Q: Do you know how to make a heart-shaped cake? I would like to make one for Valentine's Day but I really don't want to buy a heart-shaped pan.
A: For a two-layer cake, prepare your favorite cake according to directions and bake it in two 8- or 9-inch round cake pans. Spread icing on the bottoms of the cake layers and place bottoms together.
To create the heart shape, cut a wedge from one side of the cake, about 3 1/2 inches wide and 2 1/2 inches deep (from the point of the wedge to outside edge of cake). To form the tip of the heart, place this wedge on the side of the cake opposite the cut, using icing to secure in place. Frost the top, sides, and wedge of the cake.
Q: Do you have any ideas on how to make rose-scented play dough? The staff at our pre-school wants to make it for Valentine's Day?
A: Sounds like fun. Here's a glittery, red play dough that children will love. Not only will it be fun to use in a pre-school setting, grandparents and parents also may want to make it and give to the special children in their lives for Valentine's Day.
Rose-Scented Play Dough
3 cups flour
1/8 cup red glitter
3/4 cup salt
2 cups water
3 tablespoons cream of tartar
2 tablespoons cooking oil
1/8 cup powdered tempera paint
10 drops rose-scented potpourri oil
Mix the dry ingredients together in a large, heavy pot. Stir in the water, oil, and potpourri scent until the mixture is smooth. Continue to stir the mixture over medium heat until it forms a ball. Put the dough onto a floured board and knead it until it is cool. Store the dough in an airtight container.
Q: I can't eat eggs. Is there a way to substitute the eggs in recipes with other ingredients?
A: Here are a couple of substitutions for you to try:
- For each egg, substitute 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1 tablespoon vinegar, and 1 tablespoon liquid.
- For each egg, soften 1 tablespoon unflavored gelatin in 3 tablespoons cold water, add 3 teaspoons boiling water, cool and beat until frothy, and add to recipe. Reduce other liquid by 2 tablespoons. This substitution has been successful in quick breads and muffins.
Q: What function do eggs have in baking?
A: Eggs contribute to the elasticity and structure of a baked product. In addition, beaten whites incorporate air into batters and yolks add color and emulsify fats.
Just for your information, you also may be interested in the functions of other baking ingredients:
- Flour. It contributes structure, rigidity, stretch and elasticity. It provides thickening.
- Liquid. It dissolves dry ingredients and moistens flour to develop structure.
- Salt. It improves taste and prevents large air cells in yeast products by controlling rising.
- Leavening agents. They are important for structure and lightness.
- Sugar. It adds sweetness, increases volume, helps tenderize product and aids in browning.
- Fat. It helps tenderize, adds flavor to product and increases moistness.
- Nuts, fruits and vegetables. They provides flavor and variety.
Q: How can candy be sugar free?
A: For years now, food manufacturers have developed sugar-free alternatives for many foods, including candy. Examples include sugarless gum, dietetic candy, breath mints and many sugarless medicines. While these items are sugar-free, they still contain some calories. They do not cause cavities because the bacteria that cause cavities cannot digest them.
The ingredients that make these sugar-free foods are called sugar alcohols. Some are found naturally in foods, but many are made by hydrogenating sugars. Sugar alcohols such as sorbitol, mannitol, maltitol, and xylitol are derived from sucrose, mannose, maltose, and xylose respectively. These ingredients are primarily available to food manufacturers. One drawback to sugar alcohols, such as sorbitol, is it absorbs slowly in the small intestine. This can lead to diarrhea, abdominal pain and gas. Therefore, foods cannot contain more than 30 grams of sorbitol.
Sorbitol, mannitol, and xylitol provide 1.6 to 3.0 calories per gram compared to 4 calories per gram from sucrose.
Here's where sugar alcohols can be found:
- Sorbitol -- Chewing gum, tablet-type candy.
- Mannitol -- Chewing gum, tablet-type candy, chocolate, hard candy, molded-gelled candy.
- Maltitol -- Chocolates and caramels.
- Xylitol -- Mints, chewing gum, some hard and soft candy.
- Lactitol -- Chocolates and soft and hard candy.
- Isomalt -- Chocolate, hard candy, caramel, chewing gum and tablet-type candy.