Please Explain: Baking

Friday, December 19, 2008

‘Tis the season for holiday cookies, cakes, and pies. Find about the chemistry of baking, and why techniques and ingredients really do matter when creating the tastiest baked treats. Chef Katherine Alford is editor and Test Kitchen Director for the Food Network; Dorie Greenspan is a food writer, expert baker, and author of several cookbooks including Baking: From My Home to Yours.


Katherine Alford and Dorie Greenspan

Comments [28]

Selma Miriam from Westport Ct

I am great admirer of Dorrie Greenspan and find her recipes to be unusually good. i wanted to tell her that I used coconut butter in her korova cookie recipe with excellent results. Also, that cooking with flavorless coconut butter/oil can produce superior pastries, and an especially good pie which remains crisp and flaky when filled with fruits. Because I own a vegetarian restaurant, I try to include vegan dishes for my customers. We do make desserts with eggs and butter, but we have many vegan choices as well. Coconut butter is very "short", like lard, which is why the pie crust is so good. I would really like to share technique for using coconut butter qnd coconut milk. Can I talk to Leonard about these foodstuffs? We have printed our recipes in "The Best Of Bloodroot VolI ", but if anyone wants the pie crust recipe, we would send a copy if you send a stamped addressed envelope to Bloodroot in Bpt, Ct.
We are working on gluten free breads. My most successful attempt is in making cassava, coconut, quinoa biscuits. They are chewy, but delicious.

Dec. 19 2008 02:45 PM
George from Bay Ridge

In her recent book on Chinese food, Jennifer 8. Lee notes that the Chinese don't have a history of baked goods. Why do you think that is?

Dec. 19 2008 02:45 PM
barbara frei from bayside, new york

How can I double a recipe safely? I don't like to bake the same thing 2x in a row.

thank you

Dec. 19 2008 02:27 PM
marisa from ca

awesome delicious and spot on baking substitute for butter is earth balance (they have both spread and shortening products). my sweetie makes bomb vegan pie crust, cookies, etc. earth balance is churned oils, so no trans fat, not hydrogenated-- nothing like margarine. same company as smart balance, but a better formulated product imo (don't know why people know about the one but not the other).

Dec. 19 2008 02:09 PM
Arline Lane from Westchester NY

Can someone tell me whether substituting whole wheat flour for all purpose, bleached or unbleached flour results in a "healthier" or just "heavier" baked good? What adjustment would need to be made to the recipe?

Also, when a recipe calls for "1 cup flour, sifted" or "1 cup sifted flour" is the difference that the first is a greater amount of flour since it isn't aerated?

Dec. 19 2008 02:05 PM
Jim from new jersey

Invest in an oven thermometer so you don't have to rely on the usually innacurate temp given by your oven

Dec. 19 2008 01:58 PM
Robert from NYC

Absolutely, what got me interested in baking is kneading dough which is so relaxing and gets rid of tension and stress.

Dec. 19 2008 01:57 PM
Diana Abramo from NY

Gluten-free baking works best with things that don't need to rise. Look for recipes without leavening. My favorite is shortbread, which doesn't need to rise and has no leavening. Gluten-intolerant people and folks who can eat anything have loved my shortbread made with chickpea flour with cardomom, as well as roasted chestnut flour with apple pie spice. Nut flours also work well. Some cookie bar recipes work well. You can get these flours at Middle Eastern or South Asian stores including Sahadi's in Brooklyn and Kalyustan in Manhattan. Good luck, Diana

Dec. 19 2008 01:56 PM
steven from new york city

are there any good classes around nyc for learning how best to make pie crust?

Dec. 19 2008 01:56 PM
belle from brooklyn

Coconut oil is a good saturated fat replacement for butter, for those with allergies. Can you talk about this?

Dec. 19 2008 01:54 PM
Katie Weiss from Berkeley Hts, NJ

I'm baking cookies today for next Thursday. How can I keep them fresh? Freeze them?

