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Chapter 5 Thickeners and stabilizers.


After reading this chapter, you should be able to:

* Define starch.

* Explain the role starch plays as a thickener in desserts.

* Describe the three stages of gelatinization.

* List the factors that affect gelatinization.

* Describe the different types of starch and their characteristics.

* Understand how to choose which starch is best.

* Define gelatin.

* Explain the role gelatin plays as a stabilizer in desserts.

* List the three steps in preparing gelatin.

* Recognize the factors and ingredients that interfere with gelatin.

* Demonstrate how to use starches and gelatin properly by preparing the recipes at the end of this chapter.









gum Arabic

gum tragacanth




Without thickeners and stabilizers in the world of a baker, many desserts would be just a liquid mess. Many desserts including puddings, sauces, and fruit pie fillings use some form of starch to help them thicken. Pastry creams and cream pie fillings use starches not only to thicken but also to prevent the eggs from curdling. Some meringue recipes even use a starch-thickened gel that is added into the beaten egg whites. The starch binds and coats the egg protein so the meringue stays moist and does not shrink or weep. Other desserts use gelatin to stabilize them and include Italian meringues, marshmallows, chiffon pies, Bavarian cream, panna cotta, whipped cream, and other gelled desserts. Thickeners like starch and gelling agents like gelatin are referred to as stabilizers because they are added to maintain the texture of certain foods and to prevent undesirable changes from occurring until the food is consumed.

This chapter explores how stabilizers such as starch and gelatin work, each giving desserts a specific texture, taste, and appearance. Starches and gelatin each work differently and tend to be used in different kinds of desserts.

Starches Defined

Starches are used to thicken cream fillings, pie fillings, and sauces. Starches simply are long chains of sugars in the form of semi-crystalline shapes that are referred to as granules. The main structure of a starch is in two forms: amylose, which has a straighter chemical structure, and amylopectin, which has a branched chemical structure. The varying amounts of amylose compared to amylopectin determines the thickening capabilities of a particular starch.

Starches have the ability to thicken and gelatinize. Gelatinization is the process that starch granules go through to ultimately thicken a liquid. The starch granules themselves swell and ultimately thicken the liquid they are in. Even breads and cakes rely on gelatinization of starches to help maintain their shape as they bake (Chapter 8).

Starches come primarily from one source: plants. Cereals and grains contain varying amounts of starch and include wheat, rice, and com. Starches also come from the roots of plants. These include potato, cassava, arrowroot, and tapioca.

Modified starches are a special type of starch used mostly by food manufacturers. They are a combination of grain and root starches that have had specific chemicals added. They are chosen to be added to specific foods to customize specific characteristics that are desired. For instance, modified starches may be used in pies that are warmed before they are served, because heating may thin down certain fillings. Modified starches help prevent this.

One type of modified starch is known as instant or pregelatinized. Many starches need to be cooked, but instant starches are manufactured in such a way that they have the ability to thicken upon contact with a cold liquid without heating. They can withstand freezing, thawing, and acidic ingredients without breaking down.

Starches can also be derived from grains like rye, millet, and barley; legumes like peanuts and soybeans; and nuts like almonds. These starches are not used often by professional bakers. (See Table 5-1, Plant Starches.)

Each starch has unique properties. Each has different thickening capabilities and storage capacities. For instance, some starches freeze well, but others do not; some starches can give foods a cloudy appearance, whereas others are clear. It is important to know the differences and to know which starch to use for a specific result.

Cornstarch is by far the most widely used starch for baking. Arrowroot tends to be used for more delicate desserts and sauces because of its clarity and sheen.

The Three Stages of Gelatinization

There are three stages of gelatinization.

1. Heating the Starch. The first stage of gelatinization begins with heating the starch. Starches must be heated in a liquid in order to dissolve.

2. Absorption of Liquid. As the temperature of the liquid rises, the bonds within the granules of starch begin to weaken, allowing them to suck in the liquid around them, absorbing and trapping it and swelling. Starches can absorb up to several times their weight in liquid.

3. Thickening of the Liquid. The third stage is the actual thickening of the starch and liquid. Once swollen with liquid, the granules become so mushy and soft that they appear less like granules and more like a gummy blob or gel. As the heat rises, these blobs of swollen starch burst open, spewing starch everywhere and thickening the mixture even more.

