Monday, February 28, 2011

BAKING SODA versus BAKING POWDER

There are two main chemical leaveners in the baking world: baking powder and baking soda. Quick breads are "quick" because they are leavened with a chemical leavener versus a yeast-leavener (yeast takes longer to leavened). What is a leavnener exactly? Any ingredient that are used to increase volume, slightly lighten the texture, and cause carbon dioxide gas bubbles, which cause the batter/dough to GROW!

I will talk about the two main chemical leaveners: baking powder and baking soda. Think you intermix 'em? Maybe so. Once you know the details and "science" behind the two, your baking will become a success!

BAKING SODA: aka bicarbonate of soda; It is a alkali, thus it is used in conjunction with an acid ingredient. Such as: buttermilk, yogurt, molasses, citrus juices, and sour cream. Baking soda neutralizes acidity and causes a nice "tender crumb" in a baked good. Baking soda also reacts instantly when mixed with a liquid and/or acid, thus all baked goods that use baking soda, need to be baked immediately.

BAKING POWDER: is baking soda, an acid (like cream of tarter), and a moisture-absorber (like cornstarch). Why cornstarch? It keeps the soda and acid dry and makes sure they "do not react together" when properly stored. There are actually 3 types of baking powders in the baking world:
-Double acting baking powder: The most popular and common! Double acting baking powder begans to "act" when exposed to liquid and heat ( like from an oven). Thus, batter made with baking powder do not have to be baked immediately.
-Single acting and phosphate baking powder: Very uncommon in American baking due to the popularity and ease of double-acting baking powder. Both of these start "acting" when exposed to a liquid ingredient.
Out of baking powder? Try mixing 1/4 tsp baking soda and 5/8 tsp cream of tarter together.

So, when creating a recipe, how do you know if the recipe needs baking soda or baking powder?
Baking soda needs an acid to "balance" it or it may give off a chemical taste.
Baking powder, since it contains an acid and base, is often paired with netural ingredients like milk, cream, etc.

What if a recipe calls for both, baking soda and baking powder?
When you use both, the baking powder mainly does "the work." The baking soda is there to netuarlize the acid, give a nice moist crumb, and do a little leavening.

What happens if you add too much baking powder or baking soda to your batter?
Too much will cause a bitter and metallic taste. The baked good products will "rise" very fast, then "fall" in the middle, causing an irregular shape. Too little chemical leavener? You product will be a "shallow" and small shape and have a coarse texture.

Can you subsitute one for the other?
Since baking powder already contains baking soda, you can use baking powder when a recipe calls for baking soda. But DO NOT use baking soda when it calls for baking powder.

Here is a little "tip" on how to remind yourself the difference:
Baking soda: Needs only one item (liquid) to activate.
Baking powder: Needs two items (liquid +heat) to activate.
Baking soda recipes: Use baking soda OR powder (you may need to add 1/4 tea more baking powder when using it instead of baking soda.)
Baking powder recipes: Use ONLY baking powder

Make sure you properly store your chemical leaveners in a dry, cool, and dark place like your pantry. Double check the expire date to makes sure you are using quality baking powder or soda. Tip: if it is over one year, toss it and buy a fresh leavener!

Happy Baking!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

KNOW WHERE TO SPEND YOUR DOUGH: My exciting interview series with local business owners continues with Carly, owner of carly.bish photography!

KNOW WHERE TO SPEND YOUR DOUGH: My exciting interview series with local business owners!

Do you want a fun, exciting, and thriving community? Want your town to be a place you are proud of? Do you desire a great place to show off to friends and family? HELP out your community by spending your money at local businesses. Local businesses help make your community REAL, warm, and rich.
I will be interviewing local business owners to help out the community and keep you updated on what is up and coming.

Carly is the owner/founder of carly.bish photography and does excellent photography work for your wedding or special event. She is truly passionate about her work and career and always gives 110% effort in every job she is hired to do.

