Chapter 22 Troubleshooting.
After reading this chapter, you should be able to:
* Correct common mishaps or prevent them from happening the next time.
* Use common sense when baking, making sure to understand the methods, tools, and equipment needed.
Alas, bakers and pastry chefs are only human and sometimes those wonderful sweet pastries, breads, and desserts do not come out as anticipated. Most often there is a reason why mishaps occur and why the baked good can be "saved"--or not. Lessons should always be learned from mistakes that are made.
If the recipe describes how a particular batter or dough should feel or how a method of mixing should look, use your sense of touch and sight to verify these descriptions. If your recipe does not come close to how the ingredients should behave, maybe something went wrong.
Many times a correction can take place if the chef is aware of what each step should look like. The earlier an error is detected, the fewer ingredients will be wasted. If a correction cannot be made, throwing out a minimum of ingredients is better than having to dispose of the entire finished product.
The lesson to be learned from this chapter is this: Pay attention to mistakes, mishaps, and maloccurrences. They do happen. They can teach us a great deal of information that can be applied the next time the recipe is made.
Many of the "great" pastry chefs of the world have become "great" because they learned from their mistakes.
This chapter is titled "Troubleshooting." The term troubleshooting refers to locating and repairing a breakdown found in any type of work. In this case, the various mistakes that can occur in a bake shop and how to rectify them are discussed. There may be more than one reason why a poor outcome has occurred. It is the baker's job to review preparation techniques to determine which ones to correct.
What Can Go Wrong?
There are so many variables in baking; sometimes it is a daunting task to figure out what went wrong. The following is a general list to help you to determine where a mishap could have occurred:
* Directions were misread, misinterpreted, or not followed properly.
* Measuring of ingredients was inaccurate.
* The designated mixing method was not followed, for example, undermixed or overmixed.
* Inappropriate ingredients were substituted for the original.
* Flavorings were too little or too much.
* The wrong size pans were used.
* The pans were not prepped properly.
* The oven was not working properly.
* The baked good did not come out of the pan.
Directions Were Misread, Misinterpreted, or Not Followed Properly
The most common mistake bakers make is the simplest one to correct. Problems can arise if recipe directions are not read properly, not understood by the reader, and then not followed properly. Read the directions thoroughly at least twice to make sure it is clear what ingredients, tools, and equipment are needed
Measuring of Ingredients Was Inaccurate
There are no shortcuts to measuring. Proper measuring is crucial to the success of a recipe. Choose to measure by weight or volume. If measuring by volume, knowing how to properly measure liquids versus solids is critical to achieving a successful outcome.
The Designated Mixing Method Was Not Followed
There are different methods of mixing for different types of baked goods. If the proper mixing methods are not followed, the final product will be altered in texture, volume, and taste.
Inappropriate Ingredients Were Substituted for the Original
Substituting one ingredient for another may not work unless the substitutions are very close. For example, if you ran out of sour cream for a cake but plain yogurt was available, it would make a good substitution. However, substituting pastry flour for bread flour in a recipe would not yield the same result.
Flavorings Were Too Little or Too Much
Everyone has different tastes, and spices and flavorings may need to be adjusted. A recipe may call for 1 teaspoon (5 mL) vanilla extract or 1 teaspoon (5 g) salt, but the final product may taste bland to you. Punching up the flavor by adding more vanilla extract or salt would increase the flavor of the final product. This sounds so simple, but the correct flavoring is most important. Yeast breads can be bland if they are underfermented or too little salt is added.
The Wrong Size Pans Were Used
Many times the wrong size pans are used. Baking a cake batter in an 8-inch (20-cm) pan when the recipe calls for a 10-inch (25-cm) pan will result in the batter rising up and overflowing in the oven. Or, in the reverse, pouring batter into too big a pan may result in a thin, dense cake with little moistness.
The Pans Were Not Prepped Properly
No matter how hard you try, a cake will not come out of a pan that was not prepped properly, whether by greasing or by greasing, parchment papering, greasing again, and flouring. Sometimes it is important to know when greasing a pan is not appropriate. If a recipe states that a cake pan should not be greased and it was, the cake may have poor volume because the batter could not climb up the sides of the pan.
