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At Last: A Terrific Affordable Thermometer

May 15, 2006 | From the kitchen of Rose

When it comes to baking, the three most critical factors to ensure the best results are the quality of the ingredients, the quantity of the ingredient (I prefer weight to volume) and the temperature. For the latter, it’s often useful to have a thermometer but if it’s not an accurate one it’s better to use none at all. You can get away without one for most baking but when it comes to sugar syrups it is almost essential. And it’s reassuring when baking bread to know for sure when it’s reached the proper internal temperature. For roasting or grilling I can’t begin to imagine doing without a thermometer.

Since mercury thermometers for use in the kitchen were banned by the FDA I’ve been searching for a viable replacement that would be both accurate and affordable. I love infra-red for surface temperature such as the inside of the oven, the freezer or frig, but have not found the ones that also include probes adequately reliable for internal temperatures. For these uses I can now recommend the CDN Pro Accurate™ Quick Tip™ Digital Cooking Thermometer on a Rope Model Q2-450 that I’ve been testing since the Chicago Housewares Show a few months ago. I’m pleased to report that tested against my old reliable mercury thermometer it is as accurate and possibly even faster. This is now the one that I pull out with the most regularity, probably because it’s so handy in design and so extraordinarily easy to use. Since I’m not working with large volumes, I especially appreciate the “quick tip” feature--the sensor is in the tip of the probe so it doesn’t require the usual deep immersion to get an accurate reading (No more tilting of the pot!). There are so many useful features I’ll list them here:

Temperature Range: -40 to 450˚F, -40 to 230˚C ±1/2 ˚
Waterproof
Self calibrating
One button operation (easy to turn on and off but auto turn-off after 10 minutes)
Big digit readout
Data hold (locks reading on display for use in low light conditions)
Hangs on a rope
Suggested retail price under $20

The company also offers a 23-page booklet on “temperature and thermometer tips” at www.cdnw.com or by mail if you send a stamped self-addressed envelope to:
CDN Customer Service
PO Box 10947
Portland, OR 97296

Check out their site for other useful thermometers such as one specific to grilling. I haven’t tried it out yet but the outdoor grilling season is just beginning so stay tuned!

Comments

The fastest, most accurate is Thermapen. Pricey, though.

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Josette Mamo
Josette Mamo
03/05/2013 03:23 PM

I need to buy a thermometer to measure butter's temperature when taken out of fridge to be softened, egg temperature, and also possibly temperature of cake when done. Which thermometers do you recommend for my purpose?

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It is funny--I just got rid of all my omega emails/ printouts a couple of days ago--should have held on to them. I just wrote them an email with the model number of the thermometer I wanted. I described what I wanted to do with the thermocouples, and they responded quickly with a list of model numbers for the thermocouples (such as the one that goes in the oven).

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Hi Jessie,
We recommend making a stand with a clip as a holding apparatus or buying a chemistry lab stand with a clip. I have converted both an architect lamp and a
lamp with a flexible arm by removing the lamp and wiring and attaching a spring clip. You can attach the CDN or other instant-read thermometer and have both hands free for your task.

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I just broke my thermometer last night and am scouring my resources for reviews and recommendations. Imagine my glee when I searched to see if Rose recommended one herself, and found this! While the reviews of this thermometer scare me (concerning reports of failure on Amazon) I trust rose implicitly. However, I fail to see how this would clip onto a pan for candy making. I tried holding a thermometer once, the clip having annoyed me into submission one time, and my fingers were so hot! Any recommendations for a top of the line candy making thermometer that I don't have to hold? I don't care how much it costs as long as it works and I won't have to worry about it breaking and dealing with poor customer service. I wrote to Omega inquiring about their products, and looked at the thermapen, both brands suggested on this thread. It doesn't look like either brands will clip on. Am I doomed to have to hold and stir at the same time? There are more than a few people here on this thread whom I idolize (hehe) what do you think?

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Copper pots and pans can be seasoned with a thin layer of peanut oil applied to the steel lining (not the copper). Heat the pan until just before the oil begins to smoke. Cool it, rinse it, and dry it with a towel. Try cleaning with a lemon on your copper to shine it up.

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I did imagine it!--I contacted the company, and there is no way to change the direction. Might be a nice idea though for a future design to cater to both righties and lefties.

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For some reason, I had remembered that you could change the display to either right or left handed, but now I can't find anything thing about that in the documentation. I guess I really must have imagined that. I wanted to change it to left handed because, even though I am right handed, I find I most often hold this with my left hand (usually whisking with my right hand) and the display is always upside down.

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Good for you! and good for us that we can see all your creations via the 'net:)

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you are always welcome Salma, and THANKS!

my cousin Patricia came to my apartment yesterday and browsed my little printed portfolio. glad she asked me to keep it, now I can print an updated one with Elaine's cakes.

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Oh you most definitely made sense. Thanks ever so much! You made my decision so very simple.

BTW, just went to your cake thread to check them out again, and I think the comment I posted didn't get through. All I said was that I was at a loss for just how to express my reaction, and then Rozanne, I believe, made it easier for me with her contribution- 'speechless' :)

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oh Salma, if one is all you get, get the tip one over the ir. much more accurate and called for by all recipes.

you can't meassure internal temp with the ir, like when checking internal temp of cakes, bread, poultry, reeating left overs, and even syrup for mousseline or yolk custard!

with the tip model you can still check the temp of your ambient, just turn it on.

hope I make sense, it is the tip model I grab most. my little ir I use only when I want an aprox reading at the surface and when I don't want to wash it or cross contaminate, like when I want to check temp of chicken and fish in the refrigerator. also when checking the temp of my grill or panini pan, more a luxury really.

