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The perfect crumb

(article, Liz Crain)

Shuna Fish Lydon, of the food blog Eggbeater, has been a professional chef for more than 15 years, with plenty of pastry-chef experience under her toque. She's worked at many well-known American restaurants over the years, including the French Laundry and Gramercy Tavern.
 
So when she recently wrote an entire post about the merits of sifting, her readers took heed. 
 
As Lydon points out, sifting is essential for developing a good crumb; it also helps marry dry ingredients. Sifting is crucial, she writes, for producing light and airy baked goods. 
 
There are plenty of sifter styles on the market, but Lydon recommends a tamis, also known as a large drum sifter. Tamis (pronounced TAM-ee) come in different sizes, are used in most commercial kitchens, and are made of a fine metal mesh that usually fits over mixing bowls of any size. 
 
If you encounter something that's too big to sift through your tamis — such as kosher salt — Lydon recommends simply raising your arm and sprinkling that ingredient from above, then whisking it in. 
 
"No matter which tool you use, whether it be a hand-held sieve or the old-fashioned kind shaped like an oversized metal mug with a crank on the side, or a gigantor tamis, I think you'll even enjoy the extra effort," writes Lydon. "If nothing else, sifting can conjure the lovely image of snow falling softly."