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Category ... Baking Science

Baking Powder on the Rise

Jul 25, 2015 | From the kitchen of Rose in Baking Science

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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!

Continue reading "Baking Powder on the Rise" »

Vegan Meringue

Jul 18, 2015 | From the kitchen of Rose in Recipes

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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.

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Bake 40 to 50 minutes. At 50 minutes, Woody pressed one and they were 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.)

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Thus encouraged we decided to try our praline meringue ice cream sandwich cookie recipe which uses brown sugar. The mixture did not form stiff peaks but tasted absolutely delicious.

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The meringues cracked during baking, which they normally do, but looked puffy and promising.

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Sadly, on cooling, they deflated and the centers were gooey liquid even on further baking.

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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.

A Merrier World Indeed...

May 21, 2012 | From the kitchen of Rose in Announcements

with people like Kate Coldrick in it! (Though I've yet to meet another Kate like this one!)

Those of you who are not familiar with the problem of bleached cake flour being unavailable in many of the countries around the world, particularly the British Commonwealth, might enjoy putting the word "kate flour" in the search box of this blog.

I encourage everyone to follow this link to Kate's blog where she continues the saga of her success in spinning unbleached flour into heat-treated flour. It is through her extraordinary determination and inspired work that this flour is now available to the consumer! Hats off to Kate.

The Power of Flour, Part Three: Génoise

Oct 23, 2010 | From the kitchen of Rose in Baking Science

As a result of the experimentation we performed, featured in previous postings of "The Power of Flour," we found that we preferred potato starch to cornstarch when converting both bleached and all-purpose flour to simulate cake flour. Woody and I were then curious to see what would happen if we substituted equal weight potato starch for the cornstarch component in a classic génoise.

The baking time and height of the cakes were identical. The cornstarch version had a slightly tighter and more velvety crumb. The potato starch version had a slight potato flavor which was masked by the syrup. (Note if making génoise with more clarified butter and less syrup the potato flavor might not be masked as effectively.) Conclusion: For a classic yellow génoise we prefer the 50 grams cornstarch but equal weight potato starch is an acceptable close substitute. By volume, instead of 1/2 cup minus 1 tablespoon cornstarch use 1/4 cup plus 2-1/2 teaspoons potato starch. (However, for flavor and texture we prefer 100% Wondra flour to either combination, except when using decorative fluted tube pans as the finished height is slightly lower when using the Wondra.)

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COMPARISON SLICES OF CORNSTARCH VS. POTATOSTARCH

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CORNSTARCH AND CAKE FLOUR

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POTATO STARCH AND CAKE FLOUR

The Power of Flour, Part Two of Two

Apr 24, 2010 | From the kitchen of Rose in Baking Science

The purpose of all these tests for Part 1 and Part 2 of "The Power of Flour" was to determine the optimum level of baking powder when using my two-stage method of mixing cakes to be baked in 9 by 2 inch high pans.

The 'control' cake for Part 1 was the "Downy All-Occasion Yellow Cake" from the Cake Bible which uses cake flour and all egg yolks, adapted from (2) 1-1/2 inch high pans to (1) 2 inch high pan.

The goal in Part 1 was to achieve the best texture and flavor if using bleached or unbleached all-purpose flour instead of cake flour.

In order to adjust for a higher 2-inch pan, we used 2/3 the batter that would be used for (2) 1-1/2 inch high pans and we decreased the baking powder from what would have been 2-5/8 teaspoons for 2/3 the batter to 2-1/2 teaspoons as higher pans need a stronger structure.

The goal in this Part 2 was to achieve a level cake layer for use as a two-layer cake, if replacing the egg yolks with either all egg whites or whole eggs. In order to accomplish this goal we needed to see what adjustments of baking powder--if any--are necessary when replacing the egg yolks with either egg whites or whole eggs.

Note: All Ingredients except for the baking powder and salt were weighed. (Eggs, and the yolks in proportion to the whites, vary widely from egg to egg so weighing is necessary for trust-worthy, consistent results.)

Type of Flour: Cake
Replacing the 4 egg yolks with 3 egg whites: baking powder increased from 2-1/2 teaspoons to 3-1/4 teaspoons.

Replacing the 4 egg yolks with 2 whole eggs: baking powder increased from 2-1/2 teaspoons to 3-1/2 teaspoons.

Type of Flour: Bleached All-purpose

Replacing the 4 egg yolks with 3 egg whites: baking powder increased from 2-1/2 teaspoons to 3 teaspoons.

Replacing the 4 egg yolks with 2 whole eggs: baking powder increased from 2-1/2 teaspoons to 3-1/4 teaspoons.

Type of Flour: Unbleached All-purpose
Replacing the 4 egg yolks with 3 egg whites: baking powder increased from 2-1/2 teaspoons to 2-5/8 teaspoons.

