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Baking 101


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#61 Patrick S

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Posted 15 February 2006 - 08:08 AM

Pam for Baking is a great oil+flour pan spray. I like it better than Baker's Joy.
"If you are irritated by every rub, how will you be polished?" - Rumi

#62 Katie Nell

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Posted 15 February 2006 - 08:08 AM

I never got the answer to my question on the pan sizes thread, so I'm posting it here, b/c I want to know!!

I  have a question about pan sizes too, not for an immediate problem, but just for future reference.

I have two recipes, one is for toffee, and calls for a "small rimmed baking sheet."  The other recipe is for brownies and calls for a "rimmed baking sheet."  What exactly are they referring to?  I've always used a 12x9 cake pan for the toffee and what we call our "Texas Sheet Cake Pan," which I think might be 11x17, for the brownies, and they both have always turned out fine.  But, I would like to know exactly what size they are talking about here.

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Now, I know Wendy said to use my best judgement, but I'm also the same person that has no idea how many that 5 lb. roast is going to feed in the end either. I'm clueless when it comes to knowing how much a pile of ingredients is going to end up as. And toffee is certainly not something I would want to be messing around with while I'm searching for a pan to put it in. Also, I've tried the above brownie recipe in a regular 12x9 pan, and it didn't work! Does anyone have the answer to the above question? I'm sure it's a simple answer and I've just made a baking ignoramous out of myself! :wink:

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Without seeing the recipe, it won't be possible to answer that question. Most brownie recipes call for 8-9" square or a 13x9" pan. If you tell us what the recipe calls for, we can determine the volume of the ingredients and tell you which pan would be best. When you tried the recipe in the 12x9, what do you mean that it didnt work? Did it overflow the pan, was it thin as a pancake, did it not set?

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I don't really think it's a matter of volume here... surely there is a pan size that the recipes are referring to. One of the recipes is from epicurious and the other from Martha Stewart. I'm not wondering what size I need for the volume of ingredients I have... I'm wondering what size of pans they are referring to when they say "rimmed baking sheet" or "small rimmed baking sheet." Sorry if that wasn't clear.
When I put the brownies in the 12x9 the middle was underdone, and the outside was completely dried out, when I made them in the "Texas Sheet Cake" pan they came out perfectly.
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#63 Patrick S

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Posted 15 February 2006 - 08:14 AM

I never got the answer to my question on the pan sizes thread, so I'm posting it here, b/c I want to know!!

I  have a question about pan sizes too, not for an immediate problem, but just for future reference.

I have two recipes, one is for toffee, and calls for a "small rimmed baking sheet."  The other recipe is for brownies and calls for a "rimmed baking sheet."  What exactly are they referring to?  I've always used a 12x9 cake pan for the toffee and what we call our "Texas Sheet Cake Pan," which I think might be 11x17, for the brownies, and they both have always turned out fine.  But, I would like to know exactly what size they are talking about here.

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Now, I know Wendy said to use my best judgement, but I'm also the same person that has no idea how many that 5 lb. roast is going to feed in the end either. I'm clueless when it comes to knowing how much a pile of ingredients is going to end up as. And toffee is certainly not something I would want to be messing around with while I'm searching for a pan to put it in. Also, I've tried the above brownie recipe in a regular 12x9 pan, and it didn't work! Does anyone have the answer to the above question? I'm sure it's a simple answer and I've just made a baking ignoramous out of myself! :wink:

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Without seeing the recipe, it won't be possible to answer that question. Most brownie recipes call for 8-9" square or a 13x9" pan. If you tell us what the recipe calls for, we can determine the volume of the ingredients and tell you which pan would be best. When you tried the recipe in the 12x9, what do you mean that it didnt work? Did it overflow the pan, was it thin as a pancake, did it not set?

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I don't really think it's a matter of volume here... surely there is a pan size that the recipes are referring to. One of the recipes is from epicurious and the other from Martha Stewart. I'm not wondering what size I need for the volume of ingredients I have... I'm wondering what size of pans they are referring to when they say "rimmed baking sheet" or "small rimmed baking sheet." Sorry if that wasn't clear.

