Cooking and Baking Terminology

Cooking and Baking Terminology

Another installment of #TuesdayTips. There is so much to learn about the food world, whether you are a home cook or a Professional Chef. Frankly, everyone should know at least half these terms because we should all know how to cook. When you read recipes, these terms do appear. If you haven’t noticed there is always a few pages in cookbooks that explain all the terminology (mostly techniques) because they appear. Now some blogs do explain as well. I have a few times, and will continue to do so as needed, so heads up on that. I did divide it between both cooking and baking, cooking, and just baking. A lot of terms are in french.

Both Cooking and Baking

Blend – The process of combining two or more ingredients so that they become smooth and uniform in texture and lose their individual characteristics.

Clarify- Most often refers to butter, where the milk solids and water are rendered from the butterfat. This is done by gently melting the butter, allowing the two to separate and then skimming off the solids.

Glaze – A glaze is a sticky substance coated on top of food. It is usually used in terms of baking or cooking meats where a marinade will be brushed over the food continuously to form a glaze.

Cut In – A method of blending, usually for pastry, where a fat is combined with flour. The method often refers to using a pastry blender to mix butter or shortening into the flour until the mixture is the size of peas.

Dice – A knife skill cut – the exact measurement changes but the shape is always a small square.

Dollop – A small amount of soft food that has been formed into a round-ish shape. Yoghurt, whipped cream and mashed potatoes are all examples of foods that can be dolloped.

Deep Fry – To cook food in a deep layer of hot oil.

Whisk – The process of using a whisk to incorporate air into food or to blend ingredients together smoothly.

Score – Shallow, diagonal cuts made on the surface of meat and vegetables for the purpose of rendering fat, encouraging crispiness and flavour absorption.

Temper – To temper is the process of adding a small quantity of a hot liquid to a cold liquid in order to warm the cold liquid slightly. This is often be done before adding delicate ingredients to a hot mixture, where their format may be affected. An example of this would be adding eggs to a hot mixture – in order to prevent them curdling or scrambling you would add a little of the hot mix to the eggs and incorporate before adding the eggs into the heated mixture. Another example would be adding a cornflour slurry to a hot mixture; a little of the hot mixture is added to the slurry to temper the temperature before adding the mix back to the main mixture. Although mostly refers to chocolate.

Zest -Refers to removing the outer part of citrus (called the zest) either by using a grater, a peeler or a knife.

Vandyke – To cut a zig-zag or decorative pattern around fruit or vegetables to create decorative garnishes for food presentation.

Simmer – Process of cooking in hot liquids kept just below boiling point.

Shallow Fry – To cook food in a shallow layer of preheated oil.

Steep – Similar to infuse, steeping is the process of allowing dried ingredients to soak in a liquid until the liquid has taken on the flavour of the ingredient.

Infuse – To allow the flavour of an ingredient to soak into a liquid until the liquid takes on the flavour of the ingredient.

Reduce – The process of simmering or boiling a liquid, usually a stock or a sauce, to intensify the flavour or to thicken the consistency.

Puree – Cooked food, usually vegetables, that have been mashed or blended to form a paste-like consistency.

Flambé – The process of cooking off alcohol that’s been added to a hot pan by creating a burst of flames. The fumes are set alight and the flame goes out when the alcohol has burnt off.

Grease – Refers to applying a fat to a roasting tray or cake tin to ensure that food doesn’t stick.

Grind – To break something down into much smaller pieces, for example coffee beans or whole spices.

Hull – Refers to the husk, shell or external covering of a fruit. More specifically, it is the leafy green part of a strawberry.

Julienne – Refers to a knife skill cut where the shape resembles matchsticks.

Needling – Injecting fat or flavours into an ingredient to enhance its flavour.

Saute – Meaning ‘to jump’ in French, sauteeing is cooking food in a minimal amount of oil over a rather high heat.

Nappe – The act of coating a food with a thin even layer.

Mise En Place – The preparation of ingredients, such as dicing onions, chopping veggies or measuring spices, before starting to cook.

Mince – To finely divide food into uniform pieces that are smaller than diced or chopped foods.

Macerate – The soaking of an ingredient, usually fruit, in a liquid so that it takes on the flavour of the liquid. Can also be used to soften dried fruit.

Temperature — This refers to the intensity of heat occurring in a baked product, mixture, or oven. In the United States, temperature is measured in degrees Fahrenheit, although the Celsius scale is used in much of the rest of the world.

Stir — To stir is to use a spoon to mix ingredients with a spoon using a figure-eight or circular motion.

Preheat — To preheat an oven is to heat an empty oven to the proper temperature for the recipe before the food product is placed within it.

Cooking

Al Dente – Used for Pasta and Rice, means it is cooked but still has some firmness

Au Gratin – translates to by grating or with a crust, means it is sprinkled with breadcrumbs and or cheese and browned.

Au jus – translates to by juice, meaning cooked with its own juices, mostly referring to meats.

Au sec – Description of a liquid which has been reduced until it’s almost nearly dry, a process often used in sauce making.

