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Fundamentals of Baking and Cake Decorating Baking Ingredients Flour: provides the structure for the product. The gluten, or protein, in flour, combines to form a web that traps air bubbles and sets. Starch in flour sets as it heats to add to and support the structure. It is very important to use the right kind of flour when baking as each has a specific purpose.
Determining appropriate development of gluten (protein)
Mixing the dough largely determines the final outcome of bread. To know whether the dough is well mixed and the gluten (protein) is developed, pull out a handful of dough from the mixer. Gently, stretch the dough between two hands to make a translucent film. A smooth translucent film indicates that the dough is properly mixed. If the film is cloudy or the dough tears on pulling, it needs to be mixed more. If the dough is very slack and fluid, the dough has been over mixed.
Types of flour and their uses
High grade or “strong” flour: called Baker’s Flour is made from semi-hard wheat and has a medium to high protein content. It is used for making bread. Standard or plain flour: called soft flour, is made from soft wheat varieties and has a low protein content; used for making cakes and biscuits as it gives the baked product a tender texture; have a P.H. of around 5.2 which is slightly acid; the acidity helps to mellow or soften the gluten.
Whole meal flour contains all parts of the wheat grain; used in various baked products, including cakes, biscuits, slices, scones and muffins.
Pastry flour has a high protein content and should be very white and free of any bran particles to ensure a good pastry product.
Self-raising flour is made by combining flour with baking powder or a similar chemical aerating agent. These are sifted together many times until they are thoroughly combined and the baking powder is evenly distributed through the flour.
Liquid: water or milk Liquid helps carry flavorings throughout the product, forms gluten bonds, and reacts with the starch in the protein for a strong but light structure. Liquids also act as steam during baking, acting as a leavening agent and contributing to the tenderness of the product.
Sugar: adds sweetness, as well as contributing to the product's browning. Sugar tenderizes a cake by preventing the gluten from forming. Sugar also holds moisture in the finished product. Sugar crystals cutting into solid fats like butter help form the structure of the product by making small holes which are filled with CO2 when the leavening agents react.
Eggs: are a leavening agent and the yolks add fat for a tender and light texture. The yolks also act as an emulsifier for a smooth and even texture in the finished product. And the proteins contribute to the structure of the baked products.
Stages of Beating Egg whites RAW EGG WHITES
FROTHY OR FOAMY Stage
SOFT PEAK STAGE
The soft peak stage is reached when the peaks of the whites droop slightly, when the beater is turned off and lifted.
FIRM PEAK STAGE The egg white foam will become smooth, moist and shiny. Stop the beaters and then lift them -- straight peaks should form.
STIFF PEAK STAGE Beat until the egg whites are very stiff and glossy.
Shortening: coats gluten molecules so they can't combine as easily, contributing to the finished product's tenderness; contributes to the fluffiness of the final product. When sugar is creamed with shortening, small pockets of air form from the sharp edges of the crystals interacting with the fat. These pockets form a finer grain in the finished product. Shortening also carry flavors and add to a tender mouth-feel.
Creaming shortening, sugar, eggs, flour
Leavening agents Baking soda and baking powder form CO2 that is held by fat pockets, gluten and starch, which makes the baked product rise. Baking soda and powder are not interchangeable; use leavening agent the recipe calls for. To much leavening agent will make the bubbles too big, then they combine and burst, leading to a flat cake or bread. Too little leavening agent will result in a heavy product, with soggy or damp layers. Minor ingredients Spices and seeds Flavors Cocoa and chocolates
Baking Utensils, Tools and Equipment Measuring cups (for dry ingredients-plastic or stainless steel) Measuring cups for liquid ingredients (such as Pyrex glass or plastic)
One or two sets of measuring spoons (plastic or metal)
A set of different size mixing bowls (small, medium, large, and extra large)
One round and one oblong or rectangular cooling rack
Rubber spatula's (silicone ones are good because they can be used in high temperatures, metal spatula's for removing baked goods from pans
Wood or marble pastry board for rolling out your pie, tart or pastry dough
•Offset spatula for decorating and frosting cakes, pastries and cupcakes •Two or three pastry brushes •Pastry blender
•Fluted or plain pastry wheel
•Pastry bags, and assorted size and shape pastry tips
Dough or pastry scraper
Set of glass bowls Metal or wood cake testers
Assorted cookie cutters in different sizes and shapes. 2 and 3 inch round biscuit cutters are good to have for cutting out biscuits, scones, etc
Cookie press Variety of food colors for tinting
A good pair of kitchen scissors and a good set of kitchen knives.