1)What made you want to start your own photography business?I originally wanted to be a photojournalist, traveling the world for National Geographic or something like it. So when a friend asked me to photograph her wedding, it caught me by surprise. I had never considered shooting weddings so I was interested in trying it out. What ended up happening was more than I could have expected as I discovered I don't have the stomach for hard-hitting news stories but I'm really great at documenting life and all it's celebrations in a very artistic, photojournalistic way. So after my third wedding, I got my business license and I haven't looked back.

2)Name three skills you must have to open your own business. About 20% of running my business actually involves taking pictures, so it takes a willingness to deal with all the "other stuff" in order to succeed. If you can't handle the 80% that isn't related to what you really want to do, then you're better off pursuing it as a hobby rather than a profession. Secondly, you have to be able to work with people of all kinds. Shy people, outgoing people, withdrawn people, stubborn people... You adapt to everyone you work with and exceed their expectations every time. And last, you gotta love it. You have to love what you do if you're going to own and run your own business. If you lack passion, you can't endure, and it'll fizzle out before you even begin.

3)What has been your most memorable event you have photographed?I really can't pick one. I love shooting weddings and I feel extremely lucky because all my couples are so awesome and trust me completely. If I had to pick one event, unrelated to weddings, I'd probably say the photos I took on the day my nephew was born was pretty special. Being there the moment he arrived was amazing and breathtaking. I don't always get the opportunity to shoot moments like that, so I feel like I appreciate them a lot more than other events. Weddings will always be my favorite, though... It's always one to remember. :)


4)What do you love most about photography?I'm an artist but I'm also a documenter. Photography allows me to incorporate my two strongest characteristics and create one cohesive medium where I can perform both. I can't say that about anything else in my life--I feel incredibly lucky to do what I do for a living.

5)What can a person do if s/he is interested in photography but has little or no experience?
If you're interested in photography and have little to no experience, the first thing you need to do is simply start taking pictures. Then, work on getting plugged into some sort of group that meets regularly to discuss photography. I lead a "photography group" at my church and I have people with no experience and others with tons of experience join up. Every week, we talk about things we're interested in learning more about and we go to different locations and take photos. If there's no group near you that you can join, form your own! Start a group on Facebook and invite people you know who are interested in photography. Learn and share knowledge together. That's the best way to grow as a photographer.

For more information about Carly and her work:
facebook: find and "like" carly.bish photography
twitter: @carly.bish
web: http://carlybish.com/

Sunday, February 20, 2011

KNOW WHERE TO SPEND YOUR DOUGH: My exciting interview series continues with Rebecca, founder/owner of "Wildflour" which makes gluten-free baked goods!

KNOW WHERE TO SPEND YOUR DOUGH: My exciting interview series with local business owners!

Do you want a fun, exciting, and thriving community? Want your town to be a place you are proud of? Do you desire a great place to show off to friends and family? HELP out your community by spending your money at local businesses. Local businesses help make your community REAL, warm, and rich.
I will be interviewing local business owners to help out the community and keep you updated on what is up and coming.

I am a huge fan of gluten-free products! Lately, gluten-free products have been all over the market and grocery stores. From bread to cookies, to cupcakes to scones, gluten-free baked goods are become more popular.I was at the Redmond Farmer's Market and spotted "Wildflour," a gluten-free baked good company. I had a sample of their herbed foccica and LOVED the taste and texture. It was not dry or "stiff" like some other gluten-free baked items. Before Thanksgiving, I picked up a gluten-free rye loaf to make a gluten-free stuffing at the Mercer Island Farmer's Market. Want to taste a bit of some excellent gluten-free items? Check out Redmond Farmer's market starting May 7th.

