How to compare cheesecake, japanese cheesecake and custard recipes?


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Hi,
As most of you probably know, in order to facilitate comparison between bread formulas we use baker's percentage. That is, we take all flours to be 100%, and the rest of the ingredients are compared against that.

I am interested in comparing cheesecake, japanese cheesecake, and flan/custard recipes. Is there a way to compare these in a manner analogous to baker's percentage?

Thanks!
Edgard
 
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Hi Edgard, welcome to the forums!

The same principle applies, just use whatever can be considered as the "main" ingredient as the base of 100%. For custards/flans, I'd do the combined total of heavy cream+milk as 100% (similarly to when a bread formula has multiple types of flours), and for cheesecakes, it would be the cheese.

It doesn't really matter what the base is, as the ratios of all the ingredients will remain the same anyway. It's just for the sake of comparisons between recipes, it's easier to compare if you have a main ingredient at 100%.
 
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Thanks for your comments Cahoot!

I started gathering recipes for "Japanese Cheesecakes" and to my surprise there is quite a bit of variation in ingredient proportions, as well as a few ingredient variations.

For example: Some use cake flour only, but some use corn starch in addition to cake flour (proportionally quite a bit 1:3 cornstarch to flour). Some use an acid (one used vinegar, another used cream of tartar) to stabilize the egg white whipping, but some don't. The egg/cream cheese to flour ratio varies quite a bit, also the cream cheese to egg ratio varies.

I was thinking along these lines that considering that all these are "custards", maybe the best thing is to compare everything to the amount of ingredients which provide the structure. Could be eggs, or eggs+flour..... What do you think? From what I understand eggs provide the structure for custards, but I guess that if flour is also included then it is eggs+flour. I am guessing here.....

I find this fascinating! I wish however, I could understand better the effect of the different ingredients and the ratios used. Why one uses cornstarch? Why use a much larger proportion of flour to eggs? Can flour and eggs both be considered structure forming ingredients? etc..., etc....
 
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Thanks for your comments Cahoot!

I started gathering recipes for "Japanese Cheesecakes" and to my surprise there is quite a bit of variation in ingredient proportions, as well as a few ingredient variations.

For example: Some use cake flour only, but some use corn starch in addition to cake flour (proportionally quite a bit 1:3 cornstarch to flour). Some use an acid (one used vinegar, another used cream of tartar) to stabilize the egg white whipping, but some don't. The egg/cream cheese to flour ratio varies quite a bit, also the cream cheese to egg ratio varies.

I was thinking along these lines that considering that all these are "custards", maybe the best thing is to compare everything to the amount of ingredients which provide the structure. Could be eggs, or eggs+flour..... What do you think? From what I understand eggs provide the structure for custards, but I guess that if flour is also included then it is eggs+flour. I am guessing here.....

I find this fascinating! I wish however, I could understand better the effect of the different ingredients and the ratios used. Why one uses cornstarch? Why use a much larger proportion of flour to eggs? Can flour and eggs both be considered structure forming ingredients? etc..., etc....
Unfortunately I'm only an amateur myself, so I'm not qualified or knowledgeable enough to answer all those questions. There are much more experienced people on this forum who can provide a more detailed answer. If you're interested in knowing more about the purposes and effects of ingredients in baked goods, I'd highly recommend reading How Baking Works by Paula Figoni. It breaks down the common components used in baking (e.g. flours, gluten, sugars, fats/oils, eggs, leaveners, etc.), the science behind their makeup and how they work, and of course their effects on final products.

I'll try to answer what I can. However, I'll admit that I can very well be wrong in my understanding, so if I am, can someone please correct me :).

On what to use as the base for your baker's percentages, to me it makes most sense to use the ingredient that provides the most bulk, even if it's not necessarily a structure builder. For example, if you're comparing cake formulas, it's easiest to compare formulas that both make two 9" cake layers, rather than comparing a recipe that makes three 9" cake layers with a recipe that makes two 6" cake layers. In the same vein for custards, you want to have the same or similar "amount" of custard when comparing one formula to another. So for crèmes, flans, and similar custards, holding the heavy cream+milk (and/or half and half) constant as the base 100% is the best way to ensure similar amounts of the custard when comparing recipes, even if those ingredients aren't structure builders themselves. For pastry cream, would you use the milk as the 100%, or the egg yolks? 1 cup of milk in one pastry cream recipe will produce about the same amount of pastry cream as any other, but the amount of eggs used per cup of milk varies wildly, from 1 whole egg to 3 egg yolks from what I've seen. It's a similar story for cheesecakes, where (at least for American-style cheesecakes) cream cheese provides the bulk of the filling. For Japanese cheesecakes, where they're essentially half soufflés, maybe you could use egg whites as the base for the baker's percentages? Essentially just choose an ingredient that would make your life easiest.

