Archive for the ‘Baking Notes’ Category

spice blends

September 9, 2013

Chili Powder: ground chilis (I tend to keep several varieties around, and use them in combination), fresh chilis, fresh garlic or garlic powder, ground cumin, dried oregano or thyme.  Optional: cinnamon, epazote, cloves, cocoa powder.

Curry Powder: (the big ones): ground turmeric, black and white pepper, cardamom, cumin, coriander seed, cinnamon, ground or fresh ginger; (use in lesser quantities): cloves, cayenne, mace or nutmeg, fennel seed, bay leaf, fenugreek, mustard seeds, asafoetida.

Apple Pie Spice: ground cinnamon, nutmeg, ground ginger, ground cloves, maybe allspice.

Pumpkin Pie Spice: ground cinnamon, ground ginger, nutmeg, ground cloves.  Optional: allspice, black pepper.

Pickling Spice: (use whole) mustard seed, coriander seed, chili flake, fresh garlic, bay leaf, fresh dill or parsley.

Mulling Spices: (for cider or wine, use whole) cinnamon, cloves, allspice, star anise, orange peel, black peppercorns.

Old Bay Seasoning: celery seed, paprika, black pepper, cayenne, bay leaf, mustard powder, ground allspice, ground mace.

Seasoned Salt: (in addition to the salt) fresh garlic or garlic powder, celery seed, onion powder (or just put onions in whatever you’re cooking), paprika, white pepper, turmeric.

Lemon Pepper: (this one should be obvious) lemon zest, black pepper.

Whole spices, toasted and then ground, will offer the biggest flavor, but pre-ground are fine, too (except for nutmeg, which you should always grate fresh).


July 26, 2012

Notes From Lora

September 28, 2011

I get asked all the time “How do you make the pie so it’s not soggy on the bottom?” … well, your cookbook is giving you the answer just not telling you directly. When you are asked to first bake the pie at 375*F for 15 minutes and then turn the temperature down to 325*F that is to cook the pie shell before the filling has a chance to heat up too much. But of course there is a better, “no-fail” way.

Now I’ll apologize for you missing the demonstration of this added to the sold out Pies & Flans class next week but I will be posting the video of this demonstration here on the Blog after the class for any of you who missed it. I will also be adding a demonstration for mince meat pies in the December class.

When I make my pies, I change the recipe altogether. First, I use a sweet dough shell instead as it provides better flavour and texture. This shell is pre-baked and then I add my cooked pumpkin filling in last. “WHAT?” You ask … yep, cook your pie filling with the same ingredients and amounts as you would normally use but this time you are going to cook this mixture in a double boiler on the stove. Once the mixture has thickened and darkened in colour it is ready to pour into the pre-baked pie shell and allowed to set in the fridge for approximately an hour.

If this doesn’t sound traditional enough for your liking, no problem, par-bake your normal pie shell so that the colour is just starting the turn and it no longer looks translucent. Then pour your warm (from scalding the cream) pie mixture in the shell and bake it 300*F for slightly longer than you normally would. Again you’re thinking I’m crazy … nope, pumpkin pie has a lot of egg and that means that the filling needs to set rather than “bake”. The cracking and pulling from the sides is the egg souffle-ing from the extreme heat and collapsing as it cools. When this mix shrinks it will either pull from the shell or crack down the center if the sides won’t let go .. but I assure you … it will break somewhere! If you allow it to set like a creme brule it will work out just fine!

Make it fresh!

Next week we will talk about rendering your fresh pumpkin so that you have a strong flavour!

What makes a good pastry chef? By Francisco Migoya

July 16, 2011

What makes a good pastry chef?

What makes a good pastry chef? No one in particular asked me, but I feel compelled to ask and then answer my own question.
I will tell you what I think it is. And the answer addresses the technical aspect only. The management part and all the other stuff is not relevant to this answer. It comes down to eight techniques. No more, no less. They are pass or fail.
These are the eight techniques, in no particular order:


This includes puff pastry and a yeast risen laminated doughs. Can you execute a Napoleon and a croissant? Are the outer layers flaky and crisp and is the crumb structure regular in its irregularity? Is there any damage to the layers? Is it much lighter than it looks? is it buttery on the surface and does it make a beautiful mess when you break through the surface?

Pate a choux.

Not the aberrations and monstrosities that we have unfortunately become accustomed to. Amorphous blobs of soft choux coated in dull condensation-pocked glazes. Can you make an eclair that is evenly tubular and completely hollow? A puff that is round, hollow and even?

Pastry cream.

No scorch, no lumps, not overcooked, not undercooked. Proteins: yolks and starch coagulated on point). No pastry cream powders. Is it shiny, smooth and supple?


