Popular food writer Lisa Yockelson—whose articles, essays, and recipes have appeared in the Boston Globe, the Washington Post, and Gastronomica—presents what has fascinated her during a lifetime of baking. With 100 essays and more than 200 recipes, along with 166 full-color images, Baking Style is infused with discoveries, inspirations, and exacting but simple recipes for capturing the art and craft of baking at home.
Baking Style combines the genre of the culinary essay with recipes, their corresponding methods, and illustrative images, revealing Yockelson’s uniquely intimate expression of the baking process. In these pages, she explores bars, hand-formed, and drop cookies; casual tarts; yeast-raised breads; puffs, muffins, and scones; waffles and crepes; tea cakes, breakfast slices, and buttery squares; cakes and cupcakes.
“A collection of cakes, cookies and breads that will gladden the heart of any baking enthusiast. It’s an encyclopedic book from an author whose recipes really work!” —The New York Times Book Review
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baking Craft baking Process the language of Baking Style
The process of baking is based on measured, clearly articulated steps that depend on the kind of dough, batter, frosting, filling, or sauce that you are creating. Both the way the ingredients are cared for and the procedure for combining them are essential in order to arrive at just the right textural and shape- specific outcome — a downy cake, moist biscuit, chewy cookie, plump sweet roll, or gossamer coffee cake.
A batter or reasonably soft dough (with the exception of a yeast dough, which proceeds on a somewhat different course) travels through seven important phases once it is mixed, and those levels present themselves — when heat is applied — in a flowing cycle of time-lapse changes: 1. The solid fats melt, releasing their trapped water and air, creating steam and air bubbles. 2. Carbon dioxide discharged by the leavening agents present (baking powder and baking soda, alone or in combination, along with or without cream of tartar), air created in a creamed batter, and vapor (steam) cause the dough or batter to rise in the presence of heat (some gas expansion may begin before baking); as the bubbles of gas(es) expand, they are snared within the cell walls made of proteins in the dough or batter. 3. Any undissolved sugar (in a relatively dry batter) dissolves, forming a syrup that thins out the batter. 4. The proteins in the egg(s) and gluten from the flour become much tighter (coagulate), creating the overall structure appropriate to each type of baked item; coagulation is important because, along with the gelatinized starch, it ultimately contributes to the finished, end product's volume and texture. 5. The starches present gelatinize, or draw in the moisture present, and firm up. 6. Moisture continues to evaporate. And 7. The exterior of the item (bottom, sides, and — especially — the top) browns and the top forms a crust; the level — or intensity — of browning as residual moisture evaporates is directly related to the type and amount of ingredients such as sugar, dairy, and whole eggs or egg yolks present in the batter or dough, or a finishing glaze or egg wash brushed over a dough just before baking.
The overview of techniques that follows is outlined to provide a touchstone-like view of the methods encountered in this book and to instruct beginning bakers, as well as to provide a useful tip or two to those who have logged in many baking years. The method for each type of technique is offered in the procedure of the particular recipe in a somewhat stylized version — that is, the most important elements are spotlighted and set forth, leaving the more comprehensive elements to be discussed below.
For a "creamed" cake batter, measurements of flour and leavening (baking powder, baking soda, or a combination of the two) are sifted with salt and any other additional ingredients, such as ground spices, cream of tartar, or cocoa powder. Butter, the key fat, is used in its softened form and beaten until smooth. The butter, light and mayonnaise-like in consistency, is now ready to take in the sugar (granulated, light brown, dark brown, confectioners', or any of those in combination) in several additions. At this point, the process of beating is accomplished by degree, or specific amounts, meaning that portions of sugar are added and incorporated thoroughly; this is crucial to establishing volume and, later, during baking, texture. Any leavening that is part of the ingredient list in the recipe acts only to build the volume created by beating the sugar and fat together, for it does not expand the crumb of the baked cake beyond what is already initiated by the creaming process. Unless the recipe indicates otherwise, use the whip or flat paddle mixer attachment for creaming the butter and sugar. Whole eggs, a combination of whole eggs and egg yolks, or egg yolks alone are incorporated next, followed by ingredients such as a flavoring extract, melted chocolate, or molasses. The flour mixture is usually added alternately with the liquid, beginning and ending with the sifted ingredients. At each stage, the mixer should be stopped and the sides and bottom of the bowl scraped thoroughly, using a sturdy rubber spatula. Scraping the bowl is necessary in order to prepare and maintain a batter of even, gossamer consistency. Any additions to the batter not incorporated at an earlier stage, such as chocolate chips or chunks, chopped candy, dried fruits, sweetened shredded coconut, or chopped nuts, are integrated at this point, either by machine or by hand (using a sturdy wooden spoon or flat wooden paddle). A light, beautifully mixed creamed batter and the resulting perfectly textured cake are achieved by using a freestanding electric mixer. The strength of the mixer beats the requisite amount of air into the butter and sugar mixture, ultimately building volume and guarding against dense cakes (with a tighter, chewier, more compact crumb).
