sable – The French word for sand. Sable refers to a cookie or cake made from a delicate, crumbly, sandy dough. Sables may be made with nuts or ground almonds along with orange or lemon zest.
Sachertorte – A rich, dense chocolate Viennese torte that is either filled or coated with apricot preserves, and iced with a poured chocolate topping. The word “Sacher” is traditionally written on top of the cake with chocolate or white icing.
Sally Lunn – A rich, sweet yeast bun made with flour, eggs, yeast, cream, sugar, and flavors such as lemon and nutmeg. Sally Lunns are served warm, split in half, and spread with butter or whipped cream.
sanding sugar – coarse sugar, normally colored, used for decorating cakes, cookies, and other pastries.
Sarah Bernhardt – A Danish pastry created in honor of the nineteenth century actress. The pastry is an almond macaroon, topped with a kiss shaped mound of chocolate ganache, and then completely covered in dark chocolate.
savarin – A sweet yeast cake baked in a savarin ring mold, similar to Baba but made without raisins. The cake is soaked with rum or kirshwasser after baking and brushed with apricot glaze. The center is filled with pastry cream or crème Chantilly. The savarin is decorated with candied cherries, angelica, or fresh fruit.
savarin mold - A savarin mold is a ring mold with an extra-large hole in its center. A savarin mold is made specifically for the classic French Savarin dessert which is a light, yeast-risen sweet cake soaked with liqueur syrup. However a Savarin mold can also be used for other cake and quick bread batters, ice creams and mousses. Shop for savarin molds.
scald – To heat liquid to just before the boiling point. Or, dipping food into boiling water.
scale - Professional bakers use scales to weigh ingredients instead of using measuring cups to measure by volume, for the simple reason that weight measurements are more precise and accurate. Scales are used to measure dry ingredients, along with nuts, dried and fresh fruits, and chocolate, and to measure out portions of dough. The scale is also helpful to determine if multiple cake pans have the same amount of batter.
There are two types of scales, digital and mechanical, with digital scales being the most accurate. A thin, battery powered digital scale with a flat platform for weighing is affordable and is the easiest to use for most home bakers. Look for a scale that measures up to about 10 pounds, has an automatic shut-off that will remain on for at least 5 minutes, has a “tare” button to reset the scale to zero in order to measure the next ingredient, and the ability to change from pounds and ounces to metric. In addition, all the buttons and controls should be on the front of the scale, not the bottom or the back of the scale. Shop for scales.
scone – A Scottish quick bread made in round, square, or triangular shapes. Scones are normally sweet, split in half and spread with butter, clotted cream, or lemon curd. Original scones were made with oats; modern scones are made with oats or other flours, sometimes fruits and nuts, and sweetened with sugar or honey, and may be topped with an icing or glaze. See recipe for Frosted Cream Cheese and Walnut Scones.
score – Making thin lines or slashes in food. For example before baking bread, use a knife to make slashes in the top so steam can escape.
seize – When chocolate is being melted and comes into contact with water, the chocolate “seizes up.” becoming a lumpy grainy mass.
semisweet chocolate – Chocolate that contains approximately 60% chocolate liquor and 40% sugar. Shop for semisweet chocolate.
separate– Removing the yolk from the white of a raw egg.
seven minute frosting – a cooked meringue frosting with an appearance of soft fluffy clouds. The frosting is made with egg whites, sugar, corn syrup and flavoring and heated and whipped over a double boiler for approximately 7 minutes until the frosting is thick and fluffy. See recipe for Seven Minute Frosting.
sheet cake pans - A single layer sheet cake is most often baked in a 13 x 9 x 2 inch Rectangular Pan, replacing a typical two-layer cake. The pan should be at least 2 inches deep, and for ease in cleaning, look for pans that have slightly rounded inside corners. Square corners can trap crumbs in the crevices. Shop for sheet cake pans.
shoofly pie – A Pennsylvania Dutch pie that is very sweet and spicy. The pie is made with molasses custard filling and topped with a crumb topping made with brown sugar, flour, butter, and spices. The name is though to come from the fact that the pie is so sweet that it attracts flies that must be shooed away.
shortbread – A rich cookie with a high proportion of butter to flour. Traditional shortbread is made with flour, sugar, butter, and salt and formed in a large round circle. After the cookie is baked it is cut into pie shaped wedges. Shortbread recipes may include nuts, candied fruit, citrus zest, or spices, and may be dipped in chocolate.
shortcake – A sweet, crumbly, cake like biscuit. After baking the cake is normally split in half and served with fruit and sweetened whipped cream. See recipe for Strawberry Shortcake.
short dough – A cookie or pastry dough with a high proportion of butter or fat to flour, producing a cookie or pastry with a rich, tender, and crumbly texture.
sift – to pass ingredients, such as flour, or powdered sugar, through a mesh sieve to break up coarse particles. Sifting also mixes dry ingredients, such as flour and spices, together. Shop for sifters.
silver leaf – Edible, tasteless silver leaves made from pure silver. The leaves are ultra thin and sold in small square sheets separated by tissue paper. Silver leaf is used to decorate desserts and confections. It dissolves easily from the moisture in your hands if touched; therefore it is handled with a tweezers or a small dry artist brush.
