A Baking Question

Discussion in 'Off The Beaten Track' started by nubka, Dec 16, 2012.

  1. TheGirlCanSkate

    TheGirlCanSkate Active Member

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    The amount of sodium is on the label.

    Unsalted butter spoils quickly. I don't use margarine. So I use salted butter because a stick can last in a butter bell/container for over a week. Unsalted will spoil and rancid butter is disgusting.
     
  2. danceronice

    danceronice Corgi Wrangler

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    Salted butter preserves it longer, though for modern people using a refrigerator it's such a minor difference as not to matter. It's actually not enough salt in the salted butter to really affect the taste much when it's used in cooking, but unsalted butter is still preferred.

    The #1 reason people "fail" at baking (including people who are absolutely astonishing cuisine cooks, including pros) is baking is method, cooking is art. In culinary school the instructors would even say they could spot a baker in the students a mile off (one teacher referred to me as "methodical.") You have to be really careful, especially with raised doughs, to follow the directions. Never change ratios or make substitutions unless you're very sure what you're doing as it will completely change your results. It probably has the most math of all culinary courses, too--in baking, they're formulas, not recipes, for a reason.

    Even then, weather, temperature, humidity, oven variations can all screw with you and you wind up with things not coming out how they should. Ingredient quality can vary, too (if your chemical leaveners are old, things won't rise like they should, the wrong flour can seriously alter the texture, swapping out kinds of sugar is basically altering the wet ingredients, if you use eggs that are bigger or smaller than called for you'll get weird things with the protein...) Baking can be really hard. (I still prefer it to cuisine, but I get why there are people who just hate it.)
     
  3. nubka

    nubka Well-Known Member

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    Because it tastes good, of course! :cool:
     
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  4. maatTheViking

    maatTheViking Now ubering Machida's hair

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    Unsalted butter tastes bland to. I only get unsalted if I know I will use it all for baking.

    While making cakes and pastry is very much like science, baking biologically leavened bread (yeast, sourdough) is both art and science. You can 'feel' when a dough is kneaded enough, and feel and se when it has risen enough (for instance temperature has a huge impact on how long bread should rest).

    My mom always makes her own bread, and I 'helped' from a very young age. It is something that is best learned from a master :)
     
  5. danceronice

    danceronice Corgi Wrangler

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    Oh, and check the expiration date on your yeast (and make sure, though this is more a problem for those of us using vintage and antique cookbooks, that it's the right KIND of yeast-the directions for fresh yeast and packeted dry yeast and instant yeast are different.)

    Really, baking sets out to make you be as anal as possible...and then little things will still get you. You just keep practicing. My mother never really was taught by anyone but she makes great bread (really makes, I mean, there are no bread machines in our house.)
     
  6. asdf334

    asdf334 Active Member

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    Yes, and no. Yes in that you have to be precise with the measurements. Here's the no: 1) I feel like if you try TOO hard to do everything just right you usually end up with something worse. :lol: 2) To a certain extent baking is about following visual cues and experience. As an example, you can't simply just cream the butter for 2 minutes if that's what the recipe says. If it's not light and fluffy after 2 minutes, you need to keep going or you're not going to get the proper aeration needed for say, a cake.
     
  7. danceronice

    danceronice Corgi Wrangler

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    Ehhhh...to an extent, yes, it's learning to judge when it's right, but you can't skip the creaming step (or puree it instead). If you decide to use three eggs instead of one, it's not going to work as intended unless you change everything else (using the right formula to figure amounts, not just tripling everything.) You can learn to cook entirely on feel, but real feel in baking comes only with experience and still can't substitute for formulas. For baking, at least, I don't actually need directions, I just need the formula. (But I'm coming at this from the professionally-trained end. And some cookbooks that aren't really home-cook friendly operate on the same assumption, ie "Saute the garlic in the usual way", "add the normal amount of cream," etc.) And when you're starting out, going on feel is more likely to harm than help.
     
  8. kwanfan1818

    kwanfan1818 I

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    My grandmother could bake wonderful cookies -- I can't remember the name of the ones that were like biscotti -- by grabbing handfuls of flour and sugar, and she used whatever eggs were in the house. I never understood how this worked. Nothing she baked was delicate, but everything was great. She also baked a mean challah, but stopped when her arthritis got bad.
     
  9. jeffisjeff

    jeffisjeff Well-Known Member

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    Yeah. As another example, I discovered the hard way that melted butter is no substitute for softened butter. I don't have the patience for baking. When I decide to bake (which is rare) I want to bake now. I do not want to wait for my butter to soften. :lol:
     
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  10. michiruwater

    michiruwater Well-Known Member

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    I bought the Tassajara Bread Book 2 or so years ago. The instructions for making a loaf of bread were absolutely wonderful, and it turned out to be easy. Until I moved to China, I baked my own bread every weekend. I highly recommend the book.

