How to check if a family recipe is an original

Discussion in 'Baker Banter' started by Linda EH, Aug 6, 2019.

  1. Linda EH

    Linda EH Member

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    I have my Aunt Miriam's recipe binder -- how can I tell if any of these recipes are original or were published elsewhere ?
    is there a website to input the ingredients etc to see if the recipe was published somewhere ?
     
    Linda EH, Aug 6, 2019
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  2. Linda EH

    Norcalbaker59 Well-Known Member

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    No source. But you can check vintage cookbooks from the era she was from. But I’m not really sure you’ll see anything unique since recipes really don’t vary much. A chocolate chip cookie is a chocolate chip cookie. I chiffon cake is a chiffon cake. Baking is all science in that it is a chemical reaction of the ingredients. If you change the ratio of the ingredients, the chemical reaction changes, and the bake fails.

    Fannie Farmer editions date to 1896

    Betty Crocker editions date to 1950

    Joy of Baking by Barbara Grunes 1986

    The Cake Bible 1988

    Martha Stewart Weddings 1987

    If your aunt learned to bake in the 80’s or earlier, and you are in the US, the recipes would best be reproduced using a bleached flour like Gold Medal or Pillsbury. Unbleached flour was not common until the 1990’s. So the recipes would not have made developed with unbleached flour. Unbleached flour absorbs more liquid than bleached flour, so If used the results will be very different.

    If the recipes are written in volume measurement (cups, teaspoons, etc) the dip and level method would be the method used to measure flour and sugar pre-1990’s. The method used to measure flour is important since the difference in weight is significant. If the wrong method is used, you’ll have either too much or too little flour.

    1 cup dip and level = 140 g = 5 oz

    1 cup spoon and sweep = 120 g = 4.25 oz
     
    Norcalbaker59, Aug 8, 2019
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  3. Linda EH

    Linda EH Member

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    thanks for the info - -I thought I had read in a baking contest book how they check in some database if a recipe has been published before etc etc
    my aunt's rugelach recipe has different ingredients than any i have seen in books-- but that does not necessarily mean it is an original one. - - meaning it has orange juice in it and shortening but no cream cheese or sour cream elements
     
    Linda EH, Aug 8, 2019
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  4. Linda EH

    Norcalbaker59 Well-Known Member

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    There’s cookbooks online, but they’re not a searchable database to cross reference against another recipe. An individual recipe cannot be copyrighted. So recipes in these databases are not individually scanned but the entire book is scanned into the database.

    If in completive baking there’s a database to cross-reference against recipes you then input I’ve never heard it. That would be an extremely daunting task to gather every baking cookbook ever published, scan every individual recipe into a database, organize them by category, identify them individually by author and publication, and make that database searchable to compare recipes in the database with recipes user input into a fields. I am not saying that in not possible, I’m just saying that’s a pretty daunting task to create such a database. And it would be extremely expensive, so I would imagine you’d have to charge a pretty hefty fee for user access.

    The shortening and orange juice is definitely unique, but not unheard of. Tori Avery wrote an article in 2013 about Erica Kerekers’ grandmother’s rugelach made with shortening and orange juice. No one is sure where that recipe came from either.

    https://toriavey.com/toris-kitchen/erikas-unorthodox-rugelach/

    My grandfather was Ashkenazi Jew. My grandmother was as American southern as you get with carrot red hair and freckles from head to toe. Her family came out of Kentucky and Arkansas, and she traced her roots pretty close to the Mayflower. Because my grandmother was a southern woman, and she only baked rugelach at Christmas along with other typical southern Christmas treats like fruit cake and rum balls, I thought rugelach was a southern cookie. True to her southern roots, her filing was pecan, not a fruit like sour cherry or apricot.

    So a baker always puts a bit of their personal touch on their recipes.
     
    Norcalbaker59, Aug 8, 2019
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  5. Linda EH

    Norcalbaker59 Well-Known Member

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    Maybe you should contact Erica Kerekers. There might be a connection between your aunt and her grandmother.
     
    Norcalbaker59, Aug 8, 2019
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  6. Linda EH

    Linda EH Member

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    I found Erica's recipe online Monday when I was poking around the internet. -- hers has 6 cups of flour mine has 5 -- the ingredient list is very close to mine but different proportions. and she rolls hers backwards..narrow end to wide . i was going to email her about the recipe connection … not sure if she had any interest in tampering to turn it into a drop cookie though like I am trying to do.
     
    Linda EH, Aug 8, 2019
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  7. Linda EH

    Linda EH Member

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    i will also look for that baking contest book -- to try and find the database they mentioned -- - as most contests require original recipes they need to verify them.
     
    Linda EH, Aug 8, 2019
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  8. Linda EH

    Norcalbaker59 Well-Known Member

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    I think the reason you’re having problems converting the recipe to a drop cookie is the liquid. A drop cookie By definition is just amounts of that isn’t formed that spread as it bakes.

