Baking and Cooking Definitions

Do your recipe directions use words you’ve never heard of before? Just curious and looking to learn more about various methods? Use our definition charts to look them up!

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z
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{background:#f0d5af}. | A la minute | Refers to one type of dessert preparation where the pastry chef puts together the desserts as they are ordered versus preparing them in advance. This type of preparation requires precise coordination between the wait staff and the pastry chef as timing is critical because the dessert (like a soufflé) or its components (like a hot and cold dessert) need to be served immediately. This plating style requires considerable mis-en-place by the pastry chef to serve desserts in a timely manner once they are ordered. |
| A la mode | French for “in the manner (or mode) [of],” referring to the style in which a dish is prepared. The term has been Americanized to also mean pie topped with ice cream. |
{background:#f0d5af}. | Achenes | Are single seeded complete fruits. For example, a sunflower seed. |
| Agar Agar | Extracted from Japanese seaweed and is up to 8x stronger than gelatin. It comes in many forms: powdered, flakes, strips and should be heated with liquid and simmered to slowly dissolve. It does not breakdown in the presence of tropical fruits. It can be frozen and is very neutral in taste. |
{background:#f0d5af}. | American Buttercream | Butter/shortening and powdered sugar. |
| Autolyse | In bread baking, a moment of rest that allows the flour to absorb the water. Makes dough easier to shape and makes a better dough (60% water and 40% clear or bread flour.) |
{background:#f0d5af}. | Bavarian Cream | Can be a dessert on it’s own or an ingredient in a cake or pastry like a charlotte. Bavarian creams are a custard based creams with the addition of gelatin (for setting) and whipped cream (for lightness). The base for Bavarian cream can be a crème Anglaise or a pate a bombe. Bavarian creams can be flavored with chocolate, fruits, nuts, liqueurs or a combination. |
| Biga | Firm pre-fermented starter with no salt (50% water and 50% flour.) |
{background:#f0d5af}. | Blind Baking | Refers to pie crusts. Line pie crusts with foil or parchment paper and fill with beans or rice. Remove liner and beans/rice after crust sets to allow crust to finish baking and to brown. |
| Bloom (referring to gelatin) | The re-hydration of gelatin in a cool liquid prior to its use in desserts. |
{background:#f0d5af}. | Brandy | A distillation of wine although certain types of brandy are distilled from fruit. |
| Bubble | A pocket of gas surrounded by a liquid made up of water and a foaming agent. |
{background:#f0d5af}. | Cannoli | Is an Italian dessert made of a deep fried pastry tube that is filled with sweetened ricotta cheese (with or without chocolate chips) and pastry cream with dried fruit and nuts. The term ‘cannoli’ translates to ‘pipes’. |
| Caramel | Caramel can be made by 2 methods. Dry Method: sauce pan is heated and sugar is sprinkled in and melted until clear and sugar is added until required amount. Requires constant attention. Wet: mix sugar and water until it resembles wet sand and add acid to prevent crystallization. Requires that all utensils must be grease free. (Texture can be altered w/ boiled cream to thicken it or thinned with simple syrup (results in clear caramel.) |
{background:#f0d5af}. | Chantilly Cream | Is whipped cream with the addition of sugar (usually 2 ounces of confectionery sugar to 1 quart of cream) and flavorings. The cream, whip and bowl should be chilled. The flavorings are added at towards the end of the whipping. |
| Charlotte Royal | Is made by lining a hemispherical mold (like a bowl) with cut pieces a jelly-roll cake (preserve or jam filled sponge cake ) and then filled with Bavarian cream and allowed to set. |
{background:#f0d5af}. | Charlotte Russe | Is made by lining a brioche mold with ladyfingers and pouring the Bavarian cream into the mold and then allowed to set. |
| Chocolate Liquor | Is the liquid product that results from the processing of the nibs which are the shelled, pure cocoa bean. Chocolate liquor contains up to 55% cocoa butter. |
{background:#f0d5af}. | Compote | A mixture of fruits cooked slowly in a flavored syrup. Cook until fruit just starts to lose shape. Do not over cook. Should be served hot. Can be used as a garnish or moistening component. |
| Conching | Is the further refining of the chocolate liquor by knead, shaking and pressing it for up to 72 hours. Conching affects the texture of the chocolate since it reduces the particle size down to minute levels and suspends the particles in cocoa butter. Conching also affects the flavor and liquidity of the chocolate by aerating it. The aeration helps evaporate unwanted volatile acids. The aeration also reduces the water present in the chocolate and the less water, the more fluid the chocolate is. |
