tools ingredients my account
Home > Archives
 

Archives

Why are your recipes written in pounds and ounces?

In a professional bakeshop we weight our ingredients for accuracy! By doing this, we always insure a consistent and uniform final baked product. In our written formulas, the symbol "#" stands for pounds, and "oz." stands for ounces.
Further, ingredients such as water and milk, can also be scaled accurately using a volume measure.

 How do I convert grams into ounces?

"Grams" are part of the metric system, and "ounces" are part of the U.S. system. To convert a European style recipe into ounces; simply divide the gram amount by 28.35.

Example:
Flour weighs 2268 grams / 28.35 =
80 ounces or 5 pounds

Most calculations will have remainders and must be rounded "up or down" to the closest quarter ounce (.25).

What is your definition of a pastry chef?

A pastry chef must possess the skills, knowledge and experience to produce numerous baked items, as-well-as showpieces, confectionery work, and undertaking many special projects. He/she must understand the elements of taste and flavors in dessert composition, and should be creative, have a sense of style and have a good aesthetic eye.

A good pastry chef must be an exceptional manager of people, be able to coordinate staffing with production requirements. Must be able to keep track of costs and be in charge of ingredient ordering.

A pastry chef wears many different hats, but we wouldn't want to do anything else!!!

I am considering entering the baking field, are there positions available, and what is the general pay?

I thoroughly enjoy the field of baking/pastry, and being a pastry chef. It's been an vocation, avocation, and labor of love.

Positions definitely exist in the field and are growing considerably! It takes many years of experience, hard work and dedication in the field to reach chef levels within hotels and resorts. Pay varies with different areas, but in general expect to start at $6-8.00 per hour, with some experience $10-12, eventually moving up to a pastry chef position - $28K to $55K average, and a rare few demand even higher!

If you're passionate about creating desserts, it is a fabulous career!

I am thinking about opening a bakery, do you have any tips?

There are many considerations when starting a new business, especially a bakery. I would recommend doing some serious market research, construct a business plan (you'll find computer software to help you with this), and calculate all you start-up costs. Weigh all the pluses and minuses.

Opening and running a bakery, is hard work and a true labor of love! There are many things to consider. In starting-up a bakery you will wear many different hats. You must be able to bake and supervise the daily production, develop recipes, order ingredients, build sales contacts (wholesale & retail), hire and fire employees, maintain the daily accounting & payroll, talk with customers and brides, buy equipment, make deliveries, etc. etc. Figure putting in a average 15 hour day!!! A long day, but normal for a person starting and running there own business. But if done correctly, it can be very profitable!!!!

Do you receive "Modern Baking" magazine from the RBA? It is an excellent source of information for people in the bakery business. Check-out our "Directory of Baking Sites" for there link.

I saw a dessert consisting of a stack of cream puffs presented in a cone shape. What is this called, and how can I make its caramel glaze?

The dessert your mention, is known as a "Croquembouche". This French specialty means "crunch in the mouth". When a croquembouche is featured as a wedding centerpiece it is known as a "piece monte".

To make the caramelized sugar:
In a heavy bottom 2 quart pot. Pour in 8 ounces of water, to this add 4 cups sugar. Place over a medium flame, and stir constantly till the sugar is totally dissolved and the liquid is ready to come to boil. Add 1 cup of corn syrup.
STOP stirring, and raise the flame to high. Wash down the sides of the pot with water and a brush. Allow the sugar to take on an amber color. This takes about 10-15 minutes.
When it reaches the right color, remove pot from the heat and plunge the bottom of the pot into ice water - hold for about 5 seconds. This stops the cooking process!
Now be patient, you must allow the sugar to cool slightly and begin to thicken. This takes about 5-10 minutes. Slowly stir with a fork, to assure the sugar cools evenly.
Now begin dipping the cream puffs in the sugar (watch your fingers)!!!! The sugar should stay on the crown of the puff and not run much. If it does not, the sugar is still to hot and runny.
Proceed to build the croquembouche. Build the base ring, then another on top and so on.
Keep the sugar warm. If the sugar begins to thicken, rewarm in the microwave until liquid again, this way the color will not change. If you reheat over the stove, the sugar will change colors and will not match the previous dipped cream puffs! Good luck.

Can I use all-purpose flour for making bread?

You could use a.p. flour, however to truly realize superior results in bread making, you must use a strong flour. In bakeshops, we use bread flour and high-gluten flour, to produce many different types of bread.

