Rose's Sugar Bible and Vanilla Bible Pages Now on Our Website

Rose wrote many articles for Food Arts magazine over years. Her Sugar Bible article in 2000, spanned 30 pages. The article went on to win the World Gourmand Best Food or Wine Article in the World. We have decided to give these two informative articles their own dedicated pages here on our website, which also include updates and additional information.          (Shown above are each bible page's banner.)

You can access them any time on the Rose's Books page. Scroll down to their page links under Romantic Cakes on the left side of the page (pictured below). Then click on their page buttons. 

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                              Here are direct links to the Sugar Bible and Vanilla Bible. 

Spring Water, Blind Taste Tests, and Open Minds

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SPRING WATER BY NANCY WEBER

The only true and scientific way you can be sure of your personal taste preferences is to taste them "blind." Otherwise it is near impossible to avoid bringing your preconceived opinions and perceptions to the table. About two miles from where we live, there is a water source that flows through the mountains so that it is pure and uncontaminated by wildlife. It runs freely, and seemingly endlessly, through a metal pipe. Old habits die hard and sometimes I catch myself short thinking I forgot to turn off the tap! Residents of our area can fill their water bottles at will with fresh and delicious spring water. I decided to do a blind taste test using the spring water versus our softened well water, both at the same temperature. Woody and I each tasted the water without knowing which was which and each of us chose our well water as our first choice. I once performed this blind taste test for my nephew Alexander when he was about 8 years old. He and a few friends he had met on his annual visit to us in NY tasted three different water samples. He was sure he would prefer Glaceau, the bottled boutique water his mother purchased back home in San Francisco. But all three boys and I all preferred the NY tap water (after I allowed it to sit overnight so that the chlorine would dissipate). What better lesson for a child or adult to find out, without prejudice, what we really and truly prefer.

Baking Powder on the Rise

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Our preferences for baking powders are ones that are made with an all-phosphate product containing calcium acid phosphate and non-GMO cornstarch. Baking powders containing sodium aluminum sulfate (SAS), to aid in releasing more carbon dioxide during the baking stage, generally have a bitter after taste, especially noticeable when added to pie dough. Recently, Rumford released a new baking powder, Rumford Reduced Sodium Baking Powder, which contains 52% less sodium than leading brands and no aluminum. Rumford informed us that this new product activates mostly during the heating/baking phase. We were curious to test this new baking powder since timing of activation has a great impact on baked goods, especially muffins and cupcakes. Letting the cupcakes rest before baking gives the cupcakes more rounded tops because if more of the baking powder activates in the early stage from the liquid in the batter there is less to disrupt the cell structure, during baking, needed to collapse the crumb to form a flatter top. My White Velvet Butter Cake recipe served as our test recipe, since it is an egg white based butter cake and has a somewhat neutral flavor, which enables us to perceive differences during tasting more easily. Since there can be a relatively long time frame to fill over a dozen cupcake liners, during which the baking powder will have begun to activate, we wanted to see if the new baking powder, which reacts more in the baking stage, would give us a wider window of time to fill the cupcakes and result in more uniformly shaped cupcakes. We made two batches of cupcakes with each baking powder serving as the leavening for each batch. Once we filled the cupcake liners, we also let some of the cupcakes rest 20 minutes, and others 30 minutes before baking them. We baked all of the cupcakes for the same amount of time.

ORIGINAL RUMFORD ON THE LEFT, LOW SODIUM RUMFORD ON THE RIGHT

The test card shows the height in inches, then the width in inches. The cupcake on the left, made with the original Rumford baking powder, had the batter stand for 20 minutes after filling the muffin cups and before baking as did the one on the far right, made with the new Low Sodium Rumford baking powder. (It is both flatter and wider.) The middle cupcake, which is very similar to the original Rumford, but made with the low sodium baking powder, stood for 30 minutes before baking. The results indicate that the new Rumford baking powder is more effective in preventing doming for up to 20 minutes of standing time but not longer. However, when we gave them a taste test we found major differences.

The original Rumford cupcakes had a more pronounced flavor and texture. The sodium reduced Rumford ones were milder in flavor and fluffier. We preferred the original Rumford for flavor and texture. People are always asking either how to get more rounded cupcakes or flatter ones to hold more frosting. One of the major problems is that if making 12 or more cupcakes, by the time the last few cupcake liners are ready to be filled, the batter has been sitting in the bowl for at least 10 if not more minutes, resulting in more doming in the baked cupcakes. The longer the batter stands in the bowl before dispensing, the more the loss of leavening action during filling the liners. Once the batter is dispensed into the muffin liners this action slows down but is still taking place. So when the muffins are set in the oven, there is less leavening available to burst through the air bubbles in the batter to flatten the crumb during this heating phase.