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oh Salma, if one is all you get, get the tip one over the ir. much more accurate and called for by all recipes.

you can't meassure internal temp with the ir, like when checking internal temp of cakes, bread, poultry, reeating left overs, and even syrup for mousseline or yolk custard!

with the tip model you can still check the temp of your ambient, just turn it on.

hope I make sense, it is the tip model I grab most. my little ir I use only when I want an aprox reading at the surface and when I don't want to wash it or cross contaminate, like when I want to check temp of chicken and fish in the refrigerator. also when checking the temp of my grill or panini pan, more a luxury really.

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Hector, I'd been trying to go through this thread quickly, and my head was spinning with all the info.. Thank you for your summation of sorts!

I am intending to get the CDN Pro Accurate QuickTip. However, reading some of Rose's and your comments, I decided that I should definitely get something with which I can check my surrounding temperature etc, since I bake in a hot place. I'm hoping that you could guide me about the CDN Infrared IN428 v/s Raytek Infraredchoice.

Also, does CDN deliver to customers' houses?

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Matthew, hope you have not deleted the many emails I sent you about getting a Bialetti stove top espresso maker!

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It is funny--I just got rid of all my omega emails/ printouts a couple of days ago--should have held on to them. I just wrote them an email with the model number of the thermometer I wanted. I described what I wanted to do with the thermocouples, and they responded quickly with a list of model numbers for the thermocouples (such as the one that goes in the oven). I would try emailing them again because I thought they had excellent customer service--perhaps your email didn't make it?

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I can totally understand that Hector - my hood vent ranges from 380-800 cfm and the neighbors always know when/what I'm cooking.

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matthew, could you spell the omega beans? i dont have one.

i rely on little cdn nsf thermometers, plus smell, color and repeated results.

did i tell that i have a 600 cfm range hood venting outdoors? so i actually have to go to my yard to smell the performance of my oven!

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Hector

I would also like to have the details for the omega. I live in Europe so it is not easy for me to make a call for information to Omega. I have tried email but that did not work.I want to buy the omega hh22 with the thicker wires so I can check the oventemperature and the internal temparature of my meat etc, without taking the probes out the oven.

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Veronica, are you still having trouble bringing the right temperature of sugar for Italian Meringues? I hope not since you have 2 of the most sought thermometers already: the themapen and thermocouple!

I have the CDN Pro Accurate Quick Tip and the little CDN infrared.

/H

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I know I can rely on this site for answers to thermometer question! I've been having trouble getting the temperature of low volume sugar syrup for Italian Meringues which is so critical its end result. Thanks!!! And if you all want to see my collection of thermometers see here which does not include the last two I purchased , check over here :) :

http://kitchenmusings.typepad.com/my_weblog/2007/09/how-many-thermo.html

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Hector, I also have all of the CDN models you mention except for the IR. I like them too. The DOT2 seems to be accurate and it is very affordable although I haven't tested it against the Omega yet. I basically wanted the Omega so I would never have to wonder again--it is accurate to a very fine level.

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oops, sorry, Matthew, found the info above. Congratulations on the Omega. Right now my therm collection is as follow:

The CDN DOT2 hanging on the oven shelf that I will be baking (hanging from the shelf above, or sitting on the shelf itself). I place it right in the middle so I could read it thru the oven door glass, which is still hard to read as I don't clean the glass often. What I do is when I open the oven door to bring in the cake, I remove the thermometer and read it, and no longer place it in the oven or place it towards the side after I put the cake in just so I can read it when the cake is done; it is just hard to have the thermometer in the way! My oven is always lined with tiles on the oven floor or bottom shelf and on the top shelf and I do preheat at least 30 minutes (gas oven, convection on), I use my CDN Infrared to read the tile temp, and when that is done I am assured my oven temp is pretty accurate and stable.

The CDN Infrared IN428. It is my baby, and I carry with me everywhere I go! Like Rose mentions, this is the one I use to read the temperature everywhere, and not just in the kitchen (although never tried to read my toes). When I read the tiles, I feel comfortable that my oven is at the correct and constant temperature since tiles are temperature stable. I am aware that when the tiles are directly on the oven floor they will always be at much higher temperature, do this for pies or roasts, for cakes the tiles are on the bottom shelf. My baby goes indoors, outdoors, on my pets, in my garden, in my office, Europe, etc, etc.

The CDN Q2-450 ProAccurate Quick Tip. This I use when heating sugar, cooking, etc. Also when I reheat leftovers, specially in the microwave, I probe the food to read internal temperature of 160 or so. When I heat sugar, I also read with the IR every now and then, interchangeably, it gives you a better idea of what is going on.

KitchenAid freezer/refrigerator thermometer, one on each freeze/refrigerator I have, and I do interexchange them across my freezers/refrigerators to see if they give you still the same temperature wherever they should be. Every now and then, I place a glass of water in my refrigerators and read with the CDN Quick Tip. I've just ordered an Orka Fridge/Freezer Thermometer, dual probe, digital outside reading, A75014, just for fun. My freezer is kept at 0, my fridge at 30 to 32 (I know, that is cold), and my chest at -10.

