|packed - When measuring brown sugar, spoon the sugar into a dry measuring cup, pressing down firmly to compact the sugar.|
pain au chocolat – A French dessert made from croissant dough cut into a rectangle, rolled around a bar of dark chocolate, and then baked.
palmier – Crisp butter strips of puff pastry rolled to resemble a palm leaf. The pastry is topped with sugar that caramelizes as it bakes.
pandowdy – A New England deep dish dessert made with fruit, usually apples, butter, brown sugar or molasses, and spices and topped with a biscuit like dough, and then baked. Halfway through the baking time a technique called “dowdying” is used, where the crust is broken up and pressed down into the fruit to absorb the juices and become crispy. Pandowdy is served warm with sweetened whipped cream, ice cream, or hard sauce.
panettone – Traditional Italian sweet rich yeast bread made with dried fruits and baked in a tall cylindrical shape. Panettone is a traditional Christmas bread but is also served for other festive occasions. See recipe for Panettone.
panettone mold - Panettone is normally baked in a paper panettone mold. It is the perfect way to bake, serve, and give as a gift all in one. Panettone is sweet, yeast-risen bread, filled with raisins and candied peels that are a Christmas specialty of Milan, Italy. It has a tall cylindrical shape with a domed top, and is eaten as a breakfast bread, afternoon tea, or dessert. Shop for panettone molds.
panforte – An Italian confection loaded with honey, nuts, dried fruit, and spices is a cross between a cake, a fruitcake, and a candy. The texture is heavy and dense, chewy and a little sticky; the taste is sweet and spicy, nutty and fruity; it is oh-so delicious and easy to make. Panforte doesn’t really have a chocolate flavor, but the cocoa imparts a dark rich color. Panforte is baked in a round pan lined with edible rice paper, edible wheat starch paper, or parchment paper.
Panforte is a traditional Italian Christmas confection, originating in Siena Italy, sometime in the 13th century. The word panforte means ‘strong bread’, either due to the spices used or the dense texture. Some say that traditional Panforte has 17 ingredients, one for each of the 17 districts of Siena. See recipe for Panforte Di Siena.
panna cotta – An Italian custard dessert, heated just enough to dissolve the sugar, and lightened with gelatin. The custard is poured into molds and chilled, than unmolded to serve. Panna Cotta is often served with fruit sauce or a chocolate sauce.
parchment paper - Parchment paper, also known as baking paper, is a baker’s secret weapon. Parchment paper is used to line baking sheets before baking cookies, ensuring cookies that won’t stick to the pan, lining cake pans to allow cakes to slide right out of the pan, and for folding into cones for piping icing or chocolate. Use a sheet of parchment paper to cover your work surface to make cleanup easier. After using a piece of parchment paper, simply throw it away.
Parchment paper is coated with silicone, making it greaseproof, moisture resistant, and nonstick. It is reusable for some baking projects, especially when lining a baking pan and baking batches of cookies. Parchment paper is sold in sheets sized for half sheets 13 x 18 inch, and full sheets 18 x 26 inch, precut triangle to make pastry cones or rolls so you can determine the size you want to tear off and use. Shop for parchment paper.
pare – To remove the stem and outer layer of a fruit or vegetable with a paring knife or peeler.
parfait – An ice cream dessert layered with flavored syrup and sometimes whole fruits such as strawberry or other berries, and topped with sweetened whipped cream, nuts, and a maraschino cherry. Parfaits are normally served is a tall fluted glass.
Paris-Brest – A classic French pastry made from choux pastry that is formed into a large ring, brushed with an egg wash and topped with sliced almonds, then baked until golden brown. When the pastry is cool it is split in half and filled with praline buttercream, then the pastry is topped with confectioners’ sugar. Paris Brest is made to resemble a bicycle wheel to commemorate an 1891 bicycle race between the French cities of Paris and Brest.
pastillage – A white pliable pastry dough made with confectioners’ sugar, water, cornstarch, and gelatin. Pastillage may be colored with food coloring, and is used to make decorations and figures. Although made with edible ingredients it dries rock-hard and is not intended for eating.
pastry – A baked item made with dough that generally consists of butter, flour, water, and sometimes eggs and sugar. Pastry can be used to make sweet or savory items.
pastry bag - Pastry bags and decorating tips are used to pipe decorative borders of icing or chocolate onto cakes and cookies, or for pressing out small cookies or chocolate shapes.