About using acids to stabilize making meringues, as far as I can tell it's just personal preference. It's not necessarily always needed, but it's an extra step that never hurts to do and provides a safety net against over-whipping.

Yes eggs are considered structure-building ingredients. To give a very simplified run-down, egg whites contain 90% water and 10% protein, and provide moisture (from the water), structure (from the protein), and leavening (when whipped, which increases their volume and creates air pockets). Egg yolks contain about 50% water and 50% egg yolk solids, where the solids are composed of proteins, fats, and emulsifiers. They provide less moisture than whites, don't foam as much when whipped, and the fats (which are a tenderizer) mean they also provide less structure. Yolks however provide colour, flavour, and their all-important emulsifying powers. Something to note is that while I've stated that eggs provide moisture, that doesn't equate to moistness (i.e. the mouthfeel), since because of their structure-building proteins, they still cause products to taste drier.

The use of cornstarch vs. flour is something that I'm interested in myself. When I was looking at almond cream/frangipane recipes, I noted that some used flour, some used cornstarch, and others didn't use any starches. While the effect of including starch vs. not including it in the recipe is fairly obvious (absorbing moisture), I never figured out what the difference was between using flour and cornstarch.
 
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Hi,
As most of you probably know, in order to facilitate comparison between bread formulas we use baker's percentage. That is, we take all flours to be 100%, and the rest of the ingredients are compared against that.

I am interested in comparing cheesecake, japanese cheesecake, and flan/custard recipes. Is there a way to compare these in a manner analogous to baker's percentage?

Thanks!
Edgard
Baker’s percentages doesn’t compare recipes. Baking is a chemical reaction of all the ingredients to time and temperature.

And time and temperature includes everything whether it’s time fermentation and The temperature during of fermentation of a dough. Or the friction of heat from the mixer whether your cream butter and sugar together, or the heat from the oven in the actual baking. You have to think of temperature as an ingredient. It’s added multiple times, in multiple ways Throughout the baking process throughout the baking process

So when we use baker’s percentages we do so with the chemical reaction of each ingredient in mind.

in addition to the different ingredients that we select and their ratios, The techniques we use will determine the final product. Cake is flour, sugar, butter, eggs, milk, leavening, salt and flavoring. But so is a muffin. Baker’s percentages and technique distinguishes between a cake and a muffin.


So you cannot compare a Japanese cheesecake to a flan because they are inherently different from the ingredients used, to the mixing technique, to the cooking. These differences trigger unique chemical reactions, which in turn create the final products that will not be similar to each other. So you cannot compare them.
 
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Hi Edgard, welcome to the forums!

The same principle applies, just use whatever can be considered as the "main" ingredient as the base of 100%. For custards/flans, I'd do the combined total of heavy cream+milk as 100% (similarly to when a bread formula has multiple types of flours), and for cheesecakes, it would be the cheese.

It doesn't really matter what the base is, as the ratios of all the ingredients will remain the same anyway. It's just for the sake of comparisons between recipes, it's easier to compare if you have a main ingredient at 100%.
Cahoot, in custards, curds, and flans the egg is used as the base to weigh the other ingredients against. To set properly there must be enough egg in the mixture and egg protein denaturation must occur . So custard, puddings, curds, creams, flans, or ice cream, must be heated to a minimum of 175°F to 180°F but should not excess 185°, The cream is not a stabilizer, so it makes no sense to use cream as the base to weight all the other ingredients against. And cream is not used in flan, curds, or creams.

A japanese cheesecake is a hybrid of a soufflé and cheesecake that is stabilized with flour. There’s about 25%- 30% cake flour to cream cheese added to stabilize it. The egg would not hold up without the addition of the flour. Normally a cheese cake will hold up on its own. But in the case of a Japanese cheesecake the eggs are whipped, which also destabilize the cream cheese. So it is very unstable. It not uncommon for the cake to collapse even with the flour. So the addition of the flour is critical to the cake structure. So the baker’s percentages should be based on the flour since the cake is not possible without flour, even though its only a small amount of flour.
 
