cake – A sweet baked dessert often made with basic ingredients such as flour, sugar, eggs, and butter. There are numerous varieties of cakes, but there are two basic cake categories, butter cakes and foam cakes. See All About Cake.
cake comb - A cake comb is a fun tool to use to make thin, parallel lines around the outside edge of a layer cake for a professional finish. After the cake is frosted, the comb is placed against the side of the cake, and then the cake is turned, or spun around on a cake turntable to make the lines all around. A kitchen fork or serrated knife can do the same job. Shop for cake combs.
cake leveler - A cake leveler is used to slice cakes into even, horizontal layers. It is a wide, low, U-shaped metal frame that sits on plastic feet, and a thin, sharp serrated cutting blade sits horizontally between the sides of the frame. The height of the blade is adjustable so that cakes of different heights can be cut. The cake is pushed against the cutting blade to cut the layers. Shop for cake levelers.
cake lifter – A metal or plastic disc 9 inches or more in diameter, with a handle, and is used to lift and move cake layers for icing and assembly. Shop for cake lifters.
cake rounds – Also called cake circles. These are inexpensive corrugated paper rounds for frosting and decorating cakes or transporting cakes from one location to another. After frosting a cake, and to avoid damaging the sides, slip the tip of a paring knife under the cardboard, lift the cake slightly at an angle, and slip your hand underneath to finish lifting it. The finished cake can then be placed on a serving plate. Cardboards cake rounds are also useful for bringing cakes and other pastries to parties, since you don’t have to worry about retrieving your serving platter.
cake spreader - Also called an angel food cake cutter, this tool looks like a long-handled hair comb, made with thin, long, evenly spaced teeth made of metal. When it is lowered into an angel food cake like a knife, it severs each piece from the whole cake without crushing the delicate crumb.
cake strips - Cake strips are heat-resistant metallic fabric strips that is moistened, then wrapped around the outsides of a round cake pan before the cake is baked. They insulate the pan, keeping the edges of the cake pan from heating more rapidly than the center, to produce a more evenly baked, level cake. The strips come in several lengths and are reusable. Shop for cake strips.
cake tester - A cake tester is a fun little tool to have if you bake lots of cakes, made of thin metal and a decorative top, and used to pierce a baked cake to test for doneness. Of course the age-old substitute for testing the doneness of cakes is a long toothpick, or long wooden skewer. In a pinch, you can still use the method of olden days and pull a straw out of the kitchen broom to test your cake (but don’t use this unless you’ve cleaned it first.) Shop for cake testers.
cake turntable - A cake turntable, also known as a cake stand, makes frosting a cake, or more elaborate cake decorating easier. A cake turntable is like a lazy Susan; it should sit on a small pedestal and turn easily without wobbling. Shop for cake turntables.
candied fruit – Fruit or fruit peel that is preserved by cooking in sugar syrup. After cooking the fruit is normally dried and coated with granulated sugar. See recipe for Candied Lemon Peel. Shop for candied fruit.
candy thermometer - A candy thermometer is very useful for cooking sugar syrups and caramels. A candy thermometer has a mercury bulb with a long glass column. It is normally clipped to the inside of the pan, directly in the syrup but not touching the bottom of the pan, allowing you to watch as the syrup heats to the correct temperature. Shop for candy thermometers.
cannoli – An Italian dessert made with a deep fried sweet pastry formed in the shape of a horn that is filled with a mixture of sweetened whipped ricotta cheese, candied citrus peel, and chocolate pieces. Each end is dipped in dark chocolate and sprinkled with chopped pistachios.
caramel cage – Warm caramel is drizzled over an oiled bowl in a random or criss cross pattern. When cooled and hardened the caramel is gently lifted off the bowl and placed over a dessert or cake, making an impressive presentation.
caramelize – To heat sugar, usually in a saucepan or skillet, until the sugar turns a golden brown. See recipe for Caramel Sticks. See Sugar and Caramel Stages.
carrot cake – A popular American cake that is very moist and normally frosted with cream cheese frosting. Oil is normally used in place of butter when making the cake batter, along with grated carrots, raisins, nuts, and spices. See recipe for Carrot Cake.
ceramic baking dish - Ceramic dishes come is round, oval, and rectangular shapes, and a variety of colors. They are perfect for baking crustless fruit desserts such as fruit crisps, cobblers, crumbles, and bread puddings, allowing your dessert to go from the oven to your table. Shop for ceramic baking dishes.