Polder 602-90 Digital Cooking Timer/Thermometer, two of these. When I do roasts primarily, and do cross check accuracy with my oven's built in probe and with my Quick Tip.

My wish for an addition would be the Raytek IR/Probe Food Service.

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Matthew, details of the Omega, pls. model, where to buy, etc.

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no--i place it on the shelf where i will be baking--usually toward the middle but not to touch the baking pan of course!
congratulations--you'll feel so secure with this thermometer!

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Rose,
I decided to go ahead and get the Omega, and I have it now. It looks very "scientific." I like it. One final question. Where/how do you place the wire probe in your oven? I can see my oven's built-in probe rests on a little ledge in the top left of the oven. Do you place yours at the top too?

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refiner's syrup would give the fondant an off-white color so it's up to you.

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I have a question regarding poured fondant. I'm going to making napoleons this week. Can I use refiners syrup in the fondant or does it have to be corn syrup?

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the probes attached to coiled yellow wires are not oven or heat safe. they are what i referred to as instant read. for the oven you need the special wires which come in thin and thicker sizes. i like the thicker as it's more durable. since there are two 'sockets'you can use one to test the oven at the same time as the probe to test sugar syrup etc.
in the past i've called the company and they are very helpful guiding you to what your specific requirements are.

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Thank you for your response Rose. It prompted me to turn back to your books and do a bit more reading. I am now considering taking the plunge for the Omega. I went to their website and looked at the HH22, but there isn't a lot of practical information. I'm trying to visualize how I would use it. The probes appear to be attached to coiled yellow wires--are those oven safe? How do you place the probes in the oven?

Secondly, you mention an optional instant-read attachment for the Omega. Could the extra second probe be used for this purpose? If not, do you happen to know what the optional part is called. I searched for instant-read probe, but I didn't turn up anything.

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my first choice is the thermapen for spead. the only infrared i've used is the raytek foodpro.

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Rose,
I'm about to invest in a new set of thermometers, so I was reading through this thread again. I plan to purchase the quick tip, but would also like to buy an infrared. Do you also recommend CDN's model? I saw this comment from you, but I wasn't sure/couldn't locate the model you were referring to.

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Hi everyone,
This post is long overdue. I checked my thermometer's tip as adviced by the CDN rep and found a slight nick on it. My replacement just came in and it works much better than the first. It has a smooth and unblemished tip. It doesn't fluctuate wildly like the first one. I successfully made a ganache and poured fondant recipe with it.
Thx everyone, for your input and suggestions!

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kathy, none of the mauvial copper i've purchased is covered with any protective coating. copper that is usually comes with instructions for removing it. i haven't seen this for years.

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Jen, your explanation is EXACT. Thanks for sharing.

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Hi Maria. We were taught in culinary school that once your thermometer hits the desired temp for the FIRST time, you stop the cooking. The sugar is boiling, so the temp is going to jump up & down depending on if the probe is in an air bubble, closer to the bottom of the pan, etc. And sugar does heat in "stages" (jumps a few degrees at a time), so you are not losing your mind! I'm sure Rose knows the scientific explanation for this (it may be in the super informative sugar "work-of-art"icle posted on this site, i didn't go look again).

Anyhow, I defer as always to Rose's knowledge of these matters, but it has always worked for me to stop cooking exactly when I first see that "248 degrees" register on the thermo....(except for caramel, where I do take it off the heat 5 degrees early).

Hope this helps.


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Maria, I don't think you can avoid that. Honestly, I use thermometers only as a reference. Even if they are extremelly exact, I eye ball a lot. /H

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Hector, thx for the reply!
The reading would be fine if it kept increasing linearly. Say my thermometer reaches 248.3, the slightest movement of my hand will bring it back to 247.8 or 247.9 or lower. This confuses me, and I am left high dry as my thermometer reading wavers and the candy continues to heat way past the requisite stage.

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Maria, I think if you are registering 247.9 and then it jumps to 248.3, it is accurate enough. =)

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See, that is what I mean hector. Because its instant read, would the temperature keep climbing steadily without a pause, registering even the slightest increase in temperature?

What I have seen in my thermometer (which may be faulty)is that it does not read in increments of 0.1,ie. 240.1,240.2,240.3,240.4 and so on. It jumps ahead skittishly by 0.3 or 0.2 decimals. There is no uniform increase in temperature.
When I used the thermometer, it never ever recorded a clear, precise 248. It was always either 247.9 or 248.3. Thats why I ask.
How long should each increment last on the display? So, when I say hold, I don't mean the hold feature on the thermometer, I mean how long does any temperature reading remain on the display.

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I have purchased a Mauviel copper bowl for beating egg whites. It came with no information as to first time use. Some copper must be cleaned of protective finishes before using. Is this the case with this particular bowl? It does not appear to have a coating of any kind.Thanks.

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Maria, the thermometers we use are "instant read," which means these register temperature changes immediatelly. If a candy recipe calls to cook to 248oF, the thermometer will say 248oF and this is when you stop the cooking or go on to the next step in your recipe.

Why would you need to hold the temperature reading in your thermometer? I find this feature helpful when you want to read the thermometer avoiding getting too close to the food.