How do you make "streusel" for Danish & coffee cakes?

Streusel is a ratio of flour, sugar and butter.

"BY WEIGHT":
2 parts All-Purpose Flour
1 Part Sugar
1 Part Butter

Or to make it easier for a home baker:
2 Cups a.p. flour - (remember 1 cup of flour weighs 4 oz., so 2 cups is 8 oz.)
1/2 cup sugar/brown sugar or 1/2&1/2. (which is 4 oz.)
1/2 cup butter - cold (which is 4 oz.)
add cinnamon, nutmeg, etc. to taste.

Do you see the ratio in the above recipe???

Blend the flour and sugar together, then break-up the cold butter into pieces. Then quickly rub the mixture between your hands until the entire mixture looks like sand. Then press the mixture together between your hands to resemble walnuts and big chunks. Refrigerate for 1 hour. The streusel is now ready to use, you may break it up into smaller piece!

Help, my pie dough shrinks when "baking blind"?

Roll-out the pie dough, place it in the pie tin, and flute the edges as desired. Then place the dough in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to1 hour. This step helps relaxes the gluten in the dough and minimizes shrinkage! Now remove from the refrigerator and place in the freezer for about 15 minutes, until frozen. Remove and quickly line the shell with parchment paper or coffee filter, and then pie weights or beans.

Have a preheated oven ready at 425F. Place in the oven, and bake till the edges turn a light golden color. Remove paper and weighs and continue to bake till golden brown. You will have a perfect pie crust every time. Enjoy!!!!!

Also, review the procedures for baking Apple Pie, locate on our "Recipe Showcase".

When making éclairs using the "pate a choux" recipe, they collapse when I remove them from the oven. What happened?

Pate a choux will collapse if removed from the oven before the structure has set and the shells have not fully baked.

"Pate a choux" is leavened by "steam". It is this baking principle, that causes them to become inflated and puffy in the oven! However, if they are remove them from the oven prematurely, the structure of the shell has not solidified, and the pate a choux will collapse and look flat.

Always bake the shells to a nice medium brown color. Don't worry, you will not overbake them. A perfect pate a choux product is crisp on the outside, with a slightly moist crumb on the inside.

How important is it to use the correct amount of gelatin?

It is extremely important to achieve the correct gelatin balance in mousses, bavarian creams, chiboust, etc. A finished cream firmed with gelatin, should have a tender and smooth texture, yet have structure. If the gelatin ratio is incorrect, the cream will either be runny or too firm and rubbery!

If using powdered gelatin, you must first "Bloom & Dissolve" the gelatin. The ratio used is 1/4 ounce of powdered gelatin, needed to set 16 ounces of liquid. To obtain a "semi-solid" consistency, increase the liquid to 32 ounces.

Also, check-out our mousse and bavarian cream recipes located on our "Recipe Showcase", for some additional guidelines.

Why do my soufflés look great initially, but collapse in just a short amount of time?

"Soufflé" by its very definition mean "to blow up". Suggesting a delicate and fragile structure.

A soufflé is made by folding whipped egg whites into a flavored base. When a soufflé bakes, the heat of the oven causes the trapped "air" in the egg whites to expand. During this process, steam also assists in the mechanical leavening and the soufflé pushes up! Once the mixture reaches its maximum expansion, proteins begin to coagulate, and the starches gelatinize.

Once you remove the soufflé from the oven however, the steam subsides and cools, and the trapped air contracts. These events cause the soufflé structure to "fall".

As you can see, the entire soufflé structure is a delicate one. Remember a soufflé should not be like a cake. The ingredient ratio is totally different. A finished soufflé, should have a light airy texture and creamy center.

Generally, is it safe to use raw eggs in a mousse?

Good question. Today with the prevalence of Salmonella, you're taking a risk using raw eggs in a mousse. One method a pastry chef can combat this problem, is by incorporating a cooked sugar syrup into the egg whites, egg yolks, or whole eggs. This "hot" sugar syrup added to the whipped eggs, kills the Salmonella bacteria. It also makes for a richer mousse.

No matter where you purchase your eggs they still "could" carry the Salmonella bacteria. The bacteria comes from the chicken!

Do you have a recipe for a thin cookie that is spread thin on a sheetpan, baked, and than shaped into different forms, cups or molds?

Yes we do! It is located on our web site under "Recipe Showcase". Look for the recipe titled "Tulipe Paste".

