Sourcing molecular gastronomy needs online…

It is not easy to source alginates and other gums locally so I tried to find some web based resources for those interested in spherification and other MolGas techniques.

I just used this search string  “sodium alginate spherification supplies” in Google.

Try L’Epicerie – based in NY NY – the site is not so intuitive for all things, but their search function works well. On second thoughts, maybe it’s me that’s not intuitive. Go in to “Fine Foods” and the drop down menu has a “MolGas” link.

Bob’s Red Mill (Portland OR) sells guar and xanthan

WillPowder (Chef Will Goldfarb) also has an extensive range of products under these categories …

& Transformation

It is worth the read about Chef Will.

The Red Spoon Company sells ingredients and a starter pack (WillPowder does packages as well) -Woops, their first currency choice is Australian dollars – so I assume they are based in Australia – shipping might be a bit steep to the USA.

Chef Rubber is in Nevada – a bit closer – this is what they say about themselves… “Chef Rubber is a manufacturer and distributor of specialty items for World Pastry Champions, Artisan Chefs and Confectioners. Our extensive selection of products makes Chef Rubber a viable resource for the creative and innovative.”

Le-sanctuaire looks interesting too; also source of the English language version of Apicius: Journal of Haute Cuisine a semi annual publication – but even with a three year subscription it’s $47USD an edition.

I am not endorsing these sites – but they seem on the up and up – personally I would be happy buy from them, at least one time to try them out and then decide – I have purchased online from Bob’s Red Mill numerous times with no problems.

You can also read about Erik Foodladi/Fooducation’s first spherification experience here

Late edit — look at the comments – Martin Lersch from Khymos has a more extensive list of suppliers and he has posted his link in his comment.

Barley baguettes round 2 – poolish and gluten

Added some dry vital gluten – maybe a bit too much. The doughs were extremely tight. I could’ve added a little more water or a bit less gluten.

Still – they turned out more than OK. The crumb is beautifully moist and soft from the waxy starch in the barley component of the formulation. The crusts are thin and crisp.

The other change from 3 days ago was to use a long & slow overnight poolish (@ 100% hydration) instead of my 100% hydration liquid levain. To me there is a taste clash between the barley flavor and the acidity of the sourdough that I really do not like. These poolish-based loaves have a sweeter note to the taste that to me blends better with the distinctive and attractive taste of the whole barley flour. NOTE: There is no added sugar in the formula: flour, wholegrain barley flour, water, salt, yeast, barley flakes, a vanishingly small amount of malted barley flour – that’s it). The sweetness may result from some residual maltose that accumulated from the amylAse action in the overnight poolish and that wasn’t used by the yeast for fermentation. Maltose is a little [subtely] sweet – reportedly** about a third to a half as sweet as sucrose at the same concentration and temperature.  **Depending on who you read.

The tightness of the dough could also have resulted partly from the change from sourdough to poolish. It is highly likely there would be [much] less protease activity in the poolish with the result that the mellowness felt in handling the sourdough-based doughs [from limited hydrolysis of the gluten matrix] was missing.

The pictured loaves are off to Portland OR with our barley breeder as examples of what can be done in with barley in bread formulations, to help in the quest for funds for the organic food barley project

Coffee acidity resource

On the Coffee Research dot org site a well referenced discussion of coffee acidity

( )

Note the discussion in the body of the text “Excessive quinic acid has been associated with unfavorable sourness when coffees are roasted too dark or brewed coffee is left on a heater plate.  This sourness, however, is contradictory to the rise in pH and reduced perceived acidity at darker roasts and is likely operating under a different mechanism“.

Our roast degree series near the end of the foam stability observations.

Starbucks goes instant

The Starbucks claim.

Starbucks VIA™ Ready Brew is rich, full-bodied Starbucks® coffee in an instant. Unlike traditional instant coffee, which lacks the essential oils that give coffee its flavor and aroma, ours is made with the highest-quality arabica beans, finely ground to release their fullest flavor. Try these samples and discover a whole new way to make great coffee at home or on the go”.

You be the judge.

What do they do differently ?

Well this is their take on it “using their “super secret” technology”

Here is the abstract from the only patent application with Starbucks as assignee that relates to a coffee beverage

United States Patent Application 20080317924

Inventor:Yang; Angel

December 25, 2008

Beverage and Method of Making Same


The present embodiments are directed to beverages such as ready-to-drink coffee and tea beverages. A beverage in accordance with the embodiments described herein includes at least two discrete, preprepared and packaged components. In some embodiments, one of the components is a coffee or tea base, and another component is a dairy or soy base. During final processing, the two or more discrete bases are combined together with water and packaged for sale as a ready-to-drink beverage.


It is interesting to go to the U.S. Patent Office website and read the detailed description especially paragraphs 0036, 0039, and 0040 in the detailed description. All this is freely available in the public domain.

