Facial Mandolin Your Garlic

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Our friend Caitlin Freeman Williams turned us on to using a facial mandolin for slicing savory and baking ingredients when we were in San Francisco several years ago. Although we ran to a Korean market to buy two, they are now available in many stores like Target.

 The model we have has a blade mounted slightly slanted to the mandolin’s working surface. This provides the ability for you to slice ingredients at different thicknesses.


Rose on Video presents: Making Chocolate Ganache

Rose’s PBS television series Baking Magic Tips 3. Is there anything more delicious than this simple mixture of chocolate and heavy cream. Rose revolutionized making ganache by using a food processor.

You can see a listing of all of Rose's over 150 transcribed videos on YouTube by doing a search for "Rose Levy Beranbaum You Tube" which will show a home page for Rose's videos. You can click  "Video " on the menu bar, then scroll to find the video you want to watch. Baking Magic aired in 2006. Along with the weekly recipe episodes, Rose had a tips segment. These tips are timeless.

Baking Powder on the Rise

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Our preferences for baking powders are ones that are made with an all-phosphate product containing calcium acid phosphate and non-GMO cornstarch. Baking powders containing sodium aluminum sulfate (SAS), to aid in releasing more carbon dioxide during the baking stage, generally have a bitter after taste, especially noticeable when added to pie dough. Recently, Rumford released a new baking powder, Rumford Reduced Sodium Baking Powder, which contains 52% less sodium than leading brands and no aluminum. Rumford informed us that this new product activates mostly during the heating/baking phase. We were curious to test this new baking powder since timing of activation has a great impact on baked goods, especially muffins and cupcakes. Letting the cupcakes rest before baking gives the cupcakes more rounded tops because if more of the baking powder activates in the early stage from the liquid in the batter there is less to disrupt the cell structure, during baking, needed to collapse the crumb to form a flatter top. My White Velvet Butter Cake recipe served as our test recipe, since it is an egg white based butter cake and has a somewhat neutral flavor, which enables us to perceive differences during tasting more easily. Since there can be a relatively long time frame to fill over a dozen cupcake liners, during which the baking powder will have begun to activate, we wanted to see if the new baking powder, which reacts more in the baking stage, would give us a wider window of time to fill the cupcakes and result in more uniformly shaped cupcakes. We made two batches of cupcakes with each baking powder serving as the leavening for each batch. Once we filled the cupcake liners, we also let some of the cupcakes rest 20 minutes, and others 30 minutes before baking them. We baked all of the cupcakes for the same amount of time.

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ORIGINAL RUMFORD ON THE LEFT, LOW SODIUM RUMFORD ON THE RIGHT

The test card shows the height in inches, then the width in inches. The cupcake on the left, made with the original Rumford baking powder, had the batter stand for 20 minutes after filling the muffin cups and before baking as did the one on the far right, made with the new Low Sodium Rumford baking powder. (It is both flatter and wider.) The middle cupcake, which is very similar to the original Rumford, but made with the low sodium baking powder, stood for 30 minutes before baking. The results indicate that the new Rumford baking powder is more effective in preventing doming for up to 20 minutes of standing time but not longer. However, when we gave them a taste test we found major differences.

The original Rumford cupcakes had a more pronounced flavor and texture. The sodium reduced Rumford ones were milder in flavor and fluffier. We preferred the original Rumford for flavor and texture. People are always asking either how to get more rounded cupcakes or flatter ones to hold more frosting. One of the major problems is that if making 12 or more cupcakes, by the time the last few cupcake liners are ready to be filled, the batter has been sitting in the bowl for at least 10 if not more minutes, resulting in more doming in the baked cupcakes. The longer the batter stands in the bowl before dispensing, the more the loss of leavening action during filling the liners. Once the batter is dispensed into the muffin liners this action slows down but is still taking place. So when the muffins are set in the oven, there is less leavening available to burst through the air bubbles in the batter to flatten the crumb during this heating phase.

Did you know that different brands of baking powder have different compositions, reactions, and results in the finished product? If you'd like to know why, continue reading!