Did you know that different brands of baking powder have different compositions, reactions, and results in the finished product? If you'd like to know why, continue reading!

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Baking powder is a chemical leavener that is used primarily in cake baking to enlarge the air bubbles in the batter, which gives volume and tenderness to the cake crumb. In Europe, most cakes are leavened with beaten egg white or whole eggs whereas in North America, most cakes use baking powder, baking soda, or a combination of the two. Baking powders are mixtures of dry acid or acid salt and baking soda, with starch or flour added to stabilize and standardize the mixtures.

Most baking powders are "double acting," meaning that they will react or liberate carbon dioxide when they come in contact with moisture during mixing of the batter and again when exposed to heat during baking. (A "Single acting" leavener, such as baking soda alone, reacts fully when it comes in contact with moisture.)

We also, tested the two baking powders by activating 1/2 teaspoon of each in custard cups with hot water. Within less than a minute the original Rumford had activated, fizzing furiously to completely dissipate. The reduced sodium Rumford only activated partially with dry, non-activated powder nestled on top of the foamy activated powder (even after 10 minutes). Doing this hot water test is good method for verifying that your baking powder is still activated.

We recommend that you always mark the date upon opening a can of baking powder and store it airtight to avoid humidity. Baking powder can lose a substantial amount of its strength after about a year.

We have also tested Argo's baking powder, which also activates more during the heating phase. We tested it against our baking powder of choice, Rumford's original Aluminum-Free Baking Powder. We found it especially effective in cakes baked in fluted tube pans as we could use the same amount of baking powder, but the Argo resulted in a less domed top which, when inverted, sat flatter on the plate. (To get similar results with the Rumford would require such a minute amount of extra baking powder it would be hard to measure accurately.) When using the Argo in a layer cake, however, it needed to be decreased to keep the cake from dipping.

Here are the ingredients listed for each baking powder: Rumford Original Aluminum-Free (red background can) Monocalcium Phosphate, Sodium Bicarbonate, Non-GMO Cornstarch Rumford Reduced Sodium Aluminum-Free (silver background can) Monocalcium Phosphate, Calcium acid Phosphate, Sodium Bicarbonate, Non-GMO Cornstarch, Potassium Bicarbonate Argo Aluminum-Free Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate, Sodium Bicarbonate, Corn Starch And Monocalcium Phosphate. The White Velvet Butter Cake recipe is in The Cake Bible and Rose's Heavenly Cakes.

Vegan Meringue

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When I saw this extraordinary mind blowing technique on Food 52, replacing egg white with chickpea liquid (they refer to it as watery dregs) we just had to try it! Dan Barber, in a project utilizing parts of ingredients that more often than not get tossed, came up with this genius technique. I can't begin to imagine how anyone could conceptualize and take the daring mental leap that the liquid in which canned chickpeas is packed could possibly support and hold air to create a mousse the way viscous egg white accomplishes so perfectly, but it does! Of course there are differences. First of all, Food 52 noted that the chickpea flavor completely disappeared on baking and we found this to be true in that no one would ever detect the actual flavor of chickpea but there is a subtle additional flavor. Also it does not hold its shape in baking quite as well so that any ridges or swirls flatten into mushroom cap smoothness. Here's the recipe as we did it:

1/3 cup/59 grams chickpea liquid (now dignified in Latin as

aquafaba

bean water)

1/2 cup/100 grams superfine sugar

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

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Preheat the oven to 250°F/120°C.

Line a baking sheet with parchment. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the chickpea liquid and sugar and use the whisk beater by hand to stir it together. Attach the whisk beater. Starting on low speed, and gradually increasing to high, beat for 15 minutes until fairly stiff peaks form when the beater is raised. They will droop slightly.

Place a dab of meringue underneath the parchment in the center to keep it stationary. Use two large tablespoons or pipe mounds onto the parchment.

Bake 40 to 50 minutes. At 50 minutes, Woody pressed one and it was not yet crisp so we continue baking another 10 minutes. This caused the meringue to begin to brown and become less smooth but still not crisp, however, after removal from the oven and cooled they became perfectly crisp. (We should have taken them out at 50 minutes.) Thus encouraged we decided to try our praline meringue ice cream sandwich cookie recipe which uses brown sugar. The mixture did not form stiff peaks but tasted absolutely delicious. The meringues cracked during baking, which they normally do, but looked puffy and promising. Sadly, on cooling, they deflated and the centers were gooey liquid even on further baking.

We are not vegans but if we were, we would find that the meringues made with aquafaba and superfine sugar, which are delicate and light, are a perfectly acceptable substitute for the egg white variety.

