Measuring Flour for Muffins

Recipes often caution us to measure flour correctly. “If you must use a measuring cup, spoon and level! Never scoop!” But how much of a difference do two more utensils make? To find out, I made muffins using flour that was measured with a scale, spooned and leveled into a measuring cup, and scooped from the bag.

Red Bean Dessert Soup (紅豆湯)

Red bean soup (紅豆湯,) is a popular dessert throughout China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. It’s made from red beans (紅豆, also called adzuki beans) which are incorporated into many East Asian desserts. Red bean soup itself is versatile. It can be eaten hot or cold, plain or with toppings, liquid or frozen. When my mom first dictated her version to me, she cautioned, “糖最後加,不然紅豆煮不爛!Don’t add the sugar until the end, else the beans will never soften!” Today, I’m sharing my mom’s recipe, adapted for a typical Western kitchen and pantry, then discussing the science behind her words.

Apple Pie

In the last post, we discussed how sugar preserves the structure of cooked fruit. This comes in handy for fruit pie fillings, which often become a mushy and wet (but nevertheless delicious) mess. In this recipe, apples are tossed with sugar and drained. The drained liquid is cooked into a thick syrup that’s added back to the apples and baked. The apples maintain some crunch, not much water leaks into the pie, and the syrup adds an extra punch of flavor. Let’s take a look at the recipe and then discuss the science!

Sugar in the Kitchen: Special Applications

Over the last few posts, we discussed a lot of sugar’s roles in baked goods. It’s important for flavor, texture, structure, and color in cookies, cakes, and muffins. But sugar’s roles in baking extend further. Sugar is important in meringues as a stabilizer, in yeast breads as a source of energy for the microorganisms, and in fruit desserts to preserve the structure and texture of the fruit. In this post, we’ll explore sugar’s myriad roles in these sweets.

Maple Walnut Snapdoodles

Over the last few posts, we discussed the effects of sugar on cookie spread and texture. For this recipe, I played around with maple syrup, brown sugar, and granulated sugar. I also experimented with oven temperature. The result is these Maple Walnut Snapdoodles, one cookie dough that can be crunchy or chewy depending on the oven temperature. In addition to the recipe, I’ll share some of the test batches. We’ll talk about the changes I made, the results of each batch, and the science behind it all.

Sugar in Muffins

In an effort to be health-conscious, it’s tempting to just reduce the sugar in a recipe when we bake. Often, the result is still plenty sweet. But sugar is not just a sweetener, and merely using less sugar will lead to drastic changes in a baked good’s texture and structure. In this post, we’ll explore some of these changes in muffins.

Sugar in the Kitchen: Partners with Water

In the introduction to sugar, we discussed the chemistry that makes sugar form crystals and attract water. That attraction gives sugar its roles in the texture and structure of baked goods. In this post, we’ll explore how sugar’s interactions with water make it such a versatile ingredient.

Gluten in the Kitchen: Bonus Edition

Gluten in the Kitchen highlighted some of the most common ways we control gluten development in baking. In this bonus post, I’ll cover a couple more that didn’t make it in but are important nonetheless! Accurately measuring flour This point is belabored everywhere, but it bears repeating: accurate measurement of all ingredients is crucial toContinue reading “Gluten in the Kitchen: Bonus Edition”

Water in Shortbread

Shortbread is a delicious cookie. Buttery and rich, it’s a treat whose decadence belies its simplicity. A basic shortbread contains only butter, sugar, and flour, but these ingredients create a crumbly dough that can be difficult to work with. To give our dough more structure, we can add a touch of water to the flour to develop gluten before it’s combined with the butter. In this post, we’ll explore how the extra water affects the cookie, from mixing bowl to oven into our mouths.