The Oven Was Not Working Properly
This is a common problem. Many ovens vary in temperature because they need to be recalibrated. Place an oven thermometer on the middle rack toward the middle of the oven to determine whether the temperature that the oven is set for is in fact the true temperature. This is a smart investment because many baked goods can be overbaked or underbaked if an oven's temperature is incorrect, which can affect the product's texture and volume.
The Baked Good Did Not Come Out of the Pan
Nothing is more frustrating than spending time baking a wonderful product and then it does not release from the pan. Remove cakes while they are still barely warm but not cold. Wait a few minutes before removing dropped and rolled cookies from the pan to allow them to firm up. It is important to follow each specific recipe's directions on how to remove the baked good.
The remaining portion of this chapter is devoted to listing--in chapter order--the many common problems that could occur while baking and the reasons for each. When appropriate, solutions are given. Sometimes there may be several explanations why a mishap has occurred. The baker should be able to determine exactly what went wrong and how to correct it.
Custards WHAT IF ...? REASON SOLUTION Custard comes Eggs were not tempered * Add hot milk or cream out lumpy and properly. in a slow stream to curdled. eggs while whisking constantly. Custard was not * Strain the custard to strained into a bowl remove the lumps. over an ice water bath and carryover cooking caused eggs to curdle. Custard was overcooked * If there is only a and the temperature slight amount of went over 185[degrees]F curdling, process the (85[degrees]C), causing custard in a blender, the egg proteins to then strain the lump together and custard to remove curdle. lumps. A pastry cream The alpha-amylase, an * Be sure the custard thickens enzyme in the egg comes to a boil to nicely, but yolks, dissolved the destroy alpha-amylase. when left starch so the custard overnight in a thinned out. refrigerator, it thins out. A skin forms Casein, a protein in * Place plastic wrap on a custard milk, dries out when directly onto the sur- left in the exposed to air. face of the custard or refrigerator. cover it with some melted butter, while still hot, to prevent any exposure to air. After stirring The custard was over- * Blend in flavorings in flavorings, stirred, causing the gently, never the custard starch granules to vigorously, while the thins out. break down. custard is still warm. Once it has set, try not to overstir it. Too much sugar or * Be sure to add citrus acidic ingredients were juices after the full used, causing the thickening power of starch to break down the starch has and release liquid, occurred. thinning the sauce. After This is a common * Keep the yolks and combining egg occurrence when eggs, granulated sugar yolks and especially yolks, and separate until ready sugar granulated sugar are to begin the recipe, together, placed together in a then continuously small, hard, bowl and allowed to whisk them together yellow clumps stand unmixed for before tempering them develop. several minutes. The with hot milk. yellow clumps are actually proteins in the egg that have dried out and joined together. The sugar's hygroscopic properties draw water from within the egg toward the sugar, leaving the egg yolk dry, appearing curdled and "cooked." Yeast Breads WHAT IF ...? REASON Bread does not rise well. * Yeast was not alive. * Salt was added directly to the yeast. * Flour had too little protein, causing little gluten to develop. The less gluten developed, the less carbon dioxide can be trapped within the dough. * Dough was overmixed or undermixed. * Oven temperature was too high and formed a crust before the bread had time to rise. Bread splits open. * Dough was overmixed and gluten was weakened. * Dough was not fermented or proofed long enough. * After shaping, seam was placed on top. * Dough was not formed well during makeup. * No cuts were made in the dough to allow the dough to expand. * Not enough steam formed to keep the top crust moist, allowing it to expand. * Oven temperature was too high and expanding gases split the bread. Bread is too dense with * Not enough liquid was used. small holes. * Too much flour was used. * Not enough yeast was used. * Too much salt was used, which slowed fermentation. * Dough was not fermented or proofed long enough. Bread is too coarse with * Too much liquid was used. large holes. * Too much yeast was used. * Dough