The Three Stages of Gelatinization

1. Heating the starch

2. Absorption of liquid

3. Thickening of the liquid

Several Factors That Affect Gelatinization

Several factors affect gelatinization depending on the type of starch used.

* Amount of Liquid. The amount of liquid used affects gelatinization. There must be an adequate supply of liquid for the starch granules to absorb, taking into consideration the type of starch used and any evaporation of the liquid as it is heated.

* Temperature. Different starches require different temperatures to thicken. Many starches need to come to a boil in order to reach their full thickening ability and, as the thickened mixture cools, it thickens even more. Once the thickened mixture has reached its full thickening potential, if the temperature continues to rise, the starch molecules are stretched too far, allowing the trapped liquid to escape and the thickened mixture will begin to break apart and thin out.

* Stirring. Overzealous stirring can affect gelatinization. If the mixture is stirred too rigorously, it can cause thinning of the mixture because the starch granules break down, releasing any liquid they have absorbed.

* Acids. Acids can destroy starches by preventing them from swelling and thickening. Most acidic recipes containing starches call for adding the acid after the starch has already reached its full thickening capabilities or a modified starch can be used because of its resistance to acidic conditions. Acids used may include citrus juice, vinegar, or alcohol.

* Raw Egg Yolks. Raw egg yolks contain an enzyme called alpha-amylase that feeds on starches and causes them to break down. To avoid this, pastry creams and cream fillings containing egg yolks must be brought almost to the boiling point to destroy the alpha-amylase. As discussed in Chapter 6, cream fillings containing starches can be brought to the boiling point without fear of curdling the eggs because the starch granules protect the egg proteins.

* Sugar. Too much sugar in the form of granulated sugar or even the sugars naturally found in milk can interfere with gelatinization and prevent a starch from thickening a liquid. The starch granules are blocked from absorbing water by the crystals of sugar and, because of this, the temperature at which gelatinization would occur is increased in those recipes. Because gelatinization is reduced, baked goods will have less structure. This is the basic principle of how sugars tenderize baked goods by not allowing starches to firm and gelatinize.

* Time. One last factor that affects gelatinization is time. Although starches have long shelf lives, older starches that have been sitting on the shelf for more than 2 years may have lost some of their ability to thicken. More starch is needed to compensate for this loss of thickening strength. (See Table 5-2, Characteristics of Different Starches, and Table 5-3, Choosing the Best Starch for the Job.)

Interesting Facts about Starches

* Wheat flour and cornstarch will have a raw, pasty taste if undercooked.

* High-protein wheat flours are not as good thickeners as low-protein wheat flours. This is due to a high-protein wheat flours' low-starch content.

* Cornstarch, rice starch, potato starch, arrowroot, and tapioca have twice the thickening power of wheat flour.


Coconut Pastry Cream (Chapter 11, page 260)

Individual Rhubarb Berry "Cobblers" (This chapter, page 79)

Vanilla Pastry Cream (Chapter 6, page 95)

Gelatin Defined

Gelatin is a stabilizer that helps foods set, forming a gel-like consistency and giving form and structure to a dessert. Molded desserts frequently use gelatin wherein the shape of the dessert depends on the container it is placed in before gelation occurs. Once gelled, the dessert stays intact, even after the container that held it is removed. This refers not only to a gelatin mold but to a torte in which cake is layered inside a cake ring with such fillings as stabilized whipped cream, pastry cream, mousse, or fruit. Once the filling has thickened and gelled, the cake ring is removed. As discussed, gelatin is used in many desserts such as Bavarian cream, chiffon pies, Italian meringues, and whipped cream. A gelatinized simple syrup can also be used to coat and protect fresh fruit on tarts.

Gelatin is a protein that is made from the connective tissue and bones of animals, primarily cows and pigs. Gelatin forms a gel that thickens and stabilizes the consistency of foods that will not undergo any further heating.

