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Superfine sugar—how important is it?
Posted: 13 November 2011 01:32 PM   [ Ignore ]
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Hi, all!

My little mini-prep gave up its ghost yesterday, and I’m thinking of not replacing it.  The only thing I ever use it for is grinding regular sugar to superfine sugar.  I know all the things that can be done with a food processor, but I don’t know if I really have an interest in them.  I’m just wondering how important superfine sugar is to the recipes.

Thanks!

—ak

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Posted: 13 November 2011 07:52 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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The size of “regular” sugar granules here is not as fine as “regular” sugar in the US, so take this with a grain of…sugar LOL The first several TCB recipes I made were chocolate. I used regular sugar and thought it dissolved and was fine. When I started experimenting with the yellow cakes I made 1/3 batches of 3 or 4 different recipes for whoopie pies. Some of them had a sugar cookie quality that I attributed to the sugar not having all dissolved..  I’ve only found superfine sugar in one grocery here and it is about $3 for 500 grams versus $1 for the regular stuff. So I started bashing a bag at a time in the food processor to have it on hand and not have to mess with it each time. I do think my results are improved for both chocolate and yellow cakes with the superfine sugar.

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Posted: 14 November 2011 12:40 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Do you have a blender or even an immersion blender?  May be tedious, but they also do the trick!

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Posted: 14 November 2011 01:11 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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I vote for “not very”.  I buy superfine from King Arthur Flour, but I often forget that I have it and use regular sugar.

But I’m a philistine.

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Posted: 14 November 2011 08:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Superfine sugar adds fineness to the crumb, but is not essential.

If you have, or would like to have, a reasonably heavy-duty blender, it will do most of the jobs that a food processor/mini-prep will do, and it’s easier to clean and takes up less space.  I use my osterizer for grinding flour (which the fp doesn’t do), grinding nuts, and making superfine sugar, works like a charm.  And the glass pitcher doesn’t retain odors the way the plastic bowl of the fp does, so I can run it though the dishwasher.

I don’t like to use my food processor for mixing doughs, they almost never work out as well as they do with hand or mixer methods.  The only thing I drag it out for is ganache.  It does such a great job of reducing the chocolate to small size particles, and that makes a great ganache. 

However, when this one breaks, I may look for other ways to perfect my ganache, as it hardly seems worth it to have the fp for only one task.

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Posted: 14 November 2011 04:09 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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I may be in the minority here, but I love my food processor, and use it often. Mac and cheese, for instance. I use it to grate the cheese, then I use it to make breadcrumbs that I mix in with some of my cheese. I also like it for grating vegetables; I know there are other gadgets to do a quick job of that, but I don’t have any other ones. I still use my fp to make pie dough. Would like to learn to do it by hand, but my only experiences doing it that way were so disastrous that I’ve never had the courage to do it again. I’m just starting to use my blender more. When I make apple pie or crisp, I use the fp to slice the apples. I could go on, but I won’t.

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Posted: 14 November 2011 10:59 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Thank you, everyone!  I will roll this around. 

@Julie & Sherrie - I never thought of a blender.  how heavy-duty do you think it must be?
@Georgie - Quate interesting about the difference the “chunkier” sugar made in the whoopies!!
@CharlesT - I’m going to try some without ground sugar, probably.  I’m sure I’ve done it before, as well.  BTW, Philis, does this make you frankenstein’s sister?
@k1b1 - I’ve had just recently determined to make pie crust by hand!!!  I promise you didn’t spook me, though.  : )  Many say their FPs are far more used than their stand mixer, so I know you’re not alone!

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Posted: 15 November 2011 10:04 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Anne in NC - 15 November 2011 02:59 AM

I never thought of a blender.  how heavy-duty do you think it must be?

Mine is just a classic osterizer beehive-style blender.  It has all metal gears, a metal ice chopping blade, and a glass canister.  The thing sounds like a plane taking off, but it works well.

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Posted: 15 November 2011 12:57 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Thanks, Julie!

I did happen to notice that superfine sugar only makes its appearance in RHC, but TCB just calls for “sugar.”

Food for thought….....

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Posted: 15 November 2011 01:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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I personally would not do without my FP. i find it invaluable for baking and cooking.  I use it all the time to make Rose’s Dreamy Creamy frosting as well as the frosting recipe you gave me, Anne.

