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  • pastry_puff how detailed information, tips, techniques and recipes can improve your baking! Ask Sarah and have your baking questions answered by a professional. Take step-by-step baking classes at any time.

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    Pastry 101: Puff Pastry - Page 1 (page 2)

    Pastry 101 Croissants Pte Choux Phyllo Dough Puff Pastry Pie & Tart Crusts

    Danish Strudel Dough

    INTRODUCTION: Originating in France, they call Puff pastry, Pte Feuillete or leafed pastry because of its many leaves or layers. Puff pastry is the king of pastries -- crisp, buttery, flaky and especially light. It is used to make a variety of crisp creations including croissants, Napoleons, Palmiers and Allumettes. Danish and puff pastry are made from similar techniques, but Danish is made from a yeast dough and puff contains no rising agent but steam. Since Puff Pastry doesn't contain sugar, it makes a perfect wrapping for various savory and sweet foods such as meats, cheese and fruit. It can be made at home or purchased from the supermarket in the freezer section as ready-made.

    The moisture in the dough comes from gluten, water and from butter. If eggs are used in the dough, they also contain water. Gluten is formed when wheat flour and

    There are two portions to Puff Pastry - the dough portion, called Puff Paste, and the roll-in fat portion. It is is made by first enclosing a "butter block" in dough, which is then folded and rolled out numerous times to create hundreds of alternating thin layers of pastry and butter, the result known as a laminated dough. Puff Pastry expands when baked, rising to about 8-times its original height; that is, a quarter-inch thickness of puff pastry dough will blow up to 2 inches high!

    The leavening in Puff Pastry is derived when the moisture in the dough itself turns to steam and the air trapped there, as well, expands when heated, causing the pastry to puff and separate into hundreds of flaky and thin layers, pushing it upwards and outwards in every direction. The pressure from the steam also gives the effect of an upward lift, similar to the way in which a hovercraft works. The pressure is contained within each sheet of dough because it is sealed in between the thin layers of butter.

    The butter or fat, rolled in between the layers of dough, are excellent heat conductors and quickly turn any moisture in the dough to steam. The super-heated steam from the butter layer also helps to dry the layers of pastry and help set the flour's starches, so the layers of pastry are held in place through baking. The layers hold as sheets because of the way in which it is rolled. (1 of 29)9/25/2006 9:41:08 PM

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    moisture, such as water and that contained in butter (20%) is stirred or manipulated, such as rolled and folded. (Butter is made up of one part protein and two parts water.) Gluten is necessary to provide extra support to the thin, fragile layers of pastry.


    you don't want to make your own Puff Pastry, don't despair -- there are ready-made dough available in the freezer section of the supermarket. They are easy to use and quite good. Look for the all-natural kinds. Two ready-made puff pastry brands are well worth trying: Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry Sheets and Classic Puff Pastry from Dufour Pastry Kitchens (which can be rolled thinner).

    Pte Feuillete Demo & Recipe

    Brie Wrapped in Puff Pastry

    & Baked

    Easy Chocolate Turnovers

    Apple Tart, Free Form -


    Puff Pastry Pie Crust

    Cream Horns

    Puff Pastry Fresh Fruit


    Puff Pastry was invented in about 1645 by a French pastrycook's apprentice named Claudius Gele. At the end of his apprenticeship, Claudius wanted to bake a delicious loaf of bread for his sick father, who was prescribed a diet consisting of water, flour and butter. Claudius prepared a dough, packing the butter into it, kneading the dough out on the table, folding it, and repeating the procedure ten times, after which he molded the dough into a loaf.

    The pastrycook, who had watched the procedure, advised Claudius against baking the loaf as he thought the butter would run out of it. Nevertheless, the loaf was put in the oven, and as the loaf baked, both the pastrycook and Claudius were more and more surprised at the shape and the unusual size it attained.

    Having finished his apprenticeship, Claudius left for Paris, where he found work at the Rosabau Patisserie. Here he completed his invention, which won the shop an enormous fortune and name. Claudius later went to Florence, where he worked in the Brothers Mosca's pastry shop. The brothers Mosca reaped the honour of having invented the Puff Pastry, although Claudius kept his secret to himself and always prepared his pastries in a locked room. Claudius died in 1682, a highly regarded artist.

    MAKING PUFF PASTRY 101 (Classic or Quick) You will see different ways of preparing Puff pastry, but described below is the one I like to use.

    Making Puff pastry works best in cool, dry kitchen because if the fat becomes too warm, it melts and breaks through the dough layers.

    While croissant and danish doughs do contain a small amount of yeast to aid in leavening, puff pastry relies solely on steam and requires a higher percentage of butter and a more elaborate folding process.


    The best tasting Puff pastry comes from unsalted butter. The best-textured Puff pastry comes from vegetable shortening, such as Crisco. Butter with a low water content called Plugra or other French butters works well, too. As a result, it is highly desirable because it won't toughen the gluten. The butter also stays pliable even when cold. It usually available from upscale supermarkets or gourmet shops. The dough should be well chilled, lump free and the flour well incorporated. The butter should be the same consistency as the dough. Keep everything cold, especially the butter which should be kept at 60 degrees F. Measure its temperature by inserting an Instant Read Thermometer in its center. If the butter is too cold, it will be hard and break through the dough; if too soft, it will be absorbed into the dough. Either way the Puff pastry recipe will fail ! Unbleached hard wheat (bread flour) than bleached or softer flour (all-purpose or cake) plays an important role in the pastry's ability to fluff. Using all bread flour makes the pastry tough. (2 of 29)9/25/2006 9:41:08 PM

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    In general, flour will also absorb some of the moisture of the butter and help make the dough more manageable -- firm and rollable. The combination of a little cake flour with unbleached all-purpose flour is best. It has just the right amount of protein to support the layers without making the dough too elastic to roll. Salt helps to flavor and relax the pastry. The amount of water used in the recipe can vary according to the water absorption rate of the flour. Lemon juice adds acidity which relaxes the dough by breaking down the proteins to make rolling easier.


    Keeping the dough cold as you work is important to the success of any puff pastry -- otherwise, the butter melts and will no longer form distinct layers. Also, keep your warm hands off the dough as much as possible. If at any point the dough starts to soften and stick, slip it onto a cookie sheet, (3 of 29)9/25/2006 9:41:08 PM

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    cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm -- NO LONGER THAN 30 MINUTES. This will keep the butter from turning too hard, as it will not soften evenly at room temperature until after the 4th turn.


    Best rolled on a marble, granite, Formica or wood surface. Keep the dough neat for a uniform puff. Use a large rolling pin and roll evenly from end to open end. Don't roll from (4 of 29)9/25/2006 9:41:08 PM

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    side to side. Square off the sides with a rolling pin or pastry scraper as you work so the corners are at 90-degree angles. It is essential to let the pastry, rest for a minimum of 1 hour up to 24 hours, in the refrigerator after every two folds. It must be wrapped in plastic.


    Making classic Puff Pastry starts with a butter block, typically made from cold butter (60 degrees F, measured with an Instant Read Thermometer) ) mixed with a small amount flour or in some recipes, simply made from a block of butter. It is first pounded with a rolling pin to render it plastic. By hand, the butter is then squeezed into a solid mass and shaped into a square 1-inch thick. Work quickly as the butter should remain the cool temperature it started with. If it gets too warm, the butter block must be wrapped and refrigerated until ready to use. Let sit a short time at room temperature to the proper 60 degrees F temperature.

    The dough called Puff Paste, commonly referred to as dtrempe, is made from flour (all-purpose and sometimes a blend of all-purpose, cake and/or bread (5 of 29)9/25/2006 9:41:08 PM

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    flours), unsalted butter, cold water and salt. Sometimes other ingredients are added such as an egg or lemon juice. The making of the dough is extremely important: if you add too much flour or do not work the dough long enough, it will be rubbery, hard to work with and shrink when baked. The butter will soften the gluten from the flour. This allows the pastry to stretch more freely.

    The butter and dough should be at approximately the same consistency and cooler than room temperature. (I check mine with an Instant Read Thermometer with its end placed in the middle). Otherwise, you'll get a poor quality recipe.

    When making a butter block, the butter should not be so soft that it is hard to handle. Let it achieve 60 degrees F which is optimal (check with your Instant Read Thermometer placed in its middle). At this temperature, you should be able to transfer the finished block from

    On a floured work surface, the dough is placed and pressed with fingertips into a rough square about an 1-inch thick. At this stage the dough will seem ropey and rugged, which is normal. Dust flour on the dough and roll out the four corners into flaps, about 1/8-inch thick. Basically what you know have is a "four leaf clover shape" with a middle that is thicker than the flaps. This is called the "French Method". (The English Method: The dough is pinned out to a rectangular shape, the butter block is also flattened out to a rectangular shape to cover about 66% of the pastry. The exposed dough is folded over to cover half of the fat. It is then folded again to completely cover and enclose the butter.)