The Power of Flour, Part Three: Génoise

As a result of the experimentation we performed, featured in previous postings of "The Power of Flour," we found that we preferred potato starch to cornstarch when converting bleached all-purpose flour to simulate cake flour. Woody and I were then curious to see what would happen if we substituted equal weight potato starch for the cornstarch component in a classic génoise.

Read More

The Power of Flour, Part Two of Two

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The purpose of all these tests for Part 1 and Part 2 of "The Power of Flour" was to determine the optimum level of baking powder when using my two-stage method of mixing cakes to be baked in 9 by 2 inch high pans.The 'control' cake for Part 1 was the "Downy All-Occasion Yellow Cake" from the Cake Bible which uses cake flour and all egg yolks, adapted from (2) 1-1/2 inch high pans to (1) 2 inch high pan. The goal in Part 1 was to achieve the best texture and flavor if using bleached or unbleached all-purpose flour instead of cake flour. In order to adjust for a higher 2-inch pan, we used 2/3 the batter that would be used for (2) 1-1/2 inch high pans and we decreased the baking powder from what would have been 2-5/8 teaspoons for 2/3 the batter to 2-1/2 teaspoons as higher pans need a stronger structure. The goal in this Part 2 was to achieve a level cake layer for use as a two-layer cake, if replacing the egg yolks with either all egg whites or whole eggs. In order to accomplish this goal we needed to see what adjustments of baking powder--if any--are necessary when replacing the egg yolks with either egg whites or whole eggs. Note: All Ingredients except for the baking powder and salt were weighed. (Eggs, and the yolks in proportion to the whites, vary widely from egg to egg so weighing is necessary for trust-worthy, consistent results.) Type of Flour: Cake Replacing the 4 egg yolks with 3 egg whites: baking powder increased from 2-1/2 teaspoons to 3-1/4 teaspoons. Replacing the 4 egg yolks with 2 whole eggs: baking powder increased from 2-1/2 teaspoons to 3-1/2 teaspoons. Type of Flour: Bleached All-purpose Replacing the 4 egg yolks with 3 egg whites: baking powder increased from 2-1/2 teaspoons to 3 teaspoons. Replacing the 4 egg yolks with 2 whole eggs: baking powder increased from 2-1/2 teaspoons to 3-1/4 teaspoons. Type of Flour: Unbleached All-purpose Replacing the 4 egg yolks with 3 egg whites: baking powder increased from 2-1/2 teaspoons to 2-5/8 teaspoons. Replacing the 4 egg yolks with 2 whole eggs: baking powder increased from 2-1/2 teaspoons to 3-1/2 teaspoons. Notes: We were surprised to find that though using all egg whites makes the structure stronger, using whole eggs makes it stronger still. These results are predicated on weight of the major ingredients. If using volume for the eggs, be sure to measure them as the proportion of yolk to white varies from egg to egg. If using egg whites that have been frozen, be sure to stir the thawed whites well with a fork to combine evenly. A 2-inch high pan makes a very nice single layer cake. If making just one layer you may want to decrease the baking powder by 1/4 teaspoon to give it a slight dome. If making a two layer cake everything should just be doubled. Final Conclusions for Part 1 and Part 2: Egg yolks give cake a fuller flavor, egg whites give cake a softer texture. Egg whites will need more leavening than yolks (exact amount depending on the cake). Whole eggs will need more leavening than whites (exact amount depending on the cake) Cake flour and bleached all-purpose flour result in the best flavor and texture in cake. If using unbleached all-purpose flour, the best flavor comes from replacing 15% of the flour with potato starch. The most level cake comes from using egg yolks or whole eggs.

CAKE FLOUR WITH EGG YOLKS & 2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder

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CAKE FLOUR WITH EGG WHITES & 3-1/4 teaspoons baking powder

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CAKE FLOUR WITH WHOLE EGGS & 3-1/2 teaspoons baking powder

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BLEACHED ALL-PURPOSE FLOUR WITH EGG YOLKS & 2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder

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BLEACHED ALL-PURPOSE FLOUR WITH EGG WHITES & 3 teaspoons baking powder

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BLEACHED ALL-PURPOSE FLOUR WITH WHOLE EGGS & 3-1/4 teaspoons baking powder

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UNBLEACHED ALL-PURPOSE FLOUR/15% POTATO STARCH WITH EGG YOLKS & 2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder

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UNBLEACHED ALL-PURPOSE FLOUR WITH EGG YOLKS & 2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder

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UNBLEACHED ALL-PURPOSE FLOUR WITH EGG WHITES & 2-5/8 teaspoons baking powder

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UNBLEACHED ALL-PURPOSE FLOUR WITH WHOLE EGGS & 3-1/2 teaspoons baking powder

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UNBLEACHED ALL-PURPOSE FLOUR/15% POTATO STARCH WITH WHOLE EGGS & 3-1/2 teaspoons baking powder

Addition to Power of Flour Posting

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Woody conducted another test using bleached all-purpose flour and potato starch and I have added the results to the conclusion in the original posting plus the photo but here they both are just to be sure you don't miss it: bleached all-purpose flour and 15% potato starch to simulate cake flour results in a more even cake with smoother crust and better taste than cornstarch, but is not quite as tender.

