Sugar Syrups from the Baking Bible

EBOOK.jpgThere is an extensive section on Ingredients and Equipment in the E-book version of The Baking Bible. One of the additions included is this information on sugar syrups and caramel which I'm offering here as I feel it will be useful for those who only have the hard copy. The E-book is available on Amazon: The Baking Bible Note: you don't need a Kindle to download a Kindle e-book to your Ipad. Just download the free Kindle App available un the App store on your Ipad. Sugar Syrups A small amount of simple syrup brushed onto butter cake layers does wonders to keep the cake fresh when served a day or two after baking. One table¬spoon per top and bottom of a cake layer baked in a 9 by 2-inch cake pan is just right to keep the cake moist without its becoming soggy or overly sweet. Poke the top of the cake layer all over with a thin skewer to enable the syrup to penetrate through the top crust when it is brushed on. Simple Syrup Makes: 1/2 cup/118 ml/4.7 ounces/135 grams sugar 3 tablespoons/ 1.2 ounces/37 grams water 1/2 cup minus 1 tablespoon (100 ml)/3.5 ounces/100 grams pure vanilla extract 1/2 teaspoon Make the Simple Syrup In a small saucepan, stir together the sugar and water until all the sugar is moistened. Bring the mixture to a rolling boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Remove From the heat and cool completely. Transfer it to a heatproof glass measure and stir in the vanilla. Add water to equal 1/2 cup/118 ml of syrup. Cover and refrigerate for up to 1 month. Concentrated Sugar Syrups When making a sugar syrup for Italian meringue, for example, the sugar is concentrated to produce a supersaturated solution from a saturated one. A saturated sugar solution contains the maximum amount of sugar possible at room temperature without its precipitating out into crystals. A supersaturated sugar solution contains more sugar than the water can dissolve at room temperature. Heating the solution enables the sugar to dissolve. Cold water is capable of holding double its weight in sugar, but by heating it, more sugar can dissolve in the same amount of water. A sugar solution begins with sugar, partially dissolved in at least one-third its weight of cold water. It is stirred continu¬ously until boiling, at which time all the sugar is dissolved. If sugar crystals remain on the sides of the pan, wash down the sides with a wet pastry brush. The solution is now considered supersaturated and, to avoid crystallization, must not be stirred. As the water evaporates, the temperature of the solution rises and the density increases. Concentration of the syrup depends on the amount of water left after evaporation. The temperature of the syrup indicates the concentration. As long as there is a lot of water in the syrup, the temperature does not rise much above the boiling point of the water. But when most of the water has boiled away, the temperature can now rise dramatically, passing through various stages and eventually rising to the temperature of melted sugar (320°F/160°C) when all the water is gone.

Concentration can also be measured by density using a saccharometer or Baumé weight scale. A Baumé scale is graduated from 0° to 44° and corresponds in a direct relationship to the degrees Fahrenheit or Celsius. The degree of evaporation can also be measured by consistency, by dropping a small amount of the syrup into ice water. Supersaturated solutions are highly unstable and recrystallization can occur from agitation or even just by standing unless the solution was properly heated in the first place. The use of an "interfering agent" (so called because it interferes with crystal-lization), such as invert sugar (a little more than one-fourth the weight of the granulated sugar), butter, cream of tartar, or citric acid helps keep the solution stable by interfering with the crystalline structure formation. This is especially useful when the solution will be used in a way that will involve repeatedly dipping into it, such as for making spun sugar, or for storing it so that it doesn't crystallize. As melted sugar reaches higher temperatures, many chemical changes begin to occur. The sugar cannot start to caramelize until all the water is evaporated. As it starts to caramelize, its sweetening power decreases. At this point, when all the water has evapo-rated, stirring will not cause the sugar to crystallize. The addition of a significant amount of an ingredient such as nuts, however, can lower the temperature considerably, and this will cause crystallization to occur instantly if no interfering agent was used. When sugar syrup has been prepared in advance, it is sometimes necessary to check the exact quantity of sugar and water it contains. It is important to know that the Baumé reading in a cold solution measures slightly higher than does the same solution when hot. Another variant that affects density reading is altitude. Because water boils at a lower temperature as altitude increases (there is less air pressure weighing on the water to prevent it from changing from liquid into vapor), there will be a