Barding – To cover a meat with a layer of fat before cooking, it maintains the moisture of the meat while it cooks to avoid overcooking.

Baste – To pour melted fat or the juices of the liquid over meat or other food while cooking to keep it moist.

Blanch – A quick method of cooking food, usually green vegetables, whereby the item is basically scalded in boiling hot water for a short period of time and then refreshed in ice cold water. This ensures that the veggie retains its bright green colour and a good firm texture.

Broil – Normally a term used in the States, broil is what we know as grilling. Basically, you preheat the hot rod or grill at the top of your oven until it gets exceptionally hot. Place the food on an oven tray under the preheated grill until it browns and has some incredible flavour.

Braise – Braising is an old French method of cooking meat. It uses a combination of dry and moist heat, dry being when the meat is seared at a high heat and moist when it’s gently cooked in a liquid. This cooking method is ideal with sinewy, tougher cuts of meat.

Brining – The process of soaking meat in a brine, or heavily salted water, before cooking.

Bone – Ironically, to bone a piece of meat is to remove the bone from it.

Butterfly- Butterflying food refers to splitting it through the centre to thin it out, but not cutting through it entirely.

Cartouche- A cartouche refers to a piece of greaseproof or baking paper that is used to create a lid over a pot or saucepan. Usually cut in a circle and placed over a dish with a small amount of liquid. In the instance of poaching it stops steam from escaping, it can also prevent skins from developing on sauces.

Coddle- To coddle something is to cook it in water just below boiling point. More recently, the term specifically applies to eggs using a device called a coddler. The low cooking temperature produces a much softer egg than if you were to boil it.

Conssome – A type of clear liquid that has been clarified by using egg whites and flavoured stock to remove fat.

Coring -To remove the central section of some fruits, seeds and tougher material that is not normally consumed.

Confit – Regularly recognised with duck, but can include other meats, where the meat is cooked in its own fat (or other fat if necessary) at a low heat.

Cure – A non-heated method of cooking where the food item is packed with a salt mixture and left so that the moisture draws out.

Curdle – When egg-based mixtures are cooked too quickly and the protein separates from the liquids, leaving a lumpy mixture behind.

Dredging – To coat moist foods with a dry ingredient before cooking to provide an even coating.

Dress – Dress has two definitions when it comes to cooking, firstly to coat foods (mostly salad leaves) in a sauce. It also refers to preparing poultry, fish and venison for cooking, which essentially is breaking them down off of their carcasses and sectioning the meat.

Deglaze – To loosen bits of food which stuck on the bottom of a pan by adding liquid such as stock or wine.

Effiler – To remove the ends and the string from green beans.

Fillet – Most commonly known as a very tender cut of beef, but can also refer to the meat of chicken and fish.

Flake – Refers to the process of gently breaking off small pieces of food, often for combining with other foods. For example, you would flake cooked fish to combine with cooked, mashed potatoes to make fish cakes.

Frenching – The process of removing all fat, cartilage, and meat, from rib bones on a roast by cutting between the bones, often referring to lamb, beef, or pork rib.

Grill – Grilling food is applying dry heat to food either from above or below. In South Africa, grilling refers to cooking food under the grill in your oven (in the States this is called broiling) or can also refer to cooking food in a pan with grill lines.

Gratin – A gratin is a topping that is often either breadcrumbs or grated cheese that forms a brown crust when placed under a hot grill.

Jacquarding – The process of poking holes into the muscle of meat in order to tenderise it, also known as needling.

Jus Lie – Meat juice that has been lightly thickened with either cornflour or any binding thickener.

Larding – The process of inserting strips of fat into a piece of meat that doesn’t have as much fat, to melt and keep the meat from drying out.

Liaison – A binding agent of cream and egg yolks used to thicken soups or sauces.

Marinate – To impart the flavour of a marinade into food, usually requires some time to allow the flavours to develop. Can also be used to tenderise a cut of meat.

Par cooking – The process of not fully cooking food, so that it can be finished or reheated later.

Paupiette – A thin, flattened piece of meat, rolled with a stuffing of ingredients i.e, vegetables, which is then cooked before served.

Pane – To coat in breadcrumbs.

Panade – A mixture of starch and liquid that’s added to ground meat for hamburger patties/meatballs. Usually a mixture of bread, breadcrumbs or panko with milk, buttermilk or yoghurt.

Parboil – To boil food only slightly, often used to soften foods like potatoes before roasting them. Helps to speed up the cooking process.

Poach – To cook in gently bubbling liquids such as a stock or a broth.

Pickle – The process of preserving food in a brine, which is a salt or vinegar solution.

Render – Using a low heat to melt the fat away from a food item, usually a piece of meat. This rendered fat can then be used to cook with.

Roast – Technically defined as a method of dry cooking a piece of meat, where the hot air envelopes the food to cook it evenly and to allow it to caramelise nicely.

