Etiquette Hell

A Civil World. Off-topic discussions on a variety of topics. Guests, register for forum membership to see all the boards. => Trans-Atlantic Knowledge Exchange => Food => Topic started by: PastryGoddess on April 12, 2012, 08:03:20 PM

Title: Secrets from a Baker
Post by: PastryGoddess on April 12, 2012, 08:03:20 PM
Thread created to transfer knowledge of baking practices, tips, and tricks. Please feel free to post your questions
Title: Re: Secrets from a Baker
Post by: EmmaJ. on April 12, 2012, 08:09:27 PM
I love apple pie.  My apple pie middle is delicious, and the top crust crisp and flaky.  But the bottom crust - yuk!  Never tastes cooked, most times it's gummy. 

What can I do?  Change my pie crust recipe (2 cups flour, 2/3 cup shortening, 1 teaspoon salt, and 6 tablespoons ice water)?  I've thought about pre-baking the bottom crust prior to filling - do you think that would work?
Title: Re: Secrets from a Baker
Post by: PastryGoddess on April 12, 2012, 09:19:45 PM
I would definitely recommend pre baking for about 7-10 min. 


Also make sure that the bottom crust is not too thick .  It needs to be able to hold all of that yummy filling, but you don't want it so thick that it doesn't bake at all.


Good luck
Title: Re: Secrets from a Baker
Post by: Foureyesonemouth on April 12, 2012, 09:50:16 PM
I am so excited you started this thread!  ;D

Do you have any tips on getting a cheesecake not to crack?
Title: Re: Secrets from a Baker
Post by: hyzenthlay on April 12, 2012, 09:55:45 PM
I am so excited you started this thread!  ;D

Do you have any tips on getting a cheesecake not to crack?

Yes, but I have to admit the mine do still have small cracks.

1.) Add your eggs to your batter last, and mix minimally after they are added. Beaten eggs create lots of air pockets and can lead to cracking.
2.) If your aren't, spray your cheesecake pan with non-stick coating. Adhering to the sides can lead to, or make cracks worse.
3.) Humidify the oven. If you have a roasting pan or some other metal pan you can leave in you can fill it with water when you first put your cheesecake in.

4.) I have never tried this, but I understand some people retain some of the batter and fill the cracks and bake a little longer. The cracks I get are so small I've never felt any need to do this.
Title: Re: Secrets from a Baker
Post by: Foureyesonemouth on April 12, 2012, 10:10:23 PM
I am so excited you started this thread!  ;D

Do you have any tips on getting a cheesecake not to crack?

Yes, but I have to admit the mine do still have small cracks.

1.) Add your eggs to your batter last, and mix minimally after they are added. Beaten eggs create lots of air pockets and can lead to cracking.
2.) If your aren't, spray your cheesecake pan with non-stick coating. Adhering to the sides can lead to, or make cracks worse.
3.) Humidify the oven. If you have a roasting pan or some other metal pan you can leave in you can fill it with water when you first put your cheesecake in.

4.) I have never tried this, but I understand some people retain some of the batter and fill the cracks and bake a little longer. The cracks I get are so small I've never felt any need to do this.

Oh wow I didn't know that about the eggs. That definitely explains the last one.

So when humidifying the oven, do you put the roasting pan on the shelf below or do you put the cake in the pan?
Title: Re: Secrets from a Baker
Post by: hyzenthlay on April 13, 2012, 07:42:05 AM
So when humidifying the oven, do you put the roasting pan on the shelf below or do you put the cake in the pan?

I've seen that some people do put the cheescake in a water bath. I don't trust my cheescake pan that much  :D  I just put a steampan of water on the floor of my oven.
Title: Re: Secrets from a Baker
Post by: alkira6 on April 13, 2012, 07:49:40 AM
So when humidifying the oven, do you put the roasting pan on the shelf below or do you put the cake in the pan?

I've seen that some people do put the cheescake in a water bath. I don't trust my cheescake pan that much  :D  I just put a steampan of water on the floor of my oven.

I put a small pan of water on the bottom as I'm preheating the oven and right before I put the pan in with the cheesecake I spray the oven itself lightly with water. Seems to keep the cracks away(mostly).
Title: Re: Secrets from a Baker
Post by: Zilla on April 13, 2012, 08:01:41 AM
Custard pies.


I can make flan perfectly.


But custard pies eludes me.  It comes out almost scrambled and not creamy like custard should.


Any ideas why?
Title: Re: Secrets from a Baker
Post by: alkira6 on April 13, 2012, 08:04:01 AM
Custard pies.


I can make flan perfectly.


But custard pies eludes me.  It comes out almost scrambled and not creamy like custard should.


Any ideas why?

How do you mix in your eggs and sugar? Give me a step by step of how you make your pies - scrambled sounds like a problem with mixing and heat.
Title: Re: Secrets from a Baker
Post by: audrey1962 on April 13, 2012, 09:02:58 AM
I want to make my own donuts. Is it better to buy a donut iron (similar to a waffle iron) or to buy a donut pan so I can bake them in the oven?
Title: Re: Secrets from a Baker
Post by: Outdoor Girl on April 13, 2012, 10:25:07 AM
Tip for making meringue:  Use old eggs.  They whip up so much better.  I made a lemon pie on the weekend for Easter (my Dad's favourite and bright yellow is an easter colour, right?) and my three egg whites from eggs bought at the beginning of March made a huge, thick meringue for the pie.  It was fabulous.

PastryGoddess, if I prebake the bottom shell for a few minutes, how do I crimp the top shell to the now partially baked bottom shell?
Title: Re: Secrets from a Baker
Post by: LB on April 13, 2012, 10:30:10 AM
I have heard that using vegetable shortening instead of butter can make chocolate chip cookies come out nice and soft. It is a straight across trade? One cup of shortening for one cup of butter?

Title: Re: Secrets from a Baker
Post by: Outdoor Girl on April 13, 2012, 10:35:33 AM
I have heard that using vegetable shortening instead of butter can make chocolate chip cookies come out nice and soft. It is a straight across trade? One cup of shortening for one cup of butter?

Yes.  My recipe calls for shortening.  They are fantastic.  Won the red ribbon in my small home town's Fall Fair baking contest three years running.   (It's not a huge achievement - there are usually only half a dozen or so entries.)   :)

If you still want the buttery taste, a friend uses the butter flavoured Crisco.
Title: Re: Secrets from a Baker
Post by: Zilla on April 13, 2012, 10:44:21 AM
Custard pies.


I can make flan perfectly.


But custard pies eludes me.  It comes out almost scrambled and not creamy like custard should.


Any ideas why?

How do you mix in your eggs and sugar? Give me a step by step of how you make your pies - scrambled sounds like a problem with mixing and heat.


I cream butter with the sugar first, eggs, then blend the milk, vanilla/salt etc.


I pour into pie shell (prebaked and cooled)


Bake in oven as directed. I have tried lowering temp, adding a water bath on bottom rack and removing it a few minutes before.


It's either curdled/greasy or scrambly.  I have done both recipes where it calls for scalded milk and let it cool completely or with regular milk.


I am quite baffled. 
Title: Re: Secrets from a Baker
Post by: PastryGoddess on April 13, 2012, 10:46:29 AM

I am so excited you started this thread!  ;D

Do you have any tips on getting a cheesecake not to crack?
You may have some small cracks, but it should be fine.
Title: Re: Secrets from a Baker
Post by: PastryGoddess on April 13, 2012, 10:50:07 AM
Custard pies.


I can make flan perfectly.


But custard pies eludes me.  It comes out almost scrambled and not creamy like custard should.


Any ideas why?

How do you mix in your eggs and sugar? Give me a step by step of how you make your pies - scrambled sounds like a problem with mixing and heat.

POD to this. Post the recipe and we'll troubleshoot it
Title: Re: Secrets from a Baker
Post by: PastryGoddess on April 13, 2012, 10:52:22 AM
Tip for making meringue:  Use old eggs.  They whip up so much better.  I made a lemon pie on the weekend for Easter (my Dad's favourite and bright yellow is an easter colour, right?) and my three egg whites from eggs bought at the beginning of March made a huge, thick meringue for the pie.  It was fabulous.

