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Q&A -- Cream Sauces


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#1 eGCI Team

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Posted 03 September 2003 - 09:49 PM

Post questions regarding Cream Sauces here.

#2 jackal10

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Posted 03 September 2003 - 11:38 PM

Let me be the first to point out:

1. The title is slightly misleading, as Hollandaise, although creamy, is not strictly a cream sauce. However this unit is part of a continuing series on sauces.

2. After the unit had been put to bed, I re-read Harold McGee's wonderful book "The Curious Cook" (ISBN 0-86547-452-4). This is subtitled "More Kitchen Science and Law" and is a follow-on from his "On Food and Cooking". Both books are essential reading for any serious cook. He has a chapter on Hollandaise and Bernaise, and points out

a) Hollandaise is much closer to Beurre Blanc than to Mayonnaise in construction. It is a butter emulsion with some additional thickening from the egg yolk proteins, rather than using the egg yolk as the primary emulsifying agent

b) The sauce will break into scrambled egg at a temperature in the range 160F-170F, (71C-77C), which is not much above the thickening temperature, so care (and a good thermometer) is needed. Adding acid, such as lemon juice helps, adding salt causes breakdown at a lower temperature, so use unsalted butter and add the salt last, after the sauce is cooked..

c) Don't hold the the sauce much above 120F/50C until serving

d) He has a simplified of technique of mixing the lemon juice or vinegar and water with the egg yolk cold, then warming it with all the butter (cut into lumps), stirring while the butter melts, and until the temperature reaches 160F/70C or the sauce thickens.

e) Some are concerned that raw eggs can contain Salmonella. If this is your concern, or if you are serving the sauce to potentially vulnerable people (the very young or the very old, or people who are otherwise immuno-compromised), then use pastaurised egg yolks. McGee give a technique for heating them carefully in a microwave mixed with 2 tsp of lemon juice or vinegar and 2-4 tablespoons of water, the amount depending on the size of egg, heating to 200F (93C) for one minute, stirring very 10 seconds or so, and then cooling rapidly. It makes a thinner sauce that should not be heated over 120F(49c)

I urge you to read McGee.

Edited by jackal10, 03 September 2003 - 11:41 PM.


#3 Jensen

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Posted 04 September 2003 - 08:43 AM

I noticed in your pictures for the Bechamel sauce (lovely visual guides, by the way) that you pop the butter and flour in the pot together at the same time. I've always melted the butter first, then added the flour.

Does this make a difference in the final product?

cheers,

jen

#4 jackal10

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Posted 04 September 2003 - 08:53 AM

So long as you stir well so that the roux is well mixed without any lumps and not burnt I don't think it makes any difference, I'm just lazy, and it made a better picture. If you do melt the butter seperately don't get it too hot - its white, not brown roux, and if the flour cooks it will lose spme of its thickening power.

#5 Jensen

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Posted 04 September 2003 - 09:14 AM

If you do melt the butter seperately don't get it too hot - its white, not brown roux, and if the flour cooks it will lose spme of its thickening power.


Yes, I'm rather paranoid about burnt butter in my roux. If that's the main concern, then it's already something I do. Phew! :smile:

I had another question about your instructions for the Mousseline sauce. You write to "add half the quantity of whipped cream". Is that half the butter quantity? I can't find what I'm supposed to halve!!!

And now, since I've been thinking about cream sauces overnight (I read the lesson last night before I went to bed), I suppose I'll have to think of something interesting with a cream sauce to make for dinner. Croque monsieur, maybe.

cheers,

jen

#6 jackal10

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Posted 04 September 2003 - 09:23 AM

Sorry. I should have made that clear. 1/2 pt stiffly whipped cream (measured after whippping) to 1 pt sauce

Quenelle are nice, and easy to do.

Edited by jackal10, 04 September 2003 - 09:24 AM.


#7 Stone

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Posted 04 September 2003 - 10:58 AM

One problem I have thickening sauces and gravies with roux is getting my proportions correct. I either end up with something way too thick that I must keep thinning out with milk/stock (assuming I've got enough) or way too thin. I assume much comes down to experience, but is there any formula for determining what butter/flour/liquid ratio will result in what volume/thickness sauce?

