Frequently Asked Questions
We receive a wide range of questions on an equally wide range of topics. Below we have detailed some of our more frequently asked questions.Click on the drop down menu on the right hand side to view different categories of questions and answers.If you have further questions on any of these topics please email us.
The origin of the Danish can be blamed on a strike amongst the bakery workers in Danish bakeries in 1850. The strike forced bakery owners to hire foreign workers, including Austrian bakers. Unfamiliar with the Danish baking recipes, they baked pastries from their native recipes. Amongst these Austrian pastries were Plundergebäck, which became quite popular in Denmark. Later this recipe was changed by Danish bakers, increasing the amount of fat (by adding more egg) which resulted in what is today known as the Danish.
The ingredients for the Danish pastry include flour, yeast, milk, eggs, and generous amounts of butter. A yeast dough is rolled out thinly, coated with butter, and then folded into numerous layers. The rolling, buttering, folding, and chilling are repeated several times to create dough which is fluffy, buttery and flaky.
The presence of both yeast in the recipe as well as steam make the Danish rise. The layers of butter help separate the dough into the tender flakiness that distinguishes good Danishes. When baked, the butter worked into the layers of dough gives off moisture, and the resulting steam causes the thin layers of dough to puff and rise.
The Danish as consumed in Denmark can be topped with chocolate, sugar or icing, and may be stuffed with either jam, marzipan or custard. There are a range of shapes including circles with filling in the middle (known as "Spandauer's"), figure-eights or spirals (known as snails).
Choux pastry is a French specialty used for cream buns, chocolate eclairs and profiteroles. The feather-light pastry surrounds a large cavity which is filled with cream.
The dough is made from strong flour, butter, eggs, sugar and water. The butter is boiled with a water/milk mix and flour is added to it before being beaten and eggs are added. The mixture is put in a forcing bag, and placed as rounds or lengths on a baking tray .
During baking in a hot oven the water is released in the form of steam and blows out the protein and starch in the paste. Heat from the oven sets the choux into a hard empty shell. When cool, the pastry is pierced to let out the steam.
The amount of sugar added in the recipe should be checked as excessive amounts may cause cake to crumble.
The role of sugar in a cake recipe is to tenderise, moisturise and aerate as the fat, usually butter, and sugar are combined in a process called 'creaming'.
Sugar attracts the moisture in the recipe, drawing it away from the flour and preventing the formation of gluten. Sugar also tenderises by slowing down the coagulation of the egg, flour and milk proteins that set the structure of the cake when baked.
However if too much sugar is present, the cake is so tenderised that gluten is unable to maintain the volume of the cake and it begins to crumble when cut.
The major causes of cracking in meat pies, especially the bottom pastry are listed below:
· Drying out of the raw pastry (pastry should not be left out uncovered)
· Too much scrap causing an increased fat content. The pastry becomes too short causing gluten to break down.
· Weak flour
· Pie is under baked
· Dough too dry (water levels should be adjusted to improve processing)
· Fat levels too low
· Over mixed pastry
Review the ingredients and processing methods for your particular meat pie and assess which of the issues above would be relevant to your process. Make changes to the ingredients or processing one step at a time so you can judge which changes have a positive impact on the finished product.
There are different types of yeast that can be used in bread making –
Active Dry Yeast is the most commonly available form for home bakers. The yeast is dormant, and is best used after proofing and rehydrating. The yeast should be sprinkled over warm water with a pinch of sugar, and left to stand for 10 minutes until creamy and bubbly.
Instant Yeast is a dry yeast developed in the past thirty years. It comes in smaller granules than active dry yeast, absorbs liquid rapidly, and doesn't need to be hydrated or "proofed" before being mixed into flour.
Bread Machine Yeast and Rapid Rise Yeast are instant yeast that may include ascorbic acid, a dough conditioner. Less rising time is required, allowing home bakers to bake a loaf of bread fairly quickly.