    And the reason that it’s spread is it contains no liquid except what’s in the egg. Your recipe contains orange juice. There is significant amount of water molecules in the orange juice that bind with the flour. And that affects how the dough bind both raw during mixing and in baking. It also effects how the fat and flour binds.

    So even if you change the mixing method to creaming, you have a water molecule problem.
     
    Norcalbaker59, Aug 8, 2019
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  9. Linda EH

    Linda EH Member

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    i think the name of the book was the ungarnished truth -- i am going to see if my library has a copy of it.

    as for the liquid issue --- sad that my 1/3 cup of orange juice is ruining the drop aspect of my cookie !!!
     
    Linda EH, Aug 9, 2019
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  10. Linda EH

    J13 Well-Known Member

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    Heh. I don't think the orange juice is ruining your hope to transform these into drop cookies...but it does make things tricky. I'm nowhere near as adept as NorCal in baking science and transforming recipes, but like her, I honed right in on that orange juice. It's the only liquid-liquid, but its watery, acidic and adds flavor. So, you can't just add more of it to make the cookies "drop." That would certainly change the chemical reaction to the point of failure.

    I'm thinking a little cream *might* do the trick. See more in my response to your "how do I transform" thread.
     
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2019
    J13, Aug 9, 2019
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  11. Linda EH

    Linda EH Member

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    Ok thanks..
     
    Linda EH, Aug 10, 2019
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  12. Linda EH

    Norcalbaker59 Well-Known Member

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    Unfortunately you cannot create a cookie dough by simply creaming shortening and sugar since mixing method does not determine a baked good. Rather, it’s the ingredients, ratio of ingredients to the flour, and the mixing method.


    All pastry are essentially made of the same thing: flour, fat, sugar, leavening, salt. and eggs.


    But the type of pastry depends first and foremost on the ratio of all the ingredients to the flour.


    Even though rugelach is referred to as a cookie, it’s not. It’s falls into a class of doughs that include puff pastry, piecrust, croissants, strudel, and danish dough.


    These doughs have a very high fat to flour ratio and little sugar. These doughs are rolled thin and have little bulk. Rugelach typically has 150% fat to flour. The sugar can be as low as 10%. And the reason these those are formulated without bulk is they are roll thin, filled, and wrapped.


    Although your aunt’s recipe isn’t traditional, it’s still a pastry dough. It’s formulated to be thin. So the dough is not even formulated to be a cookie, it’s formulated to be a flat pastry dough.


    Beyond that the orange juice is a problem. The low sugar content means the free water molecules in the orange juice are simply going to bind with the flour and make a strong gluten bond. Flour has no gluten in it until it comes in contact with water. That’s when the proteins gliadin and glutenin are linked. The process is called autolyse. Bread bakers use the process all the time. They simply mix water and flour together and leave it to Let the gluten develop on its own.


    In pastry, sugar plays multiple roles. It sweetens, it adds bulk, and it’s hygroscopic, meaning it pulls water from its environment. So the other important role it plays is it competes with the flour for water. And that helps to balance out gluten development in a pastry recipe.


    The rugelach recipe has very little sugar, so the flour is going to absorb most of the water in the orange juice. It doesn’t have the ratios for a cookie so it doesn’t have the bulk. So with the autolyse effect and lack of bulk if you form a cookie it will never spread properly.


    Let’s look at the bakers percentages (ratios) of Erica’s recipe since it’s similar to your aunt’s recipe.


    100% flour

    12% sugar

    27% shortening

    18% eggs

    28% orange juice


    I got the ratios by converting the cups into grams.

    840g (6 cups) all purpose flour

    100 (1 cup) sugar

    3 tsp baking powder

    Pinch salt

    226 1/2 lb vegetable shortening

    150 3 large eggs

    2 tbsp vanilla extract

    236ml (1 cup) orange juice


    Now let’s compare it an actual drop cookie recipe. This is one of my chocolate chip cookie recipes.


    100% flour

    135% sugar

    70% butter

    19% eggs

    0% orange juice


    2 cups (280g) King Arthur all purpose unbleached flour, measured by dip and sweep

    3/4 tsp salt

    1/2 tsp aluminum free baking soda

    1 cup (200) dark brown cane sugar such as C&H or Domino

    1/2 cup (100) granulated cane sugar such as C&H or Domino

    1 sticks + 6 tbsp (196g) unsalted butter Plugra, cubed 65°F

    1 large (53g) egg, cold, slightly beaten

    2 tsp (10g) vanilla extract

    10oz (285g) semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate chopped chocolate or chocolate



    As you can see a drop cookie contains significantly more sugar and fat. It also contains no added liquid.



    These significant differences in baker’s percentages of the ingredients determine what the finished dough will be. You have to think of baker’s percentages like DNA. It’s the unique expression of those ratios that determines a drop cookie or not.


    The ingredients are basically the same: flour, fat, sugar, egg. It’s the baker’s percentages that make these two doughs completely different. Creaming the butter and sugar is not going to change the dough into a drop cookie.
     
