|abaissage - A French term meaning the rolling out of pastry dough.
abaisse - A French term that describes a piece of rolled out pastry, especially puff pastry, into thin sheets. The term also refers to a thin slice of sponge cake.
acid - The Latin term for sour. Acids are used to prevent fruit from oxidizing and are used in making meringue because they help strengthen the egg white proteins. Common food acids are found in vinegar, wine, lemon juice, sour milk, and apples.
aebleskiver - A small Danish doughnut made on the stovetop with a special pan called an aebleskiver pandle. The doughnut is made with a beer batter flavored with spices and citrus zest. The baked doughnut may have a slice of apple or jam inserted in the middle, or simply dusted with confectioner's sugar. Shop for aebleskiver pans.
afternoon tea - a traditional English light meal served in the afternoon. Afternoon tea normally consists of finger sandwiches, petit fours, scones, crumpets and muffins. Of course the meal is accompanied with tea, or sometimes wine.
airbrush - a small, air-operated tool used to spray edible color to decorate cakes and cookies.
air pump - a small tool used to blow air into cooked sugar, so the sugar can be formed into shapes. A ball of cooked sugar is placed over the long tapered nozzle of the pump, and then air is blown into the sugar by hand-squeezing an attached hand pump.
a la mode - A French term meaning "in the manner of" or "in the style of" which refers to the method of preparation. In the United States, a la mode normally refers to a slice of pie topped with a scoop of ice cream.
allumette - Thin strips of puff pastry that are baked, and then topped with a sweet filling or royal icing.
allspice - A spice used in baking, and primarily used in cookies, cakes, and pies. Allspice is the berry of the Pimenta dioica tree, primarily grown in the West Indies, Central America, and South America. The berries are sun-dried, turning them a reddish-brown color, with a flavor similar to cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Allspice is also knows as "Jamaica pepper." Shop for allspice.
almond - The seed of the fruit produced by an Almond tree primarily grown in California, Sicily, Asia, South Africa, and France. Sweet almonds are commonly used in baking and are available in several forms: whole, sliced, slivered, chopped, and blanched. Almonds are also used to make almond paste, and ground to make almond meal or flour. Bitter almonds have a stronger taste, and are used sparingly to flavor cookies, cakes, or pastries. See recipe for Raspberry Almond Cookies. Shop for almonds.
almond cream - A thick pastry cream that includes ground almonds and almond flavored liqueur.
almond extract - A concentrated flavoring made from sweet or bitter almond oil and alcohol. See recipe for Golden Almond Amaretti. Shop for almond extract.
almond flour - Also known as Almond Meal. Almond flour is made from almonds that have been finely ground to a powder. Commercial almond flour may contain added sugar.
almond milk - A mixture of milk or water and marzipan. The mixture is heated until it is smooth, and is used in custards, cakes, and sauces.
almond paste - A combination of finely ground blanched almonds, confectioner's sugar, corn syrup and sometimes egg whites. Because it is pliable, almond paste is often tinted with food coloring and formed into shapes such as animals, flowers, or fruit, and used to embellish baked items. Almond paste may also be used as an ingredient when baking, such as a pastry filling.
amaretti - Italian macaroon cookies, made from bitter almonds.
amarattini - A miniature version of amaretti cookies.
Amaretto - An Italian liqueur with an almond flavor.
ambassador cake - A French dessert consisting of a sponge cake flavored with Grand Marnier. The cake is filled with pastry cream and candied fruit, and then covered with a thin layer of marzipan.
ambrosia - An American southern dessert made with bananas, oranges and toasted coconut. Ambrosia may also include marshmallows and whipped cream. It is either served as a dessert or a salad.
angel food cake - A light and airy cake made with no fat, therefore is cholesterol free. It has a fluffy, delicate texture that almost melts in your mouth. Angel Food cake depends completely on the air that is beaten into the egg whites to provide the leavening agent, making the cake rise during baking. Angel Food Cake is baked in a tube pan to allow heat to reach the center of the cake so that it bakes evenly. The pan is ungreased, allowing the cake to raise high by clinging to the sides of the pan. Because of its delicate structure, the cake must be turned upside down immediately after baking so that the weight of the cake does not cause itself to collapse while cooling. See recipe for Angel Food Cake.
angel food cake pans - Angel Food Cake is baked in a tube shaped pan that is ungreased, allowing the cake to raise high by clinging to the sides of the pan, and then turned upside down after baking so the cake does not collapse while cooling. An Angel food cake pan should not be non-stick, allowing the cake to raise by clinging to the sides of the pan and almost doubling in size during baking; and it should include either “feet” that the pan sits on when turned upside down, or a tube that is wide enough to fit over the top of a glass bottle or wine bottle. A pan with a removable bottom makes removing the cooled cake from the pan, and clean-up easier. Shop for angel food cake pans.
angelica - An herb used in baking for flavoring and decoration. The flavor has a slightly bitter, musky taste, therefore is best used sparingly. Both the stems and leaves may be used. The stalks may be candied and used as a decoration for desserts. Angelica is native to Scandinavia and northern Europe.
anise seed - Commonly called anise, the anise seed is from an herb that is a member of the parsley family, primarily grown in Egypt, Greece, Spain, and Mexico. Anise has a distinct licorice flavor, and is used as a flavoring in bread and cookies as well as liqueurs. Anisette and Ouzo are liqueurs flavored with anise. Shop for anise seeds.
Anjou Pear - A winter pear, available from October to late May, that has a thin, yellow-green skin and off-white, creamy-textured, sweet flesh. Anjou pears are a favorite pear used for baking as they hold their shape well.
apple - The fruit of an apple tree, apples are available year-round, but are best from September through March. There are over seven thousand varieties of apples grown throughout the world, varying from pale yellow to green, and yellowish-red to bright red in color, and from tart to sweet in flavor. Apples are a favorite fruit used in many baking recipes.
apple brown betty - A baked dessert made with sliced apples, spices, and sugar that is topped with a crumb topping. Apple brown betty originated in colonial America.
apple dumpling - a baked dessert made with a whole apple that has been peeled and cored and filled with sugar, butter, spices, and sometimes nuts. The apple is covered with pastry and baked with a rich syrup of sugar and spices. Apple dumplings are best served warm with heavy cream. See recipe for Apple Dumplings.
apricot - The fruit of an apricot tree, apricots are available in June and July. Apricots are round, golden-colored fruit, and are from the same family as peaches and plums. They are small, usually 1 to 2 inches in diameter, with an almond-shaped pit in the center.
apricot glaze – Apricot jam that is heated to make liquid, with water added if necessary to thin it a bit. The glaze is commonly brushed on cakes and pastries to provide shine or as a crumb coat, and to provide a longer shelf life.
arrowroot - A fine, white powder derived from the tropical arrowroot plant. The underground stems of the plant are dried, and then finely ground. Arrowroot is used as a thickener, often replacing cornstarch.
arroz con leche – A Spanish rich pudding normally flavored with cinnamon, lemon, and vanilla.
artisan bread – A high quality, hand-crafted bread containing no artificial ingredients or preservatives.
Asian pear - Also known as Pear Apples and available August through January. These pears are a round fruit with a smooth skin, varying from pale green to a beige color. They are firm, crisp, and juicy with a mildly sweet flavor that is a cross between an apple and a pear.
avocado – A tropical fruit. The flesh has a creamy, buttery taste and is a pale yellow-green color. Each avocado has one large stone and a skin ranging in color from green to black. If the stone is removed undamaged, it can be grown into a nice houseplant.