simnel cake – An English cake normally served at Easter and Mother’s Day. The cake is made with dried fruits and candied peels or fruit zests, layered with almond paste or marzipan, and covered with marzipan. Marzipan balls are used to decorate the top of the cake. See recipe for Simnel Cake.
simple syrup - A pastry syrup made with equal parts granulated sugar and water that is briefly boiled to dissolve the sugar and then cooled. Sugar syrup may have a flavoring such as vanilla or almond extract added, and is used when preparing cakes and pastries, such as a soaking syrup for sponge cakes, dilute fondant when making poured fondant, poach or sweeten fruit, and to make glazes. See Sugar and Caramel Stages.
slump – A baked deep dish fruit dessert from Colonial New England. Slumps normally have both a bottom and top crust similar to a dumpling dough that becomes crisp on the outside but stays soft and moist on the inside. Slumps are normally served with heavy cream.
smooth – Food with no lumps or pieces of solid food, such as a smooth cake batter.
smoothing – The process to smooth rolled fondant when placed over a cake so there are no lines, air bubbles, or wrinkles in the fondant.
s’mores – A traditional s’more is sweet and sticky gooey, but easy to make cookie associated with camping and campfires. A campfire toasted marshmallow and piece of chocolate bar are sandwiched between two graham crackers. They are so good that everyone always wants “some more.” See recipe for a non-traditional but delicious bar cookie, Rocky Road S’mores.
snickerdoodle – A sweet buttery cinnamon flavored cookie with a soft center and crinkly top. The cookie is formed into balls and rolled in a cinnamon and sugar mixture before baking. See recipe for Snickerdoodle Cookies.
soft ball stage – Indicates the stage and temperature when a small amount of hot sugar syrup is dropped into cold water and it forms a stiff sticky ball that flattens when removed from the water. The soft ball stage temperature ranges between 234 and 240 degrees F. on a candy thermometer. See Sugar and Caramel Stages.
soft crack stage - Indicates the stage and temperature when a small amount of hot sugar syrup is dropped into cold water separates into strands that are firm but pliable when removed from the water. The hard crack stage temperature ranges between 270 and 290 degrees F. on a candy thermometer. See Sugar and Caramel Stages.
soft peaks – The phase when beating egg whites or whipping cream and the beater is lifted out of the mixture, the peaks curl over.
soufflé – An airy baked dessert made with egg whites and custard or pastry cream. The egg whites are beaten to incorporate air into them, and then folded into the custard. While baking the trapped air causes the soufflé to rise. Soufflés must be served immediately as they begin to collapse when removed from the oven.
soufflé dish - Soufflé dishes are round, with deep, straight sides and decorative ridges on the outside. They range in size from ¼ cup up to 8 cups. Smaller soufflé dishes, also called ramekins, can also be used to bake individual soufflés, custards, bread puddings or crisps or cobblers. The smaller sizes are also useful for holding pre-measured ingredients when prepping ingredients for cookies or cakes. Shop for soufflé dishes
sponge – A pre-fermented mixture made with flour, water, and yeast. The mixture is allowed to ferment anywhere from 30 minutes to several hours before being added to a yeast dough. The pre-fermenting sponge provides added flavor and gets the fermentation and rising process off to a good start.
sponge cake - Sponge cakes are moist and light, with a bit of a spongy texture, are easily eaten plain without any type of frosting. Sponges are a versatile cake and made with a minimal of simple ingredients; eggs, sugar, flour and flavoring. With a typical sponge-type cake the egg yolks and egg whites are added separately. The egg yolks and sugar are beaten together until thick and light to incorporate air; the egg whites are beaten separately to stiff peaks, also to incorporate air, and then the egg whites and flour mixture are gently folded into the egg yolk mixture. Folding the ingredients in helps retain a light and airy texture to the batter. Most sponge cakes are made with no butter, and depending on the recipe there may be a small amount of baking powder added with the flour. A sponge cake recipe is generally used for making jelly roll-type cakes, baked using a jelly roll pan; the cake, being light, airy, spongy, and springy is flexible while still warm and easily rolled. A sponge cake, whether baked in a jelly roll pan or regular round or square cake pans, must be turned out of the pan as soon as it is baked, otherwise the cake will easily collapse from the steam. See recipe for Vanilla Cream Roll.
springerle – A German cookie flavored with anise seed. See recipe for Springerle Cookies.
springerle rolling pin - A Springerle rolling pin is normally very intricately carved, used for making traditional holiday German Springerle cookies. The anise flavored dough is rolled with the Springerle rolling pin, pressing the carved shapes into the dough. The dough is then normally left to dry overnight before baking. Springerle cookies can also be made in a cookie mold. Shop for springerle rolling pins.