1) Wildflour makes gluten-free baked goods. What made you want to create a GF baking business?
I have been gluten-intolerant for almost 20 years. I have dealt with numerous other food intolerances most of my life. When I was first diagnosed there were very few gluten-free products available. Very few people had knowledge of what "gluten-free" meant. By necessity I had to develop my own recipes, and have spent years experimenting with different gluten-free flours and combinations. Today gluten-free is practically a buzz word, yet there is still a lack of really great gf products available. After a few summers of writing a cookbook, I decided to put publishing efforts on hold, and start a baking business. With the great support of family and friends, "Wildflour" was born.

2) What are your top three best sellers at the market?
Artisan breads, (especially the Focaccia);tea loaves and muffins.

3) To someone who may not know, describe a "gluten-free" diet.
Gluten is the protein found most commonly in wheat, barley and rye. Oats are also a frequent culprit unless certified gluten-free, as well as spelt, kamut and emmer. Avoiding gluten means avoiding most breads, cereals, pastries, and pasta as well as many soups, gravies and sauces since wheat or wheat derivatives are used as a thickener in most prepared foods. Gluten can be a hidden ingredient in many foods, as it may be listed as modified food starch, malt or caramel coloring, etc. Since the FDA has mandated declaring wheat and gluten as a food allergen, reading most food labels will help a gluten-intolerant person to know if that particular food is safe. Eating out in restaurants may be more of a challenge, as the knowledge and training of the servers and chefs vary from place to place. Thankfully the knowledge of gluten-free is improving all the time, and many restuarants have added a gluten-free menu. For most people on a gluten-free diet, they have learned to bring their own food when traveling or going to potlucks, and have learned to inquire carefully about any foods others have prepared.
There are at least as many gluten-free grains as ones to avoid. Rice, potatoes, tapioca, corn, arrowroot, quinoa, amaranth, sorghum, teff, chick pea are just a few of the safe grains/starches that are allowed on a gluten-free diet.
All fruits, vegetables, meat and fish (without seasonings) are safe foods. While the calories of a gluten-free baked product are very similar to a traditional wheat product, I think those on a gluten-free diet are often forced to make healthier choices to avoid accidentally consuming gluten.

4) What are three main skills a person must have to start a baking business?
Determination, passion and organization. Willingness to work long, hard hours. There is also a great deal in expense in starting a baking business, especially if done in a dedicated gluten-free environment.

5) What are your future goals for Wildflour?
To get our artisan breads and pastries distributed on a larger level. Hire employees in 2011 so we can grown the business to keep pace with demand. Eventually a retail space - people really want a place they can come to buy a variety of product. We have also had a great demand for wholesale, and are currently evaluating different paths. We will be at the Redmond Saturday market again, starting May 7th.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Pomegrante's Lisa Dupar speaks at Redmond Library!

Lisa Dupar is a popular Redmond Chef who owns Lisa Dupar Catering and the always exciting Pomegrante Bistro. This past Thursday, she spoke at the Redmond library to a "food-loving" audience. Her new cookbook, based on Pomegrante's favorite dishes, is out at local book stores and is titled "fried chicken and champagne."

Lisa Dupar first made her mark in Redmond with her restaurant "Southern Accents" about 25 years ago. Growing up she knew she had a great desire for food, cooking, and the business. A great apprenticeship followed after high school in her home state, Georgia. After a "miss" with her first restaurant, Lisa soon opened "Lisa Dupar Catering" and shut down "Southern Accents." The catering service became a success and high demand for high end clients. Shortly after, Lisa decided to open "Pomegrante Bistro." The restaurant serves pacific northwest fare with a local wine/beer selection. Connected to the bistro is a small espresso stand that serves amazing little treats (try the ginger-molasses cookie!) and coffee drinks.

Lisa was a very engaging and natural speaker. She told us crazy catering stories, the love and passion for her business, and what it takes to make it in the food industry. She also answered questions from the "fan-based" audience. Overall, she talked about her business, life, and loves! Afterwards, she happily signed her cookbooks for fans.

