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As an avid baker, I constantly have a glass jar of flour sitting on my kitchen counter. But I never really thought much about what goes into producing that flour until a recent trip to Columbia, South Carolina, home to the Adluh Flour Mill.
This week on Ask The Food Lab, we take reader questions about how to get rid of those pesky dry bubbles of cocoa powder in your hot chocolate or chocolate milk, and discover why whole wheat bread has a completely different texture than white bread.
Whether you've got a confectionary whiz, amateur ice cream maker, aspiring pastry chef, or pal with a serious sweet tooth on your gift list, we hope this list of 6 of our favorite sweets cookbooks of 2011 will help you find the perfect present.
- Cook the Book: 'The Glorious Pastas of Italy': llenadevida900, ironbarista, elizabiest, mickey36, and Ron Manley.
- Bake the Book: 'Flour': PinkCupcake, thesu, JuliaL, coffeelove, and Macaroon.
- Labor Day Giveaway: Tenderloin Filets and Cedar Grilling Planks: Delia, katalia, and mcmatt11.
- Winners have been notified by email and also appear on our Contest Winners page. Thanks to all who entered!
Any cake can be transformed into a birthday cake with a round of "Happy Birthday to You" and a box of colorful candles, but nothing says birthday quite like a layered and frosted yellow cake. This recipe for the birthday classic from Joanne Chang's Flour refines the original ever so slightly, making for a cake that looks the part but tastes truly memorable.
Tender yellow cake with smooth chocolate frosting, this is birthday cake done right.
To enjoy that delicately flaky French pastry known as a croissant, you have two options: Stopping by your local bakery and picking up a few, or the road less traveled—making them yourself. The difference between these two options is really a matter of time, the first taking just a few minutes, and the second, around 14 hours. While heading to the store is a good option for most of us, making croissants at home is a project for intrepid bakers, those who have a need to know just how all of those buttery layers come to be.
For all of you ambitious bakers out there who have been wondering just how the buttery layers of a croissant come to be, this recipe is for you. Harvard grad Joanne Chang has written a comprehensive recipe that will hold your hand from dough rolling to shaping to proudly pulling lovely, flaky croissants out of the oven.
n the world of fancy-pants baking, milk chocolate often gets left behind in flavor of more complex dark chocolate. But for this tart, Chang incorporates milk chocolate into a light and fluffy mousse with subtle hints of coffee. Layered into a crisp pâte sucrée crust that's been coated with gooey caramel, and topped with drizzles of even more caramel and curls of shaved milk chocolate, this tart really is an updated candy bar in spoonable form.
This Milky Way Tart gives milk chocolate its fair shake in the form of a light mousse tucked into a caramel coated tart shell, drizzled with more caramel and finished with a flutter of chocolate curls.
Just prior to opening Flour in 2000, Joanne Chang was featured in the Boston Globe for a story all about cookies, and it was a giant photo of these Black Sesame Lace Cookies that illustrated the story. These cookies were a holdover from Chang's days as a pastry chef, where she made these delicate, sesame dotted rounds to garnish bowls of ice cream and sorbet.
Many bakers boast degrees from The Culinary Institute of America, the French Culinary Institute, and other storied programs—but I'm willing to wager that Joanne Chang of Boston's Flour Bakery might be the only one with degrees in applied mathematics and economics from Harvard. Her path from post-college management consulting to restaurant kitchens and bakeries was one that took the sort of motivation and drive that you'd expect from a Harvard grad.
Pop quiz: what do whipped cream, Nerf footballs, Pizza, and Tempur-Pedic mattresses have in common? That's right — they're all foams. Wait, huh? Pizzas are foams? You mean those annoying, piddly things that chefs were goofing around with in the mid 2000's? That's right, as are hot dog buns, Wonderbread, Pane di Genzano, Portuguese rolls, Naan, pancakes, and pretty much every other leavened batter or dough-based product in the world.
Gluten-free bakers, low carb cooks, and fitness bloggers are all atwitter about peanut flour. What's the deal? Peanut flour is made by taking roasted peanuts, grinding them into a paste (like peanut butter but without the added salt, sugar, or any added oils) and then pressing out the oil. The process is quite similar to extracting juice from grapes to make wine.
In browsing the King Arthur Flour site under specialty flours, I came across the company's Perfect Pizza blend. When I've used KA, I've always gone for Sir Lancelot, so I'd never seen this product before. A quick search on Slice and Serious Eats doesn't reveal any mentions of it from anyone. So, has anyone out there used it? If so, results? Thoughts?
While you could certainly do plenty of baking and pizzamaking using only refined white flour, some people like to experiment with other types. Have you ever wondered what the difference is between whole wheat and white whole wheat flour? What about semolina, rye, and spelt? Here's a quick glossary of some of the more common varieties.
While some bags of flour contain nothing but wheat, many are enriched or processed in some way. Have you ever wondered how bleached or bromated flour is different? More importantly, do these processes affect your baking? Here are the answers you've been looking for.