PastryGoddess, if I prebake the bottom shell for a few minutes, how do I crimp the top shell to the now partially baked bottom shell?

cover the sides with foil to prevent them from baking and use an egg wash to glue the top shell to the bottom
Title: Re: Secrets from a Baker
Post by: PastryGoddess on April 13, 2012, 10:56:19 AM
Meringue Tip #2
Mix the whites and sugar together and HEAT over a double boiler.  If you have a thermometer heat up to at least 140 degrees.  If no thermometer, stir over heat until all sugar is dissolved. Then put on the mixer and whip. 


You've just made Swiss Meringue and that is the basis for our next tip.......
Title: Re: Secrets from a Baker
Post by: Zilla on April 13, 2012, 10:58:54 AM
I have used a few but here are two that I remember:


http://allrecipes.com/recipe/grandmas-egg-custard-pie (http://allrecipes.com/recipe/grandmas-egg-custard-pie)


http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Buttermilk-Pie/ (http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Buttermilk-Pie/)


The buttermilk pie fared the worst of the two.
Title: Re: Secrets from a Baker
Post by: PastryGoddess on April 13, 2012, 11:04:25 AM
.....Swiss Meringue Icing!


Recipe:
Keep away from all children, husbands, and dogs.
Title: Re: Secrets from a Baker
Post by: alkira6 on April 13, 2012, 11:06:39 AM
I have used a few but here are two that I remember:


http://allrecipes.com/recipe/grandmas-egg-custard-pie (http://allrecipes.com/recipe/grandmas-egg-custard-pie)


http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Buttermilk-Pie/ (http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Buttermilk-Pie/)


The buttermilk pie fared the worst of the two.

The buttermilk pie recipe is baffling to me. Why is there lemon juice in it? This will make the eggs and/or milk start to curdle, and  it gets worse when heat is applied. Leave out the lemon juice and do not beat the eggs as much, they only have to be very slightly frothy for the pie to come out well.

For the egg custard, are you letting the milk cool before using? I don't even scald my milk, I either nuke it for 30 seconds or let ot come to room temp. and use it. Try this and see if there is a difference.
Title: Re: Secrets from a Baker
Post by: Zilla on April 13, 2012, 11:07:56 AM
I have used a few but here are two that I remember:


http://allrecipes.com/recipe/grandmas-egg-custard-pie (http://allrecipes.com/recipe/grandmas-egg-custard-pie)


http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Buttermilk-Pie/ (http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Buttermilk-Pie/)


The buttermilk pie fared the worst of the two.

The buttermilk pie recipe is baffling to me. Why is there lemon juice in it? This will make the eggs and/or milk start to curdle, and  it gets worse when heat is applied. Leave out the lemon juice and do not beat the eggs as much, they only have to be very slightly frothy for the pie to come out well.

For the egg custard, are you letting the milk cool before using? I don't even scald my milk, I either nuke it for 30 seconds or let ot come to room temp. and use it. Try this and see if there is a difference.


I have done it both without scalding and cooling or just room temp.
Title: Re: Secrets from a Baker
Post by: wheeitsme on April 13, 2012, 11:48:28 AM
Warm egg whites whip higher than cold ones.  Room temperature is ok.  A little warmer is better.  And the slightest yolk or oil will mess them up.
Title: Re: Secrets from a Baker
Post by: Julian on April 13, 2012, 06:30:03 PM
Warm egg whites whip higher than cold ones.  Room temperature is ok.  A little warmer is better.  And the slightest yolk or oil will mess them up.

Always use glass or metal mixing bowls too - plastic can retain a film of oil, no matter how clean it is.  And make sure your mixer blades are scrupulously clean for the same reason.

I've made many pavlovas and meringues over the years, made my first sugar-free pav with Splenda a few months back.  It turned out just fine, although it looked yellow after baking. 
Title: Re: Secrets from a Baker
Post by: QueenofAllThings on April 13, 2012, 06:43:32 PM
re the cheesecake - a pan with boiling water on the lower shelf, AND leaving the cheesecake in the oven (turned off) does it every time. Before you put the cheesecake in the 'fridge, run a very sharp knife around the sides. I've never had a crack.

Not a baking tip per se, but it worked wonders for me - rather than dipping something (chicken, say) in flour, then egg - use corn starch. Results in crispy rather than gummy.

Lastly, when baking cookies or brownies - moisture (i.e. chewy) comes from brown sugar, not butter or eggs. So if you want chewier chocolate chip cookies, add a little extra sugar.
Title: Re: Secrets from a Baker
Post by: PastryGoddess on April 13, 2012, 08:54:33 PM
I think all of the problems of the world would be solved if you added a little sugar




....and chocolate




....and wine
Title: Re: Secrets from a Baker
Post by: Shopaholic on April 14, 2012, 12:23:42 AM
.....Swiss Meringue Icing!


Recipe:
  • 2 cups or 1/2 L Whites
  • 2.5 pounds of sugar
  • 2.5 pounds of butter, cut into small chunks.  put in fridge or freezer
  • Heat the whites and sugar together over a double boiler. 
  • Stir frequently until sugar is dissolved and/ or temp reaches 140.  If you do not have a thermometer, there should be steam coming off of the mixture
  • put in mixing bowl and mix on MEDIUM for about 10 min and on HIGH FOR 20.
  • Turn speed down to LOW and start adding cold butter one chunk at a time
  • Once all butter is in, mix on LOW for 5 min then crank up to HIGH for 20 min
  • Voila!! You now have Swiss Meringue Icing
Keep away from all children, husbands, and dogs.

Wow! That's enough meringue for an army.

Q; I thought Swiss meringue was the one where you add the sugar in syrup form to the whites while beating?
That's what I use for Swiss meringue icing. Comes out heavenly.
Title: Re: Secrets from a Baker
Post by: apple on April 14, 2012, 12:41:45 AM
When it comes to pies, I always use glass pie plates (rather than metal ones). The glass makes for a crispy bottom crust. The baking temperature needs to be reduced by 25 degrees when using glass.

This is a great gadget to have for pie baking:

http://www.amazon.com/Mrs-Andersons-Pie-Crust-Shield/dp/B00004S1BU

I put it on the pie once the edges get as brown as I'd like. It keeps them from burning. There is a new pie shield made of silicon that I've been meaning to buy and try out. 

I agree about slow cooling for cheesecakes. When the baking time is over, I open the oven door slightly  and let the cheesecake cool in the oven.
Title: Re: Secrets from a Baker
Post by: General Jinjur on April 14, 2012, 07:10:24 AM
Custard pies.


I can make flan perfectly.


But custard pies eludes me.  It comes out almost scrambled and not creamy like custard should.


Any ideas why?

Try using room temp eggs. That worked for me.
Title: Re: Secrets from a Baker
Post by: Zilla on April 14, 2012, 07:29:37 AM
Custard pies.


I can make flan perfectly.


But custard pies eludes me.  It comes out almost scrambled and not creamy like custard should.


Any ideas why?

Try using room temp eggs. That worked for me.


I was talking with a friend of mine last night and she remarked that custard pie might be very different from flan.  (we never had custard pie)


I am expecting a creamy almost jello like consistency.  Is custard pie like that?  And does it get that slight greasy top? (flan doesn't)
Title: Re: Secrets from a Baker
Post by: PastryGoddess on April 14, 2012, 07:57:52 AM
.....Swiss Meringue Icing!


Recipe:
  • 2 cups or 1/2 L Whites
  • 2.5 pounds of sugar
  • 2.5 pounds of butter, cut into small chunks.  put in fridge or freezer
  • Heat the whites and sugar together over a double boiler. 
  • Stir frequently until sugar is dissolved and/ or temp reaches 140.  If you do not have a thermometer, there should be steam coming off of the mixture
  • put in mixing bowl and mix on MEDIUM for about 10 min and on HIGH FOR 20.
  • Turn speed down to LOW and start adding cold butter one chunk at a time
  • Once all butter is in, mix on LOW for 5 min then crank up to HIGH for 20 min
  • Voila!! You now have Swiss Meringue Icing
Keep away from all children, husbands, and dogs.

Wow! That's enough meringue for an army.

