Baking terms explained

Bake blind

To bake a pastry case without a filling to prevent the base from going soggy. To do it by pricking the case with fork, you can line the base and inside with greaseproof paper or foil and weighted down with dried or baking beans to stop the base from bubbling/rising up or the side from falling in.

Beat

To agitate an ingredient or mixture vigorously with a spoon, whisk or fork.

Buttercream

Cake icing or filling made by beating icing sugar into butter. It may be flavoured or colored.

Caramelize

To boil sugar or syrup until it turns to brown toffee (often used to coat pudding moulds) or to sprinkle sugar on top of a pudding and grill until the sugar melts and browns.

Compote

Fresh or dried fruit, cooked either whole or in pieces in sugar syrup.

Cream

To beat ingredients such as sugar and butter or margarine to a pale, creamy, mousse-like consistency.

Creme Patissier 

A thick custard, sometimes called confectioner’s custard, used a filling in pastries and cakes.

Crimp

To compress the edges of pastries into decorative ridges and frills.

Crystallize

To dip fruit or flowers into boiling water and then coat with caster sugar.

Curdle

To cause a milk or a sauce to separate into curds and whey, either when heated or when acid is added.

Dredge

To sprinkle generously with flour or icing sugar.

Dropping consistency

The consistency reached when a mixture falls only reluctantly from the back of a spoon.

Dust

To sprinkle lightly with flour or icing sugar.

Flute

To make decorative indentations, especially in pastry.

Fold in

To incorporate a light airy mixture, such as whisked egg whites, into a heavier one. A figure-of-eight action is often used, but avoid stirring as this might result in a loss of air.

Fruit Coulis

A sauce made with raw or cooked fruit served as an accompaniment to hot or cold desserts.

Gelatine

An odourless, colourless substance produced by boiling beef bones, used as thickening and setting agent.

Glaze

To give food a glossy finish (e.g. by brushing pastry with beaten egg or milk)

Hull

To remove the outer covering of a fruit, in particular, the pods of beans and peas, or the green calyx of a strawberry.

Icing/Frosting

A combination of icing sugar and water, occasionally flavoured with fruit juice. Used to coat pastries, cakes and many types of confectionery.

Knead

To work a dough by pressing, stretching and folding it with the hands.

Knock back

To punch risen dough in order to remove air.

Knock up

To slightly separate layers of puff or flaky pastry with the flat of a knife. This encourages layered rising in the oven.

Meringue

A light, sugary confection made from stiffly whisked egg whites and sugar. There are 3 basic types. Simple meringue, also known as swiss meringue, is made with whisked egg whites and sugar. Cooked meringue, also known as meringue cuite, is made by whisking egg whites and sugar over barely simmering water. Italian meringue is made by whisking hot sugar syrup into egg whites.

Peak

A way of measuring the stiffness of a mixture. Soft peak is when the mixture only just holds its shape. Stiff peak is when the peaks stay pointed.

Petit Fours

Bite-sized cakes or biscuits.

Pipe

To force a soft mixture through a nozzle to give a decorative effect. used for icing, whipped creams and meringues.

Prove

To leave a yeast dough to develop and rise a second time before baking.

Puree

Sieved or liquidised food.

Reduce

To concentrate or thicken a sauce by boiling it, which evaporates some of the water and reduces the volume.

Rest

To leave a pastry in the fridge so that the gluten, which expands during rolling, will contract. This makes pastry less likely to shrink and crack during baking.

Rub in

To incorporate fat into flour by rubbing them together with the fingertips.

Sieve

To pass food through a sieve to form a puree

Sift

To shake dry ingredients (e.g. flour and caster sugar) through a sieve to remove any lumps and to incorporate air.

Vacherin

A dessert made of 2 or more large piped rings of meringue, filled with cream.

Whisk

To beat rapidly in order to introduce air into a mixture.