A Baking Question

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

  1. taf2002

    taf2002 Well-Known Member

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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.
  2. KatieC

    KatieC On hold

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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!
  3. 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.

  4. 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
  5. 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.
  6. 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?
  7. 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.
  8. taf2002

    taf2002 Well-Known Member

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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.
  9. maatTheViking

    maatTheViking Well-Known Member

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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.
  10. 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.
  11. cruisin

    cruisin Well-Known Member

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    Great idea!!!!!!!!
  12. 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! :)
  13. TheGirlCanSkate

    TheGirlCanSkate New Member

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

    cruisin Well-Known Member

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    Ewww! :lol:
  15. 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
  16. 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! :)
  17. 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:
  18. 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
  19. 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.
  20. 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! :)
  21. mkats

    mkats New Member

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    Man, I would totally give you my ripe bananas. I only like my bananas green with a hint of yellow, but they pass that stage pretty quickly, so I always end up forgetting one or two and then I inform Boyfriend that it's his job to dispose of the completely yellow bananas. When he forgets too, well, then it's baking time :lol:
  22. nubka

    nubka Well-Known Member

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    I would gladly take them - I like bananas with the skin almost completely black... :D
  23. flyingsit

    flyingsit Well-Known Member

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    Ugh. Once a banana gets a single black spot I can't eat it.
  24. mkats

    mkats New Member

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  25. nubka

    nubka Well-Known Member

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  26. orbitz

    orbitz Well-Known Member

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    4 and 5 are the best. Nicely shaped, smooth and firm...I mean the banana is.

    6 is ok but must be eaten soon.

    I will only eat 7 if I'm extremely hungry, and I don't have another option.
  27. Really

    Really No longer just a "well-known member" Yay!

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  28. nubka

    nubka Well-Known Member

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    Ahhhh....but #7 is so perfectly, succulently sweet! :)
  29. cruisin

    cruisin Well-Known Member

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    3 for me, after that, I won't eat them.

    Baked half of my cookies today. Peanut butter blossoms, chocolate with white chocolate chips, toffee bars with milk chocolate and chopped pecans, and toffee bars with white chocolate and chopped walnuts and cranberries. Tomorrow, spritz cookies, chocolate with sour cherries biscotti, and chocolate chip shortbread.
  30. nubka

    nubka Well-Known Member

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    Wow, that's a lot of cookies! My back is starting to ache just thinking about how you must have been on your feet all day in the kitchen...
  31. maatTheViking

    maatTheViking Well-Known Member

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    Banana no 4

    Only made 3 types of cookies this year - on more tomorrow. My mom usually makes 11-18 kinds, all trough December. I never catch up.
  32. vesperholly

    vesperholly Well-Known Member

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    Banana number 4 is perfect! 3 would be weirdly sticky, and 5 would be acceptable but need to be eaten ASAP. 7 would go in the trash.

    I discovered insulated/double layer baking pans are bad for gingerbread cookies (I made drop ones, not cutouts). They stayed way too soft, and I ended up overcooking a batch. Crappy old single-layer pans it is!
  33. Vagabond

    Vagabond Well-Known Member

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    #7

    http://lifeinsuranceandmore.com/2012/03/29/the-health-benefits-of-a-yellow-banana-with-dark-patches/

    :COP:
  34. Sarah

    Sarah Active Member

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    Banana 6 is perfect. I'd eat 5 and 7 without a problem. I'd eat 4 if I was hungry, but I'd prefer it sit for a little longer.
  35. flyingsit

    flyingsit Well-Known Member

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    Will you share the recipe for the chocolate chip shortbread? Thanks!
  36. cruisin

    cruisin Well-Known Member

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    It's actually a "cheat" recipe. I use the crust for Lemon Bars. But, the cookies are amazing! Everyone's favorite.

    3/4 Cup Softened Butter
    1 1/2 Cups Flour
    1/2 Cup Powdered Sugar
    1 Small Bag Nestle's or Hershey's Mini Semisweet Chocolate Chips
    Granulated Sugar (Can be colored, can be the large grain)

    Mix flour and powdered sugar together, add softened butter and mix with a fork until it gets crumbly.
    Add mini chips and mix with your fingers until chips are well mixed in.

    Press into a 9" X 13" pan. Sprinkle the top with granulated sugar, to cover the entire top.

    Bake @ 350 for 20-25 minutes, until slightly browned around edges.

    Remove from oven, let set for about 10 minutes, cut into small 1" X 1 1/2" bars.

    Eat and enjoy!

    ________________________________________________________________________________

    The rest of the Lemon Bar recipe:

    Make the above crust (without the chocolate chips), bake @ 350 for 20 minutes.
    Note: When you press into the pan, give the sides a slight lip, to prevent the lemon mixture from going over the sides.
    While crust is baking:
    Beat together:
    3 Eggs
    1 1/2 Cups Granulated Sugar
    3 Tbs. Flour
    Juice of 1 Lemon (I use a 1 1/2 Lemons)

    Open oven, pull rack out, pour lemon mixture over crust and continue baking for 20 more minutes.
    I don't actually remove the pan from the oven, because it helps keep the lemon mixture from going
    over the sides of the crust.

    When done, remove from oven, sprinkle with powdered sugar. Let sit of a few minutes and cut into bars.
    Don't remove from the pan until completely cooled, but cut while hot.

    Remember, all ovens are a little different. Some cook hotter than others. So, baking times can fluctuate
    +/- by a minute or two.

    ETA, another thing you can do is add 1/2 cup of ground pecans and take away 1/4 cup of the flour. Then, instead of putting granulated sugar on top. Put powdered sugar on top after it's out of the oven.
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2012
  37. Tesla

    Tesla Whippet Good

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    I want to make slice and bake cookies. The recipe says to wrap in wax paper but I don't have wax paper. Can I use plastic wrap or foil? Sorry for the dumb question.
  38. nubka

    nubka Well-Known Member

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    I'll bet either would be fine.
  39. Tesla

    Tesla Whippet Good

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    Thank you!
  40. cruisin

    cruisin Well-Known Member

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    Either would be fine. But, I think the dough would be less likely to stick to plastic wrap than foil. That is the reason for wax paper, it won't stick to it. You could use baking parchment, if you have it.