Lisa Dupar's Catering and Pomegrante Bistro is located in downtown Redmond, WA.
http://www.duparandcompany.com/pomegranate-bistro/menus.php

Her new cookbook is out and contains many recipes from Pomegrante!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

What to look for in a quality loaf of bread: The facts!

I used to live the life of a bread baker: setting my alarm at 2am, at work by 3am, and mixing dough by 3:15am! The good part? I was done with my work day BEFORE noon. Bread baking is an art, skill, and will test a true person's patience.

How do I know good bread versus cheap, processed bread? When I was working at COBS BREAD BAKERY (Bellevue and Mercer Island Location), our Country Grain Bread won first place in their North America Bread Baking Competition. We went home third place overall.

What does good bread start with? Good ingredients and dough. The foundations of the bread. You want bread to have real, natural ingredients! When you work with real food, the rest of it is easy. Note: most bread you buy at local bakeries and farmer's markets will be made with real ingredients. Most bread, prepackaged at the supermaket, sold very cheap, will be made with fake ingredients.

GOOD QUALITY BREAD WILL HAVE:
-A golden brown "crust" on the outside. This means the oven temp was perfect!
-It will look like a "loaf," not a mishapped football. When bread is over proofed, or under proofed, it will cause the loaf to "collapse" and become an ood shape.
-Yes, bread should be soft, but it will have a very soft "bite" to it. Too soft bread means too much fat/sugar has been added. Too hard bread means it has been baked too long and/or there is not enough fat/sugar to it.
-If bread is shaped into a loaf, the "seam" will be at the bottom. If bread is "shaped" wrong, the seams will appear at the ends and on the sides.
-It should taste GOOD! Not too sweet or bland. If bread is bland, that means not enough salt was added.
-Golden color all over the bread! Not golden enough? Then not enough salt was added. Not only does salt aide in taste and color, it adds strength to the gluten strands.

BAD BREAD WILL HAVE:
-Misshaped loaf. The bread doesn't "look" like bread.
-Bad color, due to baking/oven times or salt content.
-Too big/too small due to proofing and/or shaping.
-Doesn't taste GOOD! Either too bland or sweet.
-Unnatrual ingredients. Check the ingredient list on your bread package. Does it have words your can or cannot pronouce?
-Stale. Due to the wrong packaging and cooling procedures.

Throw out the gluten-free and atkin diets, bread is a staple of life and the American diet. Not only is it healthy, nourishing, and a great source of carbs, good bread tastes amazing by itself!
Happy Baking!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Almond Extract

Next to vanilla extract, almond extract is the second most popular extract in baking. Almond extract gives a sweet almond flavor to any baked good, while vanilla extract brings out the naturaly sweetness in any baked item.

Almond extract is made by combing bitter-almond oil with ethyl alcohol. The flavor is intense and strong.
Are you feeling ambitious and want to make your own batch of almond oil? Here are the easy steps:
1) Placed 12 raw, whole, skinless almonds at the bottom of a dark glass jar.
2) Pour 12 oz of plain vodka over the the almonds.
3) Store in a pantry (or any cool, dry, dark place) for 2 months. Shake the bottle every 5 days for the 2 month period.
4) Use and enjoy!

5) You will have a TON of almond extract: share with friends, family, co-workers, and anyone who loves to bake!
Popular baking items that use almond extract:-Marzipan (almond paste; Popular in Europe)
-Amaretti (almond macaroons; Popular in Itay)
-Financier (small French cake)
-Almond butter (similar to peanut butter)
-Nougat (chewy, nutty confection)

Almond flavors tend to be very popular in Europe, hence you will see many European desserts/sweet items flavored with almond extract and almonds.
Almond extract is VERY strong and pungent! For about one dozen cookies, you only need 1/2 teaspoon of almond extract. Too much will cause the baked item to be too rich with almond-flavor. Like, if you over-salt a dish, you cannot "reverse" too much almond extract. If you do, just start over and make a written note in your recipe!

Happy Baking!