Several of you have sent me questions, and today we are going to address those inquiries. If you have questions related to food, ingredients or culinary equipment, I encourage you to e-mail them to me. I always appreciate hearing from you.
Q: Could you please address the topic of how to make cake flour from regular flour? Sometimes I want to bake something that calls for cake flour, and I don’t always have it on hand.
A: There are two general ways for substituting all-purpose flour for cake flour:
1. One cup of all-purpose flour minus 2 tablespoons is equal to 1 cup of cake flour.
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2. Place 2 tablespoons of cornstarch in a 1-cup measure, then fill the cup with sifted all-purpose flour. Sift again before using to combine the two.
Usually I go with the first method, but both are fairly reliable. However, the result may not render a texture as tender and delicate as cake flour. All-purpose flour has a protein content around 10 to 11 percent, while cake flour has a protein content of 6 to 8 percent. Some recipes, like angel food and chiffon cakes, need a lower protein content to remain tender and delicate, so I would never substitute all-purpose flour for those kinds of cakes.
Q: I have questions about the kiwi fruit. What can it be used for? Looks poisonous to me. I have never seen it in a “fruit bowl.” How does one pick a good one? Is it a sweet or sour fruit? Never tried this in all my 79 years and just read an article that it is good for killing “toxic gut bugs.” Would appreciate your input.
A: Actually, kiwi is a wonderful fruit with a fuzzy green skin. It must be peeled before eating. Usually it is sliced when added to a fruit salad; it is often used as a garnish because of its beautiful color. It is sweet and juicy; some say the texture is a little like a strawberry. When purchasing kiwi, select those with a slight give when pressed gently with your thumb, much the same way you would select a fresh peach. I’m not familiar with the claim made in the article you read, but kiwi does contain generous amounts of vitamin C and other nutrients. I think you should give it a try – bet you will like it.
Q: Several years ago, I bought a very fancy tube pan for cake. Looks almost like a fancy Jell-o mold, which is actually what I used it for at the time. I have tried to bake cakes in it twice. Both times the cake stuck to the pan and was a mess. Do you know what I am supposed to do with this cake pan? What sort of batter is supposed to go in it?
A: Without seeing it, I can only make an educated guess. I presume it is a metal pan as you referred to it as a cake pan. It sounds as if it is designed for a special kind of molded cake with an ornate design. However, it should work with most batters.
Here’s what I would do to alleviate the problem with sticking.
Coat the inside with a thin layer of shortening (Crisco, not butter), being sure to get into all the crevices. Then add a couple of tablespoons of flour. Over the sink, turn the pan every which way to coat the inside crevices with a very light dusting of flour. Then turn the pan upside-down and knock out the excess flour. For good measure, give it a hefty spray of Pam. Add the cake batter and bake until cake tests done. I believe that will solve the problem. If not, you can always use it for gelatin molds.