There’s nothing worse than starting a recipe for a batch of cookies, a pound cake, or a pie and coming across a term (or two, or three) that you don’t recognize. What do you do that in that situation? Well, we have you covered in case it happens again.
Below is a comprehensive list of some of the most important baking terms every cook should know. Whether you’re a novice at-home baker or the owner of highly regarded bakery, there is a little something for just about everyone in this list.
Baking Terms Every Baker Should Know
Aerate – To incorporate air into something, usually a batter.
Bain-Marie – A fancy way of saying “hot water bath.” Typically used to melt chocolate and butter over a pot of simmering water.
Bake – To cook in an over with dry heat.
Bake-Blend – Baking the crust of a pie or tart without prior to adding the filling.
Batch – The amount of cookies, cupcakes, bread, or other items made from one bake.
Batter – A mixture of dry and wet ingredients that typically includes eggs, flour, sugar, and milk.
Beat – Rapidly and intensely mixing a combination of ingredients to incorporate air into the mixture. Can be done with a whisk or mixer.
Blanch – To partially cook food by plunging it into boiling water for a short period of time before submerging it in cold water to stop the cooking process.
Blend – The mixing of two substances together to the point where they become incorporated with one another.
Boil – To heat liquid until it reaches its boiling point; to place something into boiling liquid.
Butter – To spread or add butter onto something.
Buttercream – A type of icing used to fill, top, coat, and decorate baked goods. Created through the process of creaming butter with powdered sugar; extra colors and flavors can be added as well.
Caramelize – The process of cooking sugar until it browns. This can also refer to the process of cooking various fruits and vegetables until they release their natural sugars.
Chop – The process of repeatedly cutting something into small pieces.
Coat – To cover something with a layer of a wet or dry substance. Can be anything from sugar to cream.
Coats Spoon – When a thin, even film covers a metal spoon after it has been dipped into a cooked mixture and allowed to drain.
Combine – To mix two ingredients together.
Consistency – The desired texture and/or thickness of a dough, batter, or sauce.
Cool – Allowing something to come to room temperature.
Cream – The process of beating one or more ingredients.
Crimp – To seal the edges of two layers of dough with the tines of a fork or even your fingertips.
Crust – The hard outer layer of a pie.
Curdle – What happens when liquid separates from the fat in things like milk, butter, and eggs.
Dash – A measurement less than 1/8 teaspoon.
Dough – A soft, thick mixture of flour, liquids, fats, and other ingredients.
Dot – To distribute small amounts of butter evenly over the surface of a pie filling or dough.
Drizzle – To drip a glaze or icing over food from the tines of a fork or the edge of a spoon.
Dust – To sprinkle lightly with sugar, flour, or cocoa.
Egg Wash – Beaten eggs. Can also mean to brush a layer of beaten egg mixture over the surface of food to add color after it has been baked.
Extract – Natural substances that have been extracted from their source. Usually concentrated.
Flute – To make or press a decorative pattern into the raised edge of a pastry.
Fold – The gentle incorporation of dry to liquid ingredients.
Fold In – The process of gently combining a heavier mixture with a more delicate substance without causing a loss of air.
Glaze – To coat with a thin icing, jelly, or other liquid before or after the food has been cooked.
Grease – Rubbing 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.
Icing – A sweet glaze used to cover and decorate baked goods.
Knead – To fold, push, and turn dough to produce a smooth and elastic texture.
Lukewarm – A food temperature of approximately 105 degrees Fahrenheit.
Mix – To stir together two or more ingredients until they are combined.
Mix Until Just Moistened – Combining dry ingredients with liquid ingredients until the mixture is moist and slightly lumpy.
Mold – To pinch bread or pie dough to give it shape.
Nonstick – A pan or surface covered with a substance that prevents foods from sticking.
Parchment – An object such as paper that is used to line baking pans to prevent foods from sticking.
Partially Set – To refrigerate a gelatin mixture until it reaches the consistency of an unbeaten egg white.
Peel – Removing the skin of a fruit or vegetable by hand or with a knife or peeler. Can also refer to the kins of a fruit or vegetable.
Pinch – Using your fingers to press a pie dough together.
Pipe – Squeezing a liquid or icing through a piping bag for decorating.
Preheat – Turning on the oven ahead of time so that it reaches the desired temperature.
Proof – Allowing yeast dough to rise prior to baking. Can also refer to the process of allowing yeast to dissolve in a warm liquid for 5 to 10 minutes or until it expands and starts to bubble.
Reduce – The process of thickening and reducing the amount of liquid in a sauce or soup to intensify its flavor.
Refrigerate – To chill until a mixture is cool or dough is firm.
Rind – The skin or outer covering of fruit or cheese.
Rolling Boil – To cook a mixture until the surface billows instead of bubbles.
Rounded Teaspoon – When dough is slightly mounded and not quite level.
Scald – To heat a mixture or liquid just below the boiling point.
Score – To cut slits in food by cutting partway through the outer surface.
Shelf Life – How long a product is useable.
Shred – To cut food into narrow strips.
Sieve – The process of running a food through a sieve to separate solids from liquids or lumps from powdered ingredients.
Simmer – Bringing liquids to a temperature that is just below boiling.
Soft Peaks – Egg whites or whipping cream beaten to the point where the mixture forms soft rounded peaks.
Sprinkle – Lightly scatter something over a food.
Steam – To cook food on a rack or in a wire basket over boiling water.
Stiff Peaks – Egg whites or whipping cream beaten to the point where the mixture forms stiff pointed peaks.
Stir – To combine ingredients with a spoon or whisk using a circular motion.
Temper – Gradually raising the temperature of a food.
Toss – To mix lightly with a lifting motion using two forks or spoons.
Whip – To beat rapidly with a wire whisk or electric mixer to incorporate air into the mixture.
Whisk – A kitchen tool used to blend, beat, or incorporate air into a mixture.
Yield – The amount of baked goods one recipe will make.
Zest – Removing the peel of a fruit or vegetable with a grater. It can also refer to the outer peel of citrus fruit, which is commonly added to recipes to add flavor.
Well, there you have it… more than a baker’s dozen of terms that will make your baking adventure into something special instead of another culinary disaster.