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Sunday, January 25, 2015

Alpha Bakers: Gingersnaps


This week we're back to small portions folks!

For these cookies, I made 1/3 recipe this time. How, you might wonder, would I adjust the 1 egg and 1 egg white by 1/3. I first calculated the 1/3 amount of egg and egg white needed in grams. Then I separated the egg yolk from the egg whites. Then I weighed them separately. The egg yolk weight 16 grams so it's normal size, so I split it into 1/3 (5 grams). I add the amount of egg whites needed for 1/3 of egg weighted. Are you still with me? And lastly I added then 1/3 additional egg whites.

It dawned on me recently (thanks Rose), that I should probably mention any high altitude adjustment that I make on recipes. I think all of the Alpha Bakers are at sea level so this is probably not very interesting. But perhaps it can be useful for others reading this blog if they happen to be at high altitude. Denver is at 5,000 feet above sea level so adjustments needs to be made for cooking and baking.

I usually adjust two things: leavening agents and liquid. Decreasing leaving agents is because at high altitude baked goods rise more quickly. The second adjustment is increasing liquids. I always thought that increasing liquids is because it's so dry here but that is not the only reason. At higher altitude, evaporation happens faster so add that to the dryness baked good taste less good. Some folks adjust the dry ingredients: increasing flour, reducing sugar, etc. I feel that increasing flour is counter-intuitive to adding liquids to prevent dryness so I never really bother with that. As for sugar, Rose's recipes is not too sweet so that's not needed, in my opinion.  It is not as complicated as it might have sounded. Trust me on this - I almost failed high school chemistry.

For this gingersnaps I adjusted the baking powder and baking soda by about 20%. I didn't measure very accurately since it's impossible to split 1 teaspoon baking soda into 1/3 and then reduce 20%. Let's just say I measure 1/3 of it and then take a bit off.

I waited until everything is being mixed in the mixer, the batter almost come together with the stated amount of eggs. There's still a few stray crumbs left and the batter feels a tad dry to the touch, so that's when I added 1 tablespoon of egg whites to it and mix it by hand. I avoid using the mixer at this step since it is harder to mix a dough that's already come together with additional liquid - at least that's how I think of it in my head haha.

1/3 recipe yield 10 cookies, all exactly 27 grams.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Alpha Bakers: Golden Orange Panettone with Chocolate Sauce


I love panettone. Before I knew how to bake, a long time ago when my oven was used for pots and pans storage, I used to get panettone at Whole Foods. They always have a huge tower of it around the holidays. I thought it was the best thing. It hails from Italy so it must be the best, si? (little that I know that years later I would learn that it is the best when it hails from Rose Levy Beranbaum). Back in 2011 Hanaa and I wanted to do a virtual bake a long and we made a recipe from allrecipes.com (Hanaa, do you remember? :). For comparison, I also made Rose's Panettone recipe from the Bread Bible. The allrecipes version was not good but Rose's was awesome.

The panettone recipe in the Baking Bible is different than the one in the Bread Bible. Both recipes uses golden raisins, but the Bread Bible version used chestnuts vs. this version using candied orange peel. The Baking Bible version uses golden syrup and has an extra step of making a biga 3 days beforehand and also has more steps in the dough preparation. It was too long ago for me to remember which one is better, but I can't imagine anything better than the Baking Bible's version. My husband said it best, "it is perfect." Funnily, he asked why I made the full recipe. I told him it is because I know it is going to be really good so I have to.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Homemade Candied Orange Peel


For the Panettone next week, I decided make my own candied orange peel. I've been curious about it but so far have been too lazy to make it. I figured now is as good a time as any.

There are a lot of recipes out there and most of them have similar instructions. The only big variance is the sugar amount. I finally settled on a recipe from BrightEyedBaker. I'm not familiar with this website but I like that she has the least amount of sugar compared to some others. Even with the smaller sugar amount, I still reduced it by 1/4 cup. I also like that her recipe comes with really good step by step photo instructions.

This turned out pretty easy and now I wondered why it took me this long to try. I'm already planning on making this again and use chocolate next time. Doesn't chocolate-dipped orange peel sound good?