different temperature for the same concentration of sugar syrup at different altitudes. For each increase of five hundred feet in elevation, syrup should be cooked to a temperature 1°F lower than the temperature called for at sea level. If readings are taken in Celsius, for each nine hundred feet of elevation, cook the syrup to a temperature 1°C lower than what is called for at sea level. These adjustments should be made up to 320°F/160°C, the melting point of sugar at all altitudes. Note that partially refined sugar caramelizes at a lower temperature than fully refined sugar. If you are not using a thermometer for caramel, use a clean clear or light-colored silicone spatula to determine the color. (Any sugar remaining on the spatula will cause crystallization.) Take care that the caramel does not become too dark as it will be bitter. Temperatures and Tests for Sugar Syrup 215°F. Thread: The sugar may be pulled into brittle threads between the fingers. This is used for candy, fruit liqueur making, and some icings. 220 to 222°F. Pearl: The thread formed by pulling the liquid sugar may be stretched. When a cool metal spoon is dipped into the syrup and then raised, the syrup runs off in drops, which merge to form a sheet. This is used for making jelly. 234 to 240°F. Soft ball: Syrup dropped into ice water may be formed into a ball which flattens on removal from the water. This is used for extra light Italian meringue, fondant, fudge, peppermint creams, and classic buttercream. 244 to 250°F. Firm ball: Syrup dropped into ice water may be formed into a firm ball, which does not flatten on removal from the water. This is used for light Italian meringue, caramels, nougats, and soft toffees. 250 to 266°F. Hard ball: Syrup dropped into ice water may be formed into a hard ball, which holds its shape on removal but is still plastic. This is used for toffee, divinity, marshmallows, and popcorn balls. 270 to 290°F. Soft crack: Syrup dropped into ice water separates into thread, which are hard but not brittle. This is used for Italian meringue for piping elaborate designs, butterscotch and taffy. 300 to 310°F. Hard crack: Syrup dropped into ice water separates into hard, brittle threads. This is used for brittle and for glacéed fruits. 320°F. Clear liquid: The sugar liquefies (all moisture is removed) and can start browning. This is used for making barley sugar (a candy). 338°F. Brown liquid: The liquefied sugar turns brown. This is used for light caramel. 356°F. Medium brown liquid: The liquefied sugar darkens. This is used for praline, spun sugar, caramel cages, and nougatine. 374°F. Dark brown liquid: The liquefied sugar darkens further. This is used for intensely flavored caramel cream sauce and as a coloring agent for sauces. 410°F. Black Jack: The liquefied sugar turns black and then decomposes. Caramel Different temperatures, ranging from 350°F. to 380°F. are suitable for different types of caramel. When making spun sugar, for example, too light a color would produce a ghostly effect and too dark a color would produce a brassy color when spun. When making a caramel sauce, however, 380°F. will offer a deeper more intense flavor. Over 380°F. and the caramel becomes unpleasantly bitter. Recommended Temperatures for Caramel: Pale amber 350°F to 360°F for a caramel cage. Deep amber 360°F. to 370°F. for spun sugar. Dark amber 370°F. to 380°F. for praline powder, caramels or caramel sauce. If using partially refined sugar, 360°F. Caramel is extremely difficult to make in humid weather because sugar is highly hygroscopic ("attracts water"). The moisture in the air will make the caramel sticky. A 1/2 cup of sugar makes 1/4 cup of liquid caramel (plus the residue that clings to the pot). If hardened and then pulverized, it returns to its original volume of 1/2 cup. Caramel Sauce After the caramel is prepared, do not stir it too much, because this may eventually cause crystallization, especially on storage. However, glucose or corn syrup is usually added as it helps to prevent the caramel from crystallizing when stirred. It also lowers the caramelization temperature. I adore the flavor of caramel, so I like to have as much depth of flavor as possible without any burned flavor. I like to bring this caramel up to 360°F/180°C for maximum flavor and for some applications as high as 380/193°C. Also, the darker you make the caramel, the less sweet it will seem, but you risk burning it if you don't have an absolutely accurate thermometer. A viable alternative is to use a light-colored or transparent silicone spatula so that you can see the color of the caramel as it darkens. It's best to have the cream hot and the butter at room temperature to avoid splattering when they are added to the hot caramel. Cold cream, however, speeds the cooling and is practical if you are pressured for time, but it must be added very slowly. Heating Sugar Syrups and Caramel When the mixture approaches the desired finished temperature, be sure that the burner heat is no higher than medium-low. This helps to prevent the temperature of the syrup from rising after it is removed from the heat.