Q; I thought Swiss meringue was the one where you add the sugar in syrup form to the whites while beating?
That's what I use for Swiss meringue icing. Comes out heavenly.
That's Italian Meringue, even more dreamy, but not everyone is comfortable pouring boiling hot sugar into egg whites ya know :)

You can use your same recipe with my SM Icing method and it'll come out dreamy
Title: Re: Secrets from a Baker
Post by: General Jinjur on April 14, 2012, 10:40:14 AM
Custard pies.


I can make flan perfectly.


But custard pies eludes me.  It comes out almost scrambled and not creamy like custard should.


Any ideas why?

Try using room temp eggs. That worked for me.


I was talking with a friend of mine last night and she remarked that custard pie might be very different from flan.  (we never had custard pie)


I am expecting a creamy almost jello like consistency.  Is custard pie like that?  And does it get that slight greasy top? (flan doesn't)

It's not terribly different from flan, but yes, the consistency isn't quite the same. It's softer and not jello-like at all.  It is supposed to be smooth and well-incorporated, though, not scrambly! I ruined a delicious coconut custard once that way.
Title: Re: Secrets from a Baker
Post by: Foureyesonemouth on April 14, 2012, 02:41:29 PM
Thank you all for the tips on the cheesecake. I will have to give those a try.
Title: Re: Secrets from a Baker
Post by: FauxFoodist on April 14, 2012, 08:44:10 PM
Thank you also from me for the cheesecake tips (although I'm wondering why not to use a springform pan?).  I've been trying to get around to making the pumpkin cheesecake I meant to make at Christmas-time.  Then, it got to Easter so I was going to make a lemon-marbled cheesecake, but only got as far as making the lemon curd.  I'm hoping to get it done tomorrow and appreciate all the tips, especially about the water bath since I forgot about that one but also when to add the eggs and cooling in the oven (however, I don't have a cake pan with a removable bottom and don't want to have to run out and buy one so my springform pan will have to do).
Title: Re: Secrets from a Baker
Post by: HoneyBee42 on April 14, 2012, 11:49:53 PM
I want to make my own donuts. Is it better to buy a donut iron (similar to a waffle iron) or to buy a donut pan so I can bake them in the oven?
Um ... my advice would be neither.  A nice deep pan with some oil (if you're doing an old-fashioned, heat the oil to 325; yeast, 350; cake 370).

Generally speaking, for an old-fashioned, once they float, fry for 15 seconds, flip, fry for about 75-90 seconds (watch carefully for the golden brown color), flip again and fry for another 60-75).  Yeast donuts will fry for about 30 seconds per side (and only turn the once).  Cake donuts fry for about 60 seconds per side.
Title: Re: Secrets from a Baker
Post by: Foureyesonemouth on April 15, 2012, 04:51:28 PM
Thank you also from me for the cheesecake tips (although I'm wondering why not to use a springform pan?).  I've been trying to get around to making the pumpkin cheesecake I meant to make at Christmas-time.  Then, it got to Easter so I was going to make a lemon-marbled cheesecake, but only got as far as making the lemon curd.  I'm hoping to get it done tomorrow and appreciate all the tips, especially about the water bath since I forgot about that one but also when to add the eggs and cooling in the oven (however, I don't have a cake pan with a removable bottom and don't want to have to run out and buy one so my springform pan will have to do).

Southern Living's pecan-pumpkin cheesecake with the caramel top?
Title: Re: Secrets from a Baker
Post by: PastryGoddess on April 15, 2012, 07:50:00 PM
Thank you also from me for the cheesecake tips (although I'm wondering why not to use a springform pan?).  I've been trying to get around to making the pumpkin cheesecake I meant to make at Christmas-time.  Then, it got to Easter so I was going to make a lemon-marbled cheesecake, but only got as far as making the lemon curd.  I'm hoping to get it done tomorrow and appreciate all the tips, especially about the water bath since I forgot about that one but also when to add the eggs and cooling in the oven (however, I don't have a cake pan with a removable bottom and don't want to have to run out and buy one so my springform pan will have to do).

If you put a springform pan in a waterbath, you'll get water in your cheesecake, which will ruin it. Unless I'm thinking of a different type of springform pan.  If you follow the tips above, you will be able to flip the cheesecake out of the pan while it is still cold from the fridge.  If you are really worried about sticking you can put foil or parchment around the sides and bottom, but you shouldn't need it.
Title: Re: Secrets from a Baker
Post by: Outdoor Girl on April 16, 2012, 09:02:39 AM
I just came across an article about how to avoid cracks in your cheesecake:

Use a waterbath.  Go ahead and use your springform pan but use aluminum foil around the outside to make it watertight so no water would seep in.  And finally, once you take it out of the oven, run a sharp, narrow bladed knife around the outside edge to loosen it from the pan.  Then let it cool.  If you don't do this, sometimes the cheesecake will cling to the side of the pan and will cause cracking as it cools.
Title: Re: Secrets from a Baker
Post by: Dindrane on April 16, 2012, 09:46:07 AM
One thing I learned about baking cookies a long time ago: to get a softer cookie, lower the temperature of the oven and cook them a bit longer.  A higher temperature and shorter cooking time makes them crispier.

I have also made cookies with vegetable shortening, but I sometimes find it more of a hassle than it's worth (since vegetable shortening is not something I use for anything else in my kitchen).  However, the very best cookie recipe in the whole world that I've ever tried comes from the King Arthur Flour Cookbook, and it uses both vegetable shortening and butter.  The cookies end up ever so slightly crisp on the outside, and soft and chewy on the inside.  They're wonderful.
Title: Re: Secrets from a Baker
Post by: PastryGoddess on April 16, 2012, 10:56:06 AM
Thread created to transfer knowledge of baking practices, tips, and tricks. Please feel free to post your questions

Please tell me more about pouring sugar syrup onto  cake layers to make it moist?  How much sugar syrup?  I'm talking about your standard 8-inch cake layers, not something industrial-sized.

My rule of thumb is about 1/4 - 1/3 cup of simple syrup for each layer of cake.  You can flavor the syrup with any number of extracts.  Vanilla is always a good one.  If you are filling it with fresh berries or jam, lemon or ginger are good flavor enhancers.  For citrus fillings, ginger or cinnamon flavoring works well.  If you want to add alcohol, do a half syrup and half alcohol ratio...or not and just use straight booze :)
Title: Re: Secrets from a Baker
Post by: wheeitsme on April 16, 2012, 12:08:26 PM
Thread created to transfer knowledge of baking practices, tips, and tricks. Please feel free to post your questions

Please tell me more about pouring sugar syrup onto  cake layers to make it moist?  How much sugar syrup?  I'm talking about your standard 8-inch cake layers, not something industrial-sized.

When I worked at the bakery, it was 1 cup sugar to 1 cup water.  Boil until dissolved.
When cool, flavor with extracts, alcohol, etc.
Using a food-safe paint brush, dip brush in syrup and brush on the top of each layer.

We usually used used rum, Patron Citronge, vanilla, or nothing at all to flavor the syrup.
Title: Re: Secrets from a Baker
Post by: alkira6 on April 16, 2012, 12:57:51 PM
Thread created to transfer knowledge of baking practices, tips, and tricks. Please feel free to post your questions

Please tell me more about pouring sugar syrup onto  cake layers to make it moist?  How much sugar syrup?  I'm talking about your standard 8-inch cake layers, not something industrial-sized.

When I worked at the bakery, it was 1 cup sugar to 1 cup water.  Boil until dissolved.
When cool, flavor with extracts, alcohol, etc.
Using a food-safe paint brush, dip brush in syrup and brush on the top of each layer.

We usually used used rum, Patron Citronge, vanilla, or nothing at all to flavor the syrup.

There is a huge difference in taste when you do this. I tried it once when I was in college and now I only don't do this when I make a cake for someone I really don't care for.
Title: Re: Secrets from a Baker
Post by: Cz. Burrito on April 16, 2012, 01:53:35 PM
I have heard that using vegetable shortening instead of butter can make chocolate chip cookies come out nice and soft. It is a straight across trade? One cup of shortening for one cup of butter?

