Cooking for Geeks

cooking for geeks
cooking for geeks
At over 400 page this truly is the cooking bible for nerds. It's not just about recipes (but there are a tonne of them) but about adjusting your mindset of how you cook into more of a 'food science' mindset. It gives you the power to understand how food, taste and cooking technically work, so the you have the power to go 'off recipe' and reliably repeat your glorious food creations.

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Icecream in 30 Seconds

Calibrate your oven using sugar

"I know this sounds crazy, and yes, you should get an oven thermometer. But how do you know that the oven thermometer is right? My three thermometers- an IR thermometer, a probe thermometer, and the oven's digital thermometer-have registered temperatures of 325°F / 163°C, 350°F / 177°C, and 380°F / 193°C, all at the same time. (They're all designed for accurate readings in different temperature ranges.)
It's common practice to calibrate thermometers with ice water and boiling water because the temperatures are based on physical properties. Sugar has a similar property and can be used for checking the accuracy of your oven thermometer. Sucrose (table sugar) melts at 367°F / 186°C. It turns from a powdered, granulated substance to something resembling glass. (Caramelization is different from melting; caramelization is due to the sugar molecules decomposing-literally losing their composition-and happens over a range of temperatures coincidentally near the melting point.)
Pour a spoonful of sugar into an oven-safe glass bowl or onto some foil on a cookie sheet and place in your oven, set to 350°F / 177°C. Even after an hour, it should still be powdered. It might turn slightly brown due to decomposition, but it shouldn't melt. If it does, your oven is too hot. Next, turn your oven up to 375°F / 190°C. The sugar should completely melt within 15 minutes or so. If it doesn't, your oven is calibrated too cold. Check to see if your oven has either an adjustment knob or a calibration offset setting; otherwise, just keep in mind the offset when setting the temperature. Note that your oven will cycle a bit above and below the target temperature: the oven will overshoot its target temperature, then turn off, cool down, turn back on, etc. It's possible that your oven could be "correctly" calibrated but still melt the sugar when set to 350°F / 177°C due to this overshooting, but it would have to overshoot by about 15°F / 8°C."

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