1. Cake Flour Makes the Best Chiffon Cakes: Cake flour contains much less gluten than all-purpose flour, which results in a lighter crumb.
2. When Choosing the Right Cake for Baked Alaska, It’s All About Thermodynamics: Heat transfers when molecules bump into each other. In solids, tightly packed molecules bump into each other frequently, so heat transfers quickly. The molecules in air are fewer, and with more space in between—heat, therefore, transfers less quickly in air than in a solid. All cakes contain some pockets of air, but some contain more than others. Chiffon has a light, airy crumb, making it the perfect candidate for Baked Alaska.
3. In Ice Cream Makers, Design Matters: Ice cream makers' paddles come in a range of designs, with blades and bars designed to scrape the sides of the bowls while churning. Some models had horizontal bars that spun just above the contents of the bowl, so ice cream clumped up on top, forcing us to stop the ice cream makers every few minutes and push it back into the mixing action. The horizontal bars also got in the way of our instant-read thermometers, which we use to tell when the ice cream has cooled to the optimal 21 degrees. Better designs had the crossbar located further down the paddle, where it didn't obstruct the mixture or our thermometers.
4. When Making Swiss Meringue, Slow and Low is Key: You’ll need to cook your raw egg whites to 160 degrees to ensure they’re safe to eat, but cook them too fast and they won’t turn into meringue—they’ll scramble!
5. For Bakery-Caliber Results, Frost Your Cakes with an Offset Spatula: Their long, narrow blades (an ideal blade length is between 7 and 8 inches) are perfect for scooping and spreading frosting. The offset bend near the handle (look for a bend that’s offset to a 30 degree angle relative to the handle and the blade) allows you to get good leverage, and also ensures your hands stay clean. When frosting cakes from now on, say goodbye to your butter knives and hello to an offset spatula.
Quote of the Week: “[Chiffon is] the yoga of cakes—it can bend.” —Julia Collin Davison to Bridget Lancaster while making Baked Alaska
Can't wait for next week's episode? Get your fill with our past episode recaps:
- Season 17, Episode 13 Recap: How to Make the Best Frozen Yogurt
- Season 17, Episode 12 Recap: How to Make the Best Pantry Pasta Dishes
- Season 17, Episode 11 Recap: Taking on the Best of the Big Easy
- Season 17, Episode 10 Recap: How to Make the Best Korean Rice Bowls (Dolsot Bibimbap)
- Season 17, Episode 9 Recap: How to Roast Turkey and Boil Corn
- Season 17, Episode 8 Recap: How to Make the Best Ground Beef Chili
- Season 17, Episode 7 Recap: How to Make the Ultimate Sticky Buns
- Season 17, Episode 6 Recap: How to Make the Best Shrimp Scampi
- Season 17, Episode 5 Recap: How to Make the Best Cheese and Tomato Lasagna
- Season 17, Episode 4 Recap: Home-Corned Beef and Cabbage—and Shots of Sherry (Vinegar)
- Season 17, Episode 3 Recap: Crispy Chicken Breasts and Creamy Baked Potatoes
- Season 17, Episode 2 Recap: "Two Stews for Yous"
- Season 17, Episode 1 Recap: Cast Iron is Back!
What was your favorite part of this episode of America’s Test Kitchen? Let us know in the comments!