Oven mitts (very important)
Aluminum foil, Parchment baking paper, waxed paper, and plastic cling wrap
A variety of flavorings and extracts (essences)
At least one or two whisks, one being a balloon whisk
A kitchen timer.
Mixing Techniques Beating: to incorporate air in a mixture by mechanical agitation, using a spoon or fork, whisk, rotary beater or electric mixer Creaming: the process of stirring and beating a solid fat (butter, margarine, or shortening) so that it absorbs air. Creamed fat will be soft, smooth, light, and fluffy. Cutting In: mixing fat and flour with the use of a pastry blender or two knives in a scissor-like manner. Cut and Fold: a combination of two motions; cutting vertically through the mixture and turning over and over across the bottom of the mixing Bowl at each turn.
Folding: the gentle combining of two or more mixtures (one of which is often whipped egg whites or whipped cream) in a figure-eight motion, using a spoon or rubber spatula. Kneading: the pressing, folding and stretching of dough to develop gluten for good bread structure. Stirring: mixing ingredients with spoon, fork, or spatula. Sifting: to separate coarse particles in the ingredients by passing through a sieve. Air is incorporated through this method. Whipping: kind of beating eggs and cream to fill them with air and make them thick and fluffy.
Basic Rules of Baking Read recipe carefully before starting Cultivate the do-it-right attitude and habit. Remember: If it is worth doing, it is worth doing right! Baking demands accuracy and care. Never carry on another activity while mixing a recipe. Distractions, no matter how small, lead to mistakes. Use good tools and utensils: Assemble all the bowls, pans, and utensils needed before starting. Use standard measuring cups and spoons.
Use Correct Pan Sizes: Use the type of pan specified in the recipe. Recipes are carefully calculated as to yield and changing the pan size also alters the baking temperature and time. Larger, more shallow pans need increased heat; smaller, deeper pans need decreased heat. The size of a baking pan or dish is measured across the top of the container from the inside edge to inside edge. The depth also is measured on the inside of the pan or dish from the bottom to the top of the rim. Prepare the pan carefully according to the recipe. Place pans as near the center of the oven as possible. Do not place pans directly over another and do not crowd the oven (this makes for uneven baking).
Use top-quality ingredients and assemble the ingredients before starting: ingredients are fresh and of the finest quality. If the recipe says the ingredient must be room temperature, be sure it is in room temperature before proceeding. Measure the quantities correctly: A baking must. One common cause of cooking failures is inaccurate measurement of ingredients. As always use level measurements. Measuring Liquids: Use a glass measuring cup. Measuring dry ingredients: Use standard individual cups. Lightly spoon dry ingredients into correct cup size, heat up, and level off with edge of spatula by cutting across the top. Use measuring spoons in this way too.
Flour need not be sifted before measuring unless recipe specifies it. Sifting flour onto a sheet of wax paper instead of into a bowl cuts down on dishwashing. Measure brown sugar by packing it firmly into a measuring cup or into a measuring spoon. Mix Carefully: Each type of baking has difference methods of performing the mixing. Follow the recipe carefully.
Use correct oven temperatures: Never increase a cooking temperature. Make sure the racks are placed properly before heating the oven. If the recipe calls for a preheated oven, preheat it. Preheat at least 15 minutes before baking. Don't open the oven door prematurely. A draft may cause the baked product to fall. The cake will be ruined with a slow start in a cool oven because the cake can rise too quickly and then fall when the oven heat takes a spurt upward.