challah – Traditional Jewish bread served on the Sabbath, holidays, and special occasions. Challah is rich yeast bread made with a lot of eggs to give the bread a rich flavor and color. The dough is braided into 1 2 distinct sections to represent the 12 tribes of Israel.
charlotte – A Charlotte is made by lining a mold with a biscuit or sponge-type cake, then filling the mold with a Bavarian or whipped cream mixture, a fruit mixture, a mousse, or sometimes a gelatin mixture. A Charlotte Royale is made with multi-layers of sponge cake and jam. Charlotte Russe is surrounded by ladyfingers. A Charlotte should be made at least 4 hours in advance, and is served chilled. There are a number of decorative molds available in kitchen stores, but a springform pan with a removable bottom may also be used. See recipe for Raspberry Charlotte.
charlotte mold - A classic French Charlotte mold is a round, tinned steel mold shaped like a straight-sided bucket, and a handle on each side. Shop for Charlotte Molds.
A charlotte is lined with ladyfingers, madeleines, cake, or occasionally bread, and then filled with mousse, custard, cream, or fruit.
Cheesecake - Cheesecake is a rich, creamy, smooth, and dense chilled dessert, generally made with a mixture of cream cheese, sugar, eggs, cream, and flavorings. Cheesecakes are normally baked in a springform pan, in a water or steam bath to keep the cake creamy, and unmolded before serving, Cheesecakes are made with a pastry, cookie, or graham cracker type crust, but can also be baked without a crust. Classic cheesecake is a delicious creamy vanilla flavor with the added tartness of lemon and sour cream, such as found in New York Cheesecake and served plain or with a topping of whipped cream and berries. There are unlimited cheesecake flavor possibilities ranging anywhere from chocolate, coffee, lemon, berry to fruit. See recipe for New York Cheesecake.
cheesecloth - Cheesecloth is light cotton gauze, normally used to separate ingredients from the rest of the mixture. For example, use cheesecloth to bundle small whole spices together while poaching fruit or making spiced apple cider, or bundle small amounts of confectioner’s sugar into cheesecloth to sprinkle over baked goods. Cheesecloth is also perfect for wrapping and soaking fruitcakes with liqueur to put aside for aging. Shop for cheesecloth.
chelsea bun – Yeast buns made with dried fruit and spices, and glazed with jelly. The buns are made in small buns, baked together in a round pan, and served warm with butter and jam. See recipe for Chelsea Ring.
cherry cordial – Also called chocolate covered cherries. A dark sweet, pitted cherry is wrapped in fondant, and then coated with dark chocolate. As the cherries age, the sugar fondant combines with the moisture is the cherry and creates a sweet liquid center. When you bite into it the sweet mixture oozes out.
cherries jubilee – A flambéed dessert made with dark pitted cherries that are in thickened sweet syrup. Just before serving Kirsch liqueur is added to the cherries and flamed, then the cherries are served over vanilla ice cream.
cherry pitter - A cherry pitter easily extracts the pits from fresh cherries, indispensable when fresh cherries are in season. Cherry pitters are normally available in stainless steel, aluminum or plastic, with a spring-loaded pitting mechanism. Simply place a cherry in the little metal cup and depress the plunger, pushing the pit out and leaving the fruit whole. A cherry pitter can also be used to pit olives. Shop for cherry pitters.
chess pie – A Southern pie with a rich filling of sugar, eggs, butter, and a small amount of flour. The pie may be sweetened with molasses, brown sugar, or granulated sugar and flavored with vanilla, lemon, pineapple, or bourbon.
chestnut cream – A sweet cream made with a mixture of cooked pureed chestnuts and Buttercream.
chiffon cake - A tender, moist, and rich tasting cake made with vegetable oil, along with eggs, flour, sugar and flavoring and is lovely served with fresh fruit or covered with a creamy frosting. The stiffly beaten egg whites along with baking soda or baking powder provide the leavening agent. Chiffon cakes are typically baked in a tube pan; however other shaped pans may be substituted, such as a heart shaped pan. See recipe for Walnut Chiffon Cake.
chiffon pie – A pie with a light, fluffy filling made by folding either whipped cream or stiffly beaten egg whites into a egg yolk custard. See recipe for Chocolate Chiffon Pie.
chill – To cool food to less than room temperature. For example place cookie dough in the refrigerator so it becomes cold and firm.