{background:#f0d5af}. | Cooked Fruit Sauce | Basically a coulis that is strained to remove seeds and reduced to thicken or alter its color or flavor. Flavors- spices, herbs, zest (becomes more pronounced w/ time) can be added, but remember less is more and be careful of sweetness. |
| Cornet | Is a small piping bag made from parchment paper. It is usually used to make fine decorations. |
{background:#f0d5af}. | Coulis | Sauce made from fresh fruit that is blended (can have seeds.) |
| Couverture | Is a fine, high grade chocolate because it contains a larger percentage of cocoa butter than other chocolates and has a lower viscosity, a better shine when it sets and a harder snap when solid. |
{background:#f0d5af}. | Crème Anglaise | Crème Anglaise can be the classic custard sauce made from egg yolks, milk, cream and sugar. It can also be used as the base for a Bavarian cream by adding bloomed gelatin to the cooking custard sauce and later the whipped cream right before the gelatin is about to set. |
| Crème Brulee | Directly translated, crème Brulee is ‘burnt cream’. Though it was invented by the English it was made popular by the French. Crème brulee is a thick custard made with all heavy cream, eggs and egg yolks and is served in a ramekin because it is a very soft custard. After the custard is baked and left to set overnight, it is sprinkled with sugar and caramelized. |
{background:#f0d5af}. | Crème Caramel | Is a classic French custard made with eggs, sugar and milk. Caramelized sugar is placed on the bottom of the ramekin prior to the custard to give the dessert its syrup when it is unmolded. Because crème caramel is unmolded a higher ratio (2 eggs per cup of liquid) is used. |
| Crème Chiboust | Is a mixture of soft and warm, but not hot, pastry cream and Italian meringue. |
{background:#f0d5af}. | Crème Diplomat | Is a mixture of pastry cream and whipped cream with similar consistencies in a 1:1 ratio. The pastry cream used should soft (made with the minimal amount of cornstarch or flour only.) Can be used in many of the same applications pastry cream is used. |
| Curd | A custard made with citrus juice. |
{background:#f0d5af}. | Custard | At its most basic level, a custard is a combination of eggs, sugar, milk or cream. The heat of the oven causes the proteins of the eggs to coagulate. Variances in the amount eggs and the use of milk versus cream produces the different types of custard based desserts.) |
| Drupe | A one-seeded, fleshy fruit with the seed enclosed in a stony wall, such as cherries, peaches, etc. |
{background:#f0d5af}. | Emulsifiers | Bond to or dissolve in water and bond fat and water together. |
| Extracts | Concentrated flavorings derived from various foods or plants, usually through evaporation or distillation, usually based in alcohol. |
{background:#f0d5af}. | Fat Bloom | Is the separation of the cocoa butter from the rest of the chocolate. Fat bloom turns the surface of the chocolate gray or white and can look like film, streaks, circles or dots. Fat bloom occurs when the chocolate has not been tempered and therefore the cocoa butter isn’t emulsified and won’t crystallize properly. Tempering prevents fat bloom. |
| Flan | Is similar to crème brulee, though it has a higher ratio of cream to milk and sometimes contains cream cheese. The syrup is stickier and is made from a combination of a sugar syrup and caramelized sugar. Flan is of Spanish origins and was created by Spanish nuns to utilize an abundance of egg yolks leftover from sherry production. |
{background:#f0d5af}. | Fondant (Poured) | A heavy, white syrup made of glucose, water and sugar that is cooked to 240 degrees than cooled to 108 and agitated to produce creamy, white consistency Must be reheated to 99-100 degrees for pouring. |
| Fondant (Rolled) | A malleable sugar paste that is rolled to a uniform thickness and used to cover cakes, cookies, etc. and make decorations. |
{background:#f0d5af}. | French Buttercream | Pate bombe and butter. |
| Fruit Salad | Decoratively cut fruit w/ a dressing (simple syrup or liqueur). Base for a dessert, as a garnish or moistening component. |
{background:#f0d5af}. | Fruit Salsa | Diced or julienne fruit tossed with herbs and spices. Base for a dessert, as a garnish or moistening component. |
| Ganache | Has two main ingredients: chocolate and a water-based liquid (milk, cream, teas, orange juice). Additional ingredients such as fat, flavorings or alcohol are optional. Additional sugar (granulated sugar, glucose and corn syrup) can be added to improve shine and texture. The optional addition of egg yolks makes for a richer ganache. |
