Flutterby™! : Oh, sugar!

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Oh, sugar!

2006-01-10 02:04:20.550422+00 by Dan Lyke 9 comments

Last night I got to the "sugar" section in On Food and Cooking[Wiki], where Harold McGee[Wiki] talks about the necessity of breaking down some of the sucrose in standard table sugar to glucose and fructose for the purposes of making it workable at lower temperatures. I've been talking for a few years about trying to blow sugar in much the same way that glass is blown, but I've been wondering how the heck you hold sucrose (table sugar) at 320°F (so it's melted) without going over 340°F (when it carmelizes). Then I hit the section which said that glucose, fructose and maltose are interfering agents which can keep the mixture from forming crystals as it cools, and that if you get this mixture right you can get a sugar workable at 120°F. Acids break down sucrose into glucose and fructose, but corn syrup is a ready-made version with maltose and glucose and more predictable when mixed...

So a few minutes in a search engine and I find a page on sugar art which has instructions on working sugar, some predicated on start with $690 in tools. I was thinking "I'll keep my eye open for a free or cheap heat lamp, I've already got some Pyrex™ tubing and a propane torch...", but they've got a basic recipe, 750 grams of sugar, 225 grams water, boil to 230°F, add 320 grams of corn syrup, 1 gram cream of tartar, boil to 300°F to 315°F (start with the lower temperature), cool and pull on a slab (I've got a marble block just for this purpose, from ages ago).

But on the way to finding that I also ran across:

  • Pastry Life, a blog of a student wanting to be a pastry chef (actually, it looks like the author went through a complete program and is now fine-tuning)
  • Cake Nouveau, a bakery with some beautiful work in Michigan.
  • Food Migration looks like another student. I'll investigate further when I have a moment.

[ related topics: Weblogs Food Art & Culture Food - Cake ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2006-01-10 05:41:15.767127+00 by: Pete

Ever seen the sugar sculpture phase of dessert competitions? That's high drama (and good tv!).

Look for the glass-like sculptures in these pictures: http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=60236

#Comment Re: made: 2006-01-10 12:18:35.310802+00 by: DaveP

There was a good episode on Good Eats where AB splains how to work sugar. Umm... Citizen Cane.

#Comment Re: made: 2006-01-10 17:30:40.111951+00 by: ziffle

Should I change to another brower? Currentl MS IE takes all the center text and runs it under the right side vertical short cuts - I can not read the text usually.

#Comment Re: made: 2006-01-11 01:36:36.882277+00 by: Dan Lyke

Pete, that stuff is awesome, and I'm going to have to seek out more.

Dave, thanks for the reference! I've done most of that sort of sugar work before (especially since melted sugar makes an incredibly strong glue for gingerbread houses), but riding that nervous edge between melted, carmelized and burned is too much for my nerves, besides which I almost always end up with blisters when I'm throwing a sticky viscous unpredictable substance at over 300°F around,so finding ways to work with it cooler is big on my list.

Ziffle, I'll see about firing up a Windows machine and figuring out what IE is doing. Does the behavior change when you resize your window, and if so what screen resolution are you running at?

#Comment Re: made: 2006-01-11 12:01:35.217335+00 by: DaveP

My experience was similar to yours, Dan. AB makes melting sugar look easy, and explains why adding another sort of sugar can prevent problems, and other tips along the way.

The episode also prompted me to buy a portable propane torch for caramelizing sugar on various fruits and veggies while tailgating. People look at me funny when I brulee bananas or strawberries, but when they bit into 'em, the funny looks turn into smiles.

Now I just wish I could find a cross between the Ove Glove and the nice welding gloves I use for reaching into fires. I want to have water- (and sugar- and oil-) heat protection that's big enough for my paws and long enough to go halfway to my elbows.

#Comment Re: made: 2006-01-11 13:49:10.301456+00 by: Diane Reese [edit history]

I have a couple Orka mitts that work very well for plunging into hot liquids and they're quite roomy (I see they now come in Petite), but they're not gloves and at 11" long they don't come to my elbow. (Well, I'm small so they come up my forearm anyway...) One option, though.

#Comment Re: made: 2006-01-12 01:56:25.1758+00 by: DaveP

I'll give 'em a whirl. Thanks for the tip.

#Comment Re: made: 2006-01-12 02:17:36.074987+00 by: Diane Reese

DaveP: I just noticed in fine print on the Orka link I posted above that they make them in 17" versions in two colors!! Those puppies surely ought to climb toward anyone's elbows.

And frankly, the coolest part is that you can make them swim along and look *just* *like* *orcas* if you want to play in the kitchen. No, really.

#Comment Re: made: 2006-01-12 18:06:41.092324+00 by: DaveP

Yeah, I noticed that, too. I'm checking with the local overpriced cooking store and the nearby restaurant supply place first, but will probably end up ordering some soon.