Q: Can you share a simple spice mixture we can add to our basic artisan dough to give it a unique flavor profile? B.G., Kenosha, Wis.
A: This spice blend is unique and will create greattasting bread your customers will love.
Ingredients Lbs. Ozs. Metric
Gouda cheese, 45% fat 1 1.5 500 g
Sesame seeds 1 450 g
Onions, 10.5 300 g
roasted and dehydrated Caraway seeds, ground 2.5 70 g
Spanish paprika 2.5 70 g
(Pimentón) Coriander, ground 1.5 45 g
Total appr. wt. 3 2.5 1.435 kg
Method: Add the spice mixture towards the end of the mixing process. This blend is sufficient for 36 lbs. (16.5 kg) of dough or should be added at 8.7 percent based on total dough weight. (1 kg dough equals 87 g spice mix).
Q: What do we have to take into consideration when working with gums? R.I., Lantana, Fla.
A: Larger bakeries often use hydrocolloids–referred to as gums–to thicken or texturize their bakery fillings or other products. Many types of gums are available, including carrageenan, alginate, locust bean gum, xanthan gum and guar gum. When you’re choosing a gum for a particular application, you need to consider the following: solubility; viscosity and texture effects with respect to concentration, time and temperature; stability to pH, temperature and shearing; effect on flavor; regulatory status; and cost. Although it’s helpful to know the properties of gums, only by experimenting with them can you determine the proper gum and level for a certain application.
Q: We own a bakery in northern Colorado, at an altitude of about 5,200 ft. I find that cakes require some adjustments. Can you give some tips on what to do? N.J., Fort Collins, Colo.
A: Because air pressure decreases as elevation increases, many ingredients respond differently at high altitudes. Some standard adjustments can be made, but you also have to experiment a bit to find what works best for your formulas where you are. With less air pressure weighing them down, leavening agents tend to work too quickly at higher altitudes, so by the time cakes are baked, most of the gasses have escaped, producing flat cakes. For cakes leavened by egg whites, beat only to a soft-peak consistency to keep them from deflating as they bake. Also, decrease the amount of baking powder or baking soda in your formula by 20 percent at 5,000 ft., and by 25 percent or more at 7,000 ft. For both cakes and cookies, raise the oven temperature by 20°F to set the batter before the cells formed by the leavening gas expand too much, causing the cake or cookies to fall, and slightly shorten the baking time. Q: What anticoagulants are used in icing sugar and table salt, and why? C.C., Sidney, British Columbia
A: Anticoagulants decrease the moisture absorbency of dry powders. As a result, they can prevent clumping and improve flowability. Some examples of anticoagulants and their uses include: silicon dioxide in icing sugar and calcium stearate in table salt.
Q: Do you recommend using salted or unsalted butter in bakery formulas? Phillip, via email
A: I always use unsalted butter in my formulas. This allows me to add salt as needed, controlling the salt content and ultimately the flavor of the finished product.
Q: We would like to replace granulated sugar with sweetener granulated but are not sure what the weight conversions are. Randy, via email
A: Here is the substitution method I use. Formula calls for this much granulated sugar 16 ozs. Use this amount of sweetener granulated by volume 2 cups Use this amount of sweetener granulated by weight 2 ozs. or 55 g
Q: I have seen golden and natural raisins, but just recently heard about red raisins. Are these somehow enhanced to retain the red color? N.M., San Francisco, Calif.
A: The raisin industry does produce a natural, sundried, seedless red raisin called flame seedless. Grapes from this cultivar have a natural red color and are usually produced for the fresh table grape industry. However, when dried into raisins, they retain the dark red coloring. While they represent about 3 percent of industry volume, they are found in baked products where bakers want to present a finished product with a more vibrant color.
Q: What are the guidelines for labeling products whole wheat? K.D., Chimayó, N.M.
A: The Whole Grains Council advises manufacturers to use the words “whole grain” in the name of a product only if the product contains more whole grain than refined grain (i.e., 51 percent or more of the grain is whole grain).
Q: How should we store fruit, such as peaches, to retain optimal flavor? Erika, via email
A: Storing fruit in a loosely closed paper bag at room temperature (68°F to 72°F/22°C to 22.5°C) for a day or two can help soften firm fruit, but it won’t make the fruit sweeter or ripen it further–that stopped when the fruit was removed from the tree. For best flavor, buy fruit that has fully ripened on the tree before being picked. Store the fruit at 33°F to 40°F (1°C to 4°C) and high humidity for extended shelf life.
Q: Is black or white pepper better? And what makes them different? Y.T., Raleigh, N.C.
A: The manufacturing method for white pepper requires several more steps than black pepper. Black pepper is richer in flavor, spice and aroma. White pepper is perfect for lightcolored dishes and sauces; most bakers prefer the white pepper as it does not ruin the product’s color. However, it is more subtle in flavor compared to its darker counterpart. It simply is a matter of preference. White pepper costs slightly more than black pepper because of the added intricacies in its production process.
Q: What gives a red velvet cake its distinctive color? And why do the formulas always call for vinegar? B.K., Kennesaw, Ga.
A: Beet juice and/or cocoa powder are two dominant ingredients in red velvet cakes. Beets have a reddish/ purplish color due to the pigment betain. This compound changes to more of a blueish color in an alkaline environment. The reason for using buttermilk or vinegar in the formula is to create an acidic environment that keeps the batter a reddish color. When using cocoa powder, the reaction of acidic vinegar and buttermilk in the batter tends to better reveal the red anthocyanins in the cocoa.
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.