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What I'm telling you is that "rimmed baking sheet" does not specify a particular size, because there are many different sizes. It could be a full sheet pan, a half sheet pan, or something else. Its like asking me how tall exactly a short tree is . . . it depends. If you want to know which one is best (i.e. which one will give you a brownies 1-2" thick), you do need to know the volume of the ingredients and how much leavening there is.
"If you are irritated by every rub, how will you be polished?" - Rumi

#64 Chris Amirault

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Posted 17 February 2006 - 01:34 PM

All right, here's a good baking 101 question. RLB (I'm such a name, or initials, dropper) and everyone else talks about "building structure" by beating cake batter for a long time. What exactly is going on there? How does the cake itself manifest the benefits of that structure? Is there a point past which beating to build structure stops doing good and other, bad things start?
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#65 Sugarella

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Posted 17 February 2006 - 01:41 PM

All right, here's a good baking 101 question. RLB (I'm such a name, or initials, dropper) and everyone else talks about "building structure" by beating cake batter for a long time. What exactly is going on there? How does the cake itself manifest the benefits of that structure? Is there a point past which beating to build structure stops doing good and other, bad things start?

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Beating (or kneading, for that matter) anything with flour in it will start the glutens in that flour releasing and incorporating into other ingredients, which helps build structure. But going too far means you'll release too much gluten and end up with a gummy cake.

Edited by Sugarella, 17 February 2006 - 01:43 PM.


#66 Chufi

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Posted 19 February 2006 - 11:51 AM

Question. I have seen this in several different posts: something about putting toothpicks into cakes after they come out of the oven - not to test them for done-ness, but for something else: keeping them elevated.

How? Why would you want to do this? what does it mean... :blink:

#67 onehsancare

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Posted 21 February 2006 - 02:00 PM

A chiffon cake will collapse on itself if it cools rightside-up. Most of the chiffon cake recipes I have call for a tube pan, which has "feet" to lift the pan above the counter, or which you can hang upside down on a bottle.

I don't always want a hole in my cake, though, but still want my cake to cool upside-down. After taking a round cake pan out of the oven, I put six or eight toothpicks around the edge, then stand it upside-down on the toothpicks. That way, the cake itself, or most of it, is suspended above the counter.

I'd like to find toothpicks that are 4" long, though--the 3" are a little short. I've tried cutting wooden skewers in half, but that didn't work for me. (They weren't perfectly even, and they ended up skewing until both the cake pan fell and the sides of the cake were damaged by skewer-tracks.) :sad:
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#68 Tweety69bird

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Posted 22 February 2006 - 01:23 PM

A chiffon cake will collapse on itself if it cools rightside-up.  Most of the chiffon cake recipes I have call for a tube pan, which has "feet" to lift the pan above the counter, or which you can hang upside down on a bottle. 

I don't always want a hole in my cake, though, but still want my cake to cool upside-down.  After taking a round cake pan out of the oven, I put six or eight toothpicks around the edge, then stand it upside-down on the toothpicks.  That way, the cake itself, or most of it, is suspended above the counter.

I'd like to find toothpicks that are 4" long, though--the 3" are a little short.  I've tried cutting wooden skewers in half, but that didn't work for me.  (They weren't perfectly even, and they ended up skewing until both the cake pan fell and the sides of the cake were damaged by skewer-tracks.)    :sad:

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I generally turn my chiffon cake pans upside down onto the regular cooling rack I use for other things. I had never heard of this toothpick method, and although it does sound interesting, I worry about the "slant" factor - ie, if the toothpicks slant a bit and the pan leans one way and collapses then I'm sure the cake would be damaged, as you mentioned.
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#69 mrbigjas

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Posted 04 March 2006 - 07:32 PM

i've got one: today i was at the whole foods and i bought flour--i was out of just regular old all-purpose flour. i usually buy king arthur but today they didn't have the five pound bags, and i picked up the whole foods brand. what i noticed but didn't really register at the time is that the bag said 'all purpose baking flour.' there were separate bags of all purpose flour. i bought it anyway; i don't know why.

my question is: is this going to be more like bread flour, and make my pancakes tough, or is it going to be more like pastry or cake flour, and make me unable to make pizza dough out of it?

or is it really basically all-purpose flour, and i shouldn't even think twice about it?

#70 Sugarella

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Posted 04 March 2006 - 07:42 PM

All purpose flour is the same as all purpose baking flour....it's for all baking purposes! I suspect that brand has reprinted the new packaging to "all purpose baking flour" to make it easier for some to identify, or know what they can use it for.

At least.... I'm pretty sure that must be it. :biggrin:

P.S. .... Try making your pizza dough with bread flour instead of all purpose.... more gluten = chewier dough.

#71 mrbigjas

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Posted 04 March 2006 - 09:18 PM

thanks sugarella. yeah, the fact that there were separate bags for 'all purpose' and 'all purpose baking' flour just caught me off guard. good to know that it's all good.

and i will do for the pizza dough--i'm very slowly learning about all this...