    Next the square of butter is placed in the middle of the dough, aligning it so the corners of the square are between the flaps. Moisten the flaps lightly with cold water. Fold the flaps over the butter without stretching them, called a "lock in". Press edges together to seal in butter and press out any air. Make sure no butter is exposed. If some shows through, seal the dough around it by pinching the dough together.

    All ends and corners should be folded evenly and squarely. It is now called a "dough package" or "dough block".

    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 3 layers of; dough, butter, dough! Continuing

    Called "rolling-in" the dough-butter package is rolled out into a rectangle, about approximately 5- inches by 10-inches or 9-inches by 18-inches, about 1/8-inch thick, always keeping its corners at a 90-degree angle. Dust with flour and place the dough package seam-side up. Dust its top.

    To roll, gently press with a rolling pin, giving the dough a series of strokes, very close together. Begin your pin on the edge closest to you and roll toward the far end. The upper part always tends to lengthen faster than the bottom. As you roll, turn the dough over occasionally to keep the seams and edges even. Continue until the dough is about 3/8-inch thick. Always dust the surface with pinches of flour to prevent sticking. Roll over the dough again in the length with even pressure, once or twice. Stop when the dough is 1/4-inch thick. Next you do a series of turns and folds.

    TURNING AND FOLDING: 1 turn equals folding, rolling and rotating. The dough is intermittently chilled and rested.

    After rolling in the butter, the next steps called turns, producing hundreds of alternating layers of fat and dough. Called lamination, this method keeps the gluten strands in the dough lying in one plane. This is important because by doing so, it gives strength to the dough sheets, so they don't crumble when they puff during baking. If the lamination is successful and the layers are maintained, the recipe will rise to its fullest and not distort. It will be light and flaky or if not, will resemble brioche.

    The first turn in laminating is done by folding, rolling and rotating the dough. The second and subsequent turn starts with folding, rolling and then rotating the dough. The number of turns taken depends on the way in which the dough is folded.

    The key to success in the laminating process is maintaining the integrity of each layer. This is done by: (6 of 29)9/25/2006 9:41:08 PM

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    one hand to the other without breaking it. It should not be so firm that it cracks or breaks when you press on it. If the butter block is colder than the dough, the dough package won't roll out easily and spread, the butter will break into pieces and will puncture the dough. A dough that is softer than the butter will be forced to the sides by the firmer butter; a dough that is too firm will force the butter out the sides.

    on with this process with the additional folds needed.

    Resting the pastry Keep the corners of the pastry square Not rolling the dough too thin Brushing off excess flour off the pastry with a pastry brush between turns Keep the dough block covered during resting and folding periods

    Folds: There are two ways to fold the dough: with 3-folds or 4-folds. The procedure above (rolling-in) does not count as one of the turns. Note that a Puff pastry made with 4 turns will be crunchier than puff pastry with 6 turns, which will be lighter and fluffier.

    A Three or Single Fold. Recipes are given SIX turns with 3-folds each. The process is simple, you fold the dough like a business letter - into 3rds! This type is the classic French technique. A Book Fold (also known as a Double Turn). Recipes are given FOUR turns with 4-folds each. It's a newer type of turn which makes it easier to control the shaping and layering of the dough, so it will rise more evenly when baked. After the pastry has been rolled into a rectangle, each end is folded and meet in the middle. The dough is folded in half like a closed book making 4 layers. This is called a book fold as the end result resembles a book, with a spine (fold) in the middle and the "covers" or flaps attached to it.


    KEEPING TRACK OF TURNS: After taking a turn, mark the dough with one finger indentation so you know you completed one turn, two finger marks for two turns etc. so you won't forget how many turns you have done).

    BOOK TURNS EXAMPLE: After preparing the dough package, turns are taken to laminate the dough based here upon FOUR 4-folds (Click for a SIX 3-fold example). It will take about 4 hours to complete. The first few times you try to fold the dough, it will crumble; as a result, don't gather it together or press on it. Don't worry: around the fourth turn, the dough will become smooth and solid.

    Book Turn #1: During the process, if the dough package is too cold or becomes too warm, let warm to about 60 degrees F or place wrapped in the refrigerator to chill. (More).


    The dough needs a resting time of an hour or four hours, preferably 24 in the refrigerator, after the dough and butter are initially layered and after every second "turn". That's to give the gluten strands a chance to relax, making it more foldable and stretchable afterwards. (7 of 29)9/25/2006 9:41:08 PM

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    Puff pastry, lacking yeast and its dough conditioning benefits, is more susceptible to tears and shrinkage during baking. Since it is also laminated to a further degree, the rests between turns are even more critical making it easier to roll farther. If it is overworked without being allowed to rest, the gluten structure will tear, the dough will become tough and the finished recipe won't have the desired height or texture.

    Wrap it in plastic and refrigerate. During this time, the dough will rest, relaxing the gluten strands so the dough is less elastic and easier to roll for use in a recipe.

    HOW TO MAKE PUFF PASTRYSTEPS: Book Turn #1 REASON:1. To start, lightly dust the surface of your countertop and rolling pin.

    This is so either the rolling pin won't stick to the dough or the dough to the countertop, tearing some of the layers when removed. Don't use too much as excess flour makes the pastry tough.

    2. Place or make sure the dough package on a flour dusted surface so its "book" spine is always on the left, perpendicular to the edge of the countertop.

    This is always done before each rolling-out so that the length becomes the width. When the dough is rolled, it's always done lengthwise. Failure to do this will result in products that deform or shrink unevenly when baked.

    3. Rub flour lightly on the surface dough package. Don't use too much as excess flour makes the pastry tough.

    4. Roll away from you in even strokes until the dough becomes a rectangle and measures approximately 5- inches by 10-inches or 9-inches by 18-inches, about 1/8-inch thick. A heavy rolling pin is an asset.

    Always roll in a square or rectangular shape regardless of the final shape. Roll in one direction. Begin your pin on the edge closest to you and roll toward the far end; do not roll sideways.

    Do not press down when rolling or the layers may stick together and the recipe will not rise properly. Decrease the pressure as you roll toward the edges to avoid flattening them and compressing the layers. Evenness of rolling is essential so there is even rising.

    The upper part tends to lengthen faster than the bottom, so turn the dough over occasionally to keep the seams and edges even. Make sure you place the dough so when you resume rolling you do so over the previous rolls and in the same direction.

    Rolling to 1/8-inch thick is good for most pastries. For tartlets, roll to 1/16-inch thick, and for larger pastries, such as the Gateau St.-Honore, 3/16-inch thick.

    5. Make sure the corners are at a 90-degree angle. This is so the layers are lined up properly for the greatest puff during baking.6. Brush any excess flour from the top of the dough. Don't use too much as excess flour makes the pastry tough.

    7. Fold the dough, both ends meeting in the middle. Fold the dough in half like a closed book. The rolled-out dough is folded in such a way that the grain remains lengthwise.

    8. Rotate the "book" so its spine is on the left and parallel to the edge of the countertop.

    This is always done before each rolling-out so that the length becomes the width. Called turning, this makes sure that the gluten becomes stretched in all directions, not just lengthwise when rolled.

    Book Turn #2:

    Complete steps for Book Turn #1. (8 of 29)9/25/2006 9:41:08 PM

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    Before rolling puff pastry, quick-chill your rolling surface with self-sealing bags full of ice. During rolling, never force the dough. If you have to, stop rolling, wrap dough in plastic and place in refrigerator for about 20 minutes. Repeat the process until the dough "relaxes".

    Afterwards, the dough needs to be rested (after every two turns) by placing it wrapped in plastic in the refrigerator for about an hour, up to 24 hours. Allowing the dough to rest between turns allows the gluten structure to relax, making the dough more extensible and less likely to tear.

    Cream Horns are made with

    Puff Pastry Dough". When done making all the turns and refrigerating 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 400 degrees F for 25 minutes. Remove from the tubes and allow to cool. Fill with sweetened whipped cream.

    Book Turn #3: Unwrap the dough. If the butter became too hard from refrigerating the dough package, let it soften a few minutes, but make sure it's at 60 degrees F. Follow Book Turn Steps #1.

    Book Turn #4: Complete Book Turn Steps #1.

    During the final turns, the dough becomes more difficult to roll as more gluten has been developed through rolling. If the dough is very elastic and hard to roll, I do what Shirley Corriher does in her book, Cookwise. Relax the gluten in the dough by rolling out as large as possible. Brush with ice water before continuing to roll.

    After the Book Turns: the dough needs to be rested (after every two turns) before using in a recipe. Wrap it in plastic and because this is the last turn, refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight. During this time, the dough will rest, relaxing the gluten strands so the dough is less elastic and easier to roll for use in a recipe.

    The finished dough will have 729 layers of alternating dough and butter. I like to give a seventh turn, which results in 2,187 layers, because the resulting pastry is incredibly light. Use dough within 24 hours or freeze indefinitely.

    CUTTING: When cutting the pastry into shapes to bake, the object is to create edges that leave the layers of pastry open (not stuck together) which will enable to rise freely. Never use a Puff pastry that's uncut because the layers will be sealed.

