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.
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.