#72 NYC Mike

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Posted 15 March 2006 - 12:53 PM

One of my new year's resolutions was to learn how to cook. I've modified it to learn how to bake since the Mrs. is a kick a** cook and sharp objects are not exactly a match made in heaven for me. Not to mention early/easy successes has bred enthusiasm! So Chris, thank you for this thread.

Two questions:

1. Yeast Types and conversion rates- Active Dry -vs- Compressed -vs- cakes?

Are there different quality characteristics for each or are they generally interchangable and is there a straightforward conversion calculation I can use if a recipie only lists quantity for compressed and I have active dry on hand?

2. Freezing Egg Whites- I have used a ton of yolks lately and am wasting the whites.

I read above about this but I have a use/storage question. Do I continually add egg whites on top of already frozen ones OR do I have multiple containers with dates and number of whites written on the sides. When I need to use them do I defrost first, please elaborate about the uses for frozen whites?


Thanks!

-Mike
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#73 Patrick S

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Posted 15 March 2006 - 12:58 PM

P.S. .... Try making your pizza dough with bread flour instead of all purpose.... more gluten = chewier dough.

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The only problem is that more gluten makes the dough a PITA to shape, at least if you're trying to make the dough really thin.
"If you are irritated by every rub, how will you be polished?" - Rumi

#74 Chufi

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Posted 15 March 2006 - 01:07 PM

A chiffon cake will collapse on itself if it cools rightside-up.  Most of the chiffon cake recipes I have call for a tube pan, which has "feet" to lift the pan above the counter, or which you can hang upside down on a bottle. 

I don't always want a hole in my cake, though, but still want my cake to cool upside-down.  After taking a round cake pan out of the oven, I put six or eight toothpicks around the edge, then stand it upside-down on the toothpicks.  That way, the cake itself, or most of it, is suspended above the counter.

I'd like to find toothpicks that are 4" long, though--the 3" are a little short.  I've tried cutting wooden skewers in half, but that didn't work for me.  (They weren't perfectly even, and they ended up skewing until both the cake pan fell and the sides of the cake were damaged by skewer-tracks.)    :sad:

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I still don't get it.. I think.. by upside down you mean, the way it is when it comes out of the oven? so you leave the cake in the tin, but to facilitate cooling, you do the toothpick trick to lift the bottom of the caketin from the counter? Do you leave them in the tin until they are completely cold, isn't it hard to get them out of the tin then?

#75 SweetSide

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Posted 15 March 2006 - 01:30 PM

A chiffon cake will collapse on itself if it cools rightside-up.  Most of the chiffon cake recipes I have call for a tube pan, which has "feet" to lift the pan above the counter, or which you can hang upside down on a bottle. 

I don't always want a hole in my cake, though, but still want my cake to cool upside-down.  After taking a round cake pan out of the oven, I put six or eight toothpicks around the edge, then stand it upside-down on the toothpicks.   That way, the cake itself, or most of it, is suspended above the counter.

I'd like to find toothpicks that are 4" long, though--the 3" are a little short.  I've tried cutting wooden skewers in half, but that didn't work for me.  (They weren't perfectly even, and they ended up skewing until both the cake pan fell and the sides of the cake were damaged by skewer-tracks.)     :sad:

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I still don't get it.. I think.. by upside down you mean, the way it is when it comes out of the oven? so you leave the cake in the tin, but to facilitate cooling, you do the toothpick trick to lift the bottom of the caketin from the counter? Do you leave them in the tin until they are completely cold, isn't it hard to get them out of the tin then?

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Nope, not the way it is out of the oven. Literally upside down -- like the bottom of the pan is facing the ceiling and the cake is "hanging" from the inside of the pan, hovering over the counter.

I've never actually done the toothpick thing (I do it differently), but you would put long toothpicks around the edge of the cake and turn it over on the counter. The picks would be holding the inside of the cake pan up off the counter and the cake would be hanging out underneath.

You don't grease a pan for a chiffon because you want it to cling to rise nice and light. When time to take it out of the pan, you slide a knife around the edge and pop it out.

Wish you could draw in the thread...
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#76 SweetSide

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Posted 15 March 2006 - 01:35 PM

2.  Freezing Egg Whites-  I have used a ton of yolks lately and am wasting the whites.

I read above about this but I have a use/storage question.  Do I continually add egg whites on top of already frozen ones OR do I have multiple containers with dates and number of whites written on the sides.  When I need to use them do I defrost first, please elaborate about the uses for frozen whites?


Thanks!

-Mike

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Don't waste those whites! They keep a long time. I freeze mine in little 1/2 cup containers, 2 whites to a container. Nothing I make needs less than two. Some people freeze them in ice cube trays (I just don't have a spare), one to a cube. Then pop them out and store the egg white cubes in a bag or other container in the freezer.