    Sourdough was harder. The loaf I made wasn't nearly as flavorful as I had hoped. I just didn't have the patience to let the starter really ferment the way it needed to :lol:
     
  11. taf2002

    taf2002 flower lady

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    Me too, except I never buy unsalted butter. I can't remember a recipe I've ever used that called for it.
     
  12. KatieC

    KatieC Well-Known Member

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    I use salted butter probably because I was brought up with it, and most of my recipes are old ones. Plus I don't have enough recipes that call for unsalted. Yesterday I used a new shortbread recipe that called for it, but I just used salted butter and skipped adding the 1/2 tsp of salt the recipe called for. The weird part was that the recipe called for super fine sugar and I knew I had some downstairs so I ran down and got it. Measured it out, poured it into the butter and beat it in. Got some on my finger and thought it tasted different, not bad, just different. Tested it again, then looked at the package. I'd used Redpath quick set sugar, for jams and jellies! I checked out the ingredients, it contains citric acid and pectin as well as sugar. The shortbread turned out pretty good though!
     
  13. madm

    madm Active Member

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    Here is a cut and past from the on-line version of The Joy of Cooking:

    Quote:
    Butter is made from churned sweet cream and in the United States must contain at least 80 percent butterfat. Butter also contains water and milk solids. Sometimes a coloring agent (Annatto) is added to salted butter to give it a deep yellow color. In the U.S. butter is graded by letter code according to flavor, color, texture, aroma and body. AA, A, and B are the letter codes used. Grade AA (I use Land O Lakes brand) will give you maximum results in your baking because of its sweet aroma and flavor as well as its smooth creamy texture.

    Butter comes in two forms salted and unsalted. Salt is added to butter for flavor and as a preservative so it will have a longer shelf life. However, salt can overpower the sweet flavor of the butter and can also mask any odors. Salted butter also contains higher water content.

    I prefer to use unsalted butter because of its taste (fresher and more delicate flavor). Also, the amount of salt added to salted butter varies from manufacturer to manufacturer and it is hard to know how much extra salt to add to your recipe. The rule of thumb is that if you are substituting salted for unsalted butter in a recipe, omit the extra salt in the recipe (i.e. Omit ¼ teaspoon of salt per ½ cup of butter). Unsalted butter has a short shelf life because it contains no preservatives. Most butter has an expiry date on it. However, if you buy unsalted butter and do not use it right away, it is best to freeze it. You can freeze butter for around six months if it is well wrapped so that it will not pick up odors. Just make sure you defrost the butter overnight in the refrigerator before using it.

    Never use whipped butter in baking as it has air whipped into it that changes the volume of the butter.

    Butter adds flavor and texture to your baking and helps to keep it fresh. It is used as an ingredient in baking but can also be melted and brushed on baking pans to prevent sticking. The temperature of the butter is very important in baking. When room temperature butter is used in your recipe this means your butter should be between 65 and 70 degrees F. This temperature allows the maximum amount of air to be beaten into your batter. This creaming or beating of your butter or butter and sugar creates air bubbles that your leavener (baking powder or baking soda) will enlarge during baking. Most experts recommend 4 to 5 minutes of creaming the butter.

    Cold butter is used in some baking (pie crusts). With this method the butter is not absorbed as much by the starch in the flour and layers result when baked thus creating flakiness.

     
  14. madm

    madm Active Member

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    From the Food Network: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes-and-cooking/unsalted-butter-vs-salted/index.html


    Unsalted butter vs. salted


    Q&A


    Q: What's the deal with salted and unsalted
    butter?


    A:
    Butter comes two ways: salted and unsalted.
    Salt is added to butter for flavor and as a preservative so it will have a
    longer shelf life. Salt, however, can sometimes overpower the sweet flavor of
    the butter and can also mask odors. Additionally, the amount of salt added to
    salted butter varies from manufacturer to manufacturer, so it's hard to know how
    much extra salt you're adding to a recipe. Using unsalted butter allows the chef
    to control the amount of salt in a recipe.

    If you have no choice but to use salted butter in a recipe, the rule of thumb
    is to omit about 1/4 teaspoon salt per 1/2 cup (1 stick) of butter.

    Unsalted butter has a short shelf life because it contains no preservatives.
    If you buy unsalted butter and do not use it right away, it is best to freeze
    it. If properly wrapped so it won't pick up any odors, butter can be frozen for
    around six months. Just remember to defrost the butter overnight in the
    refrigerator before using it.
    -Food Network Kitchens
     
  15. milanessa

    milanessa engaged to dupa

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    :lol: Sounds like the same person wrote both or there's a little plagiarism going on.
     
