Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Interesting! For amateur bakers like me

I need to re-bake my failed chiffon cake starting from scratch and so I went off with my shopping list of the ingredients that I'm short of.

A check through the list -
cream of tartar? Tartar sauce?? I checked with the staff in Phoon Huat on the uses of it (thank goodness they have a small bottle) and she was explaining to me to balance dunno what egg white.. I don't really understand her coz' she was speaking in mandarin. A check on it.

Cream of tartar's technical name is acid potassium tartrate, and it is derived from a crystalline acid deposited on the inside of wine barrels as the wine ferments. It is known as an acid salt, that is, an acid that has been partially neutralized to leave a weakly acidic salt.

Why is it used in baking?
It is used to stabilize and add volume to beaten egg whites in angel food cake, meringues for pie and meringue cookies. It lends a creamier consistency to candy and frostings.
Cream of tartar can be used to make baking powder. Simply combine 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar with 1/4 teaspoon baking soda and 1/4 teaspoon cornstarch to yield one teaspoon baking powder.

How does it work?
Egg whites have the miraculous ability to increase their volume over eight-fold when provided with enough energy by means of a strong arm or a good mixer. Mechanical energy causes strands of the protein albumin to partially unfold and connect with one another. These interconnected albumin strands can wrap around air bubbles and lead to foam development.

As anyone who has made egg foams can tell you, it is an imperfect art ripe with opportunities for collapse. Cream of tartar, because of its acidic nature, gives the cook a leg up by lowering the alkaline pH of the egg whites from about 9 to 8. This change in pH helps neutralize certain proteins that tend to repel each other and encourages their association. The result is easier development of a more stable foam."

I've also checked with her, if baking with those normal centred pans has its reasons coz' when I use the fanciful ones I have problem - turning to be kueh bolu. She couldn't really explain so if anyone can enlighten me on this, please drop me a comment. Thanks!

Flours : good thing I didn't have to buy them coz' I still have my leftover flour. But it's so interesting (an eye opener) for an amateur like me who don't understand why all the different flours.

All-purpose flour is a blend of hard and soft wheat; it may be bleached or unbleached. It is usually translated as "plain flour." All-purpose flour is one of the most commonly used and readily accessible flour in the United States. Flour that is bleached naturally as it ages is labeled "unbleached," while chemically treated flour is labeled "bleached." Bleached flour has less protein than unbleached. Bleached is best for pie crusts, cookies, quick breads, pancakes and waffles. Use unbleached flour for yeast breads, Danish pastry, puff pastry, strudel, Yorkshire pudding, éclairs, cream puffs and popovers.

Shelf-Life: for cabinet storage, up to 8 months if properly stored in a sealed container or if tightly wrapped, and for refrigerator storage, up to one year.

From Prima : Plain Flour is an all-purpose flour, best used for making cakes, pancakes, pastries, batter and as a thickener. This flour is also ideal for Oriental specialities like Chinese dumpling (bao), Chinese dough fritters (yu tiao) and roti prata.

# Bread flour is white flour made from hard, high-protein wheat. It has more gluten strength and protein content than all-purpose flour. It is unbleached and sometimes conditioned with ascorbic acid, which increases volume and creates better texture. This is the best choice for yeast products.

Shelf Life: several months in a cool, dry cabinet when stored in a sealed container or if tightly wrapped, and up to one year in the freezer.

# Whole-wheat flour is made from the whole kernel of wheat and is higher in dietary fiber and overall nutrient content than white flours. It does not have as high a gluten level, so often it's mixed with all-purpose or bread flour when making yeast breads. Whole wheat flour is equivalent to British whole meal flour.

Shelf Life: 6 months to one year in the freezer if stored in tightly sealed plastic containers or if tightly wrapped. It will keep for only a few months if stored in a cabinet. Due to the presence of the wheat germ, resulting in an unsaturated oil content that is higher than refined flour. The potential for rancidity is greater if whole-wheat flour is kept for long periods and particularly if it is not stored under refrigerated conditions. It is best to store whole-wheat flour in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator or freezer.

# Instant flour (Wondra from Gold Medal) is granular and formulated to dissolve quickly in hot or cold liquids. It will not work as a substitute for all-purpose flour, although there are recipes on the container for popovers and other baked goods. It is used primarily in sauces and gravies.

# Cake flour is a fine-textured, soft-wheat flour with a high starch content. It has the lowest protein content of any wheat flour. It is chlorinated (a bleaching process which leaves the flour slightly acidic, sets a cake faster and distributes fat more evenly through the batter to improve texture. When you're making baked goods with a high ratio of sugar to flour, this flour will be better able to hold its rise and will be less liable to collapse. This flour is excellent for baking fine-textured cakes with greater volume and is used in some quick breads, muffins and cookies. If you cannot find cake flour, substitute bleached all-purpose flour, but subtract 2 tablespoons of flour for each cup used in the recipe (if using volume measuring).

# Pastry flour also is made with soft wheat and falls somewhere between all-purpose and cake flour in terms of protein content and baking properties. Use it for making biscuits, pie crusts, brownies, cookies and quick breads. Pastry flour makes a tender but crumbly pastry. Do not use it for yeast breads. Pastry flour (both whole-wheat and regular) is not readily available at supermarkets, but you can find it at specialty stores and online.

# Self-rising flour, sometimes referred to as phosphated flour, is a low-protein flour with salt and leavening already added. It's most often recommended for biscuits and some quick breads, but never for yeast breads. Exact formulas, including the type of baking powder used, vary by manufacturer. Recipes that call for self-rising flour do not call for the addition of salt or leavening agents.

Make your own self-rising flour: Using a dry measure, measure the desired amount of all-purpose flour into a container. For each cup of all-purpose flour, add 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Mix to combine.

From Prima : Self-Raising Flour is a premium quality flour blended with the right amount of leavening agents. It is best suited for baking cakes, hot cakes such as American pancakes and cookies. It is also excellent as a batter for frying chicken, fish, prawns and banana fritters.

# Semolina flour is used in making pasta and Italian puddings. It is made from durum wheat, the hardest type of wheat grown. The flour is highest in gluten.

# Durum flour is finely ground semolina and is grown almost exclusively in North Dakota.

# Organic flour is used in the same way as regular flour. It must follow U.S. Department of Agriculture regulations to be labeled "organic." Using this flour is a matter of personal preference.

# Gluten flour is usually milled from spring wheat and has a high protein. It is used primarily for diabetic breads, or mixed with other nonwheat or low-protein wheat flours to produce a stronger dough structure.

Top Flour (from Prima) Top Flour is an extra-fine quality flour to give exceptionally smooth and fine texture for your baking needs. It is especially ideal for baking very fine cakes; such as chiffon cakes, swiss rolls, crepes, cake doughnuts and butter cookies

Shortening : In general, the term shortening can apply to any oil- or fat-based ingredient – liquid or solid - used in baking. More specifically, recipes use the term to mean solid vegetable shortening rather than those made from animal fats (including lard, which is from pork).

Vegetable-based shortening is solid fat made from vegetable oil. Hydrogenating the oil, that is, adding hydrogen gas to it at a high temperature and pressure, is what transforms it from a liquid at room temperature to a solid. Vegetable shortening is flavorless.
Shortening is used for sautéeing. It’s a staple for many cooks and adds a light and fluffy texture to baked goods such as cakes and pie crusts.

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