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Rose,
An update on my post about the thermometer. I talked to a CDN customer rep and she said the fluctuations in thermometer could be the result of the red tip being scratched or bruised.
I also wanted to mention that the temperature fluctuations I see are by decimal points, like by 0.1 - 0.4. Not by entire degrees. But I didn't see any abrasions on the tip. I will go home and check thoroughly today.

Let me ask you this, suppose a candy recipe says the candy should be cooked to 248F, does your thermometer hold that temperature after it registers, if so how long does the temperature stay at 248?

Anyway, I am getting a replacement from the retailer I order it through. I will report back on how that goes.
Maria.

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I've got the CDN quicktip as Rose listed, and also a CDN infrared. My experience with thermometers is none prior to this, but my experience with caramel is about 100 batches. I trained with the color changes of caramel and with the detailed description Rose mentions on Cake Bible (color, texture, drop size, etc).

Now I use the thermometers and I also find that I need to account 5 degrees earlier. If you wait until your caramel is at the exact temperature, it will over do. Besides the thermometer been slow in registering, I believe that caramel increases temperature so fast and drastic when it is reaching target temperature. So, keep one eye on your thermometer and the other eye on the caramel, provided you have 2 eyes.

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also please note that with all thermometers, especially when making caramel, it's a good idea to remove the mixture from the heat a minimum of 5 degrees before it reaches temperature. you can always return it if necessary, but many pots retain the heat and if the thermometer is slow in registering, this conspires to end up with a temperature far in excess of what you are trying to achieve.

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i strongly recommend that you contact the manufacturer. although the reading is not as fast as the thermapen, it should not be that sensitive to motion or as slow as you describe. thanks for reporting this.

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Hi Rose,
I chanced upon your review of the CDN quicktip proaccurate thermometer in my search for a reliable candy thermometer. I was glad to see that this is something you recommend and quickly ordered the equipment.
I used Q2-450 along with my analog thermometer in a few recipes, to get comfortable with it.
I found Q2-450 to be very motion sensitive. That is, I have to hold it absolutely still in the liquid for it register the temperature. Any slight movement and the temperature will start going up and down randomly.
I also did the boiling water test. Surprisingly the 212 reading showed up long after the water had come to a boil and even then it did not hold the temperature, it just kept going up and down.
In some cases it showed temperatures far in excess of my analog thermometer. I don't know if I got a faulty piece of equipment but I thought I'd share just in case there is anyone else out with a similar experience.

Maria.

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i'm so glad. (on all counts)
xoxox

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Thank you, Rose. I will keep my infrared and I have to tell that watching your show on PBS rekindled my love of baking and I proceeded to buy a KitchenAid like my mum had and all your books, actually reading them cover to cover. Your recipes and information on why and how baking works in your books have inspired me and my re-found love of baking. Thank you so much!

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i have to tell you that i use my infrared thermometer all day long--from testing the room temperature where i soften the butter to checking the preheating of a sauté pan. i also find it works just fine pointing it into the middle of the oven. i just checked it again the oven thermometer i'm about to recommend and they were identical. i don't even look at either because i know how my oven bakes by now so no need. and if recipes are baking in the right range of time the recipe specifies that's all you usually need.
the thermometer that seems to work best is the cdn model dot 2. the contact info is in a posting above.

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Rose:

My husband just bought me an infrared thermometer for Christmas hoping to help me get my oven temperature "issues" settled. You had mentioned the Raytek infrared in the Cake Bible (which I ADORE) and we thought it would be a great idea.
I have an in-oven thermometer now but I cannot read it without taking it out of the oven. We thought that the infrared would be the answer but upon getting it and trying it out, we are unsure as to what to focus on in the oven. Since it is only taking surface temp, i am worried that it will give me a reading different than my recipe and i will be continually adjusting. Now reading the posts, I am thinking it is not the best tool for the job. I looked at the Omega and it is just too expensive. Should I take my infrared (Fluke mini62) back and buy an regular oven theremometer with bigger numbers?

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if you don't have an oven with a window and light so that you can read the thermometer, call omega: 800/826-6342 and ask for model # HH22 (it has a probe that goes into the oven but the thermometer itself stays outside where you can read it easily.)
alternatively, the CDN Model DOT2 has proven very reliable but of course if you need to open to oven door to read it the temperature will drop by at least 25 degrees.

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I could use a little added guidance on a thermometer. I will probably get the CDN for measuring food, but I would like to get an oven thermometer. I tried looking at the Omega site and was entirely confused - I felt I needed a degree in electrical engineering. And I tried to search for Mettler Scientific and came up empty. Could you give me a little more specific info on what I might use for an oven thermometer?

Thank you very much for any help you can provide.

Brian

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sorry--i meant the omega. that would be my first choice but for sheer ease--the much smaller cdn is the one i usually pull out to use. i don't think the thermopen is worth the extra money. i'd rather put it towards the omega for which you can also order an oven probe.

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thanks for the response - so basically, it comes down to what one is willing to spend.... in your opinion, is the thermopen worth the additional $65??
also, i could not find any info on the ohaus - could you point me in the right direction?

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good question! it takes a few seconds more to register than the thermapen. the fastest of all is the ohaus but that's more like $200!

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Hello,
quick question about thermometers. how does the above-suggested thermometer compare to the thermopen? i have had my eye on one of those for a while, but the price ($85) holds me up. i bought an "instant read" thermometer before, and never use it due to it taking sometimes minutes to come to the proper temperature.
thanks for the tips!