Baking powder is a chemical leavener that is used primarily in cake baking to enlarge the air bubbles in the batter, which gives volume and tenderness to the cake crumb. In Europe, most cakes are leavened with beaten egg white or whole eggs whereas in North America, most cakes use baking powder, baking soda, or a combination of the two. Baking powders are mixtures of dry acid or acid salt and baking soda, with starch or flour added to stabilize and standardize the mixtures.

Most baking powders are "double acting," meaning that they will react or liberate carbon dioxide when they come in contact with moisture during mixing of the batter and again when exposed to heat during baking. (A "Single acting" leavener, such as baking soda alone, reacts fully when it comes in contact with moisture.)



We also, tested the two baking powders by activating 1/2 teaspoon of each in custard cups with hot water. Within less than a minute the original Rumford had activated, fizzing furiously to completely dissipate. The reduced sodium Rumford only activated partially with dry, non-activated powder nestled on top of the foamy activated powder (even after 10 minutes). Doing this hot water test is good method for verifying that your baking powder is still activated.

We recommend that you always mark the date upon opening a can of baking powder and store it airtight to avoid humidity. Baking powder can lose a substantial amount of its strength after about a year.

We have also tested Argo's baking powder, which also activates more during the heating phase. We tested it against our baking powder of choice, Rumford's original Aluminum-Free Baking Powder. We found it especially effective in cakes baked in fluted tube pans as we could use the same amount of baking powder, but the Argo resulted in a less domed top which, when inverted, sat flatter on the plate. (To get similar results with the Rumford would require such a minute amount of extra baking powder it would be hard to measure accurately.) When using the Argo in a layer cake, however, it needed to be decreased to keep the cake from dipping.

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Here are the ingredients listed for each baking powder: Rumford Original Aluminum-Free (red background can) Monocalcium Phosphate, Sodium Bicarbonate, Non-GMO Cornstarch Rumford

Reduced Sodium Aluminum-Free (silver background can) Monocalcium Phosphate, Calcium acid Phosphate, Sodium Bicarbonate, Non-GMO Cornstarch, Potassium Bicarbonate

Argo Aluminum-Free Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate, Sodium Bicarbonate, Corn Starch And Monocalcium Phosphate. The White Velvet Butter Cake recipe is in The Cake Bible and Rose's Heavenly Cakes.

Rice Cooker Your Oatmeal

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What can be more soothing and comforting, in cold whether or when having a head cold, than a bowl of hot oatmeal. And the combination of crunchy, nubbly, creamy oatmeal is my favorite kind. That means using steel cut oats and a long slow cooking of 40 to 50 minutes. A double boiler works, stirring occasionally, but a rice cooker with porridge setting is ideal because the oatmeal doesn’t need stirring until the very end, it keeps it warm if you’re not ready, and doesn’t stick to the pot.

If you have an electric rice cooker with a porridge setting, all you have to do is combine the water, oats, salt, and I like to add a little brown sugar, turn it on (mine plays Mary Had a Little Lamb to let me know the cooking has started and stopped!) and wait til you hear the finished signal. These cold days, I also like to add a little milk to a bowl and set it in my oven with the pilot light—if you have an electric oven and a very low setting that works too. That way milk cold from the frig doesn’t cool off the hot cereal. Alternatively you can heat the milk before adding it.

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For an extra treat I sometimes add a small mellow dollop of crème fraîche but that really is a perfect example of Rose gilding the lily! Here’s my recipe for oatmeal for one:

To the rice cooker’s bowl, stir together the following: 2/3 cup/158 ml cold water, 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt, 1/4 cup stone cut oatmeal such as McCann’s Irish Oatmeal, Optional: light brown Muscovado sugar.

Press the cooking or start button and await for your rice cooker to tell you its time for hot oatmeal.

Photo Copy Your Bread Slice

CRANBERRY WALNUT BREAD from The BAKING BIBLE

CRANBERRY WALNUT BREAD from The BAKING BIBLE

One of the best ways to evaluate and compare the texture of bread is to use your copier machine! This was a great technique given to me by dear friend and food scientist Jenny Yee Collinson who lives in New Zealand.
This can be invaluable when you are trying different bread pans, or adjusting a recipe’s ingredients or technique because it gives exacting true to life dimensions.