Roux – A roux is a flour and fat mixture cooked together, which acts as a thickener in soups, stews and sauces. (link to mother sauce article)

Reconstitute – To restore a dried food to original consistency, or to change its texture, by letting it soak in warm water.

Refresh – To halt the cooking process, usually that of vegetables after being blanched, by plunging them into ice cold water.

Scald – To heat a liquid so it’s right about to reach the boiling point, where small bubbles start to appear around the edges.

Skim – To remove a top layer of fat or scum that has developed on the surface of soups, stocks or sauces.

Steam – Method of cooking food by using steam.

Sear/ Brown – A method of cooking food over a high heat until caramelisation forms on the surface. This is often done before braising the food, to give it added flavour and is not usually intended to cook the food all the way through.

Sweat – This refers to the gentle cooking of vegetables in butter or oil under a lid, so that their natural liquid is released to aid the cooking process. Often vegetables cooked this way will end up looking translucent.

Tourner – To cut and peel ingredients such as parsnips or potatoes into a barrel-like shape. For aesthetic purposes but also to ensure that they cook properly.

Truss – To bind the legs and wings of a bird to its body, ensuring it maintains an even shape so that none of the extremities dry out.

Veloute – A type of savoury sauce in which a light stock, such as chicken or fish, is thickened with a flour that is cooked and then allowed to turn light brown, thickened with a blond roux.

Baking

Whip – The process of beating food with a whisk to incorporate air and to increase volume.

Ultra Pasteurization – The process of heating up milk products to 137 degrees celsius for a few seconds and chilling it down rapidly, resulting in milk that’s 99.9% free from bacteria and extending their shelf-life.

Knead – To work dough into a soft, uniform and malleable texture by pressing, folding and stretching with the heel of your hand.

abaissage – A French term meaning the rolling out of pastry dough.

abaisse –  A French term that describes a piece of rolled out pastry, especially puff pastry, into thin sheets. The term also refers to a thin slice of sponge cake.

acid – The Latin term for sour. Acids are used to prevent fruit from oxidizing and are used in making meringue because they help strengthen the egg white proteins. Common food acids are found in vinegar, wine, lemon juice, sour milk, and apples.

aebleskiver – A small Danish doughnut made on the stovetop with a special pan called an aebleskiver pandle. The doughnut is made with a beer batter flavored with spices and citrus zest. The baked doughnut may have a slice of apple or jam inserted in the middle, or simply dusted with confectioner’s sugar.

afternoon tea – a traditional English light meal served in the afternoon. Afternoon tea normally consists of finger sandwiches, petit fours, scones, crumpets and muffins. Of course, the meal is accompanied with tea, or sometimes wine.

airbrush – a small, air-operated tool used to spray edible color to decorate cakes and cookies.

air pump – a small tool used to blow air into cooked sugar, so the sugar can be formed into shapes. A ball of cooked sugar is placed over the long-tapered nozzle of the pump, and then air is blown into the sugar by hand-squeezing an attached hand pump.

a la mode – A French term meaning “in the manner of” or “in the style of” which refers to the method of preparation. In the United States, a la mode normally refers to a slice of pie topped with a scoop of ice cream.

allumette – Thin strips of puff pastry that are baked, and then topped with a sweet filling or royal icing.

allspice – A spice used in baking, and primarily used in cookies, cakes, and pies. Allspice is the berry of the Pimenta dioica tree, primarily grown in the West Indies, Central America, and South America. The berries are sun-dried, turning them a reddish-brown color, with a flavor similar to cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Allspice is also known as “Jamaica pepper.”

almond – The seed of the fruit produced by an Almond tree primarily grown in California, Sicily, Asia, South Africa, and France. Sweet almonds are commonly used in baking and are available in several forms: whole, sliced, slivered, chopped, and blanched. Almonds are also used to make almond paste, and ground to make almond meal or flour. Bitter almonds have a stronger taste, and are used sparingly to flavor cookies, cakes, or pastries.

almond cream – A thick pastry cream that includes ground almonds and almond flavored liqueur.

almond extract – A concentrated flavoring made from sweet or bitter almond oil and alcohol. 

almond flour – Also known as Almond Meal. Almond flour is made from almonds that have been finely ground to a powder. Commercial almond flour may contain added sugar.

almond milk – A mixture of milk or water and marzipan. The mixture is heated until it is smooth, and is used in custards, cakes, and sauces.

almond paste – A combination of finely ground blanched almonds, confectioner’s sugar, corn syrup and sometimes egg whites. Because it is pliable, almond paste is often tinted with food coloring and formed into shapes such as animals, flowers, or fruit, and used to embellish baked items. Almond paste may also be used as an ingredient when baking, such as a pastry filling.

amaretti – Italian macaroon cookies, made from bitter almonds. 

amarattini – A miniature version of amaretti cookies.

