Q: Do you have a simple formula for ravioli dough?
G.R., Bakersfield, Calif.
A: I use this pasta formula primarily for ravioli.
|Bread flour||2||7||1.105 kg|
|Semolina flour||9||255 g|
|Eggs, whole||1 pint||11||165 mL|
|Total appr. wt.||4||11||2.125 kg|
|Method: Combine both flours; add the eggs, and mix until the dough is well developed. Cover with plastic wrap, and rest for at least 30 minutes. Portion, then fill with your favorite filling. Freeze or refrigerate until ready to cook and serve.|
Q: When should we add salt to our artisan bread dough?
Kim, via e-mail
A: Salt toughens the gluten matrix. Adding salt at the beginning of the mixing process necessitates a longer mixing time to fully develop the dough. However, by adding salt later in the mixing process you may reduce the mixing time up to 15 percent. Additionally, the heat generated by the friction can be reduced. By adding the salt later during the mixing process, bakers can save on energy costs needed to make the dough.
Q: We created several dead dough display pieces for our window decoration. Can you recommend any ingredients we can add to the dough for different colors?
Alicia, via e-mail
A: Use paprika to achieve a red color by replacing 4 percent of the flour with the spice. Use turmeric to achieve a yellow color by replacing 2 percent of the flour with the spice. Use instant espresso to achieve a brown color by replacing 2 percent of the flour with the dry powder. Use black cocoa to achieve a black color by replacing 3 percent of the flour with the cocoa. Many other natural colors can be obtained by adding spices to the dough.
Q: What are different baked items’ hydration levels?
T.S., Oahu, Hawaii
A: Hydration levels greatly vary by product but here are some general guidelines:
Baguette–60 to 85%
Ciabatta–90 to 100%
Varying the hydration levels will change the hole size and crumb structure.
Q: As a baker, I spend hours working at a bench. What can I do to alleviate back pain?
K.G., Billings, Mont.
A: You need to know at your height, the table’s height and the amount of pressure needed to work the dough. Ergonomics–the study of designing equipment and devices that fit the human body, its movements and its cognitive abilities–is used to fulfill the goals of both health and productivity. Proper ergonomic design is necessary to prevent repetitive strain injuries, which can develop over time and can lead to long-term disability. You can easily modify your work station by standing a step back from the table or by standing on a 3-in. to 4-in. pallet, depending on your body composition and height.
Q: What are the standard dimensions of a baguette?
D.S., Tucson, Ariz.
A: A standard baguette has a diameter of about 2 to 2 1/3 ins. (5 to 6 cm) and a length of about 24 ins. (65 cm), though it can be up to 39 ins. (100 cm) in length. A baguette should be scored 5 times to provide its characteristic appearance.
Q: We have had little success in making brioche. Our current process is to combine all ingredients and develop a straight dough.
M.A., San Antonio
A: Dough, especially brioche and other rich doughs, should always have its gluten matrix fully developed before the (room temperature) butter is added, normally during the last 2 to 3 minutes of mixing.
Q: During the summer month we sell a lot of homemade ice cream. Can you provide us with some guidelines of how much fresh fruit we can add to a basic ice cream base?
Rodger, via e-mail
A: The total amount of fruit used should not exceed 25 percent of the weight of the total ice cream base. I use one part fruit puree and one part fresh fruit pieces for best results. I also recommend marinating fresh fruit in sugar for at least 12 hours before adding to the base, for the best flavor development.
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 about Culinology®, or to submit a question, contact Dr. Tenbergen at email@example.com.