Understanding the Ingredients, the Better Cook You’ll



One of the most important things when you go out to shop for food, is to read the labels. Not just for calories and fat, which can be important, but there’s a section that is essential to your health, the ‘INGREDIENTS’ section. Even when buying organic, or “natural” products, it’s very important to read the ingredients. As a general rule of thumb, when shopping, avoid any product that has more than a handful of ingredients. Also, avoid a label with a lot of ingredients that you cannot pronounce or understand.

pinch tips: How to Grease a Pan






No-Cook or Other


leavening agents
pure extracts verses imitation extracts

Directions Step-By-Step

Both butters are made of the very same Grade AA quality butter, but salted butter has salt added to it. The ingredients:
Sweet Cream, Natural Flavoring. Contains: Milk.
The rule of thumb is that one stick of salted butter (4 ounces, 115 g) has 1/4 teaspoon of salt added.

* Unsalted butter: Unsalted butter is especially important in certain baked goods, allowing you to control the amount of salt in a dish, where the pure, sweet cream flavor of butter is key (like in butter cookies or pound cakes), or in cooking to let the real, natural flavor of your foods come through.

* Salted Butter: Salt acts as a preservative and prolongs the shelf life of butter. Salted butter is all-purpose, and perfect for spreading on bread, topping veggies and pasta and using in recipes where you are not looking to have so much control over the amount of salt in a recipe.

* Plugrá Butter: contains less water than average table butter. Lower moisture helps you create cakes that rise higher, cookies that crisp more evenly, and flakier pastries. The ingredients: Pasteurized Cream, Natural Flavor. Contains: Milk.
Margarine: is an imitation butter spread. It is made mainly of refined vegetable oil, hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils, water, artificial flavor and may also contain milk.
Margarine is an imitation butter, it can be used for spreading, baking, and cooking. It is also commonly used as an ingredient in other food products, such as pastries and cookies, owing to its versatility
* All Purpose Flour: Is a combination of hard and soft wheat is milled to produce all-purpose flour. The resulting medium protein content (between 9% and 12%) offers just the right balance of strength and tenderness for the everyday baker to make chewy breads, delicate tarts and everything in between.
* Bleached Flour has less protein than unbleached. Bleached is best for pie crusts, cookies, quick breads, pancakes and waffles.
* Unbleached Flour is best for yeast breads, Danish pastry, puff pastry, strudel, Yorkshire pudding, éclairs, cream puffs and popovers.

* 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 the dough’s made with bread flour to be extremely elastic, and that elasticity leads to lighter and chewier yeast breads. Use it for all your yeast baking, from bread (including bread machine loaves) to rolls to pizza.
The best way to substitute for bread flour is by adding a small amount of vital wheat gluten (which is just pure protein/gluten) to all-purpose flour to increase its protein content. Remember that a higher protein content will lead to a more supple dough. If you directly substitute all purpose in a recipe that calls for bread flour, you may end up with a bread that doesn’t rise quite as well or has a slightly more crumbly texture than it would otherwise have.
* Self-Rising Flour: Self-rising flour has an even lower protein content that all-purpose flour because it’s made using a soft wheat flour rather than the hard wheat flour that makes up all-purpose flour.
Self-rising flour is great for making biscuits. It is a softer, lower-protein (8.5%) wheat flour that creates a wonderfully tender Self-Rising flour is not only for biscuits, but also pancakes, muffins, and quick breads, but never for yeast breads..
Because self-rising flour also contains non-aluminum baking powder and a dash of salt, so omit adding any to recipe.
The best way to substitute for self-rising flour is for each cup of all-purpose flour, add 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Mix to combine.