Amaretto – An Italian liqueur with an almond flavor.

ambassador cake – A French dessert consisting of a sponge cake flavored with Grand Marnier. The cake is filled with pastry cream and candied fruit, and then covered with a thin layer of marzipan.

ambrosia – An American southern dessert made with bananas, oranges and toasted coconut. Ambrosia may also include marshmallows and whipped cream. It is either served as a dessert or a salad.

angel food cake – A light and airy cake made with no fat, therefore is cholesterol free. It has a fluffy, delicate texture that almost melts in your mouth. Angel Food cake depends completely on the air that is beaten into the egg whites to provide the leavening agent, making the cake rise during baking. Angel Food Cake is baked in a tube pan to allow heat to reach the center of the cake so that it bakes evenly. The pan is ungreased, allowing the cake to raise high by clinging to the sides of the pan. Because of its delicate structure, the cake must be turned upside down immediately after baking so that the weight of the cake does not cause itself to collapse while cooling. 

angel food cake pans – Angel Food Cake is baked in a tube shaped pan that is ungreased, allowing the cake to raise high by clinging to the sides of the pan, and then turned upside down after baking so the cake does not collapse while cooling. An Angel food cake pan should not be non-stick, allowing the cake to raise by clinging to the sides of the pan and almost doubling in size during baking; and it should include either “feet” that the pan sits on when turned upside down, or a tube that is wide enough to fit over the top of a glass bottle or wine bottle. A pan with a removable bottom makes removing the cooled cake from the pan, and clean-up easier. 

angelica – An herb used in baking for flavoring and decoration. The flavor has a slightly bitter, musky taste, therefore is best used sparingly. Both the stems and leaves may be used. The stalks may be candied and used as a decoration for desserts. Angelica is native to Scandinavia and northern Europe.

anise seed – Commonly called anise, the anise seed is from an herb that is a member of the parsley family, primarily grown in Egypt, Greece, Spain, and Mexico. Anise has a distinct licorice flavor, and is used as a flavoring in bread and cookies as well as liqueurs. Anisette and Ouzo are liqueurs flavored with anise.

Anjou Pear – A winter pear, available from October to late May, that has a thin, yellow-green skin and off-white, creamy-textured, sweet flesh. Anjou pears are a favorite pear used for baking as they hold their shape well.

apple – The fruit of an apple tree, apples are available year-round, but are best from September through March. There are over seven thousand varieties of apples grown throughout the world, varying from pale yellow to green, and yellowish-red to bright red in color, and from tart to sweet in flavor. Apples are a favorite fruit used in many baking recipes. 

apple brown betty – A baked dessert made with sliced apples, spices, and sugar that is topped with a crumb topping. Apple brown betty originated in colonial America.

apple dumpling – a baked dessert made with a whole apple that has been peeled and cored and filled with sugar, butter, spices, and sometimes nuts. The apple is covered with pastry and baked with a rich syrup of sugar and spices. Apple dumplings are best served warm with heavy cream. 

apricot glaze – Apricot jam that is heated to make liquid, with water added if necessary to thin it a bit. The glaze is commonly brushed on cakes and pastries to provide shine or as a crumb coat, and to provide a longer shelf life. See recipe for Applesauce Apple Tart.

arrowroot – A fine, white powder derived from the tropical arrowroot plant. The underground stems of the plant are dried, and then finely ground. Arrowroot is used as a thickener, often replacing cornstarch.

arroz con leche – A Spanish rich pudding normally flavored with cinnamon, lemon, and vanilla.

artisan bread – A high quality, hand-crafted bread containing no artificial ingredients or preservatives.

All-Purpose Flour — This is a wheat flour that is made from the milling of hard wheat or a mixture of hard and soft wheat. It can be bleached or not and is often enriched with iron and the vitamins folic acid, riboflavin, folic acid, niacin. All-purpose flour is commonly used in homes for noodles, cookies, cakes, quick breads, pastries, and certain yeast breads.

Amaranth Flour — Amaranth flour is milled from amaranth seeds, and since it lacks gluten, it can only be used in yeast breads if it is combined with a wheat flour. Many people enjoy this flour due to its strong flavor that is particularly well suited for savory pastries or breads. It also gives quick breads a smooth texture.

Ascorbic Acid — More commonly known as vitamin C, ascorbic acid is added to bread flour because it enables bread dough to gain a greater volume when it is baked into a loaf.

Baking — Baking is the process of using dry heat to cook food. It is usually performed in an oven.

Baking Pan — A baking pan is a pan of any shape or size that is used to bake cookies, pies, breads, biscuits, cakes, or specialty baked goods. Today, they are usually made of light- to heavy-gauge steel, although heavy-gauge aluminum is used in the construction of two-layer, insulated baking pans. Mid-gauge aluminum is most often used for the pans that test kitchens rely upon to define baking standards such as time and temperature. See also definitions for cookie pan, nonstick, baking sheet, jelly-roll pan, and insulated pan.