Testing usa vs all clad loaf pans for 10 grain (multigrain) bread

Testing usa vs all clad loaf pans for 10 grain (multigrain) bread

It works best that you photo copy in black and white for comparing the texture of different slices, including writing your notes on the printed copy for future reference. I cut a 1/2 inch slice of the bread(s) and center them on the copier’s glass plate opposite to the hinged side. After gently closing the copier’s cover, I drape a light weight, dark colored towel over the copier’s cover and hanging down enough to keep any outside light from reflecting onto the copier’s glass plate.

Adding Old Starter to Bread Dough

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If you have leftover starter from feeding the starter,  store it in the freezer. It is a great addition to bread dough, adding more flavor, more strength, and better keeping quality.

To add old starter to a bread dough, use about 16% of the flour contained in the recipe for example, for one loaf use 75 grams starter and also add 1 gram/about 1/8 teaspoon of salt to the total amount of salt.

 Defrost the starter and when ready to use, cut it into pieces and let it sit in the water for the recipe (covered) for about 30 minutes to soften the starter so that it integrates evenly into the dough.

Notes: If your starter is a liquid starter, stir in enough flour to form a soft dough and allow it to sit overnight.

 If you don’t have a sourdough starter, you can make a Biga:

In a small bowl, whisk together 49 grams of bread flour and 1/16 teaspoon of yeast. With a silicone spatula or wooden spoon, stir in 30 grams/2 tablespoons of water. Continue stirring for 3 to 5 minutes, or until very smooth. The biga should be tacky enough to cling slightly to your fingers.

Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap that has been lightly coated with nonstick cooking spray (or place it in a 1 cup food storage container that has been lightly coated with nonstick cooking spray and cover it with a lid). Set it aside until almost doubled in volume (to 3/4 cup) and filled with bubbles. At warm room temperature or in the proofer (80°F/27°C), this will take about 4 to 6 hours. Stir it down. Refrigerate it for 3 days before making the dough.

 

All About Lemons, Especially Lemon Zest

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Confession: lemon is my favorite flavor in the dessert realm so I have given it much attention and consideration in order to make the most of it.

The aromatic oils reside in the colored portion of the citrus fruit. Use liquid dish detergent and a scrubby to remove any coating, which will be bitter. Rinse well and dry before zesting. When zesting, avoid removing the bitter white pith. A microplane is the ideal tool to produce finely grated zest.

One Lemon
Juice: 3 to 4 tablespoons
Zest: 1-1/4 teaspoons to 2 teaspoons

But what happens when you need a few tablespoons of zest but not the juice?

Perfect Solution: Perfect Purée of Napa Valley: 35 ounces/992 grams 

The lemon zest (only the colored portion and not the pith) is finely minced and mixed with sugar so it will keep frozen for more than a year. Not only is it quick and easy to use, it is always at the ready.

Since it contains 50% sugar, you will need double the weight of the zest called for in the recipe and I like to remove the extra sugar from the recipe itself. Example: for a recipe requiring 12 grams of zest, use 24 grams of Perfect Purée of Napa Valley zest and remove 12 grams of sugar from the recipe.

The sugar makes the mixture soft and a bit syrupy which is easy to scoop out even when frozen. If mixing it into dough, such as for scones, or cake batter, it works well to add some of the flour or dry ingredients and whirl it in a food processor for a few seconds to mix it in evenly. 

If you live in New York City, Kalustyan’s carries this and other Perfect Purée of Napa Valley products. Alternatively, you can order directly from the producer:


Getting Ready to Bake a Cake

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In French it's called mis en place and refers also to "putting things in place" for cooking. Everything works more smoothly when one is well-prepared. This is the way we start all of our recipes. In our new book, Rose’s Baking Basics, we start each recipe with a mis en place if needed, which is reflected in the Ingredients Chart as well. Virtually all recipes will list the ingredients in the order which the author will incorporate an ingredient into the recipe. So butter, for example, will many times be listed towards the middle or end of the list. If you forget to see that it needs to be softened or clarified you could be in for a unwanted surprise. Listing it as a mis en place ingredient, it will be one of the first ingredients on the Ingredients Chart for you to prep ahead.

