So you’ve made some fruit scones or peach cupcakes and you notice that the end product is streaked blue and green. Sound familiar? In almost every case, it’s not you, it’s your baking powder. Baking powder with aluminum in it reacts to acidic ingredients, causing this discoloration and what many people find to be a “tinny” or metallic taste. Fortunately, this is as easy to rectify as ditching your baking powder for an aluminum-free brand, such as Rumford (the brand also makes Clabber Girl baking powder, which, oddly, does contain aluminum) or Bob’s Red Mill.
The biggest different between all-purpose and bread flour is the amount of gluten: bread flour has more of it. But it may seem annoying to have to keep a giant bag of bread flour around if you’re only an occasional bread-baker. Enter a product known as a “gluten additive” or gluten flour, something you can usually add one tablespoon of to each cup of all-purpose flour to turn it into bread flour. Think of all the cabinet space you’ll save!
If I could ice every cake in whipped cream, I would. But, because it is whipped with air alone, it doesn’t stay thick over many hours. One way to keep it stable is to dissolve 1 teaspoon of gelatin in 2 tablespoons of boiling water, cool it to room temperature and drizzle it into your whipping cream when it is halfway thickened. Then, whip it a little longer than usual — until it holds medium-firm peaks.
Homemade whipped cream leaves the canned, and god forbid, bucket stuff in the dust (being actually whipped and cream), and takes less than five minutes to make. The trick: a cold bowl, clean beaters, and a ratio of about 1 cup of heavy or whipping cream to 1 tablespoon of powdered sugar, beaten until it holds soft peaks. Start low, so you don’t splash yourself when it is still liquid. Add a splash of flavoring (vanilla, almond or a liqueur) at the end for extra awesomeness.
Flash freezing — the process of spacing items out on a tray, freezing them until they are firm and then storing them in more space-efficient freezer bags — is the single most revolutionizing concept I have adapted into my cooking repertoire, because it allows us to freeze uncooked dumplings, gnocchi, biscuits, scones and even scooped cookies without them become one doughy mass.