was not properly mixed. * Dough was proofed for too long. Bread breaks apart and * Flour used had too little protein. crumbles. * Not enough salt was used to strengthen the gluten. * Dough was overproofed. Pies and Tarts WHAT IF ...? REASON Crust is too tough. * Flour had too much protein. * Too little fat was used. Solution: * More fat prevents gluten from forming and creating a tough crust. * Too much liquid was used, which developed gluten. * Dough was overmixed. Crust falls apart easily. * Dough was dry and crumbly because not enough liquid was used. * Too much fat was used, causing little gluten to form, making the dough too crumbly. * Too little fat was used, which prevented the dough from holding together. * Fat was cut in too completely, preventing any gluten from forming and creating too much tenderness and little structure. * Flour had too little protein so dough had little structure to hold together. * Dough was not mixed properly. Crust is undercooked on * Filling had too much liquid. bottom. * Filling was hot when placed in pie shell. * Used wrong dough. Mealy dough for bottom crust prevents sogginess. * Crust was underbaked. * Oven temperature was too low. * Crust was not baked on lowest rack in oven or directly on the bottom, which would place the crust closest to the heat. Crust shrinks down from * Too little fat was used. sides. Solution: * More fat prevents gluten from being developed and decreases the likelihood that the crust will shrink. * Flour had too much protein. * Dough had too much water, which developed too much gluten. * Dough was overhandled and too much gluten formed. * Dough was not rested long enough and gluten did not relax. * Dough was stretched to fit into the pan and sprang back during baking. * Pie weights, such as raw beans, were not used. * Dough was not docked or stippled before baking. * Rolled-out pie shell was not chilled before baking. Crust is not flaky * Too little fat was used. enough. * Incorrect fat was used, which melted too quickly in oven. * Fat needed to be colder or frozen for a short time to keep it from melting too quickly. * Dough was overhandled or overheated, and the fat melted into the dough. * Dough was overmixed and fat was blended in too well, resulting in a tender crust. Solution: * Increase the amount of solid vegetable shortening because it has a higher melting point and decrease the amount of butter. Dough is too elastic to Too much gluten formed from one of the roll out. following: * Flour had too much protein. * Too much liquid was used, which developed gluten. * Dough was not rested. Solution: * Add a small amount of an acid (e.g., citrus juice or vinegar) to decrease or break up gluten formation. * Refrigerate the dough for a short time to relax gluten. Quick Breads WHAT IF ...? REASON Quick bread is tough. * Dough or batter was overmixed, causing too much gluten to form. * Flour used had too much protein. * Bread spent too long in the oven and was overbaked. Tunnels or knobby shapes * Batter was overmixed, causing too much appear in and on top of gluten to form. In the oven, trapped quick bread. gases are unable to escape through the thick network of gluten in the dough and explode in the batter while baking, forming large holes and tunnels. * Chemical leaveners were not evenly distributed in batter, causing pockets of gases to form and creating holes. Solution: * Use flours with low protein. * Thoroughly blend dry ingredients with chemical leavening agents before adding wet ingredients. Batter does not rise * Not enough leavening was used or chemical well. leaveners were old. * If creaming method was used, fat and sugar were creamed improperly. * Oven temperature was too low. Muffin is not cake-like. * Not enough air was beaten into the fat and sugar. Solution: * Creaming method should be used instead of the muffin method. Muffins do not rise * Paper liners were used. above the edges of the muffin pan. Solution: * Grease muffin pans and omit liners for higher muffins. Cakes WHAT IF ...? REASON Cake does not rise well. * Not enough leavening was used or chemicals leaveners were old. * The oven was not hot enough, causing the cake to fall. * The oven was too hot and set the cake before it had a chance to rise. * The fat and sugar were not creamed for long enough. Cake overflows in oven. Cake pan was overfilled or too small. Solution: * Fill pans no more than one half to two thirds full. Cake is too dark. * Oven temperature was too hot. * Too much baking soda was used. Because acidic batter does