K-State Research and Extension News
November 24, 2008
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Is it Done Yet? Food Pro Gives Baking Tips

MANHATTAN, Kan. – One of the dilemmas that first time and even veteran bakers encounter is in determining when a baked product is done.

Food judges typically downgrade baked products that are underbaked, said Karen Blakeslee, a Kansas State University Research and Extension food scientist.

Recipe directions generally provide estimated cooking or baking times, but such times can vary with oven temperature or the number of times the oven door is opened, Blakeslee said.

To take a peek, switching on an oven light (which doesn’t affect baking temperature) is preferable to opening the oven door. The latter can cause a drop in baking temperature, said Blakeslee, who offered general recommendations for doneness:

* Yeast breads: When fully baked, yeast breads will typically sound hollow when tapped. The type of flour and other recipe ingredients (molasses, for example) will affect the color of the finished loaf. For example, a baked Swedish Tea Ring will be golden brown; a Honey-Wheat Bread will be more golden brown and Swedish Rye Bread a darker brown. To check doneness, insert the probe of an instant-read food thermometer in the center of the loaf (but not touching the bottom of the baking pan). When the yeast bread is done, the thermometer should register 195 to 210 degrees F.            

* Quick breads: A quick bread relies on baking soda, baking powder or both, depending on ingredients and eggs, rather than yeast, for leavening. When done, quick breads are typically nicely browned, but often will have a break or crack, down the center. The break in the dough allows steam to escape during baking and is normal for a quick bread. To test doneness with a food thermometer, insert the probe of an instant read food thermometer in the center of the loaf (but not touching the bottom of the baking pan). When the quick bread is done, the thermometer should register 210 degrees F.

Cookies: Baking times for cookies can vary with the diameter and thickness of the cookie, density of the dough and the type (shiny or dark) of pan. When making drop cookies, using a cookie scoop or two spoons, positioning the dropped dough 2 inches apart (unless the recipe directs otherwise) will ensure that cookies on the same baking sheet bake evenly.

Follow recipe directions for transferring cookies to a cooling rack.  Bar cookies are usually cooled before cutting.

More cooking and baking tips are available at county and district K-State Research and Extension offices and on Extension Web sites: www.oznet.ksu.edu, www.rrc.ksu.edu, www.oznet.ksu.edu/humannutrition and www.oznet.ksu.edu/foodsafety/.       


K-State Research and Extension is a short name for the Kansas State University Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service, a program designed to generate and distribute useful knowledge for the well-being of Kansans. Supported by county, state, federal and private funds, the program has county Extension offices, experiment fields, area Extension offices and regional research centers statewide. Its headquarters is on the K-State campus, Manhattan.

Story by: Nancy Peterson
K-State Research & Extension News

Karen Blakeslee is at 785-532-1673 or kblakesl@ksu.edu.