Bakery Workbench with Klaus Tenbergen, April 2012
Q: Specialty sugars are gaining in popularity, especially as more customers become interested in less-processed sweeteners. What do you know about specialty sugars?
A.J., Batavia, N.Y.
A: Turbinado sugar is a type of relatively unprocessed cane sugar, unrefined and crystallized through evaporation. The crystals tend to be large and have an off-white color. Sugar in the Raw is this type of sugar and you may have seen it at coffee shops, even if you haven’t noticed the name turbinado. It works in place of plain sugar in almost all formulas.
Demerara sugar is similar to turbinado sugar in that it also has large, irregular grains and a light brown color. It is unrefined with very large crystals, larger even than those of turbinado sugar. The sugar has lots of natural molasses flavoring, which makes it a popular sweetener for teas. It works in most bakery formulas that call for refined sugar, although cookies will sometimes have a slightly crunchier texture and cakes may have a less-fine crumb.
Muscovado sugar is another type of unrefined dark brown sugar. Unlike many brown sugars that are white sugars with molasses added back into them, it is flavored from sugarcane juice left in during the production process. It tends to be sticky and can be substituted for brown sugar.
Q: Can you provide a good mincemeat filling for coffeecake?
Yer, via email
A: I have used this mincemeat filling for years. Mincemeat is a mixture of chopped dried fruit, distilled spirits and spices.
Ingredients Lbs. Ozs. Metric
Honey 1 450 g
Cake crumbs, light 1 450 g
Eggs, whole 1 pint 450 ml
Mincemeat 12 360 g
Butter, melted 8 240 g
Total appr. wt. 4 4 1.950 kg
Method: Combine all ingredients, and mix at low speed until well blended. Spread 6 ozs. of filling on 12 ozs. of sweet dough.
Q: What is temperature profiling and does it pertain to retail baking?
B.R., Newport Beach, Calif.
A: Temperature profiling is the process of recording and interpreting the temperatures of products as they move through a conveyorized oven or during a batch process. It is not used in a retail bakery setting, but rather in a wholesale bakery. The collected numeric data is displayed as a graph or profile. This information tells you what temperatures your product reached, for how long and at what point of the process. Bakery engineers know what the perfect profile for their product should be, and variations from the ideal indicate a potential problem or unacceptable quality. By analyzing the profile, you are able to verify products are of the highest quality, increase throughput and solve production problems.
Q: What type of salt do you recommend for baking and seasoning?
A.A., Raleigh, N.C.
A: Bake with fine salt; baking requires precision, and formula measurements presuppose the use of fine salt. Season with kosher salt; the coarse crystals make it easy to see and feel how much you are using. Finish a product with hand-harvested specialty salts. Their unique crystals, textures and colors dramatically impact any product.
Q: We’d like to make our own thick crust pizza dough. How much fat do you recommend we use in the formula?
M.J., Columbia, S.C.
A: Oil produces more of an open cell structure when used in the formulas for thick crust pizza, while plastic shortenings result in a more bread-like crust. In pizza formulation, oil ranges from 3 percent to 14 percent based on flour or bakers’ percent.
Q: Why do our cakes peak and crack on top?
A.K., Germantown, Pa.
A: The oven temperature is too high, which causes the outside of the cake to form a crust too quickly. As the center of the cake continues to bake and leavening agents react, the batter bursts up through the top of the cake. Lowering the oven temperature by 25°F will create a more even bake.
Q: We decorate a lot of cakes and wondered which decorating bag–canvas, plastic, polyurethane or disposable–are best for use in the bakery?
John, via email
A: Canvas bags are things of the past as they can carry bacteria if not properly cleaned. Plastic- and polyurethane-coated bags are better, but need to be cleaned properly as well and after extended use the coating begins to wear off, which poses potential health risks. Therefore, I only use disposable bags, which may be a little more expensive, but will ensure that you create products that are safe to consume.
Q: How long should we cream fat and sugar?