Fahrenheit (°F) 225 °F
Celsius (°C) 110 °C
Gas Number 1/4
Oven Terms Very Cool
325 °F 350 °F 375 °F 400 °F
165 °C 177 °C 190 °C 200 °C
3 4 5 6
Slow Moderate Moderate Moderately Hot
450 °F 475 °F 500 °F 550 °F
230 °C 245 °C 260 °C 290 °C
8 9 10 10
Hot Hot Extremely Hot Broiling
Factors which Affect the Baking Temperature of Cakes
Steam Humid atmosphere is essential in order to achieve a flat top on a cake and to ensure that thorough baking is carried out with a pleasing crust color. A pan of water inserted in the oven is usually sufficient for this purpose. Richness
The more sugar a cake contains, the cooler the oven temperature and the longer the cooking time that is required. This is because the richer the cake, the more crust color is formed.
Shape and size The overriding consideration to be given here is the penetration of heat into the cake mass. It follows from this that the smaller the cake the shorter the baking time, and then the higher the baking temperature. Conversely, large cakes require a lower baking temperature with a longer baking time. However, it is not always appreciated that shape plays an important part. Since it is the penetration of heat that counts, a thin slab of cake cooks very much more rapidly than the same weight but say, double the thickness. The range of temperatures over which cakes may be baked is very wide, ranging from 350F (177C) for wedding cakes to 450C (232C) for very small fairy cakes.
Additions Substances like sugar or almonds added to the surface of a cake act as improving the richness of a cake, and baking temperature should be reduced by 10-20F (5.5-11C) to compensate. Certain substances like glucose, invert sugar, and honey take on color at a much lower temperature than sugar. If such substances are added (for example, for their cake moistening properties), the baking temperature also needs to be lower.
Other Cooking and Baking Facts History of Baking In ancient history, the first evidence of baking occurred when humans took wild grass grains, soaked it in water, and mixed everything together, mashing it into a kind of broth-like paste; then, the paste was cooked by pouring it onto a flat, hot rock, resulting in a bread-like substance and later this paste was roasted on hot embers. Around 2500 B.C., records show that the Egyptians already had bread, and may have actually learned the process from the Babylonians.
The Greek Aristophanes, around 400 B.C., also recorded information that showed that tortes with patterns and honey flans existed in Greek cuisine. Dispyrus was also created by the Greeks around that time and widely popular; was a donut-like bread made from flour and honey and shaped in a ring; soaked in wine, it was eaten when hot. In about 300 B.C., the pastry cook became an occupation for Romans (known as the pastillarium). This became a very highly respected profession because pastries were considered decadent, and Romans loved festivity and celebration
Boiling Points of Water
Salt: Salt, sugar, and practically any other substance elevate the boiling point and therefore shorten cooking time. The difference in temperature between unsalted and salted water (one teaspoon of salt per quart of water) is about 1° to 2° F, a difference that can be critical in cooking situations demanding exactness. Hard Water: Hard water defines water with a high level of dissolved mineral salts. Therefore, hard water boils at a higher temperature. The difference in the boiling point between typical supplies of hard and soft water is about a degree or two.
Alcohol: Alcohol has a lower boiling point that water (about 175° F as compared with 212° F). If you dilute water with alcohol, the mixture will have a lower boiling point up until the alcohol completely evaporates. Should you decide to alter an existing recipe by substituting a fair portion of wine for some of the water, remember to extend the cooking time by 5 to 10 percent depending on the alcohol strength of the wine and the heaviness of your touch. Weather: The boiling point of water is a degree or two lower on stormy, as opposed to fair, weather days. Consequently, boiled food will take longer to cook on a stormy day.
Different Size Pans: Will a given volume of water boil at a higher temperature in a tall, narrow pot than in a short, wide one? Yes. since the tall, narrow pot has a great depth, its bottom-lying water is under greater pressure from the water above it than is the water at the bottom of the short, wide pot. The greater the pressure, the high the boiling point. The difference is approximately 1° F. Altitude: The higher the altitude, the lower the atmospheric pressure. The less atmospheric pressure that bears down on the surface of the liquid, the easier it is for water molecules to escape into the air. Thus, the water comes to its full rapid boil at a lower temperature in the mile-high city of Denver than it can in coastal Miami. For each thousand feet above sea level, the boiling point of water drops almost 2° F.
