Q: How do you score a baguette properly?
B.M., Fort Worth, Texas
A: I use a lame, which is a double-edged razor blade attached to a metal handle so the blade is curved. Proper scoring ensures the beautiful and regular shape of the baguette. Hold the blade almost parallel to the length of the dough piece. Cut just under the surface of the dough, not a deep straight cut. The cuts must cover the full length of the dough piece. The first cut starts at one end and the last cut finishes at the other end. They must overlap by 1/3 of the length. Make the first cut slightly inclined to the left and continue so the final cut ends on the left side. Make sure that the cuts are all the same length. A baguette typically has five cuts.
Q: Do you know of any seeds other than flax that can be used in bakery applications that are high in omega-3?
Dusty Guthier, Newark, N.J.
A: Chia (Salvia hispanica) is a great alternative, which is available as whole seeds, ground seeds, powder (flour) or oil. Chia-fortified products can display omega-3 content claims and the seeds contain more omega-3 than flax seeds, as well as fiber, protein, antioxidants and minerals. Due to chia’s permeable shell, no milling or crushing is needed as the stomach acidity will dissolve the thin shell of the chia seed to allow the omega-3 to be absorbed. Chia also has potential as an egg and fat replacer due to its gelling quality.
Q: How can I easily check the sugar density of a sorbet base?
Breanna, via email
A: Instead of using an expensive refractometer, a fresh egg will do the trick. Sanitize a fresh egg in the shell and let it float in your base mixture. If the exposed shell is bigger than a dime, then there is too much sugar in the base. Add a little water or fruit purée to the base to reduce the concentration of sugar. If the egg sinks or less than a dime’s size of the egg shell shows, then there isn’t enough sugar in the base. Whisk in simple syrup or corn syrup and continue to check the sugar concentration with the egg until the shell is exposed to about the size of a dime.
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.