What is pumpkin?
September 22, 2010 7:30 AM   Subscribe

When figuring out baking ratios, is canned pumpkin considered a liquid or a dry ingredient?

Most pumpkin whoopie pie recipes call for vegetable oil, but I would like to use butter, so I'm trying to convert my chocolate whoopie pie recipe. I have a basic understanding of baking ratios and think I could make the conversion, but I can't figure out if canned pumpkin would be considered a liquid or dry ingredient or some combination of both. Do you know how pumpkin factors into baking ratios?
posted by pokeedog to Food & Drink (18 answers total)
Sort of a liquid. Sort of a binding agent, like eggs. (Fruit purees are sometimes used in vegan recipes in part to serve that purpose.) Definitely not a dry ingredient, I would say.
posted by clavicle at 7:46 AM on September 22, 2010

Definitely a wet ingredient. Also make sure you compensate for the fact that butter is 20% water, while vegetable oil is 100% fat.

I expect you will have to add substantially more flour to absorb the extra moisture that the pumpkin will provide.
posted by overeducated_alligator at 7:46 AM on September 22, 2010

I would think of dry ingredients as things like salt, flour, yeast, baking soda, pepper, cinnamon, etc.

If your dry finger touches the ingredient and your finger becomes wet, then it's a wet ingredient.
posted by dfriedman at 7:48 AM on September 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

Wet. Additionally, do consider that they may be a reason most recipes use oil over butter. In fact, IIRC, this is true of many pumpkin recipes...
posted by maryr at 7:49 AM on September 22, 2010

Canned pumpkin is a wet ingredient.

Dry ingredients are basically salt, flour, baking soda or baking powder and spices. Usually your sugars would go in next, then the wet ingredients: eggs, canned pumpkin or any kind of fruit, etc. Sometimes you cream your sugars and wet ingredients together, but, yeah, canned pumpkin is a wet ingredient.
posted by misha at 7:49 AM on September 22, 2010

In reading these answers, I think I asked the wrong question. Can pumpkin be subbed at a 1:1 ratio to wet ingredients? For example if the previous recipe had milk, can I substitute pumpkin for milk? If not, what adjustments do I need to make to my fat, sugar and dry ratios?
posted by pokeedog at 7:58 AM on September 22, 2010

I don't think it's quite so simple. Pumpkin is obviously not milk, and will not act like milk. Even if it were orange juice, liquids are not universally interchangeable. It really depends on what the milk was supposed to accomplish in the original recipe. I'd experiment, rather than looking for a magic formula.
posted by jon1270 at 8:06 AM on September 22, 2010

Yes, I know pumpkin isn't like milk. Baking is all about formulas, it isn't really a place to experiment. Baking is about being precise. I'm asking what the formula/ratio is for pumpkin and how it would impact the other ratios of a recipe.
posted by pokeedog at 8:14 AM on September 22, 2010

Maybe it would help to post the recipe you're trying to convert? The pumpkin pie I'm familiar with isn't of the 'whoopie' variety.
posted by jon1270 at 8:18 AM on September 22, 2010

See now, to me baking is part formula and part art! It's just more of that trip vs. destination mumbo jumbo, but to each his own. Have fun!

Personally, if I was gonna attempt to substitute the milk with pumpkin, I'd add a 15% ratio of something truly 'wet', like additional milk, water, or juice, to compensate.
posted by matty at 8:47 AM on September 22, 2010 [2 favorites]

I think 1-to-1 conversions from a recipe that calls for chocolate won't so much give you what you want here. Chocolate's a chemically tricky thing (tricky beyond my capacity to explain, I'm no chemist). A whoopie pie's basically a soft cookie, right? This recipe might be an easier starting point -- especially since what makes it vegan isn't any sort of baking ratio magic but rather just one ingredient substitution (margarine). I note that it also calls for a little applesauce, a common egg replacer, which suggests to me that the pumpkin is pretty much just for delicious pumpkin flavor.
posted by clavicle at 8:49 AM on September 22, 2010

Pumpkin is, according to this link, between 85-93% liquid. So I'd treat it as mostly water, with about 10% solid mass.

Also in my experience, North American, non-specialty commercial butters are about 15% water, not 20%.
posted by yellowcandy at 9:00 AM on September 22, 2010

Personally, I would just start with the pumpkin pie recipe and substitute melted butter for vegetable oil, rather than starting with a chocolate pie recipe and substituting pumpkin for chocolate. You're experimenting anyway, and butter is "closer" to oil than pumpkin is to chocolate.
posted by Johnny Assay at 9:01 AM on September 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

I don't understand why you wouldn't just substitute melted butter for the oil 1:1 in the pumpkin pie recipe you have.
posted by purpletangerine at 9:01 AM on September 22, 2010

ooh, Johnny beat me to it.
posted by purpletangerine at 9:02 AM on September 22, 2010

Here's a pumpkin whoopie pie recipe that uses butter instead of vegetable oil. The proportions might be a good place to start if you'd still rather convert your chocolate recipe (note that only 1 stick of butter is used for the cookies - the rest is reserved for the filling.
posted by muddgirl at 9:03 AM on September 22, 2010

Yes, I know pumpkin isn't like milk. Baking is all about formulas, it isn't really a place to experiment. Baking is about being precise.

But that's the problem with trying to label something a wet or dry ingredient: it's not precise, because both wet and dry ingredients contain other things that play different roles in the chemistry of baking. Milk contains fat, pumpkin has little. Milk also has protein. Pumpkin has sugars and starches. All these other properties will change the final product, which is why jon1270's suggestion is not at all unreasonable from a scientific view. Unless your recipe specifies the type of oil, milk, protein and water content of your flour, ambient temperature and humidity of your kitchen, &c., there are gong to be variables in each iteration of that recipe.

That said, I'm not sure what milk vs. pumpkin has to do with butter vs. oil. If you clarify the butter, the water in it will evaporate and you can substitute 1 for 1 with oil.

I don't understand why you wouldn't just substitute melted butter for the oil 1:1 in the pumpkin pie recipe you have.

Because butter contains water- around 12-18%. Melted butter will still contain water, clarified butter loses water and milk solids (if you strain them).
posted by oneirodynia at 10:10 AM on September 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

As someone who makes whoopie pies at least twice a week, and adjusts the recipes each time, AND still considers herself a professional baker who futzes with recipes/formula/the like I feel comfortable in suggesting that you treat the pumpkin puree as a wet ingredient and add as much additional flour as necessary.

My recipe calls for butter and buttermilk. When I want to add a flavorful wet ingredient (pumpkin puree), I replace the buttermilk (or at least half of it) for the flavorful wet ingredient and still add some of the original wet ingredient.

Also, do not add melted butter in place of oil. If you'd rather use butter, use the creaming method (butter+sugar, and beat with mixer), unless you want your whoopie pie batter to spread across your sheet tray.

MeMail me if you want more advice. I made 12 sweet potato whoopie pies on Monday and 22 Earl Grey whoopie pies today. I GET it.
posted by wocka wocka wocka at 12:09 PM on September 22, 2010

« Older Can you help me identify the jacket in this...   |   What should I do with my wedding dress? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.