Fresh Yeast, also known as compressed or cake yeast, is active yeast. It has good rising qualities and produces excellent-tasting bread and pastries. Fresh yeast should be proofed in tepid water (27-30°C) without contact with salt or sugar.
I have noticed Vinegar listed in the ingredient lists for some types of bread? What is its function?
Vinegar is an acidity regulator, which is used to increase the acidity of the dough. Vinegar should be added at 0.6-1.5% of flour weight. Vinegar can be added for taste but it is primarily added to discourage the growth of mould, rope and bacteria. If too much acidity regulator is added it will suppress yeast activity meaning more yeast needs to be added or longer rising times are required.
Flour for cakes and biscuits has lower protein content than bread making flour and is milled from soft wheat varieties. The protein needed to form the structure of cakes and biscuits is not from the flour used but from other ingredients such as egg. Use of cake flour gives a tender soft product as the gluten in the flour does not contribute significantly to the cake structure. If flour that is too strong is used the resultant cakes will be tough and dry and biscuits will not spread out when baked.
Bread making flour is made from semi-hard wheat with a medium to high protein content. This type of flour is referred to as strong flour. When water is mixed into the flour two of the flour proteins combine to form gluten. It is gluten which forms a network that will stretch as the dough ferments and carbon dioxide gas is released. On baking this stretched gluten network sets to give the structure and texture of bread. Strong flour is needed to ensure that sufficient gluten is formed to produce bread of good volume and appearance.
Puff pastry should also be made from flour with high protein content as it is the water absorbed by the gluten that, with the folded-in fat, forms the layers and makes the pastry puff up during baking. For pastry, use the same type of flour that would be used for making bread.
|White bread flour||Cake & Biscuit Flour||Pastry Flour|
|Minerals||Range of vitamins incl B1,B2, B3 and folate|
Biscuits are made with “shortening “. The fat is rubbed into the flour and molecules of fat surround the flour particles and prevent water mixing with flour, which stops the development of gluten in the dough. The fat is said to shorten the dough. Shortening promotes tenderness in the biscuit and prevents excessive gluten development during mixing. Without shortening, biscuit dough would be tough and rubbery, which would result in biscuits being dry and lacking in the desired eating qualities. Shortening contributes to the spread of the biscuits. Hydrogenated shortening with a bland flavour which is commonly used, although butter produces biscuits with a more desirable taste and flavour
NB: In this answer 'biscuit' can be interchanged with the term 'cookie'.
Biscuit and bread wheats differ in terms of the hardness of their grains and in the type of doughs which are made from their flour. Biscuit wheats are soft, which means special mills are required to extract the flour. Soft wheats in a conventional hard wheat (or bread wheat) mill would clog up sieves used to separate the white inner part of the grain called the endosperm from the rest of the grain.
The softness of biscuit flours means they only absorb small amounts of water when mixed into a dough. Doughs made with biscuit flours spread out sideways when baking, and so produce high quality biscuits.
Salt has several functions in baked goods. It modifies flavour, increases crust colour and controls the rate of yeast fermentation and enzyme activity.
Salt also strengthens gluten, making it more cohesiveness and less sticky. With salt present, gluten holds more water and carbon dioxide, allowing the dough to expand without tearing. This means that salt prevents excessive tearing when gluten stretches so bread is easier to handle and has a better volume and a finer crumb.
Because salt noticeably strengthens gluten, bread bakers sometimes delay the addition of salt to dough made from strong flour, adding it late in the mixing process. The dough mixes faster and cooler as there is less resistance and frictional heat generated during mixing. Once salt is added, the dough tightens and is more difficult to stretch, but it will stretch further without tearing.
Extra gluten is usually added due to either a large number of ingredients in the recipe which don’t contain gluten or because of the addition of ingredients which contain coarser particles.
If bread contains a high amount of ingredients that don’t contain gluten, then the overall amount of gluten in the recipe is diluted. This will ultimately affect the structure of the end bread product. Ingredients such as bran or germ can have this affect as can non flour ingredients such as fats or liquids. Adding extra gluten ensures that the gluten network is strong enough to hold these extra components.