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thanks zach for answering this. one more thought--raspberries need more sugar than strawberries. you can do this by taste or consult the chart i have in "the pie and pastry bible" in which i list almost all fruits and berries and how much sugar or thickener is needed by volume and by weight.

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Zach Townsend
Zach Townsend
08/03/2006 03:00 PM

Rosa,

I've made this substitution on many occasions. You can subsitute one for the other in a mousse recipe without any problem; of course, the flavor will be somewhat different, so I would just ensure that the berry you substitute goes with the flavors overall of what you're trying to accomplish.

Zach

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Hi! I am familiar w/ your Cake Bible and refer to it quite often. I have a question. Are strawberries and raspberries interchangeable? I need a recipe for a stawberry mousse filling, for a wedding cake. I have one for raspberry mousse, but don't know if I can substitute. Thanks.

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yes jean--it rained again all night long and now is cold and clammy!
i loved the story of the chiffon bee tarts--wouldn't they be cute as individual tartletts!
there's no beating the humdity unless one has a dehumidifer and/or airconditioner. i supposed you could investigate putting little packets of silica jell in with the cookies. they do this in japan as it's a humid country which is what makes lacquer-ware keep so well! (i put mine in the bathroom!)
you could also put a little note in with them explaining how to store and suggesting to recrisp in the oven at perhaps 350 for 2 to 3 minutes if they become soggy or else eat them before they do!

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Hi Rose! I am a self taught pastry chef and can not find the answer to my question on any website. I live in NJ and you know how rainy it has been. My usual recipe for sugar cookies came out perfect but within a few hours had lost their crispness and became limp and crumbly. What can I do? I have just started my own business and am afraid that this will happen to my customers after they have brought the cookies home.
Thanks, Jean
PS - I have the Pie and Pastry Bible and I thank you, thank you, thank you. You are partly the reason I was hired by a four-star restaurant to be the pastry chef. I gave them samples of my tarts (that I practiced making exactly from your book) and I was hired. One night I made the honey chiffon/bee tarts and the people in the restaurant went crazy taking photos of the dessert.
Hope to hear back from you... Jean

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Hi, I just wanted to thank you for this blog entry. I've had enough white-knuckle moments making Italian meringue now that the thought of a fast, affordable, accurate thermometer sounds pretty wonderful.

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yes--you do get different reading depending on where in the oven you point the laser thermometer. and the temperature in most ovens drops 25 degrees on opening the door but not at the exact moment you open it so speed is critical. since i have a hearth kit baking stone in the oven it slows the drop and speeds the recovery of temperature significantly.
the ideal oven thermometer is a probe so you don't have to open the door at all to see the reading. i use the mettler scientific.

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Zach Townsend
Zach Townsend
06/19/2006 01:44 PM

Hi Rose,

I've been looking at thermometers again lately, only having one at the moment though it's very reliable (it's an instant read with a digital display, etc.). I noticed you mentioned the infra-red thermometer and one of its applications being the inside or surface temperture of your oven. Seems this would be a very quick way to see if your ovens are calibrated quickly (I've used my instant read thermometer before but it requires placing the probe inside of the oven on aluminum foil, closing the door, etc.) If using an infra-red, I imagine it's much quicker, just open the door and point. But wouldn't you get different temperatures based on if the laser is pointed to the back of the oven or to the bottom? Also, once you open the door to take the temperature, do you find there is a dip in the temperature due to the outside air? I'm trying to decide if the infra-red thermometer would be the best option for measuring internal oven temperature and how it should best be used for that. What has been your experience with this?

I know that infra-red is only good for taking surface temperatures of liquids if you first stir them then immediately take their temperature.

Thanks, Zach

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Zach Townsend
Zach Townsend
06/01/2006 01:15 PM

Hi Rose,

Here are the results of the mousse with pectin - it's great! The flavor has a slight tang to it which I think goes well with strawberry (good substitution on my part, if I do say so...) and the texture is amazingly soft despite the use of pectin, gelatin and white chocolate. The whole strawberries stay perched on top of the mousse very well yet it's easy to cut, nice to eat and hold its shape well. I believe this mousse would appeal to many people. It also has a striking pink hue.

I think, however, I'm discovering that my preferences for mousses are not those that contain whipped egg white, as my texture preferences lean more toward creamy-style mousses; Whipped egg white adds an airyness and sponginess that I'm not a big fan of. But nevertheless, this is quite a nice mousse and is certainly a good option for when someone desires a soft mousse that also needs to maintain its form.

Besides the tangy flavor, I'm not sure what the pectin has done, but it somehow works.

Thanks,
Zach


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Zach Townsend
Zach Townsend
06/01/2006 09:10 AM

Thanks Robert,

Preliminary results are looking pretty good! I unmolded the cake this morning, which is surrounded by the mousse and it looks great. I also reserved a little bit of the mousse in a bowl so that I could taste it without cutting into the cake. The flavor is great; I noticed while making the mousse that the pectin lent a tangy taste to the meringue that I was incorporating into the mousse, and as a result, a tangy taste to the mousse overall, which I like. The texture of the mousse seems good, too. Although I prefer mousses with a "creamy" texture rather than a stiff texture, this seems to have a good balance between the two. Also, I used strained strawberries (the original recipe actually used raspberry juice) and the overall strawberry flavor seems quite pronounced. This morning, I placed four large strawberries on top of the cake to test the mousse's strength to support decoration - they are perched on the mousse nicely even though the mousse appears to have a soft texture (when I put my finger on top of the mousse very lightly, some of the mousse came off on my finger, indicating it's quite soft still). I'll post the final verdict when I cut into the cake tonight.