Éclairs are my favorite, could you please tell me how to make the filling and icing on top.

Éclairs and profiteroles are also one of my favorites. The shell is made from a paste known as "pate a choux", and the filling is traditionally "Pastry Cream". See our "Recipe Showcase" for a recipes.

The glaze on top is a chocolate flavored Fondant. This could be made at home, but with some difficulty. We typically purchase this product commercially.

My favorite glaze however, can be made quite simply, it is known as "GANACHE".

Finely chop - 1 pound of dark chocolate and place this in a medium sized bowl. Heat 8 ounces of heavy cream to a scald. Pour the cream over the chocolate and stir until smooth. If lumpy re-heat slightly, and stir until smooth. Then add 2 ounces of soften butter and 1 tsp. vanilla extract. Allow the ganache to cool to 95F degrees, then begin dipping the tops of your éclairs!!! Be careful, "no drips"!!! Refrigerate until firm.

I have noticed that bakeshops carry different types of flours. Why and what are they?

There are basically 4 types of wheat flours used in a professional bakeshop. They range from "soft" weak flours to "hard" strong flours. They are classified as "Cake, Pastry, Bread and High-Gluten Flours".

Cake Flour - is used to make cakes, because of its delicate gluten (protein) structure.

Pastry Flour - has a little more structure (protein), and can be used to make pie dough, biscuits, muffins, cookies, and tart dough.

All-Purpose Flour - Not traditionally found in a bakeshops.

Bread Flour - a stronger gluten structure. Used to make white pan bread, rolls, hamburger buns, etc.

High-Gluten Flour - the strongest of all white flours. Used in making chewy bagels, pizza, hard crusted breads, etc.

I'm looking for a recipe for a French pastry I believe called Canneles? They are baked in a mold and then soaked.

There is a dessert named Canneles or ( Cannelet ) from Bordeaux, they look like small candles, however they are not soaked.

Baba Rum or Savarin are also baked in a mold, but they are soaked in a rum simple syrup.

Here is the recipe for Canneles:

Milk 17 oz.
Butter 1 oz.
Yolks 2
Eggs 1
Sugar 9 oz.
A.P. Flour 1 cup
Vanilla extract 1/4 tsp.
Rum 1 TBSP.
Lemon Zest - fine 1/2 lemon
Bitter Almonds 5

Boil Milk, butter, almonds, zest. Allow to cool. Remove almonds.
Mix together the yolks, eggs and sugar till smooth. Then add the flour. Then add extract and rum.
Blend together the milk and egg mixtures. Allow to stand for 30 minutes. Grease molds and fill 2/3 full.
Bake at 350F, till dark brown in color.

I'm looking for a recipe for a torte, I'm told it's name is "Nuss" or is it "Nuesse"? I'd appreciate any information you might have on this dessert.

Yes, there is a dessert known as a "Bunder Nuss" Torte.

It is a tart shell filled 2/3rds full with almond cream and baked (see our "Recipe Showcase" for both recipes.) The tart is then allowed to cool. A topping is then prepared and spread over the almond cream.

The recipe is:

Corn Syrup 3 TBSP.
Sugar 3/4 cup
Butter 6 TBSP.
Heavy Cream -warm 1/3 cup
Pecan - med. chop 1 cup

Cook sugar and corn syrup to an amber color. Remove from the heat. Add butter, then cream. The mixture should be smooth, if not, return to heat. Then stir in nuts. Pour over the almond cream and refrigerate for 1 hour.

What is a "3-fold" turn, and what do you mean by a lock-in?

A "3-fold" is the procedure used in making laminated dough's. The process is simple, you fold the dough like a business letter - into 3rds!

The "lock-in", is the first step in the folding procedure. Here you place the butter over only 2/3rds of the dough, then fold it like a business letter! By doing this "lock-in", you have created 5 layers of; dough, butter, dough, butter, dough! Continuing on with this process with the additional folds needed.

Can you explain why there are two different types of cocoa powder?

There are two types of cocoa powder - Non-alkalized & alkalized cocoa powder (Dutched-processed). Dutch-processed cocoa has been treated with a alkali (potassium carbonate) which raises the cocoa powders Ph level from 5 to 8! This processing neutralizes the cocoa, and produces a darker and milder cocoa, compared to regular cocoa powder. Making it ideal for baking.

However, dutched cocoa will not react with baking soda in a recipe, and so baking powder will be the only leavener used!