* Never consume raw batter.
For a "creamed" cookie dough, dry ingredients (flour, leavening[s], spices, salt, cocoa powder, and such) are either whisked together in a bowl to blend them or sifted to aerate. Softened butter is creamed until pearly and yielding before the sugar is added, frequently in several additions, though not for the length of time that takes place in cake batters. Unless the recipe indicates otherwise, use the whip or flat paddle mixer attachment for creaming the butter and sugar. Eggs and a flavoring extract follow, with the mixing-in time kept at a minimum, as volume is usually not on the procedural agenda here. The flour mixture is then integrated, along with any other substantial ingredients, such as rolled oats. Other items, such as raisins, nuts, chocolate chips or chunks, sweetened shredded coconut, chopped candy, or dried fruits, are added by machine or by hand (using a sturdy wooden spoon or flat wooden paddle). Cookie doughs are typically creamy- textured and range as follows: soft, moderately dense, dense-heavy. Many cookie doughs in this book refrigerate or freeze well, and this will be noted in the recipe.
* When preparing cookie dough for refrigeration or freezing, use organic eggs only and never consume raw cookie dough.
For a "melt, whisk, and combine" batter (typically a brownie or dense, chocolate-laden bar cookie batter), flour and leavening (baking powder or baking soda) are sifted, whisked, or stirred with salt and any additional ingredients, such as cocoa powder or freshly grated or ground spices. Chocolate and butter are melted and combined (frequently with a whisk) until smooth. The eggs are whisked until just combined and blended with the sugar, followed by the melted butter-chocolate mixture and vanilla extract. For most brownie batters, the melted butter and chocolate are used in the tepid (not cooled) state, the flour mixture is sifted over the whisked ingredients, and the contents of the mixing bowl is combined to form a dense batter, using a whisk, wooden spoon, or flat wooden paddle. This decidedly low-tech approach to mixing ingredients makes for the best-textured brownies. At this point, it is important to mix just until the particles of flour are absorbed. For dense, golden batters (the mixtures that result in characteristically traditional blondies), whole eggs or egg yolks are blended together with brown sugar, melted butter, and a flavoring extract; the combined flour mixture is resifted over it all and a thick batter is formed. Occasionally, a blond batter is so thick that it resembles a moist and heavy dough. Enrichments, such as chocolate chips, chocolate chunks, candy bar nuggets, or chopped nuts are worked into the batter at the end, usually by hand.
* Never consume raw batter.
For a "cut-in" dough (for sweet and savory biscuits, most scones, and some tea cakes), the flour, sugar, and leavening are whisked or sifted with salt and any additional ingredients, such as cocoa powder or spices. Occasionally, a type of sugar is whisked into, as opposed to sifted with, the dry ingredients. Butter is strewn over the leavened flour mixture in chunks and "cut-in" using a pastry blender or two round-bladed table knives. Sometimes the butter is crumbled lightly between the fingertips to further reduce the fat into smaller flaky bits. A whisked mixture — usually cream (or buttermilk), sometimes whole eggs or egg yolks, and occasionally a flavoring extract — is poured over the flour mixture. Additions such as chocolate chips, chocolate chunks, candy bar nuggets, chunks of dried fruit or pieces/shreds of fresh fruit or berries, shredded or cubed cheese, or chopped nuts are then scattered over, and everything is mixed to form a cohesive dough. For biscuits and scones, the resulting dough, usually dense and gently moist, is lightly kneaded in the bowl or on a floured work surface. The brief kneading time, just a few turns, helps to establish texture as the dough rises in the oven. For soda breads and some free-form tea cakes made with a "cut-in" dough, the dough is mixed to shape and form into a "well-domed ball," as even a short, light kneading can result in a dense-textured, somewhat greasy crumb. Depending on the recipe, the formed dough may be refrigerated to rest and firm up before shaping and cutting, or it may be cut into wedges, rounds, or squares immediately, or left whole, its surface crosscut in an X; the X cut allows the dough to expand properly as the quick bread bakes. In any case, "cut-in" doughs should be handled as lightly as possible to secure a tender, rather airy texture on baking. Overhandling the dough during mixing or kneading can produce a leathery, dense quick bread. Dividing baking powder– or baking soda–leavened doughs into decorative shapes with a dull knife or a blunt cookie cutter will result in misshapen baked goods that are unable to rise fully or bake evenly. Actually twisting a cookie cutter or angling a knife while cutting a biscuit or scone dough will cause either batch to slump or rise with one high side and one slouched side.
* Never consume raw dough.