Concerning your comment about whipping - the recipe calls for adding the pectin to the sugar, pouring in egg whites over them then, as with a genoise, heating this over a bain-marie until it warms up; the meringue is then whipped off the heat until its cool. The does appear to act as a stablizer because it seems impossible to overwhip the whites (once they reached stiff peeks, I kept the mixer on low until I had prepared the cake and was ready for the mousse - the meringue was unaffected by this).

A drink with pectin?? That I'm curious about....

Thanks, Zach

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Also Zach, remember that the cocoa butter and milk solids in the white chocolate will help to stabilize the mousse. I don't have any purely pectin-set mousses, but I've a few drink recipes (!) that call for them as a "mouthfeel enhancer".

Even though normal pectin requires high concentration of sugars, whipping tends to increase the effectiveness of stabilizers by concentrating it a bit. It's why you can use methocel as a whipping agent, amongst other things.

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i've only ever used pectin for fruit preserves. the old style pectin required a high amount of sugar but the newer types--they were initially referred to as low methoxy i seem to remember-would set even with less sugar.

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Zach Townsend
Zach Townsend
05/31/2006 07:36 AM

Hi Rose,

Have you ever used pectin either alone or in combination with gelatin to make a mousse? I have a recipe from a European chef for a strawberry mousse with white chocolate that uses a combination of powdered fruit pectin and gelatin. I'm not sure why it's necessary to use a combination of these two. Does pectin set softer than gelatin? I've never used pectin, so this will be a new one for me. I've checked other references and don't really find anything at the moment (those crazy Europeans! :))

Thanks,
Zach

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the finished dough is either the dough that's ready to be shaped or the dough that has been shaped and placed in a bread pan. either way they will rise slowly in the frig. follow the directions for how long ahead of baking to take it out etc.

some doughs such as brioche keep rising in the frig during the first couple of hours in which case you can gently deflate them after the first and second hour or place them in a container that allows them to rise no more than double and put a heavy weight on top. but i can't think of a single dough i gave to bake in a loaf pan that rises too much in the frig. overnight.

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Gail Glanzberg
Gail Glanzberg
05/30/2006 01:53 PM

On page 309 of the Bread Boble you suggest refrigerating the finished dough overnight. I am uncertain what you mean by the finished dough. I am concerned about it rising too much. It would be perfect for me because the bread could be ready by lunchtime, and the kitchen would have been cleaned up the day before. I would appreciate your comment on this. Thanks

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zach, you are a man of much courage--bravo or rather chapeau!!! i've actually succeeded in applying a chocolate glaze to a buttercream frosted cake. didn't do it again though. you ahve to have the buttercream very cold so the warm glaze doesn't put dents in it.

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steve, i checked the website for the cdn thermometers and you're right--the one with the rope is Q2-450 and the specs say 1/2 degree accuracy so that's the one i'd go for! thanks for pointing it out.

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Zach Townsend
Zach Townsend
05/28/2006 03:07 PM

Thanks, Rose. I'm working on this recipe in the next few days and will let you know. Actually, for this first round, I did manage to apply a thin layer of buttercream on top of the mousse even though the mousse is quite supple. It required keeping the cake in the metal ring to support the cake while you're spreading the cream. The only thing I need to change is the thickness of the buttercream layer as when the cake refrigerates, the buttercream obviously gets firm while the mousse stays soft; when the cake is sliced, the buttercream cracks a bit which isn't very attractive. I think the answer is that I have to make the buttercream layer ultra-thin when the buttercream is just made so that it's very soft. The only reason I'm pursuing doing this is to create a firm enough surface to support decoration. Plus, I want to test the mouth feel of buttercream with mousse.

I'll let you know how the next test turns out.

Zach

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i've never seen it done and i suspect if the mousse is worth eating it will be too fragile to support buttercream on top of it.

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Zach Townsend
Zach Townsend
05/26/2006 09:11 PM

Rose,

I am working on a cake recipe using cake rings, genoise and a mousse filling. I am letting the mousse filling set around the cake in the refrigerator overnight. I also made a buttercream that I intended to use on the cake, but in the middle of assembling changed directions and decided to have two layers of genoise in the center of the cake. Once the ring is removed, the cake will be surrounded completely in mousse that has set. However, I was wondering if it's possible to still apply the buttercream around the cake, with the mousse (that contains gelatin) as the undercoat. Before doing this, I wanted to research if buttercream is normally applied over a mousse layer, but can't find any recipe where this is the case. Can this be done with success?

Thanks,
Zach

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Rose:

It was a pleasure to meet you at the gourmet food show in Las Vegas a couple of weeks ago. We would like to thank you for taking the time to speak with us. We are sure you met loads of people - just to remind you who we are we have a store in Brooklyn where we sell the Lekue silicone pans among many other kitchen and gift baskets. We would love for you to stop by. As we discussed, we will stay in touch with you for your upcoming book - so that we can plan a book signing. And, I will forward to you that challah recipe we discussed. It is from a cookbook called The Kosher Palette that benefits the Kushner schools in New Jersey. It is a very popular cookbook around here.