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Cahoot, in custards, curds, and flans the egg is used as the base to weigh the other ingredients against. To set properly there must be enough egg in the mixture and egg protein denaturation must occur . So custard, puddings, curds, creams, flans, or ice cream, must be heated to a minimum of 175°F to 180°F but should not excess 185°, The cream is not a stabilizer, so it makes no sense to use cream as the base to weight all the other ingredients against. And cream is not used in flan, curds, or creams.

A japanese cheesecake is a hybrid of a soufflé and cheesecake that is stabilized with flour. There’s about 25%- 30% cake flour to cream cheese added to stabilize it. The egg would not hold up without the addition of the flour. Normally a cheese cake will hold up on its own. But in the case of a Japanese cheesecake the eggs are whipped, which also destabilize the cream cheese. So it is very unstable. It not uncommon for the cake to collapse even with the flour. So the addition of the flour is critical to the cake structure. So the baker’s percentages should be based on the flour since the cake is not possible without flour, even though its only a small amount of flour.
That's true that the eggs are responsible for setting the structure, not the milk/cream. My logic was to use the ingredient that provided the most bulk to the custard as the base to compare similar amounts of custard between formulas, but of course I'm not an expert, and I see how using eggs as the base can be better. However, I was thinking that in custards that use a combination of whole eggs and egg yolks, it may become a bit more convoluted. But if anything I say is wrong, please correct me, as I wouldn't wanna mislead anyone else! And yes traditionally there's no cream in flans, just milk. I was using milk/cream as a stand-in for the total of all the liquid dairy, whether that's milk, half and half, heavy cream, etc.

Thanks for the explanation of the flour in Japanese cheesecakes! I've never made one before, but now I have a better understanding for when I do. I wished most other recipe sources also provided as much explanation as you - it's hard to learn more otherwise. Some custards and creams also use cornstarch in addition, or instead of flour. With their differing levels of moisture absorption and gluten formation, what's the purpose of using cornstarch?

My understanding was that Edgard was asking about baker's percentages to compare formulas for the same foods, e.g. flans vs flans, cheesecakes vs cheesecakes. So assumption was that mixing methods, baking temperatures and baking times would be similar.
 
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That's true that the eggs are responsible for setting the structure, not the milk/cream. My logic was to use the ingredient that provided the most bulk to the custard as the base to compare similar amounts of custard between formulas, but of course I'm not an expert, and I see how using eggs as the base can be better. However, I was thinking that in custards that use a combination of whole eggs and egg yolks, it may become a bit more convoluted. But if anything I say is wrong, please correct me, as I wouldn't wanna mislead anyone else! And yes traditionally there's no cream in flans, just milk. I was using milk/cream as a stand-in for the total of all the liquid dairy, whether that's milk, half and half, heavy cream, etc.

Thanks for the explanation of the flour in Japanese cheesecakes! I've never made one before, but now I have a better understanding for when I do. I wished most other recipe sources also provided as much explanation as you - it's hard to learn more otherwise. Some custards and creams also use cornstarch in addition, or instead of flour. With their differing levels of moisture absorption and gluten formation, what's the purpose of using cornstarch?

My understanding was that Edgard was asking about baker's percentages to compare formulas for the same foods, e.g. flans vs flans, cheesecakes vs cheesecakes. So assumption was that mixing methods, baking temperatures and baking times would be similar.
Cahoots, the bulk doesn’t provide structure. Sugar has more volume than flour. In cake and cookies, sugar by BP’s is always equal or more than the flour. For example, my chiffon cake has 115% sugar to 100% cake flour. Sugar is often the bulk of most pastry. Yet we don’t use sugar as the base since it has no structural characteristics.

Regarding the custard, recipes that use a combination of whole eggs and yolk are indeed more complicated. But just measure against the weight of the whole eggs. Even the yolks should be weighed against the whole eggs.

