Baking Glossary


All-purpose flour: A combination of hard and soft wheats. Unbleached and bleached are the two kinds of all-purpose flours available.


Baking or bitter chocolate: Unsweetened chocolate that contains no additional ingredients.

Baking powder: A leavening agent made from a combination of baking soda, an acid (such as cream of tartar) and a moisture absorber (such as cornstarch). When baking powder is mixed with moist ingredients, carbon dioxide bubbles are released, causing batter to rise.

Baking soda: A leavening agent known as sodium bicarbonate. When baking soda is combined with an acid ingredient, carbon dioxide gas bubbles are released, causing dough or batter to rise.

Bread flour: Contains wheats higher in gluten, which gives breads more structure and volume.

Brown sugar: Made by mixing refined molasses syrup with white sugar. Light and dark brown sugar are two types available; the darker has a more intense flavor.

Butter: A saturated fat made from churning cream until it reaches a semi-solid state.

Buttermilk: A thick, smooth liquid made by adding lactic acid bacteria to nonfat or low-fat milk.


Cake flour: Contains soft wheats, high in starch, which gives cakes a fine texture.

Chocolate: Made from ground cocoa beans in a process that separates cocoa butter from chocolate liquor. The dark-brown chocolate liquor paste is then refined and mixed with various ingredients to produce different varieties.

Cocoa powder: Dried, unsweetened powder formed from the solid left over after extracting the cocoa butter content from chocolate liquor.

Cornstarch: A dense, finely ground flour made from the endosperm portion of the corn kernel. Cornstarch is used to thicken desserts, sauces, soups etc. It also keeps sauces clear, not cloudy.

Corn syrup: A thick, sweet liquid (light or dark) made by processing cornstarch with acids or enzymes. Light corn syrup has been clarified to remove all color and cloudiness. Dark corn syrup is stronger flavored and a deeper colored because it is flavored and colored with caramel. Mostly used in candies, frostings and jams because it doesn’t crystallize.

Cream of tartar: A white powder processed from the acid deposited on the inside of wine barrels. Cream of tartar is added to egg whites before beating to improve stability and volume, and to candies and frostings to make them creamier.


Dough: Flour, liquid and other ingredients mixed together in a thick — but easily kneadable — paste. Often includes a leavening agent.


Evaporated milk: Is a liquid, slightly thicker than milk, made by homogenizing whole milk from which 60 percent of the water has been removed.


Fat : Used in cooking to add flavor to food, to help bind ingredients together, to tenderize baked goods and to fry foods. Butter, oil or lard.

Flour: The finely ground grain of wheat, corn, oat, rye or barley used in breads, cakes and cookies.


Granulated or white sugar: Made from highly refined beet or cane sugar.


Honey: Made from flower nectar by bees, honey is a thick sweetener often used for pastries and other baked goods.
It comes in three varieties: comb (containing the edible honeycomb), chunk-style (containing pieces of comb) and liquid (comb-less and often pasteurized).


Key lime: Smaller and rounder than standard limes. Key limes come from Florida and are more yellow than green. Used in Key Lime Pie.


Lard: A saturated fat made from rendered pork fat.

Leavener or leavening agent:
Ingredients that are used to lighten the texture and increase the volume of baked goods such as breads, cakes and cookies.

Low-fat milk: Milk that contains 0.5 percent to 2 percent butter fat.


Nonpareil: Decorative candies used for cakes and cookies. Also refers to a chocolate candy covered in sugar beads.


Powdered, 10X or confectioner sugar: Granulated sugar that has been crushed to a fine powder.


Saturated fat: It usually come from animal sources, such as butter or lard, and remain solid at room temperature. Oils high in saturated fat should be avoided because they have been shown to raise blood cholesterol levels.

Self-rising flour: Is All-purpose flour with a leavener and salt added.

Semisweet and milk chocolate:
Varieties of chocolate used in baking or for eating made by adding sugar, milk, vanilla or other flavorings to unsweetened chocolate.

Shortening: A solid fat made from vegetable oils.

Skim milk: Milk that contains less than 0.5 percent butter fat.

Sweetened condensed milk: A thick, sweet liquid made by boiling down a mixture of whole milk and sugar until 60 percent of the water evaporates.


Unsaturated fat: Oils high in unsaturated fats (monounsaturated or polyunsaturated) have been shown to reduce blood cholesterol level. Unsaturated fats come primarily from plant sources and remain liquid at room temperature.


Vanilla: A flavoring extracted from the seeds of an orchid.


White chocolate: Is not a true chocolate because it contains no chocolate liquor. White chocolate is typically made of sugar, cocoa butter, milk solids, lecithin and vanilla.

Whole milk: Milk that contains at least 3.25 percent butter fat.

Whole-wheat flour: Contains wheat germ, which results in a higher fiber, protein and fat content in baked goods.


Yeast: A leavening agent that releases carbon dioxide bubbles through fermentation.