Bakery Workbench with Klaus Tenbergen, November 2012
Q: Do you have “tricks of the trade” for working with puff pastry?
P.D., St. Thomas, V.I.
A: Except for the rapid version, puff pastry requires at least a four-hour time commitment. Two-thirds of the turns must be completed in succession before the dough can be refrigerated and finished at your convenience. Large chunks of extremely cold butter can tear the dough when rolled. Chilling the dough for one hour before working it allows the gluten to relax while keeping the butter cool but pliable; ideally, both the dough and the butter temperature should be the same in order to move together. Once the majority of the turns are completed, the butter is thin enough to pose no threat to the dough. If the butter comes through the dough at any point while turning, flour heavily and chill before finishing the turn. Puff pastry can be refrigerated for three to four days without losing quality. Freeze the assembled product, such as apple turnovers, rather than the puff pastry block when possible for best results. Bake frozen products directly; do not thaw.
Q: Can corn syrup be replaced with another ingredient in modeling chocolate?
Karina, via email
A: You can replace it with equal parts of glucose.
Q: We have noticed a slight ammonia smell in our bread. What is causing this?
R.S., San Diego
A: Are you using sodium hydroxide to clean your equipment? Sodium hydroxide is frequently used as an industrial cleaning agent; it can dissolve grease, oils, fats and protein-based deposits. Surfactants can be added to the sodium hydroxide solution in order to stabilize dissolved substances and thus prevent re-deposition. A sodium hydroxide soak solution also can be used as a powerful degreaser on stainless steel and glass bakeware. It also is a common ingredient in oven cleaners. Make sure all the cleaned equipment is thoroughly rinsed, as you may have some residue of the cleaning agent on the equipment, which accelerates during the baking process and can be absorbed into the bread, therefore possibly causing the slight ammonia smell.
Q: Can granular no-calorie sweetener be used as a simple replacement for sugar in all baking applications?
Dori, via email
A: Granular no-calorie sweetener sweetens measure-for-measure like sugar. Sugar, however, does more than sweeten. It can be important for characteristics like browning and moisture retention in baked products, as well as the rise of baked products. Granular no-calorie sweetener works best in applications where sugar is used primarily for sweetness, such as cheesecakes, pies, mousses, puddings, sauces and glazes.
Q: When cleaning our pans after baking our cheese rolls, the cheese doesn’t dissolve. We use a high temperature dishwasher.
A: Cheesy pans need a cold-water rinse; it solidifies the melted cheese, and then you can easily scrape it off the surface before the pans are washed in the dishwasher.
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.