One kitchen appliance I find incredibly addicting is my hand-me-down bread maker. In the past few months I have blown through the standard book of recipes that come with the machine and I have started to get a little creative by adding a few spices here and spiced olive oil versus plain olive oil there. One lesson I learned the hard way (or should I say the sticky way) is when the recipe calls for bread flour it is a good idea to stick with that. I tried to substitute all-purpose flour for bread flour and the result was a sticky dough ball. Not to worry I rescued that little guy by kneading in a little more flour and letting it rise just a bit longer.
The lesson here is that BAKING is like chemistry (you can tell everyone you are a chemist in the kitchen), the recipes are mixtures with precise amounts of each ingredient that will react in such a way to produce an end-product that resembles (or in some cases slightly resembles) the picture in the cook book. Altering a baking recipe will alter the outcome causing a so-called "flop". I have flopped many times, I am not big on pre-viewing the recipe before starting the baking process, therefore usually missing one key ingredient. Below are a few tricks that I have found work in a pinch for key ingredients:
- 1 cup milk: 1/2 cup evaporated milk plus 1/2 cup water, or 1 cup nonfat milk, or 1 cup water plus 1/3 cup nonfat dry milk powder
- All-purpose flour: An equal amount of whole wheat flour can be substituted in some breads, cookies and bars; texture will be coarser
- Flour, self-rising: An equal amount of all-purpose flour plus 1 Tsp. baking powder, 1/2 Tsp. salt, and 1/4 Tsp. baking soda (the things you learn the hard way)
- 1 Tsp. baking powder: 1/2 Tsp. baking soda plus 1/2 Tsp. cream of tarter
- 1 cup half and half: 7/8 cup milk plus 3 Tbsp. margarine or butter, or 1 cup evaporated milk
- 1 egg: 1 Tsp. cornstarch plus 1/4 cup water
- 1 cup brown sugar: 1 cup granulated sugar plus 2 Tbsp. molasses
So the key is to follow the recipe and if you are missing one of those key ingredients do not omit it entirely or alter the amount. Some recipe books have a section in the back with key substitutes to help in a pinch. Happy Baking!!
Sammy Gene Y