You can use them for anything that needs whites -- meringue, buttercream, angel food cake, French macarons, coconut macaroons.

If you don't need them -- send them here -- I'm short about a dozen whites at the moment... :raz:

Yolks don't keep nearly as well.
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#77 mrbigjas

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Posted 15 March 2006 - 01:40 PM

2.  Freezing Egg Whites-  I have used a ton of yolks lately and am wasting the whites.

I read above about this but I have a use/storage question.  Do I continually add egg whites on top of already frozen ones OR do I have multiple containers with dates and number of whites written on the sides.  When I need to use them do I defrost first, please elaborate about the uses for frozen whites?



for freezing egg whites, as i use the eggs i separate them directly on to a piece of plastic wrap--gather up the corners and twist tie shut, then freeze. one or two per piece of plastic wrap. when they are frozen, i put them in another plastic bag. to thaw just take as many as you need out and let them sit in the fridge, or for quicker thawing you can put the wrapped bundles in a bowl of water with the faucet dribbling on them.

#78 Tweety69bird

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Posted 15 March 2006 - 01:49 PM

One of my new year's resolutions was to learn how to cook.  I've modified it to learn how to bake since the Mrs. is a kick a** cook and sharp objects are not exactly a match made in heaven for me.  Not to mention early/easy successes has bred enthusiasm!  So Chris, thank you for this thread.

Two questions:

1.  Yeast Types and conversion rates-  Active Dry -vs- Compressed -vs- cakes?
           
Are there different quality characteristics for each or are they generally interchangable and is there a straightforward conversion calculation I can use if a recipie only lists quantity for compressed and I have active dry on hand?

2.  Freezing Egg Whites-  I have used a ton of yolks lately and am wasting the whites.

I read above about this but I have a use/storage question.  Do I continually add egg whites on top of already frozen ones OR do I have multiple containers with dates and number of whites written on the sides.  When I need to use them do I defrost first, please elaborate about the uses for frozen whites?


Thanks!

-Mike

View Post


For your yeast question:

Yeast:
3 Kinds. (1-2-3 rule)
Fresh - 1 part – Always keep in the fridge, max 2 weeks.
Dry Active - ½ part
Instant - 1/3 part

As for the whites, I add new whites onto the already frozen ones, because when I am going to use them, it's all of them (as opposed to 2 or 3 at a time), and they aren't in the freezer for a long time, but I date them too. Better safe than sorry.

Edited to add:
Oh, I don't mark the amount of whites in a container, I use weight to measure them out. 30g per white.

Edited by Tweety69bird, 15 March 2006 - 01:51 PM.

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#79 Tweety69bird

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Posted 15 March 2006 - 01:53 PM

Good grief, I'm in too much of a rush to add my reply!

Uses for whites that have been frozen would be for buttercream... um, basically anything that calls for whites with the exception of meringues. I would use fresh whites for meringues.
Don't waste your time or time will waste you - Muse

#80 NYC Mike

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Posted 15 March 2006 - 02:07 PM

Thanks all!

Yeast:
3 Kinds. (1-2-3 rule)
Fresh - 1 part – Always keep in the fridge, max 2 weeks.
Dry Active - ½ part
Instant - 1/3 part


So if it calls for 1oz. compressed fresh a 1/2 oz dry active or 1/3 oz instant? That is nice and clean. :biggrin: Any quality difference between types? Any cases where you might prefer one type to another?

Some people freeze them in ice cube trays (I just don't have a spare), one to a cube. Then pop them out and store the egg white cubes in a bag or other container in the freezer.


This seems slick, would there be taste issues with the whites absorbing freezer tastes etc?

Mike
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#81 sanrensho

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Posted 15 March 2006 - 02:14 PM

I usually collect my freezer whites as they accumulate, around 8-10 eggs' worth before I move onto another bag.

I've got another egg white question. Some of my frozen egg whites come out murky and coagulated when I defrost them. I'd guess this happens with one out of every 5 or 6 egg whites. Freshness isn't an issue as they usually go straight to the freezer after shelling.

I've been throwing out the cloudy egg whites as a precautionary measure, even though I know they aren't "bad." Does anyone else have this problem?
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#82 Tweety69bird

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Posted 15 March 2006 - 02:53 PM

So if it calls for 1oz. compressed fresh a 1/2 oz dry active or 1/3 oz instant? That is nice and clean.  Any quality difference between types? Any cases where you might prefer one type to another?


Yup, you got it. As for preferrence, fresh would be the first choice, but after that I don't really have a preferrence between instant or dry active.
Don't waste your time or time will waste you - Muse

#83 SweetSide

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Posted 15 March 2006 - 02:56 PM

Thanks all!