4 cups warm water(105 degrees to 115 degrees)
2 (2-Ounce bars fresh yeast (NOT packets of dry yeast) - FYI- I use bakery yeast from a block
1 T. sugar
1 (5-lb) bag of high gluten Flour
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 T salt
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups canola or corn oil
1 large egg, lightly beaten.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Open oven door.
Combine water and yeast in a medium metal or glass bowl. Stir in 1 T. sugar. Plac the mixture on the open oven door (the small amount of heat helps proof the yeast) and let stand for 10 minutes. The mixture will be bubbly. If your yeast mixture isn't bubbly, then something is wrong and you must start recipe over again. Turn oven off.
Place flour in a large alumninum bowl, remove 2 cups of flour and set aside for other uses. Stir in 2 cups sugar and salt, mixing well. Push the flour against the sides of the bowl, leaving a well in the center.
Pour the yeast mixture, 3 eggs and 1 1/2 cups oil into the well, mix with a wooden spoon until you can no longer stir it.

Knead the dought with your hands until it no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl. The dough should be smooth and springy. If the dough is still very sticky, knead in small amount of flour until it is smooth.

Brush the top of the dough with oil. Cover with plasitc wrap and a dry towel. Let rise for 1 1/2 hours in a warm room. (If your kitchen or room is cold, preat your oven to 200 degrees. Turn it off, allowing just enough heat ot remove the chill. Place the dough in the oven to rise.)
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surfact and punch down. Challah is to be taken at this point and the blessing said. Divide each section into 3 equal pieces. Roll each portion into a thick rope. Place the 3 pieces side-by-side on a lightly greased baking sheet and pinch the top ends together. Braid the dough and pinch the bottom ends together. Repeat with remaining dough. ( I make 6 braided challahs) Unrisen challot may be placed in a foil pan, wrapped in plastic and frozen. Remove from the freezer, thaw and proceed with recipe directions.
Brush challot with beaten egg. Let rise, uncovered, for 45 minitues to an hour.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Bake challah 25 to 35 minutes until golden brown and challah sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom. (After 15 to 20 minutes, reverse the direction of the baking sheet. Cool on wire racks.
I bake ours in oval baking pans (we sell then in several sizes) that are fabulous - They are available as non-stick.
I make 4 large challahs from the recipe, but you can make more smaller ones if you prefer.

Thank you again for the time you spent speaking with us. Looking forward to seeing you again soon.

Martin and Faigie Sprecher
The Kitchen Clique
www.kitchenclique.com

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Zach Townsend
Zach Townsend
05/22/2006 02:13 PM

Sorry...one follow up to my review by the Pierre Herme book. The title of the book is "The Patisserie of Pierre Herme."

Zach

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Zach Townsend
Zach Townsend
05/22/2006 01:59 PM

Hi Rose,

I thought I would provide a review of a recently published book by Pierre Herme in case anyone is thinking about purchasing the book without being able to thumb through it first. I'm dying to give my two cents. I bought the book in Paris at his shop, and it was undoubtedly the most expensive book on baking/pastry I've ever purchased - 113 Euro (or about $147 US). It's listed on Amazon, new, as $199! So, given that this book is an "investment," I thought I'd point out some important downsides to your readers. First, the good points: it's beautifully done with great photographs, great jacket design, hardback, lots of recipes, etc., and since it's Pierre Herme giving up some of his hints/tricks/recipes, it's quite a good reference to have. The book also has colored illustrations that represent the cross-section of the cakes and how they are constructed, which I think is a great feature. There are also colored photographs of chefs performing some of the steps. The photographs of the cakes are so beautiful that it's really inspiring. Additionally, there is a section devoted to base recipes, such as glazes, buttercreams, etc. that is informative and useful. Lastly, the book is in two languages: French and English, so it caters to two audiences, and providing the original text in French helps with the problems that occur in translation. The translation in English is next to the text in French on each page. This is helpful for me personally, because I've bought several baking books entirely in French and it's a great reference for me to understand equivalents when I'm using those books.

However, here are some important negatives: the translation to English is not very good. Many of the sentences are a literal translation, which makes them awkward and sometimes difficult to understand. Also, the instructions really aren't very detailed, and become less so in the English translation than the original text in French, so it does lose something in translation. On top of that, in the instructions in one recipe, they left out one of the ingredients entirely when they translated it (it's included in the instructions in French just next to it, but of course you'd have to know French). Another downside is that they left all of the temperatures in Celcius, which is fine, but it requires an extra step to convert the temperatures to Fahrenheit for the American readers. Lastly, the book is really intended for the advanced to professional-level chef. I say this because many details are left out of the instructions in both languages. For instance, one recipe states to "make a custard to 85 degrees celcius," and that's all the instruction you get! You must be experienced enough to look at the list of ingredients and understand what "make a custard to 85 degrees celcius" means. Also, some of the ingredients are not easy to come by. For instance, in his base recipe for a chocolate mirror glaze, he includes "glazing paste," but there is no comment on how to make glazing paste, what it is, or where to purchase it. I've seen and made some beautiful glazes without the use of such a difficult ingredient. In his instructions for macarons where he simply lists egg white as one of the ingredients, he states in the instructions: "combine 1/3 'old' egg whites with 2/3 'fresh' egg whites, but there is no explanation of what 'old' egg whites are or why it's even important for the recipe. Additionally, he includes a not-so-common ingredient as powdered egg whites as part of the ingredients, which I don't really understand the purpose of (okay, his macarons are incredible, but so are many others that do not use this ingredient). You can tell by reading that he's really talking to other pastry chefs, not to a general audience.