With cakes, if key ingredients aren't at the proper temperature, it will adversely effect the texture of the baked cake.

The five most essential things in cake baking to get ready are:

Softening the butter if used the butter needs to be between 65˚ to 75°F/18 to 23°C. Cold from the refrigerator it will take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour to reach this temperature depending on how cold the frig and how warm the room. To speed softening slice the butter in 1 inch/25 mm pieces. it is amazing how quickly butter comes to temperature when more surface area is exposed. You can also cover the pieces with plastic wrap and as they start to soften, press them flat.

Combining cocoa and boiling water if used be sure to cover the mixture tightly with plastic wrap so that there is no evaporation and allow it to cool until it is no longer warm to the touch.

Preheating the oven most cakes bake at 350°F/175°C. and close to the center of the oven. Set the oven rack just below the center and start preheating the oven a minimum of 20 minutes before baking. (In some ovens 30 minutes is better.)

Warming the eggs eggs need to be at room temperature but this is easy to accomplish if you forget to take them out ahead of time. Place them still in their unbroken shells in a bowl of hot from the tap water and allow them to sit for 10 minutes.

Preparing the cake pan except when a recipe such as angel food or chiffon cake requires that the cake pan be left uncoated it is necessary to grease and flour the pan. I prefer using a baking spray which contains flour, especially for fluted tube pans. if there is any clumping of the spray brush it away with a silicone or bristle pastry brush to avoid holes in the top crust. If the pan has a non-stick coating it isn't necessary to line the bottom with parchment. For the most even cake layers that are not over-baked or dry at the edges use a cake strip. (If you use rose's heavenly cake strips there is no preparation of the strip--just slide it around the cake pan.if you are using cloth strips you need to wet them first and attach them with a pin unless they have velcro closures.)

To the Bottom of the Can

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A good practice to follow after using aerosol sprays especially for nonstick cooking sprays is to do three things.

1. Turn the can upside down and spray a bit of the contents.

2. Rinse the nozzle off in running hot water.

3. Store the can upside down on top of its lid.

(We store our cans on an enclosed wire rack so that the cans can sit on their lids without clamping the lids.)

Floss Your Cheesecake or Chocolate Oblivion

CHOCOLATE OBLIVION TRUFFLE TORTE 

CHOCOLATE OBLIVION TRUFFLE TORTE 

How can you slice a cheesecake or chocolate oblivion with a knife without it marring or pulling on the cheesecake, as well as possibly scratching your pan?
You can use a heated knife and wipe it off every cut, being extra careful not to scratch your pan.
Rose came up with a practical solution when she was writing The Cake Bible, using waxed, non-flavored dental floss. Her mother always had an ample supply for her dental practice. Here is the technique on our chocolate oblivion for contrast to the floss.

1. Mark the center of your cake.  
2. Cut a length of dental floss that is 6 inches longer than the diameter of your pan.
3. Wrap the ends of the floss on each of your index fingers.
4. Position the floss just above the cake to cut thru the center and pull it taunt.
5. Press down thru the cake and the crust, and at the same time with a sawing like action of moving the string back and forth
6. Release the floss from an index finger and lightly press down the floss against the pan’s bottom on both sides of the cake.
7. With the other hand, pull the floss away from the cake and pan.

Repeat with the rest of the servings.   

For making cheesecakes and the chocolate oblivion, we bake our them in a waterbath with the springform pan wrapped with two layers of heavy duty aluminum foil or slightly larger silicone pan. Wilton makes a great glass bottom which has no 'lip' raised edge. If we use a 'lipped' edge springform pan, we only use one that has a flat, smooth bottom, which we invert the bottom upside down when we clamp the sides to lock it in place.  

The Hoola Hoop of Tart Unmolding

CHOCOLATE HAZELNUT MOUSSE TART from the BAKING BIBLE 

CHOCOLATE HAZELNUT MOUSSE TART from the BAKING BIBLE 

Truly it is the simple things that can make the biggest difference. It took me all these years to figure out a sure fire way to unmold a tart in a tart pan with removable bottom when it sticks to the bottom. I wasn't happy with heating a towel under hot tap water and wringing it out before applying it to the pan bottom as it never stayed hot enough for more than a few seconds and I was also concerned by the risk of moisture creeping into the bottom crust.

