Q: Pumpkin pies are in high demand at our bakery, but we can’t find a formula we like. Can you share your formula with us?
P.O., Raleigh, N.C.
A: This formula is one of my favorites.
|Solid pack pumpkin||6||10||3.005 kg|
|Sugar, granulated||2||4||1.02 kg|
|Sugar, dark brown||12||340 g|
|Cinnamon, ground||0.66||19 g|
|Ginger, ground||0.33||9 g|
|Cloves, ground||0.12||3 g|
|Milk, whole||3||1.36 L|
|Milk, evaporated||2||4||1.02 L|
|Total appr. wt.||16||9.11||7.514 kg|
Method: Combine the eggs and pumpkin; mix well. Blend the sugars, salt and spices together, add to pumpkin mixture and continue mixing. Gradually add milks and continuing mixing until smooth. Fill prepared unbaked pie shells with 2 lbs. 1 oz. (940 g) of batter. Place the filled pie tins on sheet pans and add ½ in. of cold water. Bake at 375°F (190°C) for about 1 hour or until set. The pies are done when an internal temperature of 150°F to 160°F (66°C to 71°C) is reached. Remove carefully from oven, pouring off the hot water. Cool; the pie will shrink during cooling, due to continuing evaporation. To avoid cracking, cool the pies for about ten minutes, then free them from the sides of the pie tins with a wet paring knife before allowing them to cool fully. Yield: eight 9-in. pies
Q: How do we create the distinctive marbling on top of a Napoleon slice?
D.J., Columbia, S.C.
A: Glaze the top of the Napoleon with tempered pale pink or white fondant. Draw lines on the top with chocolate or piping gel, and run the point of a knife or toothpick across the lines to get the web effect.
Q: What is the easiest way to peel almonds or hazelnuts?
Kathryn, via email
A: Bring 1 oz. of baking soda and 1 gal. of water to a boil. Add 3 lbs. almonds or hazelnuts. After 90 seconds, remove from heat and pour the nuts into a colander. Press the nuts between your thumb and index finger and the peel will come right off.
Q: How do I replace gelatin in a formula?
Melinda, via email
A: Agar, also known as agar-agar and kanten, is a vegetarian gelatin. It is whitish in color and comes in sticks, flakes, granules or powder. The granulated form is twice as strong as the flakes and the powdered is three times as strong. Play with the concentrations to get the right consistency, and follow the manufacturer’s recommendations.
Q: During the summer months, we want to add milkshakes made with our soft serve ice cream. Do you have some basic formulas?
J.M., Cape Coral, Fla.
A: For a fruit and berry milkshake, blend the following ingredients: 4 ozs. of vanilla soft serve, 2 ozs. of fresh strawberries, 2 ozs. of blueberries, ½ banana and 6 ozs. of either whole, low-fat or skim milk. For a strawberry milkshake, blend 6 ozs. of strawberry soft serve ice cream or frozen yogurt, 2 ozs. of sliced strawberries and 8 ozs. of either whole, low-fat or skim milk.
Q: What is the general function of salt in yeast bread, pie dough and sweet dough?
C.W., Baker Den Ark.
A: Salt has the same functionality in baking as it does in cooking–it enhances flavor. Salt also has a chemical role. In dough and pastry, it enhances texture. In bread, it controls the fermentation rate of yeast, and it helps strengthen the gluten protein in the dough. Without salt, bread rises faster and air pockets form where the gluten has broken, creating holes. Bread made without salt will taste bland. Salt should not be eliminated from formulas, and should be used at 1.8 to 2.2 percent of the flour weight.
Q: What is instant flour?
P.B., Washington, D.C.
A: Instant flour is granular flour that dissolves quickly to thicken gravies, sauces and custards. It is low in protein, finely ground and has been treated to dissolve instantly in water without the long cooking process non-instant flour needs to dissolve in a liquid. The process is called pre-gelatinization, and it involves heating a starch (flour) with very hot water and/or steam, then drying it, essentially cooking it. Because of this, instant flour is unlikely to form lumps when mixed with water or other solution.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.