Temperatures of water Water boils at 212°F (sea level), and simmers at 190°F. Tepid Water - 85 to 105°F. The water is comparable to the temperature of the human body. Warm Water - 115 to 120°F. The water is touchable but not hot. Hot Water - 130 to 135°F. The water is too hot to touch without injury. Poach - 160 to 180°F. The water is beginning to move, to shiver.
Simmer - 185 to 200°F. There is movement, and little bubbles appear in the water. Slow boil - 205°F. There is more movement and noticeably larger bubbles. Real boil - 212°F. The water is rolling, vigorously bubbling, and steaming. Rolling Boil" describes a stage a few minutes past that, when so many bubbles are being produced so fast from the bottom of the pot, that stirring won't impact their production. Rolling Boils drive oxygen out of the water quickly.
Reactive and Non-reactive Pans
Reactive Pan: It is one made from a material that reacts chemically with other foods. Aluminum and copper, metals that conduct heat extremely well, are the 2 most common reactive materials used to make in cookware.
Lightweight aluminum second only to copper in conducting heat, reacts with acidic foods, imparting a metallic taste, and can discolor lightcolored soups and sauces, especially if you stir them with a metal spoon or whisk (it is a very soft metal).
For that reason, you should neither cook nor store light-colored foods in aluminum cookware. Anodized aluminum has a hard, corrosionresistant surface that helps prevent discoloration. Most copper pots and pans are lined with tin to prevent reaction. However, tin is a very soft metal, so it scratches easily and then exposes foods to the copper underneath.
Non-Reactive Pan: When a recipe calls for a non-reactive cookware, use clay, enamel, glass, plastic, or stainless steel. Stainless steel is the most common non-reactive cookware available. Since it does not conduct or retain heat well, it frequently has aluminum or copper bonded to the bottom or a core of aluminum between layers of stainless steel. Although expensive, this kind of cookware offers the benefits of a durable, nonreactive surface and rapid, uniform heat conductivity.
Glass cookware is non-reactive and although it retains heat well it conducts it poorly. Enamelware is non-reactive as long as the enamel is not scratched or chipped. Cast-iron is considered reactive; however, we have to say that our extremely well-seasoned pans seem to do fine with tomato sauce and other acidic foods as long as they do not stay in contact with one another for extended periods. Is light cream the same as half & half? No, light cream is not the same as half & half. Light cream, sometimes called coffee cream, may contain from 18 to 30% milk fat, but most often contains 20% fat. Traditional half & half contains 10 to 18% milk fat.
What’s the best way to beat egg whites? First, it is easier to separate egg whites from the egg yolk when the egg is cold. After separating, let the egg whites come to room temperature before beating which will result in a greater volume. Beat egg whites in a clean, dry glass or metal bowl (never a wood or plastic bowl) with a clean beater. Even the smallest amount of fat from the egg yokes can slow down the foaming. A wood or plastic bowl can hold hidden traces of fat also. Beat on high speed until stiff peaks form but not until the egg whites are dry. A beaten egg white should more than triple in volume.
Can stick margarine be substituted for butter? Stick margarine made from vegetable oil may be substituted for butter in most baking applications except pastry recipes. Using margarine will produce softer dough than one made with butter, and may not have the same flavor as butter.
Essentials of Cake Decorating Icing Consistency: If the consistency of decorating icing isn't just right, the decorations won't be right either. Just a few drops of liquid will make a great deal of difference in your results.
Stiff Icing holds a 3/4 in. peak on the spatula. Use it for flowers with upright petals -if icing is not stiff enough, petals will droop. Medium Icing is used for flowers with flat petals and for borders -when the icing is too stiff or too thin, you can't get the uniform designs that characterize a perfect border. Thin Icing is used for writing, stems, and leaves and for frosting a cake.