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2019
    Norcalbaker59, Aug 10, 2019
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  13. Linda EH

    Linda EH Member

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    I generally start baking in October -- will keep you posted to my experiments. in meantime I re-read the ungarnished truth about the bake off and now re-reading the book cook off recipe fever in America. Ungarnished truth mentions they research their library at Pillsbury to check against the original recipes submitted. no mention of a data base etc.
     
    Linda EH, Aug 16, 2019
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  14. Linda EH

    J13 Well-Known Member

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    Yep. I was thinking along similar lines...but as it is a "pastry" rather than a "cookie," I wonder if she can't jump to the pastry's cousin—biscuit dough, which can be dropped. That's what I suggested in the rugelach thread. There are recipes for drop biscuits that might come closer to the original rugelach (similar ratios on the sugar/fat) than trying to turn it into a drop cookie with its very different sugar/fat ratios.

    Not that I think this biscuit will be able to "clone" the flavor of the original—and I'm dubious about keeping the orange juice for the reasons you mention...but she could sub in orange zest if that flavor matters. Or use the juice for plumping up the raisins. Or maybe sub in some orange jam/marmalade as a glaze or to flavor the raisin/walnut mix if it's put into a thumbprint within the dough. So, it might be possible to capture the spirit of the original in this biscuit.

    Obviously, we'll have to wait till October and see how Linda's experiments come out.
     
    J13, Aug 17, 2019
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  15. Linda EH

    Linda EH Member

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    If anyone wants to bake / experiment along with me..feel free..i listed the recipe in one of the threads. Or if anyone wants to be a taste tester once i start baking I will mail out original plus tester samples... I am in NJ..last year I shipped a batch to my cousin in CA as it was his mom's (miriam) recipe. Linda
     
    Linda EH, Aug 17, 2019
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  16. Linda EH

    Norcalbaker59 Well-Known Member

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    It doesn’t matter what category. You cannot convert a pastry dough to a cookie. Just like can’t convert a bagel dough to ciabatta dough. The ratios are the DNA. They determine the characteristics of the dough. It’s like trying to turn a dog into a cat. They’re both animals but they’re completely different types of animals because the DNA of a dog determines the characteristics of dog. It will never be a cat.

    And a biscuit dough is a biscuit dough, not a cookie dough. They don’t share the same DNA.

    The only reason a drop cookie is referred to as “drop” is the dough was traditionally placed on the cookie sheet using a tablespoon. But these days a scoop is more often used, really drop cookie isn’t even accurate anymore.

    It’s one thing to capture some of the flavors of the rugelach in a different type of cookie, say a drop cookie. But that’s not the same as converting a recipe to a different type of cookie.

    And it’s impossible because they are two completely different cookies. Their characteristics are completely different; they don’t share any of the same DNA so to speak.
     
    Norcalbaker59, Aug 19, 2019
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  17. Linda EH

    J13 Well-Known Member

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    Agreed. But you said yourself that the original rugelach dough was formulated to be pastry dough, not cookie dough. And that means there is a possibility that a similar tasting pastry—that can be dropped—could be made.

    That was my thought. It had nothing at all to do with transforming this “pastry” dough into cookie dough. I’m in complete agreement with you that this can’t be done and still retain anything close to the original.
     
    J13, Aug 20, 2019
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  18. Linda EH

    Norcalbaker59 Well-Known Member

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    You completely let go of any notion of converting a recipe from one type of dough to another, because it’s not possible.

    If you want a drop cookie you start with a drop cookie dough-period.

    You don’t start with any other kind of dough. Not a biscuit dough. And you also accept that the cookie is going to taste, feel, and look like a drop cookie, because that’s what will be baking.

    So you simply start with plain drop cookie dough and create a flavor profile.

    You simply add in whatever flavor it is you want to capture. It’s not rocket science.

    Link below is a an example of plain drop cookie recipe. Scroll to the bottom for instructions on various ways to flavor the dough including orange. Notice they do not flavor with orange juice. You do not use orange juice ever to flavor dough. First, there is the issue with the water and autolyse.


    Second, juice imparts no flavor when cooked or baked. The flavor is in the essential oil in the zest. In baking and cooking, the zest is always used because juice does not flavor and the water poses a problem.


    When using the right dough and correct baking techniques, in capturing the flavors of the rugelach, some will be more intense. Using zest will give a more pronounced orange flavor.


    Another example, the rugelach dough is made with shortening, not butter. Shortening has zero flavor. Drop cookie dough is alway made with butter, so it’s going to be very flavorful by comparison. It’s going to taste completely different from a bland shortening dough.


    So the baker has to decide whether to replace the butter, or a portion of it for shortening in the cookie dough. But using shortening instead of butter also changes the spread, texture and bite of a drop cookie.


    This is why when you decide you want to capture the essence of flavors in another cookie, you have to accept they will be very different. The nuanced flavors will be there, but that’s about it. There’s no converting recipes. No capturing the total essence of one recipe in another because the flavors and characteristics of each baked good is dictated by the ingredients and the techniques used to create it.


    https://www.finecooking.com/recipe/vanilla-drop-cookies
     
    Norcalbaker59, Aug 20, 2019
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