    With Puff pastry, there is always some degree of shrinkage, especially when baked blind as a pie or tart shell. Before cutting, lift it slightly and allow it to fall back on (9 of 29)9/25/2006 9:41:08 PM

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    the counter or baking sheet making it shrink before cutting. Always use a sharp knife moving in an up-and-down motion as opposed to dragging it. Also use a cutter to cut puff pastry dough, pressing straight down and not twisting. Wipe it clean after each cut. A dull cut will pinch the layers together, resulting in inferior puff height. These (10 of 29)9/25/2006 9:41:08 PM

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    are the same rules used when cutting biscuits. Cut a circle 1/2 to 1-inch larger than the desired baked size.

    SHAPING AND MAKING CRISP CREATIONS: To attach one piece of Puff pastry together, use an egg wash made from one large egg yolk lightly beaten with on teaspoon water (can also be used as a glaze before baking). This acts as glue so be careful not to let it drip because it may seal the edges. Never pinch the edges together unless specified; only press from the top. A second coat can be applied after a minute. Always apply pieces laid on top of one another in the same direction as the original sheet. They will distort less when baked.

    Crescents (Fleurons): Gather the dough on both long sides up to meet in the middle, completely enclosing the filling such as chocolate. Pinch the seam very thoroughly to seal tightly throughout the entire seam length (this is important!). You'll have a roughly half-moon shaped piece of dough (11 of 29)9/25/2006 9:41:08 PM

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    at this point, with the chocolate enclosed in the center. Flatten slightly, then curve around to form a crescent so that the pinched-shut seam is on the inside of the crescent shape. Place each finished crescent on a prepared baking sheet (you must allow room between the crescents, as they spread during baking). Drape a tea towel over each sheet of crescents, so they don't dry out while you're making the others. After finishing every 3 or 4 crescents, go back to those on the baking sheet. If they are starting to lose their crescent shape, re-shape them; if any seams need re-sealing, now's the time to do that. I like the look of tapered ends, so if (12 of 29)9/25/2006 9:41:08 PM

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    necessary I'll do that now, too. Just be sure to keep them covered after fixing their shapes. Croissants: Croissants can be made with buttered layers of yeast dough or puff pastry. They're sometimes stuffed (such as with a stick of chocolate or cheese) before being rolled into a crescent shape and baked. Croissants are generally thought of as breakfast pastries but can also be used for sandwiches and meal accompaniments. Boxes: Use puff pastry to make a "box" shape only to be filled with savory or sweet fillings. (13 of 29)9/25/2006 9:41:08 PM

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    Cheese straws: Slender, crisp wands of pastry, cheese straws make the perfect companion to a martini or a glass of wine. But think of classic cheddar albeit tasty only for starters. These sticks take well to many flavors, from savory to sweet. Napoleons: Cut homemade pastry or break the sheet of frozen puff pastry into 3 strips as directed in the recipe. Quarter each strip crosswise and bake the rectangles in a single layer on a baking sheet in a preheated 400 degree oven for 6 to 8 minutes. To serve, place a pastry rectangle on each of 6 plates; divide half the filling (Pastry Cream Recipe) among the rectangles. Top the filling on (14 of 29)9/25/2006 9:41:08 PM

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    each puff pastry piece with another rectangle and divide the remaining filling on top of the rectangles. Top with the remaining puff pastry rectangles, and a dusting of confectioners' sugar, if desired. Don't forget the glaze.

    Shells, Crusts or Cups: Turnovers: On a lightly floured surface, roll a rectangle slightly to make a 5-inch squares. Spoon the canned filling into a strainer set over a measuring cup. Stir with a spoon to strain as much of the sauce as possible into the cup; reserve. Divide the cherries among the pastry squares; top the cherries with some of the chopped almonds. Brush (15 of 29)9/25/2006 9:41:08 PM

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    the edges of each pastry square with beaten egg. Fold half of the pastry over the filling to make a triangle. Place the triangles on an ungreased baking sheet and press the edges together with the tines of a fork to seal. Brush the tops of the turnovers with the remaining beaten egg and cut a 1/2-inch slit in the top of each.

    SCRAPS: will be amazingly flaky but will not puff as high as the original.

    To prevent distortion during baking, lay them on top of each other in the same direction as the original. (16 of 29)9/25/2006 9:41:08 PM

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    Dust lightly with flour or use plastic wrap and roll over them so the sheets adhere to one another. Do a "turn" before wrapping in plastic and refrigerating or freezing. This allows the gluten strands to relax and firm before reuse.


    To prevent excessive puffing on certain pastries, the dough may need to be docked. This is usually done with Puff pastry shells. It can be done by (17 of 29)9/25/2006 9:41:08 PM

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    piercing the dough at 2" intervals with the tines of a fork or by using a commercial docker. When minimum puffing is desired (e.g. Napoleon layers), pierce the dough at 1/4" intervals.


    If cooked, filling must be cool before placing on dough pieces to prevent melting of the dough's shortening. (18 of 29)9/25/2006 9:41:08 PM

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    To ensure proper sealing, be sure that fillings or the butter block does not touch edges or seams. Leave an 1 inch margin at the edges. Edges should be brushed with water before joining to retain pastry shape and prevent fillings from leaking out. Use firm finger pressure (or fork ) to seal pieces together.

    VENTING: Air vents should be cut into unbaked pastry items before baking, especially if the filling is moist. Vents will allow steam to escape and help prevent leakage. Cut vents by using a shape knife or scissors. Always cut vents on the top side of the pastry item. (19 of 29)9/25/2006 9:41:08 PM

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    BAKING: A convection oven works best enabling them to rise to their fullest.

    A heavy, nonstick baking sheet brushed with ice water, is the perfect surface for baking the pastries on. The moistened sheet helps the dough adhere to it, keeping it from sliding and distorting during baking. Parchment paper can be used as a baking sheet liner, but it results in some distortion.

    Avoid non-stick and black-bottomed sheets before baking Puff pastry. During baking, the Puff pastry cannot hold its shape while rising when baked on a nonstick pan (this happens especially when baked in a nonconventional gas oven such as a convection oven.) It does not provide the necessary traction. A black-bottomed baking sheet conducts the heat too fast, burning the bottoms of the pastries.

    Glaze with a little milk before baking so it gets a golden brown color. Unbaked pastries may be baked from the frozen or thawed state. To defrost, it can be removed from the freezer and placed in a refrigerator to thaw, where it will keep in a useable state for up to 2 days. When it is brought back to room temperature, it should be used as soon as possible. (20 of 29)9/25/2006 9:41:08 PM

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    Puff pastry dough should always be baked in a preheated oven and can be baked in both a conventional or convection oven. (Reduce baking temperature by 50F for a convection oven.) The pastry is initially put in a really hot oven to give it an initial puff and then after time, the temperature is reduced. Most smaller items (2 - 3oz) bake for 20-25 minutes in a 380 - 400F oven; larger items (strudels ) at a lower temperature of 360 -370F for 45 - 55 minutes to reduce the possibility of collapsing after cooling. (21 of 29)9/25/2006 9:41:08 PM

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    All puff pastries should be baked until golden brown. The pastry should have distinct layers inside and crumble easily when touched. With high moisture fillings, the dough may remain slightly unbaked next to the filling. This is normal. When baked, the Puff pastry should be dry and crisp.

    What went wrong during baking:

    Lack of lift: Usually due to insufficient expansion of the dough layers during baking. Make sure the fat and dough are of similar consistency. Roll evenly (22 of 29)9/25/2006 9:41:08 PM

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    without forcing. Check your oven temperature. Hotter temperatures will generally produce a higher puff. Irregular and uneven lift: Too few folds. Layers merge: a result of the breakdown of lamination and a shortening of structure caused by too many folds. Shrinkage during baking: Caused by contraction of the dough layers. Gluten develops elasticity and toughness. To prevent this, ensure that the pastry is adequately rested (4 hours, (23 of 29)9/25/2006 9:41:08 PM

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    preferably overnight) before baking. Commercially prepared pastry purchased from local supermarket may also shrink due to incorrect handling. Be sure to handle according to the package's instructions. Cracking in pastry is due to the dough drying out. If the top layer loses moisture, it shrinks and then cracks. To prevent cracking, keep it covered with a piece of clean plastic film before baking or when storing. (24 of 29)9/25/2006 9:41:08 PM

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    Spots on the surface of the baked pastry: too much water.


    Unbaked Puff Pastry: Dough can be frozen twice without losing its significant rising ability. This is great when making hors d'oeuvres. Frozen dough can be rolled, stuffed, shaped and refrozen before baking and serving. Frozen pastry dough works best when baked while frozen. The shock of the hot oven on the cold pastry when initially bakes, gives it added boost, shrinking less and baking more evenly.

    If the raw pastry is kept above refrigeration temperature, production of acids formed by bacteria will cause sourness and make the pastry unsuitable for use.

