(Roughly) Daily

Posts Tagged ‘baking

“The Big Rock Candy Mountain”*…

Rock candy (or sugar candy or rock sugar or crystal sugar) is a type of sweet composed of relatively large sugar crystals, formed by allowing a supersaturated solution of sugar and water to crystallize onto a surface suitable for crystal nucleation (e.g.,a string, a stick, or plain granulated sugar). As Anna and Kelly Pendergrast explain, they have a pattern embedded through the entire length, using techniques perfected by master candy craftspeople over generations…

A 1957 film shows the making of rock candy (often better known by its place of origin, for instance, Blackpool rock or Brighton rock..

A more recent demonstration shows the technique has remained practically unchanged for 75 years…

Crafting a confection: How Rock Candy is Made, from @APndrgrst and @k_pendergrast in The Prepared (@the_prepared).

Harry McClintock

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As we let it melt in our mouths, we might note that this is National Caramel Custard Day. A caramel custard is an egg custard, lightly topped with caramel, on a caramel base; a variation, Creme Brulee, is a distant cousin of rock candy, in that the caramel is not at the bottom, but only the top of the custard, and is “carmelized” (hardened) with a red-hot salamander (a cast-iron disk with a long wooden handle) or with a butane torch.

Caramel Custard

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October 3, 2022 at 1:00 am

“At this season of the year, darkness is a more insistent thing than cold. The days are short as any dream.”*…

Tis the season. Kathryn Jezer-Morton explores…

We are burrowed deep within cozy season on social media. It surrounds us in clouds of neutral-toned knits, it shrouds us in the steam of freshly-brewed hot drinks. Our socks encase our ankles with soulful seasonal droopiness. Our beanies threaten to envelop our entire heads in their snuggly embrace. We have a candle burning, we have a new book ready to crack. We are not getting up from this spot.

The momfluencers are big into representations of coziness, but this is one social media theme that it seems like everyone embraces. At the start of the season, I noticed that coziness was coming on with extra ferocity this year, although one never can be sure — seasons always seem so loud online. I can say for certainty that over the last year or so, coziness has become a powerful social media aesthetic, probably due to the pandemic and people being homebound.

Whatever the origins of the aesthetic of coziness online might be, it started out as a feeling, not a collection of objects. The aesthetic tries to conjure the feeling, and I have two questions: How well does it succeed, and why do we want that feeling so bad?..

Find out: “Is ‘cozy season’ a cry for help?,” from @KJezerMorton.

C.f. also: “It’s Decorative Gourd Season, Motherf**kers.”

* E.B. White

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As we settle in, we might recall that today is National Bundt Cake Day, an annual celebration on this date of the Bundt cake and the Bundt pan that makes it possible.

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November 15, 2021 at 1:00 am

“A party without cake is really just a meeting”*…

The pandemic has been, for many, a time of home confinement. So, in search of both solace and diversion, lots of folks turned to baking… with mixed results…

27 more at “Failed Quarantine Baking Attempts.”

* Julia Child

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As we go back to the bakery, we might recall that today is National Empanada Day. The savory turnovers were born in Galicia, the northwest corner of Spain (and across the border in Portugal), where they were large baked “pies” served in slices; they made their way with Spanish settlers to Latin America, where they took their current form. They are typically baked, but sometimes fried (in which form, your correspondent can attest, they are at least as delicious as they are baked).

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May 8, 2021 at 1:01 am

“All food is comfort food. Maybe I just like to chew.”*…

 

mac and cheese

 

In January 2015, food sales at restaurants overtook those at grocery stores for the first time. Most thought this marked a permanent shift in the American meal.

Thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, that trend took a U-turn. Restaurant revenue cratered, while shoppers emptied grocery shelves stocking up on food to cook at home. And with sales of pantry items soaring, shoppers found themselves reaching for an old reliable.

In April, sales of Kraft macaroni and cheese were up 27% from the same time last year. General Mills, the maker of Annie’s mac and cheese, has seen a similar bump.

