Today i have a few basic questions answered from the book ” The baking answer book “. For budding bakers, usually google comes to rescue . But i somehow prefer to rely more on the books . Here are few ingredients which are gaining importance in todays baking. Apart from that are a few questions related to puff pastry as well .
Do give it a read.
Q : How is confectioners’ sugar different from white sugar?
A : Confectioners’ sugar is very finely ground white sugar, mixed with a little cornstarch to keep it from clumping. Most often it is used for sprinkling over baked cakes and cookies just before serving, or it is whisked together with water, milk, or another flavoring liquid to make a smooth and sugary icing. Occasionally, because it has added cornstarch, confectioners’ sugar is used instead of granulated sugar in cookie recipes where a particularly tender result is desired. It has a similar effect to using cake flour instead of all-purpose flour, lowering the total protein content of the dough so that the baked cookies have the desired softness and fine crumb.
Q : What is the difference between baking soda and baking powder?
A : Baking soda is a chemical leavener. When it comes in contact with acids, the reaction produces carbon dioxide, a bubbly gas that causes baked goods to rise. Baking soda works with an acidic ingredient such as lemon juice, sour cream, or buttermilk to prompt this reaction, but many baked goods don’t contain acidic ingredients. To get a similar rise in these cases, bakers use baking powder, which is baking soda combined with a little acid and some cornstarch to keep the two ingredients dry and non-reactive until moistened.
Q: What is the difference between Dutch-process and regular cocoa powder?
A : Dutch processed cocoa has been processed to reduce its acidity , making it milder tasting and giving it a darker colour . Regular cocoa has slightly more bitter taste but is also more intensely chocolaty. Recipes calling for dutch process cocoa use baking powder, which is essentially baking soda with added acid, as a leavener . Baked goods containing regular cocoa don’t need extra the acid in baking powder, and will rise well with only baking soda.
Q: What is Frangipane ?
A: It is a rich batter made from ground almonds, sugar, butter and eggs. When used as a tart filling, it is spread over partially baked tart shell and topped with fruit. When baked, it encases the fruit. It can also be used as a filling for croissants or Danish pastries .
Q: What are the similarities and differences between puff pastry, croissant dough and Danish dough ?
A: All of these are made by wrapping dough around a large slab of butter and repeatedly rolling out and folding the packet, creating very thin alternating layers of dough and butter. When baked, the steam creates air pockets and pushes the layers away from each other. The fat in the butter helps brown and crisp the layers. They differ in their ingredients beyond butter. Puff pastry is made with just butter, flour, water and salt. Its many layers separate giving crackerlike leaves which are crisp and flavoured with butter and no cakelike crumb. Croissant dough has a slab of butter surrounded by a bread dough made of flour, milk and yeast. These are flaky like puff pastry but have soft and chewy texture because of the gluten that develops during kneading and rolling. Danish has a briochelike yeast dough made with eggs surrounding the slab of butter. The egg protein gives Danish a cakelike structure .
Q: What is the difference between single turn and double turn ?
A: For a single turn, the dough is rolled into a rectangle, and then folded like a letter, the bottom third folded over the middle third, and the top third folded over the first two layers. The result is a small three layer rectangle.. For double turn, dough is rolled into a rectangle. Its folded from the top edge to the middle point of the rectangle. Then the bottom edge is also folded to the middle point of the rectangle, meeting the top edge. The dough is then folded into half, lengthwise, along the midpoint, creating a smaller 4 layer rectangle. The classic French recipe calls for 6 single turns to create the 1000 layers of dough, but to save time many chefs use 2 double and 2 single turns. Q: Why is it necessary to chill these doughs after every turn ? A: There are two reasons, First and most important, is keeping butter layers from melting. When puff pastry, croissant dough, Danish dough go into the oven to bake, those layers of butter must be solid. Only then will it be able to create steam that lifts the dough layers high. If the butter is least bit melted, before going into the oven, less steam will be created and the dough wont rise to its maximum. Secondly, as the dough is rolled and kneaded, gluten develops, making it elastic and bouncy. Refrigerating the dough for 30mins to 1 hour between turns allows the gluten to relax, making it easier to roll.