{background:#f0d5af}. | Gastrique | A thick sauce made by reducing vinegar/wine, sugar, and fruit. |
| Gelatin | Derived from animal sources (beef or pig) and is the most commonly used gelling agent due to low cost. Strength of gelatin is measured b a bloom gellometer and gelatin used in baking is most often between 200-250 degrees on the gellometer scale. Gelatin comes in two types: powdered (domestically made) and sheet (European) and both must be hydrated for 3-5 minutes and heated to a working temperature of 110 degrees before use. Fruits containing bromelain r papain enzymes must be heated before combining with gelatin because in their raw state they will break down the proteins. Freezing destroys the gelling properties of gelatin. |
{background:#f0d5af}. | German Buttercream | Butter, shortening and liquid fondant. |
| Granita | A granita is an Italian ice dessert made with a sugar syrup and fruit or fruit juice. The density of the sugar syrup is thinner and distinguishes this product from sherbet, sorbet and spoom. Granitas are still frozen in a shallow pan, not in an ice cream maker, and stirred two to three times during the freezing process and then scraped after they are frozen solid producing a dessert with a large grainy texture. |
{background:#f0d5af}. | Herbs | The fragrant leaves of any variety of various annual or perennial plants grown in temperate zones. |
| High Altitude Flour | Made from wheat grown at high altitudes, NOT flour specially formulated for high altitudes. |
{background:#f0d5af}. | High-Ratio Cake | A cake with more sugar and fat than flour. |
| Hippen Cookie | Almond wafer paste stenciled- on to a silpat bake at 350 degrees shape after baking; timing is key. |
{background:#f0d5af}. | Homogenization | Whole milk is forced through tiny holes which regulate the size of the butterfat globules. |
| Hydrogenation | Forced addition of hydrogen on a fatty acid. Fully saturated fats are extremely solid. Fats are hydrogenated for functionality and for resistance against oxidative rancidity. |
{background:#f0d5af}. | Hygroscopic | “Water loving”- hygroscopic materials attract water from their environment. |
| Italian Buttercream | Italian meringue and butter. |
{background:#f0d5af}. | Lean Dough | Made up only of flour, water, yeast and salt. |
| Levain | Spongy mixture of fermented dough. |
{background:#f0d5af}. | Maillard Reaction | Browning that occurs in the presence of protein, acid and sugar before caramelization. |
| Marie Antoine Careme | A French pastry chef, Marie-Antoine Careme standardized classical French sauces in her 1815 book “French Cookery.” Careme was also an established and experienced saucier, who organized the various sauces into four different families: bechamel, veloute, demi-glace and tomato. |
{background:#f0d5af}. | Marquise | Is any type of box cake (though usually chocolate) that use mousse as a filling. The cakes are usually glazed and decorated with ganache. |
| Meringue | A mixture of egg whites in a ratio of 2 parts sugar to 1 part egg white. Acid can be added to stabilize the proteins. Other ratios of sugar to egg whites are called chiffons. There are 3 types of meringues: (1) French or Common: whipped egg whites and sugar (2)Italian: heat sugar and water to 240 (lower at high altitudes), add to whipped egg whites and whip until cool (3) Swiss- combine egg whites and sugar in double boiler and heat to 150 and then whip. |
{background:#f0d5af}. | Mousse | Made from whipped cream, beaten egg yolks, beaten egg whites, flavorings and sometimes gelatin for setting purposes. Mousses can be a dessert or a filling for tortes and pastries. Mousse, in French, means ‘foam’. |
| Over Whipped (Whipped Cream) | Butter – Butterfat and liquids begin to separate. Don’t throw it away. Strain the liquid off and add flavorings ranging from salt to herbs, cheeses, fruit preserves, honey. |
{background:#f0d5af}. | Overrun | Is the increase in volume of the ice cream over the volume of the mix caused by the incorporation of air. It is expressed as the percentage of the volume of the mix. Proper overrun is critical to the consistency of the ice cream. Without enough air the ice cream will be heavy and feel very cold in the mouth. With too much air, the ice cream will have a foamy, snowy texture. The factors that determine overrun are: the freezing equipment used, the freezing or churning time, the amount of mix related to the size of the freezer capacity (for maximum overrun, the freezer should be filled only halfway) and the total amount of solids in the mix, which should total 40%. |
| Oxidative Rancidity | Breakdown of lipid leading to a rancid/”off” flavor. |

Definitions P – Z



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