Q: Our customers have been asking for almond macarons. Do you have a formula?
S.B., Aurora, Ill.
A: This has been a successful formula.
|Almonds, ground||5||8.18||2.5 kg|
|Sugar, confectioners' (A)||5||8.18||2.5 kg|
|Sugar, confectioners' (B)||4||6.55||2 kg|
|Vanilla bean, whole, 5|
|Egg whites||4||6.55||2 L|
|Sugar, granulated||1||1.64||500 g|
|Total appr. wt.||20||15.1||9.5 kg|
|Method: Combine ground almonds and the first portion of confectioners’ sugar (A). Add this mixture to the egg whites with the second portion of confectioners sugar (B). Whisk until the mixture is stiff, shiny and has the consistency of meringue. Stir in the granulated sugar and vanilla. Using a piping bag, pipe the batter with a 7mm tip in 2-in. dots onto parchment-lined sheet pans. Bake at 410°F (210°C) for three minutes to develop a crust. Then, reduce temperature to 375°F (190°C ) and bake for an additional seven minutes.|
Q: What is hydration in relation to bread baking?
Anya, via email
A: Hydration is the absorption or intake of water by solid materials, such as flour. In bread baking, two aspects of hydration are most important: the total amount absorbed by the flour and the rate at which it is absorbed.
Q: We want to try a formula that calls for chocolate liquor. What is it?
M.O., Fall River, Mass.
A: Choclate liquor is a product obtained from finely ground chocolate nibs (the meat of roasted cocoa beans). Chocolate liquor is about 53 percent cocoa butterfat and 47 percent cocoa solids.
Q: What is the difference between white whole wheat flour and whole wheat flour?
L.E., Lakewood, Wash.
A: The color of the grain depends on the pigment present in the bran. The endosperm of white wheat can produce flour of any quality depending on the climate in which it is grown. Usually however, white wheat tend to produce softer flours than red wheat.
Q: What is a blast freezer, and should we have one?
M.E., Portland, Ore.
A: A blast freezer is a compartment in which baked products are rapidly cooled by submitting them to a very strong current (2.5 to 410 meters per second) of very cold air, usually about -29°F (-34°C). In a blast freezer, the extreme temperature promotes very rapid freezing, which creates small ice crystals. The smaller the crystals, the less damage to the baked product, as large crystals can rupture cells. Once the food has been frozen in a blast freezer, it can be moved to a more conventional freezer for storage, as long as the freezer stays cold enough to keep the baked product frozen.
Q: Some flour specification sheets show the ash contents of the flour. What is ash?
W.B., Jacksonville, Fla.
A: Ash is the mineral residue left after complete combustion of a substance and, in the case of the flour, is composed mainly of potash, soda, lime, magnesia, sulphates, phosphates and silicates. Frequently used as a specification in determining flour baking quality, it is more properly a criterion of the amount of flour (extraction) produced from wheat by the milling process.
Q: Can you recommend a seed topping we can use for one of our artisan breads?
W.K., Cheyenne, Wyo.
A: This topping made of oats, sesame seeds and sunflower seeds has served me well.
Seed topping for artisan bread
|Sesame seeds||2||12||1.25 kg|
|Sunflower seeds||1||10.5||750 g|
|Total appr. wt.||17||10||5 kg|
|Method: Mix together the seeds and use as needed as a topping for your artisan bread.|
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 ktenbergen@ csufresno.edu.