One day during our step-by-step photo shoot, it suddenly hit me how to heat the bottom of the pan effectively without turning the tart upside down! I've added this simple technique to the upcoming Baking Basics but can't bear to make you wait for almost two years to know it, especially with all that holiday baking coming up.

So here it is right now: Heat the bottom of a 9 inch cake pan by filling it with very hot water. Let it sit for several seconds until the pan feels hot. Empty the water and invert the pan onto a counter. Set the tart on top and let it sit for about 1 minute or until the bottom no longer feels cold. Repeat if necessary. You can also use a blow dryer to heat the inverted cake pan. If necessary, slide a thin-bladed knife or long metal spatula under the crust to release it.

This Weekly Baking Tip is a reposting from December 15, 2016 in Tips & Techniques category on Our Blog page. We have 16 other Tips & Techniques postings for you to explore.  

Vegan Meringue

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When I saw this extraordinary mind blowing technique on Food 52, replacing egg white with chickpea liquid (they refer to it as watery dregs) we just had to try it! Dan Barber, in a project utilizing parts of ingredients that more often than not get tossed, came up with this genius technique. I can't begin to imagine how anyone could conceptualize and take the daring mental leap that the liquid in which canned chickpeas is packed could possibly support and hold air to create a mousse the way viscous egg white accomplishes so perfectly, but it does! Of course there are differences. First of all, Food 52 noted that the chickpea flavor completely disappeared on baking and we found this to be true in that no one would ever detect the actual flavor of chickpea but there is a subtle additional flavor. Also it does not hold its shape in baking quite as well so that any ridges or swirls flatten into mushroom cap smoothness. Here's the recipe as we did it:

1/3 cup/59 grams chickpea liquid (now dignified in Latin as aquafaba bean water)

1/2 cup/100 grams superfine sugar

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 250°F/120°C.

Line a baking sheet with parchment. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the chickpea liquid and sugar and use the whisk beater by hand to stir it together. Attach the whisk beater. Starting on low speed, and gradually increasing to high, beat for 15 minutes until fairly stiff peaks form when the beater is raised. They will droop slightly.

Place a dab of meringue underneath the parchment in the center to keep it stationary. Use two large tablespoons or pipe mounds onto the parchment.

Bake 40 to 50 minutes. At 50 minutes, Woody pressed one and it was not yet crisp so we continue baking another 10 minutes. This caused the meringue to begin to brown and become less smooth but still not crisp, however, after removal from the oven and cooled they became perfectly crisp. (We should have taken them out at 50 minutes.)

We are not vegans but if we were, we would find that the meringues made with aquafaba and superfine sugar, which are delicate and light, are a perfectly acceptable substitute for the egg white variety.

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This Weekly Baking Tip is a reposting from July 18, 2015 in Tips & Techniques category on Our Blog page. We have 16 other Tips & Techniques postings for you to explore.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

Know Thy Oven

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LEFT: BREVILLE CONVECTION, RIGHT: PANASONIC CONVECTION

One batter, weighed equally between two identical pans, and baked for the exact same time to the exact same internal temperature, in two different countertop ovens. The interior of the cake (the crumb) is the same but the tops and the exterior are markedly different. (Note: The top of the cake in the Breville is browner but the exterior is less brown.)

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LEFT: BREVILLE CONVECTION, RIGHT: PANASONIC CONVECTION

No two ovens bake exactly the same. All ovens, except for those with circulating trays, will have some hot spots. Convection ovens tend to bake more evenly but still have hot spots. I rotate my cakes half-way around after two-thirds of the estimate baking time except if they are sponge type cakes such as génoise or chiffon that will fall if moved before they finish baking. In the Breville, if a recipe calls for 350°F/175°C I use 340°F/170°C. In the Panasonic, if it's a small cake or a pie I don't lower the temperature but for a large cake that requires more than 1 hour of baking time, such as a honey cake, which starts browning too fast, I lower the temperature to 325°F/160°C after the first 30 to 45 minutes of baking. When you get a new oven, try baking a familiar cake. I use my all-occasion downy yellow cake from The Cake Bible. Get to know your oven and you can adjust accordingly.