The Power of Flour, Part One of Two

For years I have been saying how important it is to use bleached flour in cake baking and I still prefer it, but after making the fortuitous mistake of using unbleached flour in a cake baked in a tube pan, and discovering that the pan's center tube kept it from falling, I have revisited the subject and made some very interesting and ground breaking discoveries.Woody and I have conducted numerous tests using bleached cake flour, bleached all-purpose flour, and unbleached all-purpose flour in a solid (unmelted) butter layer cake using my one bowl mixing method and the All-Occasion Downy Yellow Cake from the Cake Bible. (We used two-thirds the recipe, first using two-thirds the baking powder (2-5/8 teaspoons). Then we decreased the baking powder to 2-1/2 teaspoons because we were using a 2" high pan instead of the 1-1/2" high pans in the Cake Bible (and higher pans need proportionately less baking powder). We found that when using bleached or unbleached all-purpose flour instead of cake flour, we got more tenderness (and in the case of unbleached flour improved flavor) by replacing 15% of the flour with potato starch which comes closer to cake flour than cornstarch.The overall appearance, however, with the bleached all-purpose flour is slightly lower either in height or in the center. Our Conclusions1. bleached cake flour is suitable for cakes where a very tender texture is desired. 2. bleached all-purpose flour and 15% potato starch to simulate cake flour results in a more even cake with smoother crust and better taste than cornstarch, but is not quite as tender. 3. bleached all-purpose flour is preferable for cakes that benefit from more structure. 4. bleached flour results in the best flavor. 5. bleached flour results in the best volume. 6. bleached flour results in the most tender and velvety texture. 7. unbleached flour results in less volume. 8. unbleached flour results in a coarser, chewier texture. 9. unbleached flour results in a cornbread-like flavor.  10. cornstarch substitution for part of the flour for bleached or unbleached all-purpose flour is less effective to improve structure than decreasing leavening, and alters the flavor. 11. potato starch substitution for part of the flour for bleached or unbleached all-purpose flour is even more effective than cornstarch as it softens the crumb. For the unbleached flour it also improves the flavor by lessening the cornbread-like quality.

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At first I thought it was an inherent contradiction that unbleached flour, which is higher in protein, would result in less volume, which usually is an indicator of structural weakness, and yet be chewier, which usually is an indicator of greater structural strength. As I was going to sleep one night I was so disturbed by this thought that I pretended I was inside the structure of a cake and started picturing a mesh of wires like a metal fence. Then the thought hit me like lightening: If one were to snip those wires, the fence would collapse but if one tried to chew on those wires they would still be wires--hard and unyielding even though not strong enough to hold up as a fence structure! And then it seemed obvious that a cake made with the higher protein of unbleached flour would have a tougher but not necessarily stronger structure! (A good metaphor for defining how strength comes in different forms!) I then remembered what I had learned about the different types of gluten-forming protein contained in flour when I was working on recipes for The Bread Bible. One type of gluten is elastic and results in a more chewy texture. The other type of gluten is extensible (stretchy) and enables a bread or cake to rise higher without collapsing. Bleached flour also has a lower PH, which means it will gelatinize (set) more quickly and thus maintain its structure. For bakers who either have no access to the bleached flour or prefer to use unbleached flour, Kate Coldrick's method of heat-treating flour in a microwave (Kate Flour) enables the flour to gelatinize more effectively and the addition of xanthan gum also strengthens the structure. But we wanted to see if there was a way to improve the performance of unbleached flour without heat-treating it. Our goal was to achieve the best volume, texture, and flavor, with no dipping in the center. [Note: the cake structure on the sides is slightly lower because the batter closer to the metal pan sets sooner than does the center. For a two-layer cake it is best to have level layers but for a single layer a slight dome is more attractive.] Solutions & Options if Replacing Bleached Flour with Unbleached Flour The customary technique to approximate cake flour when using bleached all-purpose flour is to replace 15% of the flour with cornstarch or potato starch. These starches gelatinize at lower temperatures (potato starch much lower than corn starch) than does the starch in flour, thereby improving the structure of the cake. We found that the cornstarch mixed with the bleached all-purpose flour resulted in a cake that was almost as tender as cake flour, and eliminated the slight dipping in the center. In the cake using UNbleached all-purpose flour the cornstarch decreased the over-all dipping by 1/8 inch but did not eliminate it. On the negative side however, in both cases the cornstarch resulted in a denser crumb, bubbly top crust and an off-flavor. The potato starch totally eliminated the dipping! The crumb is slighty coarser than the bleached all-purpose flour, but the flavor is not compromised!Photos of Cakes Using 2-5/8 Teaspoons Baking Powder

