Questions about cooking by dry heat without direct exposure to a flame, typically in an oven.

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51
votes
9answers
6k views

How can I get chewy chocolate chip cookies?

My chocolate chips cookies are always too crisp. How can I get chewy cookies, like those of Starbucks? Thank you to everyone who has answered. So far the tip that had the biggest impact was to ...
40
votes
2answers
37k views

Why can applesauce be used in place of oil?

In many recipes, mostly desserts, it is suggested that you can substitute oil with applesauce to reduce the fat content. But why applesauce? Is there something special about applesauce or are there ...
32
votes
8answers
54k views

How do you make a cake lift equally and minimize doming?

Some time ago, I baked a cake (Sachertorte to be exact). The taste and texture was fine, so my recipe is okay. My biggest issue was the shape. In the middle it was really a lot higher than on the ...
32
votes
3answers
1k views

Theoretical: why there's no gradient of doneness in bread?

I was always wondering, why there's no gradient of doneness visible on the cuts of bigger breads. For example: This one was made in the baking form, it has a thin visible crust, but after that the ...
28
votes
3answers
1k views

Why are baking measurements such nice round numbers?

I've heard over and over that when it comes to baking, measurements cannot be ignored, and you need to be very precise. This question covers how precise a measurement of flour should be, for example. ...
27
votes
14answers
84k views

Does active dry yeast really expire?

I was cleaning out my spice cabinet and deep in the back I found two packages (e.g., six envelopes) of active dry Red Star yeast that expired in March 2009, 15 months ago as of writing this question. ...
27
votes
7answers
5k views

What is the difference between various types of flour?

Is there a difference between the various types of flour that you see in the stores (i.e. Cake, Bread, and All-Purpose? Is it really necessary to stock 3 types of flour in my pantry or is this just a ...
27
votes
2answers
4k views

What is the purpose of creaming butter with sugar in cookie recipes?

I got distracted while assembling the dry ingredients for a cookie recipe and added the sugars, which were supposed to be creamed with the butter first. Fortunately, the sugar was added last and I was ...
24
votes
3answers
28k views

Does it matter what kind of sugar is used in baking?

The baking recipes I use specify many kinds of sugar e.g. caster, raw, white, soft etc. Generally, I always just use raw sugar, mainly for convenience. Does it really make a difference?
22
votes
3answers
44k views

Why use yeast instead of baking powder?

Both yeast and baking powder are used to gas-fill the pastry, make it expand and thus make it soft and fluffy. Using yeast is rather inconvenient - it can be dead already or if the yeast is submerged ...
22
votes
4answers
3k views

Does resting the dough for a long time reduce the need to knead the bread?

In this article by Chef Michael Smith, he mentions a recipe where leaving the dough to rest for 18 hours removes the need to knead the bread. Is this a viable alternative? I've tried the recipe and ...
22
votes
1answer
3k views

Egg yolks vs Whole eggs

I'm about to make cinnamon rolls & one recipe calls for 2 whole eggs. The other recipe calls for 3 egg yolks. Which one will give me a moist, soft, cinnamon roll?
22
votes
6answers
2k views

How to prepare butter for baking when time is limited?

From my experience, the best way to use butter when baking is to let it soften to room temperature. However, sometimes one is short on time and must use the microwave to soften the butter. I always ...
21
votes
3answers
567 views

Pizza baking order

First few times I thought it was coincidence but now I'm puzzled. I'm baking two pizzas, one after another, made from the same dough and with the same ingredients. Every time, the second pizza base is ...
20
votes
6answers
17k views

How warm must dough be in order to rise?

While making some focaccia this afternoon, my wife said, "sure the house is 'warm'; it'll be fine." One hour later, no rising. It may be worth noting that our house is 66F. So we stuck it in a warm ...
20
votes
7answers
34k views

When baking, is it better to use a gas or electric oven?

I'm looking for an oven and wanted to know if there is any difference between a gas or electric oven when it comes to baking things like cakes, biscuits and scones?
20
votes
5answers
3k views

In peanut butter cookies, what is the criss-crossed pattern on the top good for?

I've been making peanut butter cookies, but skipping the step of pressing the top of the cookie down with a fork. What does this step do for the cookies?
19
votes
2answers
17k views

When baking a cake that calls for butter, should you use salted or unsalted?

I'm baking a cake using a cake mix and extra ingredients. It calls for 5 tbsp of butter, but I'm not sure which to use, salted or unsalted. What difference would it make??
19
votes
4answers
3k views

How do I ensure that pita forms a nice big, even pocket when baking?

I have the opposite problem as Amir's question about thick, fluffy pitas. Whenever I make pita, it's nice and thick and fluffy, but the pocket is small or nonexistent. I would like to use my pita for ...
18
votes
8answers
15k views

Techniques to get a nice golden-brown crust on bread

How do I make sure the crust of a baguette, etc. turns out a nice golden-brown when baking?
17
votes
11answers
3k views

For Pizza cooking at home. What is the best alternative to the pizza stone?

For Pizza cooking at home. What is the best alternative to the pizza stone?
17
votes
3answers
2k views

What is the point of a baking rack?

I notice when I bake cookies (usually chocolate chip or peanut butter) the recipe often says "place on baking rack to cool". Because I don't have one, I just place them on a plate after removing them ...
17
votes
5answers
25k views

What happens if I use vegetable oil in a cake?

I want to bake a cake out of baking mix bought at a shop. The mix already contains flour, baking soda, vanillin, other minor components. The manual says I need to add butter. I'd like to use ...
17
votes
1answer
7k views

Can you re-use parchment paper when baking batches of cookies?

I just finished making cookies. The dough was enough to make multiple batches. I only have one baking sheet. Every time a batch was ready, I used new parchment paper on the baking sheet. Is this ...
17
votes
3answers
5k views

How do you decide what temperature to bake at?