    Pastry dough may be made in advance and placed in the refrigerator for up to 2 days before baking. Water wash to prevent excessive crusting during storage. Do not top with sugar since sugar toppings will dissolve completely and then burn during baking. Instead, add sugar just prior to (25 of 29)9/25/2006 9:41:08 PM

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    baking. It can also be kept indefinitely in the freezer. When storing puff pastry, it should be covered with plastic wrap to prevent skin formation due to exposure to the air as plastic wrap is impervious. To defrost, the Puff pastry can be removed from the freezer and left at room temperature for up to 6 hours. It may also be placed in a refrigerator overnight where it will also defrost. (26 of 29)9/25/2006 9:41:08 PM

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    When preparing puff pastry such as Napoleons or patty shells, cut sheets or shells and freeze on cookie sheets or jelly roll pans. When frozen, transfer them to a self-sealing plastic bag and return to the freezer. To use, arrange frozen pastry on a baking sheet and set in a preheated 425 F. oven, reduce heat to 400 F and bake until golden brown.

    Baked Puff Pastry: (27 of 29)9/25/2006 9:41:08 PM

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    Cool before storing. Can be wrapped in plastic and frozen or kept at room temperature. Unfilled baked pastry stores best. Otherwise you run the risk of it becoming soggy from the fillings, especially when storing in the refrigerator or defrosting from the freezer. Some fillings, such as fresh vegetables and creams are not well-suited for freezing.

    SERVING: Puff pastry cuts best with a serrated knife.

    QUICK PUFF PASTRY: Also known as rough puff, blitz and half pastry, is usually called "quick" because it is a way to abbreviate the lengthy process of making puff pastry. It is a cross between classic puff pastry and basic pie crust and is ideal for crisp, buttery pastries and crusts. cheese straws, and cream horns, or use it as a crust for tarts, quiches, and pot pies. (28 of 29)9/25/2006 9:41:08 PM

  • pastry_puff

    Rough Puff Pastry

    When making rough puff pastry, the butter is cut into the flour as if making a pie crust and then a scant amount of water is added and combined to make a smooth, workable dough. To make it, simply roll out the dough and give it a quick series of turns and folds as you would for classic puff pastry; the dough need not rest in between.

    Though the Quick Puff Pastry results are not quite as spectacular in terms of height as reached with Classic Puff Pastry, it is just as irresistibly flaky, buttery, and tender.

    Some information thanks to Nick Malgieri and Rose Levy Beranbaum.

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    baking cooking recipes pantry ask sarah school how toLos Angeles Times Review Food Section (12-01): ( is) filled with good information and is easy to use. It (has) solid baking information along with 4 other sites: General Mills, Land O'Lakes, Nestle and Pillsbury., Inc., 2000- 2006. Founded October, 2000. All Rights Reserved. All material on's web pages is the express opinion of its authors. baking911.

    com is not responsible for any direct, incidental, consequential, indirect or punitive damages arising out of its pages or those accessed through this Site. For ALL baking

    questions, please post on "Ask Sarah" . (29 of 29)9/25/2006 9:41:08 PM

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    Pastry 101: Croissants

    Pastry 101 Croissants Pte Choux Phyllo Dough Puff Pastry Pie & Tart Crusts

    Danish Strudel Dough

    Most people would consider a Croissant to be an example of a French Breakfast. It is important to remember that croissants are a special treat and are often purchased only for Sundays or special occasions.

    The word croissant means crescent in English. This delicious breakfast treat was invented about three hundred years ago, not in France, but in Austria. The armies of the Ottoman Empire (whose symbol was a crescent) were attacking Austria.

    Make bread crumbs from left-over croissants. If you have a stale one, freeze it first; it will make it easier to

    In a hard fought battle, the Austrian armies defeated the forces of the Ottoman Empire. To celebrate, the French chef employed by the Emperor of Austria decided to make a pastry in the shape of a crescent. When this was eaten, it would become a symbol of the way in which the Austrian forces had consumed their enemies.

    On his eventual return to France, the chef introduced the pastry to the French who immediately made it very popular.

    It's important to remember that when in France, butter is not eaten with croissants.

    CROISSANTS ARE MADE FROM LAMINATED DOUGH: (1 of 4)9/25/2006 9:41:38 PM

  • pastry_croissants

    make into crumbs. To make them, hit the side of the bag with a rolling pin. Top gratins or pasta dishes. The butter in the croissant crumbs makes for a crisp topping and a nice texture.

    Croissant, danish and puff pastry are all made from laminated (layered) dough. That is encasing butter in dough, and taking it through a series of folds, rolling and turns to produce layers of butter in between sheets of dough.

    The leavening in laminated doughs is derived mainly from the steam generated by the moisture in the butter during baking. The laminated fat acts as a barrier to trap the water vapor and carbon dioxide formed during baking. As the steam expands in the oven it lifts and separates the individual layers. While croissant and danish dough do contain a small amount of yeast to aid in leavening, puff pastry relies solely on steam and requires a higher percentage of butter and a more elaborate folding process that creates nearly 800 layers.

    There seems to be two ways of making croissants: The first one is to make a dough (dtrempe) and leave it in the fridge overnight. The next day, you incorporate the butter do the turns etc. This is the method found in Baking With Julia, The Brother Roux on Pastry and How To Bake by Nick Malgieri. The second one, advice you to make the dough, let it rest in the fridge for an hour or so then incorporate the butter, doing the turns. This is found in Nancy Silvertons Pastries From La Brea. Rose Levy Beranbaum in The Pie And Pastry Bible says you can leave the dough in the fridge between 2 hours or overnight.

    The first method would produce a slightly more flavorful dough since the detrempe is given the chance to slowly rise overnight. Also, the long rest would ease gluten formation or relax the dough. Chilling does the same. The less the yeast and the longer the rise is always better with yeast breads in developing flavor. For the second method, I let the dough rest about an hour and a half and then proceed with the butter. Obviously the second method is faster, but you'd still have to rest both dough overnight before forming.

    You can combine the two techniques. Make the dough, add the butter and do the first turn. Then let it rest overnight well-wrapped in the refrigerator and do the next turns the following day. It usually wasn't until the third day that you can divide the dough, and roll croissants.

    Laminating is accomplished in croissant and Danish dough by encasing a 3/4" x 12" x 14" block of butter in dough creating 3 layers, 2 of dough and 1 of butter. This is then rolled out and folded several times creating a total of 81 alternating layers of butter and dough. The key to success in this process is maintaining the integrity of each layer. If the lamination is successful and the layers are maintained the product will be light and flaky.

    There are other factors that affect the success of the lamination. The dough must have a well-developed gluten structure to be able to support the expansion in the oven. The fat must be rolled evenly in continuous layers. To accomplish this the butter must be in a "plastic" state when laminating. That is, able to be rolled out easily without breaking into pieces (not too cold) but firm enough that it won't squeeze out of the edges of the dough layers or allow moisture to seep into the dough (not too warm). The butter and dough should be at approximately the same temperature, and the layers of each must remain distinct from each other or the product will resemble brioche more than delicately layered and flaky laminated dough.

    Allowing the dough to rest between turns allows the gluten structure to relax, making the dough more extensible and less likely to tear. Puff pastry, lacking yeast and its dough conditioning benefits, is more susceptible to tears and shrinkage during baking. Since it is also laminated to a further degree, the rests (2 of 4)9/25/2006 9:41:38 PM

  • pastry_croissants

    between turns are even more critical to ensure extensibility. If any of these doughs are overworked without being allowed to rest, the gluten structure will tear, the dough will become tough and the finished product won't have the desired volume or texture.


    PROBLEM POSSIBLE CAUSE SOLUTION Butter/margarine breaks through the dough

    Butter/margarine too cold Dough too soft Harsh sheeting reduction

    Condition butter to 57-60 F Reduce water in the dough Gradually reduce sheeting

    Butter/margarine oozes out from the dough

    Butter/margarine too warm Dough too warm Dough too tight

    Condition butter to 57-60 F Chill dough Increase water in the dough

    Butter melts Insufficiently laminated Room too warm

    Work in a cooler room, or at a cooler time of day Apply more folds, minimum of 3 half folds

    Pastry sticks Insufficient dusting Room temperature too warm

    Use more dusting flour Work in a cooler room, or at a cooler time of day Reduce dough temperature

    Flattened, wrinkled after baking

    Baking sheet or pan knocked in the oven, or before entering the oven Baked in too hot an oven for too short a time

    Shorten rising time Be careful when placing in the oven Adjust baking temperature

    Small in volume, heavy and dense in texture

    Under proofed (rise) Lack of humidity Oven too cold

    Proof longer Increase humidity in proofer Increase oven temperature

    Loss of sweetness, open texture and lack of crust color

    Proofed too long Excessive retarding time

    Reduce proofing time Reduce retarding time

    Loss of flakiness and a bread like texture

    Room too hot, causing butter to melt Oven too cool Over proofed

    Work in a cooler room, or at a cooler time of day Increase oven temp Reduce proof time