Yes.  My recipe calls for shortening.  They are fantastic.  Won the red ribbon in my small home town's Fall Fair baking contest three years running.   (It's not a huge achievement - there are usually only half a dozen or so entries.)   :)

If you still want the buttery taste, a friend uses the butter flavoured Crisco.

I use half butter/half shortening.  The butter makes them chewy and the shortening makes them voluminous.
Title: Re: Secrets from a Baker
Post by: Dindrane on April 16, 2012, 02:52:46 PM
Another baking secret I have learned is that, if you are like me and can't make decent-tasting pie crust from scratch to save your life, use a food processor. :)

I have a 7-cup Cuisinart, and it's big enough to make a recipe for 2 pie crusts.  You add the flour and chillled butter/vegetable shortening and pulse the mixture until it looks a bit like cornmeal.  Then you add the ice-cold water and pulse until the dough just forms.  At that point, you scrape it out onto a floured surface, roll out the crust, and you're good to go.

I've never been very good at cutting butter into flour with a fork or with two knives (and I don't have a special implement for it because I don't make pie crust often).  I've also been told you can use your fingers, but I'm not nearly fast enough about it to get all the butter worked in before it gets warm.  So the food processor makes a recipe that I've always struggled with darned near fool-proof.

I've never tried it with making biscuits, but I kind of suspect it would help keep them from getting all rubbery on me.  That, and using cake flour instead of my usual all-purpose.
Title: Re: Secrets from a Baker
Post by: CakeBeret on April 17, 2012, 10:34:08 AM
Another baking secret I have learned is that, if you are like me and can't make decent-tasting pie crust from scratch to save your life, use a food processor. :)

I have a 7-cup Cuisinart, and it's big enough to make a recipe for 2 pie crusts.  You add the flour and chillled butter/vegetable shortening and pulse the mixture until it looks a bit like cornmeal.  Then you add the ice-cold water and pulse until the dough just forms.  At that point, you scrape it out onto a floured surface, roll out the crust, and you're good to go.

I've never been very good at cutting butter into flour with a fork or with two knives (and I don't have a special implement for it because I don't make pie crust often).  I've also been told you can use your fingers, but I'm not nearly fast enough about it to get all the butter worked in before it gets warm.  So the food processor makes a recipe that I've always struggled with darned near fool-proof.

I've never tried it with making biscuits, but I kind of suspect it would help keep them from getting all rubbery on me.  That, and using cake flour instead of my usual all-purpose.

I agree with this! One of the first things I did when I got my food processor was make pie crust.

I cube the butter first and put it in the freezer for a few minutes. When it is very cold and almost frozen, I add to the food processor and process very briefly, until the butter is cut down into pea size chunks, and then add ice water. Process very briefly until the dough just forms.

Once you have the dough, refrigerate for an hour before rolling it. Roll it between two sheets of parchment paper. Freeze it for 10 minutes before transferring it to a pie plate.

Keeping it very cold preserves the integrity of the butter so that it melts into flaky deliciousness in the oven. It also makes the dough infinitely easier to work with, both with the rolling and with transferring it to the pie plate.


My question:

Is there a way to get softer, fluffier biscuits or rolls out of whole wheat flour, without adding white flour? I've tried using vital wheat gluten and it helps a bit, but I just cannot get that perfectly soft fluffiness without using 1/2 white and 1/2 wheat flour.
Title: Re: Secrets from a Baker
Post by: Namárië on April 17, 2012, 10:43:54 AM
Another fun piecrust tip is to add some vodka to it in addition to the water. The crust is easier to handle (and therefore less tough) but the booze cooks off, which doesn't leave the crust soggy like water would. Also: vodka! :D
Title: Re: Secrets from a Baker
Post by: PastryGoddess on April 17, 2012, 11:52:30 AM
Another baking secret I have learned is that, if you are like me and can't make decent-tasting pie crust from scratch to save your life, use a food processor. :)

I have a 7-cup Cuisinart, and it's big enough to make a recipe for 2 pie crusts.  You add the flour and chillled butter/vegetable shortening and pulse the mixture until it looks a bit like cornmeal.  Then you add the ice-cold water and pulse until the dough just forms.  At that point, you scrape it out onto a floured surface, roll out the crust, and you're good to go.

I've never been very good at cutting butter into flour with a fork or with two knives (and I don't have a special implement for it because I don't make pie crust often).  I've also been told you can use your fingers, but I'm not nearly fast enough about it to get all the butter worked in before it gets warm.  So the food processor makes a recipe that I've always struggled with darned near fool-proof.

I've never tried it with making biscuits, but I kind of suspect it would help keep them from getting all rubbery on me.  That, and using cake flour instead of my usual all-purpose.

I agree with this! One of the first things I did when I got my food processor was make pie crust.


I cube the butter first and put it in the freezer for a few minutes. When it is very cold and almost frozen, I add to the food processor and process very briefly, until the butter is cut down into pea size chunks, and then add ice water. Process very briefly until the dough just forms.

Once you have the dough, refrigerate for an hour before rolling it. Roll it between two sheets of parchment paper. Freeze it for 10 minutes before transferring it to a pie plate.

Keeping it very cold preserves the integrity of the butter so that it melts into flaky deliciousness in the oven. It also makes the dough infinitely easier to work with, both with the rolling and with transferring it to the pie plate.


My question:

Is there a way to get softer, fluffier biscuits or rolls out of whole wheat flour, without adding white flour? I've tried using vital wheat gluten and it helps a bit, but I just cannot get that perfectly soft fluffiness without using 1/2 white and 1/2 wheat flour.

Softer no, because there is more gluten than in white flour and you can't get around that.  You may want to go with all shortening since it will help it to come out a little fluffier
Title: Re: Secrets from a Baker
Post by: Outdoor Girl on April 17, 2012, 02:38:10 PM
Up the amount of baking powder a little, too.  If your recipe calls for 1 tbsp, I'd add an extra tsp. for a total of 4 tsp.
Title: Re: Secrets from a Baker
Post by: buvezdevin on April 17, 2012, 03:16:10 PM
I have long yearned for a *really* "lemony" lemon cake.  While I have tried some recipes which I very much enjoyed (one was a Barefoot Countessa recipe, good but still not lemon nirvana) none have produced the lemon-isousness which I crave.

Some have included a simple syrup cooked with lemon (juice or peel, I cannot remember just now), and per some prior tips in this thread, I would now try that whether the recipe called for it or not.

If PastryGoddess or anyone has a tip, trick, or approach/recipe to up the lemon flavor in any baked good, I would much appreciate it.
Title: Re: Secrets from a Baker
Post by: CakeBeret on April 17, 2012, 03:19:29 PM
I've found that using both lemon juice and lemon zest make for a really good lemony cake.

A month or so I made a lemon cake and frosted it with cream cheese icing. It was goooooood. Sadly I don't remember the recipe.
Title: Re: Secrets from a Baker
Post by: NyaChan on April 17, 2012, 03:20:45 PM
I once used limes to make a thick syrup - really intense flavor - and then soaked the cake with it.  It was quite tart & really yummy.  My cake was coconut/lime, but you could probably do the same thing with the actual lemon cake.  Maybe layer some lemon curd on top as well?
Title: Re: Secrets from a Baker
Post by: wheeitsme on April 17, 2012, 06:34:11 PM
I have long yearned for a *really* "lemony" lemon cake.  While I have tried some recipes which I very much enjoyed (one was a Barefoot Countessa recipe, good but still not lemon nirvana) none have produced the lemon-isousness which I crave.

Some have included a simple syrup cooked with lemon (juice or peel, I cannot remember just now), and per some prior tips in this thread, I would now try that whether the recipe called for it or not.

If PastryGoddess or anyone has a tip, trick, or approach/recipe to up the lemon flavor in any baked good, I would much appreciate it.

When I get home, I will send you my mother's recipe for Lemon Jello Cake.  It is awesome. Nothing I made in the fancy bakery topped the lemony goodness of that cake.
Title: Re: Secrets from a Baker
Post by: Zilla on April 17, 2012, 06:57:06 PM
I too love using zest in the batter, in the syrup and the frosting.  If you want intense lemony flavor, but not wanting to use too much juice as the water content can "upset" the balance the dry/wet ratio.  If you can find lemon juice powder.  It's awesome.