Can crème brulee be made on the stove? I've never heard of it made this way.

You are correct, Crème Brulee is traditionally baked in a water bath. However, pastry chefs sometimes like to fill tulip cups, tart shells and cakes with this rich custard filling. In this case, we cook the mixture over a simmering water bath till thickened. Then cool the mixture, and scoop or pipe into the desired item. Sprinkle with sugar and caramelize the top!

The formula below, is made over a simmering water bath, and contains more egg yolks then the baked version. Here is the recipe.

1 1/2 cups Heavy Cream
9 Egg Yolks
3 oz. Sugar
1 vanilla bean or vanilla extract.

Prepare as you would vanilla sauce. Cool over an ice water bath to thicken. Stirring occasionally.

What is an air cell in a cake?

Air cells are the millions of tiny pockets found inside most baked products. Known technically as the "crumb", these air cells are trapped inside the webbing of starch and protein. These air cells are created by one or several actions. They are 1) The expansion of trapped gases by heat & steam. 2) Chemical leavening - baking soda & baking powder. 3) Mechanical Leavening - creaming method & egg foaming method.

In the Bavarian Cream recipe it calls for Vanilla Sauce. What exactly is Vanilla Sauce?

Vanilla sauce is considered a "mother sauce" in pastry. It is used as the base in many creams, mousses, ice cream and desserts. It is sometimes referred to as - crème anglaise, custard sauce and English crème/sauce. It is based on milk, sugar and egg yolks. Check-out the recipe at our "Recipe Showcase" for a complete procedure.

Why must bread be scored before baking?

The scoring of some breads before baking is done for two reasons. First, for a beautiful visual appearance and second, this scoring creates natural weak points in the surface of the dough. These "weak points" allow for the dough to expand quickly during baking, and to assure the loaf reaches maximum volume.

I am thinking of beginning a baking and pastry career. However, I'm worried that the career will mostly be a "production" type job, rather one where I can take my time and make each dessert "just so".

Your question is an excellent one. One of the main reasons an individual enters this field is to be creative and express there individual talents through baking.

Most pastry chefs are perfectionists and have a strong desire to produce beautifully baked items, each should taste great and look meticulous. It doesn't matter if its a wedding cake or a 1000 plated desserts (production), everything must be perfect! As this is a direct reflection in the overall abilities of the pastry chef.

As expected, you are apprehensive as this field is unknown to you. However, as you learn and gather years of experience, you will refine your skills and techniques. These daily production tasks will become second nature, and will eventually elevate yourself to the level of pastry chef!!!

The majority of baking positions, are production jobs! However, if you feel large production is not your "cup of tea", you might want to consider positions in a small wedding cake business or catering business.

How do you make "cream horns?

Cream Horns are made with "puff pastry dough". Proceed by rolling-out the dough to an 1/8" thickness. Cut into long strips 15" long by 3/4" wide. Roll around a cream horn tube, pinch the ends against the tube to seal. Roll into sugar and bake at 400F for 25 minutes. Remove from the tubes and allow to cool. Fill with sweetened whipped cream.

How can I make pulled sugar, poured sugar and bubble sugar?

The following recipe is used in producing of all three sugar products.

For Bubble Sugar: Prepare a batch of "Poured Sugar". Place a sheet of parchment on a work bench, with the long edge facing you. Wipe it liberally with "Rubbing Alcohol". Then quickly pour a 3" wide band of sugar parallel with the left edge of the parchment paper. I usually pour the band about 6" in from the left edge.

Then quickly pick-up the left two corners and slowly raise the parchment paper. The poured sugar will run down the paper - "SLOWLY". The heat of the hot sugar causes the alcohol to evaporate - creating bubbles trapped within the sugar!!!! Before the sugar cools, drape the parchment paper over odd shaped items to create interesting shapes. Pretty cool!!!

COLD WATER  1# 8 oz. 50%
SUGAR  3# 100%
GLUCOSE  8 oz. 20%
TARTARIC ACID  3 drops  ---
POWDERED COLORS  1 tsp./ 1 tbsp. water  ---

** POURED AND BUBBLE SUGAR USE NO TARTARIC ACID **

Tartaric Acid is equal parts Crystallized Tartaric Acid and boiling water.