* Cake Flour: Using cake flour in recipes creates the lightest cakes with the most tender crumb. King Arthur Cake Flour, specifically is very unique because it is unbleached (the only unbleached cake flour on the market), with a protein content of just over 9%. In this way, the flour is free of super-gross bleaching chemicals yet has the structure and goodness of a light wheat flour, making it strong enough to hold together the tender crumb of a cake without adding toughness. Cake flour is excellent is used in some quick breads, muffins and cookies.
The best way to substitute for cake flour is by combining 1/4 cup cornstarch and 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour in a bowl. Whisk gently to sift the mixture together.
* Brown sugar (light and dark): Brown sugar retains some of the surface molasses syrup, which imparts a characteristic pleasurable flavor. Dark brown sugar has a deeper color and stronger molasses flavor than light brown sugar. Lighter types are generally used in baking and making butterscotch, condiments and glazes. The rich, full flavor of dark brown sugar makes it good for gingerbread, mincemeat, baked beans, and other full flavored foods.
Both brown sugars can harden if left open to the air, so it is best stored in an airtight container. If your brown sugar has hardened, you can microwave it for a few seconds, or place a piece of bread in the bag and leave it for a day.

* Confectioners or Powdered Sugar; This sugar is granulated sugar ground to a smooth powder and then sifted. It contains about 3% cornstarch to prevent caking. Powdered sugar is ground into three different degrees of fineness. The confectioners sugar available in supermarkets – 10X – is the finest of the three and is used in icings, confections and whipping cream and, glazes.

* Regular Sugar or White Sugar: These sugars are known to consumers, is the sugar found in every home’s sugar bowl, and most commonly used in home food preparation. White sugar is the sugar called for in most cookbook recipes. The food industry stipulates “regular” sugar to be “extra fine” or “fine” because small crystals are ideal for bulk handling and not susceptible to caking.