Google Lemon Juice Powder.
Title: Re: Secrets from a Baker
Post by: Isometric on April 17, 2012, 07:07:47 PM
Hi Pastry Goddess,

Thanks for making me hungry!

Some allergy related baking questions...

Any tips on working with gluten free flour? It seems to crumble and fall apart. This is following any normal recipe but substituting normal flour for GF.

What can I use instead of egg in a cake recipe? I use eggs as little as possible because they kind of freak me out! (weird, I know)

Thanks  :D
Title: Re: Secrets from a Baker
Post by: Outdoor Girl on April 17, 2012, 07:10:23 PM
You need to use 1 tsp of Xantham gum plus a tsp of liquid for each cup of substituted GF flour.  I also find that cake recipes with a lot of natural moisture, like carrot cake, fare better than dryer cakes.

I've made my chocolate chip cookies with GF flour.  You couldn't tell they were GF.

I can't help with the eggs, though.
Title: Re: Secrets from a Baker
Post by: buvezdevin on April 17, 2012, 07:13:35 PM
I am so appreciative of these suggestions, and am looking forward to trying them *all*!

wheeitsme, I will much appreciate that recipe.

Zilla, I love you.  I had not heard of lemon juice powder.  I googled.  King Arthur makes some, and I use and love many of their products.

NyaChan, as much as I lurv lemon curd, I thank you for suggesting I use it to good effect beyond occasional toast.  And the idea of a thicker flavored syrup, too.

Cakeberet, ooh, cream cheese icing in combo with a cake which has lemon juice and peel.  Sighing with happiness at the thought.

Thank you!

Title: Re: Secrets from a Baker
Post by: CuriousParty on April 17, 2012, 07:35:48 PM

When I get home, I will send you post my mother's recipe for Lemon Jello Cake.  It is awesome. Nothing I made in the fancy bakery topped the lemony goodness of that cake.

Fixed that for you (pretty please?) :)
Title: Re: Secrets from a Baker
Post by: Zilla on April 17, 2012, 07:38:30 PM
I am so appreciative of these suggestions, and am looking forward to trying them *all*!

wheeitsme, I will much appreciate that recipe.

Zilla, I love you.  I had not heard of lemon juice powder.  I googled.  King Arthur makes some, and I use and love many of their products.

NyaChan, as much as I lurv lemon curd, I thank you for suggesting I use it to good effect beyond occasional toast.  And the idea of a thicker flavored syrup, too.

Cakeberet, ooh, cream cheese icing in combo with a cake which has lemon juice and peel.  Sighing with happiness at the thought.

Thank you!
I also forgot they carry this in most grocery stores in the US. (if you are here)


http://www.truelemon.com/products.html (http://www.truelemon.com/products.html)
Title: Re: Secrets from a Baker
Post by: Isometric on April 17, 2012, 07:41:25 PM
You need to use 1 tsp of Xantham gum plus a tsp of liquid for each cup of substituted GF flour.  I also find that cake recipes with a lot of natural moisture, like carrot cake, fare better than dryer cakes.

I've made my chocolate chip cookies with GF flour.  You couldn't tell they were GF.

I can't help with the eggs, though.

Thanks Outdoor Girl  :)
Title: Re: Secrets from a Baker
Post by: PastryGoddess on April 17, 2012, 08:27:13 PM
You need to use 1 tsp of Xantham gum plus a tsp of liquid for each cup of substituted GF flour.  I also find that cake recipes with a lot of natural moisture, like carrot cake, fare better than dryer cakes.

I've made my chocolate chip cookies with GF flour.  You couldn't tell they were GF.

I can't help with the eggs, though.

Not an expert on gluten free, but I POD to what Outdoor Girl has said
Title: Re: Secrets from a Baker
Post by: PastryGoddess on April 17, 2012, 08:36:03 PM
Hi Pastry Goddess,

Thanks for making me hungry!

Some allergy related baking questions...

Any tips on working with gluten free flour? It seems to crumble and fall apart. This is following any normal recipe but substituting normal flour for GF.

What can I use instead of egg in a cake recipe? I use eggs as little as possible because they kind of freak me out! (weird, I know)

Thanks  :D

Here are some egg substitutes
Silken Tofu: 1/4 cup per egg.  Blend it in a mixer or food processor first to make it absolutely smooth
Applesauce & baking powder: 1/4 cup of applesauce and 1 tsp baking powder per egg
Yogurt: 1/4 cup per egg
Buttermilk: 1/2 cup per egg
Vegetable oil: 1/4 cup per egg
Bananas: 1/2 banana per egg
Title: Re: Secrets from a Baker
Post by: EmmaJ. on April 17, 2012, 08:49:55 PM
What can I use instead of egg in a cake recipe? I use eggs as little as possible because they kind of freak me out! (weird, I know)

Thanks  :D

Have you tried an egg substitute?  I use Egg Beaters.  It comes as a perfectly homogenized liquid in a carton - it's almost like pouring a cup of milk.

Title: Re: Secrets from a Baker
Post by: Isometric on April 17, 2012, 08:52:13 PM
Hi Pastry Goddess,

Thanks for making me hungry!

Some allergy related baking questions...

Any tips on working with gluten free flour? It seems to crumble and fall apart. This is following any normal recipe but substituting normal flour for GF.

What can I use instead of egg in a cake recipe? I use eggs as little as possible because they kind of freak me out! (weird, I know)

Thanks  :D

Here are some egg substitutes
Silken Tofu: 1/4 cup per egg.  Blend it in a mixer or food processor first to make it absolutely smooth
Applesauce & baking powder: 1/4 cup of applesauce and 1 tsp baking powder per egg
Yogurt: 1/4 cup per egg
Buttermilk: 1/2 cup per egg
Vegetable oil: 1/4 cup per egg
Bananas: 1/2 banana per egg

Thank you PastryGoddess! :) :)
Title: Re: Secrets from a Baker
Post by: Isometric on April 17, 2012, 08:53:59 PM
What can I use instead of egg in a cake recipe? I use eggs as little as possible because they kind of freak me out! (weird, I know)

Thanks  :D

Have you tried an egg substitute?  I use Egg Beaters.  It comes as a perfectly homogenized liquid in a carton - it's almost like pouring a cup of milk.

Thanks for the suggestion! We don't have Egg Beaters where I live, I've tried a powdered substitute with some fritters, it worked ok but but great!
Title: Re: Secrets from a Baker
Post by: wheeitsme on April 17, 2012, 11:04:40 PM
Here it is.  The most moist, lemony cake I have ever had.  And one of my favorite desserts ever.

http://www.etiquettehell.com/smf/index.php?topic=115366.0
Title: Re: Secrets from a Baker
Post by: Dindrane on April 17, 2012, 11:09:27 PM
My question:

Is there a way to get softer, fluffier biscuits or rolls out of whole wheat flour, without adding white flour? I've tried using vital wheat gluten and it helps a bit, but I just cannot get that perfectly soft fluffiness without using 1/2 white and 1/2 wheat flour.

One product that I really love, if you can find it at your grocery store, is King Arthur Flour White Whole Wheat.  I use it in place of all-purpose white flour.  I think KAF recommends subbing half the regular all-purpose flour with the white whole wheat, but I don't ever have regular all-purpose.  I haven't done any really stringent comparisons, but I don't find that using all white whole wheat impacts my recipes in a particularly noticeable way, and it has almost as much fiber/nutrients as regular whole wheat flour does.

So you might try using that to make biscuits, and see how it does.

Also, speaking of bread products, the very best recipe for white bread (which I used to make rolls when I tried it out for Thanksgiving) also came from my King Arthur Flour Baking Companion cookbook.  It had more ingredients than any bread recipe I've ever used, but it was so worth it.  I had to go on a bit of a hunt for potato flour (which I did manage to find at one of my usual grocery stores), but I'm convinced that that and the small amount of butter were what made the bread so utterly fantastic.