COOKING THE SUGAR

1) Combine water and sugar into a copper pot.
2) Stir the sugar constantly over LOW HEAT until the sugar is COMPLETELY DISSOLVED.
3) Wash down the sides with the pastry brush and water. Do this several times throughout the entire cooking process.
4) All the sugar crystals must be dissolved before the mixture comes to a boil.
5) As the syrup comes to a simmer, skim off the scum.
6) Suspend a thermometer in the pot.
7) Increase heat to HIGH, making sure it does not shoot around the sides of the pot.
8) Add GLUCOSE. Skim again if needed.
9) Wash down the sides.
10) Cook till 280F, then add Tartaric Acid Drops and Powdered Color (which has been diluted in a little water).
11) Continue to cook till 317F. Lower the flame as you get close.
12) Remove from heat, and shock in ice-water bath for 5 seconds.
13) Whip off the bottom of pot with paper towels.
14) Proceed by pouring the hot "Pulled Sugar" onto a oiled marble slab and begin the pulling process, or if using "Poured Sugar" pour into prepared forms.

Can you explain how to make Fondant, the icing used in glaze Danish and other Bakery items?

Here is a recipe we use to make "Poured Fondant". We do not traditionally produce Fondant from scratch because of the time, labor, and difficulty involved. We purchase 50# buckets of premium quality fondant from suppliers, most bakeries will do the same.

POURED FONDANT

WATER 12 ounces
SUGAR 3#
LIGHT CORN SYRUP 8 ounces

1. Boil sugar and water to 230F. Then add the corn syrup. Wash down the sides of the pot throughout the cooking process with water.
2. Continue boiling until 240F is reached on a candy thermometer.
3. Pour onto a moistened marble top, and allow the sugar to cool to 110F. Mist the surface of the hot sugar with water.
4. At 110F, begin agitating the fondant with a couple of bench scrapers. Folding the sugar on top of itself, from the outside in!
5. The fondant will begin to recrystallize and turn white! Continue to work the fondant by hand, or place in a mixer with a paddle attachment. The finished product should be smooth and creamy.
6. Place the fondant in a bucket, cover with about an 1 inch layer of water, and seal with a lid.
7. To use, place the desired amount of fondant in a stainless-steel bowl. Place over a simmering water bath and heat to 100F. Stir constantly to assure the fondant becomes evenly heated.
8. You may adjust the consistency of the fondant to be more fluid, by adding a small quantity of corn syrup or simple syrup or egg white.

For Rolled Fondant Cake Covering Procedures: click here

Is there any words of wisdom you can give to a new pastry cook. In my present position, I am working very hard, and getting burned out quickly . I would love any ideas or suggestions to make my job easier?

In some shape or form, ever pastry chef has had to go through what you're experiencing! Lack of work space, lack of oven/refrigerator space, limited hours to get things done and limited assistance. One other thing, you're expect to work miracles!

My best advice to you, is to breakdown each dessert into its required components and have these recipes handy. Schedule your production for each day and everyday and even for the whole week. Determine that you have ordered all the ingredients needed to achieve you production demands.

Second, learn to consolidate your time. Establish an area in the kitchen that's yours. This will save a lot of time searching for equipment and ingredients! Keep it clean and well organized.

Third, make and freeze items you can use through-out the week or in-case of an emergency. Such as cookie dough, pate a choux, cake layers, tart dough, sauces, etc....

As your knowledge and experience increases, so will your speed and confidence. Best of luck in your new position.

What type of equipment would I need to start a bakery?

Selecting the proper tools and equipment used in a professional bakery, is a major decision making process. Planning and purchasing the correct pieces from the very beginning can save a considerable amount of aggravation and money in the long run.

Below is a basic listing of smallwares and common equipment:

Knives, baking pans, whisks, measuring spoons, measuring cups, rubber spatulas, metal spoons, ladles, bench scraper, rolling pins, pastry wheel, pastry brush, bench brush, stainless-steel bowls, pastry bags & tips, pallet knife, cake turntable, oven mitts, pots (various sizes), fine mesh strainer, China cap, sifters, colander, small storage containers, parchment paper, bowl scrapers, etc.

Refrigerator/freezer, Oven (deck, convection, rotating, etc.), stove top, 20 qt. Hobart mixer, KitchenAid mixer, sheetpans, baker's scales, dough-sheeter, food processor, microwave oven, work tables, three compartmental sink, hand sink, storage racks, proof box, fryer, dishwasher, ingredient bins, baker's racks, etc.

