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Bechamel sauce flour-butter amounts

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 

Bechamel sauce requires the same amount of butter and flour. By amount, do we refer to "mass" (volume) or weight (in grams)?

Some recipes call for for the same amount of grams for each. Others call for the same amount of tbsps for each. Which method is correct? Grams or tbsps?

post #2 of 16

Do it by Volume.

 

But roux is more flexible than that really. Equal volume is simplest to make and to mix in. However, i routinely use about 2x as much flour as fat just to reduce the fat I'm consuming. The flour has the thickening power, the fat just helps it cook evenly and mix in more evenly. This thicker roux clumps up as you cook it out, particularly for the lighter colored roux you use for bechamel. This is trickier to mix in smoothly to the milk and I sometimes resort to my immersion blender to fix lumps. Sure, it's not a lot of fat I'm getting rid of, but over the course of a year, it adds up.  

Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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post #3 of 16

The classic recipe for roux is........equal parts of butter and flour by weight. So, the weight method would be most traditional and correct. When you see the ratio of flour and butter to milk, it is referencing the finished roux to milk and not the recipe for the roux. If I remember correctly, it's 2 Tbsp per cup or in larger quantities, 1lb. of roux to 1 gallon of milk but, as with most things cooking, final adjustments will always need to be made. There is subjectivity and are some variables when thickening sauces. 

 

Any of the pros out there, feel free to correct me if I'm wrong.

post #4 of 16

I'm not sure that it really matters too much - weight versus volume.  Like Phatch, I find the roux formula  be very flexible in pracical terms.  Only suggestion I have is to always cook it thoroughly and make more than is needed because the worst case situaion is to need a little more and not have it on hand.

post #5 of 16

At the 1 pound level, it starts to approximate my 2x as much flour by volume as fat. 1 pound of butter is 2 cups. 1 pound of flour is 3-4 cups depending on measuring technique--always the peril of volume measurements.  At the tablespoon level, the differences are less marked.

Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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post #6 of 16

I can't subscribe to the thought process of "approximate" when we're talking about classic, time honored and basic foods 101 recipe or preparation methods. Yes, there are things that we all bend the rules about and do I continue to weigh my roux ingredients?....Yes, about 95% of the time. The remaining 5% is when I'm using a sauce À la Minute and I often have a roux on-hand in the fridge just in case Murphy shows up and blows it all to.........

 

That being the case .......I've seen too much flour in the roux produce a dry and improperly proportioned roux that leads to lumps in your sauce and other issues especially when making Béchamel in it's classic and original form. Granted you should be straining your sauces but the idea is to minimize this since it's wasted product. On the other side, I've also seen that too little leaves excess butter not bound with the flour in the roux and an improperly proportioned roux as well, that, can lead to the roux leaching butter into the sauce and also precipitate a roux failure.

 

Yet, I understand we're talking home cook techniques but I believe in the idea of ChefTalk and imparting not only knowledge but the importance of following the recipes in their original form, especially when it pertains to a classic recipe. Also understand that, in the world most of us are from, there wasn't a gray area regarding this so there's a deep rooted belief it does make a difference. It'd be hilarious to see ya'll trying to explain about a roux to one of my former Execs. Heck, I'd pay to see that and my advice would be to.........duck!


Edited by oldschool1982 - 7/11/14 at 7:55pm
post #7 of 16

Just out of curiosity I looked up bechamel by some old school chefs to see what they did. Here are the results-

 

Escoffier-grams, not quite 50/50, 5/6 butter/flour

Pellaprat-tablespoons 50/50

Julia Childs-tablespoons, not 50/50 either, 5/7 butter/flour

 

I make it a couple of times a month at work and the recipe we use is by volume but we use rice flour when making bechamel, so the ratio is skewed from 50/50.

 

Another potential can of worms sitting on the shelf...roux...whole or clarified butter? I am turning my computer off and going outside now.

Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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post #8 of 16
I'm with oldschool1982, any time i've done large batches of roux i did it by wieght. But I also agree that if you're making a few cups of sauce, it's fairly easy to eyeball without screwing up.
To me, the thing thats underemphasized is the need to cook the sauce out for like, half an hour.
post #9 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by oldschool1982 View Post
 

...

 

Yet, I understand we're talking home cook techniques but I believe in the idea of ChefTalk and imparting not only knowledge but the importance of following the recipes in their original form, especially when it pertains to a classic recipe....

I appreciate that kind of reminder.  Thanks.

