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Old 10-22-2006, 10:49 AM   #1
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How do I make bechemel without burning the milk?

at what temperature does milk burn and stick to the bottom of the pan never to be removed?

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Old 10-22-2006, 11:27 AM   #2
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It's not the milk temperature, but rather the heat source temperature. When milk, or any lizuid containg starches and/or sugars rests against a very hot surface, the starches/sugars begin to carmelize and stick to that surface. If milk is constantly moved around, this helps prevent it from sticking, but only to a point. Keep your burner temperature between simmer and mideum, stirr frequently, and you should be able to avoid the "burned to the bottom, never to remove" problem.

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Old 10-22-2006, 11:53 AM   #3
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Well, I believe it is the milk temperature.

If you put the milk into a hot pan and leave it undisturbed the milk closest to the source of the heat will reach the burn temperature quickly and scorch.

If you stir the milk constantly, the movement will keep redistributing the added heat throughout the milk so it heats up more uniformly. When the more uniformly heated milk reaches the same burn temperature, it will scorch.

AS GW suggests, the stirring improves your chances of making a bechamel without a burning problem.

All that being said, I don't know the temperature at which milk burns,
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Old 10-22-2006, 12:16 PM   #4
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Is this another trick homework question, cookingSoul?!
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Old 10-22-2006, 12:41 PM   #5
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lol nah i wasted a gallon of milk and a crap load of other ingrediants on a burnt bechamel....just looking for suggestions...i already figured less heat...but uh other then that idk...i used a thin pan..could i give it full heat if i had a heavier pot?
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Old 10-22-2006, 12:45 PM   #6
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A pan with a layered bottom (SS and aluminum) will distribute heat more evenly than SS alone, which produces hot spots, just what you don't want. However, a layered bottom pan does not eliminate the need to stir and moderate the heat.

You need to apply some patience to this sauce.
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Old 10-22-2006, 01:17 PM   #7
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Well, milk will burn if you boil it for a prolonged period of time so 212 F would be the answer. But the trick with a bechamel is to constantly stir it so that the sauce does not burn. Once you add the milk to the roux you need to bring it to a boil. At that you point you can turn the temp. down so that it is not at a full boil, but you'll still need to stir the sauce constantly as it will burn on you very quickly if you're not paying attention to it.
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Old 10-22-2006, 10:51 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy M.
Well, I believe it is the milk temperature.

If you put the milk into a hot pan and leave it undisturbed the milk closest to the source of the heat will reach the burn temperature quickly and scorch.

If you stir the milk constantly, the movement will keep redistributing the added heat throughout the milk so it heats up more uniformly. When the more uniformly heated milk reaches the same burn temperature, it will scorch.

AS GW suggests, the stirring improves your chances of making a bechamel without a burning problem.

All that being said, I don't know the temperature at which milk burns,
And I believe you're right, Andy. The milk touching the hot surface does get hot faster than the layers above it as the heat is transfered through conduction from the source to the layer touching it, and then by convection from that layer to the rest of the milk. But it is still the sugars and complex carbs that caramelize and burn.

And we're both correct in the assertion that stiring helps distribute the heat, and so helps prevent burning the milk. The heat source is important as well. If it's too hot, no amount of stirring will help. If it's too cool, then the bechemel won't thicken. But the more gentle heat of a double boiler would be sufficient to set thicken the sauce and almost could not burn it. So everything is relative.

The solution has already been given, moderate heat, frequent, even constant stirring, and patience. After that, the rest becomes academic. I accept your correction.

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Old 10-23-2006, 06:42 AM   #9
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The title of the thread is "bechamel" and it suggests that cookingsoul isn't following a good protocol--at least as I make bechamel/white sauce. Goodweed has touched on it also.
I make a roux first and then add the milk which can also be hot. While I wouldn't do a gallon in a thin bottomed pan, I have done a quart.
But, in my experience, bechamel sauces require constant stirring once the milk is added--and a close watch on the heat.
I don't add all the milk at one time--add, whisk in until it starts thickening and then whisk in more milk to the desired thickness.
And a substantial weight pan helps all cooking procedures.
Maybe he was heating his milk separately for adding to the roux. Then heating it slowly with stirring (and watching) until it just begins to bubble at the edges (a scald) would be the way to go, as others have suggested. It can be done in a light pan IF you watch it carefully.
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Old 10-23-2006, 07:19 AM   #10
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First question:
Quote:
Originally Posted by cookingSoul
How do I make bechemel without burning the milk?
Answer: adopt as many of the above good suggestions as you can manage, i.e., low heat, thick pan, constant stirring.

I suppose if you're just hopeless at stirring, cookingSoul, you could always make the roux, add the milk, and accomplish the thickening in a double boiler ... but that's cheating if you're in culinary school. Besides, you seem like a man in a hurry, am I right? Why the desire to use full heat?

