Great stuff. I couldn't agree with you more. I love to mess with recipes and make them my own. But when it comes to baking....well perhaps I can mess with a cake mix. Been trying to just improve on homemade buttermilk pancakes and even that is a challenge. I think you must need a background in chemistry or pastry chef experience.
August 11, 2004 9:06 PM
The chemistry background is probably more useful. For pancakes, the trick is to make them fluffy, which means having enough leavening, which is where most of the chemistry comes in to play--the leavening action is caused by acid+base reactions (normally baking soda and buttermilk), so you can play around with the acids and bases so long as you make sure that the ratio of leavening action to total volume stays the same. I don't know of any good alternate bases, so I usually just play with the acid to change the flavor of things; basically, in terms of acidity, 1 c buttermilk = 1 c yogurt = 2 tsp cream of tartar = 1 tbsp lemon juice = 1 tbsp vinegar = 2 c honey. Natural (light) cocoa, chocolate, brown sugar, and molasses are also all slightly acidic, although I don't remember their relative acidity off-hand. (The other chemistry trick with pancakes is to not overbeat them--leaving the batter lumpy means the glutens aren't overdeveloped (which leads to rubbery pancakes), and since single-action leavening starts as soon as the acid and base are combined with a liquid (as opposed to double-action baking powder, which saves some leavening until heat is applied), less beating means less leavening action wasted.)
(Hmm... dutch cocoa is actually slightly alkaline, so I suppose that it could be used to replace some baking soda in a recipe... a good fluffy cocoa-honey buttermilk pancake seems like it needs to be invented post-haste...)
August 11, 2004 10:43 PM
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