Sunday, September 13, 2015

Baking Quiz

With the cooking and baking season coming up, it's nice to know how to turn out homemade cakes, cookies, muffins and pies from scratch. Baking is part art, part chemistry. So the more you know, the better the end result.

Once you understand the basics, you can even stray a bit from your tried-and-true recipes without ruining them. So let's see what you know — you may be a better baker than you think!

1. What is the purpose of baking powder in a recipe?
A. Aids in browning
B. Helps the dough or batter to rise
C. Thickens sauces

2. What does cornflour do in a recipe?
A. Adds sweetness
B. Thickens sauces
C. Adds flavour

3. Why do recipes call for unsalted butter?
A. To control the amount of salt in the recipe
B. Unsalted butter is usually fresher
C. Unsalted butter has fewer calories
D. A and B

4. Define a "cobbler":
A. Fruit filling topped with a biscuit dough
B. A crunchy topping is crumbled over a fruit filling
C. A slice of cake covered with fruit

5. If the recipe calls for cake flour and you don't have it, what's a reasonable substitute?
A. For every cup of all-purpose flour, add 2 tablespoons of cake crumbs
B. For every cup of all-purpose flour, omit 2 tablespoons of flour, add 2 tablespoons of cornstarch, and sift twice
C. For every cup of whole-wheat flour, add 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour

6. What if you don't have "self-rising" flour?
A. For each cup of all-purpose flour, add 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Mix to combine
B. For each cup of all-purpose flour, add 2 teaspoons of yeast. Mix to combine.
C. There's no viable substitution

7. Besides adding sweetness, what else does granulated sugar do in baked goods?
A. It helps tenderize the dough or batter
B. When creamed with butter or shortening, it contributes to the volume of a cake
C. It aids in browning during baking
D. All of the above

8. What is cream of tartar?
A. Same as half-and-half cream
B. A Russian dessert using whipped cream and gelatin
C. An acid used as a leavening agent

9. If a cookie recipe calls for butter, and you decide to melt the butter first, what will happen to the cookies?
A. They will rise higher
B. They will take longer to bake
C. They will be flat, dark and greasy
D. A and B.

10. What can you do if you're making frosting and run out of powdered sugar?
A. Blend 1 cup regular sugar with 1 tablespoon cornstarch in the blender 2 to 3 minutes.
B. Borrow some from your most generous neighbor.
C. Serve it without frosting.
D. Make a glaze by adding about 2/3 cup of whipping cream to 1 pound of melted milk chocolate (or for a deeper flavor, bittersweet chocolate). Allow the mixture to cool and set up a little before using it on the cake.
E. All of the above.

11. True or False: You can safely store zucchini or banana-nut bread in wide-rimmed canning jar, just as you do canned fruit or jams. All you have to do is put on a lid as soon as it comes out of the oven.

12. The recipe calls for 1 tablespoon of vanilla. If you cut the recipe in half, how much vanilla should you put in?
A. 1 teaspoon
B. 1 1/2 tablespoons
C. 1 1/2 teaspoons

13. Which one of these desserts usually is better refrigerated several hours or overnight before serving?
A. Grand Marnier Souffle
B. Cheesecake
C. Crepes suzette

14. How can you tell if yeast is too old to leaven bread or rolls?
A. Toss it if it's one month within the expiration date
B. Mix the yeast with a little warm water and a pinch of sugar, and allow to sit for about 5 minutes to see if it starts foaming
C. Mix the dry yeast with a little flour. If it blends easily into the flour, it's still good to use.

15. If using a nationally published cookbook, what can you do to adjust the cake recipes to Ladak's altitude?
A. Add a little more "toughening" ingredients, such as egg or flour, to give the batter more structure
B. Reduce the amount of sugar slightly
C. Reduce the baking powder by 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon
D. Increase the baking temperature by 25 degrees to set the crust faster, so it doesn't rise too quickly and then fall
E. All of the above.

