Category Archives: Ingredients

What is winter squash?

Winter Squash

The term “squash” refers to all members of the gourd family – a family that includes a large number of different vegetables. Squash are generally broken down into two types: summer squash and winter squash. Summer squash include zucchini and pattypan squash, squashes where the entire thing (except for the stem) is edible. Winter squashes have hard, inedible rinds and are much heartier, so they’ll ... Read More »

What is canned pumpkin pie mix?

Pumpkin pie fillings in cans

Cans of pumpkin pie mix, or pumpkin pie filling, line the baking shelves at many grocery stores this time of year. They’re usually set right next to the ready-to-use graham cracker pie crusts, so they catch your eye and get you thinking about baking a pie. The filling mix is also usually next to the regular canned pumpkin puree and many bakers have picked up ... Read More »

What is bread flour?

Bread Flour

Bread flour is a high protein flour that is intended to be used in yeast breads and designed to give you a better result in those breads than you would get with another type of flour. The high protein content means that the flour has more gluten in it. The increased amount of gluten allows doughs make with bread flour to be extremely elastic, and ... Read More »

What is ricotta cheese?

ricotta

Ricotta cheese is a fresh cheese with creamy, fine textured curds that is very commonly used in many types of recipes, from savory pasta dishes to decadent cheesecakes. The name “ricotta” translates to “recooked.” The cheese gets its name because it is made with the whey leftover from other cheesemaking processes, which is recooked with an acid until the proteins left in the whey come ... Read More »

What is pectin?

PEctin

Pectin is a naturally-occurring thickening agent that is most often used by adding it to jams, jellies and similar products to help them gel and thicken. Pectin creates a thick, clear set when it gels. It is a carbohydrate (a polysaccharide) found in and around the cell walls of plants, and helps to bind those cells together. All fruit has pectin in it, but the ... Read More »

What is shaved ice?

Shaved ice is not the same as the icy, frozen-solid “snow cones” that you bought from the ice cream truck as a kid. Shaved ice is made by shaving or grating solid blocks of ice into a fluffy, snow-like consistency. The freshly shaved ice is packed down into place – again, like fresh snow – and drizzled with sweet syrups for flavor. The difference between ... Read More »

What is pastry cream?

Vanilla Bean Pastry Cream

Pastry cream, or crème patissière, is a staple that every baker should know how to make. Pastry cream is a thick custard that can be used as a filling for any number of cakes, tarts or pastries. It is made with milk, eggs, sugar, cornstarch (or a mixture of flour and cornstarch) and flavoring. Vanilla is the most popular flavor for pastry cream, but the ... Read More »

What is coconut oil?

Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is a type of vegetable oil made from pressing the natural oil out of coconut meat. It can be used for a wide variety of culinary uses, including cooking and baking. It has a slightly sweet and nutty flavor to it but when used in conjunction with other ingredients, you are unlikely to taste it. It is not an ideal frying oil because ... Read More »

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