Cake Flour Versus Unbleached All Purpose Flour

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Cake Flour

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Bleached All-purpose Flour

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Bleached All-purpose Flour & Cornstarch

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Bleached All-purpose Flour & Potato Starch

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Unbleached All-purpose Flour

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Unbleached All-purpose Flour & Cornstarch

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Unbleached All-purpose Flour & Potato Starch

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In our next series of tests, instead of cutting the bleached and unbleached all-purpose flour with cornstarch or potato starch, we lowered the baking power by 1/8 teaspoon (to 2-1/2 teaspoons per 200 grams/7ounces flour). Baking powder reacts with the liquid in the batter and the heat of the oven to produce bubbles that enlarge and ultimately disrupt the network structure of the batter. Flour that has greater elasticity allows the network to expand more before breaking, giving more time for the heat penetration to set the structure, preventing collapsing or dipping.Decreasing the baking powder is less disruptive to the structure and thus completely prevented the cakes made with the all-purpose bleached and unbleached flour from dipping. It also resulted in better flavor than the cakes made with the addition of cornstarch. The texture of the cakes was slightly less tender but also less dense. To see if we could achieve the same tenderness of cake flour using all-purpose bleached flour with the correct lower amount of baking powder we tried one with the added cornstarch (see the third photo down) but it caused it to dip 1/4 inch. Photos of Cakes Using 2-1/2 Teaspoons Baking Powder

Cake Flour

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Bleached All-purpose Flour

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Bleached All-purpose Flour & Cornstarch

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When the baking powder is correct the cornstarch causes rather than prevents dipping.

Unbleached All-purpose Flour

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Cake Flour, Bleached All-purpose Flour, Unbleached All-purpose Flour

Note how the unbleached has the darkest crumb. Coming up Soon, Part Two: The Power of Leavening (Eggs versus Baking Powder)

The Power of Flour, Part One of Two

For years I have been saying how important it is to use bleached flour in cake baking and I still prefer it, but after making the fortuitous mistake of using unbleached flour in a cake baked in a tube pan, and discovering that the pan's center tube kept it from falling, I have revisited the subject and made some very interesting and ground breaking discoveries.Woody and I have conducted numerous tests using bleached cake flour, bleached all-purpose flour, and unbleached all-purpose flour in a solid (unmelted) butter layer cake using my one bowl mixing method and the All-Occasion Downy Yellow Cake from the Cake Bible. (We used two-thirds the recipe, first using two-thirds the baking powder (2-5/8 teaspoons). Then we decreased the baking powder to 2-1/2 teaspoons because we were using a 2" high pan instead of the 1-1/2" high pans in the Cake Bible (and higher pans need proportionately less baking powder). We found that when using bleached or unbleached all-purpose flour instead of cake flour, we got more tenderness (and in the case of unbleached flour improved flavor) by replacing 15% of the flour with potato starch which comes closer to cake flour than cornstarch.The overall appearance, however, with the bleached all-purpose flour is slightly lower either in height or in the center. Our Conclusions 1. bleached cake flour is suitable for cakes where a very tender texture is desired. 2. bleached all-purpose flour and 15% potato starch to simulate cake flour results in a more even cake with smoother crust and better taste than cornstarch, but is not quite as tender. 3. bleached all-purpose flour is preferable for cakes that benefit from more structure. 4. bleached flour results in the best flavor. 5. bleached flour results in the best volume. 6. bleached flour results in the most tender and velvety texture. ..................................................................................................................... 7. unbleached flour results in less volume. 8. unbleached flour results in a coarser, chewier texture. 9. unbleached flour results in a cornbread-like flavor. ..................................................................................................................... 10. cornstarch substitution for part of the flour for bleached or unbleached all-purpose flour is less effective to improve structure than decreasing leavening, and alters the flavor. 11. potato starch substitution for part of the flour for bleached or unbleached all-purpose flour is even more effective than cornstarch as it softens the crumb. For the unbleached flour it also improves the flavor by lessening the cornbread-like quality.