When you see a custard recipe with cornstarch or flour, its an indication the recipe developer is not aware of or does not trust 1) the ratio of eggs they used; 2) the correct temperature to heat the custard mixture to ensure it sets properly. So they add the cornstarch/flour as a back up to set it. But the problem with using cornstarch is it must reach boiling (212°F) temperature for full starch gelatinization. Boiling a custard can curdle it. Flour will thicken until it reaches 185°F. After that it begins to break down. But custard needs to be heated to 180°F to set, why would anyone bother adding flour in the first place? Plus flour lease a bad aftertaste.

Flans are frequently made with a combination of condensed sweetened milk and evaporated milk.
 
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@Cahoot

”My understanding was that Edgard was asking about baker's percentages to compare formulas for the same foods, e.g. flans vs flans, cheesecakes vs cheesecakes. So assumption was that mixing methods, baking temperatures and baking times would be similar.”

When you are working with BP’s then you are doing one of two things: either scaling the recipe or changing the ratios to change the chemical reaction for a different result.

So that’s where the science come in. Knowing how to do BP’s isn’t enough. You need to understand the characteristics of each ingredient and its role in the formula. Increasing/decreasing the amount any one ingredient not only effects what it role in the baked good, but it effects the role of other ingredients.


For example, if you reduce the sugar in a cake recipe, then its less sweet. Adding sweetness is direct role of sugar. But it also makes the cake tougher because the flour now has access to more free water. More free water molecules means more bonds will form between the gliadin and glutenin molecules. So more gluten will develop with the same amount of mixing.

The cake will also brown less as the chemical reaction of reducing sugar and amino acids (Maillard reaction) is what triggers the browning in cooked foods.

Whether you bake a cake or bake a flan, the chemical reactions happen. All cooking and baking are chemical reactions.

So to use BP’s to make comparisons between the same types of recipes, you need to understand the science of cooking and baking.
 
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@Norcalbaker59 I liked your cakes/cookies example for why sugar isn't used as the base for baker's percentages. Makes perfect sense. I've had a little experience comparing BPs in basic pastry doughs (for a good example, the pie dough and pate a choux recipes that we've discussed before!), but I feel that roles of ingredients are more straightforward in those basic formulas. Of course, even then there are dozens of factors that I wouldn't have known before to even consider. With more complex recipes like custards, there's much more interplay between the ingredients, temperatures, mixing methods, etc. and it's where I've still got a ton to learn about the food science behind everything. Always nice when someone much more experienced is able to weigh in!
 
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he use of cornstarch vs. flour is something that I'm interested in myself. When I was looking at almond cream/frangipane recipes, I noted that some used flour, some used cornstarch, and others didn't use any starches. While the effect of including starch vs. not including it in the recipe is fairly obvious (absorbing moisture), I never figured out what the difference was between using flour and cornstarch.
Depending on what you're making, it can be not much difference to disaster.

Frangipane can also be made with dried sponge scraps and reject eclair shells.
No binder at all can give a more pudding texture that puffs up and collapses unless accommodated with ground nut flour.

Corn starch can give a finer textured pastry cream but the downside is it breaks down quicker.
Depending on the use, cake flour can be superior.
Some people blend the two starches.
Some applications are better suited to use arrowroot, certain sauces for example.

At the end of the day a bulletproof recipe can't be beat.
 
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Depending on what you're making, it can be not much difference to disaster.

Frangipane can also be made with dried sponge scraps and reject eclair shells.
No binder at all can give a more pudding texture that puffs up and collapses unless accommodated with ground nut flour.

Corn starch can give a finer textured pastry cream but the downside is it breaks down quicker.
Depending on the use, cake flour can be superior.
Some people blend the two starches.
Some applications are better suited to use arrowroot, certain sauces for example.

At the end of the day a bulletproof recipe can't be beat.
I had one time making almond cream where it collapsed in the middle, and I used less flour than the actual recipe called for. Maybe that could've been the reason for it collapsing then? Another reason I've seen people say for it puffing then collapsing is beating in too much air when creaming the butter, so it's possible that could've also contributed.
 
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I had one time making almond cream where it collapsed in the middle, and I used less flour than the actual recipe called for. Maybe that could've been the reason for it collapsing then? Another reason I've seen people say for it puffing then collapsing is beating in too much air when creaming the butter, so it's possible that could've also contributed.
insufficient flour, you changed the recipe.
I've lost jobs by messing up measurements, baking jobs are zero tolerance , especially when they give us good recipes.
Happens all the time, less and less with enough experience.
I'm retired now, what a trip that was.
 

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