The gelatin used in desserts is unflavored and will take on any flavor that surrounds it. It comes in two forms: powdered granules and sheets (Figure 5-1). The powdered granules come under many different brand names and may vary in gelling capabilities. It can be purchased in individual packets each measuring 1/4 ounce (2 1/4 teaspoons; 7 g) or in bulk containers. The sheet form of gelatin, also known as leaf gelatin, is used mostly by commercial food manufacturers and in restaurants. The gelling capacity of sheet gelatin is standardized. This means that one sheet has the same gelling strength as another. Each sheet of gelatin weighs approximately 1/10 ounce or 3 g. To substitute sheet gelatin for powdered gelatin, use an equal amount by weight or go by the conversion of 1 teaspoon powdered gelatin = 1 sheet gelatin but in this text, the gelatin conversion is 1 teaspoon powdered gelatin = 2 sheets gelatin based on the brand of gelatin used in this text.


How Gelatin Forms a Gel

In much the same way that egg proteins thicken custards (Chapter 6), the proteins in gelatin work in the same manner. As the temperature around the gelatin rises, the strands of protein uncoil and straighten out slightly, causing them to denature. The protein strands then join together loosely with liquid and moisture held between their bonds. This network of protein strands form a thickened gel that continues to firm up as it cools.

How to Use Gelatin

Three steps are necessary to prepare gelatin so that it can be successfully added to desserts without forming jelly-like clumps.

1. Add gelatin to a cold liquid. The gelatin must first be rehydrated by sprinkling the granules over a cold liquid like water, cream, fruit juice, or alcohol. In general, to soften gelatin, the proportions are for every 2 to 3 teaspoons (7 to 9 g) of powdered gelatin use 2 fluid ounces (1/4 cup; 60 mL) of liquid. Be certain all granules have been dissolved. Undissolved granules form undesirable clumps in the finished product. To soften sheet gelatin, soak it in an unspecified amount of cold water for approximately 10 minutes. Softening the sheet in warmer water than 70[degrees]F (21[degrees]C) may dissolve the gelatin too much and it will be lost in the water. The amount of water used should be enough so the sheet is submerged. The gelatin will transition from a stiff sheet to a soft, gel-like mass. Once softened, the sheet is removed from the water but not squeezed out. Gelatin can hold up to many times its weight in liquid. The mixture should look rubbery, like a jellyfish. This step, whether powdered or sheet gelatin is used, is sometimes referred to as blooming or softening because the gelatin absorbs liquid; it expands in size and appears to be blooming. The word bloom or blooming can also refer to how strong or firm a gelatin is. It is so named because a tool called the Bloom Gelometer is used to measure gelatin strength; it is named after a French scientist named Oscar T. Bloom. The gelatin is said to have a Bloom rating, and the higher the number, the greater the strength of the gelatin.

2. Heat gelatin to melt it down. The gelled mixture must next be melted to successfully combine it with other ingredients. This can be done in one of two ways. The container of gelatin can be placed in a hot water bath or it can be directly added to hot ingredients. Be sure the temperature of the hot water bath or the hot liquid is at least 140[degrees]F (60[degrees]C) to make certain all the gelatin is melted. It is important to stir the mixture well to be sure all the gelled granules of gelatin are dissolved. Once the gelatin is melted down, it can be added to other ingredients but it should be allowed to cool somewhat before it is added to mixtures containing cold whipped cream. If it is added to whipped cream while still too warm, the cream will deflate.

3. Chill the mixture to gelation. The last step to prepare a gelatin containing dessert is to chill the mixture in a refrigerator until it firms up or sets up to a solid-like gel. The firming of the gelatin is known as gelation. Some recipes call for the melted gelatin to be added to other ingredients and then chilled over an ice water bath until a syrupy consistency is reached. At this stage, other ingredients such as whipped cream, meringues, or fruit, may be folded in and the mixture can be poured into molds or containers and chilled until set. As the gelatin mixture is cooling over the ice water bath it should be stirred constantly to prevent the mixture on the bottom from setting up too fast. The transition from a syrupy to gel-like consistency and finally to a more solid gel takes place in a matter of a few hours depending on the amount of gelatin present. Over an ice water bath or in refrigeration the transition is much quicker. Not all recipes require the gelatin to set in a refrigerator or ice water bath.