Although I'm really glad to own the book, I really do not understand the price point in comparison to others on the market. At the price point for this book, I would expect perfection in the instructions and translation.

In the last few days since I've been home and have been back to my researching and baking, I can say that I've taken your Cake Bible book off the shelf as reference a great deal more than this book - it's really a "specialty" book, not a book that is very practical or for everyday.

I hope this helps anyone who might be considering shelling out the dollars!

Zach

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Rose,

In the announcement on the CDN thermometer, you refer to it as "CDN Pro Accurate™ Quick Tip™ Digital Cooking Thermometer on a Rope Model DTQ450."

But on the CDN website, they refer to the thermometer on a rope as item Q2-450 and the DTQ450 appears ropeless. Could you confirm to which item you refer?

Thanks!

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Zach Townsend
Zach Townsend
05/22/2006 09:40 AM

Thanks, Rose. I'll let you know. By the way, I have to correct my French grammar and the title of the
patisseriev- it's LA Petite Rose. Reading it the way I typed it was as if someone was running their fingernails down a chalk board.

I thought, too, that the Japanese connection was interesting. The "patron" of La Petite Rose had also worked in Tokyo, so perhaps that's where she picked up the recipe rather than at Gerard Mulot....interesting.

Zach

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so interesting that it came from a japanese person--she probably got it from the japanese chef sugino-san whom i'm so fond of.
thanks so much for checking out the gelatin. last time i just tried different amounts of liquid til i got it to dissolve but don't know where i put my notes on it not a big deal it's always easy to re work which i'll have to do when i start testing the recipe. i hope my notes on it are less vague.

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Zach Townsend
Zach Townsend
05/22/2006 08:43 AM

Hi Rose,

Sorry about your recipe not turning out due to the chef's vaguenuess. Funny, I'm feeling the same pangs with this glaze recipe! This recipe for the gelatin in the glaze came from the young Japanese lady at Le Petite Rose in Paris who used to work for Gerard Mulot. I was so impressed with her shimmering glaze that I asked if she'd give me the recipe - and she did without hesitation (unlike the French who gard those things with their lives!) However, she did not specify quantities. So I've been frustrated, too, and researching what to do if using gelatin and the ingredients she suggested: water, sugar, glucose, syrup, cocoa powder and gelatin. Her glaze was so incredibly soft though that the gelatin was obviously minimal.

By the way, I checked the Cake Bible, there is good detail on pg. 429 concerning gelatin, but I wasn't able to determine a rule of thumb of liquid to powdered gelatin. However, with research, I came upon something per the Cordon Bleu: for powdered gelatin, use 5 times the amount of liquid in weight per the weight of the gelatin. I'll give this a try and see what happens!

Thanks and I hope you get your recipe woes worked out. By the way, once I work out this recipe, I'll post it and let you know how it turns out.

Thanks!
Zach

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actually there is a minimum amount of water to be used so instead of my checking the cake bible i'm going to leave that up to YOU as i'm TIRED!!! just check a few recipes in the book using gelatin. actually i remember that when too little is used it gets very stiff even when melted so it's pretty easy to figure out,i.e. you can't go wrong. i'm in a particularly disagreeable mood having just made a recipe given to me by a chef that was extremely vague to begin with and turned out to be entirely unacceptable in the end though it tasted great when i had it at the restaurant.
by the way, you are the first person ever to mention using gelatin in a glaze other than my favorite pastry chef in all the world from japan who gave me his reicpe and i plan to test it for the upcoming book. it results in a fantastically shiney dark glaze but of course having gelatin needs to be refrigerated.
i'll feel better tomorrow!

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Zach Townsend
Zach Townsend
05/21/2006 07:59 PM

Hi Rose,

I'm working on a recipe that uses a chocolate glaze using 1 oz. of gelatin. The recipe instructions only state to "bloom and melt the gelatin" (before combining with other ingredients). Although I'm familiar with the process of blooming gelatin, the recipe says nothing about the amount of water to use in which to bloom the 1 oz. of gelatin. How much water should I use to bloom 1 oz. of gelatin? Also, is there a rule of thumb of the ratio of water to gelatin or does it differ per recipe?

Thanks!
Zach

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no where is it written that you can't adjust the flour/water ratio by instinct and intuition just bc you've weighed the ingredients initially. but when you weigh adjustments become minor and often aren't necessary, especially when you use flour with consistent specs. when one experiments with new combinations then moisture adjustments are more likely to be necessary.
you have a very valid point which taken further suggests that one should always use her or his own vision and mind and not blindly follow recipes, scales or other people's dictates. i always try to write about the texture and visual clues but this is far more subject to interpretation than numbers on a scale, for example just what does tacky mean? how sticky is sticky?
but it's encouraging to know that the more one bakes bread the more confident one gets and the fingers and hands themselves seem to know just what the dough is saying!

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Speaking of quantity, I truly am trying to get into the "new" theory of weighing ingredients. I swear I am! Most of my newer bread and baking books stress it. I bought a scale and I do use it. My resistance to the theory is that flour absorbs different amounts of water at different times, depending on the flour, the humidity, any number of things. I think we'd be better off going back to a more intuitive sense of baking, i.e. How does it look, how does it feel? Help!

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