Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Ingredients - How To Use Them



All-purpose flour is the “backbone” ingredient in most baked goods.  It’s usually a blend of hard and soft wheats to give best all-around results.  The terms white, wheat, or plain flours are synonymous.

Self-rising flour contains leavening and salt.  When used in quick breads, omit baking powder, soda, and salt.  It cannot be used for baking yeast breads.

Cake flour, for delicate cakes, is softer and whiter than all-purpose flour.

Sift all white or wheat flour once; pile lightly into measuring cup with spoon.  Do not shake cup; level with spatula.

Whole wheat (also referred to as graham flour), rye, and buckwheat flours, bran, cornmeal, and oatmeal are available for special uses.  These flours are usually used in combination with all-purpose flour.  Whole-grain flours and meals are not sifted.  Stir them then spoon lightly into measuring cup and level.


Fats are solid at room temperature and are made from vegetable or animal products, or a combination of both.  Solid fats include hydrogenated vegetable fats, lard, butter, and margarine.  Hydrogenated fats are the most common shortening used in baked goods.  Butter or margarine is used for flavour and to modify textures.  Their creaming qualities are not as good as hydrogenated fats.  Lard and vegetable oils do not cream well.

Oils are fats that are liquid at room temperature and are usually of vegetable origin.  Salad oil has been processed to stay clear when refrigerated; cooking oils become cloudy.  The frequently used oils are corn, cottonseed, olive, peanut, soybean, and safflower.  Vegetable oils are used for salad dressings, cooking fat, and in some baked products (with the exception of olive oil).

Drippings are fats usually obtained by cooking fat meats (bacon, pork, beef, etc.).


Leavenings are substances that form bubbles of gas (carbon dioxide) or physical leavening like steam and air.  The gas, air, or steam expands when a batter or dough is heated, making baked product light and affecting grain and texture.

Leavening agents include yeast, baking powder, and soda (plus a food acid).

Yeast is a tiny plant that produces carbon dioxide from sugar when temperature and moisture are favourable for its growth.  Yeast comes in two forms – active dry and compressed.  Before active dry yeast is used, soften it in warm water (110°) for 5 to 10 minutes.  Soften compressed yeast in lukewarm or other liquid (85°) for the same time.

Baking powder can be SAS-phosphate (double-acting), phosphate, or tartrate type.  The double-acting type frees a small amount of gas when combined with liquid, the major part when heated.

Phosphate type gives off part of its gas when mixed with liquid and the remaining when heated.

Tartrate type reacts almost entirely when combined with the liquid.  The gas formed expands when batter is heated.

Recipes in this book are based on double-acting baking powder.

Baking soda gives off gas when mixed with a food acid such as buttermilk, sour milk, molasses, vinegar, or lemon juice.  One-fourth teaspoon baking soda plus ½ cup sour milk is equivalent to 1 teaspoon baking powder (double-acting).


Slightly beaten eggs are whole eggs beaten with fork only long enough to break up the yolks and have streaks of white and yellow.   Used to thicken custards and to coat foods with egg and crumbs.

Beaten eggs are whipped till whites are yolks are blended.  Used to give light texture to batters and doughs and as a binder in baked products, salad dressings.

Well-beaten eggs are whole eggs beaten until light in color and texture.

Well-beaten egg yolks are beaten till a fine, thick, and literally lemon-colored foam is formed.  Used in sponge cakes.

Stiffly beaten egg whites are beaten till peaks stand up straight, but are still moist and glossy.  Often egg whites are beaten to soft peaks – the peaks droop over slightly.  Sugar is then added gradually while beating to stiff peaks.  This increases the air-holding property of the egg whites.  Angel cake is leavened by expansion of air held in egg whites and by steam during baking.  Macaroons, soufflés, and chiffon pies all rely on stiffly beaten egg whites for lightness.


Sugar -  this term refers to beet or cane granulated white sugar.

Confectioners’ or powdered sugar is granulated sugar crushed and screened to desired fineness.  Often used in frostings.

Brown sugar is refined less then granulated sugar.  The darker the color the more molasses remaining on the sugar crystals and the stronger the flavour.

Granulated brown sugar is measured like white sugar.  Adjust recipes when substituting for moist brown sugar.


Flour may be thoroughly blended with fat before liquid is added.  Or it may be blended with cold liquid or with sugar before combining with hot mixture.  Cook and stir till thickened and bubbly.

Cornstarch may be blended with cold liquid or sugar before adding  hot mixture.  Cook and stir till thick and bubbly.

Tapioca – Quick-cooking tapioca is used in recipes in this book.  It is added to the liquid mixture.  No soaking is necessary.  Heat just to boiling; don’t overcook.  Cool without stirring.  If using pearl tapioca, use about double the amount and soak several hours.  Cook till transparent.

Eggs are slightly beaten when used for thickening.  To add them to a hot mixture stir small amount of hot mixture into eggs; then stir egg mixture into remaining hot mixture.  Cook and stir over low heat.


Gelatin -  This term used without further description means granulated unflavoured gelatin.  To use, soften 1 envelope (1 tablespoon) in ½ cup cold liquid; allow to stand a few minutes.  Stir over direct heat till dissolved, about 2 or 3 minutes, or dissolved over boiling water.  Or blend 1 tablespoon or more sugar with gelatin (don’t soften); dissolve directly in hot liquid.  One envelope unflavoured gelatin equals 1 tablespoon and will set 2 cups of liquid.  Remember to count the cold liquid used for softening a part of the total liquid.

Flavored gelatin is a mixture of gelatin, sugar, fruit acids, flavors, and coloring.  Dissolve in boiling liquid.  One 3 – ounce package of flavoured gelatin will set 2 cups of liquid and 2 cups well-drained fruit.


Skim milk has most of the fat removed.

Nonfat milk contains not more than 0.1 percent milk fat.

Homogenized milk is pasteurized milk that has been treated so the cream will not rise to the top.

Evaporated milk is whole milk with 60 percent of the water removed.  When mixed with an equal volume of water, it will be slightly above the composition of bottled milk.  (Undiluted, it can be used in place of cream, or when chilled until fine ice crystals form, it can be whipped.

Sweetened condensed milk is concentrated whole milk mixed with sugar.

Nonfat dry milk is skim milk with the water removed.  Reconstitute with water according to package directions.


Light cream or half-and-half is used in coffee or for table use.  It is used in our recipes where richness is desired.

Whipping cream contains 30 to 40 percent fat.  Chill well before beating.  Chill bowl and beaters, too.

Dairy sour cream is commercially cultured light cream.  It has a pleasant tang and a smooth, thick texture.  It’s used to give richness and zesty flavour.

Article copy typed by Shirley-Ann

Article retrieved from Better Homes and Gardens – New CookBook – Third Printing 1970 Chapter or Section 17 Special Helps

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