Browsing Tag


Cooking Tips, Food Science

Going wild with yeast

November 17, 2010

Thanks to my wonderful contributor and cousin, Danny Waggoner!

Starters can be very easy to create. Some people can easily achieve success by simply mixing water and flour together and letting it rest for a day or two. My first experience was not so easy. I made a number of attempts, trying a number of methods such as using bottled water, gently warming my starter, and using pinapple juice to help feed my starter (I read that it would help, but it didn’t). All of my efforts failed. Continue Reading…

Food Science

What fats do in baked goods

November 11, 2010

Ahh butter — pretty much the best part of life.   Butter, lard, shortening and oil all refer to different types of fat or for the science people, triglycerides.  But, what do fats do in baked goods?  Thanks to Alton Brown and Harold McGee, I have some answers for you.  Firstly, fats moisten and create a lovely sensation of wetness, as well as brown foods like anything deliciously deep fried.  Secondly, fat weakens structure and tenderizes the protein and starch. Continue Reading…

Cooking Tips, Food Science

It’s getting steamy in here

November 5, 2010

Right as it’s getting hot in San Francisco, I’m the only one insane enough to use her badly insulated oven to bake bread in her south-facing apartment.  It’s definitely getting hot in here!

A friend asked me about the steam ovens frequently found in a professional baker’s kitchen.  I talked about the role of steam in pastry in the “What makes flaky dough puff?” post. Butter is about 20% water and when that water evaporates between layers of dough it makes the whole thing puff.  However, convection ovens are used for pastry, because the pastry steams itself, and steam ovens are used to make crispy delicious bread like baguettes, pain au levain, and country loaves.  Continue Reading…

Cooking Tips

Flaky Doughs from Around the World! — Part Two : America

November 3, 2010

When I posted my cornmeal cherry scones recipe, I casually added, “If you are making the batter by hand, cut the butter into the dry ingredients with your hands.”  My friend D imed me and said, “I want to make these but I have no idea how to cut butter into dough with your hands.”  In fact, this technique is not only critical for scones but critical for making pie crust by hand, as well. Continue Reading…