#8 jackal10

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Posted 04 September 2003 - 11:28 AM

I've never seen a formula except for the standard proportions given in the unit.
Does any one else know?

#9 guajolote

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Posted 04 September 2003 - 11:32 AM

I've never seen a formula except for the standard proportions given in the unit.
Does any one else know?

I've always used the 2/2/2, which is the same as yours, or at least close.

2 Tbs. Butter
2 Tbs. flour
2 cups liquid

It's better to have the sauce a little too thick, because it's easier to add a little more liquid to thin it if you need to.

Good job Jackal.


#10 zilla369

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Posted 04 September 2003 - 11:34 AM

I've never seen a formula except for the standard proportions given in the unit.
Does any one else know?

As a rule of thumb, i have written down in my notes from school that 14-16 oz of white roux will thicken a gallon of liquid. These notes are from a class where we were working on cream soups. Ratio 8:1 seems to work pretty well.
Marsha Lynch aka "zilla369"

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#11 gus_tatory

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Posted 04 September 2003 - 02:49 PM

yes; thanks jackal10--!

my hollandaise-making differs only from the method illustrated in two ways:
--i prefer a lemon-y hollandaise, so start with the juice of 1/2 to one whole lemon. lime is also excellent, but i skip the vinegar step. sacrilege?! :biggrin:
--i also whisk 1-2 tsp of the hot water from the bottom of the double-boiler into the finished sauce if i have to hold it warm for a few minutes. it *appears* to make it less vulnerable to cooking/curdling.
thanks again!
gus
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#12 jackal10

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Posted 04 September 2003 - 03:07 PM

Lemon (and/or lime) are good. Some of the rind grated added enhances the citrus flavour.

Many authorities (including Escoffier) advise adding 2 tsp of boiled water at the end to both hollandaise and mayonnnaise to improve their standing properties. I think it is a bit of a myth. To paraphrase McGee
"Finishing the sauce by adding a dollop of boiling water is a piece of conventional lore not to bother with....The important thing is is not the temperature of the of the water or when its added. The important thing is that there be enough water in the sauce to accomodate the amount of oil you've beaten in. The consistency of the sauce will tell that: if it is getting stiff and sweating oil, it is clearly in need of a drink. In any case a tablepoon or two of boiling water in a cup or more of room-temperature sauce is not going to raise its temperature enough to do anything useful. Its fine to adjust the flavour and texture at the end, but there is no need to put on the kettle".

#13 IrishCream

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Posted 05 September 2003 - 12:33 AM

Thanks, Jack. On your instructions for garlic butter, did you really mean one head of garlic to a stick of butter? I usually use 3-4 cloves and it is quite powerful stuff!
Lobster.

#14 jackal10

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Posted 05 September 2003 - 12:40 AM

You are right, my typo. 3-4 fat cloves to 1 stick (8oz/250G) butter
Some advise removing the green shoot from the centre, but I don't think it makes much difference

#15 Sweet Willie

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Posted 09 September 2003 - 05:37 AM

Wife is dairy free. I've read that blending in tofu can create a creamy texture to a sauce.

Any ideas on creating "cream" sauces w/o dairy?
"I did absolutely nothing and it was everything I thought it could be"

#16 jackal10

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Posted 09 September 2003 - 05:58 AM

Yes, you can use soy milk/tofu.
I'm not an expert, altough ther are some here I'm sure. There were some recent discussions.
I believe it does not behave like cream, and its more like a starch, but does not thicken on heating.
All the recipes I've seen just liquidise the tofu with the liquid, and maybe thicken with cornstarch, or commercially with tapioca flour that has a better mouth-feel. You are swapping fat for carbohydrate to give the smoothness.
It won't, of course taste like cream, and needs quite strong flavours to overcome the beany taste.
Lots of recipes on the web.
For some lactose intolerant people, goats milk is a good alternative. Creamy too.