not brown easily, too much baking soda neutralizes the batter's acidity, causing it to brown more intensely. * Too much sugar in the batter caramelized and burnt. * Cake was overbaked. WHAT IF ...? REASON Cake falls apart and is Too little gluten was formed because: crumbly. * A flour with too little protein was used, there was too much fat or sugar, or there was too little liquid. * Batter was improperly mixed. * Cake was removed from the pan while still too warm. Cake is tough. * Too much gluten was formed because a flour with too much protein was used, too little sugar or fat was used, or batter was overmixed or improperly mixed. * Too much egg protein. Cake is heavy and dense. * There was not enough leavening. * Oven was not hot enough. * Batter was improperly mixed. * Too much sugar or fat was used. Cake has large holes or * Batter was overmixed, forming too much tunnels throughout. gluten because trapped gases are unable to escape and consequently explode in the batter during baking. * Chemical leaveners were not evenly distributed in batter, causing pockets of gases to form and creating holes in the cake. * Oven temperature was too high. Cake does not come out * Pans were improperly prepared before of pan. baking. * Cake was not removed while still warm. Egg-foam cake collapses. * Excess air was incorporated into the egg foam. * Too little air was incorporated into the egg foam. Frostings WHAT IF ...? REASON SOLUTION Fudge frosting sets * Not enough corn syrup * Place the fudge up too fast before or cream of tartar over a double it is spread was used to prevent boiler or in a bowl on the cake. crystallization. set over a hot water bath and allow it to melt down. Cool it down until it is of a spreadable * Frosting was consistency. overbeaten and sugar crystals solidified suddenly, causing the fudge to stiffen. * The fudge was cooled too rapidly and beaten while still too warm. For buttercreams using hot sugar syrups There are lumps in * The sugar syrup * Do not stir the the buttercream. formed lumps or sugar syrup while crystals on the sides it is cooking. Wash of the pan during down any sugar cooking, which were crystals that poured into the appear on the sides eggs during beating. of the pan with a pastry brush dipped in water. * The sugar syrup was * Pour the sugar stirred, precipitating syrup down the crystals out of sides of the bowl, solution. not directly onto the whip. * The sugar syrup was poured directly onto the whip while beating it into the yolks. Buttercream looks * Butter was too cold. * Be sure butter is broken and curdled. softened by leaving it at room tempera- ture or microwaving it on low power until softened but not melted. * To save a broken butter-cream, beat in a small amount of melted butter until it comes together. Buttercream seems * Butter melted because * Beat sugar syrup to melt and not it was added before and egg mixture thicken up. the beaten sugar and until the bottom egg mixture was cool of the bowl feels enough. cool to the touch before adding the butter. * Whisk thin buttercream over an ice water bath to firm up, and then beat it to smooth it out. Buttercream is * Buttercream was * Do not overbeat grainy. overbeaten. buttercream. After freezing, buttercream is too * Buttercream was not * Defrost butter- stiff to spread. softened first. cream in the refrigerator and when ready to use leave it at room temperature until softened. * Place stiff buttercream in a bowl and set over a hot water bath. Stir briskly until it smooths out and softens a bit. Cookies There are so many variations of cookie recipes that certain characteristics may be desirable for some and viewed as mistakes by others. WHAT IF ...? REASON SOLUTION Cookies are too pale. * They were underbaked. * Add some baking soda to neutralize * Oven temperature was any acidity. not high enough. * Corn syrup * Batter or dough was browns at a lower too acidic; and acidic temperature than batters do not brown granulated sugar, well. so substitute 1 to 2 tablespoons (1/2 to 1 ounce; 15 to * More sugar was needed, 30 g) corn syrup which contributes to in place of some browning. of the granulated sugar to increase browning. Cookies are too dark. * They were overbaked. * Oven temperature was too high. * Too much sugar was used. * Too much baking soda * Because acidic was used. doughs do not brown as easily, decrease baking soda and increase acidity level. * Sheet pan was too * Place cookie close to the heat. dough on two sheet pans put together or place sheet pans on a higher rack in