Chocolate is a favorite ingredient for many people, and is used in many baking recipes. Chocolate comes from cocoa beans, which are the bean-shaped seed of the cacao tree. Cocoa beans are cured, then dried, roasted, and ground to produce cocoa powder, cocoa butter and chocolate liquor.
Bittersweet Chocolate: Bittersweet chocolate can usually be substituted for semisweet chocolate; however it is made with less sugar, therefore is less sweet than semisweet chocolate
Cocoa: This is the unsweetened brown powder produced after cocoa beans are ground and the cocoa butter has been removed.
Dark Chocolate: Dark chocolate is made with chocolate liquor, extra cocoa butter, sugar, and vanilla flavoring.
Dutch Cocoa: This is cocoa that has been processed with an alkalizing agent. Dutch processed cocoa has a smoother flavor and darker color than regular cocoa, and is usually the preferred cocoa for baking.
Chocolate Liquor: When cocoa beans are ground in the manufacturing process, a sticky liquid is produced called chocolate liquor.
Chocolate Syrup: A sweet liquid made from cocoa and corn syrup.
German Sweet Chocolate: German Sweet Chocolate is sweeter than semi-sweet chocolate.
Milk Chocolate: Milk Chocolate is made with whole milk, cream, condensed milk, or dried milk which is added to chocolate liquor, cocoa butter, sugar, and vanilla flavoring.
Semisweet Chocolate: Semi-sweet chocolate is made with chocolate liquor, extra cocoa butter, sugar, and vanilla flavoring.
Unsweetened Chocolate: Also called baking chocolate. Unsweetened chocolate is chocolate liquor in a solid form and contains no sugar.
White Chocolate: White chocolate contains no chocolate liquor, therefore is not a true chocolate. It consists of cocoa butter, milk solids, milk fat, and sweeteners such as sugar or high-fructose corn syrup.
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Dairy products add flavor and moisture to baked foods, and help to promote browning. Whole milk produces the best flavor and texture in baked foods; however you may substitute reduced fat milks.
Buttermilk: Buttermilk is the sour-tasting liquid that is left over after milk or cream has been churned to make butter. It is also made by adding bacteria to fat-free or reduced fat milk.
Evaporated Milk: Evaporated milk is milk that has been thickened by removing some of the water by evaporation. Do not use evaporated milk as a substitution for sweetened condensed milk.
Fat-Free Milk: Fat–free milk is also called skim milk or nonfat milk. This is milk with most or all of its fat content removed.
Half and Half: Half and half is made with equal parts of cream and whole milk.
Powdered Milk: Powdered milk is milk that has had all moisture removed, producing a powder. When reconstituted with water, it can be used in place of regular milk.
Sour Cream: Sour Cream is a smooth thick cream that has been soured artificially. Sour cream has a tangy flavor.
Sweetened Condensed Milk: Sweetened condensed milk is whole milk that has been thickened by removing some of the water by evaporation, then sugar is added producing a thick, sweet product. Do not use sweetened condensed milk as a substitution for evaporated milk.
Whipping Cream: Whipping cream is also called heavy cream. This is a cream with a high fat content that can be whipped to make it thicker.
Whole Milk: Whole milk is milk from which almost no fat has been removed.
Yogurt: Yogurt is made from milk that is fermented with bacteria to give a tangy or slightly sour flavor and a thick and creamy consistency. It can have added sweeteners, flavorings or fruit.
Eggs add color, flavor, and texture to baked foods. Eggs also act as a leavening agent helping food to rise during baking. Egg yolks add fat to a recipe. Egg whites are the main ingredient in meringues.
Fresh Eggs: Use fresh eggs with unbroken shells in baking. Most baking recipes are assumed to use large eggs.
Egg Substitute: Egg substitutes are made with egg whites and little or no fat. One-fourth cup of egg substitute is equal to one large egg. Egg substitutes may not produce the same quality baked foods as fresh eggs.
Fats help to tenderize, add flavor, and add moisture to baked food.
Butter: Butter adds a sweet, delicate, rich flavor to baked foods. Use Butter if possible for baking unless the recipe specifies otherwise. Unsalted butter is the preferred choice for baking. Salted butter can be used, however different brands of butter use different quantities of salt, making it difficult to control the amount of salt in the recipe.
Margarine: Margarine is made from vegetable oils and can be substituted for butter in many recipes. Use stick margarine for baking. Avoid using Spreads and whipped margarine as they contain more air and are not suitable for baking.
Oil: Oil can not be used as a substitute for butter or margarine, and should not be used unless a recipe specifically states to use oil. Use a good quality vegetable oil or canola oil for baking. Oil is used for recipes such as sweet breads to help produce moist tender breads.
Shortening: Shortening is a solid form of vegetable fat, and can be substituted for butter and margarine in many recipes. Regular shortening is not flavored, therefore adds no flavor to baked foods. Butter flavored shortenings may be used to help add a butter flavor. Shortening is typically used in making pie pastry and produces a tender flaky crust.
