Sunday, May 30, 2010
Butter like any fat, acts as tenderiser in baked goods. It forms a coat around flour protein, preventing them from linking up with each other to elastic, rubbery sheets of gluten that would make a cake tough and chewy. Fats that are liquid at room temperature, like oils, do this better than fats that solid, which is why cake made with oil are so tender and moist. On the other hand, solid fats are able to trap thousands of tiny air bubbles when they are creamed, which later expand in the heat of the oven and thus produce a light, airy texture; oil cakes tend to be denser and at their worth can be gluey.
Serious bakers prefer butter to any kind of vegetable based shortening because of its superior flavour, aroma and the melting texture it gives to a cake. Three kinds of butter are most commonly available in market here: salted, slightly and unsalted. There are usually roughly 80% fat and 15% water, the rest being milk proteins. Cheaper butters tend to certain more water and thus are softer than higher grade butters. Unsalted butter has a sweeter, more delicate daily aroma and flavour than salted butter and that from the Normandy region of France is held to be king of butters, for its flowery aroma and rich taste.
Butter should be stored in the fridge, wrapped airtight as it quickly adsorbs the odours of neighboring items. It can be frozen successfully for a few months; just remember to let it defrost slowly in the fridge.
Saturday, May 22, 2010
Elegantly shell-shaped and oh-so-French, Madeleines make wonderfully impressive tea cakes options. Heaven, however, doesn't have its price. To make an authentic madeleine, you will need a madeleine pan.
There are several explanations for how the madeleine got its name. but the best story is that a deposed Polish King exiled to France in the 1700s was served these marvellous cakes made by a peasant girl name Madeleine. When the king's daughter married Louis XV, thus improving his fortunes with a move to Versailles, the delicacies were served regularly.
Madeleines also are a symbol of the power of memory, their taste immortalised as the trigger for Marcel Proust's Remembrance of Things Past.
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Pumpernickel is a type of German bread traditionally made with coarsely ground rye flour. it has been long associated with the Westphalia region of Germany. The first written mention of the black bread of Westphalia was in 1450. While it is not known whether this and other early references, refer to precisely the bread that came to be known as pumpernickel, there has long been something different about Westphalia rye bread that elicited comment. The defining characteristics of Westphalia pumpernickel are a very good fresh-keeping, a sweetish taste and an exceedingly long baking period. The long slow baking is what gives pumpernickel its characteristic dark color. The bread can emerge from the oven deep brown, even black.
Sunday, May 9, 2010
Mother's Day initially started in ancient Greece as a tribute to the Gods-Rhea. Then, in the 17th century, Mothering Sunday was celebrated in England as tribute to all mothers on the 4th Sunday of Lent. The celebration was to be marked by a pastry called Mothering Cake. Then in 1914, President Woodrow Wilson declared Mother's Day as a national holiday. And up till now, the second Sunday of May has been set as a day for the celebration of mothers everywhere.
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
This ancient plant was consumed by gods, immortalized in folklore and is today used all over the over the world. According to Assyrian myth, the gods drank sesame wine the night before they created the earth. Sesame is also featured prominently in the folktale Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, where a cave filled with treasure can only be opened by saying "Open Sesame!" Its believed that sesame was used as password because the popping sound sesame pods make when they ripe, may have resembled the sound of the cave door opening.
Today, most people recognize sesame as the seeds sprinkled on burger buns, or as the aromatic oil used widely in Oriental cooking.
Believed to be native to Asia or Africa, the sesame plant (Sesamum indicum) is an annual, going through an entire life cycle in one year, with a fresh crop being planted each year. Most of the sesame that is harvested worldwide is used to produce sesame oil, which is extracted through compression.
Which are a creamy white in colour. Unhulled or toasted seeds are usually a light brown, but the shade varies according to different degrees of toasting. Black sesame seeds are also available, while other varieties are rare.
Sesame oil keeps well for months and even years without turning rancid, while the raw seeds should be kept like all other herbs and spices - in an airtight container in a cool, dry location. The seeds can keep up till 3 months; if refrigerated, they keep for 6 months, or a year if frozen.