Understand that it is an emulsion first and an enriched dough mixed to full gluten development second. Mix it as such without over-heating it. Is it soft, tender, buttery, airy… pillow-like?


Speaking of emulsions. Can you formulate and balance a ganache recipe to fill confections and another for a slab to cut and dip? Do you know the difference between these types of ganache and what they are for?

Temper chocolate.

So it shines and snaps. Thin shells in confections (throughout the entire shell, including the base… Is it uniformly thin?) Thin sheets for chocolate decor. Can you manipulate it and keep it under working control for long periods of time? Not a speck on your coat. Not under your fingernails. Not on the wall or on your work table. Can you harness it?

Make a macaron.

Can you mix it to just the right consistency, pipe it all to exactly the same size, let it dry just long enough, let it bake just long enough?

Spoon a quenelle.

Ice cream, sorbet and whipped cream or creme fraiche. Small, medium and large. With any spoon.

If you can execute all of these eight items without mistake, with the true quality aspects they deserve, and with relative ease…. Then you are a good pastry chef. If you do seven of them, you are not quite there yet.
I wonder if we took all of the pastry chefs we admire and respect, or perhaps do not admire or respect but we hear about a lot and give them awards, how would
they fare? How many would pass?
I really, truly want to see any of these techniques be part of the challenges in cooking show competitions. Not who makes the sassiest cupcake. Frankly who gives a shit about cupcakes? Any home cook can make a decent cupcake.

Do these well, and you will succeed, perhaps not financially, but you will know deep down that you are not a hack, and that is one definition of success, which plays into your integrity , self respect and what you are made of There’s nothing worse than a hack who doesn’t know he (or she) is a hack. Perhaps the only worse thing is a hack who knows he’s a hack and does not care he is a hack. God bless P.R. firms, right?

How chocolate Is made

December 1, 2010

How Chocolate is Made
Chocolate Manufacturing and Cocoa Processing

Before cocoa can be made into chocolate, it goes through several steps of processing. Cocoa processing includes converting the beans into nibs, liquor, butter, cake and powder. Chocolate manufacturing includes the blending and refining of cocoa liquor, cocoa butter and various ingredients, such as milk and sugar.
Cocoa Processing

Inspecting and Cleaning

First, the beans are inspected and thoroughly cleaned of any debris that may have fallen into the sacks, such as sticks, stones, or broken beans. Once the beans are cleaned, the processor has the option of roasting them before or after the shell is removed.

The inside of the cocoa bean is called the nib. Generally speaking, chocolate manufacturers prefer to roast the beans before shelling them, while cocoa processors favor the nib-roasting process.

Roasting, Shelling, and Grinding

Roasting the whole bean allows for more variety in the degree of roast and development of flavor, but requires beans of a uniform size, while nib roasting is more even and does not require uniform bean size. Roasting the nib directly also prevents migration of cocoa butter from the bean into the shell, which is discarded.

Once the beans have been shelled and roasted (or roasted and shelled, as the case may be), the nib is ground into a paste. The heat generated by this process causes the cocoa butter in the nib to melt, earning it the name “cocoa liquor.” The paste, further refined, may be sold as unsweetened baking chocolate.

All cocoa products start with cocoa liquor, although the liquor required in the manufacture of chocolate has a different texture from the liquor required to make cocoa butter, cake and powder. Chocolate liquor destined for processing into cocoa butter and cake is refined to a very small particle size, while chocolate liquor for chocolate production need not be as finely ground.

Cocoa Butter and Cocoa Cakes

The liquor is then fed into hydraulic presses that remove a certain percentage of the cocoa butter, leaving behind a cake containing from 6 to 24 percent of the cocoa’s initial butter. The extracted butter can be kept either in liquid or moulded form.

The cocoa cake is either broken into smaller pieces (kibbled) and sold into the generic cocoa cake market, or ground into a fine powder.

Dutch Process

The cocoa processor has the option of treating the nib or the liquor with an alkali solution (alkalizing), which reduces the acidity by increasing the normal pH factor from about 5.0 up to 8.0. This treatment is also known as “dutching”, honoring the homeland of its inventor, C. J. Van Houten, who also developed the cocoa butter pressing method.

Alkalizing cocoa nib or cocoa liquor renders the powder darker; gives it a milder, but more chocolaty flavor, and allows it to stay in suspension longer in liquids such as milk.

Cocoa butter extracted from alkalized liquor is more pungent, with a less desirable odor and flavor, and must be deodorized and refined. It is then carefully blended with other cocoa butters, so that the final butter for sale has a consistent flavor, color and viscosity.
Chocolate Manufacturing

To manufacture chocolate, cocoa liquor is mixed with cocoa butter and sugar.