The cheap, boxed meal has long been a poster child for processed food. While it’s often dismissed as stuff for kids, a lot of grownups secretly savor it… It’s also played an important role in kitchen science, wars, and women’s liberation…

How boxed macaroni and cheese became a pantry principal– the story of a staple: “An ode to mac and cheese, the poster child for processed food.”

* Lewis Black

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As we say (processed) cheese, we might send tasty birthday greetings to Ruth Graves Wakefield; she was born on this date in 1903.  A dietitian, educator, business owner, and author, she is probably best remembered as the inventor of the Toll House cookie– the first chocolate chip cookie.

In 1930, she and her husband bought a tourist lodge (the Toll House Inn) in Whitman in Plymouth County. Massachusetts.  Located about halfway between Boston and New Bedford, it was a place where passengers had historically paid a toll, changed horses, and eaten home-cooked meals.  Ruth cooked and served all the food and soon gained local fame for her lobster dinners and desserts.  Around 1937, she first added added chopped up bits from a Nestlé semi-sweet chocolate bar into a cookie: “We had been serving a thin butterscotch nut cookie with ice cream. Everybody seemed to love it, but I was trying to give them something different. So I came up with Toll House cookie.”  Wakefield wrote a best selling cookbook, Toll House Tried and True Recipes. that went through 39 printings starting in 1930; the 1938 edition was the first to include the recipe for a chocolate chip cookie, the “Toll House Chocolate Crunch Cookie.”

220px-Ruth_Graves_Wakefield source

 

 

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June 17, 2020 at 1:01 am

“Baking is therapy”*…

 

Royal Baking Powder Exhibit at the International Exhibition in Philadelphia, 1876. Note the “Absolutely Pure” tagline.

How much thought have you, over the course of your entire life, given to the subject of baking powder? Personally I can say perhaps 30 minutes—that is, until I noticed the existence of food historian Linda Civitello’s Baking Powder Wars: The Cutthroat Food Fight that Revolutionized Cooking. Sorry; come again?

This humble kitchen staple, not infrequently confused with baking soda and practically invisible, is apparently responsible for the fact you don’t have to spend all damn day making bread. Civitello argues that the invention of baking powder was a game-changer, a wildly labor-saving creation that frequently eliminated the necessity of maintaining your own little cache of yeast and made it possible to create all sorts of delicious goodies, from fluffy modern biscuits to birthday cake. Before baking powder, “You’re talking upwards of 12 hours of rising, usually more like 24 hours,” Jessica Carbone, a scholar in the National Museum of American History’s Food History Project, told Smithsonian magazine. Women spent the 19th century learning to use the stuff; cookbooks frequently offered recipes with and without.

But the market was also fiercely contested. Different companies had slightly different variations on a substance that did basically the same thing, leaving them to compete via other means. And they certainly did. Royal Baking Powder, which used cream of tartar, took the tagline “Absolutely Pure,” meant as an indictment of powders made with alum. The company played on consumer fears of adulterated food, Baking Powder Wars recounts, even lobbying to have alum varieties banned. And believe it or not, in Missouri, they succeeded—via bribery in the state Senate, according to the book. When the era’s muckrakers found out, it erupted into an enormous scandal…

The fascinating– and vicious– history of a kitchen staple: “Who Knew? The History of Baking Powder Is Incredibly Dramatic.”

* Paul Hollywood

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As we pop it into the oven, we might send finely-sifted birthday greetings to Oliver Evans; he was born on this date in 1755.  An inventor, engineer and businessman, he was one of the most prolific and influential inventors in the early years of the United States– a pioneer in the fields of automation, materials handling and steam power (for the lattermost of which, he is often referred to as “the American Watt”).

But before he turned to steam, Evans designed the first automatic flour mill.  He replaced labor-intensive grist mills with a mechanism in which grain moved automatically through a series of five machines to deliver flour packed in barrels at the end.

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September 13, 2017 at 1:01 am

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