This week I received a bunch more baking questions from readers. Great questions but I'm not much of a baker so again I asked my friend Chef Jenni for help. Readers want to know about pre-making tarts, white sugar substitutes, baking soda questions and more. Here are a few of the questions I received and Jenni's responses.
Making Tartlets Ahead of Time
Judy asked, I'm going to make your key lime tartletfor a bridal shower on June 25ht, 2011. I just wanted to know how far ahead can I make the tartlets? Thank you, Judy
Jenni says, You can make the tart shells and freeze them, uncooked, for up to a month. Since your party is on the 25th, this won't be a problem for you. If you want, bake them the day before filling them, and keep them at room temperature. I wouldn't make the filling more than 2 days ahead. Freshest is always best, and you don't want your tarts picking up any stray refrigerator smells.
Substituting Raw Sugar for White
Kimberly asks, Can I substitute raw sugar for white in cordial an jam recipes?
Jenni says, Yes, you can certainly substitute raw sugar for white. Since it contains more impurities (mainly molasses, which is never a bad thing in my book), the color might not be as vibrant. As long as you're fine with that, go for it.
Substituting Baking Soda with Baking Powder
Jeanie Koch asks, I have a recipe for bran muffins and it calls for 3 tablespoons of baking soda, it also uses buttermilk, what I would like to know is if I can use half baking soda and half baking powder. Thank you.
Jenni says, It's hard to know how to answer your question without seeing the recipe. I will say that 3 tablespoons of baking powder is a heck of a lot. Generally speaking, it takes 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda to properly leaven 1 cup of flour. Most likely, the bulk of the baking soda is there to offset the acid in the vinegar.
When you start talking about swapping out baking soda for baking powder (or vice versa, for that matter) you're really talking about altering the pH of the batter. Vinegar makes a batter acidic, and baking soda makes it more alkaline. Baking powder is neutral, since it contains ingredients that balance, pH-wise.
If you mess with the pH of your batter, you run the risk of its not setting up--too alkaline (basic), and it won't set at all and you'll end up with pudding. If you have used the recipe before and liked it, I'd just stick with it. If you'd like to send me the recipe, I'll take a look at it and see if it's possible to make some substitutions without altering what it is you like about that bran muffin recipe in the first place.
Yeast in Bread
Ron asks, Can you please tell me how much fresh yeast I should use for a 2 pound loaf made in a bread maker? I have tried with 12 grams but it nearly took the lid off the bread maker. I am using 560 grams of flour, brown sugar, vegetable oil, skimmed milk, salt, plus 3 x 60 gram vitamin "C" tablets crushed. I would really like a reply as all the bread I am making at the moment is soggy at the top and has to be cut off and wasted.
Jenni says, You can do one of two things (or both):
- Cut down to 8-9g fresh yeast and/or
- Cut down or eliminate the amount of Vitamin C you're using. Maybe just go w/1 - 60g Vitamin C tab instead of 3.
Now that I think of it, you might also make the dough in your bread machine and then take it out, let it rise and bake in your oven at 375F. That way, your bread won't be constrained by the lid of your bread machine and some of the moisture will be able to escape into the oven, keeping your bread from getting soggy.