Pastry bags are available in plastic lined canvas that is reusable, or disposable bags made of parchment or plastic. Icing is spooned into the bag, and then squeezed out through a decorative metal tip attached to the end of the bag. Reusable pastry bags should be washed in warm, soapy water and dried completely before storing. For very small amounts of frosting or chocolate, you can also use a small resealable plastic bag with a very small piece of the corner snipped off. Shop for pastry bags.
pastry blender - A pastry blender, also known as a dough blender, is used to cut butter or other fat into dry ingredients, such as when making piecrust, scones, or biscuits. A pastry blender has stainless steel wires shaped into a half-moon, with a stainless or wooden handle for gripping. In place of a pastry blender, two kitchen knives also work well for cutting the ingredients together. Shop for pastry blenders.
pastry brush - Pastry brushes are used to brush liquid type ingredients onto pastries or breads. For example use a pastry brush to brush butter onto a hot loaf of bread, or an egg wash onto bagels, or milk onto a pie crust, or to wash down the sides of a saucepan when melting and caramelizing sugar. A pastry brush is even helpful for brushing excess flour from dough during rolling, and brushing up spilled flour on the kitchen counter. Choose a high quality brush with either natural bristles or silicone bristles that are securely attached to the handle. High quality pastry brushes are easy to clean with soap and water and should last for years. Shop for pastry brushes.
pastry board and pastry mat - Use a wooden pastry board to roll out perfectly shaped pie crusts, pizza crust, sugar cookies, or bread dough. Some boards are marked with measurements guides so you can roll out the exact dimension you need.
Marble is the best surface for rolling dough and pastry, as the marble keeps the dough cool. On hot days, you can quickly cool the marble down by placing a bag of ice on the surface for 15 minutes before working with your dough. Marble boards or slabs normally have small feet on the underside to protect your countertop from scratches. Marble is heavy and generally more expensive, but worth the investment for serious bakers.
Pastry mats are a non-stick surface that easily releases the dough. Pastry mats are thin, lightweight, and easy to clean and store. Shop for pastry boards and pastry mats.
pastry chef – The person responsible for the production of all pastry and desserts in a kitchen, as well as managing the pastry kitchen and its staff.
pastry cloth – A large piece of lightweight canvas used as a surface for rolling out pastry dough. The cloth is rubbed with flour before rolling to make a non-stick surface. Shop for pastry cloth.
pastry cream – rich cooked custard made with eggs, milk, sugar, flour, and normally a vanilla bean for flavoring, then chilled before using. Pastry cream may also be flavored with other flavors such as chocolate, coffee, fruit purees, or liqueurs. Pastry cream is used as a filling for éclairs, Napoleons, cakes, and other desserts.
pastry crimper - A pastry crimper is a small, stainless steel tweezer with serrated tips. It is used to seal the top and bottom crust of a pie together, or to decoratively finish the edge of a single-crust pie or tart pastry shell. Shop for pastry crimpers.
pastry cutters - Similar to cookie cutters, pastry cutter are normally very small, less than 2 inches in size, and are used to cut shapes such as leaves or fruits from pie crust to decorate the top of a pie. The cut-out shapes can be laid directly on the filling, or placed on the top crust, or around the edge of the pie. Shop for pastry cutters.
pastry docker - A pastry docker is a cylinder, about 5 inches long, with sharp spikes at ½ inch intervals around the surface. It is used to poke holes in pastry doughs, such as pie dough or puff pastry. In place of a pastry docker a fork can also be used. Shop for pastry dockers.
pastry scraper - A plastic pastry scraper is a piece of flexible plastic that fits in the palm of your hand and allows you to easily scrape batter from a bowl or dough bits off your rolling pin. A pastry scraper is also good for cleaning stuck-on food from pans. Shop for pastry scrapers.
pastry tip - Also called decorating tips, are available in a huge array of designs and sizes. They are made of stainless steel or chrome-plated, and placed in the small end of the pastry bag. When the icing is pushed through it forms the design of the tip. Use a coupler (a plastic ring) when you want to change to different tips using the same icing without first having to empty and clean the pastry bag. Pastry tips should be washed in warm, soapy water and dried completely before storing. Shop for decorating tips.
pastry wheel - A pastry wheel is used to cut strips of pastry, such as for making a lattice top pie crust, or pieces of dough for turnovers or ravioli. Pastry wheels may have a smooth blade or have a jagged or fluted edged blade. Shop for pastry wheels.
pâte a choux – The French term for cream puff pastry, also called choux pastry. 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, 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.
pâté brisee – This is the French term for “broken dough.” A shortcrust pastry referring to broken pieces of butter or other fat that is cut into the dough. The dough is made with flour, a small amount of sugar, salt, and chilled butter and must rest and chill a few hours before using so that a minimal amount of flour is needed when rolling out so the pastry doesn’t become tough.