At first I thought it was an inherent contradiction that unbleached flour, which is higher in protein, would result in less volume, which usually is an indicator of structural weakness, and yet be chewier, which usually is an indicator of greater structural strength. As I was going to sleep one night I was so disturbed by this thought that I pretended I was inside the structure of a cake and started picturing a mesh of wires like a metal fence. Then the thought hit me like lightening: If one were to snip those wires, the fence would collapse but if one tried to chew on those wires they would still be wires--hard and unyielding even though not strong enough to hold up as a fence structure! And then it seemed obvious that a cake made with the higher protein of unbleached flour would have a tougher but not necessarily stronger structure! (A good metaphor for defining how strength comes in different forms!) I then remembered what I had learned about the different types of gluten-forming protein contained in flour when I was working on recipes for The Bread Bible. One type of gluten is elastic and results in a more chewy texture. The other type of gluten is extensible (stretchy) and enables a bread or cake to rise higher without collapsing. Bleached flour also has a lower PH, which means it will gelatinize (set) more quickly and thus maintain its structure. For bakers who either have no access to the bleached flour or prefer to use unbleached flour, Kate Coldrick's method of heat-treating flour in a microwave (Kate Flour) enables the flour to gelatinize more effectively and the addition of xanthan gum also strengthens the structure. But we wanted to see if there was a way to improve the performance of unbleached flour without heat-treating it. Our goal was to achieve the best volume, texture, and flavor, with no dipping in the center. [Note: the cake structure on the sides is slightly lower because the batter closer to the metal pan sets sooner than does the center. For a two-layer cake it is best to have level layers but for a single layer a slight dome is more attractive.] Solutions & Options if Replacing Bleached Flour with Unbleached Flour The customary technique to approximate cake flour when using bleached all-purpose flour is to replace 15% of the flour with cornstarch or potato starch. These starches gelatinize at lower temperatures (potato starch much lower than corn starch) than does the starch in flour, thereby improving the structure of the cake. We found that the cornstarch mixed with the bleached all-purpose flour resulted in a cake that was almost as tender as cake flour, and eliminated the slight dipping in the center. In the cake using UNbleached all-purpose flour the cornstarch decreased the over-all dipping by 1/8 inch but did not eliminate it. On the negative side however, in both cases the cornstarch resulted in a denser crumb, bubbly top crust and an off-flavor. The potato starch totally eliminated the dipping! The crumb is slighty coarser than the bleached all-purpose flour, but the flavor is not compromised! Photos of Cakes Using 2-5/8 Teaspoons Baking Powder 2. cake flour vs unbleached all-purpose, whole cake.jpg

Cake Flour Versus Unbleached All Purpose Flour

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Cake Flour

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Bleached All-purpose Flour

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Bleached All-purpose Flour & Cornstarch

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Bleached All-purpose Flour & Potato Starch

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Unbleached All-purpose Flour

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Unbleached All-purpose Flour & Cornstarch

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Unbleached All-purpose Flour & Potato Starch

In our next series of tests, instead of cutting the bleached and unbleached all-purpose flour with cornstarch or potato starch, we lowered the baking power by 1/8 teaspoon (to 2-1/2 teaspoons per 200 grams/7ounces flour). Baking powder reacts with the liquid in the batter and the heat of the oven to produce bubbles that enlarge and ultimately disrupt the network structure of the batter. Flour that has greater elasticity allows the network to expand more before breaking, giving more time for the heat penetration to set the structure, preventing collapsing or dipping. Decreasing the baking powder is less disruptive to the structure and thus completely prevented the cakes made with the all-purpose bleached and unbleached flour from dipping. It also resulted in better flavor than the cakes made with the addition of cornstarch. The texture of the cakes was slightly less tender but also less dense. To see if we could achieve the same tenderness of cake flour using all-purpose bleached flour with the correct lower amount of baking powder we tried one with the added cornstarch (see the third photo down) but it caused it to dip 1/4 inch. Photos of Cakes Using 2-1/2 Teaspoons Baking Powder E10 F SLICE SHOT cake flour 2.5 tsp powder 2 21 10.jpg

Cake Flour

E10 E SLICE SHOT bleached 2.5 tsp 2 21 10.jpg

Bleached All-purpose Flour

E10 G SLICE SHOT bleached and w cornstarch 2.5 tsp powder 2 21 10.jpg

Bleached All-purpose Flour & Cornstarch

When the baking powder is correct the cornstarch causes rather than prevents dipping. E10 D SLICE SHOT UNbleached 2.5 powder 2 21 10.jpg

Unbleached All-purpose Flour

E10 D E and F 2.50 tsp powder 2 21 10_2.jpg

Cake Flour, Bleached All-purpose Flour, Unbleached All-purpose Flour

Note how the unbleached has the darkest crumb. Coming up Soon, Part Two: The Power of Leavening (Eggs versus Baking Powder)

