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Aeration & Emulsification (a.k.a. Let Them Eat Cake!)

In this course, we have made a lot of cakes! Angel food cakes, jellyrolls, sponge cakes (both chocolate & white), jaconde (decorative sponge), layer cakes, etc.

For this, I have chosen Angel Food Cake.

Angel food cakes are very light and airy cakes. They are leavened solely by air and contain no fat in them. Like most cakes should be, they are also moist, and have uniformly small air cells. Angel food cakes also happen to be white (partly hence the name).

To make angel food cake:

– Use the “Angel Food” method

– Set your oven to 190°C

– Do not grease your pans as if you do the cake will pull away too much from the pan and cave in on itself.

– Always scale ingredients accurately & sift dry ingredients

– Ensure that your ingredients are all at room temperature, this will create a nice homogenous cake batter for you to work with. Room temperature egg whites will create a nice light and airy egg foam.

– Combine & sift flour and first part of sugar together, this helps prevent lumps from forming in your egg foam.

– Whip up your egg whites then add the salt and cream of tartar

– Continue whipping and slowly add in the remaining part of sugar until soft peaks form. Beware of the stiff peaks, you only want to whip till soft peaks, not stiff peaks. If there are favourings to be added, add them now.

– If you over whip your egg whites, you will create overly big air cells which will expand, but as they do, the egg white proteins won’t be able to stand up in the oven when being baked. Which in turn will a cause your cake to collapse.

– Once you are done, you are now ready to add in the flour mixture. Gradually and gently use your hand like a paddle to incorporate the flour into the egg whites by folding them in. Do not over mix as you will deflate the foam.

– After panning them, bake immediately to avoid deflation.

– You will know when your cakes are done by their nice golden colour, and when you poke it, it quickly springs back up.

– Invert your pans the moment they come out of the oven to avoid them collapsing due to gravity.

– When they are entirely cooled, only then may you depan them.

– Decorate, freeze or both! Or even better, decorate, take a picture then EAT it!!

Be careful as you make your angel food cake, in order for them to turn out correctly and without collapsing.

When Karen and I made our angel food cakes, they turned out very nicely as we had applied all of the above steps to achieve a good lift and nice small uniform air cells.

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Lamination – Proofing & Baking

As we continue our tour of the the Lamination Station,  we come to the part about how to properly proof and bake off our processed laminated doughs.

Some challenges that may be encountered when proofing laminated yeast dough are,  the dreaded weeping of fat, and the formation of a skin on your dough if  proofed at too low of a temperature.

When proofing laminated yeast doughs, a good practice to put into practice is to proof  them at room temperature. This is so that it won’t be too warm (fat will melt), or too cold (the yeast will retard). When doing this, it is also a good practice to put a cover over your items (or a jacket over the rack where they sit proofing), in order to prevent a skin from forming on your products.

When dealing with frozen Danishes & Croissants,  you should first slowly thaw them in a fridge overnight. If  wanted, you could also thaw them at room temperature, but you must ensure that they remain skinless at all times. Once it has thawed,  proof and bake as usual (like if it had never been frozen).

You may bake off still frozen puff pastry immediately! However, baking time will increase.

Next stop: Aeration & Emulsification

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Lamination – Dough Handling

We have arrived at the Lamination Station! Croissants, Danishes, Puff Pastries such as Eccles Cakes, Cheese (or Cinnamon) Straws, Butter Horns, Turnovers, & Strudel (among other types) for almost as far as the eye can see!

When working with your dough and in handling it, temperature is very important.

Problems will arise if your dough and butter are not the same temperature. If your butter is too cold, it will not spread easily and could possible break into chunks. Likewise, if your dough is too cold, it won’t be east to roll out & might even tear.  Though on the other hand, if your dough is too warm the dough will get very moist and could even proof right there on your bench. If your butter is too warm it will become too soft and could very well leak out from your dough while you are trying to add folds  to it. At either of these points, it will be very hard to work with your laminated (or in the process of being laminated) dough.

The type of flour used can also play a part in how easy or difficult it is to handle your dough. Softer flour will require less resting time, as opposed to harder flour which obviously will require a longer time of rest. While we are on the topic of resting, your dough should be properly rested in order to give the gluten time to relax.

To prevent these problems from happening, there are a few thing you could do to keep it at an agreeable state. When taking dough out from the fridge, only take out what you need, so that the rest can stay cool. Working quickly is a good idea to prevent the dough from getting too soft. Chill your dough in the fridge for approximately 30 mins. (depending on what kind of laminated dough it is) after each fold. Make sure that you have scaled and mixed your dough correctly to ensure that your dough isn’t too soft or too dry.

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