chocolate – See Chocolate Types, Melting Chocolate, and Tempering Chocolate.
chocolate plastic – A pliable decorating paste made from a mixture of chocolate and corn syrup. It is used to make decorations such as flowers and leaves to use for decorating cakes and confections.
chop – To cut food into small pieces that are usually between ¼ inch and ½ inch.
choux pastry – The French term is pate a choux. Classic pastry dough that is first cooked in a pan on the stove top then baked in the oven. The pastry is made with water or milk, butter, and flour that are cooked together then slightly cooled. Eggs are then beaten in to create a pastelike dough. The dough is piped with a pastry bag to form various shapes, and then baked. After the shapes are baked and cooled they are normally filled with sweetened whipped cream or pastry cream. Choux pastry is used to make classic pastries such as cream puffs, croquembouche, éclairs, and profiteroles.
churro – A Mexican deep fried pastry flavored with cinnamon. Churros are piped with a pastry bag into long twisted strands that are deep fried, and then rolled in cinnamon and sugar.
citrus juicer - There are many different types of juicers available, but my favorite is an old-fashioned glass reamer. It’s easy to use and easy to clean, and makes quick work of juicing a lemon or orange. If you like making large amounts of juice, an electric juicer is a good investment. Shop for citrus juicers.
citrus zester - Citrus zesters are stainless steel strips with tiny razor-sharp edged holes. When you scrape a whole orange or lemon across the zester it removes the colored and flavorful part of the fruit (the zest), without including the bitter white pith underneath. This tool can also be used to finely grate chocolate, hard cheeses, whole nutmeg, and fresh ginger. Shop for citrus zesters.
clafouti – A rustic fruit dessert traditionally made with dark, sweet, unpitted cherries, but almost any fruit can be used. A thin cake batter is poured over the fruit, and as it bakes the batter puffs up around the fruit. Clafouti is dusted with confectioners’ sugar and best served warm. See recipe for Cherry Clafouti.
clotted cream – Also called Devonshire cream. Clotted cream is made by slowly heating cream or unpasteurized whole milk. While heating the cream rises to the surface, then when cooled is removed. Clotted cream is traditionally served with scones.
cobbler – A deep dish fruit dessert with a biscuit dough baked on top of the fruit. The dough is normally dropped on top of the fruit in small mounds and sprinkled with sugar before baking, resulting in a cobblestone look. Cobbler is best served warm with sweetened whipped cream or ice cream.
coconut haystack – Also called haystack. Haystacks are made with beaten egg whites, sugar, and coconut. Small amounts of the mixture are formed into a haystack shape then baked. The bottoms may be dipped in chocolate with a chocolate drizzle on top.
coffee cake – A coffee cake does not necessarily contain coffee, but are typically flavored with cinnamon, apple, nuts, and fruits. Coffee cakes are simple, yet rich and delicious, perfect for family dinners or when friends drop by. Most coffee cakes have a crumb or streusel topping made with variations of sugar, nuts, spices, butter, flour and oats. See recipe for Old Fashioned Streusel Coffee Cake.
combine – To mix two or more ingredients together.
compote – Fresh or dried fruit cooked in sugar syrup flavored with cinnamon, vanilla, cloves, and orange or lemon zest. Compote may be served warm with sweetened whipping cream or chilled and sprinkled with kirsch or brandy.
confection - Small bite-size sweets, such as chocolates and candies.
cookie - A cookie is like a small cake, sometimes referred to as a biscuit. Cookies are normally sweet, and come in a variety of textures from crisp to soft to chewy. Most cookies have similar ingredients including flour, butter, eggs, and sugar, along with flavorings and unlimited add-ins such as chocolate, peanut butter, nuts, coconut, oatmeal, and raisins. Most cookies are baked, however some are unbaked, some are fried, and some are topped with frosting or Royal Icing. Even with the hundreds or even thousands of recipes to choose from, most cookies fall into five general categories; bar cookies, drop cookies, shaped, molded, or pressed Cookies, refrigerator (or Icebox) cookies, and rolled (or cutout) cookies.
cookie and baking sheets - Cookie sheets re rimless, flat metal sheets, perfectly designed for placing rows of cookies. They normally have a small rim on the short sides for easy gripping. The long flat edges allow you to slide cookies off the sheet after baking.
Baking sheets have raised edges all around, and are normally the choice for professional bakers. They are a good, all-purpose pan and can be used for everything from baking cookies to toasting nuts.
