes about 2 dozen cookies.

Gallery Chocolate Chip Walnut Pie 2 eggs, beaten 1/2 cup flour 1/2 cup granulated sugar 1/2 cup packed brown sugar 1 cup butter or margarine, melted and cooled 1 package (6 ounces) chocolate pieces 1 cup chopped walnuts 1 9-inch unbaked pie shell

In large bowl, beat eggs until foamy. Gradually add flour and sugars, mixing until well blended.

Stir in butter. Fold in chocolate pieces and walnuts.

Pour into unbaked pie shell. Bake in 325-degree F. oven for 50 minutes, or until pick inserted into center comes out clean.

Serve warm with scoops of vanilla ice cream, if desired.

Very Easy Carrot Cake 1/3 cup butter or margarine, softened 1 cup packed brown sugar 2 teaspoons vanilla 1 cup flour 1 teaspoon baking soda 1 teaspoon allspice 2 cups shredded carrots 1 cup chopped walnuts Walnut halves, for garnish (optional)

In mixer bowl, cream butter, sugar, and vanilla.

Combine flour, soda, and allspice; stir into creamed mixture to blend (mixture will be dry). Stir in carrots and chopped walnuts.

Spread mixture in greased 8-inch round layer cake pan.

Place walnut halves in circle around edge of batter, pressing gently.

Bake in 350-degree F. oven for 40 to 45 minutes until pick inserted into center comes out clean.

Cool in pan 10 minutes. Remove from pan; cool on rack.

Dust with powdered sugar, if desired. Cut into wedges to serve.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Tearoom Scones 2 1/2 cups buttermilk baking mix 1/4 cup sugar 1 teaspoon cinnamon 3/4 cup chopped walnuts 1/2 cup sour cream 1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted 1 egg, beaten 1 tablespoon grated lemon peel

In bowl, combine baking mix, sugar, cinnamon, and walnuts.

Stir in sour cream, 3 tablespoons of the butter, the egg, and peel. Mix to form dough.

Knead 8 to 10 times on floured surface. Pat into 6-inch circle; cut into 8 wedges.

Brush with remaining tablespoon butter; sprinkle with additional sugar and cinnamon.

Bake on ungreased baking sheet in 425-degree F. oven for 10 to 12 minutes until golden brown. Serve warm.

Makes 8 servings.

Lightning Chili Cheese Corn Bread 1 package (15 ounces) corn bread mix 1 can (17 ounces) cream-style corn 1/3 cup milk 1 egg 1/4 cup canned diced green chilies 1/4 cup sliced green onions 4 ounces (about 1 cup) shredded Monterey Jack or Cheddar cheese 3/4 cup chopped walnuts, optional

Combine corn bread mix and walnuts (if desired). Add remaining ingredients; mix just until blended.

Spread in greased 8-inch-square baking pan.

Bake in 425-degree F. oven for 35 to 40 minutes until golden and pick inserted into center comes out clean.

Cool. Cut into 3-inch squares.

Makes 9 squares.

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