Maybe… I’m not, myself, obsessed with every bit of scientific minutiae, but I do like accuracy.
My understanding is that when you cream granulated sugar with butter (and nitpick alert, she didn’t specify granulated sugar) the crystals create little tiny tunnels and holes, which is the aeration. That makes sense. I don’t need the physics and the chemistry, just the concept. But when someone writes something like the quote, I just wonder, “really?”
Once in a while he’ll write a comment like that (i.e. to make you think “Really?”) when he’s discussing the reason why something works. Usually it’s when he did just get a desirable result, but either he doesn’t want to spend the time/money it might take to prove what happened, or he’s pretty sure he already knows.
I think it’s rare for his practical advice to be really off. Just sometimes he skips the dull boring science class.
My understanding is you’ll get some air pockets from the steaming butter, but mostly the cookie will spread because of very little aeration and gluten formation.
For thicker-style crispy cookies, however, I have only had good results from recipes using baker’s ammonia. If I turn the temp down low and try to dry out a regular cookie – kind of like with biscotti – the texture never comes out right. No one likes thick and crispy cookies any more, so I haven’t baked them in a long time.
Unfortunately he doesn’t recognize what scientific testing even IS. Trying something once doesn’t count. Assuming a normal distribution you need at least thirty repetitions and that’s before evaluating boundary conditions and variations. There is a difference between “testing” such as recipe evaluation for cookbooks and blogs and scientific testing such as that at NCHFP.
Real science, including food science, is a lot of work. People should not be given credit if they haven’t done it right.
I never heard of Baker’s ammonia before, thanks. So I did my due diligence, looked it up, and some people complain of an ammonia smell while it’s baking. This dissipates, but as I live in a small space, I don’t think I would like that. What is your experience with that?
I agree. M. Pepin however doesn’t claim to be a food scientist. Regardless, what he offers is based on food science with techniques that make it approachable and achievable. “Achievable” in M. Pepin’s case doesn’t mean buying some appliance. It may mean “here - go dice a hundred onions this way and lots of things will be easier.”
Again, true. As I was in transit and speaking hurriedly, I did rather change the subject. But as the OP, it’s my right to do that.
When I can sit down, I will watch those videos.
But from memory, I offered this as amusement. Kenji Alt said that you have to add cold milk slowly to the butter flour mixture when making bechamel.
So, to be mischievous, I consult Jacques Pepin and he’s got a video where he just dumps all the cold milk into the bechamel in one fell swoop. It’s all in the whisking. And Jacques doesn’t even use a whisk for omelettes and his mother’s cheese souffle!
I am very sensitive to smell. It’s not so bad it would linger around. However, there is a psychological aspect to it. First time I baked with it, I couldn’t even eat the finished product because of the smell. The smell is only while baking and I would just leave the kitchen for the first few minutes until the smell went away.
It becomes like sourdough, but after 3 or 4 times, it doesn’t work for me anymore. Kind of like if I use commercial yogurt as starter, it will stop working after 2 or 3 times. It might be because I sometimes dont use the dough right away and let it sit in the fridge.