The Three Steps for Using Gelatin

1. Add gelatin to a cold liquid

2. Heat gelatin to melt it down

3. Chilling the mixture to gelation (until set)

Other Gelatin-Like Thickeners and Stabilizers

There are several other types of gelatin-like substances that are derived from plants. They are collectively referred to as gums or vegetable gums. Gums are often used in commercial baking to serve as thickeners and stabilizers. They can be used for people with dietary restrictions who do not wish to eat an animal-derived product. Gums are long chains of sugars that are capable of absorbing large quantities of water, resulting in a thick gel-like substance. They are extracted from various trees, bushes, seaweed, shrubs, or seeds. Gums serve many functions, such as improving textures and preventing crystallization in ice cream and candies. Gums can also prevent weeping and the thinning out of fillings and frostings. Plant gums include agar, also known as agar-agar, which is derived from seaweed. Agar has a greater thickening ability than gelatin, so less of it is needed. Agar also gels in less time than gelatin.

Another type of seaweed from Ireland that is similar to agar is carrageenan. Food manufacturers use it to thicken foods containing milk such as cottage cheese, sour cream, and ice cream.

Gum Arabic comes from the sticky sap from a tree that grows in Africa. Gum Arabic is useful in stabilizing emulsions in frostings and fillings.

Another form of plant stabilizer that is derived from a plant that is grown in the Middle East is gum tragacanth. Gum tragacanth is used for gum paste decorations and flowers, on wedding and other decorative cakes. These decorations dry hard without bending or losing their shape.

Another type of thickener made from the natural sugars within the cell walls of plants is known as pectin. Many fruits contain pectin and the less ripe the fruit, the more pectin is present. Fruits particularly high in pectin include apples, plums, blueberries, cranberries, and most citrus fruits. Pectins are used to thicken jams, jellies, preserves, and fruit glazes.

Gelatin-like thickeners and stabilizers derived from plants are frequently used for people with dietary restrictions who do not wish to eat an animal derived product.

Factors and Ingredients That Interfere with Gelatinization

The following are some factors and ingredients that prevent gelatin-based ingredients from gelling and firming up:

* The amount of gelatin. If there is not enough gelatin added to liquid ingredients, no gelling or insufficient gelling will occur. A good rule of thumb to go by is 1 tablespoon (9 g) of gelatin for every 2 cups (1 pint; 480 mL) of liquid, although recipes vary greatly depending on the final texture desired. Gelling ability also varies among different brands of powdered gelatin as opposed to sheet gelatin, which is relatively standardized by weight. If more gelatin is added to a recipe, gelation is speeded up but the outcome may have a rubbery or plastic-like texture.

* The amount of sugar added. Mixtures that contain a great deal of sugar take longer to gel or may not gel at all. More gelatin is usually added to compensate for this.

* The amount of acid. The amount of an acid added to a gelatin can affect the gelling capacity by weakening the gel's structure. In order to prepare gels that are highly acidic, the amount of gelatin may be doubled.

* Enzymes in fresh fruits. There are enzymes known as proteases naturally found in certain fresh fruits that completely prevent gelatin from setting. Enzymes are proteins that cause specific reactions to occur without being affected themselves. These enzymes are inactivated or destroyed at 185[degrees]F (85[degrees]C) during the cooking process so canned or cooked fruit will not affect gelling at all. Fresh fruits that can prevent gelling include pineapple, kiwi, honeydew, mangoes, figs, papaya, and ginger.

* The addition of salt. Salt affects gelatin by strengthening its ability to gel. Take this into consideration when using hard water, which contains a great deal of minerals. The gelatin will be firmer than normal.

* Too much or too little liquid. The addition of extra liquid will reduce the gelling ability of a gelatin. Even adding pieces of fruit, which have water in them, can have an adverse effect on gelatin desserts. Decreasing the amount of liquid added will compensate for the increase in water from other solid ingredients like fruit. Adding too little liquid will have the opposite effect. The gelatin dessert may appear too firm and rubbery.

* Additional ingredients. When a recipe requires the addition of gelatin into other ingredients, knowing when to add these additional ingredients is important. When the gelatin has become a thin gel, slightly thicker than a syrup, it is the right time to add ingredients unless the recipe states otherwise.