Science Rules: The Experimental Cuisines Collective

i should be packing, and doing countless other things to get ready for my upcoming trip, but i just have to share this incredibly interesting happening with you while it is fresh in my mind. it concerns the birth of a new group called "the experimental cuisine collective." i think it will have enormous impact on our food world. first a little background explanation.over the years i've often been described or introduced as a food scientist which i've always been quick to refute out of self-defense. that was because people, at least unconsciously, divided the world between science and art, and when it came to food, science was considered the antithesis--equated with nutrition, absence of emphasis on flavor, and devoid of humor. gradually i came out of the closet into which i really couldn't stuff myself for too long, given my excitement and desire to share what i was discovering about the way ingredients interact and the power this offers to create the best possible tasting things. a marriage between science and art is the ideal. you have to know why, you have to know how, and you have to know what. by "what" i mean what is good if not great.

my grandmother could have told you i was a born scientist. she once told me, reproachfully, when i was a little girl, that i had a face like a question mark. i grew up thinking she was referring to the shape of my large forehead and pointy chin and only recently realized she was referring to the fact that i questioned everything. i still do. we all should. Twenty years ago, my courageous editor of the cake bible, maria guarnaschelli, took a great leap of faith when she allowed and encouraged me to publish it with charts and weights, and we were both delighted by the enthusiasm with which it was received. in recent years i've observed a growing interest in the underpinings of cooking to the point where books like harold mcgee's "on food and cooking," shirley corriher's "cookwise," and robert wolke's "what einstein told his cook" have become bedtime reading and actual topics of conversation! bob has a popular column in the washington post, shirley in the la times syndicate, and hal in the new york times. very encouraging indeed. many years ago i had the enormous pleasure of meeting hervé this, whose book "molecular gastronomy" was recently published in english. i met hervé in the home of my dear friends the brossollet's, publisher of the french edition of scientific american (pour le science) for whom hervé publishes an engaging column on the science behind cooking. by lovely coincidence, next week i will be visiting the brossollets in normandy and paris, and this week i saw hervé for the first time in years as he was the guest speaker at the first meeting of the "experimental cuisine collective" hosted by my alma mater new york university, department of nutrition, food studies, and public health and organized by associate professor amy bentley and assistant professor of chemistry, kent kirshenbaum. the mission statement was stated as: "we seek to provide a venue for scientists, food academics, culinary and pastry professionals, journalists, and the dining public to gather and exchange knowledge. contribute to a rigorous scientific understanding of the physical basis for cooking processes. enhance understanding of the social contexts for cooking and the societal ramifications of new food technologies. accelerate the discovery of scientific and experiment-based approaches to innovative culinary practices, unorthodox flavors, and new dining traditions. provide technical expertise for chefs. advocate for a balance between modern cuisine while maintaining a healthful and sustainable approach to food preparation. disseminate knowledge about human diet and health; inform the public regarding the molecular basis of nutrition and the chemical constituents of food; and foster research that will improve people's ability to obtain and choose healthful foods on a local and global level. introduce curricula on food and cooking as an approach for generating enthusiasm among school children for studying the physical sciences. celebrate taste. (wisely they saved the best for last!) speakers at the 4 hour long first session included robert margolskee, MD, PhD, professor of neuroscience, pharmacology and physiology at the mount sinai school of medicine, chef wylie dufresne of WD ~50 (who turned out to be as natural, original, and excellent a speaker as he is a chef), and mitchell davis, vice president of the james beard foundation and author (most recently kitchen sense for which he's receiving rave reviews). the question and answer session was gracefully moderated by florence fabricant of the new york times. the audience/participants, of about 70 people from all walks of the profession, was spell-bound. the speakers were terrifically informative, low key, and entertaining. mitchell packed more into his 15 minute power point presentation than any speaker i've ever experienced. i've never heard anyone speak that fast, that long, without skipping a beat or blurring a syllable. he was a veritable freight train of fascinating quotes woven into a wealth of contextual information. i've known him a long time but this meeting revealed a new side that awed me. i was as impressed by his performance as by his well-researched information. perhaps most delightful for me was that on hearing hervé speak i remembered exactly why i was so enchanted by him when i met him the first time. (funny how the french say enchanté when introduced to someone but how rarely it actually turns out to be le mot juste! it probably serves as an expression of optimism!) hervé transformed, what many before him have managed to torture into a dry technical diatribe, into a most palatable, thought-provoking, and ground breaking experience. hervé is charming in the most profound sense of the concept. he intrigues you to hear what he's going to say next. two examples: he explained his theory of food being love and how the best prepared food doesn't taste all that good when one is experiencing it cooked by or eaten with disagreeable people. what a refreshing surprise to hear a scientist--a man no less--talking about love. but then, he IS french. mitchell immediately took issue saying that was "a lot of bunk" (i had to replay this quickly in my mind a few times to be sure i had heard him correctly and started to cringe inwardly anticipating a fight). mitchell smilingly went on to support his theory by saying that he had eaten delicious things cooked by terrible people (i had to agree with mitchell though i found myself wanting to agree with hervé. my taste is pretty independent of external circumstance or attitude. i can have the worst service and still appreciate a well-prepared dish though granted, when the atmosphere is harmonious, it is certainly a more pleasant environment!). but to my delight, hervé didn't register mitchell's agreeably delivered "bunk" statement as an attack but rather as a welcomed second but not secondary opinion. grinning in his warm and endearingly comical way--his eyes almost completely shut with joie de vivre (another great french concept he exemplifies so well)--he revisited the subject moments later saying with all due humility: "even if love doesn't influence taste, i like to think it does!" ' hervé demonstrated his performance prowess by saving the best for last and making it seem as though the thought had arisen spontaneously from all that had preceded it (and maybe it actually did!). he ended the workshop with the most profoundly moving and unexpectedly true-to-my-way-of thinking pronouncement: "the maximum expression of intelligence is honesty." honestly, i didn't know i thought that until he said it! those of us who didn't have restaurants to run walked over to will goldfarb's room 4 dessert, where he generously treated all participants to fabulous spanish wine (valderiz ribera del duero 2003 en magnum) and equally fabulous desserts at his "experimental dessert bar." science couldn't have left a sweeter taste in our mouths.

