RECIPES - BAKING ESSENTIALS AND TIPS

 

Nutrient values are estimates only. Nutrition may vary based on methods of preparation, origin and freshness of ingredients. The nutritional analysis found in the recipes is calculated for the individual ingredients in each recipe, using the nutritional data found for those ingredients in the USDA Nutrients database reference guide.

BAKING ESSENTIALS: INGREDIENTS THAT HELP WITH LOW-PROTEIN BAKING.

BASIC FLOUR OR MIXES FOR LOW PROTEIN BAKING:

Base for baking low-protein products such as bread, cookies, is usually starches like wheat, corn, tapioca or potato. But the starches due to lack of gluten do not have pliability or elasticity. Hence addition of fiber such as psyllium would be beneficial in making pliable dough.

Psyllium Fiber:

Important addition( to low-protein baking ) to starches to make pliable dough. Back bone of the dough. Cheaper than other gums if available. Regular flavor sometimes is harder to get and also contains sugar and preservatives as added ingredients.

Methocel:

a form of fiber that when added to starch gives body when making dough similar to psyllium fiber. More expensive than psyllium but very few suppliers.  

Xantham gum:  

A form of fiber that gives body to starches in making dough similar to other fibers such as psyllium. More expensive than psyllium and available in health food stores or even well-stocked supermarkets. Xantham gum should be used in very small quantities otherwise it can make the end product a little “gummy” or gluey.  The right amount for a recipe varies and has to be set with trial and error. Depending on the item baked right amount could vary from time to time. 

Lecithin:  

An emulsifier that is found in eggs or Soy that creates a binding quality when added to recipes where there are liquid ingredients that usually don’t mix, for example, oil and water  (vinegar) in dressings, in chocolates, or even in baking when fats and liquids such as

BAKING BREADS THAT CONTAIN YEAST:

Baking bread with low-protein mixes can vary due to several reasons, including, season, how humid and warm the kitchen is, freshness of the yeast and even the right blend of the starches and fiber.  Due to lack of gluten or very little gluten, bread-baking can be tricky. But some simple rules could help with achieving success consistently –

  • Always make sure the yeast is fresh and within the date of expiration. Storing yeast in a tightly closed container in a very cool place like the refrigerator could extend the shelf-life

  • Even if it is within the date of expiration, always activate the yeast with warm water and sugar and let sit for 5-10 minutes before adding to the mix to make the dough. The yeast mixture should be a lot bubbly and domed showing that yeast is active.

  • Make sure the temperature of water added to yeast is not too high that it kills the yeast; yeast cannot tolerate temperatures above 110 F. Higher temperatures will kill the yeast and dough will not rise or expand since there won’t be enough carbon dioxide gas produced by active yeast to give a spongier texture for the bread.

  • Once the dough is made, with the lack of gluten, kneading should be kept to a minimum since otherwise it would lead to really crumbly bread. The rising time for the dough is also kept to a minimum since lack of gluten doesn’t make the dough expand or stretch as much as the dough made with regular flour.

  • Dough should be made to rise in a draft-free warm place to rise for specific time covered tightly with plastic wrap.  Best place for it would be the oven turned on for a few minutes at the lowest setting and turned off (make sure it is turned off, otherwise it cooks the dough instead of helping it rise). 

GENERAL BAKING TIPS 

In recipes such as cookies, cakes, etc  increasing the amount of baking powder slightly could improve the texture of the end product without using eggs. Addition of instant pudding and pie mix also improves the texture. When buying the instant pudding and pie mix make sure it doesn't contain any non-fat or skim milk powder since it may increase the protein content of the mixture. 

Mixing Bowls and Scraper/spatula: 

I prefer to use stainless steel bowls since they are non-reactive and are easier to handle than plastic or glass. Invest in at least 2-3 mixing bowls. (Select good quality ones since cheap ones tend to rust).  Plastic scraper makes the job of scraping the dough out of a mixing bowl soooooo... easy. They usually have rounded edges and are flexible to conform to the shape of the bowl when scraping. Rubber spatulas also work in a similar way but buy ones that are really flexible and not stiff.  

Electric Mixer/ Wooden Spoons

I use an electric mixer to cream butter and sugar together to make the mixture fluffy. The electric mixture makes the job of mixing quicker than if mixing by hand. If using a wooden spoon, using the back of the spoon to mix gives a better even beating to any mixture.

Measuring Cups and Spoons:

Everyone should have at least 1 set of measuring cups each for dry and wet ingredients.  Buy the measuring cups from a reputable kitchen store since cheap ones may not be accurate and this affects the recipes.  Do not interchange in using the measuring cups for dry and wet ingredients since each type is for that specific purpose only. Weighing out the ingredients, especially low-protein mix always ensures success since measuring ingredients may cause inconsistency in the results. 

 Wire Whisk 

Due to the presence of various added ingredients in the recipes, it is advisable not to sift the mix. Using a wire whisk you can whisk in air while mixing the dry ingredients together. 

 TIPS FOR BAKING COOKIES 

Cookies when baked on an aluminum cookie sheet don't brown the bottom more quickly than the rest of the cookie and so they are my first and only choice. (Non-stick ones tend to brown/blacken the bottom of the cookies faster).  Even with aluminum pans I prefer to buy those that are 2-layered, which facilitate even baking.  I prefer to have at least 2 cookie sheets so while baking one batch I could get the 2nd batch shaped or pressed and get ready.

Cookie cutters:

With the market flooded with various cookie cutter shapes, you can never run out of ideas to make season appropriate cookies. But the most basic shape of all is the circle and I would recommend at least two or three sizes in round cookie cutters. It is up to you to have shapes of your choice for the season, especially Halloween, Christmas  ............. 

Cookie Press (Spritzer): 

You can use a cookie press and press out different shapes directly on the baking sheet without having the hassle of using scoops, etc.  It presses out evenly shaped cookies at a fraction of a time and there are even electric presses available in the market today. 

Cooling Rack: 

The cookies crisp up really fast if allowed to cool on cooling rack

 

 

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