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Old 01-07-2007, 11:38 AM   #11
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Okay, a little later than expected but hoping at least a couple of you are still tuned in, here are some quotes from the section in "Joy" which I thought was an eye-opener (it's 12 paragraphs long so I'm not typing all of it!):

Quote:
Cornstarch, along with tapioca and arrowroot, is recommended for thickening very acid fruits because it does not lose its thickening power as quickly as flour does in the presence of acid. But if it is overcooked, it loses its thickening power very quickly, regardless of the presence of acid. These facts account for the countless letters we get on pie fillings. In the extra special care cooks lavish on fillings, they are apt to overcook, or overbeat them after cooking. Be very careful to check the cooking stages described later on.

Other causes for breakdown of thickening may come from a too high percentage of sugar in the recipe and, strangely, even from using too much cornstartch.
Well, this is what I was referring to: mine never thickened enough and, in fact, seemed almost to get thinner. If what they say above is true, my experience makes sense: I added more cornstarch because I was discouraged with it not thickening, and then I cooked it more expecting it to now thicken with the additional cornstarch. I may, therefore, both have added too much and overcooked it, a sure-fire way to screw it up according to them!

Here are the stages:

Quote:
Once the cornstarch is properly added to the liquid, dispersed either in sugar or in a cold paste, it goes through 2 main cooking periods, 3 if eggs are added ... During the first period of about 8 to 12 minutes, constant, gentle stirring is necessary to blend the mixture free from lumps and to hold the starch particles in suspension until gelatinization takes place and the mixture thickens. In this time, it should have reached at least 185 degrees, the temperature that is essential for proper unmolding.

Then follows the second period of about 10 minutes when the mixture is covered and cooked undisturbed to complete gelatinization. Maintain the 185 degree temperature.
I've left out the third stage since it has to do with eggs which in at least my most recent troubles, weren't involved.

They also mention that the material from which the double boiler is made makes a difference, stainless steel and enamel being superior to glass or crockery. Usually I use my S.S. double boiler although with the recent catastrophe, I was using glass. I haven't had much luck with the S.S. either, however!

Anyhow, I'm still baffled about all of this and find it fascinating (in a really frustrating sort of way!) that the less I tried, the better it came out!

Any comments would be very, very welcome.
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Old 01-07-2007, 12:32 PM   #12
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Ayrton, my experience and what the book says are at odds. This is not a big issue to me because I do believe that I can handle the occasional underdose/overdose of cornflour/cornstarch without much difficulty. Beyond this, there is nothing else I can say.
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Old 01-19-2007, 10:24 PM   #13
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I find it to be extremely agrivating thickening sauces with flour. Now i use instant potatoes from the box. It's simple and tastes alot better than flour.
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Old 01-21-2007, 08:05 PM   #14
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Petey, I love you. No, I use cornstarch for thickening anything Asian (that glossy, clear look and texture), have never bought potato starch. But I keep potato flakes on hand and use them for thickening some dishes. They also make a great breading sub; if you buy the flakes (not the buds), they can even sub for panko.
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Old 01-21-2007, 08:10 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Claire
Petey, I love you. No, I use cornstarch for thickening anything Asian (that glossy, clear look and texture), have never bought potato starch. But I keep potato flakes on hand and use them for thickening some dishes. They also make a great breading sub; if you buy the flakes (not the buds), they can even sub for panko.
You know. i almost bought corn starch today. I want to make general Tao's chicken. seems you do alot of asian cooking .maybe you could better direct me in making the coating for the chicken? I'm a novice at asian cooking.
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Old 06-07-2012, 09:06 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by Ayrton View Post
Hi back -- sorry I'm late getting back to this but for some reason, this doesn't show up in my CP as a thread I'm involved with (!) so no helpful e-mails ...

Thanks for all info above. Just quickly to answer some of the points raised: yes, the "corn flour" I can find here feels and looks exactly like the "corn starch" I knew in the States -- it is very dissimilar to baking flour or any other corn products. And it's clearly intended for the same uses as corn starch if information on the box is to be trusted. Those are the reasons I find my difficulty with it so confounding!

Boufa, thanks for the Google text, but I read that to be a comparison between corn starch and regular (AP) flour -- corn flour's only mentioned briefly as another name for corn starch.

Urmaniac, I also add to cold liquid and dissolve first, as I always did with corn starch. It blends in well but just doesn't thicken as much as it should. Making a lemon meringue pie, for instance, I use the same recipe I've used since I was a kid, namely, the Betty Crocker recipe. So for half my life I used 2 T. (or whatever) of corn starch and it came out perfectly, and now I attempt the same thing and use 2 T. of corn flour and it invariably comes out more liquid-y than desirable. Aaaaargh!

The stuff I've generally bought is the package you're describing Boufa, although I've also tried the other brands available here. Right now I'm buying Carrefour's house brand so presumably it's French. It says "maizena" in small letters by the way, Urmaniac. But no matter what, not the same results!

Anyhow, let me get my "Joy" and share with y'all the section within about these so-called stages. She makes it sound rather scientific and precise -- odd. Then I'll whip up an experimental batch of something according to her instructions, and let you know, how's that?

Thanks everybody!
Oh why, why, didn't I read this message years ago! I am an American who has lived in Scotland a long time.... I gave up on the lemon merinque pie 10 years ago. I realized it was most likely the corn flour but like yourself everyone told me that these products were the same thing. Thankyou so much for clearing this up! It is not me after all. Ardell
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Old 06-07-2012, 09:24 AM   #17
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Oh why, why, didn't I read this years ago! I am an American who has lived in Scotland a long time. I gave up on my lemon merinque pie ten years ago, your same recipe. Everyone told me that corn flour and corn starch were the same thing so I thought it was me. Thankyou so much for clearing this up. Ardell
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Old 06-07-2012, 09:33 AM   #18
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Ardell -- wait!

This is Ayrton writing, but under a new name because I haven't been active in Discuss Cooking for years. I got a copy of your comment on this thread e-mailed to me, however, and I've signed up again just to reach you because there's more to my adventures with this, and in particular with lemon meringue pie! It has been SUCH a struggle but I've learned plenty. And certainly can't leave you feeling defeated by it

I'd love to tell you what I've learned but probably would prefer to do so directly/privately. I'll try to enter my e-mail address but if it doesn't 'take' see if you can private-message me. If all else fails, just let me know here.
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Old 06-07-2012, 11:15 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by XeniA View Post
Ardell -- wait!

This is Ayrton writing, but under a new name because I haven't been active in Discuss Cooking for years. I got a copy of your comment on this thread e-mailed to me, however, and I've signed up again just to reach you because there's more to my adventures with this, and in particular with lemon meringue pie! It has been SUCH a struggle but I've learned plenty. And certainly can't leave you feeling defeated by it

I'd love to tell you what I've learned but probably would prefer to do so directly/privately. I'll try to enter my e-mail address but if it doesn't 'take' see if you can private-message me. If all else fails, just let me know here.
thankyou so much for tracking me down thru my website. I can not wait to find out what you have discovered about these confusing starches esp. since there is so much miss-information out there. In fact I propose you write a book!
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Old 06-07-2012, 11:46 AM   #20
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You might want to check this link:

Is cornflour and cornstarch the same thing
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