#17 Pinga

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Posted 09 September 2003 - 08:23 AM

Thanks for the lesson,I am looking forward to trying some of the 'child'sauces ,is that the right term ,for Hollandaise.I wonder what people would recommend with the sauce Divine,sherry is a favourite of mine and I am wondering on a partner.

Just as an aside to home cooks I find that the easiest way to keep my Hollandaise warm while having another course or just staying in the room with guests rather than at the stove ,is to keep it in a thermos flask,or as I now have,a small coffee thermos in white shaped as a jug-this can be bought to table.

#18 Grub

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Posted 21 March 2005 - 01:53 AM

I'm a tad on the late side here -- new to the forum and whatnot -- but I just wanted to offer my gratitude, as I finally managed to make a decent Hollandaise sauce after reading this (for a baked puff pastry "Wellington" salmon w/cream spinach, and sautéed asparagus -- best meal I've made in eons). I did use a double boiler though, rather than a straight saucepan, since I've had quite a few failures with that method. It was excellent.

I've one question though:

The other recipes that I've tried (and failed with) have had a significantly higher yolk-to-butter ratio. 4 oz (1 stick) to one yolk, compared to 3 yolks to 1/2 butter (which I'm fairly certain isn't more than 1 stick) on cooking.com. Is there a reason for this? Does less yolk make it easier, or does it have any other effect on the end result?

#19 jackal10

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Posted 21 March 2005 - 02:52 AM

The proportion I give in the lesson is the classical ratio, and the Escoffier method. McGee has a long discussion in "The Curious Cook", and a discusion of the methods in "Food and Cooking". Since butter is already an emulsion, the sauce practically makes itself, so long as you don't get it too warm.

There is a version of hollandise where you make a sabayon, a heat stabilised egg yolk foam that is then flavoured with butter. Its proponents claim it makes a lower fat version. Personally I find it too eggy, and more like a sauce mousseline.

The egg foam needs to be heated to about 120F/50C to stabilise, but not a lot more or it will curdle. The margin of error is small. Traditionally this is done by beating in a double boiler. The melted butter is then folded in gently, so as not to lose all the air.

The cooking.com recipe is curious, and seems to have omitted a step.
I wonder if they originally made it in a Thermomix or equivalent, where the blender is also heated.
Their recipe does this by using hot butter, but the butter will need to be close to boiling. Since there are roughly equal amounts of butter and egg mixture, to raise the temperature by about 40C, you will need butter at 90C. That temperature will change the taste of the butter, and the process leaves little margin for error.


Sauce Divine (hollandaise with sherry, and if you like with truffle, cream and chicken stock) has lots of uses for warm dishes that go well with sherry, such as poached chicken breasts or fancier with a chicken ballotine. Might be interesting with kidneys. Also with Lobster or langoustines or the like, or with hot poached salmon. You can serve it with asparagus or artichoke hearts, although I prefer plain lemon, or with broccoli or even just with plain boiled potatoes

#20 FaustianBargain

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Posted 21 March 2005 - 06:13 AM

The proportion I give in the lesson is the classical ratio, and the Escoffier method. McGee has a long discussion in "The Curious Cook", and a discusion of the methods in "Food and Cooking". Since butter is already an emulsion, the sauce practically makes itself, so long as you don't get it too warm.


I remember reading somewhere(probably This. or McGee?) that one yolk is sufficient to create approx 25 litres of hollandaise.

#21 jackal10

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Posted 21 March 2005 - 06:59 AM

Its Hal McGee on Mayonnaise in "Curious Cook", but the same principle applies

#22 Grub

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Posted 21 March 2005 - 01:52 PM

Awesome, thanks again!

#23 CaptainJack

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Posted 02 March 2006 - 04:20 AM

Ive always used clarified butter to make my hollandaise, I start with the sabayon heating a little water and eggs in a bowl over heat, when its fully peaked, slowly add the clarified butter, as with a cold emulsion.

Never tried to do it with whole butter, but it makes it easier for home hollandaise, perhaps if you wanted to knock up some for eggs benedict before work.