29 July 2007

Baking Notes : On Proof Boxes, Hints for newbie Baker 2

Proof boxes aren't necessary for a bakery, especially a small one, over time you learn to "feel" the doughs textures --- from mixer to bench, from bench to board, from board to oven. This is the unspoken seventh sense those "one" with the dough possess.
Like everything, baking is akin to Star Wars. "Just as the path of a Jedi is often difficult, filled with conflict and pain". As is the path of the newbie baker.

"To become a Jedi requires the deepest commitment and most serious mind. It is not a venture to be undertaken lightly. As such, Jedi instruction is rigidly structured and codified to enforce discipline and hinder transgression... A Jedi who fails in his training can be a very serious threat. The dark side of the Force beckons to the impatient, and students in the past have been lured to its call with devastating consequences."

In The Empire Strikes back, Young Luke Sky walker, motivated by the spirit of Jedi
Obi-Wan Kenobi , ventures out into Dagobah swamp ( of the Dagobah Systems) inhabited by Yoda , Jedi Master. While in Dagobah swamp, Luke Skywalker learns the "ways of the Force" from Yoda, and to hone his Jedi abilities.

And just as Luke Skywalker before you --- Newbie Baker, You too will learn to harness your "baking" abilities.

Every baker --- whether novice or master, all venture into the unknown realm of chemical activity, the eclectic rhythms guiding hands and thoughts into a carbohydrate fueled symphony. With each turn of dough, each shaping of a round, your mind will develop a map of sensory memories. If you are new to this baking realm, don't just make mental notes, make visual and textural ones as well . If you follow this simple plan, the "baking" force will become strong within you.

A.K.A "Proofer" , "steam box" ,"Steam Cell"

Proof Box Advantages:

  • Control temp. & humidity
  • Proofs at same humidity & temp. , regardless of weather.


  • If oven is full at all times, you have gained proper efficiency.
Larger proof box vs. small oven:
  • [2 : 1] or [3 : 1] ratio {2-3 pans proof to every 1 pan bake in oven}
  • 1 hr proof : 20 min of baking time = more profit / cost effective
Why Invest in a Hydrometer:
  • Measures exact humidity in air
Proof boxes are notorious for being unbalanced in humidity.


Cabinet Proofer
Characteristics to Look For:

  • Corrugated Steel ledges to hold sheet pans:
If you can't purchase a proofer with wire supports. Solid steel doesn't work as well, when the ledge makes contact with the sheet pan, it will block steam which rises from the bottom of the Cabinet Proofer (the bottom is where the controls are housed). This will affect your proof.

  • Walk-in Cabinet Proofer
These proofers have better ventilation and are much sturdier.

  • Wire holders/supports for sheet pans
Supports (i.e solid steel / corrugated) tend to break off. Or need to be readjusted. Purchasing wire supports will cut down repeated maintenance.

Rack Proofer

  • Best Performance
  • All sizes, to meet space requirements/ production yields
  • Good for production

Retarder Proofer

  • Has variable temps (frozen to thaw --> to proof) timer.
Shelf Type Proofer

  • Removable shelves
  • Frozen bake-off operations (Main use)
  • Proofer is stacked on top of oven

  • Not ergonomically designed

16 July 2007

Blogosphere blurb / Recipe: Pear Chocolate Belle - Helene 2

Culinary Revival --- That is what Renaissance Culinaire translates into to English. Now that my template is updated in "new" blogger, and it looks o.k I can now get down to the business of baking. After recoding the html and going through each post to label them individually, I realized that 2005 was the "golden" year of this blog. That this was a model for the blog that you readers loved so much --- and in all fairness I plan to deliver my posts in that spirit, once again. ---lets say VIVA BLOG CONTENT!

O.k I haven't a picture for this dessert... But I plan to bake it next week, so I will update the post with some assembly & finished dessert pics later.

Pear Chocolate Belle - Helene
This was adapted from an editorial in The Columbia.

Cake Ingredients:

¾ Cup butter or Margarine+ , softened
2 ½ Cups flour
1 Cup Brown Sugar+
½ tsp. Baking Powder
½ tsp. Baking Soda
4 ounces Bittersweet Chocolate , melted
1 Egg , slightly beaten+
1 cup milk+
4 small, ripe Bartlett pears, peeled, cored and cut in half. (or substitute for canned halves --- drain, and pat dry w/ paper towels)

++For Vegan/ Vegetarian :

Substitute Earth Balance (( in the block form)) in place of the butter.
Use 2 oz of Extra Firm Silken Tofu in place of egg.
Soy or coconut milk can be substituted for milk.
Substitute your natural sweetener ( I.\e Turbinado) in place of sugar --- adjust accordingly, more or less depending on the sweetener.

Cake Mix Directions :Preheat oven to 350ºF. Beat butter with electric mixer on medium speed until creamy.
Add flour and sugar; beat on low speed until crumbly. Remove 1/3 cup of
the butter mixture; set aside. Add baking powder, baking soda,
chocolate, egg and milk to remaining butter mixture in bowl. Stir just
until dry ingredients are moistened.

SPREAD one-third of the batter into greased 9-inch spring form pan. Place pear halves,
cut sides down, in a circular pattern over batter. Drop spoonfuls of
remaining batter over pears; spread to evenly cover pears. Sprinkle
with the reserved crumb mixture .

BAKE 1 hour 10 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool.

Cake Finishing:
Using a pastry brush, brush the cooled cake with *Brandy Simple Syrup. Spoon slightly cooled **Spiced Carmel sauce onto the cake, allowing the caramel to drip over sides.

*Brandy Simple syrup
2 cups water
1 cup white sugar ( Or vegan sugar)
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/4 cup brandy

In a saucepan, combine water, sugar and lemon zest. Bring mixture to a boil and continue boiling for 5 minutes. Strain into airtight container, removing the lemon zest. Allow to cool, then cover and store in refrigerator. When ready to use, mix in brandy. Brush onto cake

*Spiced Pecan Carmel
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
½ tsp Cinnamon
¼ nutmeg
Toasted Pecan halves

Put granulated sugar in a 2-quart heavy saucepan and crumble brown sugar over. Melt sugar, undisturbed, over moderate heat until granulated sugar is mostly melted. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally with a fork, until a deep golden caramel. Carefully pour in cream (mixture will bubble up and caramel will harden slightly) and stir in nutmeg, cinnamon . Simmer, stirring, until caramel is dissolved and sauce is reduced to about 1 cups, about 10 minutes. Cool to just warm.

++Vegan Spiced Carmel Sauce:

2 Tbsp. Cornstarch
½ Cup soy milk
½ Cup vegan sugar
¼ tsp Nutmeg
¼ tsp Cinnamon
¼ Cup water + 1 tsp water
Toasted Pecan halves

DIRECTIONS: Stir cornstarch into soy milk and set aside. Place Vegan sweetener , spices and one tablespoon water in a non-stick saucepan. Over medium heat, stirring constantly color will appear light brown, add 1/4 cup cold water, allow the syrup to come to a low boil. Reduce heat and add soy milk while stirring. Once incorporated , gradually return to boil, stirring constantly until thickened & glossy / smooth. Add vanilla and remove from heat. Add toasted Pecans. {if too thick/sweet, add additional soy milk , stirring constantly.}

05 July 2007

Got Baby?! 1

Got Baby?!, originally uploaded by Amber *.

Well as I said I have been busy. You can click on the picture to read about the birth.


He is getting soo big. He is 3 months and 1 week tomorrow. He is the size of a 6 month old! A total opposite of my daughter who was very petite.

Type-A Parent New York City Bootcamp (Focus: Brand-Blogger Relations)
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