What is the logic behind the choice of temperature for baking? Obviously if you're following a recipe it will say what temperature to use, but I'd like to understand the reasoning behind it. Is it a ...
17
votes
6answers
10k views

Why do my brownies end up so hard?

When I make brownies, I sometimes end up with really hard thin brownies instead of thick fudgy soft brownies. I bake them the same amount of time, use the same ingredients, and use the same equipment ...
17
votes
1answer
2k views

How much salt can I safely add to bread dough?

I recently made ciabatta, which turned out very well, with a good crust and nice open crumb. However, I felt it could use more salt to give extra flavour. I'm aware that salt and yeast do not make ...
16
votes
2answers
10k views

What does gluten “do” in baking?

I saw many questions regarding converting baking recipes towards gluten-free, and it seems it's not an easy process. But none of the questions I came across helped me understanding what gluten ...
16
votes
1answer
18k views

What are the impacts of common pizza dough errors?

I'm diving into the world of making pizzas from scratch, and I'd like to take a systematic approach to the possible mistakes I could make with regards to the dough. What impact do each of the ...
16
votes
3answers
16k views

What role do eggs play in baking?

Why do we use eggs in cake baking?
15
votes
11answers
19k views

How do you raise your dough in cold seasons?

It is winter down here in Australia and I find it challenging to find a warm spot to raise my bread dough. What I have been doing is placing the dough in the oven (not switched on) with a pot of hot ...
15
votes
4answers
2k views

Do I need to sift flour that is labeled sifted?

Is there really an advantage to sifting flour that I bought that was labeled 'sifted'?
15
votes
3answers
16k views

How can I identify dutch process cocoa?

I have a hard time finding "dutch process cocoa" in the store sometimes. What other names might dutch process cocoa be known as? Is there something else in the ingredients that might identify ...
14
votes
7answers
11k views

Why are there no recipes combining both yeast and baking powder?

I've never seen anything with both yeast and baking powder. What's the reason for that? Shouldn't e.g. muffins get even more fluffy by adding some yeast? Or bread by adding baking powder? I know there ...
14
votes
9answers
59k views

How to stop my cupcakes from sticking to their cupcake wrappers?

I have found that every time I make cupcakes (or muffins, cornbread & hot dog muffins, etc) that the paper liner sticks to the finished cupcake. I know its not me because the Tim Hortons 'muffins' ...
14
votes
8answers
6k views

Is cheesecake a cake or a pie?

Is cheesecake technically a pie or a cake? I'm curious as to why. Are there solid definitions of what makes a dessert a cake or a pie?
14
votes
2answers
3k views

Why is sugar a wet ingredient?

The last time I checked, most sugar is really dry (unless it's something like brown sugar). So why is it categorized as "wet"?
14
votes
2answers
1k views

What determines the shape-holding ability of cookies?

What things can you vary to make cookies hold their shape better during cooking, and not spread out like a pancake? From my experimenting, the initial temperature of the dough before cooking seems to ...
14
votes
4answers
9k views

Why does my bread collapse in my bread machine?

I have a bread machine and when I follow the recipes in the included booklet that came with the machine, the bread rises for about an hour, but the collapses back on itself and comes out rock hard ...
14
votes
10answers
92k views

Is granulated sugar (American) the same as caster sugar (UK)?

I have an american cake recipe which includes 'granulated sugar', would this be uk caster sugar? It is for the stage when you beat in with the butter?
14
votes
3answers
5k views

How do I make my chocolate brownies 'fudgy'?

What are the key requirements, in terms of both ingredients and techniques, for baking chocolate brownies with a fudgy centre?
14
votes
5answers
912 views

How to get threads in a yeast dough?

I think I may make some traditional food for Easter this year. What I love most is a type of rich sweet bread called kozunak. The perfect kozunak is defined by many qualities, but what I find hardest ...
14
votes
2answers
449 views

What is the science behind Magic Cake?

Magic Cake has a seemingly simple batter, that is mixed and baked as a single entity. (See link for the full recipe and method). When it is baked, it separates into three distinct layers: A dense ...
14
votes
1answer
1k views

How do I get my homemade english muffins to taste like english muffins?

I've finally mastered my technique for creating english muffins. They come out light with lots of air bubbles. Unfortunately, they don't taste like english muffins. They taste like regular bread. ...
13
votes
6answers
556 views

Cup measurements: shake or scrape?

When you are measuring out your flour, sugar, etc with the measuring cups, is it better to scoop and then shake the cup to get a leveled cup, or scoop and then use a knife to scrape off the excess. ...
13
votes
8answers
3k views

Baking bread … without crust?

My fiancee doesn't like to eat the crust of bread. I like to bake bread. But she ends up cutting off like half of each piece in the process of de-crust-ifying it. What are some suggestions to make ...
13
votes
4answers
55k views

What does it mean to “fold in” an ingredient into a mix?

I see this in baking recipes, but I've never been quite clear on the difference between mixing and "folding."
13
votes
7answers
27k views

How can I get my bread to be more fluffy and less dense?

I've been making bread for a while now, but I can never get it to rise enough. The bread comes out really dense, so it's not very useful for sandwiches. I give it ten minutes after kneading, bash it ...
13
votes
3answers
15k views

How can I keep a cheesecake from cracking?

I've been making cheesecakes for a while and they always end up cracking on the top. I was told to try putting a pan of water in the oven with it to keep the humidity up, which might help a little, ...
13
votes
7answers
13k views

In baking, can yoghurt replace butter?

By baking, I mean cakes / muffins / biscuits. This is mainly to cut down on fat. I've tried replacing butter with yoghurt in all of these and the results were OK. Are there any cases where it's not ...