the oven. Cookies are too hard. * Dough was overmixed, forming gluten. * Not enough liquid was used. * Flour had too much protein, so too much gluten formed. * Not enough fat was used. * Cookies were overbaked. * Oven temperature was too hot. Cookies are too Too little gluten was formed because: crumbly. * Flour had too little * Use a flour with protein. a higher protein level. * Add some water to the batter to encourage gluten to form, making a cookie that holds together with a better structure. * Too much fat was used. * Decrease the fat, sugar, or both. * Too much sugar was used. * Add more egg protein to hold * Not enough eggs were the batter used. together. Cookies are too * A reduced-fat or * Use a flour with puffy. shortening was used a higher protein causing water in dough content, which to form steam and puff will bind with water in the * Flour had too little dough, forming protein, leaving water less steam and in the dough to form puffiness. steam and puff. Cookies spread out * Oven temperature was * Use a flour with and flatten. too low and dough a higher protein had more time to spread content. before it set. * Replace some of * Too much sugar was the butter or oil used. with shortening. * Too much baking soda * Use less baking which caused gluten soda. to weaken. * Dough or batter * Too little flour was was too warm. used. * Bake at a higher * A fat such as butter temperature so that melts at a lower cookies will set temperature was faster used. * Chill dough * A liquid fat such as before baking. oil was used. * Sheet pans were overgreased. * Use ungreased or parchment-covered sheet pans. Cookies do not spread * Fat had too high a * Use a different out enough. melting point. fat with a lower melting point such as butter or oil. * Dough was too thick. * Use less flour. * Not enough sugar * Use a lower was used. protein flour. * Sheet pans were not * Add more liquids greased. such as water, milk, or cream. * Use more baking soda. * Use more sugar to increase spread. * Used greased pans to make dough spread out. Working with Sugar WHAT IF ...? REASON SOLUTION During the prepara- The mixture crystallized * Wash down the tion of caramel, suddenly for the sides of the pan the sugar syrup following reasons: with a pastry suddenly solidifies. brush dipped in * Undissolved sugar water, and never crystals left on the place a spoon that sides of the pan caused has been in the a chain reaction to mixture back in occur suddenly causing the pan without the syrup to solidify. washing it first. * The pan was shaken and * Adding a small a chain reaction of amount of an acid crystallization occurred. (e.g., citrus juice, vinegar, or cream of tartar) in the beginning helps prevent crystallization. * A spoon was dipped in * Using a small the syrup, removed, amount of corn and then placed back syrup helps in the syrup, unwashed. prevent crystallization. The sugar syrup * The pan used was too boils over. small, not allowing enough room for the mixture to boil and bubble up. The sugar syrup never * The sugar syrup did * Use a candy hardened when it not reach the correct thermometer cooled. temperature. clamped to the side of the pan to determine the correct temperature of the syrup. Frozen Desserts WHAT IF ...? REASON Ice cream is grainy * Too little sugar was used in the base. or icy. * Sugar in the base was not dissolved. * Base was not chilled thoroughly. * Base froze either too slowly or too quickly, creating large ice crystals. * After processing, while ice cream was stored in the freezer, the temperature fluctuated, causing large ice crystals to form. Base never freezes or * Base was not chilled thoroughly. takes a long time to process. * Too little salt was used for the brine, or the ice cream machine was not cold enough or not working properly. Frozen dessert is too * Too much sugar or alcohol was used in the slushy and soft. base, preventing the liquid ingredients from freezing to a more solid state. For ice cream: * Custard was undercooked and did not thicken properly. * Base was not processed long enough. * Base was not cold enough during processing. Frozen dessert lacks * The base needed to be more boldly flavor. flavored because cold temperatures dull flavors. Chocolate WHAT IF ...? REASON SOLUTION While melting * A drop or two of * Gently whisk in chocolate over a moisture caused the a small amount of double boiler, the chocolate to clump. fat, such as chocolate seizes. vegetable shortening or oil, to smooth it out. * Add some water or other liquid to help smooth out