27 December 2016

baking cheats

I recall an episode on the ATK podcast when the conversation turned to that a lot of people feel cooking is a creative expression, or more accurately, a daily task that they have complete control over and thus can be creative. Unfortunately I don't fall into that camp, rather I feel that I'll never learn the rules well enough to start breaking them.

Especially baking substitutions.
In an attempt to learn the rulers better, here's a summary of various articles by Stella at Serious Eats.

Citrus Syrup
Used up rinds + 50% sugar by weight = syrup, yay.

Toasted Sugar
Caramelization = thermal decomposition of sugar, occurs independently of melting.
Bake sugar in oven @ 300F, stirring every 30min. Can bake for 1-5 hours.

Brown vs White Sugar
Granulated sugar (white): 99% sucrose / neutral
Brown Sugar (light): 95% sucrose + molasses / acidic

In recipe with:
  • baking soda
    • white sugar doesn't react - dense, chewy
    • brown sugar reacts to produce CO2 - puffy, cakey
  • creaming with butter
    • brown sugar - compacts and traps steam - spreads less, more moist
    • white sugar: aerates dough - puffy
  • melted butter
    • brown sugar: speeds up gluten development - thick, chewy
    • white sugar: interferes with gluten development - more spread, tender, crisp

Effects of Egg on Cookies
  • Egg whites entrap more air while contributing more water, encouraging steam and gluten formation: perfect conditions for lean cookies that are thick and puffy. Cakey. 
  • Yolks cut the water and throw in fat, hindering both gluten development and aeration, producing cookies that are dense, tender, and rich. Fudge.
  • Generally speaking, when recipes call for melted butter or whipped eggs, yolks produce fudgier cookies, while whites make them cakes. 
  • When recipes call for butter creamed until light and fluffy, the reverse is true: Yolks tend toward cakey cookies, while whites make them fudgey.

Baking Power
Baking powder: ( alkali + acid ) + acid; first step reacts in presence of moisture to "seed" CO2, second acid is heat activated to provide most of lift while baking to counteract tendency of moist dough to collapse.

Baking Soda
In cookie dough, acid comes from dry ingredients (cocoa or brown sugar), thus no reaction occurs until butter is melted while baking - can keep dough in fridge for extended time unlike cake batter where acidic ingredients are usually liquid (buttermilk, yogurt, coffee).

High pH:

  • slows protein coagulation - uniform thickness
  • weakens gluten - tender
  • speeds up mallard reaction - browns more

Creaming Butter & Sugar
Less dense!!

  • Slower conduction - less spread
  • Less air pockets for baking soda / baking powder to work with
Use butter at ~60F, cut into smaller pieces & check temperature. Add cold eggs.

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