    Blisters on baked product and product flow excessive

    Excessive humidity Reduce humidity or bake on a cool, dry day

    Pale, moist and heavy after baking

    Under baked in oven Increase baking temperature (3 of 4)9/25/2006 9:41:38 PM

  • pastry_croissants

    Tough baked product Too little layering butter Too little dough butter Baking temperature too low

    Increase roll-in butter Increase dough butter Increase baking temperature

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    baking cooking recipes pantry ask sarah school how toLos Angeles Times Review Food Section (12-01): ( is) filled with good information and is easy to use. It (has) solid baking information along with 4 other sites: General Mills, Land O'Lakes, Nestle and Pillsbury., Inc., 2000- 2006. Founded October, 2000. All Rights Reserved. All material on's web pages is the express opinion of its authors. baking911.

    com is not responsible for any direct, incidental, consequential, indirect or punitive damages arising out of its pages or those accessed through this Site. For ALL baking

    questions, please post on "Ask Sarah" . (4 of 4)9/25/2006 9:41:38 PM

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    Pastry 101: DANISH

    Pastry 101 Croissants Pte Choux Phyllo Dough Puff Pastry Pie & Tart Crusts

    Danish Strudel Dough

    In the 1840s, Master Baker Albaek of Copenhagen, Baker to the Royal Court, began to make Danish which was puff pastry based on yeast dough. "Vienna" pastry was brought to Denmark by Austrian bakers who were hired to replace Danish bakers during a strike. The Austrian's left behind their methods of rolling butter between the layers then letting it rest before shaping and baking.

    Danish Recipe - flaky, made via Puff Pastry method

    Danish Recipe with Fillings - breadlike

    Classic Danish Pastry is thought to be a variant of Puff Pastry. They are made from similar techniques, but Danish is made from a yeast dough. This made Danish light and fluffy as never seen before.

    Good Danish pastry simply referred to as "Danish" consists of layers upon layers of flaky buttery crust filled with a myriad of fillings, such as apples, blueberries, apricots or other fruit, cream cheese and almond paste.

    HOW IS DANISH MADE?: Danish is made with using yeast in the dough, but prepared by using one of two techniques:

    1. Using a butter block with a firm plastic consistency, fold, roll, shape and bake, just like making Puff Pastry (laminate dough), the traditional way, or;2. Made like a cross between laminate dough and making bread dough.

    Danish dough made via the Puff Pastry method, when baked is described as buttery, golden, flaky and deliciously crisp. It rises because of the yeast as well as the steam. The layers of butter help separate the dough into the tender flakiness that distinguishes good Danishes. When baked, the butter worked into the layers of dough gives off moisture, and the resulting steam causes the thin layers of dough to puff and rise.

    Some Danish recipes are more bread-like in texture and are thus made using those techniques.

    MAKE DANISH PASTRIES - SOME EXAMPLES: (1 of 2)9/25/2006 9:41:50 PM

  • pastry_danish

    Danish bakers who left the country to travel the world, brought their knowledge with them where it has become a favorite all over the world. Hence, the Danish as we know it today was born.

    Danish pastry comes in all sorts of shapes.

    Pinwheels: Spread with remonce. Sprinkle on some extra cinnamon sugar. Brush the of the square with egg wash. Cut a slit from each corner almost into the center, stopping just short of the center. Fold every other tip into the center, overlapping them, and press firmly. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Proof, covered, about 1/2 hour. Press the center down with your finger where the tips overlap and fill with 1/2 rounded teaspoon jam or filling. Egg wash, sprinkle with coarse sugar, and bake about 20 minutes, or until nicely colored.

    Margarine was invented by a Frenchman as a result of the shortages of butter used to make Danish.

    Envelopes: Spread square with remonce. Sprinkle with finely chopped chocolate mixed with sugar. Turn the square so that a point is at the top. Put and elongated mound of about 2 tablespoons of cheese filling from top to bottom. Egg wash the side corners. Fold one corner over the filling and press firmly. Fold the other end over the top and press very firmly to seal. Place on lined baking sheet and proof, covered, about 1/2 hour. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar and chopped chocolate. Bake about 20 minutes, or until nicely browned. (Or spread with lemon curd and then cheese filling and garnish before baking with toasted sliced almonds.)

    Cheese pockets: Spread the square with remonce. Place a rounded tablespoon of cheese filling in the middle of the square. Brush the corners with egg wash. Fold two opposite sides up and press firmly, as in the envelopes above. Bring the bottom corner up and press firmly over the fold. Lastly, bring the top corner up and across the fold and pinch it to seal. Proof, covered, as above. Egg wash and sprinkle the top with streusel. Bake about 25 minutes, until nicely browned.

    Turnovers: Spread with remonce. Place a big dollop of chunky homemade applesauce or pear sauce on one side of the square. Egg wash the edges and fold over into a triangle. Press around the edge with a fork to seal. Before baking, egg wash and sprinkle with coarse or pearl sugar.


    ~ receives close to 13 million HITS per

    month! ~

    About Sarah PhillipsAbout

    NEWS!Sarah's Cookbook

    baking cooking recipes pantry ask sarah school how toLos Angeles Times Review Food Section (12-01): ( is) filled with good information and is easy to use. It (has) solid baking information along with 4 other sites: General Mills, Land O'Lakes, Nestle and Pillsbury., Inc., 2000- 2006. Founded October, 2000. All Rights Reserved. All material on's web pages is the express opinion of its authors. baking911.

    com is not responsible for any direct, incidental, consequential, indirect or punitive damages arising out of its pages or those accessed through this Site. For ALL baking

    questions, please post on "Ask Sarah" . (2 of 2)9/25/2006 9:41:50 PM

  • how_baking_works how detailed information, tips, techniques and recipes can improve your baking! Ask Sarah and have your baking questions answered by a professional. Take step-by-step baking classes at any time.

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    How Baking Works

    The basic components that you'll find in almost every recipe for any baked good.

    Strengtheners (Gluten) Shorteners (Fats) Fat Substitutes (Fruit Purees) Sweeteners Liquids Leaveners Thickeners Flavorings

    Baking dates to prehistoric times. At first it involved nothing more than the simple drying of grain seeds in the sun. Eventually the seeds came to be cooked in water, and the resulting gruel was baked on a hot stone, producing a kind of flat bread that was in many ways similar to the Mexican tortilla.

    According to a Better Homes & Garden Consumer Panel (2001), 84% of Americans who are baking at home are making

    The process of leavening developed slowly. The Egyptians were perhaps the first to consciously use leavening in their baking and also were the first to use ovens. By the middle of the 3rd century BC, the Egyptians had developed baking methods that were similar to those in use today. With the Industrial Revolution of the mid-19th century, the technology of baking begin to advance rapidly. The quality of ingredients improved, and automation began to replace the time-consuming manual process.

    Classification of Batters and Doughs (ratios):

    TYPE LIQUID FLOURpour batter 1 1drop batter 1 2soft dough 1 3stiff dough 1 4

    While some baked products are still unleavened [such as pie crusts, Mexican tortillas, and the similar chapatis from India], many recipes employ leavening, which is central to both their taste and their texture.

    Only wheat and rye flours have the qualities necessary for the expansion of an initial dough or batter, wheat being more satisfactory. Although various flours are used in baking, some amount of wheat flour must be added if any significant degree of leavening is desired. Protein in the flour, known as gluten, combines with water to produce an elastic and porous web capable of trapping gas bubbles released by the action of a leavening agent. (1 of 13)9/25/2006 9:43:03 PM

  • how_baking_works

    cookies, 77% cakes, 64% brownies, 59% muffins, 58% pies, 52% breads, and 52% specialty desserts

    A number of factors other than proportion of liquid to flour also influence batters and dough:

    concentration of other ingredients type or kind of ingredients temperature of ingredientssize and shape of mixing bowl type of ingredients method of manipulation (mixing)

    QUESTION: What does crumb mean? ANSWER: Air cells are the millions of tiny pockets found inside of a baked good, visible when a piece is cut from it. Known technically as the "crumb", these air cells are trapped inside the webbing of starch and protein. These air cells are expanded by: 1) Heat from the oven; 2) Steam from the liquid ingredients and ingredients comprised of water; and, 3) Leavening gases -

    Sweet baking recipes as layer cakes, biscuits, cookies, and muffins make use of chemical reactions rather than fermentation for leaven, like in breads. These recipes generally employ a flour (all-purpose or cake) containing less gluten than that used (bread flour) in yeast-leavened goods. Baking soda is most commonly used, but it must be properly combined with counteracting acids in order to release a sufficient amount of carbon dioxide. Such a combination is provided in baking powder, whose formula also serves to regulate the timing of the gas's release.

    Another important method of leavening batters is the mixing in of air bubbles from the outside atmosphere. This can be accomplished only by the inclusion of an ingredient [often egg whites] that can easily be beaten into a foam that can hold air bubbles. This method produces a particularly light and delicate product, like angel

    food cake.