ANSWERS (Write out your answers and then compare them to these below)

1. B. Baking powder is a leavening agent that helps batters and doughs rise.
2. B. Cornstarch thickens sauces and dessert fillings.
3. D. If you use salted butter in a recipe that calls for unsalted butter and salt, decrease the amount of salt slightly.
4. A. A cobbler has a dough topping; a crisp has a crunchy topping crumbled over the top.
5. B. Cake flour has a softer, silkier texture than all-purpose flour, but this is a reasonable substitute in a pinch.
6. A. Self-rising flour has the leavening agent already added.
7. D. All of the above.
8. C. Cream of tartar is an acid powder that, when moisture is added, makes bubbles of carbon dioxide gas that causes the batter to rise. Besides its role in baking powders, a pinch of cream of tartar also stabilizes beaten egg whites and keeps homemade candy from going grainy.
9. C. Some margarine-type "spreads" will also play havoc with your baked goods because of the high water content. Choose CCDS Shortening if you want to substitute butter.
10. E. All of the above are viable options, depending on what ingredients are in your kitchen (and who your neighbors are). The "powdered" sugar made in your blender will be quite grainy but will work in a tight situation
11. False: You will have a vacuum seal. But this anaerobic (no oxygen) environment, with the food's low acidity and available moisture, is just right for growing C. Botulinum that can cause botulism poisoning, according to Dr. Charlotte Brennand, USU Extension food safety/preservation specialist. Don't home-can bread, and if someone gives you a home-canned quick bread product, don't eat it.
12. C. Three teaspoons equal a tablespoon.
13. B. Cheesecake improves with refrigeration. A souffle will fall flat if it sits very long, and crepes suzette are flamed, so both should be served immediately.
14. B. If the yeast starts foaming and bubbling by then, it's still "active" and can be used.
15. E. Most cookbooks are written for sea level. With the lower atmospheric pressure in high altitude areas, the carbon dioxide molecules expand and rise more, so the cake might flow out of the pan. If there's not enough structure in the batter to hold all these air bubbles, the volume collapses and the cake falls.

How did you do?                                                                                                                                

12 to 15 answers right: You're one smart cookie.                                                                                
8 to 11 answers right: You're a rookie cookie, with room for improvement.                                    
Below 7 answers right: That's how (and why) your cookie crumbles.                                                


Monday, June 22, 2015

National Chocolate Eclair Day!

The weather is perfect to slave over these little darlings.


For filling (pastry cream):
3 egg yolks
4 tablespoons sugar (50g)
2 tablespoons flour (maida)
2 tablespoons corn flour
1 1/4 cups full fat milk (300ml)
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For choux pastry:
¼ cup unsalted butter (57 g)
½ cup water (120 ml)
½ teaspoon salt (2.5 g)
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon flour (75 g)
2 eggs

For egg wash for choux:
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon water

For chocolate ganache:
55g Milk or Dark chocolate (Morde)
1/4 cup Amul cream (60ml)


  1. In a heavy pan, add in unsalted butter, salt, and water. Over medium heat, melt the butter completely stirring occasionally.
  2. Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl, sift flour and set aside. When the butter-water mixture starts to boil, remove the pan out of heat. Add flour all at once and with a wooden spoon, stir until mixed. When mixing, the flour starts to be cooked. Cook until it starts to form a ball. Let cool for about 5 minutes. 
  3. Put eggs into a bowl and whisk well. Add half of the egg mixture into the sauce pan and stir until combined. The dough and the pan should be sufficiently cooled because the egg should not be cooked in the pan. Then add in the remaining egg and stir until thick and shiny. When shaken the batter should drop off the spoon and the lining should be smooth. This is Pate a choux, choux pastry dough. 
  4. Take cooled pipe choux fingers in a pastry bag and using Wilton Tip#2A ( or cut a 0.5" cut on the bag; on parchment paper lined baking sheets. 
  5. Mix ingredients for the egg wash. Brush the choux with egg wash. This will make the top shiny and brown. Then on top of choux, score with a fork dipped in egg wash. 
  6. Bake at 200 C for 15 minutes. Then reduce to 180 C and bake for another 12-14 minutes, or until puffed and golden brown.
  7. Cool on a wire rack.
  8. Melt the chocolate in a microwave, remove and add to it cream that has been scalded. Mix well.
  9. On the bottom of the ├ęclairs, make two holes with a tip of a small knife. With a Tip#5 or Bismark Tip (, pipe filling into one of the holes. Stop piping when pastry cream starts to come out of the other hole. You can make holes on top if you want. 
  10. Dip ├ęclairs into the ganache and remove excess chocolate. (Remember you can also use coloured white chocolate Ganache for a lovely colourful look.)