Since I grew up making bread from the Tassajara Bread Book (http://www.amazon.com/Tassajara-Bread-Book-Edward-Brown/dp/1590308360/ref=tmm_pap_title_0) and using only the whole-grainiest of whole grains, white bread (even made with white whole wheat flour) always feels rather decadent to me.  There are definite benefits to slow-rising whole grain bread, but sometimes you just want some delicious and fluffy white bread.
Title: Re: Secrets from a Baker
Post by: PastryGoddess on April 18, 2012, 09:03:10 AM
My question:

Is there a way to get softer, fluffier biscuits or rolls out of whole wheat flour, without adding white flour? I've tried using vital wheat gluten and it helps a bit, but I just cannot get that perfectly soft fluffiness without using 1/2 white and 1/2 wheat flour.

One product that I really love, if you can find it at your grocery store, is King Arthur Flour White Whole Wheat.  I use it in place of all-purpose white flour.  I think KAF recommends subbing half the regular all-purpose flour with the white whole wheat, but I don't ever have regular all-purpose.  I haven't done any really stringent comparisons, but I don't find that using all white whole wheat impacts my recipes in a particularly noticeable way, and it has almost as much fiber/nutrients as regular whole wheat flour does.

So you might try using that to make biscuits, and see how it does.

Also, speaking of bread products, the very best recipe for white bread (which I used to make rolls when I tried it out for Thanksgiving) also came from my King Arthur Flour Baking Companion cookbook.  It had more ingredients than any bread recipe I've ever used, but it was so worth it.  I had to go on a bit of a hunt for potato flour (which I did manage to find at one of my usual grocery stores), but I'm convinced that that and the small amount of butter were what made the bread so utterly fantastic.

Since I grew up making bread from the Tassajara Bread Book (http://www.amazon.com/Tassajara-Bread-Book-Edward-Brown/dp/1590308360/ref=tmm_pap_title_0) and using only the whole-grainiest of whole grains, white bread (even made with white whole wheat flour) always feels rather decadent to me.  There are definite benefits to slow-rising whole grain bread, but sometimes you just want some delicious and fluffy white bread.

If you can't find potato flour for some reason, instant potato flakes will do in a pinch
Title: Re: Secrets from a Baker
Post by: Dindrane on April 18, 2012, 09:38:47 AM
The recipe itself mentioned that you could substitute potato flakes, but I didn't really want to unless I had to.  Fortunately, the quasi-health food grocery store sells small packages of all kinds of different flours.  The recipe doesn't use much potato flour, so a small package of it was all I needed.
Title: Re: Secrets from a Baker
Post by: CakeBeret on April 18, 2012, 10:18:35 AM
My question:

Is there a way to get softer, fluffier biscuits or rolls out of whole wheat flour, without adding white flour? I've tried using vital wheat gluten and it helps a bit, but I just cannot get that perfectly soft fluffiness without using 1/2 white and 1/2 wheat flour.

One product that I really love, if you can find it at your grocery store, is King Arthur Flour White Whole Wheat.  I use it in place of all-purpose white flour.  I think KAF recommends subbing half the regular all-purpose flour with the white whole wheat, but I don't ever have regular all-purpose.  I haven't done any really stringent comparisons, but I don't find that using all white whole wheat impacts my recipes in a particularly noticeable way, and it has almost as much fiber/nutrients as regular whole wheat flour does.

I've heard of using white whole wheat, but I've been less than eager to try it because it's bleached, plus it's way more expensive. I might give it a shot though.
Title: Re: Secrets from a Baker
Post by: CuriousParty on April 18, 2012, 10:42:18 AM
Cake Beret, I believe the King Arthur Flour referenced is not bleached..

Yup - looked it up - unbleached - http://www.kingarthurflour.com/shop/items/king-arthur-white-whole-wheat-flour-5-lb

KAF is often more expensive than the store brands, but I have found in my baking that it is worth the cost.
Title: Re: Secrets from a Baker
Post by: CuriousParty on April 18, 2012, 10:42:39 AM
Here it is.  The most moist, lemony cake I have ever had.  And one of my favorite desserts ever.

http://www.etiquettehell.com/smf/index.php?topic=115366.0
Woot!

Thank you!
Title: Re: Secrets from a Baker
Post by: CakeBeret on April 18, 2012, 10:53:42 AM
Cake Beret, I believe the King Arthur Flour referenced is not bleached..

Yup - looked it up - unbleached - http://www.kingarthurflour.com/shop/items/king-arthur-white-whole-wheat-flour-5-lb

KAF is often more expensive than the store brands, but I have found in my baking that it is worth the cost.

Ooh. Neat. I'll have to see if I can find that. I pay about $1/lb for organic whole wheat now, so I'd love it if I could find the white wheat comparably priced.
Title: Re: Secrets from a Baker
Post by: FauxFoodist on April 22, 2012, 12:55:03 AM
Cake Beret, I believe the King Arthur Flour referenced is not bleached..

Yup - looked it up - unbleached - http://www.kingarthurflour.com/shop/items/king-arthur-white-whole-wheat-flour-5-lb

KAF is often more expensive than the store brands, but I have found in my baking that it is worth the cost.

Yeah, I recall my instructor last year in pastry class telling us that there is now grown white wheat that is used for making white whole wheat flour.
Title: Re: Secrets from a Baker
Post by: oz diva on April 22, 2012, 06:37:30 AM
What can I use instead of egg in a cake recipe? I use eggs as little as possible because they kind of freak me out! (weird, I know)

Thanks  :D
You can use baking powder  oops,  bicarb of soda and vinegar. The resulting chemical reaction causes the rise. Here's a recipe http://allrecipes.com.au/recipe/4534/egg-free-chocolate-cake.aspx

I baked bread yesterday and it was very yummy. Now I am attempting to make a sour dough mother.
Title: Re: Secrets from a Baker
Post by: Zilla on April 22, 2012, 06:42:54 AM
Anyone have a source for AP flour and Bread Flour? 


For various reasons we have been making our own breads for all our needs.  And I would like to find a source for the flour.  I can get great prices on whole wheat and any of the specialty stuff.


I would like to buy them in 25 or 50 pounds bags if possible.  Any idea where to start looking?  I am in the Southeast part of the US.
Title: Re: Secrets from a Baker
Post by: PastryGoddess on April 22, 2012, 11:08:05 PM
You may want to try Sysco if you have one there or just contact King Arthur directly and see if they'll sell you the 50 pound bags.  Also try googling wholesale flour + your state
Title: Re: Secrets from a Baker
Post by: CakeBeret on April 23, 2012, 09:27:52 AM
I just wanted to thank this thread. :D

I found the white whole wheat flour and I could actually get the off-brand for $.50/lb. Over the weekend I made a loaf of bread and a batch of rolls using part whole wheat and part white whole wheat flour. They are DELICIOUS. Very soft and fluffy and slightly chewy. Just like the taste/texture you would get from using part wheat and part white flour.

Also I got an itch to make a key lime cake. I don't particularly like key lime or cake, but it sounded like a fun cake to make. I used 4 limes, and boiled the lime rinds and excess pulp into a simple syrup to brush the layers with. I made it into 3 layers and used cream cheese frosting on it. It looks pretty fantastic. We're going to take it over to the in-laws tonight, so I haven't tasted it yet, but I've been admiring it on my counter.
Title: Re: Secrets from a Baker
Post by: Frog24 on July 19, 2012, 02:13:26 PM
What can I use instead of egg in a cake recipe? I use eggs as little as possible because they kind of freak me out! (weird, I know)

Thanks  :D

I found a recipe online (not taking credit for this bit of genius in ANY way) where the chef made an egg substitute out of flax.  Here's a single batch, but it's easy to up the quantities.

25g whole flax seed
250 ml water

put flax seeds in water and bring to boil.
simmer for 30 minutes
strain out the flax seeds using a sieve and discard them

the resulting goo is the egg substitute.  let it cool to room temperature and it's ready to go.

The only thing that wasn't provided was how much to use per egg.  The original recipe said to freeze the excess in ice cube trays. 1 ice cube = 1 egg.  But there wasn't anything in the recipe that said "1tbsp (or 2... or 3) of this goo = 1 egg".

Still, it worked like a charm.  The egg-free, dairy-free, gluten-free cupcakes I made were a hit, and rose as though they had eggs in them.

