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THE NEWBIE BAKER and Basic Dough

So i am getting more inquiries these days regarding my hands on classes and yes, there's still a pandemic and more positive cases have been reported lately so folks, as much as i really want to teach you, it is not happening anytime soon.
It is so sad. I miss talking to people who were mirror images of the NEWBIE baker me, way back oh dear, it is embarrassing to say, mga 30 some years ago. My handle on baking was tested on really fire and stove! I remember looking at my Aunt's oven and turbo broiler as she bakes something that looks like a cake but doesn't taste like one. Hahaha.
So yes, she has an oven but they never used it for anything else other than chicken. Nothing else. I was a teenager minding my own business but had some free time and saved up money to buy ingredients so i bought a Betty Crocker cake mix. It said in the package that i can make cupcakes out of it, and since i don't see any cake pans but muffin tins only (my aunt used it for Puto), i baked my very…
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Covid Baking and Cooking

I received several inquiries about holding baking classes during this quarantine and yes, i will still hold sessions but only after the quarantine or lock down is lifted. Does not seem to me that there is a difference between a lock down and quarantine since i can't leave the house because i am too scared to go out. To me, it seems like i am in a lock down. I can't hold baking lessons, no one will enroll and who can if there are no public transportation available anyway. 
Going to groceries and markets is also stressful. We have one designated shopper, actually two since she cannot drive herself and he, my brother does not want to queue the long lines. So he stays in the car, while my sister in law goes inside the supermarket. But despite having everything available in the market, once you ran out of something say, butter or confectioner's sugar, you cannot go out the day after to buy one. Lining up for just a bar of butter? or cornstarch? or bbq stick? glutinous rice? No. …

Summer Baking 2020

Baking classes are all cancelled this March and April due to the Covid 19 virus sweeping our country, i was thinking of maybe doing the rest of my 3 day class by the end of April if things look good enough to declare that we have also cancelled out the virus itself.

But so far, with the way things are going right now, it's March 16 and i am very sad that this is happening to us. Too late to be blaming anyone, we all just need to focus on keeping ourselves healthier than the usual and make sure we do not go out unless it is absolutely a matter of strict importance, like wala ka ng mailuto or ubos na ung bigas mo na stock, etc., etc...

So we went on with our Day 1 class, Commercial bread making as scheduled last March 9. It was a Monday, and things went perfectly as expected. New fresh batch of ingredients, and new students. It was exciting to meet new people in my craft. Same passion i had when i was starting, but the breads are even better because of the new variations i also lear…

March Baking Lessons

The schedule for March will be 9 13 and 16, all hands on session from 9 am till about 2:30 PM.  This is a non-stop baking class, we start at 9 am sharp with lectures and introduction of what we will do, and we get to have our lunch break only when all 3 kgs of base flour have been mixed.
Which means students have to eat a heavy breakfast, you are free to bring something to snack around with you but we will have coffee and crackers so don't worry. Let me know if you're under medication so you can take your mini break. 
All 3 kgs base flour will be in the proofer usually around 1 pm and then we take our break. Wait time is not that long, before you're even finish with your lunch the oven is already pre-heating and the dough is ready for baking. 
All breads will be ready at around 2 to 3 pm. Then before everyone goes home, I will explain the assignments. Yes, meron pong assignments, so please don't forget to bring a pen to write down details or you can record my instructions…

Sponge or Starters

It's just part flour, water and a tiny bit of yeast or none (if you're making a Sourdough starter). Mix using a wooden spoon, cover and leave for at least 4 hours or up to 12 hrs.

That's a sponge, a pre-ferment or pat√™ fermente√®.  The formula could be anything from 2% to as high as 80% of your base flour depending on the kind of bread you are making, but it ultimately ends up on you as the baker deciding on how much sponge you really need or want. Martha Stewart sometimes uses a cup of flour where she adds a tsp of yeast, ferments it for half an  hour to 1 hour. That's here recipe. Mine varies too depending mostly on the type of bread I want to make and then the ingredients.
The length of fermentation also depends on your production demands and the kind of recipe you're making. Longer fermentation yields more flavor. That's a fact.  If you ask me, I prefer an overnight sponge, the kind I mix in less than 5 minutes then leave for the next day.
I suggest you experime…

Recycling Old Breads and Cakes

Question: What do i do with uneaten cakes and breads? 
Answer: for as long as they have no molds, you can shred hard and dry cakes or breads, cookies, crackers and biscuits and add them to any, I mean any baked goodies. 
The amount of old breads or cakes you can use is limited though, you can't just throw them in and expect the cake or bread to turn out the same. My rule is that I only use up to 15% if I'm baking a bread and 10 to 12 % if it's a cake because the extra flour in the recycled cake will dry up your cake. Not a lot but it's better than throwing away a failed cake, un risen bread because you forgot the yeast, someone gave you cookies and you didn't particularly like them etc...
You might ask, but what about the sugar content. Should I reduce the amount of sugar in the recipe if I'm adding old cake crumbs that is already sweet? In principle, yes. But 15%, isn't exactly that much but if you feel like you don't want the added sweetness, you're g…

On Weights and Measures

On Day 1 of my hands on baking class I always ask my students if they already have a weighing scale. A digital one to be exact. If they don't have one, I give out a few basic rules on choosing and buying a better digital scale. Better because there are so many brands out there and this isn't a baking gadget that you pick up on a whim. After all, you will be weighing your precious ingredients on this thing. A 2 to 5 gram difference on the flour, sugar, water and milk will not be disastrous. But it will ruin the formula if it is salt. 
Salt should not be more than 1.8% if the fat you're using is salted butter or margarine. It would be fine if the fat is oil or shortening because both are bland in flavor. If the salt is lower than 1.6%, the flavor of the bread will not be balanced (although some people prefer reduced salt in their bread). Still, we're talking about a properly made bread and not a diet restricted formula. Although some breads in New York are really salty to…