For a sweet or savory yeast dough, active dry yeast, sugar, and warm water are combined and set to proof until swollen. A dough is created by combining the expanded yeast mixture with, in addition to flour, ingredients such as sugar, spices, a liquid (frequently milk or a combination of milk and water, or buttermilk), a flavoring extract or a concentrated highlighting essence, melted or softened butter, whole eggs or egg yolks, and salt. Salt, which acts as a flavoring agent as well as an ingredient that balances and controls fermentation, should never come in direct contact with the swollen yeast mixture; rather, salt is always combined with all or a significant portion of the flour (or flour mixture) in order to introduce it properly, otherwise the rising capability and resulting leavening power of the yeast may be compromised. Note that active dry yeast is used. Classically, active dry yeast contains a certain proportion of inactive yeast cells and, as such, more yeast is used to achieve a proper rise (and, in some cases, to match successfully with the amount of sugar, eggs, or butter present in a dough); the presence of inactive cells, does, however, contribute great flavor to the dough and resulting bread or batch of sweet rolls, buns, or coffee cake.
Occasionally, a dough is made by incorporating a sponge mixture into the remaining ingredients (this gives the finished dough a measure of depth and complexity); other times, a partial dough is prepared to the stage of a "thick batter," left to rest for a few minutes, then finished with the remainder of the dry ingredients (this technique yields a more tractable dough with a finer finished texture).
The resulting dough is kneaded (by hand or in the mixing bowl of a heavy-duty freestanding electric mixer), turned into a large buttered mixing bowl, and set to rise, either at cool room temperature or by a combination of room temperature and refrigerator. At a point in the mixing and kneading process, if a sweet yeast dough is prepared in a heavy-duty freestanding electric mixer, the partially kneaded dough may be covered with a sheet of food-safe plastic wrap and put aside for ten minutes to rest before the machine-kneading resumes. The purpose of this rest is to allow the flour to absorb the liquid and fat, to prevent overworking the dough, to retain the dough's flavor, and to keep the dough supple (review this technique as it works in the recipe for rich, richer, richest sticky buns,). The method of most yeast-raised recipes in this book proceeds without this step, but you can employ it with most doughs by halting the beating, covering the bowl, then resuming the beating. The technique works best with the rich doughs destined for forming into sweet rolls, sticky buns, and coffee cakes.
Many doughs rich in butter, eggs, and sugar are slashed or cut ¾ to 1 inch deep with a pair of kitchen scissors right before the first long rise; the deep cuts in the dough encourage a good and supportive rise. The top of the dough, with its gashes, initially looks like a flower with wide, semicircular petals.
The yeast dough is then set to rise (to doubled in bulk or tripled in bulk, generally at room temperature or cool room temperature (about 68 degrees F) in a heavily buttered bowl. The term "doubled in bulk" refers to dough having risen twofold, and "tripled in bulk" refers to the dough having risen threefold.
The resulting risen dough, significantly lighter and gently voluminous, is compressed slightly and set to rest for a short while. I prefer to compress the dough with my fingertips or a flexible rubber spatula. Compressing, rather than punching down, the dough keeps the risen framework intact and contributes to a fine baked texture. (See compress, in Baking Style terminology for further explanation of the process.) At this point, additions such as chopped or diced dried fruits, shredded cheese, bits of chocolate, and such are integrated within the dough's mass. (Some refrigerated doughs may not need a rest period just before shaping.) The dough is then formed into individual breads, buns, or rolls; transferred to one single-unit fancy tube pan or deep fluted tart pan, or one large loaf pan; and set aside to rise again before baking. Sometimes, and just prior to the last rise, the yeast dough will be rolled into a large sheet, spread with a filling, then formed into small coffee cake–like sweets. Formed coffee cakes or sweet rolls may be covered with a streusel topping before baking.
Within the recipes in this book, the phrase "almost doubled in bulk" means that the fully shaped dough for the final rise should be about 90 percent risen (not quite 100 percent doubled in bulk), leaving the remaining 10 percent to rise in the initial baking minutes when "oven-spring" takes place. ("Oven-spring" is defined as a final burst of rise or expansion when the panned and risen yeast dough is placed in the oven to be baked. This lift to a dough's final form takes place during the first 5 minutes or so of baking.) In some of the yeast-risen dough recipes, this rising stage will be noted as "until almost doubled in bulk." Some recipes, however, such as rich, richer, richest sticky buns, a 14-year-old's rolls still tasty after all these years, the cinnamon-raisin buns of my childhood, #1, and craggy-top sour cream buns and craggy-top sour cream buns call for a complete doubling in bulk for the final rise. This is necessary to maintain and establish shape and texture, as a certain oven-spring will still take place within the confines of the fully risen dough.
* Any and all yeast doughs prepared in an electric mixer must be made in a heavy-duty freestanding model. While mixing and beating a yeast dough in a heavy-duty freestanding electric mixer, always stand by the mixer to ensure that it is stable on the work surface, be constantly available to adjust the speed and position on the work surface, and never, ever leave it unattended. Never consume raw dough.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Baking Style"
Copyright © 2011 Lisa Yockelson.
Excerpted by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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