Frog
Title: Re: Secrets from a Baker
Post by: PastryGoddess on July 19, 2012, 04:46:23 PM
What can I use instead of egg in a cake recipe? I use eggs as little as possible because they kind of freak me out! (weird, I know)

Thanks  :D

I found a recipe online (not taking credit for this bit of genius in ANY way) where the chef made an egg substitute out of flax.  Here's a single batch, but it's easy to up the quantities.

25g whole flax seed
250 ml water

put flax seeds in water and bring to boil.
simmer for 30 minutes
strain out the flax seeds using a sieve and discard them

the resulting goo is the egg substitute.  let it cool to room temperature and it's ready to go.

The only thing that wasn't provided was how much to use per egg.  The original recipe said to freeze the excess in ice cube trays. 1 ice cube = 1 egg.  But there wasn't anything in the recipe that said "1tbsp (or 2... or 3) of this goo = 1 egg".

Still, it worked like a charm.  The egg-free, dairy-free, gluten-free cupcakes I made were a hit, and rose as though they had eggs in them.

Frog

This is really great and you can find flax seed at the grocery store these days.
Title: Re: Secrets from a Baker
Post by: White Lotus on September 05, 2012, 06:26:08 PM
In response to Isometric's question:  For a good non-egg egg substitute in baking, try En-r-g Egg Replacer.  I love the stuff.  Gives a great result in baked goods.  Someone else on another thread doesn't care for it -- it seems to kind of creep her out as eggs do you and egg derived egg substitutes do me, or maybe she notices a difference in result that I don't.  So YMMV.  There are various home-made versions involving flax seed but I haven't used them since I found Egg Replacer and can't remember them any more, but I bet the Internet can. <g>
Title: Re: Secrets from a Baker
Post by: jayhawk on May 31, 2013, 03:12:35 PM
I just now read this thread and have been enjoying it, so thought I'd throw this out there.  I agree that King Arthur Flour is AWESOME, but if you're ever traveling through Kansas, look for Hudson Cream flour.  I use it because it's local and, hey, Kansas is the Wheat State afterall!

Here's some information:  http://www.hudsoncream.com/  I usually use their unbleached white and whole wheat.
Title: Re: Secrets from a Baker
Post by: whatsanenigma on May 31, 2013, 03:58:22 PM
I know this thread isn't brand new, but it's been a very interesting read!

Now, I know rice crispie treats aren't exactly "baked", but they are a dessert so maybe someone reading this thread will know the answer I am looking for.  I follow the recipe on the back of the box exactly and I swear, you could break a tooth on the ones I make.  They end up like cement.

Ordinarily I am a decent cook and baker but rice crispie treats baffle me, for some unknown reason.

Also, chocolate chip cookies do strange things when I try to make them.  I have tried several different recipes and the final cookie product always seems to melt into a puddle and be really thin, not a cookie-like texture at all.  Anybody know why that might be happening? Thanks!
Title: Re: Secrets from a Baker
Post by: magicdomino on May 31, 2013, 04:16:49 PM
I know this thread isn't brand new, but it's been a very interesting read!

Now, I know rice crispie treats aren't exactly "baked", but they are a dessert so maybe someone reading this thread will know the answer I am looking for.  I follow the recipe on the back of the box exactly and I swear, you could break a tooth on the ones I make.  They end up like cement.Ordinarily I am a decent cook and baker but rice crispie treats baffle me, for some unknown reason.

Also, chocolate chip cookies do strange things when I try to make them.  I have tried several different recipes and the final cookie product always seems to melt into a puddle and be really thin, not a cookie-like texture at all.  Anybody know why that might be happening? Thanks!

My guess is that the marshmallow is getting too hot and cooking to a harder candy stage.  I have an electric stove, and find that if I turn off the heat just as the marshmallows start to melt, there is enough residual heat to finish melting.
Title: Re: Secrets from a Baker
Post by: Library Dragon on May 31, 2013, 04:30:45 PM
I'm looking for a recommendation for a brotform.  (For those unfamiliar with them, it's a basket used to proof bread.)

I've seen the nice ones, but my mind rebels at spending over $30 for a rattan basket. 

I'll even try one of the plastic ones if anyone has a brand they like.
Title: Re: Secrets from a Baker
Post by: hyzenthlay on May 31, 2013, 06:03:23 PM
According to my bread bible 'The Bread Baker's Apprentice' the cheap wicker baskets do just as good a job and are about 2 bucks a piece at Cost Plus World Imports.  There are professional bakeries that use them :)

They don't feel as nice, but they do what needs to be done.

You can also proof in a stainless steel bowl if you have a large smooth cloth you can line it with.
Title: Re: Secrets from a Baker
Post by: Hmmmmm on May 31, 2013, 06:19:13 PM
I know this thread isn't brand new, but it's been a very interesting read!

Now, I know rice crispie treats aren't exactly "baked", but they are a dessert so maybe someone reading this thread will know the answer I am looking for.  I follow the recipe on the back of the box exactly and I swear, you could break a tooth on the ones I make.  They end up like cement.

Ordinarily I am a decent cook and baker but rice crispie treats baffle me, for some unknown reason.

Also, chocolate chip cookies do strange things when I try to make them.  I have tried several different recipes and the final cookie product always seems to melt into a puddle and be really thin, not a cookie-like texture at all.  Anybody know why that might be happening? Thanks!
No advice on the Rice Krispie treats.

On the cookies, try reducing the oven temp by 10 degrees or chilling your dough first.

What type of fat are you using? I'm thinking it might be high in water.
Title: Re: Secrets from a Baker
Post by: Library Dragon on May 31, 2013, 10:12:47 PM
According to my bread bible 'The Bread Baker's Apprentice' the cheap wicker baskets do just as good a job and are about 2 bucks a piece at Cost Plus World Imports.  There are professional bakeries that use them :)

They don't feel as nice, but they do what needs to be done.

You can also proof in a stainless steel bowl if you have a large smooth cloth you can line it with.

Thank you. I'll check it out.  I didn't know I could proof in stainless steel.
Title: Re: Secrets from a Baker
Post by: Snooks on June 02, 2013, 11:19:26 AM
Does anyone have any tips for how to frost a layer cake?  I can't work out how I'm supposed to frost the of the cake (sides and top I'm fine with).
Title: Re: Secrets from a Baker
Post by: PastryGoddess on June 02, 2013, 11:51:22 AM
For proofing bread dough, I use a bowl that has been lightly coated with pan or cooking spray.  Put the dough in and let it proof.  It won't ruin the dough

Snooks I think you are talking about frosting the middle of the cake yes?  Get a large pastry bag and run a bead of frosting around the perimeter of the layer.  this will act as sealant and will help to fill the sides.  If you adding a filling like fresh fruit or jam it acts as a barrier so it doesn't smoosh out of the sides.  If you just want all filling on the inside, you can do concentric circles or a spiral of frosting in the middle.  This way you're not tearing the cake apart
Title: Re: Secrets from a Baker
Post by: Snooks on June 02, 2013, 12:00:12 PM
For proofing bread dough, I use a bowl that has been lightly coated with pan or cooking spray.  Put the dough in and let it proof.  It won't ruin the dough

Snooks I think you are talking about frosting the middle of the cake yes?  Get a large pastry bag and run a bead of frosting around the perimeter of the layer.  this will act as sealant and will help to fill the sides.  If you adding a filling like fresh fruit or jam it acts as a barrier so it doesn't smoosh out of the sides.  If you just want all filling on the inside, you can do concentric circles or a spiral of frosting in the middle.  This way you're not tearing the cake apart

Yes and no, that does solve part of my problem but I'm not sure about how to do the top layer, maybe I should try piping that too.  I put frosting on the top but when I try and smooth it down the sides I always seem to expose cake where I go from the top to the sides.
Title: Re: Secrets from a Baker
Post by: alkira6 on June 02, 2013, 12:44:55 PM
For proofing bread dough, I use a bowl that has been lightly coated with pan or cooking spray.  Put the dough in and let it proof.  It won't ruin the dough

Snooks I think you are talking about frosting the middle of the cake yes?  Get a large pastry bag and run a bead of frosting around the perimeter of the layer.  this will act as sealant and will help to fill the sides.  If you adding a filling like fresh fruit or jam it acts as a barrier so it doesn't smoosh out of the sides.  If you just want all filling on the inside, you can do concentric circles or a spiral of frosting in the middle.  This way you're not tearing the cake apart

Yes and no, that does solve part of my problem but I'm not sure about how to do the top layer, maybe I should try piping that too.  I put frosting on the top but when I try and smooth it down the sides I always seem to expose cake where I go from the top to the sides.