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By each of our ovens, we have a notecard noting temperature adjustments for the particular oven and specific settings and times for some of our recipes. 

This Weekly Baking Tip is a reposting from August 6, 2016the Tips & Techniques category on Our Blog page. We have 16 other Tips & Techniques postings for you to explore.  

Rose Knows: Honey

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Honey can serve as an excellent sweetener for baked goods. In addition to sweetness and extra flavor, it has great moisture retention and lends a lovely color to breads and cakes.

Honey is derived from the nectar of plants gathered, modified, stored, and concentrated by the honeybee. It is made up of levulose (fructose) and dextrose (glucose). Honey has innumerable sources, such as borage, buckwheat, avocado, lavender, thyme, tupelo, and clover, and its flavor varies accordingly from mild and floral to intense and leathery.

Honey has been used as a highly effective natural antibacterial and preservative through the ages, as far back as ancient Egypt. Honey is antiseptic, antibiotic, antifungal, and antibacterial and it never spoils. For this very reason, most natural honeys should not be used in bread baking as they will kill the yeast necessary to raise the bread! Pasteurized honey, however, such as those found in supermarkets works perfectly. As it doesn’t state on the label whether the honey has been pasteurized or not, if you want to experiment with the flavors of other honeys (I love blue borage from New Zealand, and lavender from Provence, for example), try proofing the yeast first by adding a little honey instead of the usual sugar. If there is no bubbling activity use the honey in cake or tea instead.

When it comes to cake and other baked goods, to substitute honey for sugar conventional wisdom recommends replacing 1 cup of sugar (200 grams) with 3/4 cup honey (252 grams). The reason is the following:

One cup of honey weighs 336 grams, of which 17.2% (57.8 grams) is residual water. So 3/4 cup of honey minus the residual water is 208 grams, which is almost the same weight as the 1 cup of sugar, which contains only 1 gram of residual water.

Because honey browns at a lower temperature than sugar, it is also recommended to lower the baking temperature by 25˚F/14˚C.

Cakes made with honey instead of sugar will retain their moisture longer, as honey is highly hygroscopic, but they also will be denser because sugar crystals capture air during the beating process and result in an airier crumb.

Honey cakes are traditional around this time of year for the celebration of the Jewish New Year on September 14. 


This Weekly Baking Tip is a reposting from 9/9/14 in the Tips & Techniques category on Our Blog page for Food Arts Magazine's Sept. 2014 edition. Click here  to see the posting. 
We have 16 other Tips & Techniques postings for you to explore.  

The Pastry Chef's Magic 'Glue'

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How to Rim a Glass: nothing works as well as a light brushing of egg white. Enjoy your summer margaritas, as summer like days have already started here in northwestern New Jersey.
Brushed on egg whites can be used in many ways in baking to 'glue' or seal. Egg white can be brushed on blind baked tart or pie shells to seal the crust before filling to keep it crisp, or brushed on the top crust to add a sheen to the crust, or as a 'glue' for applying a sugar glaze. 

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This Weekly Baking Tip is a reposting from the Tips & Techniques category on Our Blog page. We have 16 other Tips & Techniques postings for you to explore.  

Know Your Cake Pan Sizes

Knowing how the cup capacity of your pans is helpful when you want to scale a recipe to work in a larger or smaller size pan. In many cases you can use a rectangular or square pan instead of a round pan with comparable results. However, you may need to adjust the leavening for different shaped pans. The Cake Bible's Wedding and Special Occasions chapter has charts and recommendations for scaling recipes and several batter formulas for different types of cakes. 

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The Nuts & Bolts of Tart Crust Baking

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An excellent way to shield tart crusts from over-browning is to use a one size larger tart pan ring inverted over the crust’s border. Be sure to elevate it about a quarter inch above the crust versus resting the ring on the crust, which would press it down to soon and deform any decorative border. This also allows the filling to puff up without sticking to the ring.

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An easy way to elevate the ring is to use 3 bolts or 3 stacks of nuts, equally spaced around the tart pan, which has been set on a foil-lined baking pan. If blind baking, after removing the weights, set the ring on top. If filling an unbaked tart shell, set the ring on top right at the beginning of baking.

