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Ingredients & Techniques & Techniques
When measuring flour, fluff it in the bag then spoon into the measuring cup; level off with a knife.

To "lighten" a hard wheat flour, spoon 2 to 4 tablespoons of cornstarch into a 1-cup dry measure, then sprinkle the flour in until full and scrape off the excess with the back side of a knife.

For better texture, try substituting buttermilk for regular milk in your cake recipe. For each cup of buttermilk used, add 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda to the dry ingredients.

Beat butter and sugar for as long as the recipe directs.

To make a lighter cake, separate the eggs first. Add the yolks to the butter mixture, beat the egg whites then fold into the batter.

In general, use 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder for every cup of flour in cake batters.

To speed up the softening of cold butter, grate or thinly slice it and let stand for about 10 minutes over a bowl of warm water.

Toss nuts, raisins and chopped fruits in flour first. This will help keep them suspended in batters.

To split layer cakes loop a long strand of unflavored dental floss around the center of the cake horizontally. Cross the ends and slowly and firmly pull on each end to cut cleanly through the cake.

Cool the cake thoroughly before frosting.

To moisten confectioners' sugar frostings, use other liquids in place of milk. Melted jelly, fruit juices, coffee, peanut butter (with a little milk), honey, or maple syrup are just a few alternatives.

Make chocolate whipped cream by combining 2 tablespoons each unsweetened cocoa powder and confectioners' sugar in a mixing bowl. Gradually stir in 1 cup whipping cream, then refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before beating.

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