    The Big Three of Baking: butter, eggs & milk. Unless otherwise noted, use unsalted butter, grade A large eggs, and 2 percent or whole milk.

    Two Ingredient Types: Tougheners / Strengtheners and Tenderizers /

    Weakeners. Tougheners

    StrengthenersTenderizers Weakeners

    flour fatwhole egg sugaregg white egg yolk

    water acidmilk

    The basic ingredients in any dough or batter are usually flour and a liquid (water, milk). Fat (fats, butter, oils, lard), sugar, eggs, salt, leavening agents and flavorings are also used, depending upon the recipe.

    In general, baking ingredients can be divided into two types, "tougheners / strengtheners" (flour, eggs) and "tenderizers / weakeners" (sugar, fat), sometimes overlapping. In order for a recipe to bake with all of the qualities we like, such as being tender, fluffy, moist, chewy, dense, etc, there needs to be a balance between the two. If one is increased, the other must be decreased, but there's more to it than that.

    Recipes also vary by the amounts of each ingredient and the mixing techniques used to combine them. Professional baker's use Baker's Percentages to express their relationship to one another, where home bakers use recipes with ingredient amounts. Cooking temperatures and times also affect the final baked good. These relationships affect the color, flavor, texture, shape and volume.

    Each ingredient in a recipe contributes to the final baked good. In general:

    Shortening tends to make dough more easily workable and the final product more tender, while also, in many cases, adding flavor. Egg whites, as mentioned, are often used to produce a light, airy texture, and yolks contribute to the color, flavor, and texture of baked products. Milk is used for flavoring, and sugars to sweeten and to aid fermentation.

    Eggs are binders which help hold all the ingredients together. Eggs contribute liquid to a recipe and thus serve as a toughener, especially the egg white portion. But, too many egg whites, such as in a reduced-fat cake recipe make it dry. Including at least one whole egg helps to tenderize. Eggs can also act as (2 of 13)9/25/2006 9:43:03 PM

  • how_baking_works

    baking soda, baking powder and yeast.

    ACIDIC INGREDIENTS: Lemon juice (citric acid), vinegar, cream of tartar, orange juice, pineapple juice and wine.

    leaveners especially when egg whites are beaten separately. The yolk functions to emulsify fat and liquids due to its lecithin content.

    In a cake recipe, for example, butter and shortening are tenderizes because they help make it tender and moist. Sugar tenderizes (and of course makes it sweet) because it prevents the flour from forming gluten (gluten is formed when wheat flour is mixed with water or moisture). Sugar competes for water with the flour and wins, making less available. Buttermilk, an acidic ingredient, also tenderizes.

    Liquids bridge both categories as a toughener or a tenderizer. Water and milk enhance the development of gluten and/or gelatinization of starch in the flour or the setting of the structure (baking) and thus serve as a toughener. Milk also contains proteins which act as a structural enhancer. But, too much liquid will cause a baked good to collapse or the batter to become too thin, with the final baked good too heavy. The perfect balance of liquid offers both structural support and moistness which is perceived as tenderness.

    Strengtheners (Gluten)/

    Structure Builders:

    The structural components of most baked products are egg whites and gluten from WHEAT flour.

    A baked product may contain:

    Only gluten, such as pastry and biscuits; Mostly egg proteins, such as angel food or sponge cakes; and, A combination of gluten and egg, as most baked products do.

    Eggs contribute to the structure of a baked product. They may serve to do this through their contribution of heat denatured proteins, steam for leavening or moisture for starch gelatinization. Egg yolk is also a rich source of emulsifying agents and, thus, facilitates the incorporation of air, inhibits starch gelatinization and contributes to flavor.

    Flour contributes protein and starch to a baked products structure, the protein primarily being gluten. Flour may contribute

    Wheat is the only grain with significant amounts of gluten-forming potential. It also contains starch which gelatinizes (absorbs water) and stabilizes the structure. Other grains like corn and oats, and therefore products like cornmeal and oatmeal, do not create gluten in a batter. They provide only flavor and bulk, and must be mixed with wheat flour for strength.

    Two proteins found in wheat flour, glutenin and gliadin, form an elastic substance known as gluten when stirred with moisture. There are as many as 30 different types of protein in wheat, but only these two have gluten forming potential. When wheat flour is moistened and manipulated through stirring, beating and kneading and/or handling, these two proteins grab water and connect and cross-connect to form elastic strands of gluten. If a flour has a lot of these proteins, it grabs up water faster, making strong and springy gluten.

    The magical and elastic gluten network that forms serves many functions in a recipe. Like a net, gluten traps and holds air bubbles. They later expand from the gas from the leavening when a recipe is baked, causing the dough or batter to rise. During baking, the stretched flour proteins (gluten) becomes rigid as the moisture evaporates from the heat of the oven, and sets the baked goods' structure. The viscoelastic properties of gluten provide the perfect combination of elasticity and rigidity by expanding with the gas while still holding its shape. No other grain has been able to replace this function of wheat in baking.

    Flour's strength is determined by its gluten content and mixing -- both work in concert together: if mixed too much, the cake texture toughens (3 of 13)9/25/2006 9:43:03 PM

  • how_baking_works

    protein and sugar for the Maillard reaction and/or yeast food for biological leavening.

    or too little, the cake falls. If the gluten is too strong for a recipe, it toughens and may not rise. If there is too little gluten, the recipe will collapse when taken from the oven or be mushy. Or, if you have the right amount of gluten and stir it too much, your recipe will be tough and dry. The recipe will direct you on which type of flour to use, which corresponds to a gluten protein %. That's why when you substitute one flour type for another, the recipe is always affected no matter how much or little you stir the batter or dough.

    Every recipe is written with a specific flour in mind to give the best results: Breads rely heavily on gluten for structure, cakes to a lesser extent, and cookies almost not at all. Gluten also allows you to roll out pastry into thin sheets that don't fall apart.

    Recipes commonly use all-purpose flour, which has a moderate gluten or protein content. For a lower gluten content with a more tender outcome, I use whole wheat pastry flour or cake flour. High-gluten flours, such as bread and regular whole wheat, as well as a moderate

    one, all-purpose, are typically used in yeast breads where a strong framework is desirable. But, in cakes, quick breads and pastries, a high protein flour makes a tough baked good.

    What is Needed ? Type of Recipe:

    Type of Flour Used: Explanation:

    What You Get With Too Much Gluten:

    Very Weak Gluten Cake Batters Cake Flour

    A very weak gluten structure forms from the flour and gentle mixing techniques. It holds in the steam from baking, which makes it rise, giving it structure.

    Tough, heavy cake

    Weak GlutenPie and Tart Crust Dough

    All-purpose and/or Cake

    Cold fat is first incorporated, and then the liquid is mixed in. Gluten holds the dough together and traps the steam from baking. Resting and chilling relaxes the dough and is recommended after mixing, rolling and forming.

    Heavy and tough

    Moderately Strong Puff Pastry

    All-purpose Flour

    During rolling and folding, the gluten develops. It helps push the layers upward and away from each other during baking. Resting and chilling relaxes the gluten and is recommended after turning.

    Difficult to roll and fold, as well as roll out.

    Tough and distorted after baking.

    Strong and Very Strong Bread Dough

    All-purpose and/or Bread Flour

    During mixing and kneading of the dough. Shaping with too much added flour also creates gluten. That's why it's best to handle the dough gingerly and not to add in too much extra flour when kneading.

    Won't rise as well, tough and dry


    When flour is milled, it is classified according to the ratio of its gluten forming proteins to starch. The protein content of a flour affects the strength of a dough. Depending on the type of wheat and where and when it was planted, the resulting flour can be high-gluten (milled from hard winter wheat), low-gluten (from soft spring wheat), or moderate (a combination of the two). All-purpose flour in the North has a high protein count; the one sold in the South is low-protein. Hard wheat, mainly grown in Midwestern U.S. has a high protein content. Baked goods made from high-gluten flours have a firm crumb; low-gluten flours give more tender results, and goods made from flours with a moderate gluten content fall somewhere in between.

    The percent protein in flour is a factor when baking (so is altitude): Gluten gives a framework to a baked good by swelling as they absorb water, some flour types absorbing faster than others. A higher-protein flour absorbs more moisture than a lower protein flour. Baker's have blamed the difference in absorption on humidity which only makes a minute difference. Instead, a flour's protein level directly affects the ratio of wet ingredients to dry. (4 of 13)9/25/2006 9:43:03 PM

  • how_baking_works

    For example, a batter made with 2 cups of high-protein flour absorb 1 cup of water to form a soft, sticky dough. The same recipe made with 2 cups low-protein flour and 1 cup water make a thick soup. It takes 1/2-cup more low-protein flour to get the same consistency as the high-protein flour.

    When recipes are written, one type of flour in used and the person baking it uses another. That's because they probably live in different areas of the country or their flour brand is milled in different places.