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Posted: 15 November 2011 01:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Hand pie crust question here. I remember we went through this a few months ago. I’m currently working in Europe, and in a kitchen that is less than ideal. I’m baking bread, but would never attempt a cake - so much heat escapes from the oven, I just can’t imagine a cake working. Also, my bread tends to not brown on the top. anyway, should I attempt to make a crust here, should I just use my fingers? Or 2 forks? that being said, I haven’t seen a rolling pin around. I’ve always heard that one could use a wine bottle, and tried that once, not with too much success. I’d love to try the challenge of the handmade crust again (last time I tried it I was here also, but with a better oven, and with a rolling pin): I hate to feel defeated by something. Last time I tried was “before Rose,” but I don’t have her books with me. If I tried a crust I would just have to find a recipe on line, and remember to keep things chilled.

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Posted: 15 November 2011 04:38 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Here’s a link to Rose’s wonderful cream cheese pie crust recipe:  http://www.realbakingwithrose.com/2005/10/roses_favorite_flaky_tender_pi.html

It definitely works to make it by hand and to roll it with a wine bottle! 

There are basically three steps:

1. Rub cream cheese (or part of the butter if making an all-butter crust) into flour mixture with your fingers- goal is to coat as much flour as possible, so you want it to be fine.

2. Toss chunks of chilled butter into flour mixture, then turn out onto a counter (or into a plastic bag) and roll the butter into large flakes.  I use the counter and make three or four passes with the rolling pin, scooping up the flat butter flakes with a pancake turner and piling them on top of each other after each pass.  Stop when most of the flour is stuck to the butter flakes and only a small amount remains loose.  Keep it cold during this process.  I do this on plastic wrap rather than in a bag.

3. Spread liquid (cream or water+vinegar) over the dough and take a turn or two (business-letter turn) until the dough just comes together.  If you’ve rolled it on plastic wrap, the wrap can be used to help layer/fold the dough.  Wrap in plastic wrap and pop it in the fridge overnight.

Good luck with your oven smile

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Posted: 15 November 2011 04:43 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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Thanks, Julie. I’ll let you all know if I try it. It would be great to have something pie-like around thanksgiving time. That’s when I tried it 7 years ago by hand, previous sabbatical.

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Posted: 15 November 2011 08:43 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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Julie - 15 November 2011 08:38 PM

Here’s a link to Rose’s wonderful cream cheese pie crust recipe:  http://www.realbakingwithrose.com/2005/10/roses_favorite_flaky_tender_pi.html

It definitely works to make it by hand and to roll it with a wine bottle! 

There are basically three steps:

1. Rub cream cheese (or part of the butter if making an all-butter crust) into flour mixture with your fingers- goal is to coat as much flour as possible, so you want it to be fine.

2. Toss chunks of chilled butter into flour mixture, then turn out onto a counter (or into a plastic bag) and roll the butter into large flakes.  I use the counter and make three or four passes with the rolling pin, scooping up the flat butter flakes with a pancake turner and piling them on top of each other after each pass.  Stop when most of the flour is stuck to the butter flakes and only a small amount remains loose.  Keep it cold during this process.  I do this on plastic wrap rather than in a bag.

3. Spread liquid (cream or water+vinegar) over the dough and take a turn or two (business-letter turn) until the dough just comes together.  If you’ve rolled it on plastic wrap, the wrap can be used to help layer/fold the dough.  Wrap in plastic wrap and pop it in the fridge overnight.

Good luck with your oven smile

I have made this pie crust!!! I loved the experience and know that I will return to it soon.

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Posted: 15 November 2011 11:10 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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Wow, Julie! Thanks for the fab pie crust tips!!!

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Posted: 27 November 2011 05:29 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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I made a pie crust by hand yesterday!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I ended up sort of using a recipe by Alice Waters. I did it all by hand in a big bowl, the same one I make my bread in. The confusing thing was the recipe I had said the butter should all be softened. I did the first part (with 1/3 of the butter) with the butter a little softened, with my fingers. Then I put in the rest of the much colder butter, still using my fingers. Then I tossed with cold water. I do want to try the rolling pin things next time - this way (and I was just following the directions I had before me), there was no fraisage. I was making a small amount for testing purposes, 1/2 cup flour and 3 TB butter, according to this recipe. I was on top of the moon, given my previous disasters doing it by hand. I now think it could become addictive doing it by hand. I was very confident going into it, now with the knowledge to coat the flour first. I made a simple galette with some apples slices, as for thanksgiving we had gluten free people, and it was at the end of a full day of work, so I just made some vanilla pudding for them.

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