Baking Powder — Baking powder is a product used for leavening that is a combination of baking soda and either citric or tartaric acid or a mixture of the two. This powder, when it is wet and hot, will react without acid from other ingredients in the food that is baked. Home-use baking powder typically has two kinds of acid, one that reacts to liquids in the baking dough and the other reacts when baking heats the product. The baked goods are made lighter via the carbon dioxide that is produced by the powder. Over time, baking powder can lose its strength, and it should be tested if it has been sitting on the shelf for a while. Good baking powder will bubble strongly when one teaspoon of it is mixed with one-quarter cup of hot water.

Baking Sheet — A baking sheet is a rigid metal sheet, often with one or more turned-up edges, that can be used to bake biscuits, breads, cookies, and other goods. There are several types of baking sheets. Dark, heavy-gauge baking pans are used to bake specialty goods with crisp crusts. Test kitchens will use shiny, heavy-gauge aluminum to bake and brown evenly. Soft-cookies, rolls, and tender-crusted breads are often baked using insulated sheets, which are two sheets of aluminum with a space for air in between them.

Baking Soda — Baking soda reacts with an acid when it is wet to produce carbon dioxide and lighten baked goods. The wet, acidic ingredients that typically cause this reaction with baking soda in a batter include buttermilk, sour milk, citrus juices, chocolate, vinegar, or honey, and the reaction will begin immediately when liquids are added to the dry ingredients. Baking soda is a bicarbonate of soda that is created from trona, a mineral that is mined in Green River, Wyoming.

Baking Stone — A baking stone is a plate of stone or other unglazed, tile-like material. It can be round or rectangular, and it is used to help simulate the properties of a brick oven floor in a home oven. Place the stone on the lowest rack in the oven and only preheat the stone if the manufacturer recommends it. The food that is to be baked can be placed directly on the stone or in a pan and then on a stone.

Barley Flour — Barley flour has a sweet taste and it gives cakes, quick breads, and cookies moisture and a light texture. It is milled from hulled barley and it is low in gluten.

Beating — Beating is the process of stirring or whipping with a spoon, electric mixture, wire whisk, or beater to create a smooth mixture of ingredients.

Blend — To blend ingredients is to mix two or more of them together with a spoon or whisk or an appliance such as a blender, mixer, or processor.

Bloom 1.) In bread, bloom is the brown color found in the crust of a well-baked loaf.

2.) In chocolate, bloom refers to pale, grayish streaks or blotches that appear on the surface of chocolate that demonstrates that separation of cocoa butter from the chocolate itself. It occurs when chocolate has been stored in an environment that is too warm, but it does not mean that the chocolate is no longer usable.

Bread Flour — Bread flour is the preferred flour for those who use bread machines to bake bread. It is an unbleached wheat flour that is high in protein, which aids in the development of better yeast bread. It is good to use a bread flour that is enriched with various vitamins and minerals.

Brownie — This favorite desert is a chewy, dense, cake-like cookie that is sliced into bars for serving. Usually, brownies are chocolate-flavored and colored brown, hence their name.

Buckwheat Flour — Despite its name, buckwheat is not a relative of the grain known as wheat. Buckwheat is originally from Russia, and its distinctive flavor is treasured in pancakes and other baked goods like multi-grain breads. Appropriately, Russian blini made from buckwheat flour, as are groats and kasha. Buckwheat flour has not gluten and it is created from the grinding of hulled buckwheat seeds.

Cake Flour — Cake flour is a low-protein flour that is silky and fine in texture that can be used for pastries, cakes, cookies, and certain breads.

Chocolate — This favorite and familiar food and ingredient gets its name from xocolatl, an Aztec word that means “bitter water.” Many forms of chocolate are used in baking, but whether it is unsweetened, milk, bittersweet, or semi-sweet chocolate, all of these forms use a base of “cocoa liquor” that is derived from ground, roasted, and blended small pieces of the cacao bean called nibs. See also the other types of chocolate listed in this glossary.

Cocoa Butter — The portion of the cacao bean that is fat is known as cocoa butter.

Cocoa Powder — Fermented, roasted, dried, and cracked cacao beans can be made into an unsweetened powder called cacao powder. The nibs or small pieces of the cacao beans are ground up in order to make this powder, and 75 percent of the cacao butter is extracted to form the thick paste that is known as cocoa butter. Dutch cocoa is a special cocoa powder with a neutralized acidity due to its having been treated with alkali.

Combine — To combine ingredients is to mix them together.

Confectioners’/Powdered Sugar — One of the most widely used baking ingredients is confectioners’ or powdered sugar, which is a granulated sugar crushed into a fine powder and combined with cornstarch. Only about 3 percent of the final product is cornstarch, which helps prevent the confectioners’ sugar from clumping.

Cool — To cool hot foods is to reduce their temperature until they are neither very hot nor very cold.

Cooling Rack — Baked goods are often cooled on a cooling rack, which is typically a rectangular grid made of thick wire with “feet” or “legs” to raise it off the countertop and allow cooler air to circulate all around the finished good. Usually, baked goods will be cooled for a short while on their pan before they are removed and put on a cooling rack. After they are done cooling on this rack, they can be placed in storage or frozen. The exceptions to this rule are yeast breads, which are usually transferred from a baking pan immediately to a cooling rack in order to keep the crust from getting soggy.