    The more that the flour and moisture are stirred or handled, the more the gluten strands strengthen and toughen. That's why many recipes say not to overmix them. Fat, which is not present in reduced-fat baking in traditional amounts, plays an important role in coating the proteins in flour, minimizing their contact with moisture, and shortening the gluten's development. Without the fat lubricator, the gluten strands form more readily. That is why it is very important to never overmix a reduced-fat batter. It's not just how you handle the batter or dough to prevent gluten formation, many ingredients also do the job of interfering with its development. For example, butter and shortening coat the flour strands and prevent moisture from reaching them, while sugar acts as a tenderizer because it attracts water away from the proteins in the flour.

    Shorteners (Fats)

    Most bakers are very familiar with traditional shorteners such as butter, margarine or vegetable shortening. Shorteners coat the flour proteins or water-proof them, contributing to tender baking recipe by reducing their contact with the moisture in the recipe and preventing gluten from forming. They also shorten the length of the gluten strands when the flour is stirred with that moisture (that's why they're called

    "shorteners"), preventing a tough baked good or tenderize. Fat coats the flour particles so the elastic formation slows down; it makes the gluten strands slippery so the gas bubbles can move easily; and it gives the final recipe a finer grain. Generally, when people refer to "moist" in a baked product, they are referring to the fat content.

    When you add the fat in a recipe matters: in pastry making, the fat is rubbed into the flour. This essentially coats the gluten forming proteins, glutenin and gliadin, so

    In traditional baking, where solid fats are creamed with crystalline sugar, tiny air cells are incorporated into the batter, so the baked good will have a fine, aerated texture. When a shortener is removed or reduced, it increases the chances that the end product will lack flavor and be tough and full of tunnels.

    Different types of fat do different jobs in baking. A well-known baking fat, butter makes a very important flavor contribution, whereas margarine does not have as fine a texture and taste. When choosing a shortener, I always go for the butter, even in reduced-fat baking where the small amounts help to retain a great taste and aroma. If you have dietary restrictions that make it necessary for you to reduce saturated fats in your diet, you can substitute a butter-margarine blend. The recipe won't taste the same if you use margarine. Fat can be found in other baking ingredients, such as the egg yolk which serves as both a tenderizer and emulsifier due to its fat and lecithin content.

    Oils do not act as a shortener because it is a liquid and won't cream with crystalline sugar in the same way that solid fat does. Oils tend to coat each particle of flour, which causes a lack of contact of moisture and helps prevent gluten development. It reduces dryness and enhances flavor. I use it sparingly in reduced-fat baking because it has the same number of calories and fat grams as butter, even though it has less saturated fat.

    Fat Substitutes

    (Fruit Purees)

    Fruit purees, especially applesauce, are often used as fat substitutes. The pectin from the fruit forms a film around the tiny air bubbles in the batter, similar to what occurs when you cream solid shortenings with sugar, but not as effectively. My favorite fruit puree for baking is unsweetened applesauce. Not only is it readily available but it is inexpensive and versatile because it doesn't impart any strong flavor to the final result. Applesauce contains more pectin than other fruit purees, which helps to retain the moistness of baked goods. Even if a recipe is flavored with another fruit puree, I always add a little applesauce as well. You'll see recipes here that use pumpkin, banana, and prune purees, among others. (5 of 13)9/25/2006 9:43:03 PM

  • how_baking_works

    they can't join together and form gluten. After the fat is worked in, then the liquids are added.

    Sweeteners Sugar serves a number of roles. All sugar is an important and versatile food ingredient in baking recipes, other than merely providing sweetness and flavor:

    Besides its pleasant sweetness, sugar performs a host of less-obvious and important functions in cooking, baking, candy-making and the like.

    Flavor EnhancementSugar "potentates," blends and balances flavor components, much like a seasoning. For example, a pinch of sugar added to corn, carrots and peas produces a better-tasting product. In most tomato based products, such as barbecue, spaghetti, and chili sauces, sugar softens the acidity of the tomatoes and blends the flavors.

    SolubilitySugar is readily soluble in water. The ability to produce solutions of varying degrees of sweetness is important in many food applications, particularly beverages and confectionery. Sugars capacity to produce a supersaturated solution and then crystallize when cooled is the basis for rock candies. The wonderful variety of confectionery draws from the candy makers ability to vary sugar concentration, along with temperature and agitation, to produce different crystal sizes and textures.

    Boiling Point Rise, Freezing Point DepressionIn solution, sugar has the effect of lowering the freezing point and raising the boiling point of that solution. These are important properties in preparing frozen desserts and candy, respectively. In ice cream, for example, sugars ability to depress the freezing point slows the freezing process, promoting a smooth, creamy consistency. In shortening-based cakes, sugar raises, delays and controls the temperature at which the batter goes from fluid to solid, which allows the leavening agent to produce the maximum amount of carbon dioxide. The gas is held inside the air cells of the structure, resulting in a fine, uniformly- grained cake with a soft, smooth crumb texture.

    Hydrolysis (inversion)In food processing, hydrolysis decreases the tendency of sugar to crystallize from thick syrups or jellies.

    Caramelization (thermal decomposition)When sugar is heated to a sufficiently high temperature, it decomposes or "caramelizes." Its color changes first to yellow, then to brown, and it develops a distinctive and appealing flavor and aroma. The melted substance is known as caramel. The brown color of toasted bread is the result of caramelization.

    Browning (Maillard reactions)Color is also produced in cooking when sugars and proteins interact in complex ways. This is known as the browning (Maillard) reaction, important in candy making, baking and other processes.

    Yeast FermentationSugar is consumed by yeast cells in a thoroughly natural process called "fermentation." Carbon dioxide gas is released, and alcohol is produced, reactions vital to bread rising and baking and alcoholic beverage production.

    Bodying/Bulking AgentSugar imparts satisfying texture, body, mouthfeel and bulk to many processed foods, such as ice cream, baked goods, icings, beverages and candy.

    Texture ModificationGranulated white sugar and brown sugar are integral to the creaming process that incorporates air into batters. For example, as sugar is creamed with shortening in baked goods, the irregularities of the of the sugar crystals help create air pockets that contribute to a uniformly fine crumb structure. In gingersnaps and sugar cookies, the desirable surface cracking pattern is imparted when sugar crystallizes by rapid loss of moisture from the surface during baking. (6 of 13)9/25/2006 9:43:03 PM

  • how_baking_works

    PreservativeBy binding water, sugar acts as a very effective, natural preservative. For example, the high sugar levels in jams, jellies and sauces make them more immune to the microorganism development common in thinner, high-moisture products like commercial applesauce. Sugar is the preferred sweetener in cereal coatings because of its ability to crystallize into a frosty surface forming a hard, continuous glaze. This protects the product from air and moisture, extending its shelf life.

    DispersantIn dry beverage, dessert and bakery mixes, sugar prevents lumping and clumping when the mix is hydrated.

    Whipping AidIn foam-type cakes, such as angel and sponge, sugar enables the creation of a light foam that serves as the basic structure of the cake.

    HumectantWhen the sucrose molecule is "inverted", by the application of heat, acids or enzyme, the resulting fructose (especially) and dextrose contribute a moistening property, desirable in such foods as icings, fudge, cakes, marshmallows, soft cookies, and so forth.

    Microwave PropertiesSugar has unique dielectric properties that enable it to produce desired surface browning and crisping. Sugar can shield lower food layers from heating, as in microwavable ice cream toppings. Sugar can function as a control agent to minimize uneven heating. (from

    Honey, molasses, maple and corn syrup are liquid sweeteners, and while they do provide sweetness, they do not cream well, just as liquid vegetable oils can't substitute for solid shorteners.

    Honey, the globally popular liquid sugar produced by bees, is comprised of glucose, fructose, maltose and sucrose. It has a distinctive flavor, is sweeter than regular sugar, and produces moist and dense baked goods. Molasses, a byproduct of refined sugar production, is made up of sucrose, glucose and fructose as well as small amounts of Vitamin B, calcium and iron. It is not as sweet as sugar and imparts a dark color and stronger flavor to baked foods. Maple syrup, the sumptuous liquid most famous for sweetening hotcakes, waffles and French toast, is also very good when baked into cookies, pies and cakes. Grade B maple syrup has a vibrant flavor conducive to eliciting exquisitely baked products.

    Sugar plays many important roles in baking recipes: (7 of 13)9/25/2006 9:43:03 PM

  • how_baking_works

    Cakes, in General: For pound cakes, crystalline sugar helps produce pound cakes of fine grain and good volume. Pound cakes, although prepared with shortening, usually contain no leavening agent other than air. The air is incorporated into the batter through a relatively large quantity of beaten eggs. Creaming the sugar with the shortening contributes fluffiness to the shortening by providing tiny air pockets that undergo heat expansion during baking. Sugar also acts as a tenderizing agent during mixing by inhibiting gluten development and during baking by delaying gelatinization or the cake's structure from setting.