Second question:
Quote:
Originally Posted by cookingSoul
at what temperature does milk burn and stick to the bottom of the pan never to be removed?
Answer: who knows?! Certainly I don't!
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Old 12-08-2006, 05:13 PM   #11
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Bechamel is definetly not a sauce you want to leave alone... especially not once you add milk to it. I find the best pan to use is a nice saucier. You really want to be able to control the temperature as much as possible, generally if If I have the stovetop space I keep two burners on at different temperatures (one low and one slighly above medium). I usually move the pan off one burner onto the other whenever I need to bring up the heat and use the other one to fall back on. Once you have the roux I add a all the milk in but I usually leave a lot out (always better to have a thick sauce you can thin than a thin sauce you can't thicken). During the thickening process it's all about intuition. You really just have to FEEL it as it goes and watch the temperature so it doesn't burn (which I have never heard of before until now). Best way to get a good feel is just to constantly stir and watch the way it thickens. If it is thickening too fast... move it to a lower temperature... if it's not doing anything then you bring up more temperature (slowly).
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Old 12-09-2006, 01:37 AM   #12
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I agree completely with Qzar and would only add that if one of your pans has a hot spot ... bechemel will find it for sure, every time!
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Old 12-09-2006, 03:25 AM   #13
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When making bechamel on a gas range, I find that a heat diffuser helps. Other than that, stir-stir-stir.
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Old 12-09-2006, 05:46 AM   #14
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in addition to using a heavy pan, lowering the heat after it comes to a boil and stirring constantly as others have mentioned, also make sure to make contact with the entire bottom surface, including the hard-to-satifactorily-reach corner of the pan where the bottom turns into the side. a whisk will do a better job than a spoon. lastly, just in case you're doing this, don't wait till it comes to a boil to start stirring. stir from the get go.
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Old 12-09-2006, 10:06 AM   #15
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Mine is initially made over medium heat, and I use cool milk/stock. Once the roux is ready, whisk with one hand while very slowly adding the milk. The cool milk should quickly absorb the heat of the roux/mirepoix/pan, and over a medium burner there should be little chance of burning. Once it's incorporated, I increase the heat to medium-high and whisk constantly until it visibly thickens and reaches a light simmer. Then it's back down to low/medium-low where I will add a sachet (normally i just add the stuff straight in, as i strain afterwords anyways) and barely simmer for 30min or so whisking every 2-3min to develop the flavor, texture, and viscosity I desire.

Same rules apply for veloute, pan gravies, and many other sauces. Just practice a few times, and by all means, practice with 2-C or 4-C batches rather than 1-gal.

The truely fun one to learn is a Beurre Blanc. I was lucky enough to catch onto that pretty quick, but I've tried to show people the technique before and it's really difficult for some - especially when you make an authentic one without the stabilizing cheat of adding cream.

It's all about heat management. Controlling the intensity of the heat source, understanding how it transitions into/through the pan (and into the sauce), and what the sauce does at various heat levels. There is a "lag" after you increase/decrease the heat, as the excess heat needs to flow from the burner to the pan to the sauce, or from the sauce, through the pan, to the burner/ambient air (in the case of a heat reduction).

Start slow. After you incorporate the liquid, bring it back to a simmer over medium heat. You will have to stand there and whisk for 10-15min, but there is nothing wrong with going slow the first few times... I did!
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Old 12-09-2006, 12:52 PM   #16
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Whenever I hear a question like this, I go back to basics.

Folks made darned good bechemel on wood fired stoves without stainless steel pans.

Have been in restaurants where they were cooking with pots that looked like the bottoms could not stand one more cleaning without having a gape. Yet they made a darned good product.

Put something in the oven and you can relax for a bit.

But anything on top of the stove needs watching.

Too much heat and the sauce burns. If you have a hot stove, put the pan down and move it off when it gets too hot and keep stirring.

Cooking to me is both technique and art. But without the technique, the art is lost.

Sorry if I am ranting, just feel a bit peckish today.
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Old 12-10-2006, 09:25 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by auntdot
Whenever I hear a question like this, I go back to basics.

Folks made darned good bechemel on wood fired stoves without stainless steel pans.

Have been in restaurants where they were cooking with pots that looked like the bottoms could not stand one more cleaning without having a gape. Yet they made a darned good product.

Put something in the oven and you can relax for a bit.

But anything on top of the stove needs watching.

Too much heat and the sauce burns. If you have a hot stove, put the pan down and move it off when it gets too hot and keep stirring.

Cooking to me is both technique and art. But without the technique, the art is lost.

Sorry if I am ranting, just feel a bit peckish today.
I tend to agree with you. I'm not going to purchase $90+ pans when my inexpensive cast-iron and hand-me-down SS pans give me great performance. It's not the pans that make great food, it's the person using them.

I'm going to recap what was already posted. First, know what you are working with, sticky, starchy flour and fat. The flour, if heated too much will scorch, as will dairy products used in the sauce. So use moderate to low heat, just enought to simmer the sauce. Melt the butter or fat into the pan. Add the same amount of flour, and a pinch of salt, and whisk together until a smooth paste is formed. Then, add either cream, half 'n half, or milk (they all work) slowly to the roux. Continue adding liquid while whisking until the sauce has thinned to the consistancy you want to achieve.

Traditional seasonings for Bechemel are simply salt, and a bit of nutmeg. This is why it is one of the Mother Sauces. Once you have the Bechemel sauce made, then you add other flavors and ingredients, such as cheese, or pepper, or soup base. You throw in pearl onions and allow to simmer until the onions are tender and you have creamed onions. Throw in some Parmesano Regiano and you have something very close to an Alfredo sauce, though some would contend that Alfredo sauce is made with heavy cream, with no roux involved. I've had it both ways and they are both good.

If you use the same technique for making the roux, and thin it with the broth from split pea soup, and then add the sauce to the soup, it will suspend the solids and "bind" the soup.

There are so many small, or derivative sauces that can be made from Bechemel sauce, not to mention a host of chowders, creamed soups and veggies, creamed chipped beef, soufle's, etc. You can even, with some imagination and a bit of egg, or cornstarch, make your own tasty puddings that are cream smooth and yummy. Bechemel also makes a great starter for the cheese sauce for cheese macaroni.

As Aunt Dot said, it's not the pan, its the cook, and the technique used that makes for great Bechemel.
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Old 12-18-2006, 03:36 PM   #18
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Some people have taken to substituting bay leaves for the cloves/nutmeg. I saw Alton Brown do this and somewhere else. Has anyone else tried this?
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