Correct Bag Position: The way your decorations curl and point and lie depends not only on the icing consistency but also on the way you hold the bag and the way you move it. Bag positions are described in terms of both angle and direction. Angle refers to the position of the bag relative to the work surface. There are two basic angle positions:
90° angle, or straight up, perpendicular to the surface. Used when making stars or flat flowers or rosettes. 45° angle, or half way between vertical and horizontal. Used for writing and borders. NOTE: The angle in relation to the work-surface is only half the story on a bag position. The other half is the direction in which the back of the bag is pointed. When you hold the bag at a 45° angle to the surface, you can sweep out a circle with the back end of the bag by rolling your wrist and holding the end of the tip in the same spot. (If you do not have a bag, try it with a pencil). Pretend that the circle you formed in the air is a clock face. The hours of the clock face correspond to the direction you should point the back end of the bag.
Control The size and uniformity of your icing design are affected by the amount of pressure you apply to the bag and the steadiness of the pressure -how you squeeze and relax your grip on the decorating bag. Your goal is to learn to apply pressure so consistently that you can move the bag in a free and easy glide while just the right amount of icing flows through the tip. Practice will achieve this control. How close to hold to the surface or cake It is just as important as the above suggestions, that you understand what happens when you raise the tip too far above or too close to, the cake. Experiment when in doubt.
Notes: When bag positions differ from those of the right handed decorator, the position is listed in parentheses.
Also, look for these clock icons. They'll show you at a glance, in which direction to point the back of the
Types of Cake Icing Butter cream icing is one of the most popular icings for cakes. It is easy to spread, has a sweet flavor and a soft, smooth texture and is simple to make. Butter cream icing is made with a type of fat, often butter, and sugar. It can also contain eggs or milk to change the texture and thickness.
Flat icing is one of the simplest icings. The basic ingredients of flat icing are powdered sugar and water. Simple flat icings form the glaze on rolls, Danishes and other pastries and can be flavored with fruit or spices to add a new taste to the pastry.
Foam icing comes in a variety of flavors and has a soft, fluffy appearance. A meringue is made of whipped egg whites with flavored syrup added. Marshmallow foam is a common foam icing, but other flavors such as chocolate or vanilla can also be added to the meringue.
Fondant icing gives a cake or pastry an elegant appearance and is popular for wedding cakes and other show pieces. Fondant icing is simply sugar and water, with either glucose or cream of tartar used to produce the proper crystallization to give it a smooth, almost porcelain look.
Fudge icing is thick and rich with a strong chocolate flavor. Other flavors, such as almond, peanut butter or mint, are often added. Using both butter and shortening, corn syrup, sugar and a variety of other ingredients, fudge icing can be somewhat time consuming to prepare, but the finished product is stable and can be refrigerated and used at a later time.
Royal icing is similar to flat icing, but adds egg whites to produce a thicker icing which hardens to a brittle texture. Royal icing is used primarily for decorative additions to cakes and for show work such as sugar sculptures.
Glazes are thin, watery icings which form a hard, crisp shell when poured or brushed over cakes and pastries. Glazes are usually made with a fruit flavor, although other flavors, such as chocolate or coffee, are sometimes popular as well. They add flavor, and also help keep the pastry moist and improve its shelf life.
Ten Steps to a Safe Kitchen Keep refrigerator at 40° F (4° C) or less. Refrigerate cooked, perishable food as soon as possible within two hours after cooking. Sanitize kitchen dishcloths and sponges regularly Wash cutting board with soap and hot water after each use. Cook ground beef, red meats and poultry products to a safe internal temperature. Use a meat thermometer. Don't eat raw or lightly cooked eggs.
Clean kitchen counters and other surfaces that come in contact with food with hot water and detergent or a solution of bleach and water. Allow dishes and utensils to air-dry in order to eliminate re-contamination from hands or towels. Wash hands with soap and warm water immediately after handling raw meat, poultry, or fish. Defrost meat, poultry and fish products in the refrigerator, microwave oven, or cold water that is changed every 30 minutes.
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