All about Food. B:9 Most of the blog will be about my various cooking experiments with some reviews of local restaurants thrown in once in a while. Reviews/food experiences from other place will be included also.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Effects of High Humidity on Baking

I've asked this question before at a food forum a while back when I first moved to Bali, but unfortunately I didn't get definite answers though one person did offer recipes from PR. Most of the suggestions geared towards other facts affecting baking. At least the people at my favorite food forum had some good general tips and weren't insulting like some of the comments I ran into when I googled. I'm coming back to this issue again because I noticed that the results I'm getting still aren't that great compared to back in US. Of course the quality of the ingredient, oven temperature, quality of the recipe, etc. can have huge effects on the result of the cake so I have focused on and more or less fixed those issues (oven thermometer, best ingredients possible, use proven recipes, etc.), but I'm not 100% satisified with the results of the cakes.

My concern was further validated when I bake the family's favorite Japanese cheesecake for my parents in US. The recipe was exactly the same as the one I used in Bali, but the result was 100% better. Flavor was still more or less the same, but the texture was so much better. It was fluffy, light, yet moist without being wet. It was perfect.

I noticed some common features seen with my own baking here, especially recipes that used chemical leaveners:

-Baking time is a lot longer than it supposed to be.
-Crust is almost always a lot lighter in color instead of golden brown.
-Crust tends to be sticky even though the cake is done.
-The cake doesn't rise properly which makes the cake heavy and coarse.

Interestingly enough other people living in high humidity environment also have similar issues so I know my observations are valid. To get around some of the problems, I've pretty much go with mostly sponge cake recipes, but the problems still present to a certain degree.

Well, I suppose the temporary solution is to avoid certain recipes and hope eventually I'll get my own climate controlled kitchen instead of baking out in the open. I do want to know the science behind this issue and how to adjust my recipes/techniques to compensate the high humidity.

Haha, I'm treating this like the science experiements I used to do.

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