I am looking for a white chocolate glaze recipe for Petits Fours. I have a wonderful dark chocolate ganache recipe, yet when I replace the dark chocolate with white chocolate it does not set!

As a baker, I love to make Petits Fours! We traditionally glaze them with "fondant, dark chocolate ganache or white chocolate glaze".

Remember, when making a ganache the ratio of chocolate to cream is not the same for dark and white chocolates! For Dark Chocolate Ganache the ratio is about 1 1/2 parts semi-sweet dark chocolate to 1 part cream. For White Chocolate Ganache the ratio increases to 3 parts white chocolate to 1 part cream. Of course you may add some butter for richness, flavorings, and corn syrup for shine!

But for glazing cakes/petits fours here is the recipe we use:

WHITE CHOCOLATE GLAZE
WHITE CHOCOLATE 1# 8 ounces
CRISCO - vegetable shortening 4 ounces
LIGHT CORN SYRUP 2 ounces

Melt chocolate and Crisco separately, then blend together.
Add corn syrup.
Strain
Allow to cool to 95F degrees, then glaze.

What is the secret to maintaining a crisp tulipe cookie in a hot humid kitchen?

We have all experience this same problem. Baking and shaping beautiful crisp tulipe dessert containers, only to have them wilt and become soggy in a few hours. But there is a solution???

What I do, is store our "tulipe cookies, tuiles and dessert containers" in a deep Tupperware container. I lay the items carefully inside, layering in between with parchment paper. I then fill a cup with a "moisture absorbing agent" - like silica gel, limestone or DampRid (you can find this at HomeDepot) place this inside. Then seal the entire container with its top, or cover with plastic wrap - making it air tight! This should make your cookies last for several days.

How are sugar saturations accurately measured in liquids?

There are two basic "devices and scales" used to test density or the specific gravity of sucrose solutions.

Baume Scale - is a glass tube hydrometer, or sometimes referred to as a saccharometer. It is then placed into the desired liquid to float freely. The graduated scale within the tube, measures between 0-50 degrees baume (BE). 0 (zero) degrees being that of plain water.
Sorbets mixtures read between 14 to18 degrees BE, and a 1:1 simple syrup reads 28 degrees BE.

Brix Scale is a refractometer. It is a handheld instrument that determines the "percentage" of a sucrose concentration dissolved in water. For example: If 4 ounces of sugar is dissolved in 10 ounces of water, the scale will read 40 degrees brix!

I have always been interested in the culinary arts, especially baking. I am considering changing careers to this field, what are your thoughts?

Any career change is a big decision and should be thoroughly examined.
First, I would highly recommend enrolling in some weekend culinary/ baking course at a near bye culinary school. This will acquaint yourself with the culinary field to see if you enjoy it! If you do, I would then recommend enrolling in a accredited culinary arts/baking program.
Second, take a part-time job in the field. Locate a restaurant, bakery, hotel, or resort in your area that appeals to you, look for an establishment that produces high quality desserts. Basically, a bakeshop environment where you can learn correct technique and gather valuable hands-on experience! Drop in, visit with the chef and see if they have any job openings. If you're dedicated, hard working, on time, and have a great attitude - a chef/baker will probably give you a chance as a entry level employee.
Third, start reading professional level baking books from cover to cover. Start learning as much as you can about the topic!
Forth, read our "Archives Page", and also check-out our "Directory of Baking Sites" for additional information.
Good luck in your endeavors.

We are having a problem with our sheet cakes drying out in the
freezer after two or three days. We make them from scratch, allow them to cool, and then place them in the freezer.

There are two factors involved in the staling process. First, a loss of moisture in the baked product, and second a chemical tightening of the starch molecule known as "retrogradation".

First, I don't believe there is a problem with your sheet cake formula. If the cake is moist and delicious when baked, it should certainly have a similar quality after three days of being frozen!

My main concern is how you are storing your sheetcake layers to retard the staling process. They should be tightly wrapped with plastic wrap, and then aluminum foil to prevent freezer burn. If any cake is exposed, it will become stale very quickly from the lose of moisture in the freezer/refrigerator!

Important note - check your freezer temperature. Rapid staling occurs just above the freezing point. So make sure your walk-in freezer does not reach a temperature above 32F!! Staling is inhibited below 32F degrees!

Why did my Italian Buttercream curdle during whipping?