Why Cakes Dome???

There are two desirable looks to the top of cake layers:1) slightly rounded for a one layer cake 2) perfectly flat to stack as a multiple layer cake Cakes dome in the middle for two reasons: 1) the metal on the outside of the pan conducts the heat faster so that the sides of the cake set while the center still continues to bake and rise higher than the sides. 2) the structure of the cake is too strong, preventing the leavening gases from escaping til toward the end of baking when they erupt through the center like a volcano. My recipes are created to have the proper strength or structure of the batter to result in level or slightly rounded tops. Solutions: If you are getting doming: 1) try silicone pans (silicone does not conduct the heat the way metal does making the center to sides more even). 2) wrap metal pans with moistened cake strips. you can make your own by wetting paper towels and wrapping them in foil or purchase cake strips that can be reused many many times. 3) use a weaker flour. i you are using all purpose flour switch to cake flour. 4) increase the leavening. if using baking powder increase it by 1/4 teaspoon; if baking soda 1/16 teaspoon. you may need to increase it further depending on the results. leavening weakens the structure of the cake by breaking through the cell walls created by the gluten formed by the flour when combined with liquid. 5) increase the butter: an extra ounce of butter will coat the flour more preventing the formation of gluten, weakening the structure.

Surrogate Baker

we should be across the street having dinner. a colleague of my husband's actually invited us. (it is a rare event that anyone is willing to cook for me.)i brought a cake i'm working on though he said he was making a galette. we arrived on time to find his galette sitting in a warm oven. apparently after living in ny for 3 years he had never used the oven and it only seemed to have a light, i.e. the heat was coming from a light bulb. so i insisted on bringing the galette back across the street to bake in my oven. with an american type flaky crust it would have been pointless as the warmth would have caused the butter to leak out of the dough and loose all its flakiness. but the cookie crust of a galette is not flaky to begin with so I thought it was worth the effort. to find out how i rescued this soft pie crust set on a pan that didn't fit into my quick preheat carousel microwave/convection oven (the soft crust loaded with fresh fruit that he was threatening to stew on the stovetop), read on!

by the way, the rest of the dinner wasn't ready anyway so now i can spend the rest of the time packing for my trip to d.c. tomorrow while the galette bakes in its new home. i left the cake as hostage. (but not my special serrated knife--one can never be too careful!) o.k. here's what I did: giggling all the way across the street at this unorthodox baking adventure, the moment we entered our apartment, i preheated the convection oven to 400 °F. while it was preheating, with my husband elliott's help--we needed four hands for this hair-brained endeavor-- we shoved the galette onto a round black steel pan. the side that my less experienced husband was pushing caved in slightly (radiology is one thing--pies and tarts are another) but I smooched it back into place, noticing that the fruit was piercing through it slightly. I made a foil barricade with a long piece of heavy duty foil folded over several times and secured in a circle around the outer edges of the galette with a metal paper clip. just as it was in place the preheat buzzer sounded. I placed the galette in the oven and finished packing. 40 minutes later I smelled fruit burning and rushed over to cover the top loosely with foil. 5 minutes later the fruit was perfectly baked and the crust golden. hot out of the oven, holding the galette with pot holders, we returned to our new friend's apt. across the street. we got a few longing glances from passerbys--little did they know the true circumstances. our friend's dinner was ready and he was more relaxed and ready to receive us as guests. the evening, the dinner, and the galette turned out to be a total delight.