The addition to bread of large coarse particles such as bran or seeds can weaken the dough structure physically, as these larger particles disrupt the gluten structure.
Types of bread that may need extra gluten are: wholemeal bread, high fibre bread, corn bread, hearth breads and mixed grain bread.
The quantity of fat in white bread is low at approximately 2.5 g per 100 g, while the saturated fat content is usually less than 1 gram per 100 g. Most bread made in New Zealand contains vegetable oil in these small amounts to improve the texture and the keeping quality of the bread. The most commonly used vegetable oil is Canola, which is a monounsaturated oil known to lower total fat and LDL cholesterol in the blood. Bread contains no cholesterol as no animal fats are added during its manufacture.
The New Zealand Food and Nutrition Guidelines recommend that an adult should consume at least six servings per day of breads and cereals. An example of a serving of bread is one slice of toast or a bread roll. It is recommended that consumers choose wholegrain options to ensure that they are consuming enough fibre in their diet. However eating white bread occasionally for variety as part of a well balanced diet is not an issue.
Unsaturated or 'good' fats/oils can be further defined as polyunsaturated or monounsaturated and they are labelled 'good' as they help maintain healthy cholesterol levels. Polyunsaturated oils include sunflower, safflower, soy bean, walnut and sesame oils. Monounsaturated oils include avocado, canola, olive, macadamia, rice bran and peanut oils.
Sunflower Oil , a polyunsaturated oil, also contains high levels of omega-6 which are necessary for growth and the production of hormone type compounds.
Suitable alternatives to Sunflower Oil are Canola Oil and Rice bran oil. Canola Oil is high in beneficial monounsaturated fats and contains omega-3, which has a positive impact on heart health. High in beneficial monounsaturated fats, Rice bran oil has also been shown to lower cholesterol.
It can be confusing with the large selection of bread available. Here are some points to assist with your decision making:
Most breads are low-fat and low-sugar. Exceptions to this rule are breads with a high seed content as seeds are around 50% fat, although this fat is considered healthy. Also fruit bread is higher in sugars due to the added fruit.
A wholegrain or wholemeal bread is recommended for everyday eating by adults. Including whole grain breads in the diet helps protect against developing heart disease, type 2 diabetes as well as better weight control. Read the ingredients list on bread packaging to identify the grains present. Terms to look for include: whole grain, whole wheat, stone ground (grain), rye, kibbled (grain), brown rice, barley, oats, millet.
Traditionally white bread has a high Glyceamic Index (GI) value but there are a range of white breads now available in the supermarket with added cereal or vegetable fibre and some of these may have a lower GI than standard white bread.
The GI Value of the bread can be reduced by the addition of resistant starch, soy flour and vegetable gum (guar gum), which subsequently means an increase in the fibre content of the bread. For example, Bakers Delight Lo-GI bread has a fibre content of 8.3g per 80g serving (2 slices) and according to the label this bread has a GI of 52.
In comparison whole grain varieties of bread typically have a GI in the range of 46-53.
Rising is when the dough is placed in a warm place and allowed to double in volume. Usually a dough goes through two rising periods, the first after mixing and the second after shaping,
The first rising (proofing) improves the flavour and texture of bread. From the yeast's fermentation, it takes time to accumulate a volume of carbon dioxide gas during the risings, strong enough to stretch a bread dough and to hold it high. On the outside, the dough expands like a balloon, called rising but inside the dough a number of things are happening too.
During rising, the gluten, begins to repair and pull together, which also makes the bread dough easier to work with. Yeast, feeds on the starches in the flour and doubles in number. All of these by-products are important when making bread: the carbon dioxide causes the air bubbles created in the dough to expand or rise, the alcohol contributes to the bread's flavour, and an organic acid glutamathione, relaxes the dough and gives it more elasticity. This allows it to absorb surface water, making the dough less sticky.