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The Secret Shelf Life of Arrowroot

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Arrowroot is used as a thickener for sauces and glazes. It is made from a tropical rhizome (underground stem). I like using it for glazes to top fruit on a tart, pie, or cake because it has a slight sparkle and also because it starts to thicken long before the boiling point so does not cause the fruit to soften.

Although cornstarch, also an effective thickener (when allowed to come to a full boil), has an indefinite shelf life if stored in an air-tight moisture-proof container, I have found arrow root to have a limited shelf life.

As a result of my move from New York, I discovered I had three bottles of arrowroot each of a different vintage. I seized the opportunity to do a comparative testing of their thickening powers. The oldest one (now don't be horrified as I was!) was 24 years old! The next to oldest was 19 years old. And the third one was 14 years old. The results were: The oldest arrowroot thickened but not effectively as it still had flow. The next to oldest thickened but not as fully as the last one which also was less tinged with yellow. This was was kept in an airtight container in an air conditioned room which accounts for its unusual viability. 

I recommend that if you want to be sure of the full effectiveness of arrowroot, use it up to two years from the purchase date and then replace it.

(previously posted in Tips & Techniques) 

Beer Your Meringue

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Our chocolatier colleague and friend, Zach Townsend, wrote to us about a technique he discovered in an old French cookbook which suggested using beer to stabilize beaten egg whites.

One of Rose’s most important contributions to baking is for stabilizing egg white meringue beaten to stiff peaks using the ideal amount of cream of tartar. The correct amount is so effective, you can even overbeat the egg whites for several minutes after reaching the stiff peak stage without risk of breaking them down.

So using beer as a stabilizer had us back in the baking kitchen to whip up some egg whites to see the results. We used an IPA ale for the test.
1. we whipped two egg whites, without any additions, to soft peaks.
2. about a tablespoon of beer was then added to the egg whites.
3. the whites were then beaten to stiff peaks

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We placed some of the meringue into a bowl to compare it to beating the remaining meringue for one more minute. Our observations:
 . the addition of beer definitely stabilized the egg whites.
 . the meringue was not as dense or stable as meringue using cream of tartar.
 . both meringues began weeping liquid after an hour, which does not happen with the cream of tartar stabilized meringue.
 . the meringue does have, as one would suspect, a slight beer taste.

We can see using beer for stabilizing egg whites for a savory soufflé or other savory dish that incorporates meringue, but for desserts we favor cream of tartar to stabilize the egg whites.

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Unsalted or Salted Butter~~That is the Baking Question

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In all of our recipes where butter is an ingredient, we list the butter as unsalted butter. This is because the amount of salt in salted butter can vary. Many manufacturers of salted butter will have salt listed as 0.9 grams/Tablespoon, which correlates to 7.2 grams/1 stick (8 Tablespoons) of butter.

Unsalted butter usually has a fresher taste as well.

Here are two examples of how much extra salt will be added to a recipe if you choose salted butter instead of unsalted butter.
The Sour Cream Butter Cake’s ingredients in The Cake Bible includes:
Unsalted butter:  170 grams / 12 Tablespoons
Salt:                         3 grams / 1/2 teaspoon

   If you used salted butter and no additional salt instead, the salt in the butter translates to: 0.9 grams/Tablespoon x 12 tablespoons of butter:

Butter’s Salt:         10.8 grams / 1-1/2 +1/16 teaspoons

  Over 3 times the amount of salt for the recipe using UNsalted butter

 Looking at a popular recipe like Chocolate Chip cookies using salted butter, whether with or without including the salt listed on the ingredients, will almost always increase the amount of salt for the recipe.
A popular internet recipe includes:
Unsalted butter:  113 grams / 8Tablespoon
Salt:                        6 grams /  1 teaspoon

   If you used salted butter and no additional salt instead, the salt in the butter translates to: 0.9 grams/Tablespoon x 8 tablespoons of butter:
Butter’s Salt:        7.2 grams / 1-1/4 teaspoons

   If we were to include the specified salt: 6 grams/ 1 teaspoon
More than 2 times the amount of salt for the recipe using UNsalted butter

 Unsalted butter is the answer for your baking.