Dec. 19 2008 01:54 PM
s from manhattan

i am a very novice baker. i just want to make a larger carrot cake. i use one recipe that has worked before. can i just double the amounts of the ingredients to make a bigger cake?

Dec. 19 2008 01:53 PM
Robert from NYC

I just finished making Emeril's Banana Walnut Bread (made with cake flour and frankly I would call it a cake) but I'd like to know why it spread open on the top? It is a batter cake (bread) and I always drop the pan numerous times before putting in the oven but it always splits on top sometimes more sometimes less. Why? Please.

Dec. 19 2008 01:53 PM
belle from brooklyn

Coconut oil is a good saturated fat substitute for butter, for those who have allergies. Can this be discussed?

Dec. 19 2008 01:53 PM
Nick from Brooklyn

How do you make MOIST muffins? My muffins always come out dry.

Dec. 19 2008 01:52 PM
Carol Gould from Briarwood, NY

A message for Katherine,

A former avid baker, I ecently became gluten intolerant. Home baking is a necessity, as mass produced products are like cardboard. Gluten-free baking makes regular baking look like snap, as there a several flours and substitutes required for each recipe. As allergies to wheat are on the rise - would Food Network consider adding a baking show for those of us who are pastry deprived?

Carol Gould

Dec. 19 2008 01:48 PM
John from New York, New York

In baking bread, should the butter be about 65 degrees F? Is melted okay? Can I cream with molasses or sugar?

Dec. 19 2008 01:46 PM
sophie from Mamaroneck

What French butter(s) can be purchased here?
Also, can French flour be purchased here? If so, where?

Dec. 19 2008 01:44 PM
Michael West from Brooklyn, NY

Measuring flour: very very few recipes ever say whether to measure the flour before or after sifting. Is there a rule of thumb?

Dec. 19 2008 01:43 PM
Ellen Diamond from Manhattan

My friend bakes Christmas cookies every year and does something I'd never heard of -- she spreads some of them out to dry in her home before baking.

Have you heard of this? How does it help?
Ellen in Manhattan

Dec. 19 2008 01:42 PM
Sandy from astoria

What is the best way to measure flour? someone mentioned the differences in measurement, which is an argument my boyfriend and I constantly have.

Dec. 19 2008 01:41 PM
John from New York, New York

Can you have your guests talk about how the gluten content of a flour affects the texture? I like White Lily for biscuits.

Dec. 19 2008 01:34 PM
Jo from CT

I'm making Dorie's oatmeal-spice shortbread right now (first time)! I think it's telling that the butter/cookie story in the NY Times rose to the top of the most emailed in short order (it's down to #3 now). Hard to find anything quite as vital to happiness as baking.

Dec. 19 2008 01:34 PM
Jen from Brooklyn from Brooklyn

I got a recipe for pumpkin cookies off the internet that called for oil only, and I was very skeptical. The cookies turned out very cake-y and moist, and completely delicious.

Dec. 19 2008 01:34 PM
Beverly Bell from New Rochelle, New York

How is the way we should store our baked goods influenced by the ingredients used and the chemical interactions resulting from those combined ingredients? What determines whether a baked item should be refrigerated or kept at room temperature?

Dec. 19 2008 01:26 PM
EWJ from Ex-New Yorker in Canada

I use whole wheat pastry flour for most baking (not bread)and get very good results. I made a wedding cake for fellow whole food types, assuming would have to use at least part white flour. I did up some samples and we had a blind taste test - the 100% whole wheat won hands down - flavor was better and texture was fine.

Dec. 19 2008 01:22 PM
Ivy from Woodbridge, NJ

I have heard that the yeasts in Europe are different than those in US and produce richer tastes in bread and other fermented products... Is that true? Can we get better yeasts here?

Dec. 19 2008 12:21 PM
RJ from NJ

Today we use white flour for baking, my question is what did people use before white flour became widely used. obviously it would have tasted and felt different. cakes and cookies do not come out soft and flaky if we do not used white flour.

Dec. 19 2008 07:50 AM

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