Almond paste is a
combination of equal parts ground blanched almonds and
sugar, mixed with glucose, corn syrup or egg whites. It is
pliable with a sweet almond flavor and grainy texture.
Sold in cans or tubes, I recommend using the can variety as
it has a superior taste. Almond paste is used in
pastry making and confectionery to cover cakes and pastries,
as well as forming into different shapes and figures.
Unused portions should be wrapped in plastic and
refrigerated or else frozen.
you have overripe bananas and don't want to bake with them right away, then
freeze them whole (in their peels), wrapped airtight, for up to 6 months. Or
you can peel and mash them (in food processor), stir in 1 teaspoon lemon juice
for each banana, and freeze in an airtight container or bag.
Marzipan is a cooked mixture of finely ground almonds, sugar,
and water. Slightly sweeter with a smoother texture,
it is firmer than almond paste but is still pliable.
It can be colored and rolled out to cover cakes and
pastries, or formed into shapes. It comes in plastic-
wrapped rolls. Unused portions should be wrapped in
plastic and refrigerated.
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Pronounced paht bree-ZAY.
It is a French short crust pastry dough made from a mixture
of flour, a little sugar, salt, butter, and ice water.
It has a high ratio of fat to flour which gives the pastry
its crumbly texture and buttery flavor. Used in both
sweet and savory pastries.
When making cookies always place the cookie
dough on a cool pan. A warm pan melts the fat in the
dough too quickly and will result in too much spreading when
placed in the oven.
For easy clean-up, line your baking sheets
with parchment paper or a Silpat liner. Parchment
paper is a heavy paper that has been treated to resist
moisture and grease. Unlike wax paper, it can
withstand high heat. It is sold in rolls and can be
found in most grocery stores or cookware stores. You
can also line your baking sheet with a Silpat liner which
has the advantage of being reusable. These mats can
withstand high heat and are easy to clean as they are
nonstick. They are sold in cookware stores.
Making your own
To make your own baking powder combine 1/2
teaspoon cream of tartar and 1/4 teaspoon baking soda.
This is equivalent to 1 teaspoon of commercial baking
powder. If you are not using immediately, add 1/4
teaspoon cornstarch to absorb any moisture in the air and to
prevent a premature chemical reaction between the acid and
get maximum volume when
whipping heavy cream, first place mixing bowl and beaters in
the freezer for about 30 minutes.
your own cake flour:
To make one cup of self-rising flour, combine
1 cup (140 grams) all purpose flour with 1 1/2 teaspoons
baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
have the problem of chocolate chips, nuts, or dried fruit
settling to the bottom of your pan during baking?
you have ever encountered this problem it was probably
because your batter was not thick enough to suspend the
ingredients during baking. For thin batters, chop the
nuts or dried fruit very finely before adding them to the
batter. Also, tossing these ingredients in a little
flour will absorb any oils or water from the nuts or dried
fruit and may help to prevent them from sinking to the
bottom of the pan during baking.
Flavored sugars are very
expensive to buy, so next time you want vanilla or cinnamon
flavored sugars make your own. To make cinnamon sugar
combine 1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated white sugar with 1
tablespoon ground cinnamon. Store in an airtight
container. For vanilla flavored sugar combine 1
cup (200 grams) granulated white sugar with one vanilla
bean. Store in an airtight container for about a week
before using, stirring it a few times, to evenly
distribute the vanilla flavor.
Superfine (Castor) Sugar:
Superfine sugar can be
expensive and hard to find. Make your own by taking
granulated white sugar and processing it in your food
processor until it is very fine.
When baking muffins
always fill any unused muffin cups with a little water to
prevent the muffin pan from warping during baking.
For easy cleanup, line
muffin cups with paper or foil muffin liners. An easy
way to place the muffin batter into the muffin cups is to
use an ice cream scoop.
Powder: What is the difference between Dutch-Processed
and Natural Unsweetened?
There is a lot of confusion about these
two types of cocoa powder.
First off, both are unsweetened although the two types are
usually referred to as Dutch-Processed and Natural
Unsweetened. Dutch-processed or alkalized unsweetened
cocoa powder is treated with an alkali to neutralize its acids. Because it
is neutral and does not react with baking soda, it must be used in recipes
calling for baking powder, unless their are other acidic ingredients in
sufficient quantities used in the recipe. It has a reddish-brown color, mild flavor, and is
easy to dissolve in liquids. Its delicate flavor makes it ideal in baked goods
like European cakes and pastries where its subtle flavor complements other
ingredients. Droste, Lindt, Valrhona, Poulain and Pernigotti are some popular
brands. Natural unsweetened cocoa powder
tastes very bitter and gives a deep chocolate flavor to baked goods. Its
intense flavor make it well suited for use in brownies, cookies and some
chocolate cakes. When natural cocoa (an acid) is used in recipes calling for
baking soda (an alkali), it creates a leavening action that causes the batter to
rise when placed in the oven. Popular brands are Hershey's, Ghirardelli, and
Stop Sliced Apples from Browning:
preserve the color of peeled and sliced apples,
drizzle with a little fresh lemon juice.
Eggs in Baking:
Always use large eggs in
recipes where egg size is not given. The size of the egg used will make
a difference in the consistency of the batter and ultimately affects the
outcome of the baked good. Also, to achieve maximum volume when beating
eggs, have them at room temperature.
Using nuts in
nuts before using them in your recipes will
enhance the nut's buttery flavor and gives them a golden color with
added crunch. To toast
the nuts, spread on a baking sheet and bake in a 350 degree F (180 degree C)
oven for anywhere between 8-20 minutes. The nuts are done when they are light
golden-brown in color and fragrant. The baking time depends on the type and size of the nut. Nuts
can be toasted in advance and stored at room temperature in airtight containers
or plastic bags for up to a week.
Is your baking
powder and baking soda still fresh?
To test baking powder's
effectiveness: mix 1 teaspoon (5 grams) baking powder with 1/2 cup (120
ml) hot water and the mixture should bubble immediately. Store in a cool
dry place and it should be replaced every 6-12 months.
To test baking soda's effectiveness: mix 1/4
teaspoon baking soda with 2 teaspoons of vinegar and the mixture should
How to Soften Hard
Brown sugar should be
stored in a thick plastic bag in a cool, dry place. Sometimes, though,
brown sugar does become hard. If this happens you can soften it by:
- Place a slice of apple in the plastic bag with
the brown sugar. Seal and leave for a couple of days until the brown
sugar softens. Remove the apple.
- Place about one cup (215 grams) of hard brown
sugar in a microwave proof dish, cover, and microwave for 30 seconds to
one minute, or until softened.
- Place brown sugar on a baking sheet and bake in a
250 degree F (120 degree C) oven for about 5 minutes, or until soft.
What to do with your
If you have overripe bananas and don't
want to bake with them right away, then freeze them whole (in their
peels), wrapped airtight, for up to 6 months. Or you can
peel and mash them (in food processor), stir in 1 teaspoon lemon juice
for each banana, and freeze in an airtight container or bag.
What is Chocolate or
Have you ever
opened a package of chocolate to find white spots/streaks or a dull gray
film on the chocolate? It is called
chocolate bloom and occurs when
the cocoa butter in the chocolate has separated causing it to rise to
the surface of the chocolate. This happens when the
chocolate is stored in a too humid or too warm a temperature.
Don't worry though, the chocolate can still be used and when the
chocolate is melted the cocoa butter melts back into the chocolate.