Baking glossary:

Bake: cook a dish in an oven using dry heat, covered will produce a moist dish, uncovered produces a dry dish.


Bain marie: filling a small pot with the dish to be cooked, and placing that pot inside a larger pot.  The larger pot is filled with heated water (rising about halfway up the side of the small pot), to ensure even heating of the dish in question.  Can be used on a stove top or in an oven.
This prevents chocolate from scorching, custard from drying out, cheesecakes from cracking, Hollandaise sauce from curdling, et cet. If heating small ramekins in a bain marie, place a folder dish towel in the bottom of the large pot or pan, place the ramekins on the cloth, then add the water, this prevents slippage.  The water should never come in contact with the actual dish, so anything in a springform pan like cheesecake should be wrapped in heavy tinfoil before the water is added.

Batter: uncooked liquid mixture, usually a combination of flour with various liquids, thin enough to be poured or spooned into a pan

Beat: to mix or stir vigorously, using a fork, spoon, whisk, spatula, or electric mixer.  Beating combines individual ingredients into a smooth substance and incorporates air into the batter.

Blend: to combine at least 2 ingredients until they are smooth, using using a spoon, whisk or scraper, however you are not trying to incorporate air as with BEATING

Boil: heating liquid, usually in a sauce pan, until bubbles continously rise to the surface and steam is produced

Caramelize: melt sugar slowly until it is golden brown, can be done in a sauce pan on Low or with a low flame from a propane torch

Chill: refridgerate a dish until it is cold, sometimes chilling overnight

Chop: cut food into small pieces

Cool: let dish stand at room temperature, usually until it no longer retains heat

Cover: while cooking or baking something, to place a lid on the dish.  If the item is already cooked, to cover with a snap-to lid or plastic wrap to prevent drying out.

Creaming: using the back of a wooden spoon to mash and stir sugar crystals and solid fat together, such as granulated sugar and butter.  The sugar crystals cut through the fat structure of the butter, resulting in a cohesive mixture.

Dissolve: stirring a dry ingredient into a liquid, like sugar into water

Dough: a mixture of flour, liquids, and a leavening agent, which forms a heavy, solid mixture, used for cookies, breads, and pies.  Can be dropped, kneaded, or rolled.

Drain: pouring a dish that contains liquid through a strainer or collander to remove exceess liquid

Drop: using a spoon to place cookie dough onto a baking pan

Fold: separating egg whites from yolks, and whisk the egg whites until they are fluffy, then gently stir the egg white into the batter which allows it to retain the air it gained through whisking – for best results use large, cold eggs

Garnish: using a small amount of one food to decorate another, such as garnishing a glass of lemonade with a slice of lemon, or adding a sprig of mint to a cake

Knead: A technique used in both bread making and pastries to combine and work a dough or mixture into a smooth and pliable mass.  In bread making, kneading the dough also develops the gluten strands in the flour so it adequately holds in the gases released by the leavener (yeast) to produce a bread with good volume and texture.  This technique can be done by hand, using the press-fold-turn action, or using a food processor or electric mixer with the dough hook
Leavening agent: an ingredient that is added to dough or batter which causes it to rise via a foaming action, such as yeat, baking powder, or baking soda.  The leavening agent incorporates gas bubbles into the mixture, and the starch in the flour mixes with the water in the dough to form a matrix which “Sets’, and the holes left by the bas bubbles remain.

Melt: using a sauce pan to heat a solid into a liquid, like butter

Mince: cut food into very small pieces, smaller than chopped pieces

Pre-heat oven: turn on the oven to the desired temperature, and it will take about 10 minutes to reach the correct heat

Pith: the white membrane underneath the rind of a fruit, very bitter

Puree: mashing food into a smooth consistency, using a blender or food processor

Reduce heat: turning the heat down, but not off, so a dish on the stove continues to cook

Refridgerate: placing a dish in the frige until it is completelyl cold

Rind: the outer skin of a citrus fruit like lemons, limes, and oranges

Roll: a pie crust is rolled flat with a wooden rolling pin

Rolling boil: when bubbles form rapidly in boiling liquid

Scald: heat a liquid in a sauce pan on Low, just until small bubbles start forming.  If milk is being scalded a thin skim will form.

Score: using a knife or a fork to make a light indentation, pre-cutting some dishes makes them easier to cut after chilling.

Sift: a technique to combine dry ingredients and remove lumps, for ingredients which are packed down in their container like cocoa powder or flour.  The ingredient is pushed through a sieve, sifter, or strainer, removing lumps and adding air.  This affects the volume of ingredients, if a recipe says “1 cup of sifted cocoa” you would sift it before measuring.

Simmer: cooking a liquid on stove top, just before the boiling point, the bubbles will slowly rise and break under the surface

Soften: letting cold food like butter stand at room temperature so it’s easy to work with

Soft peaks: beating egg whites or cream to form peaks, but soft enough so the peaks fold down or curl over, and don’t stand up on their own

Stiff peaks: beating egg whites or cream to peaks that can hold their own shape, they look glossy and moist

Stir: combiding ingredients by hand, usually with a spatula in a circular motion

Strain: pour liquid mixture through a sieve or strainer to remove lumps

Tear: break mixture into pieces with your fingers

Temper: a melting and cooling process applied to chocolate which results in a glossy product that snaps easily

Toast: lightly brown food, using a toaster, broiler, oven, or skillet

Toss: use a lifting motion to lightly tumble ingredients, like mixing salad with dressing

Water bath:  see bain marie

Whip: beat ingredients briskly to add air and increase voloume, like eggs or whipped cream

Zest: see rind, this is the outside layer of a citrus fruit which contains flavoured oils and fragrant aromas. Can be removed from the fruit with a knife and grated.


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