Cappuccino Panna Cotta with Milk Foam (This chapter, page 81)

Clear Glaze for Fruit Tart (Chapter 11, page 261)

Marshmallows (Chapter 7, page 118)

Stabilized Whipped Cream (Chapter 12, page 280)

Sweet Raspberry Cream (Chapter 14, page 347)

Makes 12 4-ounce (120-mL)

Lessons demonstrated in this recipe:

* How to prepare a starch-thickened fruit filling made with cornstarch.

* The filling is brought to a boil to reach the full thickening
  strength of the starch.

* Crisp pastry circles are placed on top of the cooked hot filling
  instead of the traditional biscuit topping of a cobbler.


1 recipe Pate Brisee or Pate Brisee with Cream Cheese (Chapter 11)

1 large whole egg whisked with 1 teaspoon (5 mL) water (to be used in
egg wash)

Granulated sugar for sprinkling

1. Make 1 recipe Pate Brisee or Pate Brisee with Cream Cheese through
   step 4.

2. Preheat the oven to 425[degrees]F (219[degrees]C). Divide the dough
   in half. Rewrap and place one half of the dough back into the
   refrigerator. Roll out the remaining half onto a
   floured work surface to a rough rectangle 1/8 inch (3 mm) thick.

3. Cut at least 12 3-inch (71/2-cm) diameter plain or fluted circles
   using a cookie cutter. Place circles on a sheet pan covered with
   parchment paper. Repeat with the other half of the dough. There will
   be extra circles.

4. Using a pastry brush, egg wash each circle and sprinkle generously
   with sugar. Bake the circles for 8 to 12 minutes or until lightly
   browned. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Set aside.


The pastry circles can be
baked, cooled, and stored
in an airtight container for
1 to 2 days.

Makes 6 cups (48 fluid
ounces; 1.4 L)



             MEASUREMENTS                       INGREDIENTS

U.S.                            METRIC

1 1/2 to 2                      685 to 910 g    fresh rhubarb, cut
pounds                                          crosswise into
                                                1/2-inch (1 1/4-cm)
                                                thick pieces
7 ounces        1 cup                 200 g     granulated sugar
                1/2 teaspoon          3/4 g     cinnamon
                1/2 teaspoon            1 g     ginger

3/4 ounce       3 tablespoons          30 g     cornstarch

1 1/2 fluid     3 tablespoons         45 mL     orange juice

7 1/2 ounces    1 cup                 215 g     fresh whole
                                                or raspberries

7 1/2 ounces    1 cup                 215 g     fresh strawberries,
                                                cut into
                                                1/2-inch (1 1/4-cm)
                                                thick pieces

1/2 ounce       1 tablespoon          15 mL     orange-flavored
                                                liqueur zest from
                                                1 orange

1. Place the rhubarb, sugar, cinnamon, and ginger in a large pot
   (Figure 5-2). Cook over medium-high heat until sugar is melted,
   about 5 to 6 minutes.




2. In a small bowl, whisk the cornstarch and the orange juice together
   until smooth. Mix into the hot rhubarb mixture and bring the mixture
   to a boil until it has thickened, stirring constantly, about 4 to
   5 minutes (Figure 5-3A and 5-3B). Pour the hot mixture into a clean
   bowl. At this stage the filling can be cooled, covered with plastic,
   and chilled for 1 to 2 days.

3. Stir the berries, the orange-flavored liqueur, and the zest into the
   rhubarb and set the mixture aside (Figure 5-4).


1. Preheat oven to 425[degrees]F (219[degrees]C). Spoon 4 ounces (1/2
   cup; 115 g) of the filling into 12 4-ounce (120-mL) ramekins. Place
   the filled ramekins on a sheet pan.

2. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until fruit is hot and bubbling.

3. Top each ramekin with a sugared pastry circle and serve immediately
   (Figure 5-5).



Serves 6 to 8

Lessons demonstrated in this recipe:

* How to use gelatin to stabilize milk and cream.

* Adding a beaten egg white with gelatin makes the milk topping foamy,
  just like a real cappuccino.


