Keep it Simple, Stupid

Okay guys, I hate to do this, but I have read one too many recipes which call for orange infused vanilla simple syrup with a hint of bacon. While there is nothing wrong with such an ingredient as such (though it is a bit hard to make), that isn’t “simple syrup.” Simple syrup or sugar syrup, also known to chefs as cottage syrup, has two ingredients: sugar and water. If you want to make it slightly more complex, you can add gum arabic, though technically, that gomme syrup, or a drop of lemon juice, which is technically invert syrup if you cook it long enough. If you add vanilla to it, you have vanilla syrup, if you add orange to the picture, you have orange syrup, and so on. It’s kind of like a martini. Martini’s have up to four ingredients: Gin, vodka, fortified wine, and possibly bitters. Just as a “sour apple martini cocktail” is not a martini even if it may be a cocktail, so too is a “sour apple simple syrup” not simple, even if it is a syrup.

I will give you infused simple syrups if you must. Technically, I guess if you used vanilla or some other sort of infused sugar to make a simple syrup, that could be considered an infused simple syrup since you are still sticking to the sugar, water, and nothing else formula of simple syrup.

Since you all probably want to get something useful out of this post, I just thought I would pass along a cool trick I got from a baker roommate of mine. First however, I just want to clear up some terminology as it relates to this blog:

  • Simple syrup refers to one part granulated sugar, one part water by volume.
  • Rich syrup refers to two parts granulated sugar, one part water by volume.
  • Brown syrup refers to one packed part dark brown or raw sugar, on part water by volume.
  • Rock or rock candy syrup refers to a supersaturated sugar-water solution.
  • I probably won’t be using gomme syrup, but if I ever do it refers to a syrup that requires an emulsifier to hold together.
  • If I modify any of the above sugar types with “invert” it means that I used the aforementioned quantities and used invert sugar to make it.

Which leads me to my little tip. Invert sugar is wonderful stuff. It’s effectively what honey is made out of and is sweeter per unit volume than an equivalent syrup, thus being healthier, and, even better, it keeps at room temperature for about six months. Sound good? It’s not too hard to make. Start with whatever syrup you like, and add just a touch of lemon juice or other acid to it. A touch. We’re talking about one percent here, which is about half a teaspoon per cup. Let it cook for about twenty minutes, and whamo presto: invert syrup. It was strongly recomended to me that I allow the mixture to cool without touching the pan, as jostling could start the crystalization if you aren’t careful. Incidentally, looking this up online says that heat alone will slightly invert the sugar. Alternately, if you work somewhere where you have a pastry chef available, just ask them.

Sweet times,
The Scribe

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: