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BAKERS BONUS
Administrator, Saturday 21 June 2014 - 07:09:07


Never clean your oven again! Keep your oven clean with silicon nonstick oven liners that fit in the bottom of your oven.

• They are durable, dishwasher safe and fit ovens up to 30 inches (and can be cut to fit smaller sizes). They are also available for toaster ovens and microwave ovens. They can be found at stores where kitchen supplies are sold, or online.
 
To prevent cookies from spreading too much on warm or humid days, spoon cookie dough onto baking sheets, then chill for a few minutes before baking.

BETTER BARS

When making bars, it is important to use the exact size pan called for in the recipe. Using a pan that is too big will give you thinner, drier bars; using a pan that's too small may result in bars that are under-baked.

For ease in cutting and for quicker clean-up, line the pan with foil that extends beyond the ends of the pan. When the bars are completely cooled, lift the bars out of the overhanging foil and cut into bars.

Shiny aluminum pans allow for excellent heat conduction and uniform browning. They are often preferred for baking cookies, cakes and bars. Dark pans absorb heat more quickly, resulting in crisper surface or crust.

When cutting bars, use a ruler to guide you. Measure the exact size with your ruler and then mark lines with toothpicks. Cut along the toothpicks.

Before cutting soft, sticky bars, spray the knife with non-stick cooking spray or use a plastic knife.

For variety, cut bars into diamonds or triangles. To create diamonds, cut bars on the diagonal. You can create triangles by cutting the diamonds in half horizontally.


BREAD MACHINE TECHNIQUES
 
We hope you enjoy this beginners' exploration of bread machines, and feel confident that you can produce a good loaf of bread in your machine. Once you feel comfortable with how your machine works, begin to think about using it for all kinds of yeast baking: it's an incredibly versatile tool, if you use your imagination. We've used our bread machine to make the dough for wonderful pizza, sticky buns, Kolaches, bread sticks, baguettes, Focaccia, doughnuts, coffee cakes, etc.

Don't be afraid to open your machine to look at and poke the dough as it kneads. This is the only way you'll be able to tell if the combination of ingredients you've used has made a good dough. We don' recommend poking the dough as it rises, and you shouldn't open the top when your machine is in its second rise or baking cycle, but before that, feel free to get familiar with your dough, and how your machine works with it; that's how you'll learn.

If you;re using your machine's delayed cycle, where the machine won’t start for several hours, don't use fresh ingredients such as milk, eggs, cheese, etc. Bacteria likes to grow in these ingredients, and there's a risk of food poisoning in keeping them at room temperature.

Too little yeast, your bread won't rise sufficiently; too much, and it will rise and collapse. It's important to watch your dough as it rises and bakes; dough that has risen and collapsed may look just like dough that never rose at all, once it's baked. In order to correct the problem, you need to know what went wrong.

Bread that is undercooked and gummy inside is bread that didn't rise sufficiently

We've found that one or more of the following will increase the chances of your getting a successful loaf of sweet bread: doubling the amount of yeast; cutting back the amount of salt; using 1/8 teaspoon of ascorbic acid; using the longest cycle on your machine (the one with the longest rising period); or taking the dough out of the machine, and forming and baking it by hand.

Match the flour to the desired result. A high-protein all-purpose or bread flour will yield high-rising bread. Whole-grain flours will yield denser, heavier, more substantial breads. A combination of flours will yield something in between.

The basic ratio of salt to flour in bread is 1/2 teaspoon salt per cup of flour. Recipes that call for less salt than this may seem blah; try increasing the amount of salt to the recommended ratio.

The basic all-purpose flour/liquid ratio is 2 1/2 to 3 cups flour to 1 1/4 cups liquid, depending on the time of year -- more flour in the summer, less in the winter.

Bread that rises, then collapses in the middle as it bakes -- the infamous crater bread -- contains too much liquid. Adjust your formula.

Adding a couple of teaspoons of flour along with the raisins/nuts helps the dough in the machine to open up and accept whatever you're adding more easily. If additives haven't kneaded into the dough by the time it goes into its first rise, simply remove the dough from the machine, scoop out the raisins/nuts, knead them in by hand, and return the dough to the machine.

 


BROWNIE DONENESS TIPS

Begin checking for doneness 5 minutes before minimum baking time for brownies.

Brownies are done when they begin to pull away from the side of the pan.

Press gently at the center of the pan. The brownies should feel like they have just set but will not spring back.

When in doubt, opt for underdone vs. overdone. An overbaked brownie will be hard and dry around the edges.

Brûlée Basics:

Don't panic when you see the term water bath. A water bath is simply a roasting pan or jellyroll pan filled with water. The water creates a cushion from the heat of the oven, allowing the custards to bake slowly without curdling.

Don't burn yourself. Before you take the water bath out of the oven, remove some of the water with a basting bulb or a long-handled ladle.

When you broil the brown sugar, get the crème brûlées as close to the heating element as possible. To do this, place an inverted roasting pan on the top shelf of the oven; then place the crème brûlées on a baking sheet on top of the roasting pan.

An adventurous alternative to the broiler is a welding torch. Your dinner guests will think you have gone mad, but the torch gives the ultimate glassy crust. Torching is the professional chef's method of choice.

Crème brûlée is an even more extraordinary dessert if the custard is cold and firm when you crack into the warm caramelized sugar topping. Here's the secret: Place the custards in a roasting pan filled with ice, and then broil them. The ice keeps the custards cold while the sugar melts.

You can bake the crème brûlées ahead of time, but wait until just a few minutes before serving to caramelize the sugar. The caramelized sugar will begin to liquefy if the custards sit for more than an hour.

We found that Dixie Crystals brand brown sugar works best for crème brûlées. It caramelizes evenly to a perfect golden brown.

Don't waste your money on salamanders sold in gourmet catalogs and used for caramelizing the top of crème brûlées. They work like branding irons to melt the brown sugar. When we tried one, we ended up with burnt--not caramelized--sugar.



BUNDT (fluted tube) PAN vs TUBE PAN

A tube pan refers to any cake pan with a hollow center column. A bundt pan is a trademarked name for a specific type of tube pan introduced by NordicWare in 1950. Bundt pans have fluted/decorated sides, as opposed to the straight sides of the regular tube pan. No doubt it's because of the trademark that the pan you saw was labelled a "flute tube pan" (assuming it wasn't NordicWare brand).

Straight-sided tube pans almost always have a removable bottom and a center tube that is taller than the sides, which facilitates baking angel food cakes. They are often simply referred to as angel food cake pans. Same-size straight-sided tube pans can be substituted for bundt pans--as long as you're not using it for something very thin that could leak from a tube pan with a removable base.

In many--but not all--cases bundt pans can be substituted for straight-sided tube pans. The primary exception is angel food cakes. The batter on these needs to "climb" un-greased/uncoated straight sides as it bakes. Generally, if the recipe tells you to grease up a tube pan, it can be done in a same-size bundt pan. Go ahead and use whichever you have for pound cake.

Choose a heavy 10-inch fluted tube pan (aka bundt® pan); avoid the intricately-designed tube pans as these may not hold as much batter. If using a lighter-weight fluted tube pan, the cake will take longer to bake, as the lighter-weight pan will not conduct heat as well as a heavier-weight pan. In either case, bake until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.

To remove cakes easily, use solid shortening to grease plain and fluted tube pans.


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