                MEASUREMENTS                   INGREDIENTS

U.S.                               METRIC

2 fluid ounces   1/4 cup             60 mL     cold whole milk

1/4 ounce        2 1/4 teaspoons       7 g     unflavored powdered
                                               gelatin or 5 gelatin
8 fluid ounces   1 cup              240 mL     heavy cream

8 fluid ounces   1 cup              240 mL     whole milk

8 fluid ounces   1 cup              240 mL     brewed espresso,

3 1/2ounces      1/2 cup             100 g     granulated sugar

                                               1/2 vanilla bean,
                                               sliced lengthwise

1. Place the milk into a small bowl and sprinkle gelatin over it
   (Figure 5-6). Allow it to bloom or soften for 5 minutes (Figure
   5-7). If using sheet gelatin, place the sheets in a bowl of the milk
   adding cold water, if necessary, just enough to cover the gelatin.
   Soak for 10 minutes and drain.

2. In a heavy saucepan, heat the cream, milk, espresso, sugar, and
   vanilla bean over medium high heat until the mixture comes to a
   gentle boil and the sugar is dissolved.

3. Remove vanilla bean and scrape the inside with a small knife. Place
   the vanilla seeds back into the hot cream mixture. Reserve the
   vanilla bean for the milk foam.

4. Add the gelatin back into the hot mixture and whisk the mixture
   until the gelatin is dissolved completely (Figure 5-8).

5. Pour the mixture into eight small wine glasses or glass coffee mugs
   (Figure 5-9). Fill each glass or mug between one-half and two-thirds
   full. Chill the panna cottas in the refrigerator for about 2 hours
   or until set.







                    MEASUREMENTS            INGREDIENTS

                 U.S.             METRIC

1 1/2 fluid      3 tablespoons    45 mL     whole milk, cold
                 2 teaspoons        6 g     powdered unflavored
                                            gelatin or
                                            4 gelatin sheets

8 fluid ounces   1 cup            240 mL    whole milk
                                            pinch salt

1 ounce          2 tablespoons     30 g     granulated sugar
                                            reserved vanilla bean

1 each                             19 g     large egg yolk
                                            1 pasteurized dried
                                            egg white, reconstituted
                                            according to
                                            package directions

                 1/8 teaspoon      1/4 g    cream of tartar

1 ounce          2 tablespoons     30 g     granulated sugar

1. Place 1 1/2 fluid ounces (3 tablespoons; 45 mL) milk into a small
   bowl and sprinkle 2 teaspoons (6 g) gelatin on top. Allow to bloom
   for 5 minutes. If using sheet gelatin, soak the sheets in enough
   cold water to cover them for about 10 minutes. Remove the softened
   sheets and drain.

2. In a small saucepan, heat 8 fluid ounces (1 cup; 240 mL) whole milk,
   salt, 1 ounce (2 tablespoons; 30 g) sugar, softened gelatin, and the
   reserved vanilla bean over medium-heat. Stir the mixture just until
   the sugar and gelatin have dissolved.

3. Remove the mixture from heat and whisk in the yolk quickly. Cook
   over medium heat, whisking constantly just until mixture boils.
   Remove from heat.

4. Pour the cooked mixture into a heatproof bowl and place it over an
   ice bath, stirring frequently (Figure 5-10).

5. In the meantime, place the reconstituted egg white and cream of
   tartar in the bowl of an electric mixer and, using the whip
   attachment, beat the egg white until soft peaks form. Gradually add
   1 ounce (2 tablespoons; 30 g) sugar and beat until stiff (but not
   dry) peaks form (Figure 5-11).


1. When the gelatin mixture begins to thicken slightly, remove the bowl
   from the ice bath and whisk in one-half of the beaten whites (Figure
   5-12). Scoop the remaining whites over the mixture and fold them in
   with a rubber spatula until well blended.

2. Evenly divide the milk foam mixture on top of the chilled cappuccino
   panna cottas (Figure 5-13). Sprinkle the tops with cinnamon (Figure
   5-14). Chill for 2 to 4 hours or overnight.







