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Friday Bread Basket 10/27/23
Hello from the Wordloaf Friday Bread Basket, a weekly roundup of links and items relating to bread, baking, and grain. I’m testing the Brod & Taylor dough sheeters for Serious Eats right now, while also developing a recipe for sourdough discard cheddar crackers, which you can see in the picture above. Still a few more tests for both to do, but they are coming along nicely.
It’s pan de muerto season, and for that reason King Arthur Baking is doing a month of pan dulce content, including a post from Arturo Enciso, of the amazing Long Beach bakery Gusto Bread, all about baking with piloncillo, the Mexican unrefined brown sugar that everyone ought to know better:
Piloncillo (as it’s commonly referred to in Mexico) or panela, rapadura, and chanaca in greater Latin America, is a conical-shaped sugar “cube” beloved for its smokey, caramelly, and deep dark flavor. It’s culturally significant and an essential ingredient in traditional recipes such as capirotada (a type of bread pudding) and coyotas (empanada-like cookies).
Categorically, piloncillo is a “non-centrifugal” cane sugar, meaning it is an unrefined sugar product and a true natural brown sugar. It’s mostly consumed in Mexico and Latin America, but a similar product can be found in Asia, known as jaggery in India. Though often lumped together, these unrefined dark sugars are very different from brown sugars on the market today, which have been refined to a large degree — in some cases, they’re actually just white sugar with coloring or molasses added.
Cat head biscuits
I found this poster online the other day and while I love it, I probably won’t buy one for fear my cat will want to unionize, and we cannot afford the demands she’ll make. But you might want one, so:
Bettina Makalintal wades into the ocean of confusion around cooking with salts for Eater, especially now that Diamond Crystal has introduced a new salt supposedly designed for bakers:
A new product introduces the need for more math: This week, Diamond Crystal launched “Baking Salt,” a fine kosher salt that it claims “dissolves, mixes, and blends faster and more evenly into batters and doughs than traditional table salt.” This salt comes with its own conversion chart clarifying that ⅜ teaspoon of Baking Salt equals half a teaspoon of regular Diamond Crystal kosher, which it lists as equivalent to ¼ teaspoon of “competitor kosher salt.” And if that’s all a bit confusing, that’s because it is. When did salt, something so basic and essential, become so complicated?
Indeed, somewhere between food media’s constant fawning over Diamond Crystal and the launch of hyper-specific salt products like Baking Salt or Jacobsen’s Disco Di Sale (10-gram discs of salt intended for “perfectly seasoned pasta”), the sense has arisen among some home cooks that maybe this is all a little too persnickety. Diamond Crystal kosher salt was the leading ingredient in a buzzy recent Reddit post that asked: “What popular cooking item or method are you kind of resistant to?” In a post-influencer world, skeptics sometimes toss around suspicion of sponsorship, but I doubt it’s so nefarious; we, in the food world, simply love to pick a food and make it into a personality (consider the seafood clothes, or the concept of the pasta girl).
Fortunately for all of us with precision scales, all this chaos is easily sidestepped. Salt is one bread ingredient I don’t think needs to be agonized over, provided you measure it correctly.
That’s it for this week’s bread basket. Have a peaceful weekend, see you all on Monday.