Waxy hull-less high beta-glucan barley & the good and bad of reduced amylose in bread

Sourdough part-wholegrain barley bread – they look gorgeous [and they taste as good as they look]

The formulation

Flour 100% (67% Cereal Food Processors “Titan” hi gluten flour; + 33% stone-milled wholegrain Meresse hull-less waxy barley flour

Water 56% (total water 74% including water in levain)

Salt 2%

SAF instant yeast 0.9%

Liquid levain (sourdough) (100% hydration) 100%

Sustagrain barley flakes 10% (soaked in 120% of their own weight of water)

The process

Mix – autolyse 20 min – mix 3min slow, 4 min fast

Bulk ferment 90 min two folds

Scale @ 475 g; hand preshape cylinders for baguettes; rest 20 min before final hand shaping

1 hour final proof @ room temperature

Bake 20 min 450 F (232 C)

So what’s the problem?

This is – at this addition level of the waxy barley flour, there is enough reduction in the amylose content of the the total starch that there isn’t enough of a retrograded amylose network to fully support the weight of the bread. You can see in this photo of the base of the bread where it has begun to collapse over the rods of the cooling rack. Still, on the borderline here – enough to keep it together.

Here’s the good bit: This bread has SUCH a soft and tender crumb, and it will stay fresh [it won’t get too firm] for quite a long time compared to the same made with all normal starch, instead of the 33% of amylose-free waxy starch used here from the waxy barley Meresse.

The other good thing[s] are the dietary fiber – both from the barley flour itself and the added 10% on flour weight of sustagrain (Con Agra) very high beta glucan barely flakes. You can see them in the crumb.

Norwest 553 – Part-whole-wheat baguettes and batards – great outcome

Exceptionally nice part-whole-wheat baguettes and batards – made ’em on the side while I was experimenting with espresso yesterday… The doughs were extremely nice to handle, tightened up nicely at the preshape stage without much effort –  maybe from the bit of added strength from the 33% portion of the Norwest 533 wholewheat flour I used – great ears and oven spring – interior crumb not as open as I would have liked but OK for larger baguettes with whole-wheat .

The formulation

Flour 100% (67% General Mills Harvest King; + 33% stone-milled wholewheat Norwest 553)

Water 55% (total water 70% including water in poolish/levain)

Salt 2%

SAF instant yeast 0.9%

Liquid levain (sourdough)/poolish mixture (100% hydration) 100%

The process

Mix – autolyse 15 min – mix 3min slow, 4 min fast

Bulk ferment 90 min one fold

Scale @ 560 g; hand preshape cylinders for baguettes, boules for batards; rest 20 min before final hand shaping

1 hour final proof @ room temperature

Bake 20 min 450 F (232 C)

The raw materials

“‘Norwest 553’ is a hard red winter wheat developed in collaboration with the Nickerson-Advanta company in Europe. Based on French parentage, Norwest 553 (ORN00B553) is a semidwarf wheat best adapted to moderate to high rainfall areas of north east Oregon and south east Washington. The variety has acceptable milling and baking quality for the hard red winter market class with superior dough mixing strength  ***see the red mixograph below”.

***Norwest 553 mixograph

Harvest King Mixograph

A foam wrapped in an emulsion covering a colloidal suspension

Getting prepared for our new lab experience – starting to work out the kinks – have a 60 kg balance to use to judge the 30 lbs (14 kg) of force needed to pack the ground coffee into the portafilter, and a stopwatch to time the shot.

Logging my grind fineness against shot time

About  5min after pulling 17 sec double shot

Getting the machine working – plenty of coffee this p.m.

Click on thumbnail images to see larger images…

Baking at home – getting enough air into your dough

Posts from Breadcetera called “Musings on mixing” and “More musings on mixing” looks at the differences between mixing in larger mixers and what you can do at home. The difference of avoiding too much air incorporation in the former, and commonly not enough in the latter.

I can’t get the link to the video of the method, but the comments section supplied this one with Richard Bertinet…

Similar to the technique taught to me at the San Francisco Baking Institute for lean rustic bread doughs.

Right now the front page of breadcetera has a fabulous photograph of outstanding ciabatta.

The large miche at the rear of this group of breads was mixed by hand with the slap and fold technique.

Lots of new coffee chemistry links

See on the sidebar under the category “coffee”

Tweaking Coffee's Flavor Chemistry

Tweaking Coffee

From Tweaking Coffee’s Flavor Chemistry
Roasting, cooling, and storage conditions affect the chemicals that contribute to brew’s flavor and aroma
by Sophie L. Rovner
reprinted courtesy of Chemical & Engineering News
© 2007 American Chemical Society


Listen to Jeffrey Hamelman on “The Art and Science of Bread”

Jeffrey Hamelman

– is a very accomplished baker. He is Bakery Director at King Arthur Flour – from the King Arthur Flour website “One of fewer than 100 Certified Master Bakers in the United States, Jeffrey began his training working under French and German bakers at Naegele Bakery in Northampton, Massachusetts. In 1996, Jeffrey was named captain of Baking Team USA, which competed at the Coupe du Monde de la Boulangerie, an international “Bread Olympics” in Paris. His team’s outstanding performance stood the world of baking on its ear and helped pave the way for America’s first-place win at the 1999 Coupe du Monde“.

New Hampshire Public Radio has an audio download of an interview with Jeffrey…
his recent book