* Superfine or Ultrafine: This sugar’s crystal size is the finest of all the types of granulated white sugar. It is ideal for delicately textured cakes and meringues, as well as for sweetening fruits and iced-drinks since it dissolves easily. In England, a sugar very similar to superfine sugar is known as caster or castor, named after the type of shaker in which it is often packaged.
* Turbinado Sugar: This sugar is raw sugar, which has been partially processed, where only the surface molasses has been washed off. It has a blond color and mild brown sugar flavor, and is often used in tea and other beverages.
1 Vanilla Bean = 2 teaspoons Pure Vanilla Extract
1 teaspoon Vanilla Paste or Powder = 1 teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract.
Pure Extracts verses Imitation Extracts:
One of the most striking differences between pure and fake vanilla involved alcohol flavor. While federal guidelines require 35 percent alcohol in pure vanilla extract, there’s no minimum for alcohol in imitation vanilla, and manufacturers have an incentive to use as little as possible to make synthetic vanillin soluble: If they use more, it costs more to make. This explains why tasters kept describing real vanilla as “boozy,” an adjective rarely applied to fake vanilla. But they also found the real stuff nutty, spicy, and more complex.
* Pure Almond Extract: is made from three primary ingredients: alcohol, water, and bitter almond oil.
* Imitation Almond Extract: also starts with a water and alcohol, but it gets its flavor from synthetic benzaldehyde, created in a lab.
* Peppermint Extract: Peppermint extract a liquid alcohol flavored made from the essential peppermint oils.
It has a distinctive minty flavor and aroma that can be used in a variety of ways. Peppermint extract is traditionally used in holiday cooking to flavor candy, beverages, cookies, cakes and other baked goods.
* Peppermint Oil: Oils are more powerful than the supermarket extracts, made of pure natural peppermint oil. Concentrated oils are stronger than extracts. As a general rule, peppermint oil is about four times as strong as peppermint extract.
* Pure Rum Extract: will give your desserts and sauces a distinctively warm and buttery flavor. Use this extract in Rum sauce to pour over warm bread pudding and in rum cakes for the holidays. The ingredients: sugar, rum, propylene glycol, (preservative), and water.
* Imitation Rum Extract: Is made of alcohol (29%), Corn Syrup, Propylene Glycol, Water, Artificial And Natural Flavors, Caramel Color, and FD&C Yellow 5 And FD&C Red 40.
* Pure Vanilla Extract: steeping vanilla beans in water and ethyl alcohol, with the exact proportions of each mandated by the government makes pure vanilla extract.
* Imitation Vanilla Extract: is a byproduct of paper production or a derivative of coal tar, chemically manufactured through fairly simple and inexpensive processes. Because it’s so cheap, annual global demand for imitation vastly outstrips that for natural vanilla, at 16,000 metric tons to just 40 metric tons for natural vanilla.
* Rose Water: Is made by steeping rose petals in water. It has a sweet with delicate floral notes. It is essential to buy a good quality Rose Water to accomplish the best flavour. Start out using a small amount at a time and tasting in order to achieve the right flavour balance
Leavening Agents:
Both Baking Soda and Baking Powder are leavening agents, they are added to baked goods before cooking to produce carbon dioxide and cause them to 'rise'. Baking powder contains baking soda, but the two substances are used under different conditions
* Baking Soda: Is a chemical compound with the formula NaHCO3. Sodium bicarbonate is a white solid that is crystalline but often appears as a fine powder. It has a slightly salty, alkaline taste resembling that of washing soda (sodium carbonate). The natural mineral form is nahcolite. It is a component of the mineral natron and is found dissolved in many mineral springs
When baking soda is combined with moisture and an acidic ingredient (e.g., yogurt, chocolate, buttermilk, honey), the resulting chemical reaction produces bubbles of carbon dioxide that expand under oven temperatures, causing baked goods to rise.
This reaction begins immediately upon mixing the ingredients, so you need to bake recipes, which call for baking soda immediately, or else they will fall flat.
(Baking soda is also great for killing those pesky cockroaches. Once consumed, it causes internal organs of cockroaches to burst due to gas collection).
* Baking Powder: Is a dry chemical leavening agent, a mixture of a carbonate or bicarbonate and a weak acid, and is used for increasing the volume and lightening the texture of baked goods. Baking powder works by releasing carbon dioxide gas into a batter or dough through an acid-base reaction, causing bubbles in the wet mixture to expand and thus leavening the mixture. It is used instead of yeast for end-products where fermentation flavors would be undesirable‪[1]‬ or where the batter lacks the elastic structure to hold gas bubbles for more than a few minutes,‪[2]‬ or for convenience. Because carbon dioxide is released at a faster rate through the acid-base reaction than through fermentation, breads made by chemical leavening are called quick breads.
Some baking powders contains cornstarch as a filler, sodium bicarbonate, calcium phosphate, and sodium aluminum sulfate. Calcium phosphate is Ca(H2PO4)2, and sodium aluminum sulfate (inorganic compound with the chemical formula NaAl (SO4)2·12H2O (sometimes written Na2SO4·Al2(SO4)3·24H2O). Also known as soda alum or sodium alum, this white solid is used in the acidity regulator of food (E521) mainly in the manufacture of baking powder). Aluminum consumption has been linked with the development of Alzheimer’s Disease. Use of aluminum based acid salts to leaven the dough can also sometimes give a slightly metallic taste to the final product.
* Single-Acting Baking Powder: The acid in a baking powder can be either fast-acting or slow-acting. A fast-acting acid reacts in a wet mixture with baking soda at room temperature, and a slow-acting acid will not react until heated in an oven. Baking powders that contain both fast- and slow-acting acids are double acting; those that contain only one acid are single acting.

* Double-Acting Baking Powder: By providing a second rise in the oven, double-acting baking powders increase the reliability of baked goods by rendering the time elapsed between mixing and baking less critical, and this is the type most widely available to consumers today. Double-acting baking powders work in two phases; once when cold, and once when hot.

Rumford Baking Powder is a double acting consumer product that contains only monocalcium phosphate as a leavening acid. With this acid, about two-thirds of the available gas is released within about two minutes of mixing at room temperature. It then becomes dormant because an intermediate form of dicalcium phosphate is generated during the initial mixing. Further release of gas requires the batter to be heated above 140 degrees F

To make your own Baking Powder, for each TBLS baking powder, simply mix together, 1 tsp. baking soda and 2 tsp. cream of tartar.