pâté sablee – This is the French term for “sand dough” referring to a sweet, rich, crumbly dough. The dough made with flour, confectioners’ sugar, salt, butter, egg yolks, and vanilla or lemon extract, and used for tarts and tartlets and sometimes as cookie dough. The pastry is fragile and crumbly and must rest and chill a few hours before using so that a minimal amount of flour is needed when rolling out so the pastry doesn’t become tough.
pâté sucree – This is the French term for “sugar dough” referring to a sweet, rich, crisp dough. The dough made with flour, granulated sugar, salt, butter, eggs, and vanilla, used for tarts, tartlets, and pies. The pastry must rest and chill a few hours before using so that a minimal amount of flour is needed when rolling out so the pastry doesnt become tough.
pâtisserie – A French word with three meanings; pastry shop, the art of pastry making, and the category of sweet and savory pastries.
patty cake – A small round individual sized butter cake that is split in half and filled with jam and topped with buttercream or fondant icing. An old nursery rhyme refers to patty cakes. “Patty cake, patty cake, bakers man, bake me a cake as fast as you can…”
Pavlova – An Australian pastry from a baked meringue shell with a crisp exterior and soft chewy interior, and then filled with a whipped cream or pastry cream filling and fresh fruit. See recipe for Mini Pavlovas with Lemon and Blueberries.
peach Melba – A fruit dessert made with pitted peach halves poached in syrup and cooled. The peaches are served over scoops of vanilla ice cream, and drizzled with Melba sauce made from pureed raspberries, and topped with whipped cream and sliced almonds.
peanut butter cookie – A soft chewy cookie made flavored with peanut butter. The top of the cookie has a criss cross pattern formed by pressing the tines of a fork into the dough before baking. See recipe for Peanut Butter Cookies.
pearl dust – Also called luster dust. Pearl dust is a colored, edible dusting powder that gives a pearlescent sheen, and is often used in cake decorating. The dust may be sprinkled on dry, or mixed with a clear alcohol, such as gin or vodka to create a liquid decoration that can be painted, using a small artist paintbrush.
pecan – The fruit of the pecan tree. Pecans are widely used in baking. Pecans have a rich buttery flavor that is enhanced by toasting. Shop for pecans.
pecan pie – From the American south, pecan pie has become an American favorite and a traditional pie at Thanksgiving. Sinfully rich, it is made with butter, eggs, sugar, and lots of pecans. Pecan pie is normally made as a single-crust pie, baked to golden brown, and served with sweetened whipped cream. See recipe for Pecan Pie.
pectin – A natural gelling agent present in some fruits that thickens the fruit mixture when making jam and jelly. Some fruits have quite a bit of natural pectin such as apples, quinces, currants, oranges, and lemons. Fruits low in natural pectin include strawberries and peaches and requires additional pectin to be added for jam and jelly.
Peeps – A marshmallow confection that is a popular Easter treat. Peeps come in many shapes and colors. See recipe for Marshmallow Peeps.
peel – Cutting away the outer layer of a food. For example the outer skin of an apple, or the hard outer layer of an orange. Also refers to the outer lay of a citrus fruit.
peel - A peel is a wide, flat, usually long-handled wooden board, used to slide yeast breads, flatbreads, and pizza onto a baking stone in a hot oven. Shop for peels.
penuche – A sweet confection, much like fudge, but without any chocolate. Penuche is made with milk or cream, butter, brown sugar, butter, vanilla, and nuts. See recipe for Penuche.
pepita - Pepitas are pumpkin seeds. When seeds are fresh from a pumpkin, each green seed is encased in a beige, slightly tough but edible hull. When the hull is removed, the dark green seed is revealed. Pepitas have a deliciously delicate nutty flavor, which is even better when the seeds are roasted and salted. See recipe for Brown Butter Pumpkin Cake.
Pepitas are sold and with or without hulls, salted and unsalted. Look for hulled pepitas in many grocery stores and natural food stores. I recommend buying pepitas already hulled; you can hull the seeds yourself by cracking and peeling off the hulls, but this is a tedious task.
petit four – Petit four is an individual-sized cake that is iced and decorated, but small pastries, tarts, sugar coated fruits, cookies, and confections are also considered petit fours. Petit fours are typically though of as small fancy cakes covered with icing or fondant icing, and decorated with piped icings, sugar flowers, or other decorations.
