Dear Barbara: What is the one item you would like to see on a menu in Lodi that is not currently on a menu at a local restaurant?
I recently found an old family recipe for carrot cake. The recipe calls for 2 cups of grated carrots. However, I don’t know which size to grate the carrots.
My dilemma is this — if I grate them on the large hole then it takes less carrots than using the smaller holes. The smaller holes for the same volume actually take almost twice the amount of carrots.
So which measurement is correct?
Also, I have just one more question. What is the difference between cake flour and regular flour? — Rob, Lodi
Dear Rob: Your question really puts me on the spot because Lodi has excellent restaurants.
But if I have to answer your question, the first thing that comes to mind are jumbo dry diver scallops, pan seared and served any way the restaurant wants to!
If we have them, I haven’t seen them. But if you ever go to Seattle — yum!
When I first read your carrot question, I thought ‘Oh, that’s easy, you use the larger holes.’ But then I thought maybe it was just me that liked the larger holes! I looked through approximately 37 different carrot cake recipes, and was very surprised!
First of all, I didn’t know how big a cake you were going to make, so I looked for recipes that called for two cups of flour, so all would be equal. It went from one cup of grated carrots up to four to five cups!
So I went to the kitchen and grated carrots on both sides of a box grater.
When I used the smaller grating holes (not the smallest), it was almost a puree. Here is what I concluded. If you use the smaller holes, you need to squeeze out any extra liquid, and it is okay if you have twice the carrot content.
You won’t have any textural difference when you eat it. I personally like to see the carrots in there, and I like the textural difference.
Many used a food processor to grate the carrots. I like this technique the best. It is very finely grated (or shredded, a term that seemed to be used interchangeably), and gives you the best of both worlds. What the whole thing boils down to is preference!
Now, for the difference between cake flour and regular flour. The difference is in the wheat and how it is milled. Hard wheat flours are grown in colder climates, and contain more gluten protein. You want the gluten to develop for what you are baking, to give it great texture, like breads, bagels and hearty products.
Cake flour is made from soft wheat, and is grown in moderate climates. It is a finer flour. It is low in gluten protein, so your end product is much lighter.
Cake flour is used when you need a leavener, such as baking powder, or baking soda. Examples could be cakes, cookies, or biscuits.
You can use all purpose flour for everything, hence ‘all purpose’, but if you want that little edge, use a flour that is specifically made for whatever you are baking.
Barbara Spitzer is a Lodi home cook who also develops recipes for specific consumer products. Do you have a cooking question? Send it to Barbara Spitzer at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your first name and city.