Some people freeze them in ice cube trays (I just don't have a spare), one to a cube. Then pop them out and store the egg white cubes in a bag or other container in the freezer.


This seems slick, would there be taste issues with the whites absorbing freezer tastes etc?

Mike

View Post


Put the tray itself in a ziplock freezer bag. Or double bag. As they freeze, pop em out and put them in a "collection" container. No, I wouldn't just leave them sitting out there like your ice cubes. Blech.
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#84 SweetSide

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Posted 15 March 2006 - 02:58 PM

Good grief, I'm in too much of a rush to add my reply!

Uses for whites that have been frozen would be for buttercream... um, basically anything that calls for whites with the exception of meringues. I would use fresh whites for meringues.

View Post


Curiosity -- why the fresh for the meringue. I know there are advantages of using "old" whites for some things and "fresh" for others and not using frozen for some things.
Cheryl, The Sweet Side

#85 RuthWells

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Posted 15 March 2006 - 07:02 PM

Good grief, I'm in too much of a rush to add my reply!

Uses for whites that have been frozen would be for buttercream... um, basically anything that calls for whites with the exception of meringues. I would use fresh whites for meringues.

View Post


Curiosity -- why the fresh for the meringue. I know there are advantages of using "old" whites for some things and "fresh" for others and not using frozen for some things.

View Post


I use frozen whites for meringues all the time with no ill effect -- I'll be interested to hear feedback from everyone on this question.

#86 Sugarella

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Posted 15 March 2006 - 08:53 PM

I use frozen whites for meringues all the time with no ill effect -- I'll be interested to hear feedback from everyone on this question.

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I'm very interested that everyone is using frozen whites for meringues.... I previously held some whites in the fridge for a day then tried to make a meringue with them and they just would not whip, even after adding a bunch of cream of tartar. So all this time I've never used whites that weren't fresh out of the shell; looks like I'll have to try this again sometime. Must've had duds that time or something. :huh:

#87 SweetSide

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Posted 15 March 2006 - 09:17 PM

I use frozen whites for meringues all the time with no ill effect -- I'll be interested to hear feedback from everyone on this question.

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I'm very interested that everyone is using frozen whites for meringues.... I previously held some whites in the fridge for a day then tried to make a meringue with them and they just would not whip, even after adding a bunch of cream of tartar. So all this time I've never used whites that weren't fresh out of the shell; looks like I'll have to try this again sometime. Must've had duds that time or something. :huh:

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I'm surprised at this -- perhaps they were somehow contaminated with a trace of fat. Plastic container maybe? Done that ... :wacko:

I was expecting an answer about FROZEN specifically. In fact, as for the refrigeration, I was taught that eggs fresh from the shell don't whip as well as those that have been hanging out for a day or so. I'd have to go look up the whole science behind it.
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#88 Sugarella

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Posted 15 March 2006 - 09:23 PM

I'm surprised at this -- perhaps they were somehow contaminated with a trace of fat.  Plastic container maybe?  Done that ...  :wacko:

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Ok.... I'm an idiot! :wacko:

(Yes they were in tupperware.)

~ Sugarella, wearing her dunce cap.

Edited to add: For years, YEARS I tell you, I've been throwing out leftover whites since that. :angry: :angry: :angry:

Edited by Sugarella, 15 March 2006 - 09:25 PM.


#89 mrbigjas

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Posted 15 March 2006 - 09:23 PM

sugarella, i don't know the answer, but i pulled about six egg whites out of the freezer yesterday, defrosted them, added a couple more non-frozen ones, and they whipped up fine for a souffle. but it turned out i thought i made too many, so i added a bunch of sugar to the remainder (i know, real scientific meringue recipe, right?) and kept whipping, and ended up with what sure looked like meringues. of course because i'm not a baker i then let it sit for a little while and it leaked and fell apart, but it looked good before that. and the souffle came out fine too.

#90 Tweety69bird

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Posted 16 March 2006 - 05:41 AM

I use frozen whites for meringues all the time with no ill effect -- I'll be interested to hear feedback from everyone on this question.

Just for clarity, I am referring to meringues on pies, not the slow baked meringues. I find that fresh whites whip up nicer, and on the occasions that I've used frozen whites, I've found that they leak. (Like on a lemon meringue pie). Plus, honestly, it's a mental thing also, the thought of eating meringue that was made from frozen whites just doesn't appeal to me very much. At least in a buttercream they're all mixed in, and the same goes for cakes or whatever other uses they will be used for.
Don't waste your time or time will waste you - Muse