Simple Baking Terminology Definitions
It's easy to assume the meaning of something when it comes to baking and then you do the whole process wrong just because you got the definition incorrect. Recipies don't tend to tell you what 'fold' means but it is different from mixing! So, we're going to go back to school and bring out the basic terminology so you never mess up again.
(Image credit: The Messy Baker)
Easy peasy? A batter is an unbaked mixture which is runny so it pours but it cannot be rolled out like a dough. Tips for making batter include not to overmix as gluten develops and makes the baked good tougher.
You tend to see this term when fats are involved such as butter. It's when the fat is worked into the flour and other dry ingredients until the fat starts to coat the flour and the pieces become smaller. Usually, cutting in is when making a more flaky product such as biscuits, scones and pie crusts. Coating the flour in fat protects the proteins from forming too much gluten.
A pie is docked by pricking it everywhere with a fork as this allows steam to leave while it is baking. This stops the crust from puffing or shrinking. Docking can be used instead of pie weights. It's important to prick the crust all over as well as up the sides!
(Image credit: Taste)
An emulsion is a forced mixture of two ingredients that aren't usually mixable. For example, water and fat. Milk and butter is a perfect example of ingredients that are emulsified. An emulsion is created when making ganache or hollandaise sauce.
Leaven is the process of a baked good rising. There are three categories of leaveners. The first being a chemical leavener which includes baking soda and baking powder. The second is a natural leavener which is wild yeast and commercial yeast. Lastly, there is a forced leavener which is when the air is used with an ingredient to rise a baked good.
Peaks refer to the stiffness of whipped cream or whipped egg whites. Soft peaks barely hold their shape. Medium peaks hold shape but the peaks curl at the tip. Stiff peaks stand straight up and will not curl. The cream needs to be cold in order to hold a web of air and thicken while egg whites whip up faster when they are at room temperature.
Here at Gookie Dough, we take care of the terminology when whipping up your most loved treat but just in case you want to brag to your mates here's the logic. Knowledge is power, after all!