Baking Terms Glossary

Baking Basics and Definitions

You’re baking bread for the first time and you can’t wait for the savory smell of rising dough to start wafting through your house. You bought all high quality ingredients and have been following the recipe to the letter, until one little phrase throws you off – “fold the dough.”

Folding the dough? Like a t-shirt? If you’re confused, don’t worry; you’re not the only one. Most, if not all, first-time bakers encounter specific terminology that makes them shake their heads. That’s why we’ve compiled this list of common basic baking techniques.

So go ahead, bust out those brand new recipes this weekend and give them a whirl.

Baking powder: A leavener used for cooking; an inert filler used to keep ingredients separated.

Baking soda: An alkaline ingredient, and when mixed with acidic ingredients, it reacts and releases bubbles of carbon dioxide.

Beat: Thoroughly combine ingredients and incorporate air with a rapid, circular motion.

Bulk fermentation: Let your yeast bread dough sit and rise at room temperature for two hours. This will make your flavor and texture richer and fluffier.

Buttercream: Soft, spreadable icing that is commonly used on cakes, cupcakes and cookies. Buttercream is versatile and often takes on a flavor such as chocolate or salted caramel.

Caramelize: Heat sugar until it is melted and brown.

Creaming: Blend all ingredients to create a fluffy mixture.

Crimp: Seal the edges of two layers of dough with the tines of a fork or your fingertips.

Crumb coat: A thin layer of frosting that is applied to the cake to keep crumbs “trapped” so that they don’t appear on the final layer of frosting. Refrigerate your cake for 15 minutes between applying the crumb coat and the final layer of frosting.

Cutting in: Combine the flour and dry ingredients with the fat quickly, which is why this
technique is often used with butter. Toss chunks of cold butter into the flour and use a
pastry blender (or two knives, but trust us, the pastry blender is far easier) to mix.

Dash: A measurement less than ⅛ teaspoon.

Docking: Prick the dough with a fork before baking to let some of the steam vent. This is
particularly useful for shortbread.

Double boiler: Used to melt delicate ingredients such as chocolate that can burn easily. To make a double boiler, place a bowl on top of a pan of simmering water. The bowl will not touch the water, but the steam from the water will help heat the ingredient at a lower temperature than if it had direct contact with the bottom of the pan.

Dulce de leche: A caramel-like sauce that is created by heating milk and salt over a double boiler on a medium heat. Let mixture cook for 1- 1 ½ hours, stirring occasionally and adding water when necessary. The mixture should be thick and dark-caramel colored. When finished heating, beat until smooth.

Dust: The light sprinkling of baked good or other surface with a dry ingredient like flour, meal, or powdered sugar.

Fold in: Gently combine a heavier mixture with a more delicate substance, such as beaten egg whites or whipped cream, without causing loss of air.

Glaze: Brushing food with milk, egg, or sugar before baking in order to produce a shiny golden finish; to brush a thin coating of icing on top of a baked cake, cookie or bread to give the food a sweet and shiny finish.

Knead: Fold, push, and turn dough or other mixture to produce a smooth, elastic texture.

Leavening: The production of a gas in a dough batter using an agent like baking powder, yeast, baking soda, or even egg whites. Leavening agents work via the production of gas in the dough.

Partially set: Refrigerate a gelatin mixture until it thickens to the consistency of unbeaten egg whites

Piping: Use a pastry bag to add frosting and other creamy toppings to cupcakes, cakes
and cookies; piping can also be used to fill pastries.

Proofing: When you give your bread dough one final rise. Shape your dough into loaves and let them sit in the refrigerator. This will give the dough extra flavor and improves the bread quality, from crust to crumb.

Sifting: Pass the flour through a sifter to add air for a light, spongy texture; this can also help accurately measure ingredients.

Softened: Margarine, butter, ice cream, or cream cheese that is in a state soft enough for easy blending, but not melted.

Unleavened: Baked goods that do not use a leavening agent like baking soda, cream of tartar, baking powder, or yeast.

Whisk: Hand or electric whisking will incorporate air into the mixture, creating lighter
texture.

2 comments

    1. Hi Terry,

      The double action in baking powder means that the baking powder reacts twice, once in the bowl when moisture is applied and again when heat is applied. Double-acting baking powder is what all recipes call for.

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