    Shortened Cakes: In shortened cakes, crystalline sugar helps to create air in the batter during the creaming step. The more delicate its structure, the higher it will rise. Sugar helps produce fine crumb texture and good volume during mixing and baking. During mixing, sugar tenderizes cakes by absorbing liquid and preventing complete hydration of gluten strands. During baking, sugar tenderizes shortened cakes by absorbing water and keeping batter from setting too quickly, which allows it to rise higher in the oven. In addition, sugar contributes pleasing, sweet flavors and tender browned surfaces to shortened cakes.

    Unshortened Cakes: Unshortened cakes such as sponge and angel food cake contain no fat, but include a large proportion of eggs or egg whites. Much of the cellular structure of the cake is derived from egg protein. The leavening agent is the air that has been beaten into the eggs. Crystalline sugar serves as a whipping aid to stabilize the beaten foam. Part of the sugar also is combined with flour before it is folded into the foam mixture. This sugar disperses throughout the flour, separating the flour's starch particles and keeping them from lumping when the flour is folded into the foam mixture. By raising the temperature at which egg proteins set, sugar delays coagulation long enough to permit entrapment of optimum air. The resulting cakes have tender texture and excellent volume.

    Candy Making: In candy making, the structural role of crystallization from sugar is critical. Cookies: Cookies, like cakes, are chemically leavened with baking soda or baking powder. Cookies, however, have more sugar and shortening and less water proportionately. In cookies, crystalline sugar introduces air into the batter during the creaming process. Approximately half the sugar remains undissolved at the end of mixing. When the cookie dough enters the oven, the temperature causes the shortening to melt and the dough to become more fluid. The undissolved sugar dissolves as the temperature increases and the sugar solution increases in volume. This leads to a more fluid dough, allowing the cookies to spread during baking. Sugar also helps produce the appealing surface cracking of some cookies, such as gingersnaps. In addition, sugar also caramelizing while the cookies are baked giving them a good flavor.Custards: Crystalline sugar delays coagulation of egg proteins in custards and similar cooked egg dishes. Just as most baked products are essentially flour protein structures, custards are egg protein structures. If the egg white solidifies too soon from the heat in the cooking process, the liquid ingredients in the custard will be squeezed out in droplets. This is known as syneresis or "weeping." Sugar in a custard mixture breaks up the clumps of protein molecules so that they are finely dispersed in the liquid mixture. The temperature at which the custard sets is thus raised, permitting the egg proteins to coagulate slowly and enmesh the other ingredients, resulting in a smooth, stable consistency.Icings: Sugar's roles in icings are similar to those in candies. Sugar is the most important ingredient in icings, providing sweetness, flavor, bulk and structure, plus it's versatile. (8 of 13)9/25/2006 9:43:03 PM

  • how_baking_works

    Meringues: Crystalline sugar stabilizes foams such as meringues. Egg whites beaten for a meringue hold air bubbles because the mechanical action of the beaters partially coagulates the egg protein. When sugar is added, often with another stabilizer such as salt or cream of tartar, the protein film becomes more adhesive and its ability to hold air bubbles is increased. This results in a stiffer, higher and more stable foam. The amount of sugar added per egg white determines the nature of the meringue. For a meringue tart or pie shell that is to be filled with ice cream, fruit or other soft mixtures, four tablespoons of sugar are used for each egg white. The stiff, shaped meringue is then baked in a very slow oven to ensure even setting and thorough drying throughout. The baked meringue will be very crisp and dry, and there will be little, if any, browning." For the meringue topping that is to be used on a pie or pudding, only two tablespoons of sugar are required per egg white, and the mixture may be baked in a hotter oven. This produces a softer meringue with a slightly crisp crust and a golden-brown color due to the caramelization of the sugar. If no sugar is added to the beaten egg white topping, considerable air shrinkage occurs during baking, and the resulting product is flat, pale and gummy.Puddings, Sauces and Pie Fillings: Sugar disperses among the starch particles of flour, cornstarch, or similar thickening ingredients used for pudding, sauce or pie filling. When dry starch is added directly to a hot liquid, the particles on the outside tend to cook first, enclosing raw starch particles in the interior. These lumps are unsightly and unpalatable, and they prevent proper thickening. When mixed with sugar before adding to the hot liquid, the starch particles disperse evenly into the mixture. Each particle comes in contact with the hot liquid at the same time, and all cook at the same rate. So vital is the dispersion of starch that unless the amount of sugar used in the recipe is twice the amount of the starch, a small amount of cold liquid should be blended with the sugar-starch mixture to further disperse the particles before adding to a hot liquid. Raw cocoa, which is about one-third starch, should also be combined with sugar before adding hot water. Dessert sauces, chocolate pudding, lemon, butterscotch and other pie fillings all benefit in body and smoothness from this function of sugar.Quick Breads: Quick breads are prepared with leavening agents that act more rapidly than yeast. Since most quick breads contain relatively small amounts of shortening and little or no sugar, they require special care in mixing to obtain a tender baked product. In preparing quick breads, the chance of overdeveloping gluten because of the lack of sugar is a constant risk. With sugar scant or absent, the flour and liquid must be combined gently and stirred only enough to just moisten the dry ingredients. Overmixing results in muffins with large air tunnels. As the amount of sugar increases, the risk of coarse, uneven grain and chewy texture caused by overmixing decreases.Yeast Breads: In small amounts, added sugar helps yeast begin producing gas for raising yeast dough. Sugar in large amounts slows yeast fermentation; in a very sweet dough the rising time is longer. During the mixing phase, sugar absorbs a high proportion of water, delaying gluten formation. The delayed gluten formation makes the bread dough's elasticity ideal for trapping gases and forming a good structure. Sugar contributes to the brown crust and delicious aromatic odor of bread (called the Maillard reaction). Also, some of the yeast fermentation by-products and proteins from the flour react with sugar contributing to bread's color and flavor. Adapted from

    Liquids Milk and water, fruit juices, and potato water contribute in different ways to the quality of

    All liquids fall into one of three categories having to do with what is called pH. That is to say that liquids are either neutral, like water, acid like citrus fruits and vinegar, or alkali (sometimes called "basic") like ammonia, lye (which is in soaps), or soda.

    Liquid in a recipe may be milk, water, fruit juices, potato water and even eggs. The amount of liquid determines whether a "dough" or "batter" is produced. Liquids also serve to hydrate the flour, for gluten formation, and to hydrate the starch, for gelatinizing, which results in formation of the basic structure of a baked product. Liquids also dissolve the sugar and salt, making possible the leavening action of baking powder, soda and acid, or growth of yeast. Liquids contribute moistness to the texture and improve the mouthfeel of baked products. When water vaporizes in a batter or dough, the steam expands the air cells, increasing the final volume of the product.

    Milk contains fats and proteins in a solution (water) and contributes valuable nutrients to baked goods. It helps browning to occur and adds flavor. When making yeast dough, milk should be scalded and cooled before adding to other ingredients. This is done to improve the quality of (9 of 13)9/25/2006 9:43:03 PM

  • how_baking_works

    the recipe.

    the dough and the volume of the bread.

    Juice may be used as the liquid in a recipe, but do not substitute milk with juice and vice versa. Because fruit juices are acidic, they are probably best used in baked products that have baking soda as an ingredient.


    Q: My muffins never bake very high. Can't I just double the leaveners in the recipe so they will? A: NO! Do not touch the leaveners because you'll create more problems if you do -- if you add more leaveners -- yes, the muffin will puff higher, but then the batter will spill over the sides of the pan and get all over your oven -- what a big mess (I've done it

    The three basic leavening gases commonly found in baking recipes are air from whipped eggs, or beating, stirring, creaming and kneading; water vapor or steam from liquids; carbon dioxide from chemical leaveners, baking soda and baking powder;

    and yeast, both packaged and from a starter (sourdough or sponge). In many baked items, all three of these agents participate in the leavening process.

    A leavening agent provides a source of gas to the recipe called carbon dioxide. When moistened, fermented and/or heated, it expands the millions of air bubbles previously created in a batter or dough from mixing, creaming, beating, folding, whipping and kneading trapped in the structural framework by the gluten strands. If the batter is over mixed or not baked promptly, the gas will escape and the final recipe will have poor texture and low volume.

    During mixing, some air is always incorporated. Although it is usually not the major leaven, it plays an important role. Beaten eggs aerate recipes due to their ability to foam and by contributing water for steam, such as with sponge or angel food cakes. A foam is created by incorporating air into a mixture through "beating". Whole eggs, egg whites or egg yolks can each be beaten into a foam, with whites having the potential of producing the most. Air is also incorporated into cakes when fat and sugar are beaten together.

    The leavening source used in a baked product may serve to produce gas by physical, chemical or biological methods. The leavening selected is usually dependent

    Steam is produced when water, in the recipe, is heated to 212 degrees F by baking. Most batter recipes are to some degree leavened by steam. To get maximum steam production in a system, a 1:1 ratio of liquid to flour is needed, which recipes already have. As the amount of water relative to flour decreases, less leavening from steam occurs. In steam-leavened products, the changes that occur in the volume occur at the end of the