Corn Flour — Corn flour is flour that is made from the milling of whole corn. This flour has a corn flavor and is great in cornbread, waffles, and muffins, and when mixed with cornmeal.

Cornmeal — This is a medium, coarse, or fine meal made from dry degerminated or whole grain kernels of corn (yellow, blue, or white).

Creaming — Creaming is the process of mixing sugars and fats like butter, margarine, or shortening together with a mixer, large spoon, or beaters until the mixture is creamy in its appearance.

Degerminated — A degerminated food is a grain food that has had its germ removed in the process of milling.

Dissolve — To dissolve is to mix a dry substance into a liquid until the solids have all disappeared. Fore example, bakers can dissolve sugar into water, yeast into water, and more.

Dry Ingredients — Dry ingredients are those recipe ingredients that are dry and might need to be blended before they are added to another kind of mixture in the recipe. Dry ingredients can include sugar, salt, baking cocoa, spices, flour, and herbs.

Dry Measuring Cups — Some of the standard home-baking measuring tools used in the United States are dry measuring cups. These cups have straight sides with a handle attached to them at the top, and they come in graduated sizes including ¼ cup, 1/3 cup, ½ cup, 1, and 2 cup measurements. Usually they nest within one another for more storage. As one would expect from their name, dry ingredients like sugar, cornmeal, brown sugar, and flour are measured using these cups. These ingredients are spooned into the cup and then leveled off for measuring using a straight-edged knife or other utensil.

Dust — Dusting is the light sprinkling of a baked good or other surface with a dry ingredient like flour, meal, or powdered sugar.

Fermentation — Fermentation is the chemical change in a food during the baking process in which enzymes leavens a dough and helps add flavor. In baking it is the first stage in which bread dough is allowed to rise before being shaped. Fermenting agents include yeast and other bacteria and microorganisms.

Focaccia — Focaccia is an Italian bakers’ snack whose name comes from the Latin term focusor hearth. Originally, focaccia was baked on a stone hearth.

Gluten — This protein is found in wheat and various cereal flours. Although some people are allergic to it, gluten makes up the structure of the bread dough and holds the carbon dioxide that is produced by the yeast or other substance during the fermentation process. When flour is combined with liquids, gluten develops as the liquid and flour is mixed and then kneaded. Formed from the proteins glutenin and gliadin, gluten provides the elasticity and extensibility or stretch for bread dough.

Gluten-Free — Some people are allergic to gluten, but there are many ways to bake without producing the gluten protein. Gluten-free flours include rice, corn, soy, amaranth, and potato flours. Stone-ground, graham, or whole-wheat flours made from hard or soft wheats or both kinds are also usable. These are produced through the milling of whole-wheat kernels or combining white flour, bran and germ. Even though these gluten-flours may differ in coarseness from their gluten counterparts, the nutritional value is virtually the same.

High-Altitude Baking — Baking in environments at higher elevations require adjustments in ingredients and temperatures to produce the same results as baking that occurs in lower altitudes. When cooking is done at an elevation greater than 3,000 feet, amounts of liquids, leaving agents, and sugar, as well as oven temperature may need to be changed.

Instant-Read Thermometer — This is a stainless-steel probe thermometer that will register a temperature almost immediately when it is inserted into a mixture, dough, liquid or meat. Bakers typically use it in the baking of yeast breads.

Insulated Bakeware — Insulated bakeware is metal bakeware that is made up of two layers of metal with layer of air in between. Typically, insulated bakeware results in more consistent baking results than when it is done with its non-insulated counterpart. The bottom crust also tends to have less browning. When insulated bakeware is used, longer bake times may be needed for most baked goods, though the temperature will not need to be adjusted. Cakes and brownies made in such insulated pans, however, will require a temperature 25 degrees higher than that which the recipe lists.

Invert Sugar — Used in fondant icings for cakes, invert sugar is sugar syrup that has been slightly heated and exposed to small amount of acid in order to break up sucrose into fructose and glucose and reduce crystal size in the sugar.

Leavening — Leavening refers to the production of a gas in a dough batter using an agent like baking powder, yeast, baking soda, or even eggs. Leavening agents work via the production of carbon dioxide in the dough, and long ago these agents were also known as “lifters.”

Liquid Measure — A liquid measure is a clear, hard, plastic, or glass cup that can be used for pouring because of its special lip. Most of the time, a liquid measure is a quart or pint-sized tool that is marked with lines to help measure liquids in home-baking recipes. The lines will mark the levels in ounces, milliliters and sizes of 1/8, ¼, 1/3, ½, 2/3, ¾, 1 cup, and more. When baking at home, all liquids should be measured in this cup, and the cup should be placed on a flat surface for accuracy.

Measuring Cups and Spoons — These are spoons and other containers of different, graduated sizes that can be used to measure liquid or dry ingredients accurately in the process of cooking and baking.

Melt — To melt is to heat an otherwise solid food until it achieves liquid form. In baking, sugar, butter, and chocolate are often melted.