For milk chocolate, producers can add fresh, sweetened condensed or powdered milk, depending on the desired taste.

In the crumb or flake process, liquor is blended with sugar and pre-condensed milk, or sweetened condensed milk. It is then dried on heated rollers to produce the flavor more typical of European chocolate or mixed with slightly acidified milk to produce the flavor customary in the United States.

After the mixing process, the blend is further refined to reduce the size of the milk and sugar particles. The mixture is then placed into conches—large agitators that stir the mixture under heat. Normally, cocoa butter is added to the mix at this stage, although some manufacturers add it during the original blending process.

“Conching” further smoothes the mixture. As a rule, the longer chocolate is conched, the smoother it will be. The process may last for a few hours to three full days, or even longer.

After conching, the liquid chocolate may be shipped in tanks or tempered and poured into molds for sale in blocks to confectioners, dairies, or bakers. It may also be converted into proprietary bars for sale direct to the consumer market.

brown rice flour

October 12, 2010


Brown rice flour is a very nutritious flour, it acts as an excellent thickener in soups and sauces but always needs to be combined with a binding agent when used in baking because it tends make things crumbly, we find guar gum works well for this.

D’oyen Christie Demo

March 29, 2010

D’oyen brushed the green cocoa butter onto the plastic, spread tempered white, folded over and rolled with a pin. Market the shaped but didn’t cut plastic, Let set. Nice and thin. The mousse had caramelized sugar poured into the yolks.

Panache ganache square had crispy bottom, miroir top with crisp pearls and gold dust.

Potato flour as partial replacement of wheat flour in bread

March 13, 2010

Potato flour (PF) is a material that does not differ significantly from wheat flour (WF) with regards to its physical appearance and chemical composition. For that reason it may be used in bread making. In this study mixtures of wheat flour and potato flour were prepared containing PF at levels of 0, 2, 4, 6, 8 and 10%. The farinograph properties of wheat flour affected by addition of potato flour were studied. Water absorption increased gradually from 62% for WF to 79% for blend with 8% PF. Other parameters such as development time, weakening of dough (Brabender units) and valorimeter value (W) were adversely modified by the addition of potato flour. The bread properties were studied using mixtures containing 0, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10 and 15% PF. The substitution of WF produced increases in water absorption, loaf weight and loaf volume as compared to all-wheat bread. In addition, bread containing PF retained moisture for longer periods than normal bread. Loaves made from wheat flour and 2, 4, 6, 8 and 10% potato flour were tested for their chemical composition and protein efficiency ratio (PER) in the rat. Moisture of bread increased with each increase in the level of potato flour substitution. The protein content of bread showed a progressive fall from 6.8% (at 4% level) to 6.3% (at 10% level). The protein efficiency ratio did not change significantly with the inclusion of potato flour up to 8% compared to all-wheat, but at the 10% level there was a significant reduction in this parameter.

Diastatic Vs Non-Diastatic Malt

February 24, 2010

Diastatic Vs. Non- Diastatic Malt

Note: Not commonly used for sour-dough applications.
Note: Even though Non-diastatic is added as a sweetener yeast doesn’t consume it in the same was as a simple sugar.
Note: Diastatic is great for a heavy loaf and adding volume.