You normally want to have a set of 2 cookie sheets or 2 baking sheets, or both. When baking cookies, the second sheet can be waiting to go into the oven while the first one is baking.
If you’re buying new, invest in good quality, heavy duty cookie and baking sheets. Heavy duty baking sheets retain heat better, won’t warp or buckle when heated, and should last a lifetime.
Choose cookie and baking sheets made of shiny, light colored metals, such as heavy-duty aluminum. The light color encourages even baking and are less likely to burn. Dark metals sheets and nonstick tend to brown baked goods faster; you may need to lower the oven temperature by 25 degrees and reduce the baking time slightly.
Insulated pans have a layer of air trapped between the layers of metal, which help prevent cookies from burning. However, since these pans are poor heat conductors, cookies may not tend to bake and brown as well, and you may over bake the cookies waiting for them to brown. Shop for cookie and baking sheets.
cookie cutters - Cutting sugar cookies with a beautifully shaped cookie cutter is a tradition in many families, especially during holidays. There are hundreds of cookie cutter shapes available ranging from Christmas, Thanksgiving, Halloween, and Valentine’s Day shapes, along with alphabets, animals, stars, and flowers. Whatever shape cookie you want to create, there is most likely a cookie cutter shape available. Most cookie cutters are made of tin, plastic, copper, or aluminum. Most work well, however the more flimsy ones will easily be bent out of shape. Purchase ones that seem sturdy, have a sharp cutting edge, and are at least ½ inch deep. The most beautiful, and typically the most expensive cutters are made from copper, and along with being quality cutters they are beautiful to display in your kitchen. Shop for cookie cutters.
cookie molds - Many traditional European cookies, such as Scottish shortbread, and German Springerle cookies, are made with a cookie mold. Most cookie molds are made of wood or stoneware with a raised design. The cookie dough is pressed into the mold to acquire the design, and then baked. Depending on the mold the cookie may be baked directly in the mold, or turned out of the mold before baking. Shop for cookie molds.
cookie press - A cookie press is used to extrude cookies into various shapes. The cookie dough is loaded into the hollow tube of the press, and then the plunger is used to press the dough out through a decorative plate fitted into the end. Spritz cookies are a traditional cookie that uses a cookie press. An alternative to a cookie press is to use a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip. Shop for cookie presses.
cookie scoop (ice cream scoop) - A cookie scoop (ice cream scoop) is ideal for making uniform-sized cookies. It gives you the ability to quickly scoop up the dough and deposit the dough on the cookie sheet. Purchase scoops that are easy to squeeze to keep your hand and wrist from tiring. If the dough sticks to the scoop, you can spray with a nonstick baking spray. Shop for cookie and ice cream scoops.
cookie stamps - Cookie stamps are often made of terra-cotta, and are used to stamp designs into the top of shortbread-type cookies. The dough is normally rolled into a ball, and then flattened with the stamp, creating an impression in the cookie which remains after the cookie is baked. Shop for cookie stamps.
cool – To bring hot or warm food to an average normal room temperature, around 68 to 70 degrees F, or until it no longer feels warm to the touch.
cooling rack - Wire cooling racks are a necessity for setting just-out-of-the-oven hot baking pans to cool. Hot pans placed on a flat surface can cause the baked item to become soggy, due to condensation that forms under the pan. Cooling racks are also helpful to use when drizzling icing or chocolate on top of cookies, cakes, or pastries as the icing drips thru the rack instead of forming a puddle.
Cooling racks are sold in various sizes, including round, square, and rectangular shapes. They should have feet of at least ½ inch that raise them above the counter for good air circulation. Have at least one rack that is large enough to hold several batches of cookies. Shop for cooling racks.
core – Removing the inner seed area of a fruit, such as an apple or pear.
couche - Artisan bread bakers use a canvas cloth, called a couche, to create crusty baguettes. Place shaped baguettes in the folds of the floured cloth; when raised, roll them onto a peel, then off the peel onto your hot baking stone.
coulis – A thick sauce of pureed raw or cooked fruit that is used as a sauce to accompany desserts, ice cream, or pastries.
cream – Vigorously mixing ingredients together, either by hand with a wooden spoon or wire whisk, or with an electric mixer. For example a recipe’s directions may say to beat or cream butter and sugar together to make smooth and fluffy.
cream bun – A sweetened bun made with sweetened dough and dried fruit. After baking, the bun is split open and filled with jam and sweetened whipped cream and then dusted with confectioners’ sugar.
