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Take solace home cooks and bakers, you're not losing your mind ...

ipsedixit | Nov 30, 201002:51 PM

From the WSJ: "The Dicey Calculus of Cooking"

A brief tidbit:

Cooking is a blend of art and science, and while recipes aim to reduce the margin of error, there are so many variables in contemporary cooking that the opportunities to go awry are plentiful.

"The numbers matter in a lot of ways," says John "Doc" Willoughby, the executive editor of Cook's Illustrated magazine, which is dedicated to persnickety precision.

What's the difference between a 10-inch skillet and a 12-inch skillet? Not just a mere two inches. The larger pan has 44% more surface area.

Since the rate of evaporation of a liquid is proportional to its exposed surface area, a sauce in a larger, flatter skillet will reduce far more rapidly than one in a taller, narrower pan. A cook who doubles a recipe but keeps the same size pot and the same cooking time will wind up with a watery sauce.

Likewise, says Mr. Willoughby, try to stir-fry a batch of meat in a 10-inch skillet instead of a 12-inch skillet, and "instead of sautéeing you'll end up steaming it."

Read the full article here:

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