Diastatic malt has long been a secret of professional bread makers in Europe. It is made from sprouted grains that have been dried and ground. In bread recipes, it replaces the sugar or honey needed to feed the yeast and brown the crust. Because diastatic malt is full of enzymes and vitamins, it increases the nutritional value of the bread. In addition, the action of the enzymes on the yeast and flour improves both the flavor and appearance of the bread; it creates a finer texture and helps the bread stay fresh.
Diastatic malt has enzymes to promote yeast growth. Also gives breads better texture, flavor and improves shelf life. The Non-Diasatic can be used 1 to 1 for sugar and is generally added for flavor. It can also be added to water for boiling bagels and getting the distinctive shiny appearance.
Non-diastatic is simply added as a sweetener, diastatic malt breaks down the starch in dough to yield sugars on which the yeast can feed. Having some around in long fermented breads is very important.
Mills will typically put in 1/10% malted barley flour (barley because barley malt is cheaper than wheat malt) to provide diastase (enzyme), which converts the starch in damaged starch granules to sugars that are utilizable by the yeast over an extended ferment. The use of more diastatic malt than this can result in slack, sticky dough, and will not improve yeast action. Malt is not made from cooked grain, but rather sprouted grain.
Diastatic malt powder is powdered malted grain, usually barley, but wheat, and rice may also be malted. “Diastatic” refers to the diastatic enzymes that are created as the grain sprouts. These convert starches to sugars, which yeasties eat. Maltose, a simple sugar that yeasties love is usually made in abundance by the enzymes.
Diastatic malt powder is available in some health food stores as well as homebrew supply shops.
You can make your own: sprout a cup of wheat berries by covering them with water in a jar for 12 or so hours, dump out the water & rinse with clean water, and place the jar in a darkish, warmish, place. Rinse the berries every day with clean water and return to their place.
In 2-3 days they will begin to sprout. When the sprout is as long as the berries themselves, dump them out on paper towels, dry them off, and set on a cookie sheet in the sun for a day or so to dry out. Then put the cookiesheet in a 100F oven for an hour or three. Do not let the temp get above 130F or the enzymes will be destroyed.
Then grind the dried malted berries into flour, and use it in your favorite recipe at a rate of approx. 1t. per loaf.
I did this for the first time last week, and the bread made with is has a lovely wheaty note that was not produced in the past when I used brewer’s (barley) malt.
-Gediastatic and non-diastatic malt powders are both dried barley malt syrup, which is about 85% solids to 100% solids for the dry. the difference is that nio-diastatic is dried at a higher temperature, which causes the amylase enzymes to deteriorate and go inactive.
amylase alpha and beta metabolize starch into sugar and facilitate fermentation.
malted barley flour is a whole other animal, since it’s ground from malted (i.e., sprouted/germinated) barley that is dried and then milled into flour. malt extract is subject to a couple of other steps of extraction and dehydration. barley malt flour, which is rich in amylases, is often used in patent flours as a dough conditioner and as an additive to improve fermentation.
as a practical matter, unless you’re using untreated (i.e., organic) flour and are not slow-fermenting or using a pre-ferment, the enzyme activity of the malt isn’t going to make much of a difference.
I use both diastatic and non-diastatic liquid and powder (and also low-diastatic powder) in bagels, kaiser and other rolls and haven’t noticed a significant difference in the quality or duration of the ferment, or the taste and texture of the bread.

Makingg and Using Diastatic Malt
Diastatic malt can be made at home using wheat berries, purchased from a health food store, and your food dehydrator. When using it in bread recipes, remember that it is very potent and only a small amount is needed.
Don’t forget that your dehydrator makes a wonderful place to raise your bread.
The method: Place one cup of wheat berries in a wide-mouth glass jar and add 4 cups tepid water. Cover with a piece of nylon net; secure with a rubber band. Let soak about 12 hours. Drain off water (save for soup stock or use to water your plants – it’s full of minerals). Rinse well with tepid water, and drain completely. Repeat rinsing process 3 times a day for 2 days or until the little shoots are about the same length as the grains.
Rinse and drain once again. Place on teflon sheets and allow to dry at medium heat in your dryer. Grind dried sprouts to a fine flour in an electric grinder or blender. This will yield about 1 cup of diastatic malt. Store in a tightly closed glass jar in the refrigerator or freezer. It will keep indefinately.
Hamburger Buns
1 Tablespoon active dry yeast
1 teaspoon diastatic malt
1/4 cup warm water
4 Tablespoons oil
1 egg, beaten
3 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 cup milk
1 Tablespoon sesame seeds
Soften yeast & malt in water. When mixture bubbles, add oil and egg. Blend well and let rise for 10 minutes.
Mix flour, milk, and yeast mixture to make soft dough. Turn out onto a floured board and knead until smooth and elastic. Shape into round, flat buns and place on greased cookie sheet. Brush tops with cold water & sprinnkle with sesame seeds. Cover with damp cloth and let rise until double.
Bake at 375° for 15-20 minutes.
The diastatic power (DP), also called the “diastatic activity” or “enzymatic power”, of a grain refers to the grain’s ability to break down starches into sugars. This is determined by the amount of “diastase,” today known as α-amylase, enzyme present in the grain. It generally refers only to malts, grains which have begun to germinate; the act of germination includes the production of a number of enzymes such as amylase which convert starch into sugar; thereby, sugars can be extracted from the barley’s own starches simply by soaking the grain in water at a controlled temperature: this process is called mashing. Other enzymes break long proteins into short ones and accomplish other important tasks.
In general, the hotter a grain is kilned, the less its diastatic activity; consequently, only lightly-colored grains can be used as base malts, with Munich malt being the darkest base malt generally available.
Diastatic activity can also be provided by diastatic malt extract or by inclusion of separately-prepared brewing enzymes.
Diastatic power for a grain is measured in degrees Lintner (°Lintner or °L, although the latter can conflict with the symbol °L for Lovibond color); or in Europe by Windisch-Kolbach units (°WK). The two measures are related by

A malt with enough power to self-convert has a diastatic power near 35 °Lintner (94 °WK); the most active, so-called “hottest” malts currently available, American six-row pale barley malts, have a diastatic power of up to 160 °Lintner (544 °WK).