cream cheese frosting – A sweet creamy frosting made with cream cheese, butter, vanilla, and confectioners’ sugar. This is a traditional frosting for carrot cake. See recipe for Cream Cheese Frosting.
cream puff – Individual sized pastry made from choux pastry dough that is split open and filled with sweetened whipped cream or custard such as crème Chantilly or crème patisserie. Miniature cream puffs are used to make profiteroles.
cream horn – A French dessert made with a baked puff pastry formed into a cone shape, and filled with crème Chantilly.
crème anglaise – A rich, pourable cooked custard sauce served warm or cold with cakes, desserts, and fruit. It is made with milk, sugar, egg yolks, and various flavorings such as vanilla, raspberry, lemon, orange, coffee, and caramel.
crème brulee – creamy custard served cold in individual ramekins. The custard is made with cream, sugar, egg yolks, and vanilla that is cooked and then chilled. Just before serving the custard is sprinkled with granulated sugar and placed under a broiler to caramelize the sugar, creating a brittle topping over the creamy custard.
crème caramel – An egg custard that is baked in the oven in a water bath. The dish or mold is first lined with caramel, and then filled with the custard sauce. After baking the custard is chilled then turned out of the mold so the caramel is on top forming a topping and a sauce for the custard.
crème Chantilly – Whipped cream that is sweetened with confectioners’ sugar and flavored with vanilla.
crème diplomat – A sweet cream that is equal parts pastry cream and whipped cream flavored, and with vanilla.
crème fraiche – A thick tangy cream with a slightly sour taste. Heavy cream is combined with buttermilk or sour cream, placed in a covered container, and left for 12 to 24 hours to thicken.
crepe – A very thin pancake that is normally filled with a sweet or savory filling, then the pancake is folded to enclose the filling. The crepe may be served as is or with a sauce or even flamed.
crepe Suzette - A French dessert made with crepes placed in a chafing dish along with a sauce of sugar, butter, orange and lemon juice and zest, rum or brandy, and flamed with orange liqueur.
crimp – Pressing pastry edges together so the edges are sealed. Crimping is usually done with your fingers or a fork.
croissant – A rich buttery flaky yeast roll made in a crescent shape.
croquembouche – A French dessert of miniature cream puffs, called profiteroles, which are stacked in a tall pyramid. The profiteroles are first dipped in caramel so they will stick together when stacked, and then the pyramid is often decorated with spun sugar.
cube – Cutting food into small square pieces, usually between ½ inch and 1 inch.
cupcake - Sometimes called “fairy cakes,” these small cakes are made to serve one person. Almost any butter cake recipe can be used to bake cupcakes. Before the modern cupcake pans were developed, small cakes were often baked in individual pottery cups, leading to the popular term “cupcake.” Today’s modern baker has the advantage of using a muffin or cupcake pan with or without a paper liner, or even the more recent innovation of silicone baking cups. See recipes for cupcakes.
cupcake and muffin pans - Muffin pans are a rectangular metal baking pan with six or twelve cup, used to bake both muffins and cupcakes. Muffin pan sizes are typically mini, standard, and jumbo sized. Each cup is normally lined with paper baking cups, and then filled with muffin or cake batter. Muffin pans can also be used to bake dinner rolls or individual brownies.
A standard muffin pan has 12 cups, each measuring about 2¾ inches at the top and 1-3/8 inches deep. Mini muffin pans normally have either 12 or 24 cups and measure about 1¾ inch across the top and ¾ inch deep. Jumbo muffin pans normally have 6 cups, and measure 3-3/8 inches across the top and 1¾ inches deep.
Muffin pans are traditionally made of metal; most common are aluminum pans; however flexible silicone pans are now available. Shop for cupcake and muffin pans.
curd – A thick creamy cooked pastry filling made with citrus juice, such as lemon or orange, sugar, butter, and egg yolks. Curd is used as a filling for pies, tarts, pastries, and cakes. Probably the most common curd is lemon curd. See recipe for Lemon Curd.
custard cup - These are 6 ounce cups for baking custards. Their small size are also good for holding cooked puddings or other desserts, and are also useful for holding pre-measured ingredients when prepping ingredients for cookies or cakes. Shop for custard cups.
cut-in – To reduce and evenly distribute butter or shortening into small pieces when combining with flour to make pastry. This is usually done with a pastry blender or two knives.