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Article: Baker's Babblings (With Bonus Advice)

  1. Baker's Babblings (With Bonus Advice)

    10 Comments by pepperlandgirl Published on 01 Aug 2009 01:18 AM
    Baker has not only offered an awesome article for this month's update, but she's also agreeable to answering your questions for another update! So feel free to ask them here.

    I liked all the fun facts Baker included in her article, but honestly, I was most thrilled with the frosting recipe. I don't have any strong feelings either way about canned frosting. For example, some chocolate canned frosting spread over graham crackers is a very tasty treat. On the other hand, who doesn't love really good homemade frosting? I've conquered the obstacle of cake from scratch, but decent frosting still eludes me.

    Also, I have a question for Baker. What's the best way to bring hard brown sugar (perhaps because the bag was not sealed properly) "back to life" so to speak?

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  3. #2
    Oliphaunt featherlou's avatar
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    Default Re: Baker's Babblings (With Bonus Advice)

    I use a piece of bread to keep my sugar soft (I just use a leftover crust) - it doesn't mold while it's in the sugar, it adds no flavour, and the sugar stays soft forever. Well, not forever, but a very long time.

  4. #3
    Clueless but well-meaning Hatshepsut's avatar
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    Default Re: Baker's Babblings (With Bonus Advice)

    Baker, do you have any tips for decorator frosting in a high heat and humidity environment? I taught myself how to decorate using pastry bags of frosting and different tips while we were in a very dry climate, and all my stuff came out great. But here in Jakarta where it is so humid, frosting the way I usually make it (just butter, confectioner's sugar, almond or other extract, and desired food coloring) doesn't hold it's shape if it is pliable enough to squeeze through a tip.

  5. #4
    Prehistoric Bitchslapper Sarahfeena's avatar
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    Default Re: Baker's Babblings (With Bonus Advice)

    Baker, thanks SO much for the frosting recipe...I am frosting-challenged. In fact, I've defaulted to making Bundt cakes and using glazes or powdered sugar because I'm so bad at it. I will try yours, though, and see if I can get it to work.

    Question: do you have a good recipe for chocolate frosting? Yellow cake with chocolate frosting is my fav!

  6. #5
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    Default Re: Baker's Babblings (With Bonus Advice)

    Sarahfeena, what kind of chocolate frosting do you want? Do you want a dark, fudgy kind, a buttercream, a glaze icing(good for brownies)? I can give you lot’s of chocolate frostings, I’m one of those people who think chocolate ia better the more you have!

    CairoCarol I'm sorry to say I'm not really familiar with adjusting decorating icing to the conditions you mention. Some fats have a higher melting point than others, such as shortenings, but I'm not sure how that will translate into use with frosting. But it sounds like a fascinating thing to look up, so I'll go through some of my books and do some rooting around on the web and let you know what I find. One never knows when this kind of info can come in handy.

  7. #6
    Prehistoric Bitchslapper Sarahfeena's avatar
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    Default Re: Baker's Babblings (With Bonus Advice)

    I think more of a buttercream kind, Baker, but I would take whatever you would recommend! Thank you!

  8. #7
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    Default Re: Baker's Babblings (With Bonus Advice)

    For a chcolate buttercream icing there are two ways to go. You can use unsweetened chocolate bars or you can add cocoa powder to the white buttercream recipe I included in the article.

    If you use the unsweetened bars melt them in a double boiler(never over direct heat) or on a low level in a microwave. Allow to cool a little and blend into the softened butter and shortening before adding the sugar.

    If you add cocoa powder you will mix it in with the powdered sugar. There are two kinds of cocoa powder, “natural” or “Dutched.”, and either can be used. The natural is the one most commonly found on grocery shelves in the US, but some manufacturers, such as Hershey’s or Nestles’s, also market a dark(called European) cocoa powder, which is a blend of Dutch and natural cocoas. The difference in the two types is in their processing. The Dutch cocoa powder has a higher pH level due to alkali used in it’s processing. (I’ll save a discussion of how this effects baked products for later) In frosting the natural cocoa powder will give a lighter color, while the Dutch, or European, will give a darker look. I prefer the latter, but it’s all in looks and taste, not in how the frosting is affected.

    Using cocoa powder will stiffen the frosting to some degree, but instead of adding more cream or milk to make it more spreadable I like to squeeze in Hershey’s syrup instead. The syrup comes in regular or dark, and as with the powder I prefer dark, but again it’s about taste, not workability.

    For your first venture use less rather than more, chocolate or cocoa. You can keep playing with it until you find the level of color and taste you prefer yourself.

    A really easy chocolate glaze icing can be made with just three ingredients, chocolate chips, evaporated milk, and powdered sugar. The following recipe will cover quite a large pan of brownies, or any other kind of flat sheet cake. It can also be poured over a bundt cake, cream puffs, Boston Cream pie, and so on. It will become firm when it is cool or chilled. In a small double boiler add one 12 oz can(1-1/2 cups) of evaporated milk and 2-5/8 cups(15.75 oz) of chocolate chips, and 4-1/2 cups powdered sugar Stir just until the chips melt, then beat in the powdered sugar until it’s smooth. Pour over cake, spreading with a spatula or the back of a large spoon. The recipe can be reduced. I think you can get 8 oz(one cup) cans of evaporated milk, for that use 1.75 cups chips(10.5 oz) and 3 cups powdered sugar.

  9. #8
    Prehistoric Bitchslapper Sarahfeena's avatar
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    Default Re: Baker's Babblings (With Bonus Advice)

    Thank you so much, Baker! I think one of these recipes is going to get a workout tomorrow!

  10. #9
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    Default Re: Baker's Babblings (With Bonus Advice)

    Let me know how it goes Sarahfeena!

    pepperlandgirl, sorry I forgot to answer your question about the brown sugar. The bread idea already mentioned is good.

    If the brown sugar is in one big lump, try breaking it into smaller ones. Place the sugar lumps in a tightly sealed container with a couple slices of apple. If it does start to soften, break it up further. See, this works sometimes, it depends on how hard or clumped the sugar is.

    Try and use it ASAP when you revive it.

    Hope this works, let me know.

  11. #10
    Sophmoric Existentialist
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    Default Re: Baker's Babblings (With Bonus Advice)

    If you're in a hurry to use that hard brown sugar, break it up as much as you can and then microwave it. Be careful, don't microwave it for too long! Try 10 second bursts.

    You can buy these little clay brown sugar softeners, some are shaped like teddy bears, some are just round. It's the kind of clay a flower pot is made from. You soak it in water for 10 minutes, then dry it and put it in the brown sugar container.

    I keep my brown sugar in the fridge. It stays softer longer.
    Sophmoric Existentialist

  12. #11
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    Default Re: Baker's Babblings (With Bonus Advice)

    Oh man I didn't see this before, this article was great. Thanks, Baker! The stuff about different types of fat was especially interesting.

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