springform pan - Springform pans are used for cheesecakes, streusel-topped cake, delicate tortes, and other cakes that would be damaged by turning them upside down to remove them from the pan. Springform pans are normally round, with expandable sides that are secured with a clamp and have a removable bottom. When the clamp is opened, the sides of the pan expand and release the bottom. When purchasing a springform pan, examine how tightly the side locks onto the pan bottom when clamped into position. Less expensive springform pans may be prone to leaking and will bend or warp easily. Shop for springform pans.
sprinkles – Also called jimmies and nonpareils. Sprinkles are tiny pieces of sugar candy, normally round or elongated, coated in a chocolate or a colored sugar topping. They are commonly used to decorate the tops of cakes, cookies, and pastries. Shop for sprinkles and non-pareils.
spritz cookies – A Swedish almond flavored butter cookie, named for the German word spritzen, meaning ‘to squirt,’ and are pressed from a cookie press or piped from a pastry bag. Spritz cookies are often baked at Christmas time. See recipe for Spritz Cookies.
spun sugar – Made from sugar and water cooked to the hard crack stage, then a fork or whisk is dipped into the hot syrup and waved back and forth over an oiled rolling pin or dowels to form fine, threadlike strands. The threads are then gathered up into a loose ball and used as a decoration on cakes or pastries.
square baking pan - Many bar cookie and brownie recipes, and some small cakes, use a square baking pan that is either 8 or 9 inches. The pans should be at least 2 or 2½ inches deep so that the batter doesn’t overflow. Choose pans with no seams on the inside and a good, heavy feel to them. Aluminum pans are the best for cookies and brownies, and a glass pan is best for fruit desserts, baked custards, and bread puddings. Shop for square baking pans.
steamed pudding – A sweet or savory pudding steamed in a mold and normally served with a sauce.
steamed pudding mold - A pudding steamer is used for steaming some puddings and breads. These pans are typically molded of aluminum or tinned steel with a tube in the middle and a clip-on watertight lid to keep the bread or pudding moist while baking. Breads, such as Boston Brown Bread, and puddings such as a traditional Christmas pudding are best when baked in a pudding steamer. After placing the batter in the steamer, the lid is clamped on and the pan is set on a rack in a kettle of 1 or 2 inches of simmering water. The bread or pudding is steamed on the stovetop or in the oven for 1 to 3 hours until cooked through, resulting in a dessert that is dense, moist, chewy, and beautifully shaped when it is turned out. Shop for pudding molds.
steep – Soaking food in a hot liquid. For example steep raisins in rum to soften and add flavor.
sticky bun – A sweet yeast bun baked with nut filling or cinnamon and sugar filling. The dough is rolled and formed into a log that is sliced into individual rounds, and then placed in a baking pan on top of a sticky mixture of pecans, butter, and brown sugar that caramelizes while baking. After the buns are baked they are turned over so the sticky topping is on top.
stiff peaks – The phase when beating egg whites or whipping cream and the beater is lifted out of the mixture, the peaks stand straight up.
stir – To blend ingredients together with either a spoon or spatula, or with an electric mixer on a low speed.
stollen – A German sweet yeast Christmas bread made with dried fruit and sometimes nuts. The dough is shaped into a long loaf, and then after baking covered with a sugar icing or heavy coating of confectioners’ sugar. See recipe for Stollen.
strawberry huller - This tool is a small, V-shaped piece of metal or plastic with serrated ends to remove the green hull from the top of the strawberry. An alternative is to use a small sharp paring knife. Shop for strawberry hullers.
streusel – A German crumbly topping made with butter, sugar, spices, and sometimes nuts. Streusel is often sprinkled on the top of sweet breads, pies, cakes, and muffins before baking to form a sweet crunchy crust. See recipe for Banana Bread with Streusel Topping.
strudel – A German pastry made with thin layers of dough wrapped around a sweet fruit filling. The pastry is formed into a long rectangular shape and then sliced into smaller pieces for serving.
sugar bloom – White sugar crystals that form on the surface of chocolate or other candies when exposed to moisture in the air.
sugar cookie – A short dough cookie popular for special occasions and holidays. The dough is normally rolled and cut into various shapes with cookie cutters. The cookies are served plain or decorated simply or elaborately using icings, or sugar sprinkles, dragees, and other products. See recipe for Vanilla Sugar Cookies.
sugarplum – A small confection made with dried fruits covered in fondant. See recipe for Sugarplums.
sugar syrup – pastry syrup made with granulated sugar and water that is briefly boiled to dissolve the sugar, and then cooled. The ratio of sugar to water varies depending on the desired sweetness. Sugar syrup may have a flavoring such as vanilla or almond extract added, and is used when preparing cakes and pastries, such as a soaking syrup for sponge cakes, dilute fondant when making poured fondant, poach or sweeten fruit, and to make glazes. See Sugar and Caramel Stages.
sweetened condensed milk – A blend of whole milk and sugar that is heated to remove over half of the water, leaving a thick, sweet mixture. It is used as a sweetened in puddings, pies, and cookies. See recipe for Seven Layer Bars.
Swiss meringue Buttercream – A popular frosting made by heating sugar and water then slowly pouring into beaten egg whites until the mixture is thick and cooled, and then a large proportion of butter is beaten in. See recipe for Swiss Meringue Buttercream.