Milk Chocolate — Milk chocolate is made up of a sweetened dark chocolate combined with other milk solids. At least 10 percent of the product will be chocolate liquor, and the milk solids will comprise at least 12 percent of the final product.

Mixing — Mixing is the art of combining two or more individual ingredients until no one ingredient can be seen or identified. This is usually accomplished through stirring with a spoon.

Muffin Pans — Muffin pans are used for the baking of muffins, and they come in several different sizes and shapes. There are even pans for “muffin tops.” The muffin pan that is most commonly called for has 6 or 12 muffing cups that measure 2½ inches in diameter at the top, although there are also mini-muffin tins in 12- and 24-cup sizes. These mini-muffins are also known as “tea muffins,” and whether the muffins being baked are large or small, lining the tins with paper liners or greasing the muffin cups will produce the best results. See also insulated pans, nonstick, and baking pans.

No-Knead — Also known as “batter breads,” no-knead is a baking method for yeast breads that can be produced without any kneading.

Nut Flour — Nut flour is made up on nut meats that have been finely ground. The nuts that are used can be either toasted or not, and the flour is used for breads, cookies, cakes, and pastry crusts.

Oils — Liquid fats that are derived from pressing plants and their seeds/nuts are known as oils. This oil can be extracted via cold-pressing or solvent extraction, and common home-baking oils include, safflower, corn, canola, olive, sunflower, and soybean oils. None of these plant oils have cholesterol, but they all vary in the amount of poly-unsaturated, mono-unsaturated, and saturated fats they contain.

Pastry Flour —?Pastry flour is low in gluten and high in starch. It is usually fine-textured and soft, and it comes in bleached, unbleached, and whole wheat varieties. Soft red or white wheat is typically used in the production of pastry flours.

Proof — Proof is the amount of time that a baking product is allowed to rise after it has been shaped and placed in or on the proper pan. Generally speaking, most baked goods proof until they have doubled in size or until a lightly placed finger on the good leaves a marked indentation. A humid, draft-free location with a temperature of between 95 and 100 degrees is required for proofing, and at home a slightly damp, clean, non-terry cloth towel or plastic wrap that has been sprayed with a pan spray can be laid on the product in order to retain moisture and keep the crust from drying out. Many ovens have a proofing feature, so consult the instructions before baking.

Punch Down — This term used in reference to bread dough describes the point at which a dough has doubled in its size or when a marked dent is visible after two fingers are lightly pressed into the dough about half of an inch. Punching down a dough can be achieved via touching the dough with the fingers, making a fist, and pushing it down into the center of the dough before pulling the dough edges into the center and turning the dough over. After doing this, cover the dough and let it rest or rise again before it is shaped into a loaf.

Quick Bread — Quick bread is a bread that can be made very quickly because not time is needed for kneading or rising in its production.

Quinoa Flour — Quinoa flour made from the grinding of quinoa grain. It is free of gluten and very nutritious. Its tender, moist crumb is favored for waffles, fruitcakes, pancakes, and cookies.

Red Wheat  — The second major kind of U.S. wheat, red wheat refers to three of the six classes of wheat recognized in the United States. Its kernels have a reddish color, and it is ground into flour for baking.

Rye Flour — Rye flour is milled from the rye grain and is low in gluten. It is also darker and heavier than wheat flour, and is sold in dark, medium, and light forms for use in baking at home. Light and medium rye flour has had most of its bran removed, while dark rye flour is a whole grain flour. See also pumpernickel.

Scratch Baking — Scratch baking begins with the use of basic ingredients like sugar, butter, leavening, and flour, and makes use of a recipe, not pre-made mixes.

Self-Rising Flour — Self-rising flour is another early “convenience mix” that when used in a recipe, allows for the baking powder and salt in the directions to be ignored. It is usually a combination of 1 cup all-purpose flour, 1½ teaspoons baking powder and ½ teaspoon salt.

Semi-Sweet Chocolate — Semi-sweet baking chocolate is a chocolate containing anywhere between 15 and 35 percent chocolate liquor plus sugar, cocoa butter, sugar, lecithin, and vanilla. Though it is not interchangeable with milk chocolate, it can be substituted for bittersweet or sweet chocolate in recipes that call for those forms of chocolate.

Spreads — Spreads are solids or semi-solids in tubs or sticks containing less than 80 percent fat. They are not good for baking on account of their high water content.

Soy Flour — Hulled and roasted soybeans can be milled and ground to produce whole-grain, high-protein soy flour. This flour can be fat free, low fat or full fat depending on how it is produced.

Sprinkle — To sprinkle is to scatter small particles of toppings or sugars over a surface like cake, bread, frosting, and more.

Standard — Standards are recipes, methods, ingredients, measuring tools, and equipments that are used to produce consistent results in a particular product in home baking. Standards are a great help to both manufacturers and consumers.