Italian Buttercream is a simple "water and fat emulsion". Sometimes the emulsion breaks, resulting in a buttercream that looks broken and curdled. However, it is very easy to fix.
First, if the buttercream is cold and broken, separately melt about 25% of the mixture, return it to the remainder and then rewhip -- it should come right together.
Second, if the mixture is warm and broken, simply chill the buttercream in the refrigerator until the mixture is cool, then rewhip.

Please also review our recipe for "Italian Buttercream", and examine the basic ratio of ingredients.

Great Web site!!
I have seen pastry chefs use a paint sprayer to “paint” frosting onto a cake, giving it a unique textured look. Are there any precautions that have to be taken with the sprayer to use with food products and do you have a general recipe for the frosting? Are there any sprayers better than the others?

The Wagner Power Sprayer is the ideal tool to use, it is portable and doesn't require compressed air.

Make sure the Wagner Sprayer is EXCLUSIVELY used for chocolate, and NO other product has been sprayed through the unit. We store our sprayer in a warm deck oven so its always ready to use at a moments notice!

The formula:
EQUAL parts of semi-sweet chocolate and cocoa butter
8 ounces of chocolate
8 ounces cocoa butter (not regular butter)
melt to 130F - hold as close to that temperature during spraying.


For a velvety texture - freeze items prior to spraying.
For a smooth finish - keep items at room temperature.

What would be the correct height for a pastry marble top?
(Can it simply be counter height, i.e. 36"+/-)

That's a great question!
Adjusting the work bench to the ideal table height minimizes back and shoulder fatigue. In a common kitchen/bakeshop the height of a worktable is approximately 36". However, the worktable height in a private bakeshop is usually adjusted to be fit the requirements of the baker!

The perfect table height can be determined by following these steps:
1. Stand-up.
2. Extend your arms by your side.
3. Open your hands and place your left hand on top of your right hand.
4. Now allow your arms to naturally bend slightly.
5. Bend your wrist so your hands are parallel with the floor.
6. Mark this height on a wall and then measure the height!
7. THIS IS THE PERFECT WORKTABLE HEIGHT FOR YOU! (for me its 40")

Can you explain how to convert recipes to a different yield?

Sure there are 2 basic ways of formula conversion.
1)  The simplest way to conduct a recipe conversion, is by first determining how many portions a recipe yields, and then determine if you need to increase or decrease this yield amount.  If you would like to double this amount, simply multiply each ingredient in the formula by 2; to triple multiply every ingredient by 3 times, and so on. This number is known as your conversion factor. The opposite is also true, if you require to decrease a recipes yield.  Simply divide each ingredient by 1/2 or 1/4, and so on.
For example: if an original recipe calls for 8 ounces of sugar, and you would like to double the recipe, the new quantity of sugar would be 16 ounces or 1 pound.  This conversion method is relatively easy for anyone to complete.  Check your work!!!


2)  The second method of recipe conversion, is known as BAKER'S PERCENTAGES.  Although more difficult to calculate, it is used to determine very specific yields.  Lets review the recipe below.  First, you will notice that the flour is 100%; when using Baker's Percentages, the weight of the flour is always referred to as 100%, and all other ingredients are based as a percentages of the weight of the flour.  Use the equation below to calculate each ingredient percentage.

Ingredients Weight Percent NEW YIELD
Pastry Flour 5 lbs. 100% 8 lbs 5.33oz.
Butter 8 oz. 10% 13.35 oz.
Sugar 4 oz. 5% 6.67 oz.
Milk 20 oz. 25% 33.38 oz.
Eggs 2 lb. 40% 53.40 oz.

Yield

9 lbs.

180%

15 lbs. or 240 oz.

total amount of ingredient  X  100% = % of that ingredient
total amount of flour

2a)  Converting a Recipe to a New Yield:
The above formula yields 9 lbs. of batter, but what do you do if you require a new yield of 15 lbs.?
Follow these calculations:

New Yield Amount:  15 lbs. X 16 ounces = 240 ounces
Total of Ingredient Percentages:  180.0%  = 1.800
Calculation:  240 oz. / 1.800 = 133.33 or  8 lbs. 5.33 ounces
133.50 ounces is the NEW WEIGHT of the FLOUR
See the 4th column above for these new yields.  I have stated the ingredient weights exactly as calculated.  But remember, in a bakeshop environment you will need to round-up to the nearest 1/4 ounce.

Professional grade Baking Supplies and world-class Pastry Ingredients.
Largest assortment and internet's oldest bakery supplier.
Trusted since 1997