1. Name the three stages of gelatinization.

2. When certain starches are overheated or heated for too long what happens?

3. What can happen if certain starches from grains like wheat and corn are undercooked?

4. What is the name of the enzyme in egg yolks that prevents starches from thickening?

5. How is this enzyme destroyed?

6. What is the most widely used starch for baking?

7. Which types of starches thin out as they cool?

8. Name the three steps in preparing gelatin.

9. What are three ingredients that can interfere with the gelling of a gelatin-based dessert?

10. Why can canned pineapple be used in a gelatin-based dessert but fresh pineapple cannot?

11. What effect does salt have on gelatin?


Professional Profile


Ron Koetter, CEC, AAC

Director, Gulf Coast Culinary Institute

Faulkner State Community College

Bay Minette, AL

1. Question: When did you realize that you wanted to pursue a career in baking and pastry?

Answer: When I was a child and watched my mother cooking and baking I knew that I wanted to do that.

2. Question: Was there a person or event that influenced you to go into this line of work?

Answer: The competition with my peers and older students in the VICA program at my high school, Shades Valley High School in Birmingham, AL, influenced me most.

3. Question: What did you find most challenging when you first began working in baking and pastry?

Answer: The most difficult things at first were learning the shortcuts used by the professional chefs and learning how to build increased flavors.

4. Question: Where and when was your first practical experience in a professional baking setting?

Answer: It was with the ACF chapter at Delgado Community College in 1984.

5. Question: How did this first experience affect your later professional development?

Answer: Again, it was that competition with the other students that gave me the incentive to want to try harder and learn more.

6. Question: Who were your mentors when you were starting out?

Answer: It was Joseph Amendola.

7. Question: What would you list as the greatest rewards in your professional life?

Answer: Working with the student competitions and seeing them win is a great reward.

8. Question: What traits do you consider essential for anyone entering the field?

Answer: Mastering laminated dough, glazes, and Bavarian creams are essential skills for anyone in this field.

9. Question: If there was one message you would impart to students in this field what would that be?

Answer: Learn how to make fantasy cakes.
Table 5-1 Plant Starches


Wheat          Potato

Rice           Cassava

Corn           Arrowroot

               maize or
               more like a

Table 5-2 Characteristics of Different Starches

                                     WHEAT        RICE
                                     FLOUR        FLOUR      CORNSTARCH
Root starch

Grain starch                           X            X            X

Opaque when cooked and                 X            X            X

Clear and shiny when cooked
and thickened

Once cool and set, thins out if        X            X            X

Thins out if reheated or

Thins out if overstirred

Texture and consistency remain
the same after freezing and

Gelatinization occurs just at or       X            X            X
below the boiling point

Gelatinization occurs below the
boiling point

Slightly thinner when cooled

                                     POTATO     (TAPIOCA)

Root starch                            X            X

Grain starch

Opaque when cooked and

Clear and shiny when cooked            X            X
and thickened

Once cool and set, thins out if

Thins out if reheated or               X            X

Thins out if overstirred               X            X

Texture and consistency remain         X            X
the same after freezing and

Gelatinization occurs just at or
below the boiling point

Gelatinization occurs below the        X            X
boiling point

Slightly thinner when cooled           X            X

                                    ARROWROOT   CORNSTARCH
Root starch                            X            X

Grain starch

Opaque when cooked and

Clear and shiny when cooked            X            X
and thickened

Once cool and set, thins out if

Thins out if reheated or               X            X

Thins out if overstirred               X            X

Texture and consistency remain         X            X
the same after freezing and

Gelatinization occurs just at or
below the boiling point

Gelatinization occurs below the        X            X
boiling point

Slightly thinner when cooled           X            X

Table 5-3 Choosing the Best Starch for the Job

                          GRAIN STARCH    ROOT STARCH
                          Wheat Flour,    Potato, Cassava
                          Rice Flour,     (Tapioca), Arrowroot,
                          Cornstarch      Waxy Maize

Fruit Pies                X               X

Frozen Fruit Pies                         X

Dessert Sauces                            X

Pastry Cream and          X

Cream Fillings

Frozen Desserts                           X

Sponge Cake Batters       X               X
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Author:Sokol, Gail
Publication:About Professional Baking
Article Type:Recipe
Date:Jan 1, 2006
Previous Article:Chapter 4 The science of mixing.
Next Article:Chapter 6 Eggs as thickeners.

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