Petit four is the French word for “small oven.” Dating back to the 18th century, small cakes would be baked at a lower temperature, placed in the oven after baking the larger cakes while the oven was cooling down but still warm enough to bake a petit sized cake.
pfeffernusse – A German spicy Christmas cookie, also known as Peppernuts. The Peppernut name is in part because the cookies are small, brown, and crunchy like nuts, also due to the combination of pepper and spices that give the cookie a slight peppery bite. Original Pfeffernuesse is made without butter, but modern recipes use a small amount of butter for a softer texture and better flavor. See recipe for Pfeffernusse.
phyllo dough – Also known as filo or filo dough is papery thin sheets of dough made from flour and water. Phyllo dough is used to make many Greek and Middle Eastern pastries, including the Greek pastry baklava. Shredded phyllo dough is called kataifi. See recipe for Baklava and Kataifi Cheesecake Nests.
pie – A pastry made with a sweet or savory filling. Pie may have only a bottom pastry, or the filling may be covered with a top pastry. Pie is normally baked in a pie pan which may be shallow or deep dish. Sweet pies are filled with numerous ingredients including fruit, custards, chocolate, and nuts, and may be left uncovered, or topped with a pastry crust or other things such as meringue or strudel. See recipe for Apple Pie.
pie bird - Pie birds are an old-fashioned way of venting a pie to allow the steam and bubbling juices to escape from the pie while baking. Pie birds are ceramic figurines placed in a cutout portion of the top pie pastry. Not really very practical, it is easier to just slash or cut vents in the pie pastry before baking to accomplish the same task. Shop for pie birds.
pie pan - Most pie recipes are written for a 9 inch pie, and the pie pastry and ingredients will normally fit in a 9 x 1½ inch Pie Pan, such as a Pyrex pan with ovenproof glass. Ovenproof glass pie pans are about the best for baking pies as they are an excellent heat conductor, they allow the bottom crust to brown well, the transparency of the glass allows you to see how the crust is browning, the surface is not marred when cutting with a knife, and they are easy to clean.
Ceramic and stoneware pie pans are beautiful to use and serve from, and the many colors available make them fun to use for holidays and attractive when serving guests.
If using a metal pan, aluminum with a dull satin finish is the best for conducting heat. These pans are not as pretty; however they will not break if dropped. Dark metals can cause the crusts to over-brown and their coated surface can be marred with a knife.
Disposable aluminum pans are inexpensive and handy for freezing and gift-giving, but the thin construction makes these pans a poor heat conductor.
Many ceramic and stoneware pans are available in deep dish, and are used when you have a larger quantity of pie filling. The fluted tops enable you to create a beautiful edge with minimal effort. Shop for pie pans.
pie weight - When making a blind baked pie crust, pie weights, which are small reusable ceramic balls about the size of marbles, are poured into the pastry lined pie pan before baking to prevent the pastry from puffing up and shrinking. In place of ceramic pie weights, you can also line the pastry with parchment paper and then fill with dried beans or uncooked rice.
A pie chain is a beaded chain that you coil onto the unbaked pastry. After baking, use tongs or a fork to list the hot chain out. A pie chain should be 6 or 10 feet long to completely cover the pastry. Shop for pie weights.
piecrust shield - The edges of a pie are the most susceptible to burning as a pie bakes. A piecrust shield is a lightweight aluminum ring that is placed around the edge of the pie to prevent the edges from over baking. In place of a piecrust shield, strips of aluminum foil work just as well.
pinch – A very small amount of an ingredient, usually salt or other spices, held between your thumb and first finger. This is a measurement that does not use a measuring spoon, therefore is not accurate or consistent, and is less than 1/8 teaspoon. For example, adding a pinch of salt.
piping – Soft food, such as frosting, chocolate, or whipped cream, that is put in a pastry bag and forced out of the small end to make decorative designs on food. For example, decorate cakes or cookies with frosting. Normally a decorating tip is placed in the end of the pastry bag to pipe designs, or use for decorative writing.
pizza cutter - A pizza cutter, also known as a pizza wheel, is not only used to cut baked pizza, it is also a great tool for cutting bar cookies, cutting unbaked dough into smaller pieces, or thin strips of pastry for a lattice pie crust. A pizza cutter consists of a sharp metal disk attached to a handle, with a hand guard in-between to protect your fingers. Shop for pizza cutters.
pizzelle – A cookie made on a pizzelle iron, similar to a waffle iron. The pizzelle iron has intricately carved design with imprints into the cookie as it cooks. Pizzelles are made with a batter of eggs, sugar, butter, flour, and vanilla. After they are baked and still warm they are rolled into a cone shape which is then filled with sweetened whipped cream.
plastic chocolate – Also called modeling chocolate, this is melted chocolate with corn syrup added to make a firm, flexible dough-like texture that can be molded into shapes and decorations such as flowers.
plum pudding – An English steamed pudding that was originally made with plums. Later versions include other dried fruit, nuts, and spices. Plum pudding is a traditional Christmas dessert, also known as Christmas pudding that is flamed with brandy and served warm with a hard sauce.
