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Pleasant Hill Grain Baking Glossary
Cake Flour – A soft flour with slightly less gluten than pastry flour. Whole grain cake flour can be made at home by substituting 2 tablespoons of finely ground soft wheat flour with 2 tablespoons of cornstarch, and then sifting the flour with cornstarch 4-5 times.
Caramelization (Carmelize) – A chemical reaction of carbohydrates browning once they reach 300-310° F. Heating sugar to slightly burn it creates a caramel, nutty flavor and darker color. Caramelizing is used to make many foods, including candy, caramel covered popcorn, caramelized nuts, or caramelized topping over desserts such as crème brûlée.
Carbohydrate, Complex and Simple – Molecules made up of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen atoms. With amylase as a catalyst, carbohydrate molecules can usually break down creating glucose. If the energy from glucose isn’t immediately needed the glucose will be stored as glycogen in the body for later use. There are a couple types of carbohydrates; they are complex and simple carbohydrates.
Complex carbohydrates (oligosaccharides and polysaccharides) take longer for the body to break down into glucose (besides carbohydrates found in fiber, which cannot be digested at all). Since the break down is slower the body receives a slower, steady supply of energy for a long period of time. Complex carbohydrates are found in starchy and dietary fibrous foods (both soluble and non-soluble) such as whole grain bread, potatoes, beans, peas and corn. Complex carbohydrate food which has been refined, such as white flour and white rice, has a high glycemic index rating since refining breaks the carbohydrates down into simple carbohydrates called maltose.
Simple carbohydrates (monosaccharides and disaccharides) contain natural sugars found in fruit, dairy products, vegetables, and sugarcane. Refined foods often contain added sucrose and fructose which supplies little or no added nutrients for the body, but instead adds many extra calories. Like refined complex carbohydrates, simple carbohydrates are quick for our bodies to digest which means a quick release of glucose into our bloodstream, causing our blood sugar levels to spike. Since our bodies break down simple carbohydrates so quickly we consume much more instant energy than is usually needed and our body will pile it in storage, developing fat. Since all sugars are classified as simple carbohydrates it can be difficult finding a low-glycemic sweetener. Agave is one option which many find an excellent choice for cooking, baking and eating raw.
Both good quality complex and simple carbohydrates are beneficial to the body since they supply needed energy and nutrients, but excessive carbohydrates, added sugars, and refined carbohydrates are harmful.
Corn – A type of grain that grows as kernels/seeds on ears of stalky plants. Corn is often used as a source of starch in cooking. A few major corn varieties include dent field corn, popcorn and sweet corn. Corn kernels can be ground to make cornmeal, soaked and hulled to make masa, and popcorn kernels can be popped. Corn can also be cooked on the cob/ear. (See our organic yellow dent field corn and .)
Chef – A French term for a starter which is made from a small piece of naturally leavened dough held aside from baking from a previous batch of bread. This dough will be used as a natural bread leaven starter when making a levain. A chef is taken from a previous batch of dough and kept to leaven a new batch with natural yeast and lactobacilli. A revived chef being made into dough is a levain. A chef must be revived every 2-4 weeks with additional water and flour.
Cocoa Powder (also Cocoa Solids) – The dry material derived from cacao beans. Cocoa powder is used in baking to impart a chocolate flavor, when the liquid part of cacao beans (cocoa butter) is not desired. Cocoa powder contains flavonal antioxidants, minerals, and caffeine. (See our Dutch-processed cocoa baking powder.)
Coconut Flour – Gluten-free flour ground from dried, defatted coconuts. Eggs are the “glue” agent used in place of gluten.
Coconut flour is lower in carbohydrates than other gluten-free flour such as nut and rice flour. It is high in fiber (3 times higher than ground flax) and a good source of protein. Because this flour is so high in fiber the liquid in a recipe will need to be increased since this flour will want to absorb a lot of the liquid. Up to 25% of the flour in regular wheat recipes may be substituted with coconut flour, but just as much liquid needs to be increased as well.
Soaking coconut flour before use, just like all other flours, is recommended in order to lower mineral-binding phytic acid levels.
Bread made with coconut flour turns out fluffy with a light sweet flavor.
Commercially Cultivated Yeast – Yeast that has been grown and harvested to be sold in packages, compared to wild yeast which is grown wildly and used fresh. There are a few types of commercial yeast: active dry yeast, instant, and rapid rise. Commercially cultivated yeast is often used over wild yeast for its convenience and uniform bread results. Since dough will lack the fermentation process acquired by developing wild yeast, using commercially cultivated yeast will result in less nutritious bread. (See our SAF Instant yeast.)
Complex Sugars (complex carbohydrates) – (See Carbohydrates.)
Convection Cooking – Baking food in ovens which convey air into and circulating air throughout the heated oven chamber during baking. Often times heating elements will be on the top, bottom, as well as the back wall of the oven chamber. Convection cooking is more energy efficient than cooking with the traditional conventional oven since it requires a lower temperature. Even with a lower temperature, convection cooking results in more evenly cooked food in a shorter amount of time, thanks to the distribution of hot air.
Cooling Rack – A wire platform to set on counters used for cooling backed products such as cakes and cookies. (See our cooling racks.)
Cornmeal – Meal or flour made from corn.
Couche – (Pronounced COOSH) This is a French word meaning “couch” and in bread baking it refers to a canvas cloth used to rise baguettes on. The yeast and flour which develops on the canvas over time gives the baguettes their characteristic brown crusty exterior; because of this it’s best to simply scrape the cloth to clean off any stuck on dried dough, rather than washing it with soap and water.
Crack (Cracked) Grain – Wheat grain that’s been cracked, usually from durum wheat, by crushing the grain.
Creaming – In baking, creaming is the mixing together of dry ingredients, typically granulated sugar, with some kind of solid fat, usually butter until light, fluffy, and increased in volume. This is most often useful in cookie, frosting, and cake recipes. Creaming the dry ingredient(s) with the fat allows the shortening or butter to aerate and remain semi-solid while baking. Creaming helps the baked item to leaven.
Crumb – The inside of bread, particularly a small piece broken off. The crumb of bread is determined by the percentage of hydration in the loaf. The lower the hydration, the smaller the air bubbles and denser the crumb will be. Artisan bread typically has 60% hydration or higher.
Culture, Live and Active – (See Probiotic.)