You need a glass of very very hot water.  Frost the top, wipe your spreader, insert in the hot water for 3-4 seconds, wipe quickly, and spread. Repeat until done.  The heat melts the frosting between the spreader and the cake, so it moves smoothly with less resistance.
Title: Re: Secrets from a Baker
Post by: PastryGoddess on June 02, 2013, 01:24:12 PM
For proofing bread dough, I use a bowl that has been lightly coated with pan or cooking spray.  Put the dough in and let it proof.  It won't ruin the dough

Snooks I think you are talking about frosting the middle of the cake yes?  Get a large pastry bag and run a bead of frosting around the perimeter of the layer.  this will act as sealant and will help to fill the sides.  If you adding a filling like fresh fruit or jam it acts as a barrier so it doesn't smoosh out of the sides.  If you just want all filling on the inside, you can do concentric circles or a spiral of frosting in the middle.  This way you're not tearing the cake apart

Yes and no, that does solve part of my problem but I'm not sure about how to do the top layer, maybe I should try piping that too.  I put frosting on the top but when I try and smooth it down the sides I always seem to expose cake where I go from the top to the sides.

Ah I see.  I don't ever pull the icing down over the side, but instead start with the sides and bottom and work my way up.  The top is the very last part to ice.

When I ice a cake I start with the sides and finish with the top.  I use an offset metal spatula and layer the frosting on the sides from the bottom to the top.   After the frosting is on the sides I hold the spatula straight up and down and go around the sides to smooth.  This should force the icing up to the top.  I then put frosting on the top and push it out to the sides to meet the icing that is already there.  I give it one more go round the sides and even out the icing on the top as much as possible.  Then put the cake in front of me and starting with the opposite side I gently pull the icing on top towards me and the middle of the cake.  I rotate the cake until I'm done.  If you'd like you can go over the icing with a hot spatula to make it smooth.  My spatula is always held either straight up and down for the sides and for the top it's held flat.  Also, slather on the icing.  You can take it off when you start smoothing, but it helps to have a lot of icing on the cake first rather than trying to add it after the fact.

If you have a rotating cake stand, it's helpful, but not needed.
Title: Re: Secrets from a Baker
Post by: Snooks on June 02, 2013, 01:48:51 PM
I can't believe I never thought to do the sides first. ::)
Title: Re: Secrets from a Baker
Post by: PastryGoddess on June 02, 2013, 02:05:10 PM
I can't believe I never thought to do the sides first. ::)

You learn these things when you have to frost 20 or 30 cakes a day
Title: Re: Secrets from a Baker
Post by: Outdoor Girl on June 02, 2013, 03:53:12 PM
Re:   The rice crispie treats.  I find if the marshmallows are the slightest bit stale, the treats turn out really hard.

I proof my bread dough in stainless steel with no issues, too.  I've also done it in ceramic bowls.  My oven has a 100 degree F setting and that temperature works really well for proofing the dough and the yeast. I use coffee mugs for proofing the yeast.
Title: Re: Secrets from a Baker
Post by: Dindrane on June 02, 2013, 09:46:12 PM
Personally, I have found that the single biggest challenge when icing a layer cake is not using enough icing. The less icing you use, the more frequently you have to cover the same ground, and the more likely you are to make the cake all crumbly.

I also usually put the top layer on upside down (so the part that was touching the cake pan is facing up). That both helps make the top more level, but also makes it easier to spread icing. The bottom of a cake is generally less likely to go all crumbly than the top is.
Title: Re: Secrets from a Baker
Post by: CakeBeret on June 03, 2013, 09:50:18 AM
I LOVE making layer cakes, so here is my take on them :)

You want the layers to be flat, but if you cut them, it's harder to ice without it getting all crumbly. They make a product called baking strips that you wet and put around the outside of the cake pan while baking, and these cause the cake to bake almost perfectly flat. Instead of buying them, you can make your own - just cut a thick towel into 1" strips, wet them, and pin them tightly around the cake pan. This makes my cakes bake so evenly that they don't need to be leveled.

Then, I prefer to brush the cakes with a liquid (kahlua, or either flavored or plain simple syrup), wrap them securely (I do 3 layers of plastic wrap and 2 layers of foil) and freeze for a day or two, or up to a couple weeks. This seals in the moisture and usually results in an even better textured cake. Plus you can get the cake-baking out of the way early. Then I let it sit out on the counter, still wrapped, until it's cold but no longer frozen. (Some people frost the cake partially or fully frozen, but I don't because I'm concerned about the condensation affecting the frosting.)

Once the cake is ready to be frosted, I assemble the layers and do the filling; I like to do semi-pourable fillings so that they go on easily. Plus it usually tastes better that way. My favorite fillings are caramel sauce, chocolate ganache, and fruit whipped cream. Then I crumb coat; I thin the icing quite a bit and apply it to the whole cake, making sure it gets on every exposed surface. This seals in the crumbs so you don't get any in the frosting. I let the crumb coat dry about 30 mintues and then apply the frosting. I use an angled spatula, which was only about $4 and produces much nicer results than a regular spatula or butter knife. And I invested in a rotating cake stand on ball bearings, which makes the icing process much easier.

I made my hubby a 5-layer ultimate chocolate cake over the weekend and it turned out magnificent (pronounced "the best cake I've ever had" by more than one person) so all this is quite fresh in my mind. :)


Re: proofing yeast, I've always done it in whatever bowl I was using at the time. Glass, stainless, plastic, it has never mattered.
Title: Re: Secrets from a Baker
Post by: RebeccainGA on June 03, 2013, 10:10:56 AM
Discovered this by accident, and do it on purpose now - I add about an extra 1/4 of the specified oil in a quick bread/cake recipe, and reduce the water by that amount to keep the proportions correct. Not only is the cake/quick bread moister this way, but the extra oil makes the texture denser.

Also, for quick breads, I cover them with plastic wrap as soon as they are cool enough to handle, then wrap them in parchment paper/towels, so that they cool slowly. The breads get this cakelike texture, and stay moist far longer than if they are cooled at room temperature (and travel better - this is how I bake pumpkin bread that lasts through the mail).
Title: Re: Secrets from a Baker
Post by: dawnfire on June 16, 2013, 06:11:57 PM
I know this thread isn't brand new, but it's been a very interesting read!

Now, I know rice crispie treats aren't exactly "baked", but they are a dessert so maybe someone reading this thread will know the answer I am looking for.  I follow the recipe on the back of the box exactly and I swear, you could break a tooth on the ones I make.  They end up like cement.

Ordinarily I am a decent cook and baker but rice crispie treats baffle me, for some unknown reason.

Also, chocolate chip cookies do strange things when I try to make them.  I have tried several different recipes and the final cookie product always seems to melt into a puddle and be really thin, not a cookie-like texture at all.  Anybody know why that might be happening? Thanks!
No advice on the Rice Krispie treats.

On the cookies, try reducing the oven temp by 10 degrees or chilling your dough first.

What type of fat are you using? I'm thinking it might be high in water.

adding in an extra 1/2 cup of flour work too
Title: Re: Secrets from a Baker
Post by: White Lotus on September 16, 2013, 01:45:26 PM
Rice Krispy Treats:  we use Marshmallow Fluff, because it is vegetarian.  Marshmallows, unless you get really lucky and find Kosher ones during Passover, are not.  I find the results are the same, except the Fluff treats are a little softer, and sometimes need to live in the refrigerator.  Might try using Fluff if too hard is the problem.  I also second the notion that the too hard has to do with overheating.  I soften the Fluff in the microwave, spoon it into the bowl, add the butter and vanilla, stirring until melted, and then add the cereal  to taste.  When the Fluff is hot enough to get it all out of the jar, it melts the butter just fine.  I think I need to make some soon.