Extracts and flavorings are used in many baked food to add unique flavor. Vanilla extract is one of the most commonly used flavors in baking.
Extracts: Extracts are the substance taken from plants or seeds, and used to flavor foods. For example vanilla extract is produced from vanilla seedpods.
Flavorings: Flavorings are a natural or artificial substance added to food to give the food an identifiable or distinct taste, such as maple flavoring.
Flour is made by grinding the edible parts of cereal grains. It is the main ingredient that provides bulk and structure to baked foods.
All Purpose Flour: All purpose flour is a blend of wheat flours and is available as bleached or unbleached. Bleached flour is processed with a small amount of bleaching agents to whiten the flour. Unbleached flour does not have bleaching agents added and is a little darker in color. All purpose wheat flour is the most commonly used flour in baking.
Bread Flour: Bread flour is a high-protein flour, specially formulated for making yeast breads. Using bread flour produces yeast dough’s that rise better and have better texture in the finished baked product.
Cake Flour: Cake flour is a low-protein wheat flour often used for making cakes and other baked food that have a tender or delicate structure.
Rye Flour: Rye flour is ground from whole rye berries, and is most commonly used to make yeast breads, rolls, and crackers. Because rye flour has a low gluten content, it must be combined with other flours in order for the bread to rise properly.
Whole Wheat Flour: Whole wheat flour is made from the whole kernel, including the germ and bran, therefore has more fiber and nutrients than all-purpose white flour. Whole wheat flour has a shorter shelf life than all-purpose flour; it can generally be stored for up to 6 months.
Leaveners are a substance used to make foods rise and give baked food a light texture.
Baking Powder: Baking Powder in a combination of sodium bicarbonate, cream of tarter, and starch and is available in single-acting and double-acting. Single acting baking powder is activated by moisture; therefore recipes using this type of baking powder must be baked immediately. Double-acting baking powder is the most commonly used for baking as it is activated in two stages, when mixed with liquid ingredients and when heated in the oven.
Baking Soda: Baking Soda is sodium bicarbonate. When combined with moist acidic ingredients such as yogurt, buttermilk, and sour cream, carbon dioxide gas is released. The carbon dioxide expands with heat and causes baked foods to rise. Since the carbon dioxide reaction begins immediately upon mixing the ingredients together, recipes that call for baking soda as the only leavening agent should be baked immediately or they may not rise as high and the texture will not be as light.
Eggs: Eggs, along with adding flavor and texture, also provide leavening in baked foods.
Yeast: Yeast is a simple one-celled plant used as a leavening agent for cakes and breads. When combined with warm water and sugar, yeast grows, forming a gas that makes breads and cakes light and airy. Always use yeast before its expiration date; however yeast stored in an air-tight container in the freezer will last beyond its expiration date.
Active Dry Yeast: This yeast is dissolved in warm liquid, between 110 to 115 degrees F to become activated. If the liquid temperature is too low, the yeast will not be activated, if too warm, the yeast is killed and the bread will not rise.
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Bread Machine Yeast: This yeast has finer granules than active dry yeast. This yeast does not need to be activated before adding to the other bread ingredients.
Quick Rise Yeast: Quick rise yeast is also called rapid rise yeast. These yeasts are designed to be used with bread machine rapid cycles. If not using a bread machine the yeast is added directly to the dry ingredients before the warm liquid ingredients are added.
Salt is small white tangy-tasting crystals consisting largely of sodium chloride. Salt is used to add flavor to baked food. Table salt is normally used in baking.
Sugars and sweetness and flavor and help promote browning in baked foods.
Brown Sugar: Brown sugar is a soft light or dark brown sugar made from refined white sugar and molasses. Dark brown sugar is made with more molasses than light brown sugar, has a richer molasses taste, and produces slightly darker baked foods.
Confectioners Sugar: Confectioners sugar is also called powdered sugar. It has been ground into a fine powdered sugar with cornstarch mixed in.
Corn Syrup: Corn Syrup is a thick, sweet syrup that is a liquid derivative of corn starch. It is available in light or dark varieties. Light corn syrup has been processed to remove all color, and dark corn syrup has caramel color and molasses added.
Granulated Sugar: This is the most commonly used sugar for baking. If a recipe calls for superfine sugar, sugar can be ground in a food processor or coffee grinder to produce a superfine consistency.
Honey: Honey is a sweet sticky golden-brown fluid from the nectar of flowers, and is produced by bees. The flavor of honey is determined by the type of flowers used to produce the nectar.
Molasses: Molasses is the thick sticky sweet syrup produced during the refining of raw sugar, and adds a distinct flavor and color to baked foods. Molasses is available in light, dark, and black strap. Light molasses has the mildest flavor, while black strap has the strongest flavor and darkest color. Either light or dark molasses is preferred for baking.