This comprehensive list covers over 80 of the most common baking terms and will help you whenever you’re making a new recipe. Become a baking master in no time at all!
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What Does That Mean? Common Baking Terms Explained…
Aerate, Aeration – To whip, sift or beat air between particles,
as with flour, confectioners sugar, or sugar and butter.
All-purpose flour – Wheat flour milled from hard wheat or a
blend of soft and hard wheat. Used in homes for some yeast breads, quick breads, cakes, cookies, pastries and noodles. All-purpose flour may be bleached or unbleached.
Bake – To cook in an oven with dry heat. The oven should always be preheated for 10 to 15 minutes before baking.
Batter – A mixture of flour, liquid, and other ingredients that is thin enough to pour.
Beat – To thoroughly combine ingredients and incorporate air with a rapid, circular motion. This may be done with a wooden spoon, wire whisk, rotary eggbeater, electric mixer, or food processor.
Blanch – To partially cook food by plunging it into boiling water for a brief period, then into cold water to stop the cooking process.
Boil – To heat a liquid until bubbles rise continually to the surface and break.
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.
Bulgur – Bulgur refers to whole-wheat kernels after they have been steamed, dried, and cracked. Bulgur can be ground up and made into flour, or it can be soaked or cooked for addition to baked goods.
Butter – According to U.S. standards, butter is comprised of 80 percent milk fat and 20 percent milk solids and water. It is created through churning cream into a semi-solid, and it can be salted or unsalted. Bakers use butter on account of its flavor and its facility for creating crispness, flaky layers, flavors, tenderness, and a golden-brown color.
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.
Caramelise – To heat sugar until it is melted and brown. Caramelizing sugar gives it a distinctive flavor.
Chill – To place in the refrigerator to lower a foods temperature.
Chop – To cut into small pieces using a sharp knife, appliance, or scissors.
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 come to room temperature.
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.
Cream – To beat one or more ingredients, usually margarine or butter, sugar, and/or eggs, until the mixture is smooth and fluffy.
Crimp – To seal the edges of two layers of dough with the tines of a fork or your fingertips.
Cut in – To distribute solid fat throughout the dry ingredients using a pastry blender, fork, or two knives in a scissors motion.
Dash – A measurement less than 1/8 teaspoon.
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.
Dough – A soft, thick mixture of flour, liquids, fat, and other ingredients.
Dot – To distribute small amounts of margarine or butter evenly over the surface of pie filling or dough.
Drizzle – To drip a glaze or icing over food from the tines of a fork or the end of a spoon.
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.
Dust – To sprinkle lightly with sugar, flour, or cocoa.
Egg Wash – An egg wash is a mixture that gives a rich color or gloss to the crust of a baked good when it is brushed on the unbaked surface o the product. It is made from combining one whole egg, egg white, or egg yolk with one tablespoon cold milk or water.
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.
Flute – To make or press a decorative pattern into the raised edge of pastry.
Fold in – To gently combine a heavier mixture with a more delicate substance, such as beaten egg whites or whipped cream, without causing a loss of air.
Glaze – To coat with a liquid, thin icing, or jelly before or after the food is cooked.
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.
Grate – To shred with a handheld grater or food processor.
Grease – To rub fat on the surface of a pan or dish to prevent sticking.
Grind – To produce small particles of food by forcing food through a grinder.
Honey – Produced from flower nectar through the work of bees, honey is an all-natural sweetener that produces a golden-colored curst and holds moisture in different baked goods. Its color and flavor will vary according to the nectar that the bees use.
Knead – To fold, push and turn dough or other mixture to produce a smooth, elastic texture.
Kosher Salt – Kosher salt is used to top baked goods, kosher meat, or for recipes where coarse salt is preferred because it has a coarse-flake structure. Usually, kosher salt will not be iodized, but it may have an anti-caking agent included within it.
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.”
Lukewarm – A temperature of about 105°F, which feels neither hot nor cold.
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.
