Bakery Workbench with Klaus Tenbergen, January 2013
Q: Are there any industry guidelines on what cake should have what type of filling?
M.Y., Augusta, Maine
A: The first rule is to make sure your cake is completely cool before attempting to fill it otherwise the filling will melt. Avoid using stiff fillings for light, tender cakes or a fluffy, light filling for heavy cakes. For example, don’t fill a chiffon cake with a ganache or a heavy chocolate cake with whipped cream. The chiffon cake will tear as you attempt to apply the ganache and the whipped cream will squish out when you attempt to cut the heavy chocolate cakes. Here are some examples of good filling and cake pairings:
Q: What are the benefits of MAP (modified atmosphere packaging)?
Alesia, via email
A: One way to conserve food and prevent molding through oxygenation is to use MAP. This technique consists of exchanging the air in the bag for other gasses, such as carbon dioxide and nitrogen, or eliminating oxygen completely as mold requires oxygen to germinate.
Q: What are the causes of microbiological growth in bread?
George, via email
A: The main causes of microbiological growth in bread are possible pollution prior to baking; under baking of bread, which increases the bread’s water activity; and during packaging when the temperature of the bread exceeds 91°F (33°C) and condensation occurs on the bread’s surface. Keeping the bread at an average temperature of 68°F (20°C) is recommended as the optimum temperature for fungal growth is around 86°F (30°C).
Q: When we add ice cream to plated desserts, it melts quickly. What can we use as a barrier to slow the ice cream’s melting?
M.T., San Francisco
A: Small, deep-fried pate a brick (thin pastry dough similar to phyllo) baskets are a great way to slow melting. Pate a brick is available in frozen sheets, cut the sheets down into small disks. Place each disk in 350°F oil and carefully press down with the back of a soup ladle. The dough will wrap itself around the ladle as it fries forming a basket. Drain on paper towels. The baskets take about 8 seconds to fry and will keep overnight at room temperature in an airtight container. The dough has no flavor, so dust it with confectioners’ sugar or cinnamon before scooping the ice cream onto it.
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.