Plump – Making food soft and round. For example, soaking dried raisins in water until they become softened.
popover – A puffy muffin sized quick bread with a crisp brown crust and moist interior. Popovers are made with a batter of eggs, milk, butter, and flour and baked at high heat. The liquid creates steam which makes the popovers rise high.
popover pan - Popover pans have deep, narrow cups, which force the popover batter to rise up and out, producing the typical tall popover shape. Popover pans made of a dark metal produce the best crust with a golden brown color. A muffin pan may be substituted; however the finished popovers will not be as tall. Shop for popover pans.
pot de crème – The French word for “pot of cream.” This is a rich, creamy custard baked and served in small individual sized ramekins.
pot holders and oven mitts - A pot holder or oven mitt is a must when removing hot pans from the oven. A kitchen towel does not provide enough protection and will likely result in a bad burn. Potholders and mitts are normally made from quilted cotton, thick terrycloth, or silicone. Shop for pot holders and oven mitts.
pound cake – This cake originated from the original recipe which used a pound each of butter, eggs, sugar, and flour. Originally the butter and sugar were beaten for long periods to incorporate air into the butter and sugar so the cakes would rise and baked in a loaf shape. Modern versions of pound cakes use varying quantities of ingredients and have leavening such as baking powder or baking soda added, but they still start with creaming the butter and sugar. Pound cakes today come in many varieties; including cakes made with fruit, chocolate, and nuts and are still traditionally baked in a loaf shape but may also be baked in tube shaped or other cake pans. See recipe for Old Fashioned Pound Cake.
poured fondant – A shiny, pourable sugar icing traditionally used to cover petit fours, and also makes a lovely glaze for cakes and cupcakes. It can be applied, as the name implies, by simply pouring over a cake and letting it drip down the sides. Many small cakes, such as petit fours or cupcakes can just be dipped in the fondant.
Poured fondant is made by gently heating previously made and cured fondant, along with simple sugar syrup, until it dissolves and becomes pourable. The poured fondant can be flavored with extracts or oil flavors, and tinted any number of beautiful colors using food coloring. See recipe for Poured Fondant.
praline – A sweet confection made with pecans, and caramelized brown sugar poured into small round flat patties. Pralines are a specialty of Louisiana. See recipe for Pecan Pralines.
preheat – Warming an oven to the desired temperature before baking.
preserves – A thick fruit spread, made from whole or coarsely chopped fruit, sugar, and sometimes pectin for thickening. Preserves are usually cooked, but may be uncooked. Preserves are used as a spread on bread, and may also be used a sweet filling or glaze for cakes, cookies, and pastries.
press – Forming dough into a shape. For example forming cookies when the dough is forced through a cookie press, or using your fingers to pat and spread cookie dough in the bottom of a baking pan.
prick – Putting small holes in pastry with a fork to prevent bubbles from forming when baked. For example prick pie pastry when pre-baking and pie filling will be added after the pastry is baked. Pie pastry is not pricked if the pastry and filling will be baked together at the same time.
princess cake – A Swedish dome shaped sponge cake layered with whipped cream and custard and covered with marzipan. The cake is often decorated with marzipan flowers, and served at festive or celebratory occasions.
proof – Causing yeast to become active by adding water and sugar.
profiterole – Small cream puff pastries that are filled with crème Chantilly, ice cream, or pastry cream. They are typically stacked in a small pyramid shape and served covered with chocolate sauce. Profiteroles are used to make the classic croquembouche dessert, a tall pyramid shaped dessert.
proof – This is the fermentation process that occurs in bread making where the yeast grows and produces carbon dioxide gas that inflates the dough. Proofing also refers to testing the yeast to determine if it is alive. The yeast is sprinkled over a warm liquid such as water or milk; after 5 or 10 minutes if the mixture bubbles and foams the yeast is active.
puff pastry – A rich flaky pastry made with a large amount of butter. The pastry is made by rolling and folding several times creating thin layers of pastry and butter. When the pastry bakes the butter melts and along with the water used in the dough produces steam, causing the pastry to rise into high crisp flaky layers.
pumpkin pie – A classic American pie made with a single crust and a smooth creamy filling of pureed pumpkin mixed with sugar, cream or milk, eggs, and warm spices such as cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves. Pumpkin pie is popular as a fall dessert when pumpkins become ripe and is a traditional Thanksgiving pie. See recipe for Great Pumpkin Pie.
punch down – To use your hand or fist to deflate yeast dough after it has completed the first rising.