Andre, via email
A: Under- and/or over-mixing the fat and sugar results in flat cookies. I recommend creaming these two ingredients for 3 minutes, or until pale yellow and fluffy. Make sure the fat temperature is between 60°F and 65°F. Creaming the butter makes it malleable, helps with the incorporation of the other ingredients and the sugar crystals act like extra beaters, helping to incorporate air into the batter. Additionally, I always mix on medium speed for best results.
Q: In many of our bread formulas we use rye flour in combination with wheat flour. What percentages of rye flour can we add without losing volume?
Fiona, via email
A: Light rye flour can be substituted for 40 percent of wheat flour in a formula without loss of volume. Medium and dark rye flours should be limited to 30 percent and 20 percent, respectively, of the total flour amount.
Q: What is triticale flour?
G.F., Red Bank, N.J.
A: Triticale flour is a hybrid of wheat and rye. It has average protein content higher than that of wheat flour. In yeast bread dough, triticale flour has better handling properties than rye flour because it forms gluten, but it does not handle as well as wheat dough. For good quality dough, ferment yeast dough made with triticale flour for a shorter period than wheat flour dough.
Q: Should we worry about the pH of the water we use when baking bread?
Fred, via email
A: The ideal pH of water for baking is around 5.0 on the pH scale. At this level water is slightly acidic and interactions with yeast and flour enzymes are at their most efficient. Also, acidic water helps control disease, known as rope, that may infect baked products.
Q: How do we convert volume measurements to metric weight when using small amounts of seasoning, spices or ingredients?
Christine, via email
A: Here is a standard conversion chart.
1/8 tsp 0.5 ml
¼ tsp 1 ml
½ tsp 2 ml
1 tsp 5 ml
½ tbsp 7.5 ml
1 tbsp 15 ml
Q: Some of our chocolate is no longer shiny and is covered with white or light brown colored splotches. Is the chocolate still usable?
Alex, via email
A: It is not uncommon for chocolate to no longer to be shiny and become covered with white or light brown splotches. While it may look as if the chocolate has spoiled, the chocolate is in fact edible. What has occurred is that the chocolate has undergone a process called “bloom.” Two main types of chocolate bloom exist: sugar bloom and fat bloom. One way you can easily check to see if a piece of chocolate has undergone sugar bloom or fat bloom is to lick your finger and touch it to the chocolate. If the dusty coating disappears, then it is sugar bloom as the moisture on your finger dissolved the sugar crystals on the chocolate. If the bloom remains, then it is fat bloom.
Q: The bags of flour we receive are labeled 11 to 12 percent protein. Does this mean the total of all proteins are equal to that percentage range, or just the gluten-forming protein?
J.B., Summerhill, Ga.
A: The amount of protein printed on the bag reflects the total amount of protein in the flour, which is not necessarily the total amount of gluten-forming protein. To determine the amount of gluten-forming protein in flour the Glutomatic method is used. The Glutomatic System is the world standard for determination of gluten quantity and quality.
Q: We use hard-boiled eggs for many of our sandwiches. What is the best way to hard boil an egg?
Melanie, via email
A: Place eggs in a saucepan, cover with 1 in. of cold water, and bring to a boil over high heat. Once the water is boiling, remove the pan from the heat, cover, and let stand for 10 minutes. Meanwhile fill a bowl with ice water, then transfer the eggs into the ice water; let stand for at least 5 minutes, and peel the eggs as needed.
Q: How much weight does bread lose during baking?
D.B., Raleigh, N.C.
A: The baking loss–the difference in weight between scaled dough and a baked product–depends on the weight, shape, baking temperature, baking time, hydration, crumb consistency and other factors. In general, a loaf of bread loses between 10 to 20 percent of the original dough weight during baking and cooling.
Dr. Klaus Tenbergen is certified as a Master Baker in Germany, South Africa and the United States. He is currently an assistant professor at California State University in Fresno, directing the Culinology program, which blends culinary arts and the science of food. For more information or to submit a question, contact Dr. Tenbergen at email@example.com.