  16. Jenny

    Jenny From the Bloc

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    Sifting was critical in the past, but today's supermarket brand flours do not need to be sifted. It's still a good way to ensure that other ingredients such as baking powder and salt are distributed evenly, but just whisking the dry ingredients can accomplish the same thing.

    I've used unsalted butter my entire life, and other than a few times as a kid because my mother used to leave the butter out of the counter so it was always soft and spreadable, I can't recall any butter going rancid in my fridge, and I can easily have the same package for two weeks or more.

    I don't think you have to be that precise. For example, eggs are a key ingredient in a lot of baking, and yet they vary dramatically in size. In fact, some cooks insist that you either measure the broken eggs or weigh them, and then adjust other ingredients accordingly - yet most people don't do this, and most recipes just say "eggs" or maybe "large eggs" - which if the carton in my fridge right now is anything to go by, can also vary widely.

    I've also found that you can often reduce the sugar significantly, and not compromise the texture of a cake or cookie at all.

    No kidding! And for anyone who saw Julie and Julia, the author of Joy of Cooking purportedly was not at all vigorous in testing the recipes, so why we'd use them as a primary source for anything is beyond me. Has that text been updated since the book was first published in the 1930s?
     
  17. cruisin

    cruisin Well-Known Member

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    The only ingredient I do adjust, in baking, is flour when I'm baking cookies. If the batter feels to wet, I'll add flour until it feels right. I don't like cookies to spread too thin and get too crisp.
     
  18. taf2002

    taf2002 flower lady

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    When it comes to cakes, sifting is still crucial. Your cake layers will be "heavy" if you don't sift. You can't even buy flour presifted because even if it was done at the mill, packing it for sale would pack it down again. When you don't sift you end up using too much flour.
     
  19. maatTheViking

    maatTheViking Now ubering Machida's hair

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    yes and you have to, since flour can contain different amounts of water. I usually end up using a little more flour than most bread recipes call for for the dough to feel right, I blame the moist Seattle environment for this!

    as a side note, flour also contains different amount of protein depending on where you are - all purpose flour in general has higher gluten content in the US than in Denmark because the growing conditions of wheat are different. In fact, in the 80s one of the brand name flours sold 'American flour' which was flour with added American flour to increase the gluten content. My mom says she can feel the difference in her breads when she visits and bakes.
     
  20. nubka

    nubka Well-Known Member

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    If you need softened butter quick, just put your cubes of butter in a zip lock bag and squish/knead it. It will soften in just a few :)minutes.
     
  21. cruisin

    cruisin Well-Known Member

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    Great idea!!!!!!!!
     
  22. cruisin

    cruisin Well-Known Member

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    Made 3 batches of fudge last night. One bittersweet with cinnamon, one semisweet, one milk chocolate. All called for salt. I did not put the salt in. I like the texture better without it. And, there already is salt in commercial chocolate. I like to give little boxes of homemade fudge with my holiday tips. And my daughter's fiance's brother loves fudge! :)
     
  23. TheGirlCanSkate

    TheGirlCanSkate Active Member

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    Better than my coworkers suggestion - she puts the wrapped cubes in her bra. While she wears it. :shuffle:
     
  24. cruisin

    cruisin Well-Known Member

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    Ewww! :lol:
     
  25. nubka

    nubka Well-Known Member

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    I needed ripe bananas fast today for a cake I was going to bake. I googled it, and it said to heat the oven to 300 degrees, put the bananas on a cookie sheet and bake for one hour. It worked great!

    I'm baking the banana cake that I mentioned at the top of this thread, used salted butter and added the amount of salt called for. It is cooling now, and then we shall see... :D
     
  26. nubka

    nubka Well-Known Member

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    It turned out very well! Very moist and good banana flavor. I didn't have the ingredients at home to make the frosting recipe that goes with the cake, so I make a very light glaze with just a titch of coconut emulsion in it. The coconut goes well with the banana flavor, and my neighbors loved it! :)
     
  27. Jenny

    Jenny From the Bloc

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    Great tip! I wonder if there is a similar method for avocados. One always needs to plan ahead by a few days to make sure they are sufficiently right for guacamole, but sometimes, dammit, I want to make some NOW :lol:
     
  28. cruisin

    cruisin Well-Known Member

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    I would only use the bra method if you're smaller than a B cup :D
     
  29. Bostonfan

    Bostonfan Well-Known Member

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    Here's another "baking" question. I'm going to be making Oreo Truffles (thank you Prancer for the recipe that you posted long ago). I tried a test batch and the only issue I ran into was melting the chocolate chips to dip the truffles in. It was a bit too thick and I wanted to thin the chocolate out a bit and wasn't sure the best way to go about doing that.
     
  30. nubka

    nubka Well-Known Member

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    Nuke them in 15 second intervals untils they are thin enough. This method works well with almond bark (which I like using more than chocolate chips because it sets up and hardens a lot faster.) Good luck! :)