Is scalding milk necessary in baking bread?

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DEAR SUN SPOTS: When making bread, the recipes say to scald the milk and I do. Is this really necessary, and if so, why? — No Name, Vienna

ANSWER: According to www.kitchensavvy.com, scalding milk:

1) Kills harmful bacteria.

2) Destroys enzymes that may affect the way the milk performs in the recipe.

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3) Raises the temperature of the milk to speed up results.

4) Increases the amount of flavor that is extracted from some ingredients, such as vanilla beans.

With pasteurized milk, the first two reasons are no longer necessary. That leaves the last two.

Kitchensavvy.com also said that heating the milk may speed up the action of the yeast but that wouldn’t require scalding, just heating to about 110 degrees.

An online story at www.heraldtribune.com reported the following in a story about scalding milk for baking:

“baking 911.com, notes that some recipes may ask you to scald and cool milk just to be sure it is at a good temperature (110-115 F) for combining with other ingredients.

“Shirley O. Corriher, a food scientist and author of “Cookwise” (Morrow, 1997), noticed that when she didn’t scald milk for certain bread recipes, the bread didn’t rise as high as it did when she used scalded milk. Researching further, she learned that one of the enzymes in whey weakens the gluten in flour and thus prevents the bread from rising.”

Sun Spots, who is no chef, was unable to draw a firm conclusion from these and other online sources. Readers?

DEAR SUN SPOTS: I read that the tick population will be heavy this year, and the story mentioned that you could purchase Ticked Off, a small notched scoop which can be used to remove the tick. I am wondering where this can be purchased. Thank you. — No Name, No Town

ANSWER: The ticks are bad this year. In one day, Sun Spots took 10 off one of her cats! She has done it so much that most of the time she no longer even needs tweezers. She did see Ticked Off for sale at the veterinarians. It looks just like a measuring teaspoon with a little “v” on the edge.

You can buy them directly from the company, Ticked-Off Inc., at www.tickedoff.com, by e-mail at tickedoff@ttlc.net or by phone at 800-642-2485 or 603-742-0925 for $10. Their mailing address is at 99 Spruce Lane, Dover, N.H. 03820.

DEAR SUN SPOTS: Lois Camire was a dance teacher who owned and operated Lois Camire School of Dance for many years in the Lewiston-Auburn area. Lois touched so many lives through her dance studio, instilling a sense of pride and grace in each of her many students.

Every year, from 1972 to 2000, she opened and closed her yearly recital with a tap number “Yankee Doodle,” which later turned into “The Traditional.” Unfortunately, 10 years ago, Lois passed away, but as she always said, “The show must go on!” For this very reason, we would like to pay tribute to Lois to mark the 10 years that the show has gone on through Camire School of Dance.

To show how much we all still have her in our hearts, we would like to perform the “Traditional” with as many tap dancers as possible who participated in this piece from 1972 to 2010. If you would like to participate, please visit Camire School of Dance’s Web site, www.camiredance.com, and click on the Yankee Doodle page. There you will find all the information you will need in order to participate. Thank you, and I look forward to hearing from all those tappers, whose lives were touched by Lois. Linda Camire via e-mail

This column is for you, our readers. It is for your questions and comments. There are only two rules: You must write to the column and sign your name (we won’t use it if you ask us not to). Please include your phone number. Letters will not be returned or answered by mail, and telephone calls will not be accepted. Your letters will appear as quickly as space allows. Address them to Sun Spots, P.O. Box 4400, Lewiston, ME 04243-4400. Inquiries can also be e-mailed to sunspots@sunjournal.com.

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