Q. Is it necessary to sift dry ingredients?
A. In some recipes, you can just whisk the dry ingredients together and still get decent results, but it’s a good idea to get in the habit of sifting. Here’s why First, sifting aerates flour and gives a more uniform texture, helping you measure it consistently and get more reliable results from your recipes. (In batters, aerated flour may be also contribute to volume). Second, sifting breaks up stubborn lumps ingredients like cocoa powder and baking soda. Third, sifting dry ingredients together helps them dispense evenly into the dough. This is especially important in recipes that call for mixing dry ingredients into the dough or batter only briefly.
Q. I don’t bake much, is it okay to use year-old ingredients?
A. Sugar and salt lasts forever. But flours and leavens are another matter. If you use white flour that is eight months old, consider replacing it unless storage conditions on your home are unusually ideal. For example, I keep my flours in airtight containers in dry storage areas, where temperature is 60 F year-round. When I buy cake flour and leavens I’ll write the date on the top of the box, when I see it nearing the expiration date in order to save it I put in the refrigerator in an airtight container. Don’t forget tiny bugs call flour beetles form in our flours, this is why I’m suggesting it’s better to buy small bags of flour. Some specialty stores allow you to scoop your own quantity of flour based on how much you need for that recipe, so it can be used right away.
Q.I have an old sugar cookie recipe that calls for cream of tartar in addition to baking soda. Why?
A. Cream of tartar is a purified form of an acid that forms on casks during wine making process. It has several functions in the kitchen, from stabilizing beaten egg whites to preventing sugar crystallization in candy, and in older recipes, cream of tartar (an acid) is used on conjunction with baking soda (a base) to leaven cakes and cookies. Essentially, when use you use cream of tartar with baking soda, you’re making your own baking powder.
Q. Why do some cookie recipes call for chilling the dough before baking?
A. Chilling the dough firms up the fats in the dough, which helps cut-out and slice-and-bake cookies to hold their shape during baking. Chilling also keeps slice-and-bake cookie dough from flattening on the bottom as you press down with your knife.
Q. How to follow a recipe
A. Before you start: Read the recipe from start to finish so there are no surprises. Gather all the necessary ingredients according to the directions in the ingredient list
For the ingredients: Unless otherwise noted, butter is unsalted. Eggs are large about 2 oz. each. Flour is unbleached all-purpose. Sugar is white and granulated.
For oneness: Always rely first on the recipe’s sensory descriptor, such as “cook until golden brown.”
Q. How to measure precisely
A. Liquids: Always use liquid measures (sprouted cups and breakers with cup measurements and fluid ounces) unless you’re measuring tablespoons and teaspoons. Put the cup on a level surface and get yourself at eye level with the measuring cup before assessing the amount of liquid. Note: A very good measuring cup PYREX that has been around forever or any plastic cup; you can purchase them at discount store or favorite kitchen store.
Flour: Weighing is the best way to measure flour, which is why we give a weight first in recipes. if you must measure by volume (cups), always stir the flour a little and then spoon it into the cup before leveling with a flat side of a knife. Scooping the cup directly into the flour compacts it, and you’ll get too much. (It’s inconsistent). If your recipe calls for sifting, be sure to sift at the right time. One cup flour, “sifted” means you should sift after measuring.