Millet Flour – Produced from whole millet, millet flour is a low-gluten, starchy flour that is finely ground. Its texture is quite similar to that of rice flour.
Mix – To stir together two or more ingredients until they are thoroughly combined.
Mix until just moistened – To combine dry ingredients with liquid ingredients until the dry ingredients are thoroughly moistened but the mixture is still slightly lumpy.
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.
Nuts – Nuts are the dry fruits of legumes, seeds, or trees. Made up of an edible kernel surrounded by a dry, hard shell, nuts are high in nutrients and flavor. They can have as much as 90 percent fat, although nut fats are primarily monounsaturated and very healthy. The different textures and flavors of nuts can provide much sensory satisfaction in baked goods.
Oats – Oats are made up of any grain that is hulled, cleaned, toasted, and cooked whole (groats). These groats can also be steel-cut, steamed, or rolled (flattened). Rolled oats can be made quick-cooking when they receive additional cuts, and they can be used interchangeably with other oats in baking because they are whole grains. Instant oats, however, have been more finely cut and cooked, so they cannot be used in place of normal oats.
Oat Flour – Oat flour is made up of rolled oats or groats that have been finely ground.
Oat Bran – Oat bran refers to the outer layers of an oat kernel. Oat bran is a good additive for baked goods as it is high in soluble fiber.
Partially set – To refrigerate a gelatin mixture until it thickens to the consistency of unbeaten egg whites.
Peel – To remove the skin of a fruit or vegetable by hand or with a knife or peeler. This also refers to the skin or outer covering of a fruit or vegetable.
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.
Proof/Prove – To allow yeast dough to rise before baking. Or to dissolve yeast in a warm liquid and set it in a warm place for 5 to 10 minutes until it expands and becomes bubbly.
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.
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.
Refrigerate – To chill in the refrigerator until a mixture is cool or until dough is firm.
Rind – The skin or outer coating of such foods as citrus fruit or cheese.
Rolling boil – To cook a mixture until the surface billows rather than bubbles.
Rounded teaspoon – When dough is slightly mounded, not level.ScaldTo heat a mixture or liquid to just below the boiling point.
Sauté – To sauté is to cook or brown food in a small amount of hot fat or oil. This softens the food and releases its flavors.
Score – To cut slits in food with a knife, cutting partway through the outer surface.
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.
Semolina Flour – Also known as pasta flour, semolina flower is made through the grinding of semolina (granules) that come from durum wheat. Many specialty breads will include semolina or part-semolina flour in their ingredients.
Softened – Margarine, butter, ice cream, or cream cheese that is in a state soft enough for easy blending, but not melted.
Shred – To cut food into narrow strips using a sharp knife, grater, or food processor fitted with a shredding disk.
Soft peaks – Egg whites or whipping cream beaten to the stage where the mixture forms soft, rounded peaks when the beaters are removed.
Sprinkle – To sprinkle is to scatter small particles of toppings or sugars over a surface like cake, bread, frosting, and more.
Steam – To cook food on a rack or in a wire basket over boiling water.
Stiff peaks – Egg whites beaten to the stage where the mixture will hold stiff, pointed peaks when the beaters are removed.
Stir – To combine ingredients with a spoon or whisk using a circular motion.
Table Salt – Table salt, which is also known as granulated salt, is produced through the boiling and evaporation of brine. Table salt is often iodized, and anti-caking agents are usually added to it.
Toss – To mix lightly with a lifting motion, using two forks or spoons.
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.
Whip – To beat rapidly with a wire whisk or electric mixer to incorporate air into a mixture in order to lighten and increase the volume of the mixture.
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.
Zest – Zest is the thin, outer skin of a citrus fruit. It is fragrant and removed with a paring knife, vegetable peeler, or citrus so that it can be added to baked goods for a citrus flavor.
Now that you know the meaning of over 80 common baking terms, it’s time to put them to good use! Browse my entire collection of quick and easy baking recipes here.
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