Starter — Starters are mixtures of sugar, water, yeast, and flour that are permitted to ferment in a warm location until they are foamy. These starters can be used in lieu of a package of yeast in breads, and usually a portion of two cups is the amount used. Usually this amount is taken after the mixture has been fed with more flour and water, something that needs to be done every two weeks after the starter has begun. In between feedings, the starter is often kept in a refrigerator.

Stone-ground Flour or Meal — This is a flour or meal that results from the grinding of grain between two stoners. It can be coarse or fine, though it is usually made up of whole grains.

Sugar — Though most people are not aware of this fact, sugar or sucrose occurs as a carbohydrate in every fruit and vegetable. It is the major product of photosynthesis, or the method by which plants convert energy from the sun into food. Most of the sugar used in home cooking is made in large quantities from sugar beets and sugar cane. There are several different kinds of sugar. Granulated Sugar is often called “white sugar” and is made up of fine or extra-fine white sugar crystals. Brown Sugar is made up of sugar crystals contained in a molasses-based syrup. Brown sugar comes in dark and light varieties according to the amount of molasses used, and the different forms can be substituted for one another according to taste. Confectioners’ or Powdered Sugar has been defined earlier in this list. Raw Sugarcontains about 98 percent sucrose and is tan or brown in its color. Although it is often found in foods, the USDA does not consider it fit for such uses. Raw sugar is coarse and made via the evaporation of clarified sugar cane juice. Turbinado Sugar is a sugar given a light tan color via its washing in a centrifuge. Its surface molasses is removed, making it closer to refined sugar than its raw counterpart.

Texture — The appearance and feel of a cut part of a cake or bread.

Underproofed Loaves or Rolls — These are rolls and breads that though they have been shaped, have not attained the volume or height that is desired before they are baked.

Unleavened — This term describes baked goods that do not use a leavening agent like baking soda, cream of tartar, baking powder, or yeast.

Unbleached Flour — An unbleached flour is one that has bleached naturally in its aging process without the addition of maturing agents. It is no different from bleached flour nutritionally, and it can be used interchangeably with its bleached counterpart in baking.

Vegetable Shortening — Vegetable shortening is a soybean or cottonseed oil that has been hydrogenated in order to make it a solid. Being 100 percent fat with no additives like water, milk fat, or other solids, it is almost flavorless and good for making baked goods flaky and tender.

Wheat Flour —Wheat flour is a popular flour used for cakes, waffles, pastries, and more when it milled from soft white or red wheat or for yeast breads, bagels, certain rolls, hearth breads, and pizza crust when milled from hard white or red wheat. Home baking wheat flours (or “family flours” according to the milling industry) can be unbleached or bleached all-purpose, pastry, whole-wheat, cake, graham, and bread flours. Some breads are made from high-protein durum wheat or semolina wheat flours, but such flours are usually reserved for pasta.

Whip Beating — Whip beating is the process of incorporating air into a food rapidly via a mixer, beater, or whip in order to increase its volume.

White Chocolate — While chocolate is a mixture of cocoa butter, lecithin, vanilla, milk solids and vanilla. True white chocolate always includes cocoa butter, and those products that do not contain it but are called white chocolate are actually more properly called confectionary or summer coating. White chocolate chips or pieces are popularly used in home baking.

White Wheat — U.S. wheat is classified into six different classes, three of which have a bran coat that is “white” or pale to amber in its color. Such white wheats include soft white wheat, durum wheat, and hard white wheat. See also red wheat.

Whole Grain — A whole grain food makes use of whole or ground kernels of grains like barley, corn, oat, wheat, and rye in its production.

Whole-Wheat Flour — Whole-wheat flour is made from the whole kernel of white or red wheat. Usually, whole-wheat flour is made in flour mills, but it can also be stone-ground in a mill. Another name for whole-wheat flour is graham flour.

XXX or XXXX Confectioners’ Sugar — The Xs on the package of confectioners’ sugar indicates how finely it has been ground. Four X sugar is slightly finer than 3 x sugar, but the two different kinds can be sued interchangeably in the same recipe. Whether or not sifting of the powdered sugar is required will be determined by the recipe’s particular directions.

Yeast — The yeast that is used in baking is the single-celled fungi of the species saccharomyces cerevisiae. This fungi is a rising agent that ferments sugar, producing carbon dioxide and alcohol and expanding the bread dough. Home-baking yeast can be active dry or fast-rising yeast, and some supermarkets will have fresh or compressed yeast in their refrigerated cases. For measuring equivalencies, ¼ ounce of dry yeast is about 2¼ teaspoons worth, and it equals one 0.6-ounce cake of the compressed, refrigerated fresh yeast.

Yield — Yield is the amount of a baked good that results from the combination of a given amount of different baking ingredients.

I'm the mom to Matthew, which we run and own Matthew's Kitchen. I'm 27 and studying to be a pastry chef. I love to cook and bake but my passion is in the pastry arts. Matthew is a 5 year old who began cooking when he was 1. Through the years he has not only gained valuable skills but has grown his palette. Together we want to share our passion for food with you and your family
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