Friday, December 24, 2010

Sift Without a Sifter?

Dear Aunt Sally Good Food, 

I don't have a flour sifter. Is there a way to sift flour without one? Thank you! 


Dear Lisa,

You're in luck! You don't need a sifter. Recent improvement in flour production have eliminated the need to pre-sift four.  Simply stir up the flour with a spoon, then gently pour it into your measuring cup. Do not pack. Level the surface and you're done!

If you need to sift several dry ingredients together, simply place all dry ingredients into a bowl and stir to combine. A wire whisk makes easy work of this.

Remember, the most important thing is to not pack it down.

Culinarily yours,

Aunt Sally

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Fudging on Fudge?

Dear Aunt Sally Good Food,

Here is a question. This holiday season, I have tried some new fudge recipes. I follow the instructions but when I try to cut the fudge it is not solid enough to cut even when it sits over night in the refrigerator or put it in the freezer. What I am I doing wrong Aunt Sally? 

Frustrated dessert maker - Dallas

Dear Frustrated,

The culprit could be the recipes or you might not be following them as closely as you think.

A definition first.  Real fudge is not the candy made with marshmallow creme and chocolate.  That might be tasty, but it is not fudge. Real fudge is a form of fondant or crystalline candy. It is the formation of fine crystals that gives fudge its creamy texture. This is where science comes in.

Crystalline candy depends on perfect timing and exact ingredients.  Substituting, say, brown sugar for white sugar will add too much moisture, since brown sugar contains more water. Corn syrup acts as a crystal inhibitor, slowing down the crystallization process.  Leaving it out will upset the crystallization process. Adding too much alcohol can disturb the process, too. Beating the fudge before it cools, or beating with an electric mixer, will make large crystals resulting in grainy fudge that never sets. Use a wooden spoon and lots of elbow grease instead. Check temperatures with a thermometer. For more detailed information, check out San Francisco's Exploratorium. 

Meanwhile, try the recipe for the prize winning fudge you see above. That picture was taken moments after winning a ribbon at The State Fair of Texas. The recipe is from the Joy of Cooking.

Tastefully yours,

Aunt Sally

Fudge Cockaigne (from Joy of Cooking)

Bring to a boil in a large heavy pan:
1 cup minus 1-tablespoon milk
Remove from heat and stir until dissolved:
2 cups sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 ounces grated unsweetened chocolate
Bring to a boil and cook 2 to 3 minutes until the steam washes down from the sides of the pan any crystals which may have formed.

Uncover, reduce heat and cook without stirring to the soft-ball stage, 234º.

Remove from heat without jostling or stirring. Cool the candy to 110º. You may hasten this process by placing the hot pan in a larger pan of cold water until the bottom of the pan has cooled.

4 tablespoons butter

Beat fudge partially.  Add:
1 teaspoon vanilla

Then beat until it begins to lose its sheen.

Pour the fudge into a buttered pan. Cut into squares before it hardens.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Crustless Pumpkin Pie?

Dear Aunt Sally Good Food,

I'm sure you're the right friend for this question!

Can I make pumpkin pie filling and just bake it in a pan like brownies instead of baking it in a crust? It's for a holiday party so I don't have time for a practice run... 


Dear Erica,

Sure. It's basically a pumpkin custard. Be sure to butter the inside of the pan so the pumpkin custard will come out.

It will cook more evenly if you put the pumpkin custard pan inside another pan. Fill the outer pan with hot water so that the water comes up to the height of the custard inside the inner pan. If it's not exactly the same height, it'll be fine, but get as close as possible. The hot water acts as a buffer, ensuring even heating of the custard. Follow your pie recipe for the time and temperature.

Have fun cooking!

Aunt Sally

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