Q: We use gelatin in some of our cakes, but always have granules in the finished product. How do we eliminate them?
D.V., Rio Rancho, N.M.
A: Gelatin needs to be hydrated before use to fully melt when heated. If not hydrated properly, it leaves granules of hard gelatin in the final product. Gelatin for confectionery application is usually hydrated in a minimum amount of liquid so as not to add extra moisture to the formula. In order to ensure that all gelatin is hydrated in such a small amount of water, the water should be stirred as the gelatin is added so the gelatin is evenly distributed throughout the water. The water also should be cold so the gelatin will uniformly absorb it rather than being only softened and partially melted by it.
Q: Why are most raisins labeled “seedless?” Aren’t they all seedless?
G.K., Manchester, N.J.
A: Yes and no. The term “seedless” can be confusing unless you know the reasoning behind it. Seedless raisins are made from grapes with no seeds. Seeded raisins are made from grapes that normally have seeds, but the seeds have been removed before or after drying. The two are not generally interchangeable because the flavor is quite different. Seeded raisins are more difficult to find than the common seedless variety, often only available during autumn and winter for the holidays.
Q: Do you have a formula for a lemon streusel?
Tobias, via email
A: Try this one.
Ingredient Metric Lbs. Ozs.
Flour, pastry 3.6 kg 8
Sugar, granulated 1.8 kg 4
Shortening 900 g 2
Butter, unsalted, softened 900 g 2
Coconut, bakers 900 g 2
Lemon purée 450 g 1
Corn syrup 450 ml 1 pint
Salt, table 60 g 2
Total appr. wt. 9.06 kg 20 2
Method: Cream butter, shortening and sugar on medium speed for 3 minutes. Add corn syrup and lemon purée; cream well. Add sifted flour and salt; add coconut. Refrigerate and coarsely grate when cool. Rub streusel between hands to top coffeecakes.
Q: We coat almonds with chocolate using a rotating drum, but are having difficulties. How can we improve the process?
J.F., Fallon, Nev.
A: Chocolate panning requires specific conditions, including a room temperature of 55°F to 60°F (13°C to 16°C) and a relative humidity below 60 percent.
Q: What is the best ratio to make cinnamon sugar?
S.S., Cocoa Beach, Fla.
A: For the cinnamon amount, I add 10 percent of the granulated sugar amount to make cinnamon sugar. So, for 2 lbs. of sugar (900 g), I add 3 ozs. (90 g) of cinnamon.
Q: We bought new nonstick baking moulds. How can we increase longevity?
B.M., Providence, R.I.
A: Before using nonstick bakeware you should wash it with hot, soapy water. Metal utensils, scouring pads and abrasive cleaners should not be used on nonstick surfaces. Usually a soft sponge will remove baked-on food particles. Sometimes it may be necessary to scrub lightly. These products are normally dishwasher safe, however handwashing is recommended to extend product life.
Q: What different methods can you use to incorporate roll-in fat into puff pastry dough?
H.L., Pembroke, N.H.
A: I am aware of at least three methods. Note that all three puff pastry doughs are made with the same basic ingredients.
German–place the roll-in on the dough and cover it with the dough.
French–place the dough on the roll-in so the dough is on the indside and the roll-in on the outside.
Dutch–add the roll-in in chunks directly into the dough during the last two minutes of mixing.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.