 

And thanks, phatch, for the reminder that quantity of roux makes a big difference in the volumetric proportions.  I should have membered that on my own  :)

post #10 of 16

@BrianShaw Thank you for that!

 

Plus a sincere thanks to @cheflayne for setting the record and my info straight. He raises a very good point.


Edited by oldschool1982 - 7/11/14 at 7:56pm
post #11 of 16

@thediana I see you're a homecook as well. I made lots of béchamel and derivates in my life and I'd like to share how. Making a béchamel isn't all that tricky.

It is already mentioned here that weight is probably the right thing to. I believe so too, simply because common sense tells it's quite hard to make equal volumes without melting the butter first... however, for a homecook, after a few try-outs you'll be able to make a béchamel -using volumes- without measuring anything, just by eye, or as the French say "au pif".

It's also been said that the ratio butter/flour isn't critical at all. In fact, you need to be able to "play" with the ingredients for the best result.

 

Making béchamel, using around half a liter of milk (1 lb in weight).

A. Make a roux first with butter and flour.

- Add 2 heaped tbsp. of butter (or margarine!) to a pot and let it melt on medium low flame. Do not let it brown, even better, you can add the flour even before the butter is entirely melted; I always do that. You need a "blond" roux for béchamel.

- Add 2 slightly heaped tbsp. of flour to the butter and let it integrate into the butter while slowly whisking (do not use a wooden spoon for this!); 1. this breaks up lumps, 2. this will give you an idea how the roux evolves. Do make sure to reach all "corners" of your pan, you do not want roux to sediment there or you will get lumps. Using a conical pan is a very good idea.

- After simmering for a while and whisking it slowly, you should have a rather thick pasty looking roux, like the consistency of mayo. If it gets crumbly, then add another 1/2 tbsp. of butter and stir again. If it remains quite thin and not pasty, add a small 1/2 tbsp. of flour and continu to stir until the roux is ready.

 

B. For the béchamel;

Please, do use cold milk, this will avoid lumps! Also, it works easier for a better result.

- Add a good dash (maybe 1/2 a cup or so) of cold milk  to your roux (still on low fire). Whisk vigourously using a whisk. Almost immediately you will get a thick result. Add another good dash of milk, a bit more than the first time. Whisk again. Keep adding milk bit by bit while whisking until the béchamel has the required thickness.

Note; Each time you add milk, it takes a few moments before the preparations thickens, so don't add the milk too soon, give it a bit of time each time you added milk and keep whisking.

- When your béchamel has the right thickness, let it simmer for a good 10 minutes on very low fire.

 

Italians happen to add a dash of cream at the very last moment (don't boil anymore when doing this), it's the secret of their lasagna (don't tell anyone!).

When you change the milk with stock (veggie, chicken..), either partial or entirely, you have what is called a "velouté".

You can make a béchamel as thick as you want. When made for use it in ovendishes, you might want to leave it thicker... again, play with it.

 

Another note; Nowadays, in culinary schools, they teach to add cold milk to hot roux or cold roux to hot milk.

Enjoy!

post #12 of 16
Thread Starter 

"You can make a béchamel as thick as you want. When made for use in oven dishes, you might want to leave it thicker... again, play with it."

 

Did you mean "you might want to leave it thinner" instead of "thicker"? Please confirm.

post #13 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:

 

You can make a béchamel as thick as you want. When made for use it in ovendishes, you might want to leave it thicker... again, play with it.

 

 

 

 

Did you mean "you might want to leave it thinner" instead of "thicker"? Please confirm.

post #14 of 16

I did mean thicker. It's not unusual for oven dishes like lasagna or moussaka with a top layer of béchamel or Mornay (=béchamel with cheese), to give it a +/- 20 minute rest after it comes out of the oven and let it set and cool just a bit. The thicker consistency gives you the opportunity to cut nicer pieces from the dish.

However, you're the boss and you make it as you prefer it to be.

post #15 of 16

I agree with Chris, for a baked dish like Moussaka a thicker bechemel is needed since it will rise and set depending on the egg yolks and cheese added. It is not the same consistency as you would use for a plated sauce.

Thanks,

Nicko 
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Thanks,

Nicko 
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post #16 of 16


I prefer almost 2 parts flour to 1 part butter. Don't let it stick to pan constantly stir in a heavy pan. I use warm milk.  cook roux a bit for blond roux and for a brown roux I sometime start with browned flour done in oven.  or I take the pan of cooked roux and put in oven to finish.

I store in air  tight containers not refrigerated. I make enough for 3 days production.... 

If you are on the line at service whip together prior a little manni butter prior for  ' a la minute"

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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