Shaping takes place after the dough has doubled in size from its first rising and is punched down (kneaded). Afterwards, a second rise takes place for the dough to produce more carbon dioxide and alcohol for better texture and taste. Shaping also forms the dough for an optimal oven-spring or rise when placed in an oven to bake.
For deep frying choose a oil with a high 'smoke points', which means the oil does not break down at deep frying temperatures. Peanut oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil, and canola oil are good choices, although the flavour profile and stability of each oil should be considered.
Temperature and time are very important when deep frying so a deep fat frying thermometer is essential. The best temperature is 175-190°C for 45-60 seconds. If a thermometer is not available then the oil can be judged ready when a 2.5cm cube of white bread dropped into the oil browns in 60 seconds; that oil temperature will be about 185°C.
In the flout batter method, the flour is added as two separate portions, firstly mixed with the creamed ingredients with a second portion added later to the batter. The flour and fat are mixed together, while the eggs and sugar are whisked together in a separate bowl. The fat is usually creamed with a similar about of flour, for example: 400g flour to 450g fat to obtain a suitable creamy mixture. Once the eggs and sugar are sufficiently whisked to form a foam they are added in small portions to the flour and fat mix. Once these two portions are combined together in a cohesive batter any additional flour is added.
The sugar batter is based on the emulsion of oil in water with air bubbles being trapped in the fat phase while other ingredients are dissolved in the water phase. The fat and sugar are creamed dependent on the temperature and creaming quality of the fat to produce a light mix. The liquid egg is added in 4-5 portions with creaming in between each addition to prevent any curdling occurring and producing a batter that is smooth and has a velvety appearance and texture. Sifted flour and any additional water or milk are then gently added to the batter.
Under standard 1.3.1 of the Food Standard Code the additives 280-283 are permitted to be added to bread and bakery products. They are also permitted to be present in flour products (including noodles and pasta).
The main function of these additives is to inhibit mould growth and therefore extend the shelf life of the food or ingredient.
In Australia all bread products are fortified with Iodine is this the same in NZ? Also breakfast cereals?
Yes like Australia it has been mandatory to fortify all bread products in New Zealand since September 2009. This includes all products made from bread dough that contain yeast and salt, which includes loaves, buns, rolls, pita, naan, focaccia, pide, bagels, topped breads, buns and rolls (such as cheese and bacon rolls), baked English-style muffins, sweet buns, and fruit breads or rolls.
With breakfast cereals it is not mandatory to add Iodine to these products although some companies choose to as a point of difference for their product. Therefore you will need to check the ingredient lists on these products to confirm whether Iodine is present.
Under Standard 2.1.1 – Cereals and Cereal products, the legal definition of bread is listed as ‘the product made by baking a yeast-leavened dough prepared from one or more cereal flours or meals and water.’ The key thing to note here is the use of term ‘cereal flour’ rather than specifically wheat flour; therefore allowing for the use of gluten free cereal flours.
Also Standard 1.2.8 - Claims in relation to the gluten content of food:
(1) Claims in relation to the gluten content of food are prohibited unless expressly permitted by this Code.
(2) A claim to the effect that a food is gluten free must not be made in relation to a food unless the food contains –
No detectable gluten; and no –
(i) oats or their products; or
(ii) cereals containing gluten that have been malted, or their products.
(3) A claim to the effect that a food has a low gluten content must not be made in relation to a food unless the food contains no more than 20 mg gluten per 100 g of the food.
Subclauses (2) and (3) of this clause permit claims to the effect that a food is gluten free or has a low gluten content, providing certain specified conditions are met.
(4) A claim to the effect that a food contains gluten or is high in gluten may be made in relation to a food.
As defined by the food standards code:
‘wholegrain means the intact grain or the dehulled, ground, milled, cracked or flaked grain where the constituents – endosperm, germ and bran – are present in such proportions that represent the typical ratio of those fractions occurring in the whole cereal, and includes wholemeal.’
‘wholemeal means the product containing all the milled constituents of the grain in such proportions that it represents the typical ratio of those fractions occurring in the whole cereal.’