Replacing the 4 egg yolks with 2 whole eggs: baking powder increased from 2-1/2 teaspoons to 3-1/2 teaspoons.

Notes:

We were surprised to find that though using all egg whites makes the structure stronger, using whole eggs makes it stronger still.

These results are predicated on weight of the major ingredients. If using volume for the eggs, be sure to measure them as the proportion of yolk to white varies from egg to egg.

If using egg whites that have been frozen, be sure to stir the thawed whites well with a fork to combine evenly.

A 2-inch high pan makes a very nice single layer cake. If making just one layer you may want to decrease the baking powder by 1/4 teaspoon to give it a slight dome. If making a two layer cake everything should just be doubled.

Final Conclusions for Part 1 and Part 2:

Egg yolks give cake a fuller flavor, egg whites give cake a softer texture.

Egg whites will need more leavening than yolks (exact amount depending on the cake).

Whole eggs will need more leavening than whites (exact amount depending on the cake)

Cake flour and bleached all-purpose flour result in the best flavor and texture in cake.

If using unbleached all-purpose flour, the best flavor comes from replacing 15% of the flour with potato starch. The most level cake comes from using egg yolks or whole eggs.

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CAKE FLOUR WITH EGG YOLKS & 2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder

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CAKE FLOUR WITH EGG WHITES & 3-1/4 teaspoons baking powder

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CAKE FLOUR WITH WHOLE EGGS & 3-1/2 teaspoons baking powder

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BLEACHED ALL-PURPOSE FLOUR WITH EGG YOLKS & 2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder

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BLEACHED ALL-PURPOSE FLOUR WITH EGG WHITES & 3 teaspoons baking powder

E12-F-SLICE-BLEACHED-3.25-baking-powder.jpg

BLEACHED ALL-PURPOSE FLOUR WITH WHOLE EGGS & 3-1/4 teaspoons baking powder

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UNBLEACHED ALL-PURPOSE FLOUR/15% POTATO STARCH WITH EGG YOLKS & 2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder

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UNBLEACHED ALL-PURPOSE FLOUR WITH EGG YOLKS & 2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder

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UNBLEACHED ALL-PURPOSE FLOUR WITH EGG WHITES & 2-5/8 teaspoons baking powder

E12-G-SLICE-UNbleached-3.50-baking-powder.jpg

UNBLEACHED ALL-PURPOSE FLOUR WITH WHOLE EGGS & 3-1/2 teaspoons baking powder

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UNBLEACHED ALL-PURPOSE FLOUR/15% POTATO STARCH WITH WHOLE EGGS & 3-1/2 teaspoons baking powder

The Power of Flour, Part One of Two

Mar 06, 2010 | From the kitchen of Rose in Baking Science

For years I have been saying how important it is to use bleached flour in cake baking and I still prefer it, but after making the fortuitous mistake of using unbleached flour in a cake baked in a tube pan, and discovering that the pan's center tube kept it from falling, I have revisited the subject and made some very interesting and ground breaking discoveries.

Woody and I have conducted numerous tests using bleached cake flour, bleached all-purpose flour, and unbleached all-purpose flour in a solid (unmelted) butter layer cake using my one bowl mixing method and the All-Occasion Downy Yellow Cake from the Cake Bible. (We used two-thirds the recipe, first using two-thirds the baking powder (2-5/8 teaspoons). Then we decreased the baking powder to 2-1/2 teaspoons because we were using a 2" high pan instead of the 1-1/2" high pans in the Cake Bible (and higher pans need proportionately less baking powder). We found that when using bleached or unbleached all-purpose flour instead of cake flour, we got more tenderness (and in the case of unbleached flour improved flavor) by replacing 15% of the flour with potato starch which comes closer to cake flour than cornstarch.The overall appearance, however, with the bleached all-purpose flour is slightly lower either in height or in the center.

Our Conclusions
1. bleached cake flour is suitable for cakes where a very tender texture is desired.
2. bleached all-purpose flour and 15% potato starch to simulate cake flour results in a more even cake with smoother crust and better taste than cornstarch, but is not quite as tender.
3. bleached all-purpose flour is preferable for cakes that benefit from more structure.
4. bleached flour results in the best flavor.
5. bleached flour results in the best volume.
6. bleached flour results in the most tender and velvety texture.
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7. unbleached flour results in less volume.
8. unbleached flour results in a coarser, chewier texture.
9. unbleached flour results in a cornbread-like flavor.
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10. cornstarch substitution for part of the flour for bleached or unbleached all-purpose flour is less effective to improve structure than decreasing leavening, and alters the flavor.
11. potato starch substitution for part of the flour for bleached or unbleached all-purpose flour is even more effective than cornstarch as it softens the crumb. For the unbleached flour it also improves the flavor by lessening the cornbread-like quality.

Continue reading "The Power of Flour, Part One of Two" »

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