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THE HOME COOK

Tricks of the Trade

October 04, 1990|MARION CUNNINGHAM

Who says there are no cooking secrets? The following discoveries have saved me time and money--and a lot of frustration. I am constantly reminding myself of the old adage: "The art of cooking is correction, compensation and adjustment."

The best method of preparing a baking pan for a cake that is tricky to release (I have a cake roll that sometimes slides out of the sheet pan easily and other times stubbornly sticks) is to line the baking pan with foil, shiny-side up, grease and lightly flour. This seems to be the perfect cure.

To stabilize whipped cream so that it doesn't separate after standing, add two tablespoons of nonfat dry milk to each cup of whipping cream before whipping. This is very useful if you are using whipped cream to fill or frost a cake. (This great tip came from Abby Mandel.)

If egg whites are overbeaten and become too dry to fold into remaining ingredients, drop one or two unbeaten raw egg whites (start by trying one egg white then add another if needed) into the overbeaten mass and beat a few seconds. The texture will immediately become "stiff but moist," and allow you to proceed correctly.

Whenever cornmeal is to be added to boiling liquid, first dampen the cornmeal with cold water, then add it to the boiling liquid. The dampening step will eliminate most of the lumping, hence reducing the need for constant stirring.

Coffee Sponge is a dandy discovery for those who don't feel a meal is complete without dessert. This simple four-ingredient dessert makes a bountiful 10 cups (10 servings), is fool-proof to make and has very few calories and no fat. The key to success with this recipe is to make sure that the bold flavor of coffee comes through. Remember the amount of coffee flavor used has to cover 10 cups of sponge.

COFFEE SPONGE

1 envelope unflavored gelatin

1/4 cup cold water

2/3 cup sugar

2 tablespoons instant coffee powder

2 cups coffee

2 egg whites

Soften gelatin in water 5 minutes. Combine sugar, instant coffee powder, coffee and softened gelatin in small saucepan. Heat, stirring until coffee, sugar and gelatin dissolve (do not boil).

Remove from heat and pour mixture into 3-quart bowl. Chill until mixture is consistency of unbeaten egg white. Add egg whites and using electric mixer, beat until mixture is stiff enough to hold shape, about 5 minutes. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and chill until needed. If desired top each serving with spoonful of whipped cream. Makes 10 (1-cup) servings.

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