the chocolate. This should be done only if thinning out the chocolate will not disrupt the recipe's balance. A few drops of water or moisture can cause seizing, whereas a greater amount of water will not. Use at least 1 tablespoon (15 mL) of liquid for every 2 ounces (60 g) of chocolate. While folding cold * Adding a cold * Allow the melted whipped cream into ingredient to warm chocolate to cool warm melted chocolate will down to room tem- chocolate, seizing immediately set the perature before occurs and small chocolate because the adding it to cold chunks of chocolate crystals of cocoa butter ingredients. To add are distributed in the chocolate it to cold whipped throughout. recrystallize instantly cream, vigorously with the sudden cold whisk one quarter temperature. of the cream into the chocolate to lighten it up and get it acclimated to the cool cream. Then gradually fold in the remaining whipped cream with a rubber spatula. Or, one fourth of the heavy cream (unwhipped) can be blended with the melted chocolate and then folded into the remaining cream that has already been beaten to soft peaks. Ganache becomes * The ganache was over- * Rewarm the gana- grainy and hard while beaten or rapidly che over a hot being beaten. chilled, causing fat water bath until crystals in the it is liquefied. chocolate to suddenly Allow it to cool recrystallize and and thicken before solidify. beating it again for a lesser amount of time. Chocolate melts too * Chocolate was melted * Melt chocolate quickly over direct over too high a heat. slowly and heat and burns. gradually in a bowl set over a pot of water that has been brought to a simmer and removed from the heat. The steam from the water is enough to melt the chocolate. The bottom of the bowl holding the chocolate should never touch the water. Never melt chocolate over boiling water or direct heat. Ganache looks * Ganache--which is an * To bring the separated and emulsion of drops of fat ganache back to a curdled. from cream and fat smooth texture, crystals of cocoa butter warm the ganache in that are suspended in a bowl set over a the water-based liquids pot of warm, not from the cream--has simmering water, separated into its fat just to make it and water-based compo- barely warm. Remove nents, which causes it the bowl of to have a curdled ganache and set appearance. aside. Warm up to 2 fluid ounces (1/4 cup; 60 mL) heavy cream in a bowl set over the same pot of warm water until it is the same tempera- ture as the ganache. Pour a small amount of the cream into a bowl. Slowly whisk the barely warm ganache into the bowl and it should smooth out. Keep adding small amounts of warm cream if necessary. While pouring melted * Moisture or drops of * After melting chocolate out of the condensation from the chocolate, always double boiler or a bottom of the bowl or use a kitchen towel bowl set over a hot double boiler fell into to dry the bottom water bath into other the other ingredients and sides of the ingredients, it while pouring and pot or bowl before seizes up suddenly. solidified the pouring chocolate chocolate. into other ingredients. After dipping Fat bloom appeared because: * Properly temper truffles into * Chocolate used to chocolate or use tempered chocolate, coat truffles was a compound coating a grayish-white not properly for dipping. coating develops on tempered. the surface. * Store chocolate * Chocolate truffles at cool room were not stored at temperature of the proper tempera- 56[degrees]to ture. 60[degrees]F (13[degrees]to 16[degrees]C) so the fat crystals in chocolate do not melt and rise to the surface.
1. If fudge frosting hardens too quickly, what can be done, if anything, to fix it?
2. The pastry cream you made thickened nicely, but after it was left overnight in the refrigerator, it looked much thinner. Why?
3. What causes chocolate to seize and how can it be prevented?
4. What could be the cause of a skin forming over a custard?
5. What happens to a starch-thickened custard when it is overstirred?
6. If you wanted cookies that spread out more as they baked, what ingredients might help?
7. You added too much sugar to a sorbet base. What consequences might this have on the finished product?
8. The muffins you made had large holes throughout. What could have caused this?
9. What caused a yeast bread to burst open during baking?
10. When preparing a French buttercream, why should a boiling sugar syrup be added down the sides of the bowl and not directly onto the whip?
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