Ask Sara: TV Chef Answers Your Questions

Celebrated author and TV chef Sara Moulton is the food editor at "Good Morning America."

You've written to her with questions about what you want to do in the kitchen, and she responded.

Sara Moulton Answers Your Questions

William Roberts: How do you get the hard-boiled egg to get the yoke to center in the white. I am making deviled eggs. I have tried spinning prior to dropping them in the hot water. What do you suggest?

Sara's Answer:


I reached out to my friend Howard Hellmer at the Egg Board for help on this one and here is what he said:

"That's a tough one because what I'm suggesting doesn't always work. Try this. The day before hard cooking the egg, invert it in the carton. Eggs are always packed and stored with the large end up to facilitate the air cell. Inverting the egg overnight has been known to work, but no guarantees."

Astrid Stennes: Substituting cake flour for plain flour; what is the ratio? and will the cake flour produce a "lighter" cake? cookie? Thank you.

Sara's Answer:


I asked the King Arthur Flour Baking Hotline for help with your question. Here is their answer:

"When using cake flour in place of all purpose, you may want to decrease the amount by 1 tablespoon. Because the starches in bleached cake flour are damaged, they can hold more moisture than all-purpose flour. You may notice a lighter crumb in many styles of cake when using cake flour, except in the case of a high ratio cake (lots of sugar and fat in proportion to the flour) when you would actually notice that the cake is more moist and dense. An all-purpose flour does not have the capacity to hold as much moisture, and thus you would need to add about 1 tablespoon more of AP flour (to absorb more liquid) when using it in a recipe that calls for cake flour. In this case you would note a slightly heavier cake just because there is more flour.

For cookies, the cake flour will produce a crisper cookie, but not necessarily a lighter one."

Warren Newcomb: I use Idaho potatoes and that's it. I grew up on them. I use them for mashed, fried, baked, potato pancakes just about everything. Someone threw a wrench into my thinking and stated that different potatoes have different ways for using them. Most of them where not Idaho. Can you explain what potato goes for what dish. Thanks in advance.

Sara's Answer:


There are two basic kinds of potatoes; baking and boiling. Baking potatoes, also known as russets (the most famous of which is the Idaho) have a mealy fluffy texture when cooked and are high in starch. Boiling potatoes (examples are round whites, long whites, red bliss) have a firm waxy texture and are not as high in starch.

You should reach for a baking potato when you are looking for a fluffy texture (such as in mashed potatoes) or when you need the starch they provide (such as in a potato pancake; that starch holds the pancake together).

You should reach for a boiling potato when you need a potato that will holds its shape after cooking. This is especially important for a potato salad. (An Idaho falls apart after you boil it.) The other strong point of boiling potatoes is that they are thin skinned. Their skins are tender enough that you don't need to peel them. In fact, that is an easy way to tell baking and boiling potatoes apart. If the potato has a thick tough skin it is a baking potato and if it has a thin skin it is a boiling potato.

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